Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Titans Return Hardhead

Titans Return Hardhead with Furos

Hardhead has had a better go than most of the 1987 Headmaster in hat he's had a new version, the Wal*Mart exclusive Universe 2 Ultra that was a repaint of OnslaughtOnslaught. He nearly had a second one too: in 2011 Generations Warpath's instructions revealed 2011 an alternate Hardhead head and a Generations Deluxe Warpath was found in computer listings in 2013 but no toy ever was released until now.

Straight out the package Hardhead looks good. Hasbro have gone for the 1987 toy look with the face using visored eyed and a faceplate. Removing the head and unfolding it reveals a Titanmaster that is the spit colour wise of the original Headmaster Duros. For unknown reasons however Titans Return Deluxe Hardhead's Titanmaster is called Furos.

Hardhead's head, body, hands & gun are cast in a green colour with the arms, hips and lower legs in a near black while the upper legs, face plate and shoulder cannon are a dirty grey. With the exception of the oddly black hips it's done a really good job of recreating the look of the original Hardhead but once again the deluxe size feels slightly too small. The hips are a poser: My guess is that they need to be a certain sort of material, and they are a different feel of plastic to the rest of the upper legs and this type of plastic only exists in black not making it cost effective to produce a sprue of it in grey for just those two parts. Later evidence suggests the hips are on the same sprue as the wrists, gun hinges, gun seat hinge, shoulder connectors, elbows & lower knee.

Hardhead has a peg on each forearm for a Titanmaster to stand on. So far the only Titanmater that I've successfully stood on them is Furos himself, all the others are too loose. Testing Furos on other Titanmaster pegs suggests that his peg holes are slightly smaller than other Titanmasters which is a shame.

Hardhead comes with one green handgun whereas the original, like the other 1987 Autobot Headmasters, had two. His cannon is mounted on his shoulder on a double hinge and can be folded onto his back so just the gun barrel protrudes over his shoulder. There's a 5mm hole in the top of it for mounting his gun or any other 5mm peg weapon on. The cannon is itself mounted using a 5mm peg so is removable and can be hand held and likewise the hand gun or any other 5mm peg can be mounted on the shoulder instead. The cannon's got a few other features as well that can be used here but I'll cover them in the tank mode.

Articulation is generally very good: he has a ball jointed head from his Titanmaster, shoulders that shrug up, though his right shoulder is limited if the cannon is folded down, ball jointed outer shoulder joints, bicep swivel, double bending elbows & wrist that fold inwards & turn. No waist, mainly due to part of the tank mode securing in the rear of the waist piece, ball jointed hips, thigh swivels & bending knees. Balance is good, I've posed him holding two Terribull tanks, and the legs are substantially better than Skullsmasher.

Transformation: If you've played with an original 1987 Hardhead this will not be a challenging toy! Remove hand gun & Titanmaster. Actually you don't NEED to remove the Titanmaster but you will end up with a head in a silly place if you don't! Fold the back up 90° so it's on level with the top of the body and then fold the top of the body forward so the tank's upper surface is formed from the back, body top and body front and is pointing down towards the legs. Fold the feet back 180°. Pull each lower leg out to the sides and up so that the connecting bar within the lower leg tabs into the upper leg. Fold the legs & waist back 180°, while keeping the green tank armour straight pegging a tab on the underside of the body's top into a slot on the grey inner back piece. The inner face of the upper legs attach to tabs sticking out from the underside of green back piece. Fold the waist plate back. Fold the hands into the sides of the forearms and the elbow joint into the rear of the forearms. The silver elbow screws surrounded by a plastic rim fit into a hole on each side of the tank's front. The cannon slides inward and stretches back to sit alongside the driver's compartment which Furos can sit in. The hand gun pegs into the top of the tank barrel.

If you had left the Titanmaster in place he would be looking out over the front of the tank now!

Hardhead's vehicle mode is the original's but smaller. With the 4 tread pods at each corner of the vehicle he feels a bit similar to Generations Warpath so you can see why they were considering a head retool of that toy as Hardhead. However the tops of both characters are very different: where Warpath has a rotating turret Hardhead has a forward facing cannon with a clear orange canopied driver's compartment next to it. The pegs from the forearms have ended up on the front pair of tank treads and there's an additional set, with the same slightly too small peg for most Titanmasters, on the rear treads too. The tank mode moves courtesy of a pair of small wheels mounted in each of the rear treads and a grooved roller mounted under the front of the vehicle.

The cannon elevates in this mode but it has a few other details that can be used in robot mode too. The back of the cannon opens up & folds back revealing a compartment for a Titanmaster to sit and act as a gunner. It's a nice feature and it adds something to the toy. The top of this compartment can be folded back over the Titanmaster to cover it but you can't close it since the Titanmaster is too big. The intention is it should hang behind the gun, as evidenced by a pair of Titanmaster pegs inside the compartment which face up when it's folded back. Unfortunately they're the same gauge as the rest of the ones on the toy. Even more unfortuntely they're mounted on a slope, rising to the rear, which means a Titanmaster can't stand on them & face forward because his heel spur prevents the pegs from recessing far enough into the feet!

Issues with footpegs aside this is essentially a smaller more articulated version of the original Hardhead toy. There's a lot of fun to be had with it.

Legends LG-21 Hardhead

I've not bought many of the Legends line so far: Jetfire, because he didn't have the dreadful chrome the Generations version had, Sky Byte, because he looked much better, and Ultra Magnus, for the white guns and different small robot are the only 3 I have that there were also western versions of. I also purchased Blackarachnia & Starscream Super Mode/Thundercracker but they DIDN'T get western releases. However Takara have gone down a slightly different route for their Headmaster characters which swayed my hand especially when Kapow offered the initial releases at £20.99!

The first thing is the deluxe Headmasters have different faces and Hardhead's is an obvious change. Instead of the visored face used on Titans Return version we now have a fully exposed face on Legends Hardhead just like his Marvel comic, cartoon and IDW versions.

The other major difference here is that there's a little extra in the box for the Japanese version of the toy. The Titanmasters size class aren't getting distributed in Japan in the Titanmaster/Head with accessory sets that are in Titans Return. Instead the Head goes with a Legends figure and the accessory goes with a deluxe, but only the deluxe toys that were originally Headmaster in 1987, Autobots Brainstorm, Chromedome, Hardhead & Highbrow and Decepticons Mindwipe, Weirdwolf & Skullcruncher, are having the extra Titanmaster accessory included with them. Thus far LG-25 Blurr & LG-26 Scourge are the only Deluxes not to have them. It'll be interesting to see what will happen when the Wave 3 Titans Return deluxe appear in Japan as by that time there will be new Titanmaster moulds available for them to use.

Hardhead's accessory is called Tankette, a green version of the tank/jet that comes with Titans Returns Terribull and was was remade as Skytread. There's some silver paint on the tank treads and turret. Unfortunateky the issues with the peg/hole gauge come back to haunt us here as Furos can't sit in the tank and lock onto the pegs inside the turret.

Since the tank is gang moulded with it's Titanmaster it'll be interesting seeing what the Bullhorn with LG-37 Jaguar looks like as Green isn't a colour associated with Horribull!

There's been some tweaking of the colours on the Hardhead toy itself. The green & black are broadly similar but the grey has gone replaced by a pale brown/tan colour. In order that the upper legs match the same colour has been used for one of the black sprues and this results in the wrists, gun hinges, gun seat hinge, shoulder connectors, elbows & lower knee also becoming pale brown/tan. This makes certain parts, notably the wrists in robot mode and the what were concealed elbows in tank mode, really stand out when they shouldn't do which is a real shame.

Given the choice I'd go Titans Return, because I think the grey works better than the tan. But I prefer the comic head and wanted the extra accessory so went for the Legends version. I suspect, now that I have the Legends in hand, this might be a case of having to double dip on this toy which would then give me two guns and an extra Titanmaster that can use the footpegs.

Future Repaints

The Transmissions Podcast rumours that Hardhead will be repainted/remoulded into Quake. I'll be honest, I'm not sure I can see this for very similar reasons as I thought Generations Warpath would work as Hardhead. The same podcasts rumours a new Perceptor, a character I could see as a Hardhead remould due to the similarity of cannons over their right shoulder.

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