Toy Wizards Review: Transformers Studio Series ’86 Hot Rod

2020 has been horrendous. We’ve all been falling into new isolated ways of living. For a lot of us that includes diving deep into our hobbies. I know that I have been purchasing a little more than usual to quench my thirst for shows, conventions, swap meets, and general human interaction.

Luckily as a fan and collector of Transformers, this has been a very full year. In fact, the product that I’m reviewing here is actually slated for 2021 to take advantage of a very important anniversary. Next year marks the 35th anniversary of The Transformers: The Movie and to celebrate Hasbro and Takara Tomy are mingling offerings from the feature length animated film into their previously live-action-only Transformers Generations Studio Series toy line. If you think you’ve got the touch, then strap in because we’re taking a look at 1986’s shining new star, the turbo revving young punk himself – Transformers Generations Studio Series ’86 Voyager Class Hot Rod.


Hot Rod is certainly no stranger to the franchise. The character has had multiple releases in all shapes and sizes throughout the history of the brand. One of the goals in the Studio Series line since its inception has been to offer transformable toys with an established scale and offer the most screen accurate versions of film characters to date. Takara Tomy designer Yuuya Onishi has helped develop one of, if not the best looking Hot Rod we have ever seen.

Part of this achievement comes from the Voyager class price point that this toy has been pushed into. Hot Rod is only slightly taller than your average Deluxe class car bot. The scale between the War For Cybertron trilogy (Siege, Earthrise, Kingdom) and these Studio Series ’86 offerings are cohesive. By budgeting Hot Rod into a Voyager price point the toy was able to include a number of accessories on top of an absolutely brilliant complex transformation. The robot mode is slim, tidy, immaculately proportioned and beautifully screen accurate with very little hollow spaces or gaps that we see in most modern Transformers.


That said price point increase also affords the new Hot Rod some wonderful paint applications. The majority of the toy is molded plastic, but there’s enough flourishes of paint to help the overall look. The signature flames on the hood of the vehicle mode, the silver accents and exhaust pipes, the sky blue eyes and grey face are all crisp and cleanly applied. My favorite touch is the slightly darker maroon tone on Hot Rod’s helmet crest. Including that detail is often neglected and here it looks great.


Another benefit with the increased budgeting for this figure is all the articulation we see in robot mode. Ball jointed neck, swivel hinge shoulders as well as a butterfly joints, bicep swivels, full range elbows, wrist swivels, articulated fingers(!), waist swivel, swivel hinged hips, thigh swivels, double jointed knees, forward and back hinged feet with ankle rockers. He poses fantastically and you will want to with all the wonderful stuff he comes with.


How do we fill up that extra space in a Voyager class sized box? With a bunch of fun accessories. Hot Rod comes with a multitude of character centric items, weapons, and effects parts. His two blaster rifles are included, each with a unique sculpt and both painted silver. He also comes with the saw blade used in the film to free himself from the dangers of the deep oceanic robotic life on planet Quintessa and free his pal Kup. There is also two effects pieces that can be used as exhaust flames in vehicle mode or blast effects in robot mode. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Matrix of Leadership complete with its own clip on effect piece to “light our darkest hour”!

Alternate Mode

Often confused for a Cybertronian space car, Hot Rod’s vehicle mode is actually just a sports car from the distant future of 2005 on Earth. In 1986 we still had high hopes that all automotive design would move towards this aesthetic by the new millennium, however in reality we know that things just got terribly boring and shapeless like Teslas. The transformation to vehicle mode is amazing. It even includes a step where the shoulder and arm assembly rotates 180 degrees to mimic the animation from the movie. These little details and the amount of loving care put into the engineering of this toy only make it that much better. If I have one minor complaint it is that some of the tabs do not hold as tight as they should causing some slight gaps near the hood and quarter panels. Also, the hinged joint that the rear canopy and spoiler are connected to were sprued on the same yellow as the spoiler fin. These pieces are made of a high grade durable plastic, that is essentially unpaintable. Its unfortunate to have that yellow there on the vehicle, but I understand why it is there.


What we have here is more or less a highly engineered, slightly taller Deluxe class car bot with multiple accessories packaged as a Voyager class item with an MSRP of $29.99. I feel like there is enough here to warrant that price point. In fact, I feel like I want to see Hasbro and Takara Tomy continue this trend with future releases. I’m not sure what fan favorite characters might fit into this practice, but I am certainly not opposed to characters jumping up to the next class and price point in order to accommodate more complex engineering and lots of accessories. If rumor has it, the next time we’ll see something similar is in the Transformers WFC Kingdom toy line. Insider info is pointing at a Commander Class Rodimus Prime who’s robot mode should line up height wise with Earthrise Optimus Prime and will include a fully realized G1 style trailer that converts into a battle station. I’m very much looking forward to that.


5/5 Wizard’s Stars

What can I say that the photos in this gallery do not? This toy is a dream come true. It’s the culmination of multiple generations of design evolution. I cannot imagine another Hot Rod coming near this one in the coming years. This guy beats all of the previously attempted Generations, Masterpiece, even Third Party in nearly every aspect. This may as well have my vote for 2020’s toy of the year. If you see it, buy it.

Enjoy the full gallery for Studio Series ’86 Hot Rod below!

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  1. Excellent review. Just curious whether your review copy came with the retail box. The product photos of the boxes of the ’86 line all have some backdrop from the film. I’m curious to know whether the box backdrop folds or otherwise re-configures for out-of-box display.

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