Friday, December 20, 2013

Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Commander Class Hardshell 2013

Ladies and gentlemen.. meet Hardshell! Us 80s kids might not recognize the name Hardshell, but you'll certainly recognize him once you see his transformation. Yes, this is a modern nod to the old favorite Insecticon, Shrapnel the stag beetle. He goes stag everywhere! Hahahahaha *snort*! Uhm.. anyway.. let's just get on with the review.

I can't overemphasize what a huge deal Insecticons were when they first came out. There was just something about them that set them apart from the other Decepticons. They were essentially the Dinobots of the evil faction of transforming robots. They were fresh, exciting and fun! Also, they were pretty mediocre toys, but we didn't realize that until after we bought them.
But that can all change now! Thanks to the modern Transformers Prime television show and toy lines, we get Hardshell in their Commander class series. These are fairly small robots, but it's not likely that you'll be able to notice that in these pictures. Seriously, this is an incredibly amazing toy. Uhm. Spoiler alert?
Rather than a stag beetle, Hardshell is upping his game and transforming into a rhinoceros beetle. You can tell from the massive.. uh.. spike on his head. I think I'm just going to stay away from that one. In his insect mode, it's actually not terrible easy to see where he would transform. Thanks to some tricks and maneuvers, there's really zero kibble (left over parts from transformation) to get in the way. It is elegant, stable, and immediately recognizable for what it is supposed to be.
The transformation process is relatively complicated the first time you try it. Once you do it once or twice, however, you really begin to feel more comfortable with it. There's a part that you have to rotate 180 degrees, or you're going to end up really confused. Thanks to Hasbro's inability to write an understandable instruction sheet, you're kind of on your own with this one. You'll get it. I have faith in you.
Hardshell comes with a gun that is colored like his ball-jointed wings. It can attach to his back when in insect mode to form his "attack" mode, and also serves as his weapon in robot mode. I really just can't sink enough praise into this mode. The colors blend together well, the subtle details are all there, and the quality control is just top notch. It's a fantastic figure.
Sadly, in the world of Transformers, it is typically true that when you have a great alternate mode, the robot mode only suffers for it. Vehicles that look fascinating turn into large, immobile hunks of plastic and robots that are just astounding barely look like what they are supposed to when transformed. It's rare to get both.
With Hardshell, we get both. The robot is every bit as impressive as the insect mode, if not more so. The colors continue to blend really well together, it is unrecognizable from the insect mode, and the facial sculpt is dead-on amazing.
Forget all of that, though. The articulation! My goodness, the articulation. This baby can move! The figure is drowning in functional ball joints that allow for all kinds of different upper body poses. The legs move as well, but due to a somewhat unique form, it isn't quite as stable as some other Transformers.
One of the cool features of the included weapon is that it, too, is transformable. Well, not so much transformable as useable as both a gun and a weapon in robot mode, depending on which peg on the weapon you use.
Look, this is just one of the most amazing Transformers that I've bought in a long time. Purchased during a Cyber Monday sale, I got him and Bulkhead for $5.00. Typically, they go for more like $10, and even then this figure would be well worth it. It's astounding how far we've come in engineering since the early 80s, and these complicated but still utterly playable toys are fantastic proof of that. If you see this figure for five or ten dollars, have even a passing interest in Transformers, or just appreciate well made toys, pick this guy up. Seriously, it's that good.


LEon on December 21, 2013 at 3:06 AM said...

I love this figure but I failed to get it in time. If only hasbro make a bigger scale of him...

Wes Grogan on December 21, 2013 at 4:38 AM said...

It is a really fantastic figure. I see that the price has gone up on him.. I would LOVE to have a Deluxe version of this figure or higher. I kind of wish I had grabbed more than one, but typically one per character is my limit. Hope you can find him cheap in the future!

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