Headrobots is a 3rd party company, not officially endorsed by HasTak, and thus far has done two primary releases, that of the lackluster Snake mold, and more recently Hothead.
The cost and sometimes questionable quality of 3rd party products has kept me from purchasing very many. I have and can easily recommend Fansproject’s Bruticus set, and I’ve got the targetmaster for the upcoming Rodimus set on preorder, but thus far Headrobots only release to even tempt me was Hothead.
As I’ve not ordered anything else from them, I waited until a few reviews had shown up online before ordering one. However, most of them have been nothing but people happily saying the set looks great. I can tell the set looks great, but what is it really like?
Is Headrobots Hothead really worth it?
Hardhead was my favorite Headmaster as a kid, so nostalgia is certainly a part of why I like this set.
As HasTak has recently acknowledged, a new head goes a long way to differentiating a repaint and making it feel like a different character. Even more so, when it’s a Headmaster. While the paint went a long way to making him different than Onslaught, there’s no mistaking the figure now. This is Hardhead, updated and classics styled, and it is a kickass improvement.
But what are the pros and cons of the set on its own, outside of just the character?
Here’s a list, based on the use with Classics Hardhead.
Honestly, I think the set is worth more in the $20 range than the $30 plus shipping it retails for, but considering the g1 guns go for more than that online and some people are going to be using this set for that, it’s understandable.
While it would be unfair to compare this to a HasTak mass market release, it can be compared to a similar 3rd party release to get a baseline on value.
For instance, Fansproject is making a targetmaster at $10, and it’s got more moving parts than Headrobots Hothead does. So if you value them similarly, the weapons and attachment piece that comes along with Headrobots Hothead are definitely not worth $20.
All three of the guns are barely detailed hunks of plastic, which means they look ‘great’ on G1 Hardhead but only ‘good enough’ on the new one.
Taken as a whole, the set isn’t a bad value at $30, even if it is more suited for $20.
Headrobots Hothead has nearly HasTak level of plastic quality. In the full versions of the pictures used for this review, you can see that it has some rough spots around the edges, but this isn’t something that you’d notice normally.
Duros is about the size of a lego figure, and in clear zoomed in pictures it is easy to notice details like that.
While the guns are big hunks of plastic and look waxy, they actually aren’t.
The Headrobots Hothead set only has joints to worry about on Duros, and for the most part there’s nothing that should worry you about his joints.
However, there is something that should be mentioned.
The shoulders and the hips share the same basic construction, but where the shoulders are all around okay, the hips have a section that looks way too thin.
You can see it up near the top, just above the slot on the side.
It doesn’t look too bad in that picture, but remember, Duros is tiny.
It looks like the thick backing piece for the cup on the hips was omitted so there would be room for Duros’s hands when transformed. I’d rather they gave Duros just a pair of fists and bulked up his hip joints than giving him compatibility with lego weapons. (I don’t know how well he holds those, but its’ an advertised feature. He can hold Megablocks Halo weapons, but it is very loose.)
On a part of the figure where pressure is important, the thicker cup design from the shoulder should’ve been used. It works well enough, but it shouldn’t be so fragile.
Duros has balljoint hips and shoulders with a good range of articulation. The knees are hinged but there is no elbow articulation.
Given the design and the small size of the figure, this understandable.
The articulation when attached to Hardhead is sort of a swivel, and Onslaught’s problem of constantly looking down is actually worse for Hardhead because of the ridge that sticks out above his visor.
It does help that Hardhead is taller than even most voyagers, so he’s got a lot of figures to tower over.
Headrobots Hothead transforms just like you’d expect a headmaster to.
However, there is no flap or transformation used to hide the face in Duros mode. It’s a minor complaint, but given the price of the set it should be mentioned.
Attachment to Hardhead:
This is my biggest complaint with the whole set.
Hardhead’s head post is like a thick T with an led on the top. A cylinder with a wide flat bit, sort of like a small table or a bolted on barstool. I was expecting something that fit around it to make a swivel, sort of like the joints on say, Terradive’s upper arms. A vague aproximation of that, especially if it slid open and clamped around it, would make the most sense and cause a secure connection with hardly any wear.
However, the figure not only just pops over all that, but there’s no ledge and recess to contour for it. There’s just a hole.
You slide the T joint in and it stretches the hole, causing Duros’s backpack and body / faceplate and head to gap slightly. It’s only slightly, and not something you’d notice normally, but if you’re looking as you attach it to Hardhead you’ll see the gap open.
Duros Before Crack
Duros On Crack
Look closely where the back of the faceplate hits Duros’s shoulders.
It just sits on there via pressure, and it’s pressure that is, however slightly, stressing plastic tolerances.
Overtime, this could be a problem. Either it breaks, or it eventually warps the plastic into the headmaster being loose. How long will this take? Given the size of the crack and the tightness of the halves, it could be a long time. You might not even notice.
I’d say the headmaster getting loose is a much more probable outcome than it outright breaking, but this is still poor design. Especially so when you consider that Optibotimus’s early sample wasn’t glued together, so the pressure could be adjusted.
People already had to unscrew their Hardhead’s original head for this, so if a special attachment piece was included that could have screwed on over the existing post I don’t think people would have complained too much. Especially if it was one that granted more articulation.
In alt mode Duros has the option to sit in the vehicle with the hatch open or closed, or the headmaster can stay attached during transformation.
As mentioned previously, the weapons that come with the Headrobots Hardhead set are aimed more at G1 Hardhead than Classics Hardhead.
As you can see in one of the pictures later on, the tip of the main cannon really needs to be recessed.
Still, they certainly don’t look terrible, and really enhance Classics Hardhead because it gives him his iconic shoulder cannon. But compared objectively to a HasTak product like War For Cybertron Megatron’s cannon, they come off as waxy and undetailed.
Duros’s weapons can attach and store either in vehicle mode or bot mode. Again, the cannon is the most iconic part and despite the sculpt and the poor looking tip of the cannon, attaches nicely in bot mode and looks good overall.
I particularly like that, despite what some reviews have shown, you don’t have to remove Hardhead’s current cannons to attach the weapons. I also like that the guns can store on his back.
The weapons store in alt mode as well, becoming basically an artillery pack for the vehicle.
Weapon storage is done by a piece that comes with the set and is specially designed to attach to the back of Hardhead’s alt mode and to split into a top and a bottom half for attachment in robot mode.
While the top half is great in robot mode, attaching on the hatch between his shoulders, the bottom half does nothing but get in the way. If you want to store it, you’d leave it where it is in alt mode, but this section is normally covered up during robot mode, as the back end of the vehicle slides up and folds to become his skidplate.
If you want that piece on there, you have to leave the skidplate down, which hinders leg articulation.
In the picture above, I have that piece off and the skidplate up. You can see the top half attached behind the shoulders, and it has several holes for various gun configurations. If Headrobots had designed the bottom half with a peg it could have stored behind the weapons pack in robot mode.
Great. Completely an updated design for Hardhead.
I’m counting Duros’s sculpt in this category too, since he turns into Hardhead’s head. Duros sculpt is great as well, and though he has a small head with an unpainted visor, it actually isn’t bad.
The light piping does not work.
In Optibotimus’s early video review, he said the lightpiping worked, and even pointed it out as a great feature because of how the figure was designed to work with the old led setup.
Optibotimus had an early sample, though. His even split apart. So maybe his was different.
It is a bit strange that, though he mentions it and tries to demonstrate it, it doesn’t work during the video. He said that his lights were too bright, which is entirely believable, but he didn’t switch off the lights for a second to show it off.
I’ve seen a few other people mention that theirs works. However, they have not posted any pictures as proof, whereas I know of two other people who have described the exact same problem with theirs.
If the head is completely attached, the visor has a small spot of red that can only barely be noticed in the dark.
If the head is barely attached, the led lights up the whole face. Just the face. Not the visor. His face turns red and his visor remains dark.
If you have one where the visor lights up, leave a comment. Preferably, link to a picture. I’m just trying to figure out if this an issue with the figure or if this is an issue with only some figures.
Variance in plastic for the visors could account for some of this, but I think a lot of it is the way the head is designed. Leds tend to aim light straight up, with various ones having different spreads. The original Hardhead head has a reflective piece inside, set at an angle so the led aims the light up and it reflects it out the visor.
Duros just has a round section with a nub for the led to fit into. The majority of the light from the led is going to aim up, not out the visor.
This is actually kind of a big issue. I like lightpiping, but a lot of times I’d rather have painted eyes. When it works, it works great, on things like Classics Grimlock and a lot of the animated figures. If the eyes are big and the plastic is brightly colored, it looks nice even without being lit up. But on figures with tiny eyes or where they use dark plastic, unless the eyes are lit up they look dark or black.
Hardhead’s visor is big enough to easily be seen, but unless you have a light aimed there it looks dark navy to almost black in color. If the light piping worked, this wouldn’t have been so bad but it still would be an issue because, unlike regular light piping, you have to actively be pushing a button for it to work.
Well, that was pretty detailed, but ordering a product like this for the first time can be iffy. With HasTak you have an established brand, not so much with newer 3rd party companies. Now you at least know what to expect from the Headrobots Hothead set.
Pros: Articulated mini figure that turns into a robots head, g1 guns, shoulder cannon, distinct appearance from Onslaught, headmaster can stay attached during transformation, weapons configurations and storage, g1 compatibility, face is detailed, and plastic quality is nearly HasTak quality.
Cons: Face is not hidden when transformed to Duros, no lightpiping, thin plastic on hip joints, lower half of weapons attachment piece hinders leg articulation when stored in robot mode, Onslaught’s ‘looking down’ issue is worse, and poorly designed attachment method for Duros to Hardhead.
If you are on the fence with this, it is not a bad purchase.
If you have Hardhead nostalgia but were waiting to see how the quality is, even given the problems I have with it I think it is worth the purchase.
Feel free to leave a comment!