There’s a scene in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie, where Optimus Prime has Megatron down, ion blaster pointed at his rival’s face, and is about to end the war. And then Megatron starts talking, and Optimus hesitates. Hot Rod sees that Megatron is reaching for a laser pistol, and jumps in to stop the maniacal leader of the Decepticons. This distracts Optimus further, and Megatron is able to both grab the gun and subdue Hot Rod. Blam! “Fall!” Megatron yells. “FALL!” he repeats, as he shoots Optimus Prime in the side of his robotic torso. “I would have waited an ETERNITY for this. It’s OVER, Prime!” he mocks.
Optimus, crouched in pain on one knee, intertwines his fingers, rears back slightly, and delivers a double-handed punch to Megatron. “NEVER!” he shouts, knocking Megatron away and off the edge of the platform they were fighting atop. The Decepticons gather Megatron up and retreat.
Hot Rod, meanwhile, tends to his leader. “Optimus, forgive me,” he pleads.
There are some fans who interpret this scene as Hot Rod being the reason that Optimus Prime died in Transformers: The Movie. Which is just idiotic, for a multitude of reasons. First off, it’s fiction so the reason Optimus died is because Ron Friedman, et al, wrote the script that way. Secondly, Megatron was going to get that gun whether Hot Rod jumped in or not — The problem, quite frankly, is that Optimus hesitated when he had Megatron on the ropes.
Optimus Prime screwed Optimus Prime.
In the next scene where we see the Autobots, Optimus is on his deathbed. He removes the symbol of command, the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, from his chest cavity, and passes it to Ultra Magnus. “One day,” Prime explains, “An Autobot will rise from our ranks, and use the power of The Matrix to light our darkest hour.”
For the entire rest of the movie, Ultra Magnus makes poor decision after poor decision. On The Planet of Junk, Magnus is surrounded by Decepticons, and willingly stays behind so the other heroes can escape. “Prime,” Magnus begins, “you said the Matrix would light our darkest hour…” he says, as the newly-upgraded Megatron, now called Galvatron, orders his new warriors, the Sweeps, to terminate Magnus. They do so, and Galvatron steals the Matrix of Leadership for himself.
In the film’s climax, Unicron, a planet-sized transforming mechanoid, is attacking the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron. In their attempts to stop him, both the Matrix-wielding Galvatron and Hot Rod end up in Unicron’s belly, where they do combat. Galvatron takes the upper hand, and begins to mock his younger opponent. “First, Prime. Then, Magnus. It’s a pity you Autobots die so easily, or I MIGHT have a sense of satisfaction!”
He begins to continue, with “Now…” but Hot Rod grabs The Matrix from around Galvatron’s neck, and unleashes its power. The brash, impetuous Hot Rod, it turns out, is the Autobot that Optimus had alluded to earlier in the movie; HE uses the power of the Matrix to light their darkest hour, and becomes the new Autobot commander, Rodimus Prime. He makes quick work of Galvatron, and causes Unicron to explode.
Unlike many kids who couldn’t get over a fallen leader never had a problem with The Death of Optimus Prime — Less than an hour later, we had THE CHOSEN ONE as our new hero. And he wasn’t a boring old truck — He was a sexy sports car — With FLAMES on the hood! To a five-year-old kid in 1987 (I didn’t see the movie in theaters), that was like the epitome of cool.
It always baffles me that there are so many grown adults who can’t separate the fantasy of a children’s cartoon from real life. Hot Rod, and his later evolution, Rodimus Prime, is a cool character. And people just HATE him, simply because he isn’t Optimus Prime. But it’s a fucking cartoon.
Anyways, Super7 did a hell of a job recreating Hot Rod’s animation model in three dimensions. They even made him PINK, just like in the movie, something that Hasbro themselves have absolutely NEVER done! He’s got the traditional five points of articulation that most ReAction figures have. And he comes with his twin laser pistols, just like the original 1986 toy!
My only complaint with the figure is that my particular toy came with some scratch marks on the flame design on his chest, and there’s an ugly splotch where the yellow paint on his back wings/spoiler stuck to the tray in his packaging, leaving a bit of him unpainted.
It’s a good reminder, though, that these figures are all coated in paint; Super7 spares no expense in making sure that the areas that are supposed to be painted are, and each detail is the correct color. By comparison, Hasbro often leaves many details unpainted, resulting in weird inaccuracies like those yellow hinges on Studio Series ’86 Hot Rod’s knees and roof canopy.
When Hot Rod was announced a few months back, shortly after I started considering moving down to the 3.75″ scale, I kinda knew he was going to end up in my collection.
And now he is.
‘Til All Are One!
Hot Rod, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Galvatron, Unicron, the Sweeps, and all related characters are owned by Hasbro.