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!