TW-H01: Hardbone by Toyworld

That’s right, Hardbone! If Transformers have porn stars, surely this would be a killer stage name. “Oh, Hardbone… your gun is soooo big!” But all kidding aside, today’s feature has been a long time coming. Hardhead was one of my favorite G1 Headmaster toys and I fell in love with Hardbone when he was first released. Alas, at the time my toy buying funds were being diverted to some pesky real life expenses. By the time I had money back in the kitty, I was also becoming intrigued with Fansproject’s own series of Not-Headmasters and considered keeping it in the FP family by waiting for them to do their own Not-Hardhead. But I got tired of waiting and many fine people in the know were telling me just what a great toy this was. And so sometime just before Christmas I tossed him into my Pile of Loot at BBTS and shipped it out. He soon arrived and I set him aside for a special occasion, when the madness of the holidays were behind me and I could settle down and really take the time to enjoy opening him up. And today is finally that day!

twhbone22

This is my very first figure from Toyworld so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the packaging and presentation. Hardbone comes in a sort of half-window box with the toy in his tank mode and the head-robot figure at the top center of the tray. It’s kind of weird since the gun isn’t mounted on the tank you don’t really get a good idea of what you’re looking at. The whole presentation seems to accentuate the tiny head-robot more than anything else and I just find that to be a strange choice.

twhbone23

The package deco is green and black with a grid motif. There’s some decent character art down at the bottom of the front panel and again on the left side panel. The back panel and right side panel have actual photos of the toy so you get to see him in both modes. The box is certainly sizeable. It’s just a tad smaller than MMC’s Feralcon boxes and falls right inbetween the boxes used by TFC for Uranos’ Blackbird and the rest of the team. The package is nice enough, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels a little amateurish when compared to what we’ve seen from from TFC, MMC, or Fansproject.

twhbone21

twhbone24

Naturally, the box is collector friendly. You just open the side panel and slide out the cardboard tray, which in turn holds the plastic tray that contains the goods. Hardbone is secured to his tray by three wire twisties and his cannon rests below him. The head-robot sits in his own compartment toward the top. Also inside you get a folded color instruction sheet and a profile card that doesn’t really tell you anything. Let’s check out Hardbone’s alt mode first!

twhbone15

twhbone16

twhbone17

Like his spiritual successor, Hardbone is a Cybertronian tank and a pretty cool looking one at that. The body is molded in green plastic with four sets of chunky black treads positioned all around him. He has removable guns mounted on the sides of his rear treads (which can also be pegged into the front treads) and one big mama of a cannon, which connects behind the cockpit and can be offset to the left or right side. The smaller guns can also be pegged into the cannon to create one giant Decepticon-busting mega-cannon. The cannon can swivel left or right as well as raise and lower and there’s a translucent yellow muzzle at the end that can be removed if you don’t fancy it. Beneath the sculpted treads, Hardbone rolls along on six translucent yellow wheels.

twhbone18

twhbone19

The heft on this guy is pretty nice and the quality of the plastic feels great. I’m also really happy with the shade of green that was finally used. Early promotional shots made him out to be bright neon green whereas the final product ended up a lot closer to the green used on the Hardhead that I remember. There aren’t a ton of paint apps, and I’m Ok with that. The mold itself includes enough sculpted detail to carry the day and there are enough different color plastics used to make him look exciting. I particularly like the hatch sculpted onto the back of the tank and there’s some effective detailing in the faked-out treads.

twhbone14

My only gripe here would be that not everything locks together as well as I would like. The side pegs for the rear treads don’t seem to go in deep enough and that sets the rear treads at an ever so slight angle. It can probably be fixed by shaving the pegs a bit, but I doubt I’ll risk it. The back plate behind the cockpit doesn’t lock down so when you move the cannon around it tends to flop up. On the plus side, the front of the tank is set on Hardbone’s waist swivel and doesn’t lock. Some might consider this a design oversight and it probably is, but to me it feels like part of the tank’s suspension and I think it’s pretty cool.

twhbone13

Hardbone’s tiny robot buddy, oh let’s just call him Not-Duros, is a very cool little figure. He’s a bit chunkier than Fansproject’s Not-Nebulons and his transformation is tad simpler than what we got with Q-U and Smart Robin, but he is an impressively solid figure absolutely brimming with tiny little details right down to his itty-bitty sculpted fists. He’s basically designed to look like a smaller version of Hardbone and even his tiny face is painted!

twhbone20

Hardbone’s cockpit opens to reveal a detailed driving compartment for Not-Duros who can sit inside. Unfortunately, because of his huge backpack, the cockpit won’t close with him sitting in there. It’s close, but not quite. If you absolutely want to put him in there you can make him fit when he’s in his head mode. Now, keep in mind, I love having the little bots pilot the Headmaster vehicles, so this is a pretty big strike against the figure for me. Fansproject was able to get their Not-Nebulons to fit and their Function figures are much smaller than this guy. Hardbone’s robot mode is going to have to be pretty damn incredible for me to overlook something like this.

twhbone3

twhbone12

Well guess what? It is! I found Hardbone’s transformation to be fairly straightforward. There are a few double-hinged panels that were a little tricky until I figured out what they were doing. While probably not necessary, I stripped him of his weapons, including the gun barrel and bayonet that are concealed in his tread panels. Unpacking his legs took a bit more force than I would have liked and unfolding his hands proved to be a challenge. Eventually I got them flipped out by inserting the handle of the bayonet into the socket and using it as a tool. But when all is said and done, this guy is absolutely gorgeous. He’s just the right amount of boxy to scratch my G1 itch and the head, while a little too difficult to turn, just looks fantastic. Hardbone is considerably larger than Fansproject’s Function figures, but I think he scales beautifully with them. He’s a tank so he should be bigger and chunkier and I find that the aesthetic matches perfectly. He even scales rather well with the Masterpiece Datsuns.

twhbone4

twhbone5

Hardbone’s cannon can be positioned to angle over either of his shoulders. Thanks to the swivel and the hinge in the connection you can position it a lot of different ways. You can also peg it directly into his back and just have it hang down and out of the way. The other big treat here is Hardbone’s lateral tilts in the feet. He’s a big guy that looks good in a wide stance and both his feet and heel spurs can support that and still be flat on the ground.

twhbone6

twhbone8

If you like customizing, Hardbone’s weapons should be right up your alley. He can wield his guns in both hands and the spare gun barrel that stores in his leg can be used on either gun to make it into a rifle and it can also be inserted into the big cannon as a scope. The bayonet, which stores in his other leg, can mount under either gun or it can be wielded by Hardbone as a combat knife. There’s plenty of fun to be had with this guy if you fancy experimenting with his weapons load out.

twhbone7

twhbone9

In terms of articulation, Hardbone isn’t quite as agile as FP’s Function figures, but I’m willing to forgive that because he’s a hulking beast compared to them. As a result, you don’t get any double hinges in the elbows or anything fancy like that. You do, however, get full rotation and lateral movement in the shoulders, hinges and swivels in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs offer full rotation and lateral movement in the hips, swivels in the thighs, hinges in the knees, and those lovely lateral rockers in the ankles that I already mentioned. Hardbone can turn his head, but the plate that turns it seems to be a ratchet joint, which offers a bit more resistance than is comfortable.

twhbone1

twhbone10

twhbone11

With an original MSRP of about $100, Hardbone may seem a bit pricey especially when compared to the $60 Function figures, but he is a much bigger figure. Nowadays you can grab him for closer to $70 and that’s a pretty good deal for a third-party Transformer in this size.  What Hardbone lacks in mind-blowingly clever engineering he makes up for by just being an ultimately solid, fun and functional toy. Yes, there are a few minor design oversights, all of which are confined to his vehicle mode, but I think Hardbone makes up for those with a lot of the cool customization options with his weapons. The inability to have Not-Duros sit in the closed cockpit does irk me quite a bit, but that one fail isn’t enough to torpedo this figure for me. I think the highest praise that I could give Hardbone is that I love him enough, that I doubt I’ll double-dip on the character even if Fansproject does do their own version of him.