Masterpiece Theater - Rodimus Prime
I hate this thing.
Granted, that makes it sounds like there’s nothing positive about MP-09, Rodimus Convoy (or Rodimus Prime here in the States)…and that’s not entirely true. What ends up hobbling this figure is that it’s too ambitious. I mean, it goes from a Hot Rod robot mode to Rodimus Prime robot mode to Hot Rod vehicle mode to Rodimus Prime vehicle mode…all in one toy! While you have to praise the audacity behind this idea and the concept behind the execution…the actual execution itself…well, it makes you want to change Hot Rod’s name to Hot Mess.
Let’s start off with our robot modes. Both look great with subtle yet telling differences between the two. Hot Rod has a younger, chubbier face with goggles that drop down over his eyes ala Transformers: The Movie. Rodimus’ face is leaner and more worn. The shoulders can be shifted…all the way up for Rodimus, down a notch for Hot Rod. Hidden joints in the hips allow for Rodimus to be tall and Hot Rod to be shorter. Of these features that help to differentiate between the two bots, it’s the shoulders that cause the most harm to the toy. Don’t get me wrong, the way the joints are set up, the shoulders don’t do either of the bot modes any favors, but the slouched Hot Rod shoulders really end up hindering the point of articulation badly…to the point that any posing is, well, rather problematic.
Which is maybe the point, because posing usually involves guns…and neither Hot Rod or Rodimus will be holding on to theirs very long. There’s no way to sugar coat it…fuck these hands. They suck. The tiniest of air currents…hell, an amoeba could fart and he’d drop his guns. [Does that mean Hot Rod and Rodimus are French? – Ed.] Not cool, dude, not cool. [Talk about role reversal. – Ed.] This is such a shame, especially given the engineering in these guns. You see, Hot Rod’s got 2 pistols that end up merging to create Rodimus’ rifle. It’s really rather simple…but just such genius. It works sooooo well. It’s a shame that neither bot can hold on to these for any more than a minute or two.
So let’s transform Hot Rod into his vehicle mode. No, I’m not going through step by step…if you want to see it, there are many poor, suffering souls that have posted their torment on to YouTube. More than any Masterpiece I’ve owned, this requires TOTALLY EXACT placement of everything. And the toy’s going to fight you on it every step of the way. On mine, the three or four spring-ratcheted joints in charge of the freaking ankles always manage to gum up the works. Another point of fun? The leg panels that become the undercarriage of the rear of the car. Yeah, you can look forward to only one of them staying in place. The other one is going to pop out and flop around…just accept it. Once you’re finished, yes, you do get a rather beautiful vehicle mode…but the whole point of a Transformer, be it mainline release or Masterpiece, is that the changing from mode to mode is fun and thus, encouraging you to do it. There is nothing fun about this transformation. In fact, transforming this toy may in fact violate your constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
And the torture doesn’t stop there. Oh no. We’ve still got to get into Rodimus’ vehicle mode. This entails taking the top of the rear of the car (you know, the fin and the bits surrounding it), lifting it, twisting it around and then sliding it forward. Did I mention the ‘sliding’ bit on mine was stiff as all hell? Yeah, that’s a fun mix of emotions…’I don’t want to use too much force’ mixed in with ‘I want to break this damn thing into a million pieces for no reason other to sate my savage rage’. And as you can see in the pictures, Rodimus’ vehicle mode, the flaming Winnebago of doom, is little more than a cheat! All that’s really needed from the main Hot Rod/Rodimus body is that damn fin. So you ram him in there (not really…you kinda want to be gentle, but at this point in the transformation it’s gonna take some serious calming to get ‘gentle’ back into your Hulk-like vocabulary), fasten the false-front and boom, flaming RV. Now get this damn thing out of my face.
Lastly, we should look at Rodimus’ trailer. Transforming exactly as the old G1 version did, there are some updates that make this pretty cool…mainly the handles and the targeting screen. After the fun with the guns, I didn’t try too hard to get him to actually hold the handles, but turns out that if you just put the tabs into his palms and don’t touch those god-awful fingers, he holds on just fine. The trailer has slots to hold the guns as well as the saw blade and torch that I haven’t mentioned because they’re in a parts bin somewhere and I didn’t want to start digging for a toy that…well…isn’t the greatest.
Overall…sigh. The ambition was there…but I think Takara bit off more than they could chew with this one. It’s a shame since the bot modes and Hot Rod’s vehicle mode look rather nice. But all of the drawbacks to the toy outweigh the good. Limited articulation, frustrating transformation and a flaming RV mode that is a huge cheat (a clever cheat to be honest, but a cheat nonetheless) make it very hard to recommend this figure. Thankfully, Takara seems to have admitted this themselves with the release of MP-28…a scaled down version of Hot Rod. I haven’t picked him up yet, but I have a hard time imagining that he’s anything less than an improvement. Perhaps this will lead to a redux of Rodimus Prime further down the road. If you’re a HUGE fan of the character or find one for dirt cheap (and I mean like less than $50), those are pretty much the only two reasons I can think of for owning this toy. Well, or the unspoken third option…you’re a masochistic toy collector. And if that’s the case, drop us a line. We’re thinking of starting a support group.