Review by VF5SS
As time marches on, people, places, and high-end collector oriented toy lines will continue to evolve. The Masterpiece sub-line is over ten years old at this point, and in that time its priorities have shifted: away from treating every release as an island unto itself, and towards greater interactivity and better toy-to-toy scaling. As such, TakaraTomy has been less than shy about calling a mulligan on some of the older Masterpiece toys. About half a decade after the release of MP-9, the turbo-revvin' young punk has returned to take his place in the ranks of the retooled Masterpiece series.
Please check out my video review!
MP-28 Hot Rod (or Hot Rodimus as he's known in Japan) comes packaged in his stunningly sleek vehicle mode. The supercar of the year 2005 was given a tasteful update by TakaraTomy designer, Yuya "Not Jeff" Onishi. He is about six inches long in this mode.
His blazing hood flame is as loud as ever as a crisp tampographed decal. Also, note the extra detailing underneath Hot Rod's clear yellow headlights.
Onishi's subtle redesign also includes a completely revamped, hot-rodded engine for the young Transformer. While this is not strictly G1-accurate, the new engine really ups the detail in a way that complements its shiny chrome exterior.
Hot Rod's ground clearance is daringly slim, as befits a sports car. I have heard some reports of bits dragging, but it seems like the problem can be solved by making sure everything is tabbed as tightly as it'll go when transforming the toy back to vehicle mode. The orange collar piece is the only thing I've noticed getting too close to the floor on my figure, but I was able to rectify that problem with repeated transformations.
That beautiful flying yellow spoiler subtly angles upward in a way that just adds to this car's exotic nature.
As a whole, this Hot Rod makes for a very tight package in vehicle mode, with every part and panel lining up to create an eye-catching speedster.
In keeping with the current wave of Masterpiece cars, Hot Rod can mount both of his Photon Lasers in vehicle mode. A pair of pre-existing square-shaped details on his roof are now a set of spring-loaded doors where his guns can be inserted.
In addition, the chromed portion of Hot Rod's engine can be flipped up to reveal another mounting point for one of his guns.
This is a nice homage to the original G1 toy that is cleverly hidden in the MP figure's design.
When compared to MP-9 in Hot Rod vehicle mode, MP-28 is noticeably more angular than Floro Dery's original design, which makes the Autobot Cavalier look more like an an actual 1980s concept car. You can see this very clearly in Onishi's design work. In terms of engineering, the newer Hot Rod benefits greatly from its straightforward nature, as nothing ends up feeling out of place in car mode. By contrast, old MP-9 always manages to be a bit off, even if you carefully transform it to vehicle mode.
Moreover, what I think enables MP-28 to succeed (the way MP-9 could not) is how this toy feels like a loving update of the original G1 Hot Rod. The vintage Hot Rod is considered by many fans to be a true classic among Transformers toys, so using it as the basis for a revamped Masterpiece version of the character makes perfect sense.
MP-28 uses the same general layout and transformation as its forebear, and expands upon that to create a solid toy in both modes.
Still, as a big fan of the character, I am quite pleased to have three striking, yet unique, takes on Hot Rod's now iconic vehicle mode. There is a great sense of Transformers history within these three toys.
The decrease in size allows this Hot Rod to fit in with the post MP-10 Autobot cars, such as Sideswipe.
He fulfills the requirement of fitting in Optimus's trailer.
And can be carried by Ultra Magnus, as advertised. However, Hot Rod cannot drive up through the rear ramp, due to his exhaust pipes making him too wide to fit. The best you can do is position him on Ultra Magnus's ramps to imply he's rolling up to roll out into battle.
MP-28's transformation has the right amount of intricacy to satiate the hands, while not being so complex it becomes frustrating. Hot Rod essentially breaks down into three chunks (upper body, lower body, and backpack) in a way that invokes his official transformation.
Now before I continue to robot mode, I wish to address what has been a common complaint about this figure. MP-28 features the ability to carry the diecast Matrix of Leadership accessory included with MP-10 Optimus Prime, which many have bemoaned as contributing to the toy's blocky robot mode chest. However, once I got the toy in hand, it became clear that the Matrix chamber isn't preventing the car front from folding closer to the windshield behind. In fact, there's a fair bit of space behind the chamber, as the whole area is tucked neatly between the twin struts his upper body rotates on.
After all that, MP-28 makes for a good representation of Hot Rod's animated look that is still open about being a toy. It uses basically no fake parts to form the young Autobot's humanoid form. At just shy of seven and a half inches tall, he's a tall drink of energon for a Masterpiece Autobot car.
Forgoing fake parts means that unlike MP-9, this Hot Rod's chest literally is the car hood without any extra engineering tricks to alter its shape or change up the flame decal. As such, the flames only match his robot mode design, but I'm willing to overlook that because MP-28 is a much tighter toy experience than its predecessor.
This Hot Rod is a very clean looking robot overall, with much of his car mode obscured from view. Most impressively, his legs have no vehicular bits whatsoever, giving MP-28 a set of smooth techno cavalier boots like the animated character.
Of course, no Transformer toy can exist without some trade-offs, and in Hot Rod's case he's got a sizable backpack where the nearly the entire back half of his car mode is stored. As such, the camera can be unkind to the toy at certain angles, but I feel you could lay that criticism on almost any Masterpiece Transformer.
Where MP-28 succeeds with aplomb is his articulation. Everything that needs to move on him does, and has an excellent range of motion.
The toy does a good job of balancing, even with most of the car mode's mass being located above the waist.
Simply put, MP-28 is just a fun Transformer to mess around with.
And most importantly, Hot Rod can sit Seiza (正座) style, just like in the episode, "The Burden Hardest to Bear." Like MP-9, MP-28 has been explicitly advertised as being able to do this, which just helps illustrate how aspects of Transformers 2010 (the Japanese dub for Season 3) resonated with the show's audience in a way that may have been lost on Western viewers. By this point, the Transformers cartoon was basically the 80s equivalent of a simulcast, so it's neat to see how that shaped the series and its merchandise.
This Hot Rod follows in the footsteps of the Alternators Rodimus and MP-9 by featuring a built-in visor gimmick. Simply lift up the top of his helmet and flip out the clear blue piece.
While these shades certainly look the part, I feel like they could have been a bit more opaque. This seems to be a trend, as I've noticed a lot of recent Masterpieces like Tracks and Ironhide have distinctly lighter tinting on their clear parts than some of the earlier releases.
However, Hot Rod's analysis glasses still make you wonder what's that darn fool doin'!
The Autobot's twin Photon Lasers tab firmly into his opening hands.
Of the two, I like the more angular design as it's basically the one he used the most in the cartoon.
And while his slightly wider than usual shoulders may look weird at first, it's that extra space between his arms and body that lets Hot Rod do some amazing poses.
Hot Rod also features a peg hole in his posterior for use with MP Tracks's stand (or anything with the same size peg).
MP-28 comes with what is probably the meanest looking representation of the buzzsaw Hot Rod whipped out in Transformers The Movie.
The blade is ginormous, slightly transparent, and spins freely on its mount. To attach it, simply fold away one of his hands and pop it onto the thick peg that remains. It's a solution that is so elegant, it makes me wonder why MP-9 had those weird foldaway prongs for attaching its hand tools...
And last but not least, Hot Rod comes with a big ol' fishing rod, recalling his very first scene in the '86 film.
While this accessory doesn't do anything other than be a big stick of plastic, its presence is vitally important for helping to cheer up little kids. Note that MP-28 has an extra ab crunch joint just so he can sit down easy for total bass fishing action in the year 2005!
The Auto-Brat can also save Daniel from wandering Blitzwings.
And speaking of The Movie, here is Hot Rod next to his future BFF, Ultra Magnus.
When placed alongside other Masterpiece Autobot cars in robot mode, Hot Rod is noticeably taller. This is true to the movie, where the Season 3 cast were all just a bit bigger than the old crew.
Flipping Hot Rod's hood out to the side reveals the Matrix chamber designed to hold MP-10's diecast accessory. In a way, this also mirrors Masterpiece Ultra Magnus's ability to carry the Matrix like in the movie.
While some have derided this feature as being the source of Hot Rod's boxy chest design, again I'll point out that there is plenty of space behind the Matrix chamber ( even when it's inserted), and the thickness of the toy's upper body is due to how it has to tuck in the car mode front. Sacrificing this function probably would not have changed much, and even MP-9 set this precedent for Hot Rod having his own removable Matrix.
Yeah, I don't care what TakaraTomy says, MP-9 is 97% a Hot Rod toy so it counts. (￣へ ￣)
MP-28 can even hold the Matrix aloft. Though his hands aren't really made to grip the handles, you can certainly wedge it in there for a quick photo.
And now for a comparison with the elephant in the room: MP-9 in robot mode. Putting the two versions of Hot Rod side-by-side illustrates just how much a toy can vary from another, even when based on the same character. The engineering for the two couldn't be more different, with each following its own path in creating a modern Hot Rod figure. MP-9 basically started with the two disparate animation models for the Autobot's two forms, and tried to make them meet in the middle. While I greatly admire its ambition, MP-9 ended up being plagued by poor quality control, as well as some boneheaded choices on the part of the engineering. But the design isn't without merit, as the humble Kabaya candy kit managed to "demake" MP-9 into a solid little toy.
By contrast, MP-28 stuck to its roots and is essentially a modernized and more cartoon-accurate version of the G1 Hot Rod toy. This makes it far more solid, playable, and fun than MP-9 could ever hope to be. And I know this especially well because the MP-9 Rodimus you see in these photos is not (entirely) the one I received as a review sample several years ago. It is actually an amalgamation of two figures, using the best fitting parts and tightest joints from each production run of Masterpiece Rodimus Convoy. Even after weeks of tinkering with the best parts from both toys, the older Hot Rod is still just a nice display piece I may occasionally mess with, leaving its younger brother to take the spotlight.
In the end, though, one must not think of the past so much that it distracts from the future and the task at hand.
In spite of all the initial criticism surrounding the figure, MP-28 Hot Rodimus proves itself to a fine addition to the Masterpiece line. Coming about half a decade after MP-9, it shows just how far this collector-oriented venture has grown and matured since its early days. That sense of renewed focus and purpose can be seen in this Hot Rod's emphasize on being a fun Transformers toy, enhanced by its ability to interact with the other figures in the line. Hopefully this will lead to a new all-in-one style Masterpiece Rodimus Prime in the same vein as DX9's Carry, as I believe the character deserves a second (third?) chance to grow up to be a great leader and trailer truck.
|Posted 23 March, 2016 - 14:43 by VF5SS|