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.