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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Auros' review of: Hardtop

Name: Hardtop
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Espionage & Sharpshooter
Sub-Group: NA

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.

Now, I bought this figure entirely on a whim (half thinking it look interesting and half just wanting to burn some money), and I'm on a 180 now with Cybertron Scout (Basic) level figures. For $7, I had a Transformer that I found very little room for improvement and that has actually provided me with a decent amount of fun just transforming and posing. Don't let the "G2 colors" discourage you from this sweet figure, they certainly didn't keep me from having an interest in it. Actually, they were kind of a selling point since I'm a big fan of the G2 era Transformers. Enough piddling around though, let's get to the meat of the review...

Vehicle Mode:
Hardtop's a futuristic, jeep-style thingy that can also have a pretty big rifle attached on the back. It's kind of like a Halo Warthog, only completely different. I think it's a neat, compact vehicle mode that's aesthetically pleasing as well as reasonably fun to play with. You have moving wheels, a detachable gun, what more can you really ask for in a toy car? The robot mode hides passably well in this mode, but the legs make for an awkward rear of the car and the wheels end up looking like they have no support. I don't mind displaying the figure in this mode and it doesn't have any significant flaws, but the robot mode really outshines it.

Robot Mode:
Here's the point where I decided that maybe some of the Cybertron Scouts were worth a second look (beyond the crap that is Overhaul). The colors are still classic Decepticon. Bright teal? Check. Purple? Check. Some other colors thrown in for good measure? Checkmate. Love or hate the colors, the robot mode is brilliantly designed with a range of articulation I wasn't expecting in the Cybertron line (most of it's looked like Armada in that area), with only the shoulders lacking in a natural range of motion. The more Hasbro/Takara use ball-socket joints, the better. This figure has them in spades and that's a huge factor in it being a successful figure with me. The head sculpt and sniper rifle don't hurt either. Hardtop's planet key gimmick (which I must always maintain is an incredibly lame gimmick) isn't as intrusive on this figure as others and can also be easily bypassed with a pencil or something should you lose the key. Above all, this robot mode is just plain fun to play with and call me a failure of a writer here, but I just can't explain what it is that makes it so sweet. It just freaking is, and it makes me highly recommend this figure.

Transformation: 8 - Simple, does a good job hiding the robot mode, but the rear of the vehicle looks wonky.
Durability: 9 - Ball and socket joints are the rule of the day, but there are some pins involved with the arms, so don't stress those too much.
Fun: 10 - I'll put it this way, the last time I actually played with a toy this much, I was running a high fever and kind of delirious.
Price: 8 - It's a great figure and worth it out of the Scout (Basic) pricepoints, but comparing Transformer prices to their contemporaries always makes me wonder how Hasbro sells much. The competition can sell their whole line around $5 and the cheapest entry point for Transformers is $7?
Summary: 10 - I just freakin' love this thing, garish colors and all.

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