It's actually not as rare as any of the BotCon exclusives that have come out over the past decade, but to hear the current complaining from folks unable to get one, you might not realize it.
The toy I'm talking about, Alternators Rodimus (or, to go by an apparent misprint in the instructions, "Alternators Rodimus Prime"), was an exclusive at last weekend's San Diego Comic-Con. By all accounts, this convention was huge, with thousands upon thousands of people attending to catch the latest comic and toy-related news, meet up with celebrities, and yes, to pick up exclusive merchandise.
With the success of the theatrical Transformers movie this past month, it could probably be predicted that a Transformers exclusive would be popular. And Alternators have tended to be especially popular with adult fans for their realism and complexity. So, it was no surprise to read news reports of long lines waiting outside the Hasbro booth trying to get the Alternators Rodimus toy. Nor was it a surprise to hear cries of frustration and shouts of Hasbro's supposed incompetence when the lines moved too slowly, or people found themselves unable to get their desired toys for whatever reason.
A friend of mine, who as I type this is beginning a move to North Carolina to start work on her PhD at Duke this fall, was at Comic-Con this past weekend, and offered to pick up for me any exclusives I might want, whereby I would pay her for her expenses later. Having heard the reports of difficulties and frustration as early as Thursday, I gave her the list of exclusives I was interested in, but made it clear that I did not expect her to fight too hard to get these items on my behalf.
I was therefore very pleasantly surprised to find that she was successful in picking up Rodimus during her trip. Knowing that the toy would soon be in high demand, I confess that I was tempted to leave the toy in its (very attractive) box and re-sell it on eBay. I could certainly use the money. But such would be small gratitude to my friend, who got this toy for me as one of her last acts while living in Southern California! No, this item is going on display!
But first, a comment or two about the toy itself. Rodimus is a repaint/remold of Alternators Mirage (It definitely has a new head, but there may well be other remolded details I haven't noticed. I don't have a Mirage of my own, having traded the one I won at BotCon 2006 with my brother, who didn't care for the prize he won, an Energon Downshift, so much. Having been frustrated with Alternators in the past, I felt generous). The flame patterns on the hood/chest are clearly meant to evoke Hot Rod, a classic Generation 1 character, for whom the name "Rodimus" has been applied in more recent homages to the character, since the name "Hot Rod" is trademarked by another company, meaning that Hasbro can't use it anymore.
Now Rodimus occupies a position of prominence among the Alternators I have on display at work. I was surprised to discover that my other Alternators are so predominately blue (I also have the almost-entirely-black Alternators Ravage from a couple of years back, but that one's displayed elsewhere), so the bright red Rodimus simply had to go in the center to create a sense of balance!
Incidentally, Rodimus wasn't the only exclusive offered by Hasbro at the San Diego Comic-Con, or even the only Transformer exclusive. In addition to My Little Pony, Star Wars, GI Joe, and (I expect) other exclusives, there was also a Menasor figure from the Titanium line, which is (ironically) a Rodimus Prime repaint intended to homage yet another Generation One character. All of these "exclusives" were actually made available at HasbroToyShop.com online on Monday, although Alternators Rodimus sold out within a couple of hours. At the time of this writing, there were over 1000 Menasor figures still available, so hurry and head over to the site if you want one!