Review by VF5SS
Leading the Protectobots is everyone's favorite blue fire engine, Hot Spot. The original G1 figure is regarded as a solid and playable toy. While not as flashy as his peers, G1 Hot Spot was still an easy sell to children on account of him being both a robot and a working firetruck. While he has kicked around for a few years as a repaint of existing toys, Combiner Wars marks the first time since G1 that this heroic rescue robo has received a brand new figure, aside from Kabaya candy toys. And let me tell you, this Hot Spot is some real hot stuff.
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While initial photos of this guy weren't all that flattering, anticipation for Hot Spot quickly grew as fans saw more and more pictures of him. And despite being roughly the same size as the other Combiner Wars torsos (roughly 7 inches tall), the Protectobot leader looks larger and more heroic. While Hot Spot is still clearly a modernized version of the G1 character, there's no denying that his overall look and design appear to be heavily inspired by the Symmetrical Dockers from Gaogaigar. Since Transformers and the Brave series share a common lineage, seeing this kind of subtle crossover is really cool.
With regards to the toy's head, it could not be more on model to the character unless it had a randomly appearing and disappearing mouth on the face plate. Hot Spot's noggin is on a ball-joint that allows him to look to the side or downward. Also, note that the red and white caution stickers from the old toy have been re-imagined as cool tech details.
Like any good firetruck Transformer, Hot Spot carries a large ladder on his back. It may be hard to see in this photo, but the forked edges of the assembly are not touching the ground. However, the backpack is still fairly weighty, so be mindful of Hot Spot's feet placement when posing.
And speaking of posing, Hot Spot's articulation is pretty amazing. The engineering for his transformation to both truck and torso mode has blessed the toy with a good number of free-moving joints. As a result, what was once a stocky G1 combiner body is now a dynamic robotic warrior whose ties to a more Japanese aesthetic are readily apparent. Heavy ratchets in Hot Spot's hips, elbows, and shoulders help him hold a variety of poses. The only thing missing is a waist joint, which is probably due to how he transforms into a torso.
Like many of the deluxe Combiner Wars figures, Hot Spot's shins slide over his thighs via a double hinge joint. And because of how his legs are open at the back, Hot Spot can pull off some very nice kneeling poses (and even a Rider Kick).
The original G1 toy came with a pair of large fireball cannons, and the CW remake happily follows suit. I gotta say, though, giving such an anime-esque design two huge guns only evokes an almost Gundam-like swagger. Gundam designer Kunio Okawara did design just about every Brave Series robot (including Hyoryu and Enryu from Gaogaigar), so there is some truth behind that comparison.
And remember, a famous man once said, "a gun is fun, but two is Woo-tastic."
Moreover, the cannons can be connected lengthwise if you feel like going all Strike Freedom with Hot Spot.
Both Hot Spot and his ladder assembly have various places to plug in his weapons for extra play value.
With the guns on his shoulders, I can easily see Hot Spot being remolded into Onslaught. Honestly, I hope they do that, because Hot Spot is just that good!
The modern Protectobots look perfect together, and despite the (temporary) roster change, are still instantly recognizable as the classic G1 combiner team.
Converting Hot Spot to vehicle mode is a pleasingly straightforward process. Start by rotating his lower legs around and retracting them via the aforementioned double hinge. There is a small tab on each of his thighs that softly locks the shins in the right place.
A pair of tabs in Hot Spot's groin help secure the front of the firetruck. His chest plate flips down to reveal a storage space for his head.
After that, Hot Spot's feet form the truck cab.
The ladder assembly moves backward on a hinge, which is then sandwiched between the shoulder blocks. I find that it's here where Hot Spot's connection to the Symmetrical Dockers is most apparent, as the engineering is nearly identical. Lastly, the ladder assembly is rearranged into a more familiar configuration.
Hot Spot traded in his old firetruck alternate mode for a sleek new airfield rescue type. He is a heavily modified Rosenbauer Panther 6x6, with an enlarged ladder assembly that has a movable bucket on the front.
Things like Defensor's chest plates are more visible in this mode, but not to the point where they affect the look of the vehicle.
Again, while I am not certain that Hot Spot will be remolded into Onslaught, this vehicle definitely looks like it could be made into an artillery truck, such as a SCUD launcher.
The ladder can raise up and the base rotates a full 360 degrees. There's even a small nozzle on the bucket for firefighting action.
Little extra details help enhance the overall package, like a faux-metal floor molded inside the bucket.
One aspect of this toy that genuinely irks me is the fact you can clearly see Hot Spot's head in the middle of the vehicle. I understand that toy budgets have gotten tighter over the years, but would three strips of plastic really affect the final price that much?
And as I mentioned before, there's a bunch of places to put Hot Spot's weapons or other 5 mm port compatible accessories.
This is so suspiciously Onslaught-like...
Really puts a new spin on "fighting fire with fire."
Even without the Unite Warriors deluxe Groove present, the new Protectobots have all the charming scale wonkiness of the old team.
Now that they've gathered together, it's time to transform into Defensor!
Hot Spot converts to torso mode by going partially back to robot mode, while leaving his legs shortened so they can become Defensor's thighs. His own arms curl up so they can sit behind the combiner's chest plate. Hot Spot's red chest piece can be left either up or down, but I prefer it up so that Defensor's hips can move more freely.
The ladder assembly then does a cool trick where it wraps around Hot Spot's body to form both the chest plate and "spine" of the combiner. A black door on each shoulder flips down to reveal the combiner ports for Defensor's arms.
Another neat idea is how the bucket unfolds and reconfigures into Defensor's head. This is evocative of the G1 toy, which had the combiner's noggin hidden in the base of the ladder assembly.
The completed Defensor is a great looking update on the classic defense-oriented combiner. He's basically a big walking wall of a robot, which is quite appropriate to the character.
He is also very clean looking from all angles, even with his intentionally mismatched design.
Like Hot Spot, Defensor's new head is also a near perfect rendition of the original design. He's got a nice blocky helmet with a pair of rocking aviators for eyes, making Defensor the biggest and baddest robot highway cop. The head itself is mounted on a ball-socket connection and can rotate left or right. All that said, my only gripe with this redesign is how the extensions on either side of the chest plate can bump into the arms when posing.
While he lacks a waist swivel, Defensor still has a good range of motion and can even do a solid kneeling pose. He's a bit tipsier compared to Menasor or Superion, but he can balance pretty well with some thoughtful posing. Admittedly, Defensor is a combiner who may benefit from aftermarket feet upgrades.
He's armed with Hot Spot's twin fireball cannons, which look alright in the combiner's hands.
Truthfully, I've always seen him using just one gun like an combiner sized magnum, so that's my preferred armament for Defensor.
Defensor is meant to wield the guns in their combined form, but I find this only looks good when he's holding the enlarged weapon with both hands.
Also, there's enough places all over Defensor's body to store the weapons of his individual components.
He even does a decent job of wielding the notoriously weighty Powerglide Cannon™.
While Menasor and Defensor didn't tangle too often, the two are properly sized to fight each other.
And the Combiner Wars rage on...
"As long as one innocent being is threatened, none are truly free."
Combiner Wars Hot Spot makes for a double whammy of awesome by being a fantastic Transformer on his own and part of a solid core for his line's main gimmick. As of right now, he is easily the top team leader and well worth the purchase.
|Posted 18 June, 2015 - 05:42 by VF5SS|