Cliffbee.com: Alternator Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Rodimus (not Hot Rod, since Hasbro have lost the rights to the name)
Series: Alternators
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Fort GT



CAR MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 19cm Width: 9cm

   A red repaint of Alternators Mirage with black tyres, chrome silver hubcaps and transparent windows with black seals. I don't have the Alternators Mirage, so I'll be making comparisons with BT Mirage, instead. The racing stripes of Mirage have been replaced by gold flames on the hood, while the white stripes along the bottom of the sides are gold, but otherwise the same. The flames are much simpler than on most versions of this character which is disappointing however they do have a nice metallic sheen. It's also worth noting that there's a subtractive Autobot logo in the middle of the flames on his hood - that is to say the red Autobot logo is formed by a complex series of gaps in the gold paint. Also on the hood is a small "Ford" badge. Much of the upper shell of this car is actually composed of transparent plastic, and the bits that need to be red (roof, doors, rear) are painted in a nice, glossy red plastic.

   As much as I dislike the quality of most Alternators, I'm fairly happy with the plastic used on this toy. Yes, I would have preferred a metal Binaltech version - but even Takara used plastic for this guy. He doesn't have that downright cheap feel that's far too common in the Alternators line - considering the car modes are designed to be scale replicas. Despite being a mould that originated on the Hasbro side, Rodimus still has the excellent detailing typical of the line. The headlights are silver with silver parabolae and orange indicators while the taillights and rear indicators are transparent. There's a white California license plate at the back which reads "TOO HOT". My confidence in the designers at Hasbro is pretty low, so I'm not sure that this is a deliberate attempt to give Rod his "Hot" back, but I'll take it, and even without the link to his original name, it's a good idea. There's a silver petrol cap on the right side of the hood and chrome side mirrors (something Hasbro has often skimped on in this line). There are red brakepads nestled inside the wheels, which sport rubber tyres. I would have liked to see the brakepads painted silver with red or black calipers, but this is a minor thing.

   Inside the cabin Rodimus has black seats, a stickshift, a red steering wheel (LHD, being an American model) and some silver vents and meters on the dashboard. There's also a handbrake if you look closely. There are some vents on the front of the dashboard, which are partially hidden by the black wipers on the windshield. The red steering wheel looks out of place, especially against the black one on my Mirage, but again this is a fairly minor issue.

   Rodimus has his share of play value here, although not as much as on many BTs. The doors open, the wheels spin and there's a fairly weak fake rack-and-pinion mechanism in the front wheels. The hood doesn't open although you can lift the panel up to reveal a weakly-engine like red plate. You'll likely have to begin to transform the front to release this panel. The lower level of play value does give away this mould's heritage as an Alternator concept. You can actually lift up the rear to reveal the small engine, although it also shows up the robot feet. Those feet are the dame deep red as everything else under there - so this feature works better than on Mirage.

   Mirage was of a slightly lower standard to most Binaltechs but Rodimus is probably slightly above most Alternators thanks to the plastic used here. The detailing is good and the flame theme is good - although it's Not Quite Hot Rod. I get the feeling the designer put together a red car and then decided Hot Rod was the best fit and slapped some flames on. Given the choice, I'd have dropped the flames here and called this toy Chase, the closest G1 Autobot to what we actually have here, since Hot Rod is a futuristic vehicle. Having said that, Rodimus looks great, even with the very simple flames.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I won't go through everything, since it's quite complex. The front fenders become his shoulderpads, the hood becomes the chest while the arms fold out from underneath - the most common BT trick. The rear fenders become his legs with the tyres on the front of his shins and the rear end becomes kneecaps. The engine splits to form two small handguns, the doors hang off the back of the shoulderpads while the roof and top rear section fold up on his back.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 17.5cm Width: 12cm

   The red is joined by some dark red on connecting plastic pieces, orange painted elements on his arms and torso and yellow hands. Again there's a Not Quite Hot Rod feel about things, mainly because the characteristic silver exhausts on the forearms are absent and partly because there's sparingly little orange. On the upside, the orange and yellow flames on his wrists are wonderful and represent the character much better than the more generic flames on the chest. There are some visible car details on his knees and shins, including his license plate on the kneecaps. The front fenders become shoulderpads which do suit the character by coincidence, but the doors hanging off the back of these do not. His head is red with a silver face light blue eyes. There's a dark red visor with colourless lenses over his eyes. The mould is fairly generic while the colours are obviously those of Hot Rod - mainly because of the flames. The colours do not map to the traditional colour scheme of Hot Rod well, and I don't see why the only substantial yellow plastic is on his hands - Rodimus looks like he's about to wash the dishes or something.

   The colour layout has a distinct lack of focus, which is disappointing. The overall layout still of the robot works but the colours which should work well end up being muddled and the tribute relies more on the flames than anything else. The face is nice and detailed, even if it doesn't really represent the character. The layout is quite attractive but other than the chest being the flaming hood, it doesn't really match what we expect for the character. The chestplate doesn't stay in place too well, which is annoying if not a major issue. It won't fall off or anything, but it just sort of rests against two panels on either side, rather than clipping into place. These panels are painted orange, and I can see the paint wearing as the loose chestplate swims around.

   The poseability is pretty much what you'd expect of a Binaltech. His head and waist turn, the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while his elbows are hinged with rotators above them. The wrists are ball jointed while the index fingers are hinged with the rest hinged as one, allowing him to grip his guns. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees are hinged with rotators. His ankles are tight ball joints with useful yellow heelspurs at the back (these can be tricky to get out during transformation). The small guns look pretty lame, in truth - they're too small and look forced - especially the smaller of the two, which is best stowed on the calf. The shoulders don't quite play as well as they should, and the chestplate will flop around as you pose the arms.

   While the vehicle mode acquits itself well, this robot mode suffers from a lack of focus all too common on Hasbro-conceived repaints. There are some really good aspects of the repaint here - the flames on his arms are great and the colours used on his face are well chosen. But then he's 95% red with yellow hands for no good reason whatsoever while the orange paint on those chestpanels is just waiting to wear away. The plastic quality is good, of course, but I find my attention is diverted away from that to those garish hands. There are some physical design flaws which hold this mode back - the chest bugs me considerably and the shoulders are a little off. With a little more focus on the colour layout this could have been an excellent Hot Rod tribute, rather than the badly executed Rodimus who thinks he's a lego figure with those yellow hands.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of, although there is a "Kiss Play" version - which is basically the same thing with white racing stripes instead of flames. This version was released in Japan. As much as I dislike the layout of colours here, Hasbro has lifted them directly from the Kiss Play toy, so Takara doesn't escape my criticism. Rodimus was sold exclusively at the San Diego Comicon 2007, although I obtained mine locally - a small independent toy chain here in Australia seems to have manage to get their hands on this figure.

OVERALL

   A mediocre repaint of a decent mould, Rodimus has a really nice car mode that's weighed down by a poorly executed robot mode. The mould is reasonable with good detailing in both modes and the plastic used is better than on many Alternators toys, but I find myself wanting to leave him in car mode forever. The car mode really does look good, but the all red robot with yellow hands looks bad. The tribute isn't done all that well in either mode, the flames on his hood/chest do enough to make it work as Hot Rod, but the signature colours aren't well mapped. He _is_ better than the Kiss Play version, since that version lacks the flames, but I wouldn't really recommend either unless you're keen on the red Ford GT mode. Certainly he's not worth the prices you're likely to pay on the secondary market outside of Australia - 6/10

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