Deluxe-class Decepticon Soundwave
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
It’s Sari’s birthday! As her father ponders what to do with his gift from last year, the robot dog Sparkplug, his secret alien companion, the disabled “Autobot” Megatron, suggests making a robot that will impress Sari with those unusual audio frequencies which humans seem to enjoy- music. And so they collaborate to make Soundwave- a dancing music entertainment system. At the party, Soundwave is a hit, but only a few days later, as the thrill is wearing off, Sari decides to carelessly upgrade the boombox-bot with her All Spark-enhanced key card to make him more interesting. The upgrade works. However, what no one realizes is, Megatron specifically designed Soundwave so that every time Sari upgraded him with the key card from lack of interest, he would become more powerful- soon enough so to become Megatron’s new body. However, as the days go by, and he is upgraded more and more, Soundwave begins to act independently from Megatron’s commands. Now fully aware of himself and with a growing passion against humans for their mistreatment of robots, Soundwave is confronted by Megatron, and decides to join the Decepticons to rid Earth of them. Using his sound frequency control & disruption systems, Soundwave finally upgrades himself into a more powerful armored form using all of the near-by robots in Detroit now that he is a true Cybertronian. Then he directs the majority of robots to attack both humans and the Autobots. What he didn’t count on, though, was Bulkhead and his illogical loyalty to the now-kidnapped Sari and the rest of humanity, and so Soundwave was defeated in a single punch from the giant Autobot. But as Sari and Bulkhead mend their friendship from disputes over the former Soundwave, a small blue and yellow cassette tape player with a Decepticon logo on the cover sits alone in the sewers of the city, calmly and patiently waiting for the chance to free all machine-kind from the oppression of humanity, and destroy the traitorous Autobots... The voice of Decepticon Soundwave is performed through the use of a vocorder (which renders any spoken words in a mechanical and emotionless monotone) by cartoon-veteran actor Jeff Bennett, who also covers Autobot Prowl and several other semi-regular & guest characters in “Transformers Animated”. Soundwave’s vehicle mode (back) is something that many have likened to be a futuristic take on the 2004-2006 Scion xB minivan for its unusually-blocky appearance. And to be honest, I agree. The center of the bumper on the front has several non-functional buttons painted gold; these represent a throwback to the origins of Soundwave from the original G1 character from the 1984 TV series, whose alternate form was that of a cassette tape boombox. Here, the gold buttons are indicative of the controls on the front of the boombox. Another indication of his G1 roots is in the implied wheels from a cassette tape on the doors and back, though the latter is not painted in. Some details, such as the various headlights are not painted in even though they are molded in. While his primary coloring is dark blue, Soundwave has unusually bright highlights of neon turquoise, which are gathered on the top and sides of the vehicle mode only. While the contrast is obvious, it is actually rather striking how stand-out the lighter lines really are- almost to the point of glowing! One odd feature, though are his windows- even though they’re darkened transparent ABS, you can’t see light shining through them. (So, if you can’t easily tell that they’re transparent, and they’re too dark to let light through, then what’s the point of making them transparent at all??? Same with the headlights!) Though he doesn’t have one there in the series, Soundwave has a golden Decepticon logo printed onto his hood.
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All that Soundwave does in vehicle mode is roll around. Because of his size, I suspect it would have been difficult to incorporate several small fold-out speakers like he has in the series.
Unlike all but one of the figures I’ve reviewed so far from “Transformers Animated”, Soundwave does not have an assisting Auto-conversion feature. Though it’s not surprising considering his size, other Deluxe-class figures- like Autobots Bumblebee and Prowl- had some kind of assisting feature. But everything on Soundwave is moved by you- no gears, no springs, no levers, no nothing. If you’re gonna use Auto-conversion a lot in similar-sized Transformers, Takara, then please be consistent about it, huh?
Soundwave’s robot mode (back) is only dedicated to his G1 roots in a small way, compared to most other characters from “...Animated”. While his head has angular features as well as a narrow red sunshade/visor appearance, the only other reference besides his dark blue coloring is the intentional design of the classic cassette tape deck door & controls on his chest. While it again carries a printed gold Decepticon symbol and clear cover, it is non-functional, and does not open up to allow smaller spy robots to be placed inside or removed. The gold-painted tape deck controls, actually, show how dissimilar his transformation is from in the series- a new bank of non-functional buttons was molded onto his chest rather than using the ones on the front grille of his vehicle mode like he’s supposed to. Behind Soundwave’s head, attached to his back are another pair of round neon-blue circles which represent more of his sound-projection arsenal; not unlike the same details on the doors of his vehicle mode/lower arms of his robot mode. However, he loses his trademark shoulder-mounted missile launcher. (Bummer. In the series, before his final upgrade, Soundwave did deploy a missile launcher, but when everyone looked at him, he quickly disguised it as another speaker.) Because his upper torso is rather broad, the disproportionately-long arms are able to freely hang without touching the legs at all. He features open-palm hands which fold out from the forearms, and they droop well below his knees... which they are not shown doing in the series. However, the two back wheels swing around to become more sound speakers, just like they do in the series. His lower legs, also, are slightly shorter than their in-series equivalents, which may explain why his arms appear longer than they should be. The front windows of the vehicle mode form his feet, thus explaining why no light could shine through the transparent plastic- they’re opaque in the center! His range of motion is pretty good, perhaps only faltering in the feet- which swing a little inwards, but do not tilt forward or backward. Ball-&-sockets are in his knees and ‘lower’ elbow joints. (I’ll say again: his elbows are double-jointed. Whoa-!) Unfortunately, the panels on his lower arms bump into his shoulders, so they’re limited as well. (What a waste.) Soundwave’s head also has this type of joint, but he has no neck to speak of, so he can only look side-to-side effectively. Because of how he transforms, his wrists can bend inwards 180°, so you have some play there as well.
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This set doesn’t come with a built-in special feature. Instead, a non-functional flying-V electric guitar is included, which was not seen in his first appearance. There are pegs on either side of it on top, which can fit into holes on the inside of Soundwave’s lower arms. This way, he can hold the guitar and look like he’s playing it (but without the associated shoulder strap). However, there is a more-obvious reason that this set includes the guitar other than it goes great with a speaker-themed robot. The guitar can transform into a thin-profile flying reconnaissance drone called Laserbeak! This air spy- originally a cassette tape which could fit inside of Soundwave’s chest- was part of the G1 character’s regular arsenal, and is nearly as well known as the boombox-themed Decepticon himself. Laserbeak’s feet can fit into several slots on Soundwave in whichever mode he’s in- as a guitar, on the vehicle mode’s roof; as a bird, on either forearm panel.
What the Instructions *Don't* Tell You
The Deluxe-class Soundwave set, fortunately, has only two marks in this frustrating category:
- When transforming his chest, the instructions tell you to fold his chest panel forward 180°. However, what they don’t tell you is that the section it is folding up against is also double jointed, and needs to be lifted up and slid backwards to line it up into its proper position. If this doesn’t happen, his chest will hang down lower than it is supposed to!
- More of a minor thing, Laserbeak’s tiny feet also allow him to hang off of Soundwave’s back in robot mode as a guitar because it uses these slots to do the same on the roof in vehicle mode. (Or, if you wanna be cute, he can hang there partially-or-fully transformed in beast mode to give Soundwave a skinny flight pack.) And really, these three available slots on Soundwave’s chassis do not dictate which direction Laserbeak has to fit, so he can face ‘forward’ as easily as he does ‘backward’.
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history. I’m just gonna come right out the gate and say: this toy is absolutely screaming to be up-scaled into a Voyager-class figure! [He’s also almost got- in my opionion- something of a similar style to the unique electronic-circuitry design from Walt Disney Pictures’ unique live-action film “Tron” (1980) as well!] As a Deluxe-class figure, he’s by far, one of the most out-of-scale figures in the entire line- standing no taller than the [relatively] appropriately-sized Autobots Prowl and Bumblebee; when in fact he is supposed to stand as tall as Bulkhead! Now, of course, several characters in the line are of smaller scales than they’re supposed to be, but this is a very big exception. He’s near flimsy- with disproportionate joints- and has no special feature other than the provided Laserbeak. While Takara has been doing a fantastic job of recreating these toys in the same proportions and features as their on-screen counterparts, this one seems to suffer a bit because he’s so small. While it’s nice to have the air drone return and be able to transform, consider that the larger character’s most-recent predecessor from “Transformers: Cybertron” (2006)- who was also a Voyager-class toy- could carry Laserbeak in his chest container. (Indeed, it would also have been nice if they’d painted in some yellow eyes & beak and silver paneling on the beast-bot other than using just some minor red, and leaving the rest plain ABS black.) While none of the other Deluxe-class figures’ joints can snap, nor can this one’s, but neither do his transforming knee joints, and they tend to swivel about too easily. Otherwise, his poseability is great, the multiple [implied] speakers look cool, and he remains a pale tribute to his more famous G1 predecessor. While I like my Deluxe-class Decepticon Soundwave, I don’t think he’s the best effort that could have been put forward. I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna start wishing really hard that Takara makes him bigger and better for Season Three in 2009...
|Posted 30 August, 2008 - 02:57 by EVA_Unit_4A