Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Platinum Clash on the Planet of Junk Rodimus

Classics Rodimus

Wave 1 of Transformers Classics have arrived courtesy of a UK eBay seller. Reviews of all 4 will follow over the next few days. Each toy has a lovely embossed Autobot or Decepticon symbol on the plastic bubble - a nice touch, and one that's sure to produce a few mispackaged variants.

Rodimus is the classics version of the G1 Hot Rod character. It's the latest G1 character reincarnated in the first wave of classics - most of the others are original Autobots or Decepticons, with Astrotrain a 2nd year character while Hot Rod is a 1986 movie toy, and not a Diaclone or Microchange reuse. Hot Rod reappears with a Targetmaster a year after his original release, and then as with Star Convoy. Hot Rod then falls into a 10 year long period of disuse before resurfacing homaged as a repaint in Car Robots/RID, Armada & Cybertron, a reimagined form in Energon and a tiny version is World's Smallest Transformers as well as several other Japanese PVC versions.

The car itself is obviously Hot Rod - the basic colour is dead on, even if the spoiler fin is slightly off colour being orange instead of yellow. The fire detail is present on the bonnet along with the engine block and the long clear blue sloped window, while the silver pipe detail is down the sides of the car. The rear of the car puts me more in mind of Sideswipe rather than Hot Rod. There's space under the back of the car to store his missile launcher, and you can attach the blue flame missile in the stored mode to make it appear as if there's a flame jet from the rear of the vehicle. There's some nice interior detail visible through the window which makes me want to be able to raise the roof up to put a small figure inside. Sadly you can't.

Rodimus has an attack mode: Slightly pull the sides of the back of the car away from the central bit attached to the fin, and then fold this section onto the top of the car and the wind screen. The instructions don't show this but I think it looks better if you rotate the sides of the fins as you go - the fin is in 3 pieces with the sides able to rotate forwards or back if there's enough space - so the basic shape of the fins is pointing backwards still. The stored missile launcher is now on top of the car facing forward reminding you of some of the Targetmaster vehicles. I could swear I could remember a toy which had an automatic flip up feature like this where the back folds on top of the roof. I may be thinking of Cybertron Override or Galaxy Force Nitro Convoy though. The missile's range is about 1m.

To Transform into Robot Mode you first go to my version of the attack mode by slightly pulling the sides of the back of the car away from the central bit attached to the fin, and then fold this section onto the top of the car and the wind screen while rotating the sides of the fins so they still point backwards. Pull the sides of the car at the front out to form the arms, and fold the hands out from the inside of the arms. Fold the front of the car under the car to form the robot chest and reveal the head. Pull the rear wheels out to the sides by about 5mm and fold down the panels just below the robot chest to reveal the upper legs and lock the wheels in place. Fold the feet down from the back of the car, and fold the heel spurs out from the back of them. Fold each leg out to the side to straighten them - there's an odd sideways joint below the hip and then fold down at the hips extending the sides of the upper legs to the sides of the legs slightly. Slide the upper body forward a couple of mm at the waist. Rotate the entire back/fin panel like G1 Hotrod so the fin points down and you're done.

His articulation consists of ankles, a rotating joint below the knee, knee, hip, shoulders, elbow and neck. Unless the panels at the side of the upper leg are folded to the sides this will limit the joints at the knee. This in turn means the legs can't be fully straightened under the waist and looks a little odd. It also means the legs have an odd habit of swinging sideways. But the upper legs are, like the original, orange and since this colour only appears elsewhere on the toy's spoiler it indicates that these pieces are moulded on the same sprue.

The robot mode looks like a slightly chunkier and squarer version of the original G1 Hot Rod. Almost everything is in the right places here apart from the engine block - previously the back of the head - now forms Hot Rod's collar. The hands can hold the missile launcher, but the peg for that and the hand size is slightly smaller than the standard 5mm pegs used in the last few years. The left arm has an additional feature that folds out from under where the hand is - the cardback claims it's a communicator but it looks more like the buzzsaw Hot Rod uses in the movie. The head has a lightpipe using the same purple blue plastic from the windscreen.

Apart from the minor gripe about the upper legs this is a good toy and a decent upgrade of the original character. My feeling is though it suffers slightly in comparison with the other three toys in it's wave: Astrotrain, Bumblebee and Starscream.

I've recently become aware of a variation in Classics Rodimus when I read the 2005 Boards Review of Protector & Sidearm and discovered that a small minority of people had difficulty getting Rodimus to hold Sidearm. I'm one of those. The fist holes on my Rodimus, plus the hole for mounting the gun in the vehicle and the gun handle itself, seem *slightly* bigger than the 4mm standard size used for Rodimus weapons. The difference isn't much, my Rodimus certainly can't hold a 5mm peg in his hand but it's enough that Rodimus can't hold Sidearm and that the Rodimus weapon doesn't fit onto the Protector trailer. Take note and beware.

Settle down, we're going to be here a while with the repaints.

Henkei Rodimus

Rodimus was issued as part of the Henkei line in Japan as toy C-05. Here his flames are painted gold, with an orange painted bonnet (under the flames), an Autobot symbol on the bonnet and a gold chromed spoiler.

There's some nice comparison pictures at EBI Labs

Shattered Glass Rodimus

Shattered Glass Rodimus - available at Botcon 2008 - takes the original Rodimus mould and uses the following colour swaps:
Black replaces Red
Grey replaces Orange
Clear Orange replaces Clear Blue.
New purple with silver edged flame details are added taking up a larger area than before.

Essentially this is the Dark Rodimus repaint predicted when I first reviewed the toy and very similar to the black e-Hobby version from 2001

Henkei Wildrider

Henkei Wildrider is an exclusive item from the "Chara Hobby 2008" show in Japan on August 30th, 2008.

Wildrider is very very similar to the Botcon Shattered Glass Rodimus. The flame decals are smaller, more the size of the standard release Rodimus, and coloured only silver bar the Decepticon logo on the bonnet. The clear plastic is coloured red and the spoiler is chromed silver.

Yeah, they're pretty similar. Of the two I think this one edges it for me but neither is cheap to get !

By an odd coincidence the Animated Rodimus Minor would later be repainted into a different Stunticon, Breakdown!

Henkei Sons of Cybertron Rodimus

All goes quiet then for a few years. Then in 2010 the Transformers world went Rodimus crazy, probably due to him being the star of the Transformers 2010 series in Japan which was the third season of the western cartoon series. The number of Classics Rodimus reuses from this point onwards is incredible. I sat down to write the update for Battle In Space Rodimus and realises there were FOUR other uses of the mould missing from the review since I last updated it at around the start of 2010.

Sons of Cybertron Rodimus is a clear version of Classics Rodimus,similar to the Clear E-Hobby version of Reissue Hot Rod made in 2001. He comes in a 2-pack with Sons of Cybertron Optimus, a clear version of Classics Deluxe Optimus Prime. A similar Animated Sons of Cybertron set exists containing Crystal Optimus, a clear version of Animated Battle Begins Optimus Prime and Crystal Rodimus, a clear version of Animated Rodimus Minor.

Universe Challenge at Cybertron Rodimus

I'm quite pleased that, instead of releasing odd repaints, there's a trend towards bringing decent toys of popular toys back as the original character. Fans may groan, but people especially new fans, will always want Bumblebee, Hot Rod, Starscream etc. For several years now Star Wars has had a Legends line keeping popular moulds and characters on the shelves alongside newer toys.

The Challenge at Cybertron set features new versions of Classics Rodimus, Universe Cyclonus (picture) and Universe Galvatron (picture). All three toys go for a supposedly more cartoon like appearance. Rodimus swaps the burgundy red for a very bright red and black for grey, with the grey of the hands being painted a much lighter grey. All OK so far. Most of the orange stays the same but the spoiler is now painted bright yellow over the orange (I scraped a little of the paint off a non exposed section to check). An Autobot symbol is found on the centre of the bonnet. Still OK. The Clear blue is swapped for solid red. WHAT????? And then painted light blue?????? NO! But sadly it is so. I hate loosing clear plastic pieces and here we loose the windscreen, lightpipe and clear missile. The loss of the windscreen is particularly sad as it means you can no longer see all the interior detailing. The blue paint over the top of the red plastic makes the toy look like a knock off on the windscreen, and just doesn't work on the exhaust. The exhaust isn't even fully painted with the trigger part of the missile unpainted which results in a small red ring between gun barrel and "exhaust" I get they're going for a cartoon like look but the photos I've found of Hot Rod in car mode his windscreen is more white. An opaque blue or black would have been better than this, but I'd have much preferred a clear colour like a smoked black or very pale clear blue.

The Challenge of Cybertron set was available in the far east, through toy dealers and given away as prizes at the Auto Assembly 2010 convention. It never received a retail distribution in the west.

For comparison pictures see the 2005 Boards Challenge at Cybertron review thread.

Reveal The Shield Battle in Space Rodimus

One of the main problems with the Challenge on Cybertron set was the Galvatron within it. A criticism of the original was it could have been more purple and loose the pinkish connector parts. The connector parts stayed and the toy became more of a pale grey for the Challenge set. So it was with some relief that it was discovered that the Rodimus & Cyclonus from this set would be re-released in a 2-pack as part of Reveal The Shield *WITHOUT* the Galvatron from the Challenge set. Early rumours and pictures indicated Rodimus was getting his clear parts back but sadly these proved to be false. In fact the only discernible change between the two versions is the replacement of the Autobot symbol on the car bonnet/robot chest with a die cut rub sign.

Most people who have this toy report a problem attributed to mould degredation: the arm on your right (his left arm) is very loose at the shoulder and is prone to falling out of the ball joint holding it in place when you move it.

Aside from the toys this set includes a die cast Matrix, originally available with the Japanese exclusive 2002 New Year's Convoy and a brand new comic book story written by Simon Furman and drawn by "Boo" set within the original Transformers: The Movie story.

Reveal The Shield Battle in Space became available in the USA at the end of 2010 and in the UK at the start of 2011. ASDA have it for the cheapest standard price of £19.99 but a recent Tesco sale has seen it reduced to about £15!

E-Hobby Rodimus

Late in 2010 E-Hobby announces a pair of three packs featuring the Henkei/Transformers United versions Autobots and Decepticons from the 1986 Transformers Movie. The Autobot set consists of a slightly recoloured & battle damaged Kup, a Junkion Warrior based on the Wreck-Gar toy but with a new head and Hot Rod. Hot Rod in clear blue plastic. What ????? Is this where all the Clear Blue that we needed on the Challenge at Cybertron and Battle in Space sets went ????? The spoiler & windscreen become a clear blue green to differentiate them from the rest of the car.

TF Wiki's entry on Hot Rod toys says the following about this toy:

emulating the scene in The Transformers: The Movie where Hot Rod catches the Matrix of Leadership to keep it from hitting the floor after a dying Optimus Prime dropped it.
They've also got a picture of that scene and it's quite clear that it's the Matrix making everything look that colour rather than Hot Rod turning that colour.

Having said all that I think it looks rather nice and want one!

TFCC Sideburn

Way back in the dim and distant past of 2000, the Japanese Car Robots toy line, sold in the west in 2001/2 as Robots in Disguise, had a blue sports car: C-004 Speedbreaker (RID Sideburn). During the series this character has a power-up turning into C-026 Super Speedbreaker (RID Super Sideburn), a red Hot Rod homage. In 2011, the tenth anniversary of Robots in Disguise, the Transformers Collectors Club repaid the favour by repainting Classics Rodimus as Speedbreaker. Colour swap time:
Blue replaces Red.
White replaces Orange.
Black stays Black.
Clear Yellow replaces Clear Blue.
I think that looks gorgeous and it got me to stump up the £50 necessary to join the club.

Unfortunately there were a few delays to Sideburn, leading to a toy that was touted as being released "late spring/early summer" eventually on the 27th July an email arrived stating

Provided that your membership was in good standing on March 16th (which makes you eligible to receive this year's free figure) the domestic figures are now in the mail.
The foreign mail pieces will depart by next Tuesday. They go via DHL Worldmail. DHL forwards them to your county's mail system and then your postal carrier will deliver your piece. These should be in your country's mail system by the end of next week.
(The club has an annoying habit of labelling those members outside of the US as Foreign)

So that's in the mail to International members Tuesday 2nd August 2011 and with their postal systems Friday 5th August 2011? I got mine Tuesday 30th August. where had it been for 3 1/2 weeks?

To make matters worse the Fan Club's packaging left a lot to be desired. In fact if I'd have got a toy off eBay packaged like this I'd be leaving the seller a very bad score for his packaging. The toy was packaged in a plastic bag and then stuck directly into a mailer box with no packaging. The Rodimus mould has some lovely thin spoilers. On Sideburn, nearly without fail, these arrived bent out of shape. It's a poor show, especially when you consider the heavy duty boxes with foam inserts that the toys from the club shop come packaged in. I read reports elsewhere of a catalogue of damage including bent missiles (which idiot packed them loaded in the weapons?), missing panels, upside down hands and bad paint applications.

When you start playing with the toy some issues that the mould has been developing becomes obvious: Again this left arm is a problem. In addition the back, which the spoilers are attached to, isn't 100% stable anymore. One element of the toy looks a little odd at first and that's his head. The horn on our left and the crest are painted yellow, but the right horn is unpainted. However bellow the horn, there's a yellow smudge on the underside of his brow and round the eye socket which looks all the world like a badly misaligned paint application. What I think it is, however, is an attempt to simulate the asymmetrical nature of the original Sideburn's head. Given the mould shape they were working with I think abandoning this element of the design and properly colouring the horns would have been a better move. The other departure from the original design I would have made concerns the robot's chest/vehicle bonnet: I think it looks a little empty in the middle and could do with an Autobot symbol there to break the design up somewhat.

I love the concept behind this toy, reversing the process of original Sideburn's Super Car Brother repaint into a Hot Rod homage to turn a Rodimus into Sideburn. I love the general implementation of the idea too. The problem is some poor quality control and poor packaging has conspired to spoil it for many people. The intention behind the asymmetrical colouring of the horns is easily misinterpreted as a bad paint application, and has been by many people, making me think a more traditional colouring of both horns would have been better.

As a small postscript Here's the story of a friend of mine. Wanting the toy, but not the fan club membership he resisted manfully signing up for the club. Then two days after the closing date he had a few sherberts too many one night and drunkenly subscribed. For five & half months he sat there knowing he'd paid for the wrong toy. Then a mystery "we tried to deliver a parcel" note was found in his letter box and he discovered that the fan club had accidentally sent him one anyway even though he subscribed after the deadline!

United Rodimus

I passed on United Rodimus. At that stage I already had a Classics, Henkei and RTS Battle in Space Rodimus and the mismatched reds on the toy REALLY put me off looking at pre release photographs.

What I didn't realise is that this actually offered something new. The engine block has a remould to include a raised tab that will act as a 5mm peg while his right arm now includes a 5mm hole. These additions allow Rodimus to interact with the Power Core Minicons, then being offered in Japan as repainted to serve as Targetmasters.

I like the modifications here, but I don't think they got them right and I don't think they went far enough. I'd have replace the 5mm peg with a 5mm hole, like Targetmaster Hotrod, and I'd have also retooled the hands, gun and peg hole under the back of the car to the 5mm gauge used by most other Transformer toys. The hands are small and while the potentially might represent a problem a closed hand with a gap between fingers and thumbs should do the trick. While I was at it I'd have moved some parts around: the hands would have gone to the same parts sprue as the legs, so both could be orange while the spoiler would get it's own yellow sprue. Interestingly this Rodimus appears, and I'm only looking at photos so I could be wrong, to be the one occasion this toy has a different plastic colour for the spoiler and the legs.

The clashing colours killed in for me but the mould changes made me regret not getting one.

Platinum Clash on the Planet of Junk Rodimus

When the Planet of Junk set was found in the TRU computer in December 2015 there was much speculation as to what could be within. 2015 had featured several sets of Platinum Reissues from the original line so the thought was this was possibly the original Wreck-Gar, 1986's only Junkion and a thus far non re-released toy, and something. When it was revealed in mid January 2016 there was some disappointment that it was yet another Classics Rodimus and repaints of Reveal the Shield Wreck-Gar and his repaint with a new head Scrap Heap there was some heavy disappointment with many feeling this was a wasted opportunity.

My personal opinion was that I didn't have a Wreck Gar any more, had never had a second version of wreck Gar to try the riding trick, Scrapheap had never been available in the west and Wreck-Gar & Rodimus were last on sale five years ago as an RTS Deluxe and part of the RTS Battle In Space set. Interestingly a later Platinum reveal showed that Cyclones, the other half of the Battle in Space set, was also getting a repaint packed with two Scourges. The Rodimus looked from first glance to be a far superior deco to the RTS set, now my one remaining example of this toy so it went on the must buy list. My desire was only enhanced when it was revealed that the Rodimus had the updated United Rodimus mould adaptations.

When my Platinum Clash on the Planet of Junk set arrived, apart from trying desperately to remember how to transform the Junkions, it immediately struck me that there was something wrong with my Rodimus: they'd removed the battle damaged arm feature the RTS version had! ;-)

Seriously Rodimus is night and day better than the RTS version as far as build quality and generally colour goes. Spoiler is better unpainted yellow even though that does mean yellow upper legs because the parts are on the same sprue and are almost always the same colour except when paint's used: see the Henkei and RTS versions above. I don't mind the yellow legs, though it appears to be a deal breaker for some people. I think they work OK, far better than the orange fin did on the original.

I think it's fabulous that the clear pieces are once again clear, who in their right mind made them solid plastic and painted them for the RTS set? So we get clear windows and clear lightpiped eyes back .... and a clear flame in the exhaust/gun (why did they paint that blue on the RTS version?)

Both of the the United additions do what they're meant to: the engine block peg can take a 5mm peg hole and the hole under the right hand can take a 5mm peg. In an ideal world I'd like orange 5mm peg hole hands but that would require also retooling the gun (black parts frame) and hole under the rear of the car (red parts frame) too!

The only real problem I have with the deco is the sides of the car look a little plain and could do with some flames on it but right the way along this is an area where Hasbro has skimped on this mould.

Future Repaints

Both of original Hot Rod's 2001 E-Hobby repaints have effectively been done to the Classics mould: Black as Botcon Rodimus and Clear as Sons of Cybertron Rodimus, So I'm not seeing many repainting opportunities here. One route might be to further play on the Hot Rod/Speedbreaker link and raid Speedbreaker's recolours: OTCC 2003 Roulette, OTCC 2003 Shadow Striker and Universe Sideburn . Another might be to repaint Rodimus as one of the other characters to have been turned into a Hot Rod homage: Armada Hotshot or Cybertron Hot Shot spring to mind.

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