Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Commander Class Hardshell Toy Review

in 2013, Action Figure Review, Beast Hunters, Commander, Decepticon, Insecticon, Prime, Cyberverse

Beast Hunters

General Information:
Release Date: February 2013
Price Point: $9.99
Retailer: General release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Plague Missile Launcher, Missile x 1


*Images with asterisks* and text below in italics from The Official Transformers web site:
A powerful Insecticon warrior who hungers for Autobot circuitry!
Autobots beware, because this Hardshell figure is just the brawler to take them on! This Insecticon destroyer can convert to creepy insect mode and create havoc or unleash disaster in robot mode with his Plague missile launcher! Keep converting him back and forth so his enemies can’t keep up!

Includes figure and accessories. Commander Class Series 3 004 Hardshell Demolitions Expert. Ages 5 and up.

HardshellDuring the run of "Transformers Prime", the classic sub-group of Decepticons known as "Insecticons" was introduced. Far from being the three distinctive characters of Generation One, this army of dangerous creatures had a representative known as Hardshell (a name inspired by "Bombshell" from Generation One). He was a fan favorite character who unfortunately met his end in season two, but the Insecticons themselves still remain during the "Beast Hunters" era.

Robot Mode:
Hardshell is a Commander Class figure, so some design compromises had to be made in order to get a good looking figure into this size class. First off, Hardshell doesn't quite have the same hulking mass that his cGI counterpart does. On the television show, Hardshell looks like a big, hunched over brute. In this form he still looks tough and scary, but not quite as wide and bulky. Some of the proportions are different than his CG model as well, especially the head which is not as wide as the one shown on the television show relative to the rest of the body.

There are several design elements that come directly from the television show. His head, while not wide, does have the creepy looking mouth with teeth showing and two mandibles running down the sides. His shoulder armor has a fin-like piece on it that points up and his legs are thick with claw like feet at the end. While not as long as those on the CG model, his hands have claws instead of regular fingers. He still looks creepy for sure, but not as crazy threatening as the Insecticons on the television show.

The "Transformers Prime" television show has a rather dark color palette. This sometimes makes it hard to see just what exact colors certain characters are, and Hardshell is one such example. I kind of assumed he was the "typical Insecticon" colors of purple, black and yellow, but in brighter light, it turns out he's actually green, silver and yellow! Thus, most of the plastic on this figure is green, gunmetal (or dark silver if you prefer) with some touches of a light, metallic lavender color here and there. The combination is a tad odd when seen in bright light. One could argue perhaps that he is a partial homage to Generation One Barrage, one of the "Deluxe" Insecticons who featured green and yellow in his color scheme. The green and gunmetal work together certainly, but the lavender is a It doesn't seem like it quite belongs somehow and I can't really see this color on any screenshots of the Insecticons I'm finding online, so it's even weirder to me.

There are plenty of paint applications on this figure, mostly in yellow, which you'll find on his torso, waist and shoulders. His head is mostly painted silver with green on top. The eyes are painted red. A bit more silver is on the sides of his forearms and neck. A purple Decepticon symbol graces the right side of his chest. Green paint is used on the sides of his lower legs. This is quite an impressive amount of paint for a Cyberverse figure and I'm very happy with the deco.

Hardshell has thirteen points of articulation in this form, including ball joints on his shoulders, elbows and hips. I'm counting the ability of his head/neck to move up and down even though technically that's part of his transformation scheme. Hardshell is armed with a missile launcher that uses a "pressure marble" to launch the missile, meaning the missile is held in by a ball. Press it hard enough and the built up pressure "launches" the missile. This weapon has a rather elaborate design with lots of sweeping, pointed details and held a certain way looks almost like a shield. Hardshell can hold this weapon in either hand or attach it to either forearm. All his connection points can accomodate 3mm peg Cyberverse weapons.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Detach the weapon and set it aside for now.
  2. Swing the chest down.
  3. Swing each piece of shoulder armor forward and connect them together.
  4. Straighten out each leg and connect them together, then swing them up against the upper body parts.
  5. Swing the wings back.
  6. Rotate the front half of the beast mode around.
  7. Swing the forearm panel out to form the rear legs.
  8. Swing the front leg sections down.
  9. Attach the missile launcher to the back.

Beast Mode:
Hardshell is a scary looking beetle in beast mode. It's not the sharp looking lgs in front or his long horn in front that gives this impression, well, not alone anyhow. Lift him up a bit and you'll see a (frankly) terrifying face with four narrow eyes (two on each side) and mandibles near a row of serrated teeth. Open the mouth and it almost looks like a fusion of an insect and a shark rather than a beetle you'd actually find in nature. This as well as other key features such as the design of the legs, his layered wings and the armor towards the front all reflect design elements from the CG model. The missile launcher sitting on top is more of an embelishment unique to this toy, and not a direct design element carried over from the CG model. At first glance, this beast mode looks almost organic, like something you would have seen in "Beast Wars", but look closer and you'll see most of the smaller details are angled and mechanical, revealing the true nature of the creature.

This mode shows off a lot of the green and lavender color, with the silver almost disappearing except for the four front legs. The yellow paint applications from the shoulder armor show off prominently in the front and his eyes are painted red, contrasting sharply against the green plastic. His teeth and the area in front of them are painted silver, bringing emphasis to those scary details. Overall I continue to be impressed and happy with the deco on this figure. He looks great!

I already mentioned you can open Hardshell's mouth (and wide at that). His wings both sit on ball joints and you can launch his missile in this form as well. His rear legs (being made from the arms) can also be positioned, but you're not going to get a ton of posability out of this mode, though how much posing do beetles really do?

Final Thoughts:
Hardshell is an awesome Commander Class figure. I do find myself wishing that Hardshell had been granted at least a Deluxe scale figure (if not a Voyager) but for now, this figure will do nicely. Highly recommended!