If you remember my review of Universe Hot Shot, I had a few negative things to say about him, despite my unconditional love of all things Hot Shot. Here's a list:
1) Absurd transformation complexity makes David angry
2) Backpack kibble pieces try to occupy same space at same time
3) Crotch halves won't peg securely together
4) Fistholes are not standard size, so won't hold weapons with 5mm pegs
Some of these problems were solved or blunted with Henkei! Henkei! Hot Rod, Japan's version of the toy. For starters, their version's crotch pegs together! And stays! For more than a split second! It may just be a plastic tolerance issue, or I got a bum Universe toy, but regardless I'm thankful.
Secondly, he's got weapons now. This makes his inability to hold standard Transformer weapons somewhat less frustrating, plus the retooling that came with the weapons helps with the backpack problem just a little tiny bit. The addition of guns isn't the only thing new on the toy. Holes for the missile launchers to poke out the back in vehicle mode were added, which means his backpack kibble has gaps in it right where the two pieces most like to intersect. It doesn't solve the problem entirely, but it does help. The two halves of backpack kibble no longer try to take up all the same space. Just most of it.
(He of course still has the spoiler halves on his shoulders, which still restrict his articulation there. I really wish the engineers had moved those to the kibble or something.)
The guns also make me feel less bad about the kibble. They peg underneath in car mode, and so you can sort of see why they made some of the decisions they did. In order to accommodate those missile launchers, compromises had to be made, and so we ended up with Kibbles McGee here. Then the American version budgeted out those missile launchers and so he was left with those problems for no practical gain. D'oh.
Still, the Takara version isn't superior in every way. I vastly prefer the American colors, with its dark blue forearms and trim. Takara replaced the blue with a more anime-accurate gray, which kind of makes the color scheme more stale, in my opinion. In my mind, Hot Shot is yellow, red, and dark blue.
Also, they replaced the JaAM license plate with one that displays his Japanese name, Hot Rod, instead. That is very unfortunate.