Posts Tagged Headmasters
Part the Second is going to be less like a sequel and more like bookends for Part the First.
Sitting at work and watching the UPS Tracking link like a hawk, I was actually surprised how fast I got him. Sitting at work, I received a message from my wife,
“I have your box.”
I contemplated coming down with a sudden bout of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo disorder (I’m pretty sure that’s the medical term for “Lazy”) and heading home, but stuck it out — that’s the selfless kind of person I am. Just to give a sense of the size of his box, I put it up next to my one and a half year old kid.
He then dutifully and excitedly started pointing out the Autobot symbol, repeatedly saying “Ah-bot! Ah-bot! Ah-bot!” (I am quite proud of the fact that “Autobot” and “Optimus” were some of his first words). The box is huge. I was originally concerned that I didn’t know where I would store it, but have since decided the box itself is display worthy. I really, really, reeeeeeeally like the Takara boxart.
Not that Hasbro’s isn’t nice, it just lacks the dynamism of Takara’s.
As was widely reported, this release has put a little bit of a crimp in the style of the MISB collectors. Due to an undisclosed “QC Issue”, TakaraTomy was forced to open each box and then tape it back up, this lead to dreaded “double-taping” that sets most MISB collectors’ teeth on edge.
Not such an issue with me, I believe Transformers are meant to be transformed so I sliced right through that tape. Out slid what came to be something of another surprise with this Encore release. Long determined to be environmentally detrimental, the styrofoam used to pack many of the larger G1 toys has been all but removed from modern packaging. Fortress Maximus, however, comes packaged in a styrofoam coffin, similar to his original release.
Finally, it was time to see my very own Fortress Maximus.
First, we must go back in time for just a moment. Before there was a Fortress Maximus in my collection, there was Fortress Minimus.
When I was under the clear understanding that my acquisition of an actual Fortress Maximus was about as likely as a lasting Cybertronian peace treaty, I settled for the next closest thing I could find. By “closest” I mean “oddly well detailed at about one eighteenth the size”.
This miniaturized knock-off version of Fortress Maximus actually fit in well with my shelf of Primus and Unicrons, but could now be retired because he had been rendered remarkably redundant.
Meanwhile, back at the unboxing,
I pulled everything out of the box and inspected it meticulously; transforming him between his three modes to make sure. From armless Spike/Cerebros to a defective hip ratchet on Fortress Maximus himself, there has been a smattering of serious quality problems being reported on the forums. I am quite pleased to say that I found none, serious or minor, on mine.
Having relieved that particular anxiety, I was ready to set up the camera and take some serious photos. Oh… wait. What’s that colossal sheet of shiny silver paper that’s almost the size of Fortress Maximus?
Stickers. 55 of them to be precise.
Determined to push through my least favourite part of reissues, I actually found far fewer instances of needing to trim down improperly cut stickers than normal, which helped the process along. There’s been a couple posts on the forums about buyer’s remorse, but – just short of needing the money for an unforeseen life-saving operation — I can’t fathom how that could be. He is magnificent.
Does he lack articulation? For a G1 toy, not particularly. There are those that can truly be called “bricks”, like Powermaster Optimus Prime or Star Convoy (two of my favourite Transformers toys), but Fortress Maximus’ limited articulation is on par with a good portion of the G1 ’bots a fourth his size.
For someone big enough to just step on most of his enemies, even without counting his handheld dual laser cannons and photon rifle he is fairly bristling with weaponry. Guns rotate out all over the place.
He also carries the massive Master Sword.
No, not that Master Sword, this one.
An accessory exclusive to the Takara release, the Master Sword played a very prominent part in the Headmasters series as the weapon that allowed Fortress Maximus to finally defeat his rival, Scorponok. In the cartoon, they are roughly the same size, but in toy form, Maximus towers over Scorponok.
Had this been the scale used in the show, Headmasters would have been a very short series indeed. Probably the worst offender of scale tomfoolery in all of Transformers history, writers just didn’t know what to do with an Autobot this big. His fictional appearances mostly bring him down in size; how far down varies between different fictions and something even varies within the same fiction. His most recent appearances in the IDW comics put him at just a little bit bigger than the average Transformer.
I really like the sculpt on Fortress’ head mode, I was surprised to find that Cerebros was not necessary when attaching Fortress to Fortress Maximus, with the instructions even showing that he can be placed in the shoulder compartment to the right of the head.
When in robot mode, Gasket and Grommet can be parked in his feet.
Now, Fortress Maximus may have been intended as a city ‘bot, but out of all his modes Headmasters uses his third mode most often. The somewhat indeterminate “battle station” in the Hasbro instructions or the space-faring Battleship Maximus of the Headmasters release (or “Spaceship Bruce” as the hilariously bad Omni Productions dub called it) is the least convincing of the modes, despite being the one with the most cartoon representation.
Though this is the mode that makes use of the little cockpit at the top of the tower.
I was quite surprised by how low the price was when the Encore release was announced, but even as reasonable as I found it, unfortunately it’s still prohibitively expensive for a number of fans. This makes me sad because I can finally understand why this has been a grail piece for so many. I know I have already written it once, but magnificent is really the only word I can use for him.
Playing with toys.
This is a concept that is natural while mostly inconceivable to your average toy collector. This is how these toys were meant to be used,
But for a good portion of them, this is how they will be displayed,
Almost seems a shame. Well. Almost, until something like this happens,
That is the tiniest of holes poked in the sticker on the main ramp — stickers that go over molded detail are one of the many areas that the original G1 stickers fail as a concept. It was done by my son because all he wants in the world is to drive “truck” (a.k.a. Gasket) up and down the main ramp.
Which I will allow him to do all he wants.
When he is eighteen…
Or maybe never. The jury is still out on that one.
The Year of the Really Big Autobots, Part Two… Part One. Gasket and Grommet (Cog), Spike/Cerebros, Cerebros/Fortress! Fortress Maximus!
2013, which I have declared the year of the “most surprising, most glee-inducing releases in recent Transformers history” rolls on with TakaraTomy’s Encore Release number 23. Unless you’ve been living under a Transforming rock for the last six months, you are probably well aware of the identity of the most recent release in the Encore line.
Measuring 22 inches tall, Fortress Maximus was, until very recently, the largest Transformer toy ever made and an unattainable holy grail to many, myself included. Add in the fact that I had just finished watching the Headmasters cartoon series not too long before he was announced and I pre-ordered him so fast I was dizzy. Though I did not shell out the extra money for the “early shipment” that some online retailers were offering, I was champing at the bit to get my hands on him.
Never having owned his toy (I was 13 when he was originally released and was told I was too old for Transformers), the closest I have come to him is pictures on the internet or the few I have seen from a distance on dealers tables at Botcon. Not having the commitment nor the fortitude to stomach the cost necessary to complete a vintage Fort Max, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the closest I would come to having him grace my display was the KO of Spike that I owned. His Encore release was as welcome as it was completely unexpected.
Encore reissues are, of course, completely a TakaraTomy affair — especially with this one as there’s just no way he can pass the Draconian “Drop Test” laws of Hasbro territories. One thing this means is that the smaller robots that come with the gigantic ‘bot aren’t the human Spike, binary-bonded with the Headmaster Cerebros, who in turn transforms into the head of Fortress Maximus. No, here we have the small robot Cerebros who forms the head of Fortress, who then forms the head of Fortress Maximus. That’s why, when referring to the toys themselves, I will be using their Takara release names.
As I wrote about at length in my Hardhead post, I fully support Cerebros being a robot in place of the squishy human Spike. As much as I absolutely love Headmasters, Targetmasters, and Powermasters; I still consider the use of highly modified organics for partners to be both illogical and painfully awkward.
As first impressions go, I expected Fortress himself to be larger, though I’m not sure why. Fortress Maximus is as righteously huge as I was anticipating, so the size of the robot that makes up his head should have been pretty easy to extrapolate.
Despite his smaller size, he still has the full three tumblers in his chest for his Tech Spec readout. Putting the “Max” in “Maximus”, he has all tens across the board.
Despite having Spike, I never really thought about just how very wrong the Marvel comics and US cartoon got his head model — shown in the bottom of the last panel in the comic book image above. Headrobots did do a set called “Centurion” that included updated versions (along the same lines as their “Hothead” G1 Hardhead update) of both the original G1 toy as well as the way he looked in the US fiction.
As much as I love Headrobots, I didn’t really feel the need to pick this set up. I can imagine it was awesome for anyone that had assembled almost all of a vintage Fortress Maximus but maybe missing Spike. Though I wouldn’t mind owning just the US cartoon accurate one, I honestly like Takara’s Fortress better than Hasbro’s Cerebros, they managed to get much closer to the look of his toy.
Another difference between the Takara and Hasbro releases is the inclusion of two versions of the Master Sword, the sword “given to the just ruler”. One of which is a smaller version, meant to be wielded by Fortress.
On the subject of things I wasn’t aware until I acquired him for myself included his third mode: ”communications room”.
Errr, well, it works better when he combines with his section of Fortress Maximus in city mode.
A good reason for me not knowing his second alt mode was that he actually transformed into an alt mode in the US cartoon’s “Rebirth“. That alt mode just happened to be a miniaturized version of Fortress Maximus’ full city mode.
That’s not too surprising, as there really isn’t anything consistent across any of his fictional appearances.
I’ve looked far and wide, but can find no evidence for or against Takara’s release using the same name as Hasbro for the two components, Gasket and Grommet.
By extension, as far as I know, Takara released their combined robot mode under the same name as well, Cog.
The part that I don’t understand is — beyond the application of wheels and tank tread stickers — no real attempt was made to make these guys transform or even look much like two separate alt modes. Gasket, the upper half, does marginally better; if seen from the side, he looks like a vehicle of some sort. He can also function as a heavily armed
wheelchair vehicle for Cerebros.
I still think he was meant to go the other way ’round. He looks like a torso on wheels the way the instructions show him. Reversed, he looks like a well armed pickup truck type vehicle.
Grommet on the other hand makes no attempt to look like anything more than a pair of Transformers legs with tank treads driving around.
It would have made so much more sense to put holes on Grommet to allow him to carry Cog’s arms as guns in alt mode.
That’s Fortress Maximus’ supporting cast, the primary inhabitants of this particular Autobot city.
I have to admit, Gasket and Grommet are a bit of a let down, though Cog is a solid enough combined mode. They are definitely no Scamper, Six-Gun, and Slammer, so that’s one area that Fortress Maximus loses out to Metroplex. Well, the only area. I’m saying this while being very partial to Metroplex, but Fortress Maximus is just a wonder in city mode.
As my kid will attest, this mode has non-stop play value.
One of the added benefits to leaving the guns off Gasket is that he’s able to fit into my favourite gimmick of city mode. I knew that Fortress Maximus had a somewhat awkwardly placed rotating handle on his crotch but never knew what function it served. In city mode, it sits in the back, tucked away behind the main tower and nestled between the two rear cannons.
Turning the crank raises and lowers an elevator inside the main section of the fortress.
Once the vehicle elevator has been raised, pushing the red button next to the ramp opening tilts the back end of the elevator platform up, ejecting the vehicle at surprisingly high speeds.
City mode has a prison for dealing with those dastardly Decepticons.
Also, a helicopter pad.
There’s a turning radar arrary, presumably powered by Fortress in his “communications room” mode. Of course, there’s also a million other nooks and crannies for the other inhabitants, ’cause this is a
Next up is part two of “The Year of the Really Big Autobots Part 2″ — Part 2 of Part 2? Maybe I should have just called them Part 2: Hyper Fighting and Part 2: The New Challengers.
Anyway, up next: the Big Bot himself.
Some oddities and downright mistakes from the earlier years of Transformers have understandably perpetuated. The easiest example of this would be the accidental swap of Rumble and Frenzy’s colours. Those of us that knew them first as toys are used to Rumble being red and Frenzy being blue. Those that saw them first through the cartoon tend to expect the reverse. It makes sense that such a big discrepancy would still live on with the G1 cartoon being such a formative piece of fiction for a lot of fans.
The perpetuation of other mistakes makes far less sense. ”Minelba” is one. Minerva, an actual name that makes actual sense, has been consistently incorrectly transliterated or “romanized“ from Japanese into English on her packaging and bio card. The reasons for this are blatantly obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with Japanese, but the original intent of the name is clearly Minerva, named after the Roman goddess of (among many other things) medicine.
And so the error lives on. You’ll even find fans that insist the name is truly Minelba, despite all evidence to the contrary. Of course, this is the same fandom that can sometimes exhibit… inappropriate reactions to the fifteen-year-old girl.
Minerva only appeared as a Takara release in the Masterforce line and her lack of a Hasbro release leads to her commanding excessive sums of money on the secondary market. The most recent Ebay auction as of this writing closed at $570 for a toy with heavy sticker wear and missing her seat/helmet and two smaller blasters. The end result being that just short of a reissue, a Minerva would not be gracing my display any time soon. This made me sad as I had just recently watched Masterforce and liked it a lot.
Then at the end of 2011, Reprolabels announced it would be doing a free giveaway project of stickers for both Minerva and another Headmaster Junior, Goshooter. To remove the inevitable flood of these sets showing up on Ebay, they stipulated that you must own either of the toys to qualify for the free project. Due to the somewhat rare nature of the two, they also allowed those that owned the Korean knock-off versions to be eligible. To prove ownership, you just needed to take a photo of you holding one or both and e-mail it in. As the closest I would reasonably come to owning these two, I ordered the knock-offs and had my wife snap a quick phone picture and I was in.
The KO versions are certainly not without their flaws. Minerva has a black torso rather than white, a gold face with black eyes rather than yellow with blue eyes, and the guns on the side of the head have the handle at the wrong angle.
The difference in the face didn’t really bother me at all, in fact I especially like the gold, but the black chest had to go. So I tried my hand at a little painting and I don’t think it came out too bad.
One place that was difficult to lay an even coat was on the robot’s chest, due to the smaller details. It doesn’t really make too much difference, as the other thing the KO lacks is the tech spec mechanism in the chest altogether so there’s not really a reason to open it. Not that it stopped me from putting the SPD/STR/INT sticker in place.
Another difference with the KO is the lack of the tiny paint application on the face of the Headmaster figure itself.
A cool detail about the Headmaster Juniors, as well as their Hasbro counterparts, is that even though the smaller size of their robots didn’t allow for three separate tumblers for the tech spec reader, the heads still had the proper tooling. This means plugging Minerva into Brainstorm’s body will give you Minerva’s tech specs of SPD: 7, STR: 5, and INT: 8.
The Reprolabels sticker set really gets a chance to shine in alt mode.
Minerva’s alt mode would be considered an emergency rapid response vehicle — the smaller, faster vehicles used either along with an ambulance or in place of an ambulance in cases were transporting patients isn’t necessary. The KO has black windows in place of the original’s blue painted windows, but retains the hole placements necessary to weaponize this otherwise unsuspecting emergency vehicle.
Also still there is the opening roof to allow Minerva to ride along in alt mode.
Minerva’s fellow Headmaster Junior Shūta Gō has a little bit of naming confusions but only to those not familiar with the convention of using the surname before the given name. In Japan, his last name of Gō would come first; thus Gō Shūta gives way to his Transformer’s name of Goshooter. The KO of Goshooter has a much darker blue and he has a silver rather than light blue face.
In alt mode, Goshooter now sports a red and blue light bar, the original only had light blue on both ends.
Shūta rides along in alt mode.
He also has holes for weaponizing his alt mode.
Just like Minerva, Shūta is missing the paint application from his face.
If the KOs are any indication, Minerva and Goshooter are quite solid pieces. They are both very well proportioned and reasonably well articulated for Generation 1 era toys.
I just need to find Cab to complete the trio. Luckily there was no difference between the Hasbro and Takara releases of the Cab/Hosehead mold. Unlike Minerva and Goshooter, tracking him down actually seems reasonably possible.
What was originally a slight trickle of 3rd Party merchandise has turned into something more like a spate in recent years. From replacement heads, to replacement limbs, to powerful armor upgrades, I have had some difficulty being able to justify why or why not to purchase these offerings.
My rule is usually pretty easy at a high level: I will buy almost any piece if it helps a pre-existing, official toy become closer to their fictional appearance or somehow makes them a better expression of the character, within reason. The “within reason” is because there are some things I consider too expensive to be worth the enhancements it provides. For me, a prime example of this are the CrazyDevy.com Devastator upgrade pieces. The combined form is wonderfully articulated and cartoon-accurate but at roughly $30 a piece (and 5 different parts in total, at last count), just not worth the cost. Though “worth the cost” is very, very subjective, and spans a range. The previously mentioned Kup 01 set being the low-end cost-wise, but extreme high-end for quality of enhancement. Mid-range for price, but still extreme high-end for enhancement is the Universe Hardhead upgrade. On the high-end for cost, but also extreme high-end for enhancement are the Wreck-gar Add-On pieces from Maiden Japan from which I made Dregs and Dross.
There are some things that will break my rules right away. If you offer almost anything Headmaster or Targetmaster, I will probably buy it as long as it makes sense to me. For instance, I did buy FansProject’s “TFX-05 Sidearm”, which was basically an updated version of Hot Rod’s Targetmaster partner, Firebolt. However, I did not buy the “Targetroids”, These basically took Hot Rod, Optimus Prime, Starscream, and Megatron and turned them into Targetmaster weapons. I didn’t quite understand the point of an Optimus that turned into a gun and Megatron was already a gun, so that just seemed superfluous.
However, turn Optimus Prime and Soundwave into Headmaster heads and give them their alt mode as well? Sure! Why not? That is exactly what 3rd party group “Junkion Blacksmith” has done. No, I am not pretending that it makes any more sense than the “Targetroids”, but I still love them.
There’s a whole lot of detail going on for figures that are so small, also, there’s no mistaking whatsoever who these guys are. As for their alt modes? These are definitely the weakest modes for both of them, relatively speaking, but that the designers managed to incorporate decent alt modes at all is very impressive.
However, the head mode is what Headmasters are all about and those are just splendid. They, of course, function as an official Headmaster head would, and can be used with any existing Headmaster toy.
Soundwave is a nice combination of his original G1 toy’s head combined with some of the detailing from his cartoon appearances, such as his red eyes. His eyes have some very nice detailing to them as well. Though his intelligence (9) and strength (8) stats are correct, apparently being turned into a Headmaster head has done wonders for his speed stat, which has gone from a 2 to a 6.
Optimus Prime is a little bit of a mash-up between his classics head and his original G1 Powermaster head. His stats all sit roughly at 8, which is a downgrade for both strength and intelligence, but right on for his original speed stat.
Of course, his similarity to his Powermaster head made everyone ask if he could be used in conjunction with his original Powermaster toy. The answer is a definitive yes! Junkion Blacksmith included a small adapter and slots in the bottom of both Soundwave and Optimus’ head modes. Unfortunately this requires the removal of the baseplate from Powermaster Optimus’ head.
Unfortunately this requires removing the screw from the back of his head. As Powermaster Optimus Prime is my favourite G1 toy, I will not be doing this any time soon. However, to give you an idea of what PowerHeadmaster Optimus Prime looks like, here he is, not attached so much as balanced on the top.
I ♥ Headmasters. Immensely. I don’t know if you picked that up from my last two posts, but yeah, I love them a lot.
I remember thinking as a kid how simple yet how awesome it was that any head could be put with any body. Then, the fact that the big robot’s head could become a little robot and use the transformed larger robot as a vehicle? Brilliant!
I can also clearly remember how very, very appalled I was upon reading issue 38 of the Transformers comic book (having missed the Headmasters limited series) and realizing these little guys weren’t robots… they were people. Alien people called Nebulans, but squishy organic people nonetheless. That was the single worst idea I had ever heard in the Transformers franchise (remember, this was before the non-transforming Transformers known as Actionmasters).
Not having access to the cartoon while all this was going on, luckily I was spared the American cartoon’s even more ridiculous depiction of this process. If you read part 1 of my Arcee post, you may remember this piece of Transformers history:
Then I got the greatest news. I found out that the Japanese chose to go a completely different route with the Headmasters; one that made far, far more sense to me. The Japanese market didn’t broadcast the three episode long Rebirth that comprised the American series’ finale. Instead, they created an entire new series titled Headmasters. Eventually, I was able to watch it, but because neither Hasbro nor Takara has released them officially in America, I had to go so far as to purchase a region-free DVD player specifically to be able to play the subtitled Madman release of Headmasters and the two subsequent series Super God Masterforce and Victory.
Japan’s take on Headmasters? The little robot that transformed into the head was the actual Cybertronian. The body was a lifeless vehicle called a Transtector. Granted they slightly broke this mold when they produced Super God Masterforce, introducing the smaller Headmasters, “Headmaster Juniors”, as Earthen children. To me this is still preferable because the robot bodies remained Transtectors that the kids piloted. It makes far more sense to me than trying to say that jamming a human mind and a Cybertronian mind into one head is going to lead to anything other than some form of extreme mental retardation.
In 2009 a listing for “Hardhead” appeared as part of the Universe “Generation 1 Series” toyline. “It’s too much to hope for an actual Headmaster”, I thought. I was, in all my wonderful cynicism, unfortunately correct. It was shown to be a direct repaint of the previous year’s Universe release of Onslaught. As I already had and quite liked Onslaught, I quickly lost all interest in Universe Hardhead. This would then be compounded by the fact that the Onslaught mold was given a new headsculpt and released at Botcon 2010 as G2 Clench.
I did actually see Universe Hardhead on the shelves at Walmart, the store he was an exclusive to. I passed him by in my hunt for his wave-mate, the red repaint of Powerglide. I would regret that decision a year later… but only for a short time. Last year, our wonderful friends over at Headrobots, the guys that made the wonderful Cobra and Crystal Cobra from yesterday’s post, announced they would be releasing a
Hardhead errr, “Hothead” Headrobots Upgrade kit. It was too good to be true. The mad scramble to find Hardhead was on when, like an impossible stroke of good luck, this Walmart exclusive toy started showing up at TJMaxx and Marshall’s — for half the price he originally sold. Moments like this make me very glad I live in a city like Chicago. One trip and two Marshall’s later I had my half-price Universe Hardhead, ready for upgrading.
Headrobots corrected Hasbro’s oversight and completely replaced the original toy’s head with the transformable Headmaster partner named Duro-5. Thus, returning Universe Hardhead to his position as a true Headmaster.
To keep from hitting any copyright issues they called the Headmaster itself “Duro-5″ –G1 Hardhead’s partner was named Duros in the U.S.
Rather than use “Hardhead”, they named the upgrade set ”Hothead” — Hardhead having been described as quite hotheaded in almost every fiction he has appeared.
Oh, Headrobots wasn’t done being awesome just yet, they then engineered an adapter to allow “Duro-5″ to work with the original G1 Hardhead as well!
As a cherry on top of this grand cake of amazing: the way Hasbro engineered the mold’s head transformation is that a door opens in the top of the tank’s cabin. This door can be opened in alt-mode, and since the head that used to be hidden away there is now gone, Duro-5 can be inserted, replicating the G1 toy’s ability to actually use the tank mode as a vehicle.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that, thanks to the Headrobots updgrade kit, this 2009 release is now my favourite Transformer of 2010. It’s amazing how a change of head can make a whole new toy!
One side note, there is a consistent little oddity when it comes to Hardhead. It’s his head.
Though his head is consistently hard, it isn’t ever his toy’s head. His original toy’s head has a faceplate but, as far as I’m aware, every single appearance he has made in fiction: the Marvel comic series; the Japanese Headmasters comic series; the American cartoon; the Japanese cartoons; and the newest IDW comics series, shows Hardhead with a mouth. To this end, Headrobots (have I mentioned how awesome they are?) announced a BigBadToyStore.com exclusive “Alternate Universe” remold of Duro-5 with, you guessed it, a fiction-accurate face complete with mouth (and possibly with differently coloured guns). Due in the next couple months, I say, the more heads the merrier! Bring it on!
Yesterday we met the Headmaster Warriors, a group of Cybertronians that transformed into heads trying to earn their transtectors, or bodies. It turns out that though only the six Headmaster Warriors actually made it to shelves, designs were created for at least 17 more. When Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster, authors of Transformers: The Ark – A Complete Compendium of Character Designs, decided to do a second edition devoted to Japanese character models, a lot of us got our first looks at these designs.
Having done a tiger, a lion, and an elephant, the designers were ready to really take it a step further. Along with those shown above, they proposed a rhinoceros, alligator, bull, gliding lizard, and a dugong. (No, not Dewgong, but the animal it is based on, the Dugong.) Pretty awesome concepts but they never made it past the concept stage… until now.
At the beginning of 2010 a group calling themselves Headrobots, “a small international group of long-time robot fans that wanted to create some new ‘bots”, debuted with “Cobra Headrobot”. Their mission, as they describe it, was fully realized,
“We combine unique talents in Design, Graphics, Illustration, and Manufacturing to create homages to the robots of the past.”
They took the image above and actually created an actual working model from it.
Fully transformable from Cobra to Head mode, this “After-Market add-on” works exactly as an official Takara head would, combining with any of the Headmaster robots.
With the success of their first piece, they were contacted by different groups wanting to do exclusive versions. The Nordic Transformers convention, in Arlöv in Sweden, “Nordcon”, did a Beast Wars themed repaint named Mixcoatl, then Highendtfs.com did a G.I.Joe “Cobra Commander” inspired repaint named Snake. Snake had not only a new paintjob but he also included a new accessory, a double-barrelled gun that could mount on the snake mode or could be held by the bigger robot. After that, while at Botcon 2010 in June, I was lucky enough to snag one of Megatoysfan’s Red Crystal Cobra version (limited to only 200 pieces) that also included the gun.
He looks particularly well as Chromedome’s head.
Also at Botcon, Headrobots displayed a prototype of their next Headmaster Warrior concept brought to life, the amazing Iguana shown in the pages above. I, for one, can not wait. I am all about Headmasters and therefore I am all about supporting Headrobots pieces.
Tomorrow: Hardhead gets his proper head back. Then Headrobots amps it up to eleven with their Hothead Headrobot release!
First, I guess it’s encumbent upon me to get my policy regarding Knock-Offs out of the way. I am ok with any KO that isn’t actively competing with any first party, primary market material. If I am able to get my hands on an honest-to-goodness official re-issue of a toy, I will buy that first. I truly believe in the power of money. Takara and Hasbro are businesses, they will continue making re-issues until people stop buying re-issues. To this end, in my G1 collection, that grumpy old curmudgeon Kup is the Japanese 2005 TF Collection Re-issue, the last year he was re-issued. Conversely, the “as hefty as he is dumb” Sludge in my collection is a knock-off. The reason for this is two-fold.
First, I have no regard for the secondary market. After too many purchases represented as “Mint” condition arriving in far, far less than mint condition, I will only ever purchase original G1 and G2 toys from other collectors, people who understand what “mint” actually means. Thus my secondary market is severely limited.
Second, neither Hasbro nor Takara has sought fit to re-issue any of the original Dinobots. This is completely their prerogative, however with no G1 Dinobots on the primary market, I am not in any way shorting Hasbro or Takara any money with my KO Sludge. Were they to ever do a reissue, you can be sure that would then take the KO’s place on my shelf, for sure.
But! Haha! There are Mint In Sealed Box sellers, you say! Surely, a Mint In Sealed Box toy meets with your snooty expectations on quality. I respond to that with the fact that MISB toys are meant for MISB collectors and are priced accordingly. Take, for instance, one of today’s Headmasters; the Japanese-exclusive Toraizer. Here he is in all his sealed, wonderfully mint condition:
That image is from a current sale, you can go out and buy an original, never-been-touched Toraizer if you would like. It will only cost you $400. I have created an image to give you an idea of what you get for your $400 (plus $10 shipping).
Oh, how I love me some Masters, be they Headmasters, Targetmasters, or Powermasters (also Micromasters, but you can keep your Actionmasters, thank you very much). Given the prices for these guys on the secondary market, however, you can imagine why I never dreamed owning them would be a thing in my lifetime.
Sometime last year, in what has to be one of the oddest, most surprising, and wonderful choices in counterfeit toy history, someone decided to take a bunch of these hyper-rare headmasters and make a set. Then, they compounded the awesome by using all-new packaging art. Rarely am I impressed by packaging, it usually is just an impediment between me and my toy. (“Mine! *rip*shred*tear*”) The fact that this isn’t even an official release just blows my mind.
Computer rendered G1-style boxart of all ten Headmasters on the front and a classic Battle-In-Space tableau adorning the back? It doesn’t stop there. Opening the flap reveals a technical readout image displaying Spike from the set but also listed are Stylor, Arcana, Duros, and the rest of the Headmasters not included.
I do find it very interesting that even though this set is primarily Japanese, it uses the American name of “Spike” — rather than the Japanese name of Cerebros or Fortress — as well as the American names for the Headmasters listed on the inside flap. As much as I can say that I do not feel bad buying KOs of these rare Headmasters, I can say that those still wishing to find originals will need to be very, very wary. Just examining the one of these that I already owned — Zarak with my G1 Scorponok – they look virtually identical until you get close enough to detect the flaws in small paint apps, etc.
Luckily there are also several forums and fans that have created recognition guides to help purchasers make sure they are getting the real deal.
First up we have Spike and Gran. In America, Spike was the head of Cerebros who was in turn the head of the colossal Fortress Maximus. In Japan, the toy was identified as Cerebros, the head of Fortress, who was then the head of Fortress Maximus. In Super God Masterforce, a repaint of Fortress Maximus was released as Grand Maximus. The cartoon going so far as to say Grand was Fortress’ younger brother. Grand Maximus’ head became Grand, and Grand’s head became Gran.
Now, this is an odd one to explain. In American, we had Lord Zarak, the head of Scorponok. In Japan, they had Scorponok, the head of MegaZarak. When MegaZarak was destroyed, Scorponok created BlackZarak and gave himself a new paintjob.
That takes care of the American releases and their Japanese repaints. Up next we have the real gems of this set. In 1987 Japan released six heads that had no corresponding bodies. The Headmaster Warriors were young Cybertronians that were attempting to earn their Transtectors (the large bodies that came to life when a Headmaster became its head). They were sometimes known as the Headmaster Teens, and at least three of them have the some of the greatest names ever officially applied to actual Transformers.
Loafer. As the Headmaster Warriors never received tech specs or bios, sadly we’ll probably never know what he did to earn that name.
Don’t let anyone try to tell you his name is somehow “Karku”. Kirk. This next guy’s name is Kirk. Who names a Transformer Kirk? Oh, yeah, the Japanese, ’cause they’re awesome.
This is another one that falls prey to mis-transliteration. Even the packaging included with this set uses “Lodoni”, which seems like a perfectly okay, somewhat Italian looking name until you realize it’s not pronounced “Low-donny”, it would be “Lahd-knee”, change that pesky ”L” to an “R” and what do you have? Rodney the Transformer.
This next one also falls prey to mistransliteration, but quite legitimately. Commonly either Trizer or Trizor is used (the packaging for the KO set uses “Trizer”), but so far the only justification I have seen provided for a name is TFWiki’s use of Toraizer with the notation:
“Tora” is the Japanese word for “tiger”.
Good enough reason for me.
At least this one is easy. No naming controversy that I am aware of. Lione.
Lione is neck and neck (no Headmaster related pun intended there) with Shuffler for my favourites from this set. There are just too few elephants in Transformers.
Up next: Tomorrow! A surprise post featuring the Headmaster Warrior that shouldn’t exist anywhere but on paper! Who could it be?