Masterpiece Theater - Smokescreen and Hot Rodimus
For this episode of Masterpiece Theater [So glad PBS has opted not to sue, by the way. – Ed.] we’ve opted to go for something old and something new. [Well, relatively new…given your timely updates. – Ed.] So let’s delve a little deeper into MP-19 Smokescreen and MP-28 Hot Rodimus.
For most of what you need to know about Smokescreen, all you have to do is refer back to my review of his mold-mates, MP-17 Prowl and MP-18 Streak (or, since I grabbed the Toys R Us version, MP-06 Bluestreak according to Hasbro). But these three bots are not identical as Smokescreen has some minor modifications. To better capture a stock car feel, Smokescreen’s front bumper has been altered from those of his compatriots. Also, the placement of the front wheels on his shoulders is different as his are on top while the other two place the tires behind the shoulders. Lastly, Smokescreen doesn’t come with the attached “cannons” that flip up on the sides of the head. Instead, these are separate weapons that must be attached and cannot store within the robot mode chassis. They can be attached, along with his main blaster, to the outside of the car mode in an “attack mode”…but it looks a little goofy. As I mentioned in my review for his mold-mates, I took me a while to finally decide whether or not I was going to add him to the collection at all, given that I was perfectly satisfied with two copies of the mold and really didn’t see the need for buying a third, especially at full price. What ended up wearing me down was my recent Seeker binge (seen HERE) and the fact that I managed to find a gently used one on Ebay for a pretty decent price. I point out his gently used nature because you’ll see in the pictures that the previous owner has applied some ReproLabels from ToyHax.com. They were applied pretty well and given the quality, I’ll be looking into perhaps snagging some stuff from their site in the near future. [Because your Sixshot is looking awfully naked. Just sayin’. – Ed.] But it didn’t take all that much time fiddling with Smokescreen to convince me that I’d been an idiot to wait as long as I did to add him to my collection. Sure, it falls into both Takara and Hasbro’s irritating habit of using a mold to death to create a number of new characters…but when the mold is this good, well, I’ll let it slide. Plus, if I’m gonna buy 8 damn Seekers (the 6 classics plus Acid Storm and Sunstorm), who the hell am I to bitch about 3 identical Autobot Cars?
Next up, we have Hot Rodimus…who I’ll be addressing as Hot Rod since we here at the Cat refuse to acknowledge that this schmuck was ever leader of the Autobots. Team Optimus and Team Magnus here baby…hell yeah! [At this point, it really does go without saying that you have issues…right? – Ed.] Problems with the character aside, this is one sweet toy. To be fair, how much I like this toy might be due to how much I didn’t like Takara’s first attempt. You can see my review for that abomination HERE. Roddy here has a very decent robot mode that’s mostly on model and a transformation scheme that’s mostly intuitive. Not to mention he’s got a fair amount of accessories and features from the animated movie that range from neat to goofy as he comes with a saw blade, a pair of flip out glasses/goggles and, yes, the fishing pole. To Takara’s credit, it is pretty cool that they went through the effort to include it, but upon removing it from the box, my first question was “Now what the hell do I do with this?” I have not found a satisfactory answer to that question yet. Oh, one last feature I forgot to mention…yes, this little doofus is able to carry the Matrix of Leadership, but looking at my Masterpiece Collection I’m pretty sure the line of succession is going to go Optimus, Magnus, Star Saber…everyone else (including Decepticons)…then Hot Rod. [Seriously dude. Therapy. It MIGHT help…but my expectations are suitably low. – Ed.] Some reviews have pointed out Hot Rod’s backpack as a bit of a negative…and while it can pose some posing and balance challenges, I didn’t find it to be too much of an issue. One thing however that can end up posing a bit of a problem is similar to the original MP-9…clearance under the vehicle mode. When it comes to any Masterpiece Transformer, well, Takara sure does make them EXACT…meaning that you’ve got to get ALL the bits in EXACTLY the right place. Anything other than that will lead to either a certain mode looking a bit off to a completely non-functional alternate mode. And sometimes, it’s not even your fault…in the instances of factory errors and pieces just not fitting like they should. For example, with my Hot Rod, the robot mode collar just doesn’t tuck into the vehicle mode as far as it should and as such, the car has no clearance to actually roll. If I didn’t enjoy the transformation (mostly) and the robot mode wasn’t as good as it is…this could be a potential deal-breaker and this toy would share the same fate as the little plastic mound of hatred that is his predecessor. Thankfully, the pluses outweigh the minuses here.
All in all, as we’ve come to expect from the Masterpiece line, both entries here are worthy of a thumbs up and a recommendation. While neither are perfect, Smokescreen being another rehash of a mold we already have and Hot Rod with his very exacting transformation/vehicle clearance issues, the two have advantages that far outweigh their limitations. Certainly worth it if you can find either of them for a deal…and I’d certainly say Roddy is worth it for full price. If you have no other version of the Datsun Fairlady mold, then Smokescreen warrants his full price as well…but if you’ve got multiples, you might want to hit the Ebay instead.