Sometimes figure repaint/reissues are totally lame, while other times, it is quite shocking just how cool a figure can be when it is repainted to be another character. That is the case with the Transformers figure we have for you today, ‘Cloud Rodimus‘. Get the skinny on the details below, and share your thoughts after the JUMP!
Articulation: 22 total points – Ball joint neck; 6 points each arm: double joint shoulder, bicep swivel, hinge elbow, hinge wrist, wrist swivel; Swivel waist; 4 points each leg: universal joint hips, thigh swivel, hinge knee.
Colors: Molded magenta, orange, yellow, gunmetal grey, grey, clear blue, black; Painted orange, yellow, magenta, silver, white, red.
Accessories: Elimination Calibur sword, Double Photon Laser rifle, missiles x2
Release Data: Released in Japan on November 27, 2014 exclusively through the TakaraTomy Mall web store at a price of ¥5,940.
Transformers Cloud has had its moments. Its history in general has been …inconsistent. You go from almost mind-numbingly mundane to surprisingly amazing to… well, you’ve seen Shockwave; sometimes what they do just plain doesn’t work. But Rodimus was one of those moments when they were firing on all cylinders. On paper this is something that should never work, but when you get it together and have the final product right there, it’s some kind of magic.
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There’s some circumstances that benefit this toy doing what it does. The mold was based on design art from Nick Roche, whose designs have influenced modern IDW comics. This visual style is still felt in the character designs Alex Milne uses in More Than Meets The Eye – including Co-Captain Rodimus. I don’t expect the Cloud figure was exactly made with that instance of the character in mind specifically, but given that a segment of the potential audience has that as a frame of reference does nothing but help the ability to process this toy as being a Hot Rod/Rodimus. I’ll tell you another thing. The best thing Transformers Energon did was introduce the concept of Rodimus having a yellow forehead crest. That’s carried forward consistently, and is put to good use here. Since this toy uses Springer’s head, the yellow detailing helps change how the head shape reads so it doesn’t just look like a magenta Springer. It makes the helmet look more rounded on top and more consistent with a Rodimus head design. It’s a good use of deco layout to compensate for not having a character-specific sculpt to use. And honestly if anything on Cloud Rodimus counts on IDW’s design to pass, it is the head. IDW Rodimus has all kinds of angles and projections on his helmet, and this toy has similar shapes in similar places, It ties together in a way that wouldn’t probably be possible with only the older toys and their associated media giving us cues.
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There’s an order of priority for this toy’s deco, and that’s the sequence I’m presenting the modes. So obviously the robot mode has the highest priority for the deco to match the character needs, so we get a really solid Rodimus color layout. The main color is the proper magenta, not red as has happened on occasion. That by itself is a meaningful attention to detail. Granted, the G2 comic enthusiast in me wouldn’t have hated to see something more toward the purple end, but I’m way out by myself on that one. There’s a great shade of orange as a secondary color here and there, about half of which ends up represented in paint by necessity. The shins are a great looking gunmetal grey to make up the grey boots that the cartoon model had and no toy really represented prior to the Masterpiece. Finally yellow fills things out. The chest of course, but also the hands, which is almost certainly based on the IDW design since it’s the only prominent place Rodimus has yellow hands.
Since only a little of the chest is made of hood, some stand-in flame deco is applied to the side-chest blocks to emulate having the whole thing here. One pretty distinctly IDW touch is found in the main chest deco. There’s a red square at the top of the chest and another at the bottom pinching in to the yellow, something that’s notably an aspect of IDW’s current Rodimus design, but the red push up from the bottom is more a thing when Rodimus was drawn by Nick Roche. To keep things visually interesting and because paint budget is so much less a concern on a Cloud figure, the stepped rectangles on the shoulders are all picked out in yellow to nice effect.
Now with this having never been designed as Rodimus, it lacks some things. Like forearm pipe-cannons. But more significantly it doesn’t have the spoiler to make the back-wings from. But wow is this toy lucky, because the car’s hood sections are made to rise up and pivot out to the sides in a way that is visually very similar to the spoiler wing. Yeah, it may not be quite the same, but it does great to fill in for that visual element that’s pretty necessary for the character.
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Of course what isn’t necessary are the little winglets on the forearms. Oh well. They’re the same color as half of the rest of the forearms anyway, so it’s like they’re not even there to start with, right?
Basic poseability is unaffected by the change in plastics and none of the new paint is in a spot where it would affect joints. Springer was a reasonably flexible toy, and Rodimus is no different. There are the same limits to the design, but given the prior Classics Rodimus mold didn’t have even a single swivel in its arms, it’s hard not to be a step up in any case. The build is a little more tall and slim than I might associate with Hot Rod. IDW kind of varies on how that’s portrayed too, but I really never got this kind of read from the cartoon model. But, the first vehicle mode kind of puts a better spin on this that at least for me makes this build for Rodimus make a bit more sense.
Some of the hinges and struts will seem stiffer than you might have found on Springer, but little or nothing is particularly hard to work with. The first couple times you switch between modes where the roof has to be shifted back or forward you’ll probably hear some crackling as the paint around one of the hinges is loosened, but it’s nothing to be alarmed by. And that’s going to be the main thing you’ll encounter – parts that behave a little different because there’s paint involved for either the first time in those places, or because it’s an even greater thickness than it had in previous iterations.
So we’ll put aside the absolutely ridiculous side for the moment and focus on the car. I’ll grant you this car design doesn’t exactly reflect the character in basic form, but you just have to think it through a little farther. Yeah, this isn’t particularly Hot Rod being so heavy looking, armored and bigger than typical Autobot cars. But it has some solid potential as a Rodimus Prime by taking those factors in to account. I don’t expect to see anyone do so ever, but if a trailer were to exist with the camper-style overhang and plug in at the accessory port in the middle-back roof, you could have something with a very solid Rodimus Prime profile. It may not be the design intent with the toy, but since that realization dawned on me it really cemented a purpose for this figure in my mind. The car mode poses no stylistic problems for me anymore and even feels appropriate when I give it this context.
Springer was never the easiest thing to get everything aligned and settled together, and I’m afraid Rodimus doesn’t help that. In fact it’s worse in some ways. Primarily the roof sections and windshield won’t stay flush together, so there’s always panel gaps. I had the same kind of thing on Springer, but it seems more pronounced here. Mind you, there’s likely to be some variance on this from unit to unit, so not all of them may experience this issue to the same degree. The fender panels don’t always want to seat all the way in like they’re supposed to either. This is a new one for me versus Springer and may somehow result from the extra paint on different parts. I can typically get these to cooperate with a few tries. Finally the side panels are difficult to get locked in, but generally hold together once you do get everything in line. Like I said, much of what’s going on is things experienced with Springer, so if you’ve gotten used to that this shouldn’t hold any real surprises, nor disappointments. I’ll concede it may be a little discouraging to still experience some of this on a more “premium” item, but these are the worst complaints and I’d call them rather minor.
The deco is nice, and has some tricks I like. There’s a lot of paint involved to accomplish the appearance, such as the entire roof which is almost solid painted orange beyond the window sections which would have to be painted anyway. I think the base color is dark grey, the same that’s found on the rifle. If those parts share a sprue, potentially the appearance could have been accomplished with more plastic colors, but at the expense of an orange gun. I would be pretty okay with that trade, I must admit. On the other hand, I like that the roof is a consistent quality of color across all the pieces that make it up, and this isn’t an area that’s at much risk of paint scrape anyway. Plus the orange does a really good job of covering the base color. The yellow on the hinged panel directly behind cannot say the same. But yellow paint is generally terrible anyway, and this bleeds more of the base color through giving it a sort of gross appearance at some angles. There are some practical considerations that had to be let pass to make everything work. The robot’s deco is served by permitting grey chunks on the back end, and while they’re not “supposed” to be there, they really don’t clash or mess up the look of everything else. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I like their appearance here, but I certainly don’t mind it, and as parts layout compromises go, this is extremely inoffensive.
The “trick” with the deco makes up some of the flame deco on the hood. With certain pieces needing to be yellow to replace the spoiler wings on the robot, some different approaches were needed to get the right look out of the car’s hood. Where you would expect magenta surfaces with yellow flames painted on, you get a yellow surface with the flames represented in negative space from the magenta paint. The hood outline is painted on and the base plastic is used to show the flame design. It’s hardly a breakthrough, but it’s a well-considered use of the existing colors and a reversal of process that I like quite a lot. In truth, this is more the rule than the exception on the distinctive hood deco. The majority of the yellow happens with plastic colors and only a small part is paint. The toy benefits so greatly from this because as I just said, yellow paint is horrible. A small area of it is required in the middle block of the hood, but it doesn’t stand out too terribly from the surroundings. The only thing I don’t like is this errant patch of red painted on the forward chunk of hood, right at the leading end of the intake strip. It’s yellow right behind, and then red again behind that. What needed to happen was either leaving the red paint off the front entirely (the easiest, most logical approach), or split the yellow paint behind it to make the entire raised surface be red. It needed one or the other to keep consistency. It’s there to serve the robot mode, but that just means the vehicle deco needed to be adapted to account for it, not just pretend it’s not there because it’s inconvenient. That one thing aside, the hood deco looks good. Being the most distinctive element of the character’s vehicle mode it’s what needed to come out the most right, and it did. Now, there are unavoidable gaps between the middle and side sections just as a consequence of how the toy is made, but I can deal with that. And to the deco designer’s credit, paint was wrapped around edges to help keep the look consistent between these edges. That’s an attention to detail that I can really appreciate.
So, fine. The other mode. We’re in uncharted territory here, because here’s Rodimus as a helicopter. This is something I don’t really care about as a concept. The deco is so geared towards the car mode that when you actually go for this, it does not work out well. The distinctive components of the deco are spread and shifted around and where in Springer it might look like a helicopter, albeit a strange one, this looks like a rearranged car. Because that’s what all the visual cues are for. Everything is registering as part of the car mode and it’s out of place and it looks wrong. Now if you know me, you know I have trouble complaining about anything that has a lot of orange on it, so I can appreciate the brightness of this, especially since even more orange is visible at the base of the tail mast. But it doesn’t read as Rodimus. It’s those colors mapped on something that visually doesn’t connect at all. In how it functions, it’s mostly okay but for one very important thing. So you have a 5mm port for the sword to plug in as the rotor, right? That port is painted silver, and the coat is not thin. The fit on the sword’s peg is super tight. I couldn’t get it more than a few millimeters in, and at that point it took a lot of effort to get it back out again. It wanted to grab and it didn’t want to stop. Presumably after a time and some number of repetitions the paint might wear and things get smoother, but man I don’t want to go through that again. If the helicopter mode is genuinely something that interests you, that’s cool, but every indication I can see with it here, this was a complete afterthought. Everything was geared towards modes that weren’t this one, and no real mind was paid to a vital element of this mode, specifically making the rotor able to work easily and correctly.
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Just like Springer, there’s a sword which is also the rotor for the helicopter, and a missile launching cannon. As noted already the sword is an unacceptably difficult fit in its socket. In robot mode you’re supposed to be able to store the sword in another socket on the back. But here’s the thing – the peg on the sword’s cross guard is painted. The 5mm port is painted. Even if they fit together better, you’re still certain to get paint scraping off one or both sides. This was an expensive figure and I’m not okay with that. Painting that piece was probably seen as unavoidable since it’s magenta plastic and the deco artist (or someone over them) may not have been okay with that for the helicopter mode. Unfortunately that choice means I won’t be stowing the sword on the back like it was designed for.
The cannon fares better all around. It’s meant to go in the rearward port, the same one that the rotor doesn’t fit well. But the gun’s grip is a lot easier to slide in. I like how the gun looks in this iteration, with a couple shades of grey plastic, and silver paint on part of it. It has a really clean machine look that is playing really well for me. Now, on Springer I hated storing the gun in helicopter mode, and actually developed stress marks on extremely small, thin tabs from trying it one time. This is another thing I just don’t want to do on Rodimus because above any other Transformers I have, I don’t want to risk the damage on this one. But it works out since I largely want to pretend the helicopter mode isn’t there anyway.