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with Headrobots Hothead

Series: Universe 2.0
Allegiance: Autobot
Categories: Ultra Store Exclusive
Year: 2009

Hardhead lives to fight - so much that life without a war on seems pointless to him. He would be the perfect soldier if only he could just take orders. Unfortunately, he's too stubborn to follow any command he doesn't agree with, and too dense to appreciate the subtlety of strategy. Why engage in a flanking maneuver, he reasons, when there's perfectly good open ground over with to mount a charge? More than a few battles have started early because he couldn't wait for the commanders to make their plans, and simply charged in, guns blazing.

Prelude: In his original configuration Hardhead is nothing more than a straight-up repaint of Universe Onslaught, so look for the full review there. In this review here I will be concentrating on the Hothead upgrade from Headrobots and how it relates to this figure.

Robot Mode: As many fans might remember, the original G1 Hardhead was a Headmaster, meaning his head could detach and transform into a smaller robot (or rather an alien inside a robotic suit). Universe Hardhead is not a headmaster, so in order to make him more G1-accurate and apply the Headrobots upgrade, one must first decapitate him. Off with his head! Three small screws on the back of the head later and you can remove the repainted Onslaught noggin’ without any problems.

The new head, actually a transformers Headmaster figure, is a very close match to the look of the original G1 Hardhead. In fact the head is supposedly compatible with the original G1 figure, too, but seeing as I don’t own that one, I can’t really check. Anyway, the new head looks a lot better on Hardhead than the one he came with and is actually quite posable, thanks to the fact that it’s sitting on what is almost a ball joint.

Apart from the new head, the Headrobots upgrade also includes three new weapons. Universe Hardhead was rather short on weapons, actually. He had a flip-out gun on his right arm and the two barrels from his tank mode on his back, which he couldn’t point forward in robot mode, though. The G1 Headmaster had both a big beige shoulder cannon and two green handguns, all of which are now included here as well. Additionally there is a green box, half of which attaches behind Hardhead’s head in order to provide the opportunity to plug in his weapons. The other half attaches to his lower back and serves no other function in this mode.
You can now choose which of the three weapons you want on Hardhead’s shoulders, though in my opinion giving him the beige shoulder gun and leaving the other two guns in his hands looks best. One little side note, though: In order to attach the beige gun, you need to remove the tank barrels. Only slight point of inconvenience.

In closing I’d just like to say that the robot mode looks a whole lot different now, despite only being changed in terms of the head and the weapons. And, if I may add, much better.

Vehicle Mode: The vehicle mode as such is, of course, unchanged. Hardhead transforms into the same kind of urban assault tank Onslaught does. Now, though, the Headmaster figure and the weapons have to go somewhere. Thankfully the mold came with an opening cockpit already included. Previously Hardhead’s head was in there, of course, leaving very little room for anything else. Now, with the head gone, the Headmaster figure can fit inside the cockpit in robot mode. Well, to be honest he doesn’t completely fit in there, but he fits well enough to stand inside it and look out, which looks really cool. And when the hatch is closed, well, you really can’t tell whether or not he’s in there anyway, so it’s not a big deal. Having him stand in that open cockpit, though, makes for a fabulous look.

The three new weapons can be fastened to the big green box, which plugs in on the back of the vehicle behind the turret. The turret can still turn, btw, though of course not fully. Now Hardhead has three additional gun barrels pointing forward, giving the tank a whole lot more firepower. So while the improvement to the tank mode isn’t quite as radical as to the robot mode, it still looks pretty good and improves upon the existing vehicle. No complaints.

Partner / Add-On: As stated above, Hardhead is now a Headmaster, so his new head can unfold into a separate robotic figure. Whether you follow the Western canon and think of him as a green-skinned alien in a suit or the Japanese version with him simply being a smaller robot is, of course, fully up to you. Suffice to say the smaller guy (called Duros in G1 and Duros Assault Driver here) is as posable as you can expect from a guy this size. I’m a bit weary of the joints, as the plastic looks really thin there, so I won’t transform him that often, I think. Still, a nice little Headmaster figure.

One more thing worth mentioning: The green box that comes with the weapons contains one additional part, namely a plug that makes this new Headmaster figure compatible with the G1 Hardhead figure. If I ever get my hands on an affordable G1 Hardhead, I will give that a try.

Remarks: Repaints are a given these days (and have been ever since the 1984 Seekers, really), but when Universe Hardhead first came out, I wasn’t really interested in him. I had Onslaught and later added Botcon Clench, so what did I need the third version for? But the Headrobots upgrade makes all the difference here. Don’t get me wrong, the mold is a good one regardless, but the upgrade turns what was just another repaint into a very nice and highly individualized toy that I gladly added to my collection.

So the bottom line here: If you don’t own any of the variants of this figure yet, go get one. Universe Hardhead isn’t the cheapest of them (though probably not as expensive as Clench, either), but combined with the Headrobots upgrade, he’s well worth getting.

Rating: A-
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