I own Titans Return Hot Rod because I wanted Getaway. As mentioned yesterday, Getaway was shortpacked, and so he was only available from BigBadToyStore in a set of everybody from the case. I am not super into the market of Deluxe Hot Rods Who Don't Look Terribly MTMTEy, and if I were, I'd probably prefer one in magenta with solid gray boots, which is what TakaraTomy is likely to do with him. And so my plan was to skip Hasbro's Hot Rod and wait to see what TakaraTomy did. I've got Cloud Rodimus, which is phenomenal, and so any additional Hot Rod would have to be amazingly fantastic to not be surplus-to-requirements.
But, again, if I wanted a Getaway, I had to get a Hot Rod as part of the package deal, so here we are.
And, actually, I'm pleasantly surprised with him. The 2006 Classics Rodimus which this Hot Rod essentially replaces is... well, yeah, it's ten years old. And even then, for its time, it was a little awkward. Its cardoor skirt was interesting, but constantly got in the way of itself. It had no rotational bicep articulation, and so its arms couldn't point outwards to shoot at anything. It was pretty scrawny for a Deluxe of its time, as well, being hardly larger than his wavemate Bumblebee, who was small but came with a little jetski on a trailer to compensate for his lack of mass. And so 2006 Classics Rodimus existed for a long time, filled an important character role, and had some neat ideas, but was often a chore to do anything with.
I was sort of ambivalent about New Titans Return Hot Rod ever since seeing images of him. He seemed to be kind of a boring direct update, the same toy again-ish, even more than Transformers collectors tend to be used to. He's got real similar arms, with the oversized shoulders, and his hot rod engine still ends up on his sternum, which is something he and Classics Rodimus share but few other Rodimi/Hot Rods do.
In hand, though, I've been enjoying him way more than I thought I would be. Titans Return Hot Rod is a sizeable Deluxe Class toy (the tallest in the line so far by a smidge), and his engineering removes all of the little annoyances of the older toy. His arms are set out from his torso, giving them room to move, he's got that bicep articulation, and his thighs are unencumbered by any sort of door skirt kibble. Also, hey, he's got waist rotation, which is a bonus.
Oh, and his head pops off and transforms into a little dude who can ride inside him in car mode.
The car mode is more appealing to me, I think, as well. The 2006 toy's car mode is a wedge -- which is fine, because Hot Rod's car has always been this doorstop with wheels, but the new 2016 toy adds some more interesting curvature in there to keep things interesting.
It's also nice, I GUESS, that Hasbro was able to finally get that "Hot Rod" trademark back after so many damn years. But with a Hot Rod showing up reportedly in Transformers 5, I guess this was the time to put all your trademark ducks in a row or whatever. "Rodimus" isn't a great name, but "Hot Rod" isn't super swell either. It's... just what he is. It's like naming Ravage "Cat." (Sidestepping for the moment, of course, that Ravage's name in Japan IS "Jaguar.")
Being a Deluxe Class-sized guy fits better scale wise into my MTMTE/Lost Light display, but the Cloud Rodimus I have, while way too tall, looks more like MTMTE Rodimus, with his pointy head and yellow fists and yellow forehead. This means Deluxe Titans Return Hot Rod is a little surplus to my requirements, but the toy is fun enough I don't regret owning him. I like him enough I might still buy the TakaraTomy one if it's decoed in a way that pleases me. I only own this guy as the "cost of doing business" of needing to get Getaway, anyway.
Time for more Titans Return guys! In this third wave of Deluxes, there's Breakaway (Getaway), Hot Rod, Twinferno (Doublecross), and Triggerhappy. Getaway is easily the boringest of the four for a few reasons, the most important of which is that he's just Chromedome with a new face. There's been a lot of parts sharing so far in Titans Return, like a thigh or a gun here or there, but Getaway is the first Deluxe to just be somebody else's toy with a new face.
(I'd say "new head," but that's not really accurate, as only the face itself is new, and the tiny robot guy who makes up the rest of the head is unaltered in sculpt.)
Getaway also reminds us that budgeting for paint is done across a wave, not just on an individual toy-by-toy basis. You CAN add more paint to one toy, but you gotta steal it from the budget of another toy in the case assortment.
And, um, Getaway is clearly the loser, here.
Seriously, this guy is super white. I mean, sure, the original Getaway toy was a white car, but this toy is... hella white and unpainted, even beyond what the original Getaway looked like. Like, he should have at least blue arms, for starters. (Adding blue paint to his arms is the first thing I did after finishing these photographs.) And he could stand some red on the fronts of his shins. Some, like, eyes, maybe? The original toy didn't paint his eyes separately from the yellow of his lower face, but that's something that I think one can get away with better if other things on him are painted well. And, well, they ain't. So.
The best thing about him is also kind of a curse, as well. His face is a great interpretation of how he looks in the comic book series More Than Meets The Eye. It makes him look like MTMTE Getaway because, well, that's MTMTE Getaway's head. The thing is, Getaway is hated in MTMTE. He's kind of being a jerk right now. And so, hooray, own a sort of okayish toy of this incredible jerk.
Did I mention he's also shortpacked? I had to buy a set of the entire wave to get him from BigBadToyStore; that's the only way he was available.
I mean, with his arms painted blue, he's nice enough. But, like, you still have to paint his arms blue.
I was tentatively excited about the Transformers: Robots in Disguise cartoon that started up a while ago. I was super excited about the Decepticon in the preview clip. It was a lobster robot that transformed into a car. And his name was Bisk. You know, like the lobster dish, bisque, but spelled funny. A reddish orange lobster robot who transforms into a car and is named Bisk is, like, the most perfect thing.
But the toyline decided, nahhh, and gave us nothing but Autobots and one goddamn single boring-ass Decepticon for the longest time. Yeah, there's a Decepticon who transforms from a wolfman to an SUV. I don't care. Wolves are boring and also Steeljaw was boring. He was a boring character. Where's my fucking lobster car???
It was this lack of lobster cars (or any non-Steeljaw Decepticons in general) that put me off a mainline Transformers cartoon for the first time. Sure, I got myself a Strongarm, whatever. But if the cartoon is gonna dazzle me with all these animalistic Decepticon weirdos and only give me the boringest one, then I'm out. Out, I say!
A large number of months later, finally, there's a Bisk toy. There's several, actually! There's some simple quick-change ones and a smaller pocket-sized one, and a "real" Warrior Class Bisk toy. It's too late for me to start caring about the rest of this toyline I've mostly avoided, but heck yeah I'll buy a Bisk. I ordered the Japanese TakaraTomy Adventure version of the Warrior Class Bisk toy, because he has a little more paint.
And, frankly, he's goddamned amazing. If this guy had been, like, wave one or wave two, I might have bought the rest of the line just on the strength of him. Again, he's a fancy Batmobile-esque sports car that transforms into a lobster robot. He's got big lobster claws and big lobster-stalk eyes and a little lobster tail that hangs down behind him. He hunches over like a goofy weirdo and has a dopey grin. He comes with two black pistols that can plug into the tops of his claws. And his name is fucking BISK.
instead we got like sixteen goddamned sideswipes all in a row.
Combiner Wars Liokaiser is now available exclusively at Entertainment Earth. There's a coupon code, SINGLES, which gets you $20 off, free shipping, plus a free diorama.
When your stomach is in knots and you find yourself just dreading the very act of passively existing, I find it beneficial to find small things to force myself to do, just to keep momentum going. Momentum is king. You might not do those small things well, 'cuz your brain isn't quite working at capacity, but you kinda just have to make yourself do things anyway, pushing up and through your emotional numbness. "Fake it until you make it?" maybe? Not quite, I dunno. Too platitude-sounding for what shitshow's going on in your mind. But it's close enough.
With that in mind, let me talk for a bit about Transformers Masterpiece Beast Wars Optimus Primal.
It's Beast Wars' 20th anniversary, and while Hasbro's been all "beast wars, what is that, optimus isn't no dumb monkey, have g1 recycled forever," TakaraTomy has stepped up and given us this amazing thing. (I've been singing TakaraTomy's praises in contrast to Hasbro a lot more these days, I feel. Am I weeabooing up or something?)
Let's consider the Generation 1 Masterpiece toys. Generally, they try to replicate a look from the cartoon, and the cartoon they're sourcing from was cell-animated. And so the toy, despite all its attempts to look like the cartoon as much as possible, must always fall short, because.... hey. Three-dee object existing in front of you. Flat cell-animated image. And you get into these debates like with the upcoming new Masterpiece Generation 1 Megatron: should he have a silver/chrome finish like a gun or his original toy, or should he have a flat matte light gray like the cell animation? There's always this dissonance between the source and the product, no matter how hard one tries. Masterpiece Shockwave might be the closest to achieving a seamless transition.
But Beast Wars' source material is a whole other animal. (so to speak) It was CGI, albeit mid-Nineties television CGI, and so the characters from the cartoon are "real." They don't look different when you look at them from the side versus the front or back, they have texture, they have alternating gloss and matte... and, frankly, they're more visually interesting. Ironhide and Ratchet are just cardboard box towers. A CGI model like Optimus Primal has curves and contours and nuance. Relatively speaking. This was 1996, again.
And that's where Masterpiece Optimus Primal really succeeds. He's glossy where he needs to be, he's matte where he needs to be, and, god of gods, his terrible texture-map-in-lieu-of-actual-modeled-fur-because-this-is-1996 is honest to god printed all over him. It doesn't come out well in my photography, but it looks like someone lightly hand-painted fur pattern everywhere on him that needs to be so. These interplays of various glossies and faux texture map honestly make the toy come alive. It's like the CGI model is standing on your shelf.
The painted-on-texture also has me a little on edge. Does this stuff scratch off easily? I dunno! I don't wanna test its endurance so much! And so I'm extremely careful with this guy. There is a small bit on his forearm, right over a seam between two adjacent plastic pieces, where you can see the texture painting wasn't successfully applied. And so I'm always eyeing that. During transformation, you have to rotate his robot head out at the same time as rotating in his gorilla head, and you have to get the rotation just right through this very tight space so there's no scraping the top of the gorilla head. I worry that I'll untransform him some day and find a scrape. And I have no idea how baseless this fear is, as this is a new painting technology to me.
The transformation is similar to the original, mostly because it kind of has to still be "arms become arms, legs become legs," but the differences are interesting to me. In the original toy, the ape head folded down and flipped over to become the robot chest; on this new toy, the robot chest is formed from the gorilla's stomach, while the gorilla head hides inside the torso. The gorilla back rotates upside-down for robot mode. The gorilla legs are a huge mess of parts on its way to becoming robot legs, rather than the original "just unfold them at the knees, switch the feet, the end" deal. Lots of flipping and turning there. I do recommend having fingernails. There's parts that require a very thin edge with leverage to unsecure them from their location. Usually on Transformer toys, there's little helpful edges or nobs that give you leverage, but that would mess with the contours and accuracy of each mode.
He's electronic. Push down his robot head, and his robot eyes glow. He comes with a number of alternate faces. Four for robot mode (neutral, screaming, Dreamwave smirk, and mouthplate deployed) and three for gorilla mode (neutral, growling, smiling).
He comes with his swords, which he can hold or store on his back, and he has both his flip-out shoulder missile launchers, and his forearm-deployed cannons. You definitely need your fingernails for the latter. You can do some folding on his backside to reveal his flight jets.
Other than my apprehension regarding the texture painting, there's not a lot for me to complain about. It's about as perfect as a Season 1 Optimus Primal toy as can be possible. In robot mode, he might as well be a fancy maquette reproduction of the CGI model. In ape mode... there are seams, but they're all understandable. And the choice of different faces brings whatever character is otherwise missing.
I think I'll like him if my emotions come back.