Name: Hot Rod
Series: Generation 1
Alternate Mode: Cybertronian Car
Height: 4cm Length: 13cm Width: 6.5cm
A very aerodynamic looking red sports car with a big yellow wing on the back, triple silver exhausts on either side and silver engine block sticking out of his hood. Hot Rod's red is a darkish red, which serves to help the yellow wing and chromed silver pieces stand out. His front windshield - which is almost horizontal - and side windows are a dark transparent blue. The doors and hood have yellow flame stickers and he has orange headlights and various other highlights. All in all it's a pretty good colour scheme, the yellow and chrome elements tie in well with the dark red.
There are some nice finer details on this toy. The level of detail on the engine block is pretty good, even if none of the details look like a regular engine block (but then it's not an Earthen engine). There are moulded orange seats inside the cockpit, and the hood sticker sports an Autobot logo. Incidentally, there's a rubsign indent (maybe even a rubsign) on the roof. Hot Rod has black rubber tyres and silver wheels. The rear wheels are hidden behind the rear fenders, in turn behind the exhausts. Stryker informs me that Hot Rod's car mode is inspired by the Dome Zero, a Japanese concept car.
There's not really all that much play value here. He'll roll along on his wheels if you push him, and there's a screwhole on the engine block which is intentionally able to mount one of his guns. In Hot Rod's defence, while many newer Transformers offer more, being able to mount a gun in car mode was somewhat unusual at the time.
On the whole, it's a pretty good car mode. It looks great, and being so souped up suits his personality quite well. This car does about all you could expect of an Autobot car of the time and is far less awkward than the vehicle mode of Rodimus Prime, his grown up version.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Slide the rear fenders back to form the legs, flip the feet out from the bottom of the legs. Lift up the front fenders to form the arms and unlock his hood, which lifts out and come down to form his chest. While the chest is halfway, push the engine block in, revealing the robot head. Rotate his groinplate and clip the chest into it. Rotate the roof & wing assembly 180° and rotate his arms around. Give him his handgun(s).
Height: 15cm Width: 9cm
A predominantly red robot with the yellow wing on his back and a few orange details, Hot Rod again has a pretty good colour scheme, the colours work well together and the supporting colours are well thought out. His chest, head and arms are red, with orange fists, a grey face with blue eyes and the yellow flame sticker on his chest. His thighs are orange while his boots are red with silver shin stickers and either black plastic or pewter metal feet. Lastly, the chromed silver exhaust pipes are running down the outside of his forearms and boots.
Something I've always appreciated about Hot Rod's robot mode is that there are lots of car bits visible, which are obviously car bits even though his car mode isn't Earthen. The rear tyres are on his boots, the front wheels stick out behind his shoulders, the chest is the car's hood and the exhausts now form triple lasers on his arms (as seen in the movie). Many Transformers lose some details like these between concept design and end toy, but since the concept design made it's way onto the silver screen, the designers had to make it work as a toy, and have done a good job.
With the exception of the factory-applied chest sticker, most of his stickers are red and yellow over silver, which fits into his colour scheme quite well. I'd strongly recommend leaving the thigh stickers off, since they scrape against the insides of his boots when you transform him, and leaving them off is the only way to avoid this.
Considering how close they managed to stick to the original concept drawings, I'm pretty happy with the play value here. The elbows have hinges, with swivels just above the hinges, allowing him to target his guns in a variety of directions. Depending on which version you have, Hot Rod comes with either one, two or three guns - more on that shortly. While the arms represent pretty much all of his play value, he has no problems standing and his proportions are good, evening things out.
There are some really good robot mode features that are worth mentioning. The facial sculpt is great - he has cheek ridges, a nose, lips and a chin, and there's a collar of sorts around his neck. The Autobot logo on the hood is now central on his chest and there's a nise distinct gap between his legs.
All in all, this is a great robot mode that lives up to the concept design used for the animated Hot Rod. The only real departure is the red boots instead of black, but the overall looks is the same anyway. He really does look like a young thrillseeker, which is a big plus.
As mentioned, Hot Rod can come with different weaponry, depending on the version you have. His two standard handguns are silver plastic rifles, Firebolt is the Nebulan that accompanies the Targetmaster versions of Hot Rod.
Firebolt is a silver and black figure - black on top with silver legs. He has a red face, unfortunately the paint masks a pretty detailed facial sculpt. His legs fold up onto his chest to form Hot Rod's twin-barrelled pistol, which is silver on top with a black hilt and black post. It can sit on the engine or in fit in his fist, and works quite well as a handgun, not quite so well as a hood-mounted weapon.
It seems Hot Rod likes lighting the Autobots' Darkest Hour™, since he keeps coming back to do it again and again. There were two versions in 1986, both of which came with the silver rifles and small weapon holes (fists, engine). The first had metal feet and the second plastic feet.
In 1987 we saw the first Targetmaster, which had large weapon holes, plastic feet and Firebolt as his only accessory.
In 2000 he was reissued in Japan, sporting metal feet, small weapon holes and the silver pistols. Accompanying this reissue were a transparent version and a black version.
2003 saw Hasbro reissue him, and the metal pins holding his shoulders together had been replaced by plastic hinges. The following year the Targetmaster was reissued in Japan, this time with metal feet and the plastic shoulder hinges. This Targetmaster reissue came with the two silver rifles, both of which had thicker posts to fit into the larger weapon holes.
Rodimus Prime is the same character, albeit a very different toy.
No matter which version you consider, Hot Rod is a good toy that's closer to his cartoon incarnation than most G1 toys. Both modes look great, the colours are well thought out and he's a rather pivotal character - it's difficult to think of a reason to not get him. Even the once elusive Targetmaster Hot Rod is easy to find thanks to the recent reissue, so I can't even hold price against him. A toy I strongly recommend to G1 fans - 9/10