"Bumblebee" Power Series Hot Rod Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Bumblebee Movie, Power Series, Energon Igniters

Energon Igniters

General Information:
Release Date: September 2018
Price Point: $9.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Target, Walmart, Amazon etc.)
Accessories: None

Hot Rod

*Images and text below from Amazon.com:
The lifeblood of Transformers robots, Energon fuels the epic battles on Earth and beyond.

Now, imagine harnessing the Transformers energy source with Energon Igniters figures. Convert this Energon Igniters Power Series Autobot Hot Rod figure between robot and sports car modes in 4 steps. Then plug the Energon Igniters core (not included) into the vehicle and push down to unleash driving action. This Autobot Hot Rod figure stands at a 5-inch scale with eye-catching detailing. Look for the Energon Igniters core sold with Power Plus Series and Nitro Series figures (each sold separately).

Autobot Hot Rod is quick to ignite his engine into high gear. A brash warrior, he’s always ready to charge into the next Decepticon showdown alongside his fellow Autobots. Harness Energon Igniters tech and unleash the power within.

In September of 2018 Hasbro launched its "Bumblebee" toy line based on the live action movie. Much of this toy line was aimed at a younger audience, relying on the "Energon Igniter" gimmick. More complex and detailed figures for the movie would be folded into the "Studio Series" and "Masterpiece" lines instead. The "Energon Igniter" gimmick was spread across several classes of figures including the "Power Plus Series" which consisted of figures that were roughly 5 inches (12.70cm) tall with very simple transformations. Unlike the figures in the "Power Plus" series, the "Power Series" do not include the "Energon Igniter" accessory, meaning to utilize this figure's full potential you need to get the "Energon Igniter Core" accessory from another figure.

Hot Rod was introduced into the live action movie universe in "The Last Knight". In that film it was shown that he and Bumblebee had fought side by side during World War II, adding an interesting layer to the character. While there is no confirmation that he is appearing in the "Bumblebee" movie, including him in this toy line appears to have been inspired by that World War II scene.

It would be very easy to mistake the Power Series figures for One Step Changer figures. They are roughly the same size (slightly bigger actually) and packaged on a wrap around card similar to the One Steps from previous lines. The front of the packaging has Bumblebee cross armed with the "Energon Igniters" and "Transformers" logos on the right. The wraparound part in front shows the figure in robot mode with the "Transformers Bumblebee" movie logo and the character's name. The figure itself is in vehicle mode resting on a plastic tray.

The back of the packaging has the four step instructions on the left with photos of the figure in both modes in the middle. On the right side the vehicle mode is shown off utilizing an Energon Igniter Core to activate its extra weapons. The packaging primarily utilizes yellow, beige and black colors, making it very distinctive from previous Transformers lines which tend to focus on more stark white and black colors for the background.

Vehicle Mode:
Part of the appeal of the "Bumblebee" Movie is its retro setting in 1987. This means that the vehicles appearing in the movie come from that time period (and back). Hot Rod's vehicle mode is not a licensed vehicle, but instead it is a made up vehicle based on the aesthetics of cars like the Chevrolet Chevelle and Plymouth Barracuda. The vehicle is wide with an intricate front end that has a grille and six lights along with a license plate holder in the center. The rear has round lights reminiscent of the Chevrolet Corvette (starting with the third generation of the vehicle). The lines on the side go straight and then angle up over the rear wheel wells with lines similar to the Plymouth Barracuda. It's a really cool looking car and I can totally see the character of Hot Rod taking this form on in the 80's.

Taking a cue from his appearance in "The Last Knight", this vehicle is mostly cast in dark grey plastic with black wheels. Orange is used for stripes running along the sides and over the rear wheel wells. In a nod to G1 Hot Rod, the hood has a flame pattern in the middle with an Autobot symbol outlined in the center of the flames. The front end has plenty of silver paint, helping to give the figure a very classic and industrial look. The deco is nice, though I do wish the windows were painted in some way. Left unpainted, they kind of just blend into the rest of the vehicle.

Being part of the "Power" series of figures, you can take an Energon Igniter Core and push it into the back half of the vehicle. This causes the back panels to swing out to the sides and for the windshield piece to flip up. This reveals two huge cannons (painted blue)! Then press the button on the Energon Igniter Core and the vehicle rolls forward using the motorized wheel on the Core. It is a fun play pattern and it adds a level of "transformation" to the figure.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the vehicle over.
  2. Swing the center panel up.
  3. Swing the sides out to form the robot arms.
  4. Swing the front ends of the car forward to form the feet.

Robot Mode:
While this Hot Rod comes from a time long before the events of "The Last Knight", he does still have some of the key details from that design (which you can see my comments on here). These features include the distinct head design, panels on the chest that look like they come from a sports car, distinctive tubes running down the "abdomen" and some raised line details on the forearms. Even some of the leg panel and mechanical details are the same as those seen on Hot Rod's "The Last Knight" CG model. I was very happy to see these distinctive features carried over to this figure. The only part that looks kind of funny is the back of the car sitting a bit above the back of the head, but given the simple nature of the transformation it is difficult to avoid "car on my back" syndrome.

Like the vehicle mode this form is mostly dark grey plastic. However silver and orange details appear in much larger amounts, painting most of the head, torso panel and feet. The colors really pop nicely against the dark grey. For a simplified figure, the robot mode looks very nice.

There are eight points of articulation on this figure, but four of them are just hinges that swing the shoulders and legs out to the sides, so they are not particularly useful. The forearms can swing up and down and the fists each have 5mm ports, allowing Hot Rod to hold weapons from other figures.

Final Thoughts:
Given that this figure is set at the same price point as One Step Changers, I was very happy with it. I think the Energon Igniter Core compatibility is fun and adding a couple steps to the transformation (and the forearm articulation) both help make this figure move more towards a traditional Transformers figure than just being a One Step figure with no articulation. For fans of a certain age group I think this is a very fun toy to have (especially if you have the Energon Igniter Core from other figures!).


  • Cool vehicle mode.
  • Really nice robot mode deco.
  • Very nice, detailed sculpt.
  • While it looks like a One Step Changer in package, it is a bit more complex and detailed than that size class.


  • Limited deco in vehicle mode.
  • Limited articulation in robot mode.
  • Emphasis on a gimmick may turn some fans off.