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The Reverend's Review: Headrobots Centurion

Name: "Centurion"
Function: Headmaster Leader
Size Class: Upgrade set for Fortress Maximus' "Cerebro"/"Fortress".

As most fans know, Fortress Maximus's head transforms into a smaller robot whose name and personality (if any) varies by the continuity. In the Euro-US comics and cartoon-ender "The Rebirth", the smaller robot is named "Cerebros" and its own head is formed by a binary-bonded humanoid (initially Galen the Nebulan in the Marvel Comics stories, succeeded by Spike Witwicky, who was also Cerebros' head in "The Rebirth"). In the Japanese "Headmasters" stories, the robot is the smaller Transtector for the Autobot "Fortress", who forms its head.

Interestingly, while the Japanese continuity's head looks fairly close to the 1980s toy version, the Euro-US comics and cartoon had a very different head for Cerebros that looks nothing at all like it. I don't know precisely why this is; they may have been working from a very early prototype or concept drawing. And the original toy tends to look a bit oversized in head mode - Cerebros' body is not very wide, and the head looks like a large plastic block on top.

Headrobots' "Centurion" kit is an attempt to rectify the aesthetic issues in both camps, consisting of two Headmasters (a "Cerebros" head and a Japanese "Fortress" head). Also included is a new design of the sword that was supplied with the smaller Fortress robot in Japan, which I'll discuss later in this review. By the way, the set comes packaged with an insert card that depicts both Cerebros and Fortress in their animation looks. Also, it appears Headrobots is putting out a red version of the same set for use with Grand Maximus, this one is being released as "Courageous".

Alternate (Head) Mode: Fortress (Japan)
In the Headmasters' series, Fortress' head resembles its toy counterpart at least passingly, as I stated before. The animation typically depicts him with a dark gray helmet and a white face, bearing a close similarity to the larger Fortress Maximus' noggin. The original toy head was slightly oversized in proportion to the body, and the whole front of it - helmet and face together - was colored a dark grey with yellow eyes. Headrobots' offering is a notable rendition of the character's visage, sharing many similar sculpted details of the helmet. However, instead of being a plastic square with the face details sculpted in, the Fortress head is a better shaped version with beveling on the upper and lower parts of the helmet to allow for a more three-dimensional look, and the helmet details overlap each other instead of simply protruding out of the plastic square base. While the helmet color isn't as dark as the cartoon's version, it comes close to matching its body color scheme. The face is white and well sculpted and features dark blue eyes. Overall, while I don't think the face really looks that much like Fortress, the rest of the head details are quite good. Each head is supplied with a small "connecter" piece consisting of the insertion tabs to connect it to a Headmaster body and a ball joint at the top that gives the head freedom to rotate, although the robot body's shoulder pads (which connect it to the large Fortress Maximus in head mode) severely limit its rotation. And by the way, the connecter does accurately trigger the Tech Spec's meter in the robot body's chest.

Alternate (Head) Mode: Cerebros (Europe/US)
Cerebros's head, as depicted in the earlier cartoons and comics, was extremely different from what was packaged with the toy. He is depicted as having a cylindrical head with a fully masked face, and in "The Rebirth", his primary color appeared to be black instead of gray. Obviously, Headrobots could do little about Cerebros' body color, but they did go ahead and color the Cerebros head black, leaving his faceplate white and giving him a dark blue visor. While this head still looks a little large as compared to the typical depiction, it's definitely not as oversized as the original. Again, Cerebros' connectors on his shoulders prohibit a lot of head movement on the supplied joint, but at least he can turn his face a little to each side of center. Detailing is a little sparser here than on the Fortress head (though not really to Headrobots' fault, the customary "Cerebros" head as depicted in the media was not full of interesting nooks and crannies either), but you still get a good three-dimensional look instead of just some incised etching.

Robot (Transformed Head) Mode:
Despite their very different looking head modes, both the Fortress and Cerebros heads transform identically and very similar to the original Headmasters once the connecters are removed from the heads' neck joints. Each one unfolds into a humanoid form. The "robot" modes feature swiveling joints at the hips, shoulders and knees - while they don't have the ball joints at the knees like Junkion Blacksmith's releases, they can still bend both forward and backwards at the knees independently on each leg. They do have humorously large, projecting feet, I'm assuming this was to aid stability. Interestingly, they also have open, claw-like hands, akin to Lego figures. Fortress is colored in white and grey, while Cerebros' Spike/Galen is black and grey. Because their heads are not the connection points for a Headmaster-less body, they are a little shorter than the original Hasbro/Takara Headmaster partners.

Here's where this release stumbles a bit - neither one of the transformed "Headmasters" looks anything like their cartoon or comic counterparts! The colors are passably close on Cerebros, at least to Spike's armored appearance in "The Rebirth", but that's about it. Fortress lacks the blue limbs of his animated appearance, and neither one has a head sculpt that resembles either animated/drawn continuity - if anything, they kind of remind me of the sentry robots from "The Black Hole" film. I guess since they're more likely to be displayed as an upgraded head for the Cerebros/Fortress robot, Headrobots didn't sweat these details as much. I can't totally fault them if that was the case, but it's a glaring deficit to the set in my opinion.

Master Sword:
Without going into way too much expository detail, this is the small sword wielded by Fortress in the Japanese continuity, which was omitted from the Cerebros version. The sword provided with the Fortress toy was a solid black, almost feather-shaped accessory, while this one has been made much closer to the cartoon appearance with its clear red faceted blade. It looks very good and can be held by the robot, although since the arms can only rotate 360-degrees at the shoulder - or in essence, eight positions within a 360-degree radius and without any elbow joints, Fortress/Cerebros can't really make dynamic poses with it, but he can at least spar with the G1 Dinobots and whack smaller robots over the head with it.

So is the Centurion set worth it? Well, it's a nice little add-on, and I do like the looks of both heads. The generic, we-didn't-try-very-hard robot modes are a disappointment, and I don't know if the Master Sword's inclusion is enough to balance that out. Another problem is that if you don't already have a Cerebros/Fortress body... they're expensive on the secondary market! I really think Headrobots might have gotten a bigger take of the market if they'd released two sets - one of the Fortress head with the Master Sword and one of the Cerebros head with a sleeker sidearm than the one (and now outrageously expensive one) that he got in the original release. But for what it is, if the just-a-little-too-big and blocky Hasbro/Takara "Spike" head looks odd to you, the Centurion set is a nice replacement. If you really value the original head's robot mode, though, you might be better off getting the Chinese "Planet Master Warriors" set and using the "Fortress Maximus Spike" from that.

Transformation Design: 3. They're Headmasters. Outside of that, though, the better joints are a plus...
Durability: 3. Because they're not as blocky as the original Headmasters, they're probably easier to chip and bang up.
Fun: 4... well, they do look better in most respects than the original, especially if you liked the look of Cerebros' head in the media.
Aesthetics: 6. The head modes really do look nice. Transformed, they're rather generic and uninteresting - sure, they're not little statues like the original HMs, but their bland appearance is not particularly eyecatching.
Articulation: 4. The improved joints in the robot modes do help, although they feel loose and lightweight.
Value/Price: 4. I think the Centurion set, at apx $65 USD, is a little pricey for what you get, but isn't really a wallet-breaker.
Overall: 4. They do look nice attached to the robot body. If the original head isn't quite to your liking, the set is a nice upgrade. But the play value might be lacking and frankly irrelevant to the market they were aiming for.
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