Bayformers. You either love them or hate them. Or at least that appears to be the case when gauging opinions on the Internet. Yet even if the aesthetic turns you cold there’s perhaps no denying that the third party scene has done some impressive things to bring a number of those designs to 3D form in recent times, and no one company has been leading the pack more than DX9. Oh wait, I meant Unique Toys. Ah, sorry, same thing.
Joking aside, between the two (completely separate and not at all the same thing, WINK WINK) companies, they’ve put out an astonishing array of screen accurate yet still fun-to-handle transforming robots, and their latest effort is an attempt to recreate one of the more memorable characters from the most recent main franchise entry, The Last Knight. Yep, it’s Hot Rod – or ‘Ot Rod, as the character himself would say in a woefully dubious French accent.
Right out of the box and he’s looking mighty fine! That sweet Lamborghini Centenario alt’ mode is just to die for, and catches your eye right off the bat. Hot Rod indeed!
Every inch of this thing looks surprisingly tidy and nicely put together. There’re a lot of little touches in the sculpt that really help to sell this as the actual car model, and although I can’t claim to be a car expert by any means, to my eye it looks pretty close to the actual thing.
In fact there’s nary a whiff of kibble to be seen, with all of the robot bits & bobs neatly tucked away out of sight. If it wasn’t for a couple of slightly more obvious seams here and there and those metal joints at the back end, you could almost be forgiven for thinking that this was a non-transforming toy.
Of course, this being an unofficial effort, it’s not a licensed Lamborghini product and so it avoids the use of logos or emblems of any kind. Still looks awesome, but I do miss the little spot of yellow on the front of the car, I’ll admit. Really no biggie when a vehicle mode is this stunning though, eh?
Plus the whole thing tabs together surprisingly tightly. I had a little trouble with one or two panels slotting in *just so* on reverse transformation, but overall this guy is extraordinarily flush.
In terms of paint applications there isn’t that much going on. The main body is a sort of sparkly plastic finish which looks nice enough, and then there’s the obvious orange highlights which are well-applied and add a touch of colour. Otherwise this is a very simple deco, but then that befits his on-screen appearance.
In terms of clearance I found that my copy sits very close to the ground, but will roll just about if everything is tabbed together properly and the kibble underneath is stowed as it should be. The front wheels are pretty tight but it’s also kind of amazing how clear the undercarriage is from a side view. Exceptional work here by DX9.
In fact the whole thing commands a very solid first impression, with a decent feel to the plastic and an overall quality level of presentation that gives you a confidence in what’s been achieved here. Given that the official MPM line is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to putting out well-built toys at the moment, it’s somehow reassuring to see a third party outfit giving them a good run for their money.
Overall there’s really a lot to like in this mode, and it’s the kind of thing that I expect even a non-Bayformer fan would have to look at and say, “yeah, that’s pretty cool”. They may just say nothing at all, but they’d be thinking it. Trust me. Anyway, let’s check out those gimmicks.
In a nifty feature the doors can be opened in a manner which looks and feels very similar to the actual car. It’s a trick made necessary due to the transformation scheme, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t appreciated all the same!
There’s even a sort-of attempt at a car interior going on here, with tiny little seats and everything. It’s not Binaltech-levels of wizardry but again, the effort taken is a nice touch considering that it’s beyond what we typically see in the official line. I do get a giggle out of seeing La Hire’s face poking out though.
One of the key accessories here is a human mini-figure, meant to represent… oh, y’know, whatshername. From the film. Gah. Wait a sec and let me check… Vivian! That’s it, her name is Vivian. Played by the actress Laura Haddock. Which is kinda funny considering my biggest memory of that film is the bit where a robot beats up a fish, but I digress. Anyway, I sincerely hope that Ms Haddock never has the opportunity to see this little figure herself, as it’s hardly a flattering representation. In fact it looks decidedly naff and can barely stand, but I guess it’s nice that they included it, eh?
Vivian is noticeably larger than the likes of MP-10 Spike or MP-44 Spike – in fact height-wise she almost should work versus MP-47 Bigger Spike (who is fast becoming my go-to standard of measurement) but somehow the proportions are so weird that it just looks a bit wrong. Her head is way too small for one thing – just at it versus the size of *those hands*.
Anyway Vivian is supposed to be able to sit in the car seats, but I gotta say even achieving the shot above was a bit of a faff. Still, at least it’s not MP-45 Bumblebee-levels of nuisance and can be done without taking half the car apart.
As far as other comparisons go the most obvious one is with Unique Toys Challenger, which at the moment remains the most faithful 3PMP take on TLK Optimus Prime on the market. They look really very swish together, so much so that I would honestly consider displaying them both in alt’ mode side-by-side.
In terms of real world scale I can’t say I have a good handle on how accurate this is, but it works well enough for me! I only hope that the designers behind these two can keep pumping out similarly good-looking renditions of other characters from the big screen.
Another comparison to make is with G1 Hot Rod, as whilst they share nothing more than a name it’s still fun to see how they shake up together in terms of size and style. In fact La Hire is just ever-so-slightly bigger than MP-28 but shows you just what a great job DX9 have done here at creating a product that can match the official line in terms of portraying superb-looking car modes.
So there you go, a pretty cracking alt’ form if ever there was one. Now it’s time to get the thing converted into robot mode, something I was certainly itching to do after having enjoyed so many of the company’s other logic-defying transformation schemes!
If you’ve handled the likes of Unique Toys Challenger, Dragoon or Peru Kill then you’ll no doubt know what I’m talking about, as all of those seemingly employ some kind of black magic to pull off some pretty unbelievable contortions from one mode to another. La Hire is no different, with no less than several distinct moments of quite incredible engineering being employed to bring you a surprisingly clean & kibble-free robot mode. Best of all it’s a pretty fun transformation that bears repeating, with only the feet giving me a moment’s pause as I attempted to get them tabbed in.
In fact this is one of those toys that honestly I think you have to handle to fully appreciate, as simply showing you photos of one mode after the other doesn’t really do that transformation scheme justice. That the robot mode it spits out is so tidy and well-proportioned from every angle is a small wonder.
La Hire cuts a fine form, looking at once surprisingly handsome and effortlessly dynamic. He’s chock full of detail and looks rather stunningly accurate to his on-screen appearance.
Even a rear view is a pleasing sight, with those door wings and the wheels being amongst the rare traces of evidence that this guy actually turns into a car at all. In the film it looks like the doors cheat a little and shrink slightly for Hot Rod’s robot mode, but DX9 have done a great job at stowing them away as best as possible here. They can also be manoeuvred around to be displayed as you personally prefer, though I like them tucked away neatly as shown above, myself.
You could even have them splayed out reminiscent of a quasi-G1 style, if you absolutely want.
La Hire’s main accessories come into play in this mode, as he sports a pair of blasters which look remarkably like the ones he wields in the film. They tab into his articulated hands very securely, and really make him look the absolute business.
In fact these guns give La Hire a whole new dose of presence. I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time just fiddling around with him with his blasters in situ, and it’s very easy to crank out any number of great poses. Honestly you’d have to really go out of your way to make him not look pretty swish.
Full confession time – the guns also come with *tiny* little clips that slot in near the front, but you won’t see those in my photos because, erm… I lost them. Whups. You see I don’t even recall taking them out of the box to begin with, they’re so small. Chances are I will have them somewhere, as it’s not like me to lose things, I swear! Oh well.
Anyway, even without the little clips the guns look really great, and definitely complete La Hire’s look overall. I’ve always thought that dual-wielding robots are a sight to behold, and this guy demonstrates that perfectly.
It helps that he has one of my favourite points of articulation – a wrist bend. It’s a simple little touch (and in this case necessary for transformation), but it makes such a difference when posing with guns, adding that little extra flair.
Otherwise, La Hire has plenty of articulation going on, including some surprisingly nifty shoulder joints and double-hinged elbows which allow for a fantastic range of motion. In fact the arms in general reach just about the highest standard imaginable when it comes to poseability.
The same isn’t quite true of the lower half of the body, with the legs being a little more cumbersome and the ankles especially not featuring enough of a forward or backward bend for my tastes. Still, there’s a decent ab crunch, waist swivel and ankle tilt to satisfy most requirements.
Overall I think the designers have done a marvellous job at bring this guy to life, as he really looks and feels the part whilst managing to be a lot of fun to boot. I’ve had a terrific time just messing around with him and trying out different poses, as I say.
To my eye he looks fantastic even just in a stoic pose, showing off all that lovely mechanical detail the sculpt has incorporated. The paint applications in this mode are subtle, but they manage to bring some of that moulding to life.
La Hire’s head is a bit of a weird one, in that it’s arguably very accurate to the source material but somehow manages to look equal parts cool and dopey all at the same time. Those painted blue eyes stand out nicely though, and overall I think it works well. I’m sure it won’t work for everyone though!
It will come as no great surprise that La Hire & Challenger go together like two peas in a proverbial pod, although I have to say that I think the newcomer’s engineering puts not-Optimus in the shade somewhat. As nice as Challenger is in many regards, I still have my issues with him overall, but it really feels like the design finesse has moved on a bit since then.
Again, I’d be very up for more designs akin to these two, and it could be great to see them fill out more of the Age of Extinction / The Last Knight cast.
La Hire stands just a bit taller than MPM-3 Bumblebee, filling in here in the absence of a TLK-style toy. Quality-wise there’s no doubt for me that La Hire is the superior offering too, making the official effort look a little shabby by comparison, in all honesty.
La Hire shares a lot of design nods with Peru Kill in many ways. You can tell that it’s likely to have been the same designer(s) who worked on them both, and my slight grumble about some of the awkwardness in La Hire’s legs feels very similar to the problems I had with their Lockdown effort in that regard, although I would say that the design this time around feels altogether sleeker. If you enjoyed Peru Kill then I see no reason you won’t feel the same or better about La Hire.
You can see La Hire here next to MP-28 Hot Rod, his namesake from another era. They may have exceedingly little in common when it comes to aesthetic or design philosophy, but they’re both fun toys regardless, and both comfortably earn a spot on my shelf.
In fact I’ll credit La Hire with being one of the best 3PMP Bayformers we’ve had so far. It shows real learnings from previous efforts and makes me feel very confident about where these designs are going in terms of future releases. I can’t wait to see what they do with AOE Galvatron soon!
WHAT’S HOT? Fantastic vehicle mode, very good robot mode and a fun transformation in between. This guy is well made and excellently engineered.
WHAT’S NOT? Not much, to be honest. The legs are a little cumbersome in places and the human mini-figure is a dud, but otherwise he’s neat.