Towards the end of 2010 there were a lot of Rodimus Prime items floating around, and most of them cost a penny or two. For me the choice was between the Fan's Project Protector armour and Takara's Masterpiece Rodimus Prime. I went for the Fan's Project Protector, because I already owned a Classics Rodimus and I have never been that enamoured with the Masterpiece line after my Optimus Prime just sat there on a shelf gathering dust. (However you'll be pleased to know my Masterpiece Grimlock experience has been a lot happier!)
The name Protector comes from Rodimus Prime's Function. The Protector set consists of a trailer for the Classics Rodimus figure, plus a set of fin extensions cast in the same colour as Rodimus. The larger fin clips onto the front of the Protector trailer, while the two smaller ones attach to Rodimus in either mode. Why make the front fin removable then? Well Protector's companion set, Sidearm, contains gold chromed versions of these fins.
Forming Rodimus Prime's vehicle mode is trivial: pull open the sides of the vehicle at the front, slot the spoiler fins on the back of Rodimus (without the additional extensions) as far back into the gap as possible and fold the side panels back in locking Rodimus in place. If you turn the vehicle over then Rodimus' rear wheels can be slid out to the sides to fill the front wheel arches on the trailer.
Combined together, the trailer and Rodimus form a pretty good version of Rodimus Prime. The Reds and Oranges are a good match between Protector and Rodimus. Yes Rodimus still has his engine, which is the major change between Hot Rod & Rodimus Prime. Other minor quibbles are the number of panel lines where the original was a solid piece and what's obviously the robot's chest in the front of the roof.
If you turn Protector there's a couple of features worth noting. The first is that Rodimus' Gun/exhaust should mount in a peg hole at the back of the vehicle. I say *SHOULD* because it's recently become apparent that there's a small number of Rodimus out there with non standard fist holes. Most should be 4mm, as they are on my Battle In Space Rodimus, but a few of the early Classics Rodimus have peg holes and gun handles that are *slightly* bigger. I own one of them and my Rodimus gun won't fit in the peg hole here. The other thing you'll notice on the underside of the vehicle is six double wheels housed towards the back of the vehicle. If you pull down on the structure between them you should be able to extract a Six wheeled Roller like Racing car which takes on some of the characteristics of Hot Rod. A panel on the underside folds back allowing Classics Rodimus exhaust blast to be plugged into it. Another rotating panel on the top of the vehicle allows you to plug Classics Rodimus gun or Sidearm into one hole or to rotate the panel and plug in any standard 5mm peg weapon. Nice stuff.
Reattach the car drone to the Protector trailer before removing Rodimus. Transform Rodimus to robot mode. Leave the feet and hands folded in. Bend the arms at the elbows, and then swing the shoulders back 90 degrees. Split the top of the Protector trailer in two and fold out to the sides. The chest armour at the top comes off bringing with it some of the front which forms the waist armour and the head for the combined robot. The top front corners of the trailer pull away: these will become the arms. At around halfway down the gun barrels it's possible to prise the inside of the sides of the trailer away allowing you to remove the sides of the feet to form the leg armour. From here fold the car down under the trailer, then fold down the black column at the rear of the trailer down allowing the trailer to stand on the column and car wheels. Fold up both silver gun barrels, remove the central black barrel and set to one side. Fold the silver barrels down and the clear viewing panel up. Rotate the folded out top sides of the trailer through 180s degrees to finish forming the tank like defence bay.
Back to the removed pieces and your Rodimus figure. Take each of the top corner of the front of the trailer pieces. Fold the three pipes on top out to the sides. Fold the hands forward and straighten to form the arms. Rotate the top pieces so the larger side is on the same side as the pipes on the outer lower arm. Clip each arm onto Rodimus' shoulders with the clip on the shorter side over the expanding ledge on the inside of the shoulder and the larger side round the wheels. Take the panels from the rear of the vehicle and fold the larger part of the side over to lock into the smaller part. Fold the panels for the rear under the doubled up panels to form the feet and heel spurs. This leg armour now clips onto the end of Rodimus' legs. Pull the head away from the chest armour, then slide the chest armour over the shoulders, clipping the waist armour under the waist. Slide the fin extensions over Rodimus' spoilers. Take Rodimus' gun and remove the exhaust flame, which you can store between the gun barrels or in the back of the roller drone. Take the black barrel removed from the Protector trailer, fold a 5mm peg back from the silver portion of the gun and slot into Rodimus' gun to form the combined weapon which Protector can then hold.
The Protector tank/base isn't bad, featuring elevating gun barrels and a set for Sidearm's robot mode to sit in. It's just about mobile when the roller drone is attached but that's easily removable to live a life of it's own.
The Protector armour meanwhile bulks the deluxe Classics Rodimus up to something approaching Voyager size. While the original Rodimus Prime was a little on the thin side this is a much chunkier toy. With everything connected right the toy is surprisingly solid. Articulation in the legs is as per Classics Rodimus: the legs turn bellow the knee, the knee bends, the hips turn and fold to the sides. This is all die to using the same parts as the classics Rodimus to provide the articulation. The same is true for the ball jointed shoulders but beyond that the arms are new with turning bicep swivels, double bending elbows and turning wrists leading to a hand which now has a standard 5mm peg hole allowing him to hold many more weapons such as the original Targetmasters, Minicon & Energon weapons and, to be honest, most modern Transformers weapons.
There's two nice hidden features in this set. Protector is supplied with an additional hand that allows him to re-enact a "classic" scene where he shakes hands with Ultra Magnus. The other involved the helmet/mask that goes over Classics Rodimus' head: the face plate slides out and can be replaced with any of the face plates supplied with the Fansproject Magnus set.
My Protector set has sat on my desk for a couple of weeks or so waiting for me to review it while various RTS toys got reviewed first. I picked it up today and easily transformed it back to trailer mode. The secret is to leave the trailer opened up until everything else is slotted back in.
Overall: Top job. Does what it should by making Classics Rodimus into Rodimus Prime. Improves the articulation, gives him standard hands and lots of other nice touches too. If you've got a Classics Rodimus you need one of these. And a Sidearm too :-)