I'm gonna be honest: I'm still not entirely sure why Rodimus has adopted an emo color scheme for Lost Light, the soft reboot of James Roberts' beloved More Than Meets the Eye series. Normally these kind of unmotivated model or color swaps in the comics are nakedly designed to line the character up to an existing or upcoming official Hasbro release (witness the ever-changing visage of Starscream over in ex-RID/Windblade). But while there is an upcoming black Rodimus figure in Power of the Primes, it doesn't look anything like IDW Rodimus, so I doubt that's the reason.
Maybe Roberts and company just have an under-the-table deal with Mastermind Creations. It's likely that no one has made more money for the folks at that particular third party powerhouse than Roberts, Nick Roche, and Alex Milne (unless you want to make some smarmy argument about how none of us would be here without Bob Budainsky and Floro Dery, but I don't, so stop). If there was any toy Rodimus' new color scheme seemed sure to move, it was an inevitable repaint of MMC's then-upcoming Calidus figure.
If there was one thing I didn't like about original Calidus based on the online photography, it was some of the color choices, and anyway, I've got red Hot Rod / Rodimus figures for days. So from day one, I was holding out for this guy. When he was announced as a convention exclusive, my wallet cried out in pain, but my eyeballs, where crying normally occurs, were immediately in love.
Did the honeymoon last? Let's find out:
Calidus' robot mode sports a dashing and tidy silhouette, with basically no kibble to speak of, unless you count the vehicle mode hood sections on the back of his legs, which look natural enough that they shouldn't offend. The back section (which is too pleasingly svelte to really call a "backpack") is a little wider than Calidus' waist, which makes the figure look a bit less sleek, but it's a pretty minor effect that doesn't really bother me.
What does bother me is the way the panels on Calidus' forearms extend back over his elbows. It just looks sloppy, and always stands out to me when he's sitting on his shelf. It's hardly a dealbreaker, but if you're looking for a negative for this robot mode, that's the main one.
The sculpt does a great job capturing the character model. The head sculpt is spot-on, and while the default stoic expression he comes shipped with doesn't do it for me, or anyone I know, he thankfully comes with an alternate smirking face that evokes the character splendidly. You will need a screw driver to switch faces, which I actually prefer in this case, because mine will be spending 99% of its life smirking, and I'd rather not have to deal with the face falling off all the time.
As for the color scheme, it's just as lovely as it looked online. One thing that might bother you is that the purple plastic of the thighs and feet isn't 100% the same shade as the purple paint found on the chest, shoulder, and forearm details. I wouldn't be surprised if these were actually drawn from the same pantone swatch, but look different simply because of the contrast between the glossy, unpainted plastic, and the matte finish of the paint. It's not a big deal, but hey, we're in the business of picking the nits here at Ranking Robots.
Articulation is pretty satisfactory, and Calidus is fun to pose. If you're a stickler for ab crunch he'll disappoint you, and his ankle rockers are a bit restrictive, but that's about it. His signature shoulder pauldrons do inevitably combine with his back fins to restrict posability somewhat, but they're attached by some clever struts that allow you to extend them out from the body. This lets you achieve some relatively dynamic poses without compromising the silhouette when you want to put Calidus in a more neutral pose.
All in all, this is a dang fine bot mode, that will look great on any Lost Light shelf.
In broad strokes, Calidus' transformation is great. It's comprised of a bunch of big, satisfying moves that are at once intuitive and frequently clever. There's nothing terribly fiddly going on here, though getting the chest panel to line up properly with the feet can take a bit of finesse.
There is one significant negative here that needs to be addressed: You're supposed to spin the head around and rest its ear-antenna-spikes against a piece that flips up to hide it. But there's nothing to really guide his motion, or guarantee you've got it positioned correctly other than the spikes themselves, and given the head's ball joint and the pivoting platform it's on, there's a lot of room to get it wrong. While mine is fine, a friend of mine got stress marks on these pieces, so this step scares the crap out of me. It also ruins what should be the final, fun moment when you compress the entire figure together, because I'm always afraid to push on that back assembly.
But don't let the number of words devoted to that obscure the central message here. Overall, Calidus is fun to transform.
Rodimus doesn't spend a ton of time in vehicle mode in the comics, so at first I wasn't even sure if this was a faithful rendition of it. But surprise: It is! Check out how close the form here is to this Alex Milne concept sketch:
The main real blemishes on it are that the elbows are visible near the cockpit, and the hands are clearly visible in the back. From most angles though the hands are obscured enough by the fins and exhaust pipes that they don't bother me too much.
Overall, I really like this mode. It's even got loud and proud weapon storage. I'm not sure it looks better with the weapons attached, but you can do it!
Build, Quality, and Intangibles
The plastic used on Calidus feels very sturdy, capable of standing up to play and transformation. The only parts I have any fear of breaking are the aforementioned antennas on Calidus' head, mainly due to what the transformation asks of them.
The paint used here is the same matte stuff found on some other Reformatted releases like Spartan. It's fine, but I was personally hoping we'd see MMC start using more of the glorious glossy paint used on Carnifex. Dare to dream. Some of the purple paint has rubbed off onto my copy's knuckles, but I can't tell where it's rubbed off from.
There is one last build quality annoyance: Rodimus' signature back fins aren't glued in, and on mine, they're prone to falling off whenever I play with the figure. They fit tightly enough that it's never a problem when he's just sitting on a shelf, but while transforming him for this review, one definitely wound up in my lap.
There have been many Hot Rod/imus figures over the years, but I'm actually only aware of two -- this one and SXS Hot Flame -- that aim to be IDW Rodimus, and the Asterisk release is the only one I know of that goes for the Lost Light color scheme. That kinda makes him the Best Available by default, but know that he's pretty damn close to best imaginable anyway. I haven't gotten to mess around with Hot Flame yet, but I doubt he could dislodge Calidus in my affections.
By any metric, Calidus, Asterisk Mode is a good toy. A handful of minor irritations hold him back from being a truly great toy, but make no mistake: If you love More Than Meets The Eye / Lost Light (and really, what self-respecting Transformers fan doesn't?) then you should own this figure. It's a much-needed and well-done representation of a good character, with two good modes and a fun transformation. He's cool.
Pros: Expressive bot mode, fun transformation, accurate vehicle mode.
Cons: Back fins keep falling out, excessively forearm panels, fear of damaging the ear-spike-thingies.