Review by Prometheum5
ToyWorld is another relative newcomer to the third party Transformer scene. They have had a strong start, debuting with the highly praised Hegemon and their line of figures based on the often-overlooked Generation 1 Throttlebots. They have now set their sights even higher, tackling the much-revered Headmasters with TW-H01 Hardbone!
Hardbone comes packed in vehicle mode with nice but sparse artwork on a diecut box. 'Hardbone' is a terrible name and a not-so-subtle poke at where this figure gets its inspiration from, the G1 Autobot Hardhead.
Included in the package are the main figure, the smaller head figure, two hand cannons, and a large mounted gun. The plastic used for Hardbone is lighter weight than that used on Grind Rod, but it still feels quite rugged and features sharp detail.
Hardbone's vehicle mode is a chunky quad-treaded vehicle with a lurid green and black color scheme.
The hand guns have a couple of 5mm pegs on them and can attach to the tank in multiple places.
The tank mode features a lot of nice little details and sharp paint work. My favorite little detail is the hatch on the rear. I wish it could open up, but that is probably asking too much.
There are extra rollers behind the front track units that remind me of Beast Machines Tankor. Tankor was a fantastic toy, so that's a good reference to me.
Before we go any farther, we've got a little QC issue to address. It's tough to make out in the photo, but there are small clear yellow tabs that fold out on each side of the chassis. These tabs fit into the rear track units.
I found that the tabs were actually a bit too long, so the track units did not sit straight (see the right track). In a happy accident, I actually dropped my figure and broke off a bit of one of the tabs. Now, the track unit on the left side sits much straighter. I think I will end up carefully trimming a bit of the right tab off as well to match. The tabs seem a bit silly to me, since the track units, which become the shoulders, are on ratcheting joints anyway.
The tabs are a bit useful, though, since there are two sets of slots on the rear track units...
The second slot allows the treads to be posed at an angle, turning Hardbone into some kind of futuristic crawler vehicle. Hardbone's tank mode has something of a Halo feel to it, with even more sci-fi chops in this mode.
Hardhead is my favorite G1 Headmaster toy, so I was ecstatic when Toy World announced they were doing a new figure based on Hardhead. Hardbone is one of the most Real Type Transformers going, all green and gray and tanky. What's not to love?
Top to bottom Hardbone is pretty faithful to his progenitor. The undersides are even pretty similar, down to the crotch vent details!
I would be remiss not to compare Hardbone to the other recent third party Headmaster release, FansProjects' Code. Together they make a striking pair of Real Type colors and faithful G1 styling.
As is required by law for transforming robot figures with smaller robot figures included, Hardbone's head robot can fit into an opening cockpit for the tank mode. Hardbone the Head looks a little uncomfortable in there, but he does fit and can see out the amber colored window.
The cockpit hatch opens, revealing a sparsely detailed interior.
As I mentioned in my Code review, I follow the Japanese Headmaster canon, where the head guys are the actual robots and the larger bodies are transforming piloted bodies, so I'll refer to the head guy as Hardbone from here on out. Hardbone is a snazzy little piece of minifigure engineering, featuring balljointed shoulders, hips, and knees.
Hardbone can even kneel! I must admit that I do prefer the gnarly greenish gray of the original Hardhead to the more standard dark gray of Hardbone, but that's a minor complaint.
The one area where Hardbone's head figure does not surpass Hardhead's is on the back. The first wave of G1 Headmaster heads had folding panels that covered the larger robot faces on their backs, but Hardbone has no such feature.
Hardbone does far surpass Code, however, in pretty much every aspect. Hadbone is larger, features more articulation, and I much prefer 'Bone's proportions. As we'll see in a minute, Hardbone also works much better as a Headmaster than Code.
Hardbone stacks up nicely in the pantheon of smaller helper transforming robots. I put together a little family photo to show off how he sizes up, and realized that I have a lot of Transformers with smaller helper figures. There's a cookie for whoever can name all the little guys!
Hardbone's transformation is intuitive and satisfying. There are not too many surprises, but there are a couple neat tricks in the legs and waist that help the overall robot proportions.
For details on the transformation and some more gushing, make sure to watch my HD video review!
There is another small QC issue that I found with those yellow tabs when I first transformed Hardbone to robot mode. It seems they were actually assembled backwards, so they would not fold down flush for 'bot mode.
It only took a couple of screws to take apart 'Bone's torso. The tabs just peg in, and were easily swapped around. Annoying, but now they work. I may end up just folding them in and leaving them there, anyway.
I also noticed one other QC issue when I first transformed my figure. There is a paint app missing on one of the arm tread units. The wheels are supposed to be painted gray here, but somehow this part made it through without getting painted. It's a bummer, but not a deal-breaker. I could probably send an email to BBTS to get a replacement part, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
We can't talk about Headmasters without talking about heads. I noted in my Code review that FansProjects had gone with a smaller head hole, meaning that Code is not compatible with existing Headmasters. I also mentioned in that review how colossally stupid that was. Thankfully, Toy World saw the light, and Hardbone is fully compatible with existing Headmaster toys!
Code fits on Hardbone's body, but Hardbone's head does not fit on Code. Further proof that Code is not FansProjects' best work.
Hardhead and Hardbone are also interchangeable. Hardbone even features an opening chest plate, revealing some internal details, but no stat display. Hardbone the Head does feature tabs that work with the stat display on the G1 toys, revealing that Hardbone is an average kind of guy.
Hardbone can wear other heads, too.
The neck rotates with a nice decisive click. I am glad we live in an era where transforming robot toys can feature heads that both transformer into smaller robots and rotate at the neck.
Fully transformed and enheaded, Hardbone stands around eight inches tall, pretty much the exact same height as Hardhead.
The details and proportions are tweaked, but Hardbone is a very faithful update to Hardhead, which I really appreciate. You can't mess with perfection.
From the back Hardbone is pretty clean. The rear of the tank forms a chunky little backpack, but the front hatch that forms the butt plate does not really attach to anything, so the butt area feels a little imprecise. Otherwise it's all golden, and the clear orange detail bits add a nice subtle splash of color.
Hardbone's articulation is excellent, with pretty much every joint ratcheted and solid feeling. He is not super bendy due to the design, but within the limitations of his blockiness he moves quite well.
The transformation is not overly complicated, but Toy World still managed to fit in a few clever tricks. My favorite bit is how the treads fold in to cover the hollow of where the upper legs fold out from. A simple little panel saves Hardbone from the cheap hollow look of many recent official Transformers offerings.
The feet feature quite a lot of movement, but are a bit odd. When transformed to the instructions, the rollers are supposed to be folded up out of the way. Transformers like this, the heels are just a hair too short, so the figure has a tendency to lean backwards.
By folding the roller part down, you get much better heel support and overall stability. Hardbone also then has roller dash units, like a VOTOMS. Everything is better with VOTOMS design cues.
The odd-looking gray bits in tank mode are actually foldout weapon pods! Contained in one pod is a scope piece for the guns, and in the other is a pretty hefty looking combat knife.
The knife is sharply molded and cleanly painted, and Hardbone looks awesome with it. Even without all his guns, 'Bone is a force to be reckoned with.
"I have the powah!"
The scope part fits on a couple of different places, first as a sight or recoil unit for the big shoulder gun.
As a fun surprise, Toy World actually gave the weapons a number of interchangeable options. The basic hand cannon is a serious looking piece of Transformers weapondom, featuring two 5mm pegs on the sides.
The scope part fits into the barrel of the hand gun, forming a longer rifle with a suppressor. I like the idea, but I wish the end of the scope part was drilled out. I never saw Hardhead as one for such long range, accurate weapons anyway.
The real fun comes from the other weapon options. The orange barrel tip from the shoulder gun comes off and fits over the hand cannon barrel, and the combat knife fits into a slot on the underside of the gun. Geared up like this, you get a mean looking shotgun with a bayonet. Sweet.
All gunned up, Hardbone is a tough looking bot. Hardhead was always the heavy of the Autobot Headmasters, and I love how Toy World recognized that theme and ran with it. Their reimagining is a big, mean, blocky combat powerhouse with a number of weapon options to provide heavy support wherever he is needed.
Hardbone can even pull off a Dougram-style shoulder gun-aiming pose.
Hardbone is a fantastic figure. He looks good doing all sorts of robot violence, with just the right old school blockiness and modern detailing.
Putting Hardbone alongside FansProjects' Code is an interesting comparison. Code is a lean and stark, with little detail and few memorable features. Hardbone is a fun and faithful reimagining with more detail and a more pronounced design aesthetic. I do appreciate how the two toys are more in scale with each other than the Generation 1 figures.
Still, having two updated Headmaster figures is better than having one updated Headmaster figure. Displaying the two together does make for some nice dichotomy.
Hardbone is one of my favorite third party Transformers toys. I am certainly biased by my love of the original character and G1 toy, but even so Hardbone is a smartly done figure that is well executed, barring a few minor QC hiccups. Like with Grind Rod, there is a certain intelligence to Toy World's approach to not-Transformers. They are not trying to reinvent the wheel by getting too ambitious with features or overly complicated transformations. Rather, Toy World's figures have a clever elegance to them, being just complex enough to be satisfying, with cohesive vehicle modes and excellent robot modes. Their design aesthetic has an old school chunk to it, but does not skimp on modern details or articulation. Instead of being overly ambitious, Toy World's figures are just really well done. I can get behind that. Hardbone is listed for $99.99 from most retailers, and that is more than a fair price, especially when compared to other recent third party Transformers releases. He's much more figure than Grind Rod and much more fun that Code, both of which were in the $70 range. Hopefully Toy World plans on doing more Headmaster updates, because so far I am much more excited by their approach than FansProjects'.
|Posted 30 April, 2013 - 06:07 by Prometheum5|