Transformers The Last Knight First Hot Rod Toy Package Leak - But Wait, There's A Twist

Fresh from Weibo we have a first hint of what we've been oddly overdue on hearing about within The Last Knight's toyline: A Hot Rod toy. NOTRAB has posted a photo of a bottom corner of some packaging, clearly labelled as Autobot Hot Rod, but with the toy itself kept out of view. The strange thing though? The package style is not consistent with any of the current The Last Knight packaging we have on shelves right now. Keep reading as we do a little more analysis on the matter.

At first glance one could jump to concluding this is a Premier Edition, and probably a Deluxe, since what we are able to see indicates box-style packaging with a window. That much tracks so far. The details are where we start raising questions. The name plate is red. Premier Edition items - and indeed, everything else we've checked against so far - uses a black name plate. That's a pretty big inconsistency. Now, an immediate thought might be that this represents a style refresh. After all, Hot Rod is likely not to be part of any assortment before wave 4 at the earliest given we more or less know the shape of the first three. But in my own experience that seems oddly quick to revisualize the line. If we had reason to believe The Last Knight toyline was extending in to 2018 in a meaningful way, that would be a good point to update the packaging, but it doesn't seem like we'd be quite that far in by wave 4. Now, this image does not immediately look like it's been doctored, so if we choose to believe this is real retail packaging, what's left as an origin for this anomalous sample?

Mission to Cybertron. While I in no way mean to suggest that Hot Rod will end up existing solely as a Toys R Us exclusive, the specific iteration we're being shown here might be specific to the upcoming Toys R Us subline. A previous leak showed some packaging asset samples that hinted at a Hot Rod and Bumblebee two pack, and I think that's what we're seeing more of right now. This first might help explain why the photo in question is focused so tightly on one corner: showing any wider angle would reveal the larger packaging and immediately be a giveaway, whereas with this angle, it can be made to look like just an individual figure. Plus, if we go back to that leaked package layout, we find the important connection: A red bottom edge. The leaked asset has it, and so does this photographed packaging.

This pretty well cements the theory, then. We know already that Toys R Us will have within its Mission to Cybertron subline two-packs of Deluxes, seemingly as the only way Deluxes will be sold under that branding. We have packaging elements from a source that seems to have been leaking largely from this Toys R Us series of toys, given the wacky and semi-random nature of the toys revealed so far. And now we have an actual produced packaging sample consistent with the previously seen elements. Whether or not a Hot Rod mold will be exclusive to Toys R Us, it does seem like their use of the mold has become our first proof positive of its existence. Will it also end up debuting at retail that way? Only time will tell on that note, especially since we don't have concrete info on when Mission to Cybertron will actually launch, or when the Deluxe two-packs will be distributed once it has.
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