Sunday, 27 March 2016

Combiner Wars Voyager Scattershot

Voyager Scattershot

Reusing Silverbolt as Scattershot isn't an idea that readily comes to my mind but many people have claimed to have been able to see elements of Scattershot in Silverbolt's robot mode even before he was announced at SDCC 2015. The images shown there show a decent approximation of Scattershot's colours: Lower legs, waist, shoulders and hands are brown, with a red chest lower arms and combined robot chest. a new head in cream like the upper limbs, knee pad and gun parts completes the look. Unfortunately the robot we got was somewhat different: the brown is swapped for a dark red while the forearms are now cherry red. There's too many slightly different shades of red going on here. The gun parts ended up silver again, just like with Cyclonus. The gun was already a problem, being another reuse of Silverbolt's signature weapon but reusing it in the same colours as it's previous appearance? I'd have preferred red, like the original Scattershot, but to be different creamy white as previously shown would have been OK. To make it worse it appears as if the silver is painted over the creamy white. The only thing I've really got any praise for here is the new head which is spot on. It's is a shame because the robot mode was the image that looked OK in the promo renders.

The spaceship mode is a disaster: It's obviously Silverbolt, with new wings, nose and tail. The wings seem rubbery and are another slightly different shade of cherry red. The nose.... the nose just looks like a Jet with a gun for a nose! I can see what they're going for here but it looks nothing like the original Scattershot's chunky spaceship mode. You can't even plug weapons into the end of it which would have been a somewhat redeeming feature. It gets worse though when you plug the robot's gun underneath it and you end up with two completely different gun barrels sticking out the front of the toy! It would have required a bit more engineering but why not dump the original Silverbolt gun entirely and develop a new plane nose gun that removed to become a hand weapon.

Then there's the combined mode Betatron. Assigning Scattershot a different combined robot caused months of moaning in the fan community and I can see the argument. Unfortunately I'm old enough to remember the Micronauts use of the Betatron name and that wasn't a terribly good effort either. The main problem with the combined mode is it still has Superion's head in black. If we were aiming for something vaguely like Computron I would have at least repainted the head to match Computron's colours. But Hasbro didn't Otherwise the combined robot Torso looks exactly like Superion's, except that it's in varying shades of red. A hate plague Superion almost?

The other problem "Betatron" has is he doesn't have anyone to specifically combine with and not enough limbs spare to use with him that aren't more suited for use with Optimus Prime or Galvatronus. There are no Technobot limbs available separately. Hasbro have shown him combined with both sets of Autobot limbs at various times. This prompted speculation that a SEVENTH Combiner Wars wave was coming with the Technobot limbs and Scattershot had been released early and would return in Voyager assortments when his proper intended deluxes came out. This rumour was put to be by the reveal of first Hasbro Computron Boxset and then the TakaraTomy Unite Warriors Computron which both use the Scattershot Voyager with differently recoloured & remoulded limbs as the Technobots. These releases effectively render the stand alone Voyager Scattershot completely superfluous so why release him, especially as his slot could have been used for a fixed version of the original Optimus Prime voyager? I think the answer is money: Scattershot is released by himself so the cost of remoulding the toy for Computron is borne by the stand alone release and any budget for the boxset can be thrown at the other remoulds. We may never know for sure. But if you did buy Scattershot, hoping for Technobot limbs for him down the line, then you're going to be disappointed because you're going to have to buy him again to get those limbs.

Scattershot was released in Combiner Wars Voyagers Wave 5 (2016 Wave 1) in December 2015. He appears at one per case of two in only that case.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Combiner Wars Wreck-Gar

Combiner Wars Wreck-Gar

A quickie, cos we've all got Groove.

It pains me to say it but Wreck-Gar's nowhere near as bad as I thought he would be.

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Yes the majority of him, including everything white on Groove, is bright orange. How bright? Brighter than last year's Huffer!

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New head is quite nice, can't do it justice with my limited camera skills! (apologies for all other photos: working with limited space, fading light, no flash, wobbly CMT affected hands and a lot of tiredness!)

Upper limbs are a dull palish yellow. For the large part black pieces on Groove remain black with heavy paint to the chest sides and windshield. Feet are now orange as are the arms, unpainted for the first time.

No combined mode on the instructions: Robot to bike one side, bike to robot the other.

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It's OK. Personally I think it's better than Groove. But this isn't a hunt it down toy, be happy if you find one, don't go out of your way. As it is I had to pay for a half case from Kapow to get him!

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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Platinum Clash on the Planet of Junk Wreck-Gar & Scrap Heap

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar

Wreck-Gar's first toy was a motor bike made to tie in with the first Transformers Movie in 1986. We waited Twenty Three years for a new version before Animated Wreck-Gar came out at the start of 2009, brilliantly reincarnating the collector of rubbish as a dust cart. Two years later we have another version of Wreck-Gar out as part of Reveal The Shield d this time we're back to being a motorbike. The new RTS version slims down the bike and makes it much more realistic than the original. The new one is quite high too, making it feel a bit like an off road bike. Both wheels spin freely, but neither is wide enough to support the bike so a fold down stand is supplied on the right side of the bike. The placement of this part will cause some problems later. Neither the front forks or handlebars turn out to the sides. The colours are similar to the originals with lots of brown, sandy brown and grey. The seat on the back of the toy has a nice feature: there's two slots on it which precisely match tabs found sticking down from the waist of Wreck-Gar's robot mode. This allows Wreck-gar, or one of his repaints to ride Wreck-Gar, rein acting the battle on Junkion scene in Transformers The Movie (The proper one!) At the rear of the seat is a single 3mm bar for c-clip weapons. Mine's not terribly well aligned, formed as it is by two parts attached to either side of the saddle.

Transformation: pull the exhaust pipe and attached rear wheel fork half away to the side - they're connected to the other half of the fork by a c-clip that passes between the wheel and the body of the bike. Pull the other half of the fork away from the body then bend the rear wheel up along the right side of the rear of the bike. Pull the saddle back and fold out to become one of the legs. Pop the front of the bike off the front forks and pull up. Push the windscreen & headlight back folding the front mud guard out & turning around to form a foot. Bring the hips together and turn the toy so the saddle form the leg on your right and the windscreen the leg on your left. Turn the upper half of the toy round so the flame & gun barrel side of the chest faces front. Fold the vehicle parts on the robot's back out to the sides to form the arms which are then unfolded. Fold the head up. Unfold the removed fork half and exhaust. Move the blades of the wheel hub at the end to form an axe, similar to the armour axe carried by the original.

Sounds easy? Try going the other way! An absolute nightmare!

Wreck-Gar's robot mode resembles the original, with more than a hint of the differences shown in his original design drawings. The head *looks* like it's shaped from the front of the bike, but isn't, that's ended up on his right ankle. The eyes are a clear lightpipe from the windscreen on the head, with the the eye end tinted red. The chest is a much more angled version of the original with added flame detail and the guns poking out in a position that I'm trying not to talk about. The original Hasbro publicity photos shows Wreck-Gar with a red chest but the version I have here is the same brown used elsewhere on the toy. His articulation isn't bad: turning wrists, bending elbows, bicep swivel, ball jointed shoulder although his left one is a bit of a problem as his left upper arm has the front wheel attached to it but the body side of the joint has the stand attached to it meaning they have a habit of meeting each other. It wouldn't of been too hard to make either part attach to the other side of the toy. The head is ball jointed, the waist turns, both hips are ball jointed, the knees bend but watch the transformation joint on his right leg that's near the knee and the ankles are on ball joints. Unfortunately, like RTS Optimus Prime, he suffers from plastic stress both on the palms of his hands and on the top of the ball joints for the shoulders, which have a pin passed through them to strengthen them. This is putting me off the open style of hand that's becoming common recently and I'm hoping the closed fists make a come back soon. The robot mode features three 3mm bars: one on his left ankle, one on his left knee and another on his back which can be used to store his weapon.

Overall: I like the toy in both modes but the stress mark issue brings it down a bit. Transforming back to vehicle mode can be a bit of a pig too!

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar was released in the US in January 2011 and in the UK a month later. If you're looking for one in the UK then visit Toys R Us, which, at time of writing (02/03/2011) is receiving them and pricing the toys at £9.97.

For more pictures see these Blog entries showing United & RTS Wreck-Gar and various toys riding Wreck-Gar

Transformers United Wreck-Gar

The Blog entry linked above has some wonderful comparison images of the two different versions of Wreck-Gar. Broadly similar in vehicle mode, the RTS Version has a sandy seat mount and brown windscreen mount while these paint colours are reversed on the United version. In robot mode United Wreck-Gar loose the flames on the chest and paints it red, with the grey of his right shoulder, waist and upper legs becoming a sandy colour. The differences aren't quite enough to make them into two different Junkion characters though.

Wreck-Gar was released in late February 2011 as Transformers United toy UN-18 alongside UN-15 Perceptor, UN-16 Blur & UN-17 Kup.

E-Hobby Junkion Scrap Heap

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 clear blue Hot Rod, supposedly from the scene where Hot-Rod catches the Matrix in the Autobot sick bay, and a new Junkion character, who was eventually named Scrapheap. The bike mode is a darker brown with some more silvery grey while the dark brown on the robot mode moves to the hands, chest and lower legs, with red upper arms and waist and most of the rest silver. A new head, featuring a face plate and no handle bars is also included.

More Junkions are good. *REALLY* tempted by these two sets.

Generations Junkion Junk Heap

Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar's instructions show a second new head, this time with visored eyes and a visible face which will become the one used on Wreck-Gar's Generations repaint. Early on we had heard this toy referred to as "Scrap Heap", the eventual name used was Junk Heap.

The toy swaps the brown used on Wreck-Gar for a more burgundy red while swapping some of the grey moulded parts, including weapons blades, wheel rims and upper arms, for yellow.

A much more colourful toy and good to get a second Junkion in the west for Wreck-Gar to ride on!

Botcon Shattered Glass Wreck-gar Scrap Iron and Junk Heap

The Shattered Glass Junkion set for Botcon 2012, which unites all three Junkion heads in the same place, features a common colour scheme for all three toys based on the Insecticons. The brown is swapped out for purple with the clear parts becoming clear yellow and lots of grey and black.

Very pretty!

TFSS 3.0 Tarantulas

I can honestly see what the club was going for here: Since Transmetal Tarantulas has a third motorcycle mode it makes sense to try for a motorcycle Tarantulas from Wreck Gar especially as there is a passing resemblance between the Scrap Heap head and the original Beast Wars Tarantulas head. Unfortunately the colours used here also are more those of original Beast Wars Tarantulas and to compound the matter the green used is horrible pale and washed out. To simulate his claws and the Arachnoids he used in the show a pair of purple Arms Micron Ida are included.

Not one of the club's finest hours sadly. Could have been loads better.

Platinum Edition Clash on the Planet of Junk Wreck-Gar and Scrap Heap

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 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.

When my Platinum Clash on the Planet of Junk set arrived my main problem was trying desperately to remember how to transform the Junkions! Sadly the mists of time seems to have clouded any difficulty I had transforming Wreck-Gar into bike mode: I'd parted company with my original in 2010 and not owned one since. Actually that's not strictly true: a friend found me one in a set of three RTS deluxe toys he obtained cheaply but for some reason I'd never got round to opening it! This proved useful as I had a properly transformed bike in hand to see what I should be aiming at. Didn't help, and in the process I discovered you really shouldn't push down on the motorcycle window while transforming the toy!

Essentially Wreck-Gar and Scrap Heap are the same toy casts from the same plastics: brown for the lower legs, chest, lower arms, hands & head, grey for the upper legs, waist, shoulders & bike forks, pale brown for the upper arms, chest spikes and inner pelvis and clear orange for the eyes, lightpipes and windscreen. Each has the same head as their earlier version, the first time the Scrap Heap head has been available at general retail.

Intentional or not there appears to be some mismatched parts here. Wreck-Gar's lower arms and left leg, around the bike saddle, are painted a goldy brown. The edges of his right leg and the surround for the headlight is painted bright yellow.On scrap heap these colours are swapped. Every picture shows this configuration so I'm assuming it's intentional but to my eye it would make more sense if all the yellow parts were on one robot and all they brown/gold parts were on the other. If you're brave enough to remove the screws in the hips you can swap them round. IF you're brave enough....

I'm feeling generous so I'll attribute the problems transforming these, and the subsequent parts breakage, to my deteriorating hands. I'm glad to have Junkions in my collection again and think this is a great set.

Future Repaints

White and Pink with a new head as Arcee please!

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.