Introduced in the Transformers animated movie between seasons two and three of the original cartoon, Hot Rod took up the mantle of Autobot leadership after Prime’s tragic death in the movie, becoming Rodimus Prime. Unlike Galvatron, who measured up well to Megatron and in many ways even came to surpass him, Hot Rod never really managed to fill the oversized shoes left behind by Optimus Prime – a fact that he was obviously aware of, considering how often he second-guessed his own decisions.
To be fair, this wasn’t necessarily an indication that Hot Rod was a bad leader, just that he wasn’t Robot Jesus. Fortunately, it turned out that Optimus Prime was, since he came back to life at the end of Season 3. Rodimus reverted to Hot Rod for the final season of the cartoon series… which consisted of a single three part episode.
In keeping with the generally disappointing quality of Rodimus’s leadership qualities, he appears to transform into some sort of weird space-Winnebago. Hot Rod gets off a little better, as his alternate form is more appropriately some sort of futuristic sports car.
From a collecting standpoint, this means there are two versions of Hod Rod to buy – one from his time before and after being leader of the Autobots (Hot Rod), and one from his tenure as robotic head of state (Rodimus Prime).
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