Cybertron Toy Reviews: Hardtop

in 2005, Action Figure Review, Cybertron, Decepticon, Earth Planet, Galaxy Force

General Information:
Release Year: October 2005
Retailer: General US (Toys R Us, Target etc.)
Price: $6.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Planet Key, Cannon/Rifle


Tech Specs:
Hardtop has been left on Earth to serve as a spy, tracker and ground-based spotter for the aerial team of Starscream and Thundercracker. He uses his impressive array of sensors not only to pinpoint AUTOBOT targets up to 7000 miles away, but also to listen to and record the treasonous whining of Starscream. Though he generally prefers to hang back from the front lines of a fight, he finds a certain pleasure in taking pot shots at AUTOBOTS with his super-precise, long-range laser rifle.

Strength: 5 Intelligence: 6 Speed: 6 Endurance: 7 Rank: 4 Courage: 4.5 Firepower: 6 Skill: 7

Each Transformer from the basic sized figure and up comes with a Cyber Planet Key. Hardtop comes with the standard "Earth" Planet Key. Unlike the Japanese Galaxy Force "Force Chips", these have codes printed on them that you can use on the official Transformers web site to unlock extra content. In Hardtop's case his code is s4mm and his unlocked material reveals an image of his vehicle mode design sketch and the following text:

Hardtop is a Cybertronian Comic Book collector! If you were to go into his room in the Decepticon home base, you'd find thousands of comic books from all over the galaxy!! From 3-D ones to ones made of leaves - he just loves them! If he's not blasting Autobots on the battlefield, he's racing around the universe looking for the missing issue of the Galactic Guardians.

While most of the "Cybertron" line has seen release as part of Takara's Galaxy Force line prior to their US release, Hardtop is one of the exceptions. This Decepticon was released outside Japan first, and so far has yet to even see a Japanese release at all.

Vehicle Mode:
Hardtop's vehicle mode is a dune buggy. With a raised back end and weapon mounted on top, this is no lightweight vehicle. This mounts on the rear section which is raised a bit above the front section. With a row of lights sculpted onto this section, it gives the vehicle an extra bit of functionality. The lights themselves have vertical lines on them simulating the glass covers on real life lights, a welcome touch. The rear tires are larger than the front and raised on hydraulics.

The middle section has an open cage, with no horizontal crossbar. The vertical bars are rather thick, not tube like at all but with angled edges. On each is a small side view mirror, a small but appreciated detail. Another nice touch are narrow foot rests on either side of the driver's compartment.

The front end of the vehicle is where you'll find some more sculpted detail in the form of the headlights, angled lines and cross hatching. The front tires are smaller, but share the same basic design as those in the rear.

The gun mounted on top is a cannon with an artillery magazine attached. The magazine piece is where you insert the Planet Key. Doing so flips out a barrel that extends the cannon, effecitvley turning it into a sniper rifle. The mount that you attach the weapon to is actually the recent "standardized" hole size for Transformers weapons, so you can attach Energon weapons there if you wish. On the flip side, the peg on the weapon that you attach to the figure is designed with an opening in the middle - meaning you can attach a Mini-Con to it. This is essentially useless with all but a select few Mini-Cons since the larger robot then has no way to hold the gun, but it is interesting.

The primary color of the vehicle is green. Light blue is used on the underside and the rear wheel supports. A bit of purple shows here as well in the form of the front wheel supports and a bit of armor in the middle. The cate pieces are painted gunmetal grey and a Decepticon symbol is tampographed onto the hood of the vehicle.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the weapon.
  2. Swing the rear section back.
  3. Push the rear wheels down to support the feet.
  4. Flip the front wheels up.
  5. Move the sides up and swing the robot arms out.
  6. Swing the forward part of the vehicle down, and snap it into place using the thin bar on the waist piece.
  7. Rotate the upper body around to face forward.
  8. Flip up the vehicle's seat to form the chest.
  9. Attach the weapon to the figure's hand.

Robot Mode:
Hardtop's robot mode is one of my favorite types for modern day Transformers. Transformation schemes have developed well enough over time that for the most part, robot modes look quite distinct from the vehicle modes. Of course, some carry over of parts from the alternate mode will occur, but that effect can be minimized, and that is what the designers did with Hardtop.

The entire upper body region of Hardtop (at least from the front view) is purely robot. No tires hang off his shoulders, the front of the vehicle doesn't become his chest etc. What you do get is a nicely designed robot with a medium level of sculpted detail. The head sculpt is actually rather simple, a curved design with visor eyes. The chest is where things are a bit more complex since it is made up of several smaller pieces such as the seat becoming the chestplate. His arms are nice and bulky, giving him a powerful appearance despite the figures' small size.

The lower body is still mostly robotic looking, but some vehicle mode bits show a bit more thanks to the huge tires. However, I do like the way the lights from that section become feet here. Vent details on the legs help complete the picture.

Hardtop has ten points of articulation. Technically six of these points are ball joints (the shoulders, upper legs and knees) but only four of those really make sense. The knee joints are ball joints, but because of the leg design, they can only swing back and forth.

The main colors form the vehicle mode carry over, but more black, metallic gold and purple show up here. The purple is a nice touch since this is a Decepticon, and the gold on the arms really helps enhance their sculpted details, and keeps him from looking plain.

Final Thoughts:
Hardtop is a neat little Transformer, a great example of what can be done with a smaller sized figure. He really has not major problems to speak of either. Highly recommended.