As much as the fanbase may dislike Rodimus thanks to that fateful — and fatal — decision, Takara and Hasbro were just as interested in keeping him alive within the Transformers property. So much so that every vehicle-based series starting with Transformers: Robots in Disguise has included an homage to G1 Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime.
In Robots in Disguise, we see the beginning of a trend. The “turbo revving young punk” of this series was Side Burn; a ridiculous name, on an equally ridiculous character. However, that’s not an insult. R.i.D. did not take itself seriously. It was joyous in its awesome ridiculousness and well worth watching. Side Burn, the youngest of the three “Autobot Brothers”, started the series as a blue, flame-covered Dodge Viper but received a power-up, and becomes Super Side Burn, a red, flame-covered Dodge Viper.
Next up, Armada. The — yep, you guessed it — turbo revving young punk, Hot Shot, starts the series as a yellow Audi TT (think if Bumblebee and Hot Rod had a kid) but receives his Powerlinx power-up and cooresponding red, flame-covered new paintjob.
Rounding out the other-characters-receiving Hot Rod homages, is Excellion from Cybertron. This one breaks the turbo revving young punk model as well as not being a character’s power-up paintjob. First, Excellion is depicted as a loner who has “made an art of speed and stealth, moving back and forth across enemy lines as if he were invisible.” Furthermore, he is depicted as an assassin, having “quickly and quietly disposed of a particularly annoying enemy agent.” A repaint of the Cybertron Hot Shot mold, his name actually comes from the Japanese name for Hot Shot’s character, Excillion.
Now, the three of them have one thing in common for sure. They are clearly Hot Rod homages in vehicle mode.
However, they are distinctly different characters and therefore don’t evoke much of a Hot Rod homage in robot mode.
The next two homages, though, are the actual representation of Rodimus in their respective universes. Energon Rodimus’ is one of those characters that has conflicting toy and cartoon depictions.
In his toy’s bio, he is pure Hot Rod, “a wild, rebellious young Autobot… He is an aggressive, headstrong young warrior who will not think twice about rushing into battle.” However, his cartoon depiction is of a more seasoned ‘bot. A confident, capable military commander and an expert warrior, Energon Rodimus is pretty much the polar opposite of G1 Rodimus Prime, but he’s a far cry from G1 Hot Rod.
Even though I am a toy-centric collector, and frankly Energon was one of the worst series ever dubbed into English — as were the dubs of the other two parts of The Unicron Trilogy — I still can’t help but imagine this bulkier incarnation being more like the seasoned military commander than the reckless hot-head. Even Rodimus’ alt mode is a little more Rodimus Prime than Hot Rod.
One of these days, I need to get around to watching the subtitled Transformers: Super Link, the original Japanese version of the series. I actually enjoyed Galaxy Force, the original Japanese version of the travesty that was Cybertron in America.
The best homage has been saved for the last, which just happens to work out chronologically as well. Transformers: Animated ranks easily in my favourite Transformers cartoons. Witty, fast-paced, and stylish, there is only one thing that I can say bad about Animated. It was cut short. Due to this, we only get to see Rodimus for a very, very, verrrrrrrrrry short cameo in the first episode of the final season. Then, to make matters worse, we almost didn’t get a toy of him. Finally released as a Toys R Us Exclusive, he proved well worth the wait. He instantly eclipsed the rest of the Animated toys as my favourite of the line.
I have always had an affinity with archers (maybe ’cause I’m a Saggitarius? I dunno), so I was very happy to see that his weapon of choice, the Energy Bow, made it into toy form.
Ridiculously well articulated, it is just unbelievable that a toy designer was able to then fold that up into the perfect update to Hot Rod’s vehicle mode.
And you can attach the bow in alt-mode to create a supposed “Attack Mode”, though I can’t imagine a bow with no one to pull the bowstring is all that dangerous.
So, we have all of Rodimus Prime’s experience and skill combined with all the cool of Hot Rod? Now that’s how you do an homage.