Name: Rodimus Prime
Series: Generation 1
Function: Protector (yeah, right, they just didn't want to give away the movie's plot in the toy specs)
Alternate Mode: Futuristic Motorhome
While I usually don't vary much in my review layouts, I thought I should mention before I start that I've just got the 2002 issue, Generation One Rodimus Prime from Hobbylink Japan, and since I have an original, I'm going to be doing both a review of the toy as well as a comparison of the two.
In vehicle mode, Rodimus is a dark red & orange affair, with yellow flames on the sides and the hood, as well as exhausts on the sides of the transparent blue cockpit. Oh and he has a yellow wing nestled between the cabin roof and the overhang of the living quarters section. He's got six wheels, with a set at the front, a set at the back, and a set in the middle. The reason for this mysterious middle set is so the gun emplacement has wheels at the front.
It's a pretty decent motorhome mode - although it's a rather unorthodox looking motorhome. I've heard it described as "The Winnebago of Doom", amongst other things. The colours work well, the chromed silver exhausts look good, and the Autobot symbol on his hood looks good. If you're lucky enough (or bought the reissue as I did), he may even rubber tyres and chromed wheels, although the plastic wheels are more common in the 1986 issue. He has a rubsign on the front of the rear section - above the wing, and an Autobot symbol on top of the back of the living quarters, which faces backwards. Although I can't see any reason why it _must_ face backwards, there's no reason why it _should_ be facing forward, other than convention.
OK, so the one in front of me as I type this is brand spanking new, so of course I'm going to say it look good, with the shiny chrome and all. But the fact is I can't really pick a fault with this mode. I suppose the plastic tyres are a negative, but only because there's a version that has rubber tyres. The only real negatives than can arise are wear - chromeless exhaust pipes would look pretty bad. Having said that, my old one is pretty worn and the chrome's fine. Losing the flame stickers would be more of a problem, since the plastic underneath is orange when the majority of the toy is red.
It's a good vehicle mode, and it's certainly something unique in the Transformers line. While play value's limited to rolling it along, it _is_ a car, it's not like they're poseable. Good colouring, nice chrome, good stickers and it holds together well.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Firstly, you have to detach the robot from the trailer. Do this by grabbing the cabin and pulling forward basically, which pulls the front half and two poles out from the trailer, which can stay level on it's own. The front can roll, too, by virtue of small plastic wheels near the back. It looks pretty stupid, though.
Pull the hood of the car mode forward if it hasn't already done so when you pulled Rodimus out from his trailer. Flip the feet down at the back of the toy, pull the arms out from the sides. Now flip the hood over, push it back into the body and flip his head up. Remove the wing from the hole in the cabin and place it (facing the other way) into the hole on his back. Give him his handgun.
Grasp the two sides of the trailer and fold them down. Lift out the gun, pull up on it to extend the stand, and attach the blast shields to the sides of the stand, if you're lucky enough to have some. You can position the gun forward or backward, depending if you want Rodimus to man the gun emplacement or not.
It's a pretty simple transform, overall. OK, so you've got two sections to transform, but the robot mode is simpler than the smaller Hot Rod. It's not really what I'd call elegantly simple, such as Optimus Prime or Sideswipe.
Height: 19.5cm Width: 6.5cm
The red is still the dominant colour in this mode, with red arms, head, groin & lower legs, but the orange is now on his chest, hands & thighs. He has a big yellow wing behind his head and either dark metallic grey or black plastic feet. His face is painted grey and his eyes are blue. Oh and he has the flamey sticker with Autobot symbol on his chest, and the exhaust pipes have become triple-barrelled arm mounted guns.
The first thing I notice about Rodimus' robot mode is his lankiness. He should be a Basketballer or a Tennis player or something. He's very narrow, overall. He's also got fairly long legs, which adds to the lankiness. The wing sits fairly high on his back, and adds to his height a fair bit (about an inch/2.5cm), although if you don't like that you can place it on the hole in his roof, which is a bit lower. Doing that hides most of the wing, however. The other thing about the wing is that many Rodimi simply don't _have_ the wing, since it detaches. You can sort of attach a Hot Rod wing, although those are hard to find anyway (although I found one for my old Rodimus).
The only poseability Rodimus has is the ability to move his arms at the shoulders. While this level of movement isn't unusual for G1, Hot Rod has more poseability, which is somewhat disappointing. The play value's OK, though, since he has the cool exhaust guns on his arms, as well as a nice gun handgun (which mimic's Hot Rod's, incidentally). And of course he has a whole gun emplacement to himself.
My overall feeling on Rodimus' robot mode is one of disappointment. It's not that he's _terrible_, it's just that Hot Rod's so much better. He's oddly proportioned, less poseable and simply not as impressive looking (despite being taller). I suppose I should look at him as a different toy, but I got Hot Rod years before Rodimus Prime, and let's face it; they are the same character. The overall aesthetic is good, but because Hot Rod does it better, it's difficult for me to really appreciate it.
GUN EMPLACEMENT MODE
Height: 16.5cm Length: 13/18cm Width: 12cm (the two lengths refer to the fact the gun can be positioned two ways).
Essentially an answer to Optimus Prime's trailer, the rear half of Rodimus becomes a red & grey battle platform with a black & grey twin barrelled cannon on top of it. The grey appears only in this mode, and it compliments the red and black well, so the battle platform looks _nice_.
I'd even go so far as to say that despite having less to it, this is a better add on base that Optimus Prime's. The fact that Rodimus can stand on the platform is a big plus to me - Optimus can't man his battle station, he can only stand next to it. Also, the robotic section of Prime's trailer essentially looks like a mining unit with small missile launchers. And Rodimus has got nice, gun, imposing twin barrels on top of his base. It's also got the blast shields which add to the apparent size of the tower holding up the guns.
The middle and rear wheels of the vehicle mode act as feet for the gun emplacement, so it can roll (but will stay still unless you're silly enough to put it on a slope). The guns can face forward, in which case it pretty much acts as a stand alone weapon, or backward allowing Rodimus Prime to man them, and they can be position side to side, adding to the play value.
So it seems like this base mode is almost better than the robot, the way I'm describing it, right? Well, the only obvious flaw is that without the blast shields, the thing looks a lot less substantial. And the blast shields can only attach in this mode, making them very easy to lose - there's a lot of Rodimi out there missing the blast shields (and wing actually). The other thing worth mentioning is that this thing really isn't very exciting without the Rodimus Prime robot, anyway, since it essentially transforms into a box.
Aside from the fact that he's an incarnation of Hot Rod, there's two major variations. The original production run in 1986 saw a Rodimus Prime with rubber tyres and metal feet. Later runs saw plastic feet & tyres. It probably goes without saying that the original version is a lot nicer.
The 2002 Reissue is based on the original version, and has the metal feet & rubber tyres. There's not much difference that I can spot between my reissue and my (plastic) original. Even then, it may be that what I can see is a metal/plastic thing rather than a Reissue thing.
The reissue is made in China, while the original is made in Taiwan, and I suspect that the metal footed original would also have been made in Taiwan, since early G1 TFs weren't really made in China, even later ones were usually made in Macau. The screws on the back of thighs of the reissue are smaller, and the spot where the plastic was injected into the mould is on the left hip of the reissue but halfway down on the original. The smaller screws are also present inside the trailer, keeping the exhausts attached. Oh and the rivet at the base of the tower in the base has rounded ends on the original and flattened ends on the reissue.
Since I don't have an original metal footed version to compare, if anyone out there does, I'd really appreciate if you could look at these differences and see what differences are unique to the reissue.
Rodimus Prime isn't a bad toy, but it's not what Hot Rod is, and for me this brings him down somewhat. I get the feeling that Hot Rod was designed first and Rodimus's designer had to work within the boundaries of making Rodimus look like Hot Rod. Ignoring Hot Rod, he's a decent robot with a good gun emplacement and a good vehicle mode. If only it didn't have three integral parts that are so easy to misplace (the wing & two blast shields). I got my reissue solely because it was easier (and cheaper) than finding these three parts. Despite his shortcomings, he's a toy pretty much any G1 fan's going to want anyway, since he lit the Autobot's darkest hour and was the Autobot leader for a large chunk of the Cartoons. Ignoring Hot Rod I give him 7/10, in comparison to Hot Rod that drops to 6.5, solely because I'd really recommend Hot Rod more