Click the image above to see the alt mode, or view more photos here
First/Last Comic Appearance (US) - The Transformers: Headmasters Issue 1, July 1987 / Issue 75, February 1991
First/Last Comic Appearance (UK) - Issue 130, September 12th 1987 / Issue 201, January 21st 1989
First/Last Cartoon Appearance - Episode 96 (Season 4 #1), November 9th 1987 / Episode 98 (Season 4 #3), November 11th 1987
First Toy Appearance - 1987
Click here to see Figure Details and review
Manufacturer - Toyworld
- Added an Autobot symbol to the chest
- Added an Autobot symbol to the 'bonnet'
The Headmasters - I was pretty ambivalent towards them, but then Hardhead always had my attention. This tough, no nonsense jarhead epitomised what the rank 'n file Autobots should be - seemingly uncomplicated and clear in their objectives: to kick Decepticon butt. The fact he wielded 2 guns and also had an enormous gun on his shoulder and also turned into a tank with a big gun made me like the character all the more. I liked guns as a child, what can I say. I wanted this figure as a child but eventually ended up with Apeface, which was no bad thing in hindsight. But still I always admired this figure from afar and my interest was piqued when he featured in his own IDW spotlight not too long ago, as well as some other stories. The Headmasters in general were underused in the fiction outside of the Japanese cartoon, so I was pleased to see him get some attention. The fact that he survived a point blank shot to the head (finally proving the veracity of his name) and also clinically dispatched Nightbeat (long story) fleshed his character out a bit. When I heard that both Toyworld and FansProject were going to produce fully-fledged Headmasters (as opposed to upgrade kits) I was mildly impressed, and I finally decided to get Chromedome. Then, I kept looking at Toyworld's 'Hardbone' figure and finally took the plunge. So how does this figure compare to FansProject's efforts?
Appearance (Robot Mode) 8/10
I think that Toyworld have done a pretty good job here in updating this character with modern aesthetics without deviating too far from the source material. To my delight, the character still has his dual rifles, plus the enormous cannon on his shoulder. This goes a long way to cementing him as Hardhead. For some reason, Toyworld felt that this overwhelming arsenal was insufficient and added a stick grenade and large knife, both of which stow in holsters on the outside of his calves. I'm not interested in them particularly, but it is nice the Toyworld went to the effort to both provide the weapons and build in storage. The grenade launcher can be attached to one of the rifles which is a classy touch. His colour palette is pretty nice, very reminiscent of the old figure and with a smattering of clear plastic parts, which is always welcome. The clear plastic is an orange-ish yellow and while looking good, I do question the placement of some of it. Onto the headsculpt which is decent enough but feels a bit pedestrian and is probably the weakest aspect of the figure, although it is nice to see a 3rd party who utilised clear plastic on the face, even if light-piping is impossible doe to the special nature of the head.
Appearance (Alternate Mode) 7/10
I'm a big fan of H-Tanks and while this looks the part, it looks quite bland. A vehicle this tooled up should be a spectacle but something about it just feels a bit boring. It is detailed nicely enough, but just doesn't scream 'I am a death machine' at me. I think it is something to do with the rather flat colour palette. Additionally, the tank treads don't really align very nicely, because the rather loose tabs which hold the rear treads into position are too long, and do not allow them to sit parallel to the tank body. I was pretty disappointed as I at least expected the alt mode to hold together securely.
This figure is generally fun to transform. Firstly, the head pops off and unfolds to reveal Duros, the unfortunate little guy who has to get shot at so much. Then forearm panels open and the fists are rotated into them, then the panels are shut again. The arms telescope in on themselves once the elbows have been straightened. The treads behind the upper arms are lifted and rotated back into position, not that this makes much of a difference. The feet are straightened and slot back into the lower leg and then the treads fold out rather elegantly to allow the lower legs to fold over the upper legs. You have to do some fiddling with the crotch(!) to tab the legs in which become the front treads. The rear treads then rather tenuously cling to tabs which are cast in clear plastic, for reasons unknown. You also have to detach the large cannon to transform Hardhead, and re-attaching said cannon takes patience and perseverance.
Thanks to some loose joints, I have had to score this figure down somewhat, but generally we have a very articulated figure. Firstly the head swivels but does not look down as with Chromedome. Also Duros's limbs are very loose so you kind of squich the head to turn it and then have to spend time moving Duros's limbs again to look straight. The waist is also on a swivel. The shoulders and hips offer a good range of movement with ratchety goodness thrown in for good measure. The knees and elbows are also ratcheted. There is the by now standard bicep and thigh swivel, as well as rotatable (but loose) wrists and The rear 'heels' are extremely useful in providing balance, being ball-jointed.
This is a rather mixed bag as the quality of the plastic itself feels high, however there is rather more moulding flash on this figure than I would expect, and I had to remove a big clump of plastic from the head plate. Also the use of clear plastics on or near joints ar for structural stability is a long-term bad idea. And, some joints are criminally loose. Particularly the arms which, when posing will routinely try to telescope back up again, and the wrists which are already floppy. Also, that huge and impressive cannon rests on a tiny joint which is incredibly loose out of the box, so you have to use a combination of balance and luck to point it skyward and expect it to stay. It's a shame but the QC issues on this figure do worsen the experience of interacting with it.
Overall - 36/50
This is my first Toyworld experience and I have mixed feelings about them as a company as I do around this figure. Parts of it work very well, I like the large size as opposed to Chromedome, I really like aspects of the robot mode and, to look at, you would think this was a very solid figure. And I would still recommend it because the only other option is Universe Hardhead which is just a recoloured Onslaught, unless you go the Headrobots route. I got this for a decent price off eBay and they are pretty easy to find. I guess my opinion on whether you should go for this may change if FansProject reveal their own homage, but so far they have been quiet. Aesthetically I think that Chromedome and Hardhead go together just fine, which for me was my major consideration. You can also slot Chromedome's head onto this chap, but, alas, not the other way round. Overall, I would (just) recommend you pick this figure up, if only because it fills a gap in my collection better than any other option out there.