Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Transformers G1 Headmasters: Shuffler

Name: Shuffler
Line: Transformers / Headmasters (Takara)
Year: 1987

I've got a special review in store for you readers today. I'm going to take a look at one of the elusive Japanese exclusive Headmaster Warriors, Shuffler! After discovering the internet (what year was that?!) and finding out more about my beloved childhood toys, Transformers, I came across 6 unique Headmaster heads only sold in Japan. I soon discovered that these little toys commanded a very high price on the secondary market so I wrote them off as a toy that I would never own. Well thanks to some very crafty (Chinese?) people there are now way less expensive reproductions available. While I obviously don't have the original Shuffler to compare this too, people in the Transformers collecting community that I know have said they match up really well. Enough talk though, on to the review!


As you can see Shuffler's alt mode is an elephant. The limbs & ears are made of a purple gray plastic while the rest of the body is cast in a darker purple. The only paint applications in this form are on the eyes which are painted blue. He measures just over 2 inches long from the tip of his trunk to the back of the legs. There is a good bit of detail molded on the plastic which kind of surprised me. There are some ridges on the forehead in between the eyes and on the top of the trunk's tip. Even the big ears have some good detail. The tusks are independent from the trunk which is a nice touch. This is really evident when transformed into the head module.


Here is Shuffler next to Chromedome's Headmaster, Stylor. Size wise Shuffler is a tad larger, but that would be expected since his alt form is that of an animal versus a robot.


Finally a close up of Shuffler while in head module form. Before I go further I wanted to mention that in the Resources section of TFW2005.com that I help contribute to, they have Shuffler photographed slightly different in this form. They have the the rear legs standing straight up. I'm not sure what the "official" transformation is, but the way TFW2005 depicts it makes the head look even larger. To me it gives a Ultra Magnus vibe. I prefer the head as I photographed...its a much more compact, cleaner look in my opinion. As with the elephant form there is only one paint app used in this form. Obviously that would be the robot's eyes as they are painted in a beautiful red shade. This stands out very well. As with many other Transformers, the lower half of the face is basically a mouth guard or shield. The elephant's ears form the sides of the head and give it some much needed thickness. The elephant's truck and tusks form the top portion of the head and gives it an almost crown or royal appearance. I really like the overall look of the head.


Now let's take a look at how Shuffler compares in head module form with other Generation 1 Headmaster heads. First off you should notice the head is rather large when compared to the others. Not only is it larger, but there is more depth to it as well. It doesn't appear too large however and below you'll see how Shuffler looks attached to a G1 Headmaster Transformer.

Depicted from L to R (top row): Shuffler, Arcana (Brainstorm, Stylor (Chromedome), Duros (Hardhead), Gort (Highbrow) and Plasma (Brave Maximus) | (2nd row): Grax (Skullcruncher), Krunk (Snapdragon) and Monzo (Wierdwolf)

Photobucket Photobucket

Top and bottom views of elephant mode.


Shuffler attaches to any Generation 1 Headmaster Transformer just as any other Headmaster figure would. With most of the other Headmaster figures the tiny robot head acts as the connecting post and allows the figure to be plugged into the larger Transformer body. Since Shuffler doesn't have a robotic head he features a small square post. This is similar to the square posts that can be folded out of the chests of the Aerialbots. Behind this square post is a small piece of plastic that is notched out to give a new power rating once plugged into a larger Transformer.


Here Shuffler is attached to Hardhead's body. If you take a look at the chest you'll notice that Shuffler has increased Hardhead's ratings. Normally Hardhead's speed, strength and intelligence would register respectively as 4, 10 & 5. Shuffler augments the ratings and increases them to 4, 10 & 9. That lets you know right away that Shuffler is rather strong and tough despite is small stature.

In closing I have to say that I am very impressed by this toy. As I mentioned earlier this toy can easily command $250+ for the authentic piece on the secondary market. It doesn't matter how awesome a toy is...I can't justify spending that much money on a simple toy. That is why I was thrilled to hear the news of a reproduction hitting the market. I'm sure there are plenty that were angered by this news. I've heard that the easiest way you can tell the real deal from this reproduction is by looking at the rivets. The originals seem to be much more smooth. Mine don't look bad, but one of them does appear to look rushed during the manufacturing stage. The plastic quality appears to be very good. It's a good hard plastic and not rubbery as some TF KO's can be made of. The few paint apps are done well and the joints are very stiff. Overall I would highly recommend anyone buying one of these reproduction Headmaster Warriors. I want to mention there are no copyright markings of year or of Takara anywhere on the toy. Not only are the real toys super expensive, but they are hard to find. If you can find a dealer selling these don't hesitate. I have no idea how many of these have been made or will be made, but as popular as these Japanese exclusive Headmaster Warriors are I'm sure the available stock will go fast.


  1. I have that same toy! mint, with all parts. So, can I sell it for $200??


  2. Where can somebody buy a reproduction headmaster like this? and what is the price? Thanks for the review, it was awesome!

  3. This is one of the things I LOVED about the Headmaster concept, that you could get a different guy and get different readouts.

    Shuffler looks awesome!

  4. Picked this "reproduction" set of rare Headmasters myself. It's true -- from all the photos I've seen of the originals, these compare very well. They're great, the boxart's really great -- and really, it's the only semi-affordable way to land all these rare Japan-only-release Headmasters in one go!

    My personal favorites of the set are the ones with Animal modes, like Shuffler, Lione and Toraizer. A nice but maybe unintentional touch is that "Kirk" from this set has horns/nacelles on his forehead, that remind you of the Enterprise.

  5. Love the review. And I really don't blame anyone for not hunting for a genuine Shuffler after the reproductions are released - Shuffler is by far the most difficult and expensive of the 6 Headmaster heads to find. One'd be (very) lucky to be able to buy one for $250. I'd say an original Shuffler would be worth $350 to $500, easily. I say this because each of the other 5 heads would go for $180 to $230, each, if they were genuine, again, not easy to find although not as rare as Shuffler.

    From photos, it'd be difficult to tell the difference in both appearance and quality between repros and the KOs. Arkvander and I have both the originals and the repros, and there are visual and plastic quality differences, for sure. It's not easy to tell and to be honest, the plastic quality is pretty close, but they are not indistinguishable when one is physically touching them.

    With that being said, I recognise that the originals are probably now and forever more, a pursuit of G1 purists due to their rarity and price contrasted with the ready supply of repros and their relatively much cheaper price point.