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Rodimus Unicronus

Transformers Power of the Primes
by yo go re

It's nice to see Transformers trying something new - a black repaint!

When the heroic Hot Rod is corrupted by the Matrix of Chaos, he evolves to Rodimus Unicronus, a servant of evil driven by a sole purpose: destroy the Matrix of Leadership.

Hey, that's cute! Being empowered by Primus makes you a Prime, so being empowered by Unicron makes you a Unicronus. Probably because "Rodimus Unicro" didn't have the right ring to it. Of course, if it's the Matrix of Chaos that makes him big and evil, then why is his smaller, standard robot mode also done in those same colors? Well, because this is really just "Shattered Glass" Rodimus, given a new, less confusing name and an official release in stores instead of just being a convention exclusive.

This is a repaint of the standard Rodimus Prime toy, meaning that within him is a Hot Rod. A dark Hot Rod. Not to be confused with "Dark Hot Rod," a clone created by Megatron that eventually sided with the Autobots, and who is known as "Black Rodimus" in Japan. So if you want a version of the Hot Rod sculpt in new colors, then friend, this toy has you covered!

Roddy has a smooth, flat chest with a single bend about halfway up and a raised "collar" area that reaches up to his neck. The upper arms are a bit thin, with angled kibble on the shoulders pointing upward, while the forearms feel thicker thanks to the three exhaust pipes mounted on each of them - though the fact that the pipes stick out past the hands must make it hard for him to pick things up. There's a flap of armor in front of his hips, because even robots have modesty I suppose? The legs are simple and unadorned, looking very much like the old animation model, and the plating on the front of his shins is a nice shape. Plus he's got big angular feet to keep him standing. There's a big shell of kibble on the back, though all that's really visible from the front is spoiler on his shoulders.

The original 2001 Black Rodimus really was that: the 1986 Hot Rod toy, just molded in black and grey (similar to JAFCON Optimus Prime), with the existing toy's orange-and-yellow stickers. The colors of Shattered Glass Rodimus, by contrast, are black, purple, and silver. If those colors sound familiar, that's because they seem to have been taken from Titanium Series Menasor, the SDCC-exclusive repaint of Rodimus that came out in 2007, the year before "Shattered Glass" became a thing. The colors carry over to this toy, but while the stylized flames on his chest are painted, the silver panels on his shoulders and shins are done as stickers, which isn't good.

The articulation, at least, really is quite impressive. Hot Rod moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. Like the original Rodimus, he's armed with two guns. One of them is even designed to look like one of the old versions, with inexplicable "wings" on the back and an angular barrel. He can hold them in either hand.

Converting Nemesis Hot Rod to his low, sleek altmode is not difficult: simply open the chest to swing the head away; push the arms up against the body; open the shins and fold the feet inside; turn the back kibble 180°; hinge the pipes back to cover the gaps in the sides of the car and you're done!

The body of the car remains black, and it's still got the purple flames. The accent details, like the headlights and spoiler are gray, and the glass canopy is translucent red. It's a really nice combo, though the black does swallow a lot of the shapes, making the car look smoother than it really is.

Like we've said before, whenever a Transformer gets the Matrix of Leadership (or Chaos, as the case may be), they gain a new trailer. This toy is not breaking that trend, getting a big chunk of plastic that approximates the back half of Rodimus Prime's RV mode. The car mode doesn't get changed, really, so the hood is longer than it should be, but at least the pipes on the side get repositioned a little, changing the design slightly.

In this mode, the vehicle is 9½" long and 3" wide, and though all six wheels roll, it's be a pain to get this thing around any corners without any sort of flex point in the middle. There are going to be a lot of scraped and bent stop sign posts wherever he's driving! You can plug the weapons in on top of the trailer, too. The stickers are worse in this mode, because the edges alighn with the corners of the sculpt, meaning it's very easy to catch them accidentally with your fingers. Paint would be much, much better.

But nobody really cares about that. What you care about is what the trailer signifies! No, it does not turn into a battle platform, like it did in the '80s - rather, taking another cue from the Titaniums figure (or maybe Fansproject's City Commander), it becomes his body. His big, sexy body.

The trailer separates into three pieces: The hips and legs, and then the individual arms. The existing Hot Rod body sort of folds in half and flips over, with the back becoming the chest and the legs becoming the shoulders. Put everything together, and you've got yourself a black Rodimus Prime! Not to be confused with "Black Rodimus Convoy," a clone created by the ghost of Starscream, and who was the embodiment of all Rodimus's subconcious insecurities.

The difference between Hot Rod and Rodimus really is something to behold. Literally the only part of the two that remains the same in both modes is the spoiler on his back, and even then you're seeing a different side: front vs. back! Yet Rodimus doesn't look like a small robot wearing armor. The poseability remains impressive, would joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles, rather than being a brick like old examples would have been. The two small guns can plug together, forming an approximation of the original Rodimus Prime's "Photon Eliminator" rifle.

Since it was becoming a Prime that made Hot Rod change into Rodimus, the first use of this mold included the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Logicially, therefore, this use also comes with a Matrix! The Matrix of Chaos, if it's anything at all like the Dead Matrix, contains a portion of Unicron's life force the same way the regular Matrix contains a portion of Primus's. The Matrix of Chaos has the usual design, with an oblong gray frame, but the black core, with its purple tabs and translucent red center, can be removed from the frame, leaving a gap where any Titan Master or similarly sized item to take its place. It stores within Rodimus Unicronus's chest, which is good, since his hands aren't molded to hold it.

The best feature, however, has to be the head. Really eliminating all doubt that this is supposed to be Shattered Glass Rodimus, the larger Rodimus Unicronus head has been remolded from the Rodimus Prime release, changing the cres on the forehead, adding two little wings on the side of it, giving him a red visor instead of eyes, making his mouth an angry scowl, and giving him a goatee and mustache! Of evil!

The idea to make the Leader Class figures in the Power of the Primes line be all Matrix-bearers, thus offering both a small "normal" robot and a larger evolution of the same character, was really clever. But I still didn't intend to get any of them, until Rodimus Unicronus showed up at Walmart one day. I wasn't a fan of the Optimus toy and I don't care about Rodimus Prime at all, but paint him black and make him a Shattered Glass reference - one that's available at mass retail? Fine, you win, I'll buy your surprisingly fun and inventive action figure.

-- 03/13/18

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