Thanks to some very kind souls, I have been granted an opportunity to take a sneak peak at the latest Maketoys releases. And with Cupola riding high in a lot of people's end of 2015 lists, there is a definite air of expectation surrounding their next Headmaster analogue; Iron Will.
Based heavily on the 1987 Japanese Headmasters character as well as the original G1 toy, Maketoys newest effort takes Hardhead's no nonsense, karaoke loving (yes, really), Sunbow swerving animation model (Rebirth lovers, you have been jilted) and applies some platinum 2016 design flair and finish to proceedings. Straight out of the box, this is a beautifully retro looking yet modern feeling hulk of a toy.
Iron Will has a strong silhouette made from simple blocky shapes, partnered with a well considered level of surface detail allowing the clean lines of the figure plenty of room to breathe.
|The way that backpack forms is an absolute treat|
Although you'll still find vents, pistons and tech details dotted about all over the place, these are here to spice up, not overpower the visual proceedings. Similarly the paint applications are sparse but effective and serve to enhance the clean look of the toy rather than distract from it.
Like Cupola before him, Iron Will takes that unashamedly retro futuristic aesthetic the post '86 Movie universe developed, runs it through a Masterpiece inspired filter and never looks back.
Now before we move on, there is an elephant in the room. You've possibly heard of it, might be waiting for me to get to it and it needs addressing so that it may take its leave. There are two visual flaws in robot mode that come about from the figure's transformation scheme. The first is in the elbows.
After you get past a certain degree of bend, a gap becomes apparent. I'll level with you; it doesn't keep me up at night as it's the sort of thing I've seen a fair few times over in Transformers. Yes, it could've been handled better. No, it doesn't end the enjoyment of the figure at all to me.
The second is at the knees and it's here where the dynamic posing available at your fingertips kind of undoes some of Iron Will's imposing cyberbeef.
This is to accommodate the rolling tank treads and an inventive leg transformation but has become a sticking point for a fair few people and I can see why. The knee joint ends up looking tiny and the gap between knee and shin looks painful from certain angles. In hand, it's better than in pics. But it's there. This is not something I want to gloss over. Nor dwell on for that matter. You're going to get on with it or you're not. Relationship therapists charge £100 an hour for that kind of advice, here you get it for free.
|According to Hardhead's tech specs, these shoot diamond hard shards of.. diamonds?|
Onto more of the good stuff. The poseability is fantastic. Pictures speak louder than words and I hope these shout, as he can rock all manner of hard ass moves and the diecast metal in his legs and heels help ground things very well indeed.
|The guns slot into the hands in that same secure manner that Cupola nailed first time|
On that metal content, there is plenty. In addition to the heels and lower legs, you'll find cold slag in his thigh pieces and the robot torso as well. Now as much as some love it, in reality the weight of diecast can often hinder rather than help a figure, but here its judicious placement means we're definitely talking about the latter. It also lends a significant heft to Iron Will that certainly adds to his premium feel. Very well done.
|He was totally hoping for boobs|
The chest contains a panel that flips open to reveal the (non functional) SPD STR INT readouts as expected. The whole chest area doesn't seem to want to tab in tightly on this sample copy, but I imagine this is a tolerance issue that will be remedied in the final retail release.
As the pics show, you get two choices of face with Iron Will. One homages the original toy and its artwork, the other his appearance in Headmasters.
|'Because I have this lovely treat for you!'|
I'd like to thank Optimus Prime for demonstrating how easy a switch out it is between the two and this does feel a thoughtful inclusion *hears the grinding of teeth from Rebirth fans*. In all seriousness this is actually something that might put people off but it was clear with MTRM-01 that Maketoys were aiming to marry the G1 toy with the Toei anime and have done so again here with considerable aplomb.
Transformation is certainly less involved than with Cupola and definitely more intuitive. It's not a simple state of affairs though and I really dig the manner in which the legs transform by opening his thighs (wut?) and using sliders to condense them down into the tank treads. As this is a pre release sample I did not receive an instruction manual and got by fine without one, a first for me and big ticket 3rd Party items. A refreshingly accessible conversion and undoubtedly a repeatable one.
And with this being a Headmaster, of course you get a transforming head component too. Officially named Duros or Ros, unofficially this is.. oh, they don't actually name them in the Re:Master line.
John Doe is a neat little guy in his own right. Sharply detailed for his size, he features light piped eyes and some fairly decent articulation. He's also less cumbersome to pose than Cupola's bonceman, feeling like a revised and refined 2.0 version of the basic design.
The Headmaster can be placed inside the cockpit to pilot this ground hugging, no prisoners taking, shatter blasting beast of a machine. The cockpit can rotate but its range of motion is fairly limited so it helps that the primary cannon has almost free reign of movement.
I love this tank mode. Like the robot form it does a great job of rolling back the years while bringing the Headmasters hurtling forward into the Masterpiece dominated present.
Iron Will is a very, very good toy. There remain the issues brought up earlier surrounding the elbows and knees but personally speaking there's too much going the right way with this one for these to be a deal breaker. This figure is visually sublime, well articulated and has a transformation that quickly becomes second nature.
Now, the $1,000,000 question: Is he as good as Cupola? As great as that guy is and as much as I rate him, I will also be the first to admit that the transformation could put people off enjoying the toy. That's just not a problem here.
When you have them side by side, Iron Will feels very much a companion piece to his predecessor, one that does some things better while fumbling others and it's hard to deny how good they look together.
Is he as good? Probably not. That's hardly a criticism though. Catching lightning in a bottle once is hard enough and just because it didn't quite happen again does not stop Iron Will from being a damn fine addition to the Re:Master line and your current best (and it's gonna be hard to beat) option for a Hardhead by a country mile.