With the recent releases of Soundwave in the Fall of Cybertron and Masterpiece lines, it’s worth remembering the long stretch when the character got almost no love from Hasbro. A lot of this probably had to do with the dilemma of what to do about his outdated alt mode and how to incorporate his tape feature into an updated alt mode. Well, back in the Cybertron line, the folks at Hasbro finally stepped up and gave it a try by turning Soundwave into a futuristic jet bomber and having Laserbeak turn into a bomb. While the idea is sound enough, the figure itself is an abomination on many fronts. I don’t usually like to slag on my beloved Transformers, but I thought it was an opportune time to parade this guy out. No package shot, so let’s just check out his alt mode.
Like I said, Soundwave is now a jet. Hey, he was once a missile carrier truck, so I’m willing to give Hasbro a pass on the choice of alt mode here. I think this is supposed to be loosely based on an F-117A Stealth Fighter in that it’s basically wedge shaped and has some fins at the back, but we’ll just call him a Cybertron jet and be done with it. I’ll start off by saying, there are some high points to this toy. The blue plastic they used here is very nice, and some of the gold paintwork on it is absolutely gorgeous. I like the translucent purple used for the cockpit and there is also a crazy amount of detail sculpted into the wings and such. The little spikes on the nose cone are a nice touch too. All good stuff, but it’s not enough to save this guy.
The overall design here wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that he’s just plain ugly. It’s blatantly obvious that the top half of the jet is made up of his contorted robot legs and there are so many gaps and hinges and spaces, that it just doesn’t work for me. And I never understood the point of that stupid design on the top behind the cockpit. It looks like some kind of crop circle. Of course, the real reason I hate this alt mode is because it’s so difficult to get everything to fit together just right. Get the feet plugged into the nose and the cockpit pops up. Peg the cockpit in and the feet pop out. You need to have everything absolutely correct to within a micron of tolerance and then maybe, just maybe, this alt mode will hold together like it should. And even at that point, what you’ve got is still pretty damn ugly.
The gimmick for the alt mode is if you put a Cyberkey into the slot on the back, Soundwave’s bomb door will open and he will drop one of his bombs. One of those bombs is Laserbeak. We’ll get to him in a bit. It’s not a bad concept in that at least it still allows Soundwave to deploy a minion and it kind of reminds me of Nick Roche’s Decepticons that turn into bombs in my beloved More Than Meets The Eye comic. Ok, so the alt mode isn’t terribly good. Surely, that’s because Soundwave’s robot mode is absolutely fantastic… right? RIGHT??
Oh boy. So, it’s hard to miss the Soundwave homages here. The head sculpt is a pretty cool modern update to the guy we all know and love. He’s got a big tape door on his chest, which can hold the Laserbeak bomb. The coloring is certainly G1 Soundwave, at least to a point. At the same time, those huge wings really work against the homage to the extreme. I think this figure could have been saved if it weren’t for a whole host of really poor design choices and laziness.
So first, you’ve got those giant wings. They are totally immobile and get in the way of posing. A couple extra hinges could have helped these along. Maybe packed them away into a backpack or at least gave them some movement so they weren’t in the way all the time. But in truth they’re the least of this guy’s worries. Both arms have huge pieces of jet kibble hanging off of them. The right arm is cursed with the nose of the jet, while the left arm has the cockpit. There is no way to position these so that they aren’t just cumbersome dead weight and they are always hitting against the wings when I try to pose him. . Last up, he’s got tiny little legs that are in no way up to the challenge of holding all that upper body bulk. The knees are heavy ratcheting joints, but the hip joints are week and floppy as all hell, so unless you have Soundwave’s legs standing straight and at full attention, he’s going to want to do the splits and collapse.
And then there’s Laserbeak and while it’s crazy to say it, the truth is he’s the shining ray of light in this otherwise terrible figure. His bomb alt mode is basically just a black hexagonal cylinder with red paint apps on the sides and his transformation just has him fold out into his little bird mode, which is pretty damn good for what it is. It even sort of foreshadows the Dark of the Moon Laserbeak design with VTOL engines in the wings. Everything about Laserbeak works well and I’d argue he’s even better modern update than the disc Laserbeak that came with Generation Soundwave. There are a few places where Laserbeak can peg into Soundwaves arms, but because all of the shit hanging off him, you’re better off just trying to stand him on his arm. He’s also designed to peg into Soundwave’s wings and perch up there, but I think it looks rather dumb.
Oh, did I mention that the peg that locks Soundwave’s right shoulder down snapped the very day I took him out of the box? Yeah. That happened. The crazy thing about Cybertron Soundwave is that I can remember wanting to get him so badly. I don’t know if it was just the fact that he was finally a new Soundwave, or the online pictures didn’t make him seem so bad. Maybe it was because I just love the Cybertron line so much. Either way, I hunted for him all over before finally finding him at a Walmart like 30 miles from my home. I couldn’t wait to get him home and, suffice it to say, he was a huge let down. He’s one of the few Transformers in my collection that tempted me to throw him against a wall in disgust. There are some good ideas here, but so much went horribly wrong in the end. To be honest, now that I’ve dug him out, I’m not sure he’ll be returning to my collection. I look at him and just see a waste of space.