Release Date: June 27, 2013
Price Point: $99 (In a two pack with Bitstream & Hotlink)
Retailer: Botcon Exclusive
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Missile launchers x 2
The theme for 2013's Botcon exclusive boxed set is "Machine Wars". This was a relatively obscure line of "Transformers" figures released only in Kay Bee Toy Stores in 1997. This was a counterpoint to the main line, "Beast Wars" which focused on animals and creatures as the alternate forms for the "Transformers". "Machine Wars" focused on vehicles, mixing up previously unreleased sculpts with European exclusive sculpts given new decos, functionality and identities. Botcon 2013 celebrated this line with a "Machine Wars" theme, but several Transformers were released who were not previously part of that series, Sunstorm was one of them.
Back in the first episode of the "Generation One" cartoon, several "generic" Decepticons were used during the scenes on Cybertron. One of them was a guy who looked a lot like the "Seeker jets" (aka Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp) but their colors were completely different. While Sunstorm has been made into figures many times over, the other two characters in that scene (one blue Seeker and one purple Seeker who were not Thundercracker and Skywarp) were largely ignored in "Transformers" history until recently. In this "Timelines" continuity the "purple Seeker" is Hotlink, who is now considered part of the "Rainmakers", a group of "Seekers" who fought Autobots on Cybertron. Hotlink was "named" in the "War for Cybertron" related novels along with his fellow Rainmaker "Bitstream" but did not receive an official toy until now!
Naturally, the sculpt used to create this version of the character is the "Classics" Seeker sculpt originally used for Classics Starscream. Later it would go on to be used for Skywarp, Thundercracker, Acid Storm, Universe 2.0 Starscream, Generations Thundercracker and Shattered Glass Thundercracker. This list doesn't even include modifications/redecos of this sculpt such as Thrust. Basically I've reviewed the heck out of this sculpt multiple times so check out any of the above reviews for a detailed look at the sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.
Hotlink is intended to represent the "purple" Seeker from "More than Meets the Eye" part one. Instead of a dark purple (which most Decepticons would get), the designers decided to go with a lighter shade of metallic purple (which border lines on lavender). I've really got to say this is a beautiful color. Most Transformers out there are generally flat shades of whichever color plastic is used, but not so with the "Rainmakers". In the right lighting this toy downright shines!
Paint colors on the figure include metallic teal, silver, red and black. The teal is used for detailing on the translucent yellow cockpit piece. The silver and red are found on the vents flanking the front end of the vehicle. Black is used for small trim details on the edges of the wings and stabilizers. The black details on the wings and stabilizers look a lot more sharp and crisp on my copy of Hotlink than my copy of Sunstorm. Whereas in Sunstorm they looked like "burn" details, here they look more like painted details for pure decoration.
Additional detail is provided by tampographs. Each wing has red and white stripes on them, reminscent of those on Generations Thundercracker but much thinner and more sleek looking. Overlapping the stripes on the wings are two Decepticon symbols in purple with white outlines. These details are great and call back to previous Seekers nicely. They also offer other details to look at other than teal color everywhere.
The landing gear on the bottom of the jet still swings out without a problem. The missile launchers are in good shape too. The nosecone is made of soft plastic, so beware temperature changes and bending.
Trasformation to Robot Mode:
- Rotate the fin sections down.
- Swing the chest section forward.
- Rotate each wing around.
- Swing out each robot arm.
- Swing down the end of the nosecone.
- Rotate the cockpit piece around (the robot head will now be facing forward).
- Swing the cockpit section down, the swing the chest piece up over it.
- Swing out each robot fist.
- Attach each missile launcher to one of the arms, or they can be held in the fists.
*Note: You may find that when collapsing the cockpit piece against its central hinge piece (it's white on this sculpt) it doesn't push in easily because of how tightly the two parts fit against each other. However, if you line everything up right and push the chest piece back, this generally brings the upper body together nicely.
In robot mode, the purple plastic domination continues, but this time out it is balanced out more by white and black plastic. The white can be found on the shoulder joints and the thighs. Black is used for the robot head, forearms and feet. Working in contrast with the purple color, the white and black all work together very well.
The same paint colors from the vehicle mode carry over here with an extra: white. The silver and red pieces from the vehicle mode continue to show silver and red on either side of his head. The face is painted silver with red eyes in true classic "Generation One" style. Silver is found again on his lower legs and feet. A bit of black is used for the thrusters above his feet. White paint is used on parts of the missile launchers, offering a visual connection to other parts on the figure. This mode also gets some tampographs in the form of "L" shaped red and white stripes on his shoulders, matching the wing details from the vehicle mode. Overall this is a great color scheme and it fill sin a lot of the more critical details such as the ridge of lines on the bottom of his knee armor and the turbines inside his chest. Some may not like the reuse of the same tampograph pattern across all three "Rainmakers", but to me it makes sense. In their original cartoon appearance, they all shared the same "striped" pattern on their wings, so this is actually staying true to the animation.
All of the joints on this figure are in good shape, but his legs feel slightly more loose than the ones on my copy of Sunstorm or Bitstream. Given how much use the tooling for this sculpt has gotten, it's safe to say the tooling has been rebuilt over the years. His fists hold the missile launchers snug and the arm attachment points are nice and tight. The missile launchers work without a problem as well.
Hotlink is a great part of a cool looking trio of Decepticons. His base metallic purple color really stands out strongly and the decos and tampographs alike are nice and clean on this figure. If you're in the market for more Seekers this guy's for you, just be warned he sold out at Botcon so he won't be cheap!