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Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Some figures you have to see a few times before you decide to add them to your collection - others you know will be yours the instant you see them.

Hubcap never liked the way Brimstone pushed other robots around, and he never made any effort to hide his disapproval. The two robots have clashed more times than either of them can count. Now their rivalry has moved to the urban drag strips of Earth. Brimstone may consider himself king of the road, but Hubcap won't give up until the so-called king is just another wreck.

Hubcap, like many Transformers these days, is a reference to an older toy, though in his case, at least, it's just the name and colors, not the personality. And even then, it's the colors of a G2 repaint, not G1 - you don't see that too often!

G1 Hubcap was a retool of Cliffjumper painted yellow (which means he's pretty hard to tell apart from Bumblebee), but his Generation 2 version was metallic red. Since this new Hubcap's outer shell is mostly red, he's a G2 ref. The biggest defining feature of the old Hubcap was his orange face, and that's a feature this one displays, as well. The color is where the parallels end, however.

Though he's part of the movieverse, Hubcap doesn't have one of those needlessly pointy designs. His limbs have lots of detail, and the suggestion of multiple layers of technology stacked one above another, but the sculpt never goes overboard. He'd fit in easily with the Classics, Universe and Generations toylines, because he doesn't have weird bird-legs or sharp claws, just normal hands and feet. Even his kibble is spread around nicely: the car's grill takes up the lion's share of his chest, the front wheels are on his shoulders, and the rest of the vehicle bunches up on the back of his legs. He's got a good design and a good sculpt, and so far the mold isn't being reused for any other character - now that's unusual these days!

Hubcap has lots of useful joints, moving at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, thighs, knees and ankles: that's 17 points of articulation on a 4⅜" tall figure, which is pretty good. Plus, all the joints except the neck are actually used to convert him between modes, so they serve double duty.

Like Brimstone, Hubcap is based on a vehicle seen at Mikaela's garage: while the Decepticon was inspired by a bike inside the shop, Hubcap homages the hot rod seen outside as she pulled up. Even before we knew his name, this altmode was an attention-grabber when it was revealed at Toy Fair last year. Most of the TFs we get are meant to look like modern machines, but this is something you would have seen in the '40s or '50s - sure, he'd stick out anywhere but a classic car show, but it's still pretty cool.

The car is 4" long, 2⅞" wide and just about 1½" tall, and all four wheels roll. Surely some gearhead out there can identify what vehicle (or vehicles) the design is supposed to represent, but for the rest of us, knowing it's a hot rod is enough. The front grill is angular, and has small round headlights mounted on the sides. Customized exhaust pipes poke out the sides of the engine before running down behind the fender and below the running board. There's a gas cap on the back, and a sculpted edge for what is either a trunk or a rumble seat.

Surprisingly, Hubcap is mostly red in this mode - sure, there's silver detailing, and all the windows are black, but the body of the car is just a solid red-orange, with a black Autobot insignia in place of a hood ornament. You often see hot rods with fancy paintjobs, like multi-color fades or detailed flame patterns, but none of that is here. It's fine, it allows the kibble on the robot mode to look like it all belongs there, rather than being a rainbow of colors.

Brimstone was a pretty good TF, but his rival Hubcap is excellent. Very fun robot, unusual altmode, and a conversion process you'll get the hang of easily. The only downside is the price, because you shouldn't have to pay $8 for a Scout-class figure. Still, if you can find a sale, Hubcap is a worthwhile new creation.

-- 04/05/11

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