I managed to be completely underwhelmed and uninterested in Transformers Cloud - the story of Cloud World and the Transformers that live there (and SARA...seriously if you care, go here). I'm being unfair, of course, I care as much about Transformers fiction as I do the toys. Maybe even more. But, this piece is about the first TF Cloud toy to capture my attention, TFC-A03 Hot Rodimus, a Hot Rod-coloured Generations Springer, and that is in no way an over-simplification, that's exactly what this figure is. It also happens to be magnificent.
The packaging is certainly more spectacular than that of Generations Springer or Sandstorm who share a mould base with Cloud Rodimus. The package is accompanied by a comic which is both in Japanese and English, so can be read and followed by you and I. There are some humorous translations of what must originally have been decently written dialogue ("Shockwave! You do bad things here and there" Dr Seuss, anyone?), and some lovely illustrations including one of Rodimus fishing with SARA, but for me personally the figure was what it was all about. It costs a lot to buy these Cloud figures, and those that deal closely with E-Hobby are puzzled by the price point and the wisdom of this line, one in a string of bizarre decisions by the company one retailer told me. In Rodimus, however, they've taken a universally adored mould and slapped it on a well-loved character at a time where he is massively under-represented as a Generations-class toy in an increasingly IDW-influenced world.
I was one of those who laughed at the prospect of a red and orange Springer being anything more than that, and was almost offended that instead of an all new Rodimus - the captain of the most popular Transformers fiction in years in More Than Meets The Eye - we were getting a straight repaint in an obscure Japanese exclusive toy line. Hasbro and Takara were pumping out MTMTE characters like Whirl, Tailgate, Brainstorm, Megatron - and even Chromedome got a TFCC exclusive release with the Nick Roche-designed MTMTE head. Yet Rodimus, an eternally popular character, wasn't even getting a new head sculpt. However, I bought Sandstorm in Iceland, then got Springer at AA 2014 and was totally smitten with both. Cloud Rodimus was starting to look pretty good, but how could I reconcile myself with him having a helicopter mode? At least the robot mode had those killer proportions and paint apps going for it, and you could even argue that the head on this mould is more IDW Rodimus than Springer. It certainly suits him.
Well, it's pretty. It was pretty on Springer, and now it's in red, orange, yellow and has flames. The mould is still delightful, the transformations are still fun and each mode is distinct and believable. I suppose if we could magically add a third helicopter mode to G1 Hot Rod, it wouldn't detract from how good the toy is in the intended robot and car modes, would it? Especially if the compromises made overall did not detract from the main modes, and in the case of this superb and celebrated Generations triplechanger mould, they certainly do not detract.
If you really want to believe it, this can qualify as Rodimus. The hood parts that stick out and rotate out behind the shoulders evoke memories of Hot Rod's yellow spoiler behind his back, and even sections like his feet and hands which are not traditionally in those colours, appear to work. Hot Rod in G1 didn't have a yellow head crest, but he does in IDW and therefore the Springer head sculpt was not too far a stretch. There's no doubting the beauty of these colours and the character of Rodimus on this sculpt. If I wasn't already sold, getting him in hand has been a real pleasure. Thanks must go to Heroic Decepticon and Jason Wiltshire, as well as James at Orbital Comics, for delivering him to me at about 60% the cost of online retailers.
In MTMTE comics, Rodimus's vehicle mode is a little more heavy duty and beefy than his super-sleek G1 futuristic sports car chassis, so again the Springer mould works. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if many collectors cited this as TFCloud Rodimus's strongest mode. To be completely honest, I had so fallen in love with Sandstorm and Springer that above any self-convincing of this being Rodimus, I just needed another variant on the mould, because I do that a lot. The fact that Cloud Rodimus is so convincing, is so well put together and fits in car mode as well as Generations Springer (but not quite Sandstorm), and is possibly the nicest version of the three...well all of that is a magnificent bonus. Yes, a new head sculpt and new weapons would have probably convinced all of the naysayers to take a second look, as it is Cloud Rodimus succeeds as much as a straight repaint ever could. The price tag will continue to dissuade many, and that's a shame for a Transformers toy this nice.
All the best