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January 28, 2020 | Costello

Off The Shelf – Rodimus Unicronus

To change up the LFG blog schedule (moving GFL to Wednesdays and giving it two days as the top blog), I’ll be using Tuesdays to discuss some of the toys on my shelf. I’m a longtime fan of toys as both a collectible and a path to fun, and given how successful the Richard action figure was, it seems I’m not the only one. These aren’t reviews as much as a look at why I picked the toy up, how I feel now that I own it, and what place it takes up in my collection.

Me at a Canadian GI Joe convention I helped run, holding the original sketch for the Cobra logo by former Senior Designer for G.I. Joe Ron Rudat.

I’m mostly a GI Joe collector, but I dip into other lines on occasional. Where I’ll buy a GI Joe because GI Joe, most of the non-GI Joes in my collection won me over and have a story explaining how they made the cut in my collection. The non-GI Joe toys that make up the majority of my collection are bother GI Joe-adjacent: Boss Fight’s Vitruvan HACKS, and Hasbro’s Transformers. Since an early Grouping For Looks comment compared the swapped morality universe concept to Transformer’s Shattered Glass, the most appropriate toy to discuss here was one of my latest acquisitions: Rodimus Unicronus.

Why Buy This Toy?

I picked up Rodimus Unicronus when Big Bad Toy Store discounted him, but he’s been on my radar since I first heard about him.

Hot Rod

I grew up in the 80s and didn’t see Transformers: The Movie when it was in theatres. To me, one season of Transformers ended with Optimus Prime and Megatron as the leaders of their respective factions in then present day. The next season started with Rodimus Prime and Galvatron in charge of much differently populated factions in the far future year of 2005. I knew from commercials for the movie that Optimus dies, and from toy catalogs that Rodimus was an evolution of Hot Rod. Otherwise, the mystery of Rodimus Prime’s origin added a mystique to the character that made me appreciate him.

Rodimus Unicronus is a retool of a Rodimus Prime toy that is simultaneously Hot Rod and Rodimus. Similar to an Optimus Prime toy named Powermaster Optimus Prime -one of my favourite toys as a kid, there’s a smaller version of the character that can turn into a larger version by combining it with the usually separate trailer section.

I kind of regretted not picking up that Rodimus Prime the only time I saw it, but that regret went away when I saw the announcement for Rodimus Unicronus.

Shattered Glass

Shattered Glass is the Transformers equivalent of Star Trek’s Mirror Universe. Our good guys are their bad guys. What really makes it work are how their personalities and designs have been inverted. My favourite personality change is Grimlock, whose habit of talking in the third person has changed from a result of limited intelligence to mad scientist hubris. And my favourite redesign is Hot Rod.

First, he’s black and purple with red highlights, an evil colour combination second only to purple and green. Second, and more importantly, the goatee. Nothing says evil doppelganger like a goatee. Mirror Mirror Spock, the prototypical evil alternate version, rocked a goatee so hard it carved out a trope. Finally, the Decepticons are infamous for the Megatron/Starscream rivalry, so casting Shattered Glass Rodimus in the Starscream role is perfect.

Unfortunately, this is technically not Shattered Glass Rodimus, just a regular universe Rodimus who has been infected by some kind of Unicron virus and made to look exactly like Shattered Glass Rodimus. Like the fact hat he has a Decepticon logo instead of a purple Autobots logo, that’s a minor detail.

How Does It Fit In My Collection?

I don’t know how Transformers collectors do it.  No matter how I pose a GI Joe, it’s fulfilling its purpose. But a regular Transformer has a default of two ways to display it: robot mode or alt mode. But when it comes to combiners or toys with multiple modes like Rodimus Unicronus, do I choose just one? Do I change it every few months? Do I display it in box so that I can show pictures of all the ways I could display it?

Another thing I don’t know how Transformers fans deal with: disappointment. Again, when I look at a GI Joe in package, I can predict the out of package experience with 99.9% accuracy. Conversely, several of my Transformers do not live up to expectations when opened. At first, I was worried Rodimus Unicronus would be one of those.

As soon as I opened him, I tried to strike a cool pose. That’s when I discovered that his arms have a joint like the Dolorian’s doors. Good for a “smell my armpit” pose, but limited overall. Plus raising his arm reveals the smaller arm that lives in his rib cage.

Then I transformed him and couldn’t get the car mode to lock into place. Sagging joints take away from the car toy feel.

Worse of all, when I tried transforming him into Hot Rod, applying far less pressure than I could have, the mechanism that’s supposed to rotate to reveal his head broke. 

Somehow, this not only was minor, it helped. Instead of rotating the piece of an axle, I just take it out and put it back in whatever position it’s supposed to be in. It holds its position.

Rodimus Unicronus comes with a rifle that transforms into two pistols. The package has big Rodimus with the rifle and Hot Rod with the pistols, but I like the idea that little Hot Rod has an inferiority complex and so uses his gun’s big mode.

Weirdly, the broken head may have solved the car mode issue, because when I transformed him back, the loose joints all locked into place.

I believe I will keep him in larger, goateed mode, with his arms down. Still, it’s nice to know that I have options if I feel the need to mix things up.