It’s time to start digging into a brand new wave of Titans Return Deluxes and I couldn’t be more excited! I fished around in my new box of convertobot goodness, pulled out a random figure to start with and I wound up with Hot Rod. I’m cool with that, since my Classics Hot Rod has been showing his age and itching for a replacement for a little while now. Will this be the figure to do that? Let’s find out!
Here’s the packaging and there isn’t much new to say about it. Hot Rod is another one of those cases where Hasbro has to toss the word Autobot in front of the name, probably because of copyright issues. As for Firedrive, Hasbro no doubt derived that name from Firebolt, the name of G1 Hot Rod’s Targetmaster, since he was never a Headmaster. The Headmasterfication (it’s a word that I just made up) of non-Headmaster G1 characters seems to be pissing off a number of Transformers fans, but it doesn’t bother me at all. Let’s start off with the vehicle mode, but first, I’ve got to cut a dozen of these damn plastic retaining straps.
Oh man, I’m in love! In keeping with his G1 namesake, Hot Rod’s alt mode is a futuristic red sports car with a big yellow spoiler on the back. He’s wide with a low profile, banks of exhaust pipes on both sides, an exposed engine block on the hood and a blue canopy. I absolutely adore the styling and the colors on this car. It’s both dead sexy and instantly recognizable as Hot Rod. The red plastic is nice and bright and the yellow and orange paint operations on the hood really drive the homage home, if you’ll pardon the expression. This is one sleek ride.
Firedrive is a great sculpt, but as has been the case, Hasbro stopped painting these tiny fellas and it really hurts what could have been a beautiful little figure because he’s just all gray and kind of bland. Naturally, Hot Rod’s canopy opens up so that Firedrive can sit in the driver’s compartment. I just wish Firedrive and the cockpit weren’t the same color plastic, because when I seat him in there, he just sort of blends in with the rest of the gray plastic. Unfortunately, that’s been an issue with a lot of these figures.
You have a couple options for Hot Rod’s rifles. My preferred use is to plug them into the sockets just behind the front wheels.
But, you can also connect the two together and form a gunning station that plugs into the engine. It looks ridiculous, but I kind of dig it!
The transformation is very intuitive and reminds me a bit of some of the engineering used for Cybertron Hot Shot and Excellion only with a lot more sophistication. Whatever the case, the result is an absolutely gorgeous robot mode that hits all the points I was looking for in a modern Hot Rod figure. The sculpt is solid enough, but it’s the colors that really sell this figure. All that beautiful red plastic is now met with some equally brilliant orange. You get some gray plastic accents and a little yellow and silver paintwork to spice things up. In terms of coloring alone, Hot Rod is easily one of the most dynamic looking figures in the TR Deluxe line. Sure, the spoiler could have sat a little higher on his back, but when everything else is so good, I’m not going to nitpick the little things.
From the back, Hot Rod is a lot boxier, but he’s also very clean. His rear wheels and exhaust pipes fold up in the back to fill out his lower legs and you can see the front parts of those exhaust pipes form his arm guns. I think he could have used a bit more in the way of heel spurs, as he can sometimes topple backwards when put in certain poses, but again, this is me nitpicking what is a really great figure.
The head sculpt is right on point as well. His face is painted a very pale gray or off-white, with blue eyes, and his “helmet” is comprised of the same bright red plastic. Here you can get a better look at the silver engine block in his chest as well as those sexy flames and he has a crisp Autobot emblem stamped just below the engine.
Hot Rod’s guns can be held in either or both hands and he looks damn good wielding them. I like how the tabs that lock them into the engine block look like side-mounted ammo magazines.
Titans Return has been impressing the hell out of me since the beginning and if Hot Rod here is any indication, Wave 3 should be continuing that trend quite nicely. I love just about everything about this figure I’ll most definitely be retiring my Classics Hot Rod in favor of this shiny new bot. Between this line and Combiner Wars, I haven’t been this excited about Transformers in a while, which probably explains why my Third-Party purchases have all but dried up. And I’m lot happier spending $15 on a great figure like this, than having to go $60-100 for someone else’s unofficial take. My only hope is that Hasbro keeps it up and doesn’t kill this line in favor of the latest Michael Bay atrocity.