Transformers came to its peak in 1986, but Hasbro had nearly exhausted licensable designs from other manufacturers, including old Takara toylines. Hasbro and Takara turned to unused Diaclone concepts and designs, such as the combiners. The Special Team Leader Hot Spot, a light blue 1983 Mitsubishi Fuso FU-chassis The Great fire ladder truck.
Hot Spot was originally conceptualized for a Diaclone subseries called “Jizai Gattai”, or Free Combination, which would have included the Stunticons, Combaticons, Aerialbots, Protectobots, and Metroplex. Each team had a theme, each limb figure could combine with any other team leader as any limb, and each leader figure had some sort of base mode, usually, with a spring-loaded vehicle launcher. All the figures could also interact with Metroplex. However, Transformers’ imminent success put Diaclone and Jizai Gattai on ice. It was Transformers’ long term success that saw these designs to completion, however. >Hot Spot was designed by Kaoru Matsumoto. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy ladder truck (aka Transformers G1 Hot Spot) was filed on October 24, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD297034 S).
Hot Spot transforms into a light blue The Great 6x2 fire ladder truck. His vehicle mode is fairly accurate, and features a pivoting and elevating ladder with three telescoping sections, blue wheels shod in rubber tires from earlier Autobot Cars. He has numerous black-painted details such as windows, vents, and molded coiled hoses, as well as a chrome front bumper. Interestingly, his cab is decorated with large fireball stickers.He can become a “Emergency Car Carrier” by arming him with his large cannons, moving the ladder turret up behind the cab, and attaching his black shields beside the flat bed area of the truck. He can also transform into a repair bay using the guns, shields, and articulated repair arms. Unlike the other Diaclone-concept Special Team Leaders, he did feature any spring-loaded vehicle launchers. His transformation to robot mode is rather simple compared to some of his peers. The rear of the truck extends down to form his legs, and the cab divides to form the arms, with the fists being extended by two sliding tabs. His head is spring-loaded and pops up from within his chest. His chestplate flips up from the truck chassis to cover the middle wheels. He can wield his large black rifles by inserting their round pegs into his square fist holes (no, really!).
Hot Spot transforms into the torso of Defensor, and despite using many of the typical tricks, has some rather unique traits in this mode as well. After separating his legs and locking his arms to his sides, the waist plate and two chest plate halves are attached. Uniquely, his Defensor head is mounted in the ladder turret and does not need to be separately attached: the only G1 combiner with this trait.
Hot Spot has a few common weaknesses. His telescoping ladder sections are often missing, or the hinged section may be broken at the base. Occasionally, the tabs that slide his robot fists into position are broken off, but he is far from the worst offender among toys with this problem. Always use care when removing combiner figures from Hot Spot’s sockets.
Hot Spot has several production variations. The most noticeable was the shift from a painted metal chestplate to a plastic chestplate sometime in 1986. Along with this change, silver paint on the grille / headlight area was removed. A later version does not include a rubsign on the fire truck's deck, though the indentation has not been filled in, corresponding to the 1991 European re-release.
Hot Spot was available in 1986, individually boxed, or in a giftset with the other four Protectobots. Due to the popularity of the combiners, he was available again in 1987. He was re-released on a new gold colored box in Europe’s G1 as a Classic Protectobot in 1991.
Redecos & Retools
Hot Spot’s mold was redecoed in 1992 in Takara’s Operation Combination as Fire Chief, sold only in the Guard City gift set. Fire Chief is primarily red, but shares several of Hot Spot’s light blue parts. Vanishingly few prototypes of an unproduced G2 recolor exist, but no sealed samples have surfaced to date. This version would have been cast in red with bright orange and teal parts.