As promised, I’m back today to wrap up my look at Masterpiece Soundwave. Yesterday we checked out the packaging as well as Soundwave’s tape deck mode and his cassette minion Laserbeak. Today we’re going to check out Soundwave’s robot mode and all the goodies he comes with! You want to hear something funny? I really had my doubts over just how much an upgrade this figure was going to be. I mean, the original G1 Soundwave was one of the better Transformers figures of his time. He was fairly close to the Sunbow design, at least a lot more so than Megatron or Ironhide. Sure he was boxy and stiff, but he had a pretty clean humanoid appearance without a lot of crap hanging off of him. Plus at a time when most action figures had 5-points of articulation (unless you were a G.I. Joe), Soundwave was practically super-articulated. So was Takara really going to be able to improve on him all that much?
Ah, yep. Apparently so! Now, granted, a lot of the feelings outlined above were colored by nostalgia, but once I had this figure in hand I was able to appreciate what a colossal facelift Soundwave got. And even then, it wasn’t until I actually stood him next to the G1 toy that I saw how ridiculous my original premise was. Sure, maybe Prowl and Bluestreak represent a bigger upgrade because their original toys were so small and their legs were fused together, but that doesn’t make Soundwave here any less of a grand achievement. Quite the contrary, this figure is drop-dead gorgeous!
Besides being perfectly proportioned, Takara made a lot of little tweaks to better match MP Soundwave with his animated counterpart. His tape door and chest are now more rounded and softer. It’s a stark comparison to the harsh, boxy angles of the original toy. What I really like, however, is the clever way the panel with his tape player buttons actually shifts down to form a proper pelvis and waist, as well as adding that much appreciated waist swivel. The shoulders replace the old printed sticker sheets with sculpting and paintwork and the forearms feature that ever so slight bulge that characterized so much of Sunbow’s G1 art design. Ah, but one of my favorite things here is the way Takara handled the tape deck kibble on the legs. These hinged plates that lay flush with the outside of his lower legs actually mimic the way the original toy’s legs were sculpted. It’s a wonderful little touch that shows how much thought and love went into this guy. It’s also worth noting that all the detail from front sticker sheets on the original toy have also been reproduced here as part of the sculpt. Lastly, Soundwave features a nice big set of feet, complete with lateral rockers so he can be flat footed even in wide stances.
The head sculpt is pure animated perfection. One look and I can practically hear his electronically harmonized voice. The Takara version features the red eyes, as opposed to the yellow ones in the Hasbro version. Either way wouldn’t have been a deal breaker for me, but I am certainly digging on the red eyes right now. Just beside Soundwave’s beautiful noggin is his iconic shoulder cannon. The cannon is actually permanently affixed, but as part of the transformation it can be folded back and stowed away if you prefer your Soundwave displayed without it. Personally, I think that’s blasphemy, but to each their own.
It’s probably a given that Soundwave’s articulation is superb. His head rests on a generously ball jointed neck that provides a really nice range of motion. His arms have full rotational and lateral movement at the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in his biceps. His wrists have swivels and hinges, his knuckles are hinged and he even has double hinged index fingers. He has ball and pin joints in his hips, swivels in his thighs, and hinged knees. Yes, Soundwave can finally push his own Eject button and it is glorious!
And then there are all the goodies that come with him. For starters you get his “battery” gun. In this case, it’s all contained in one piece, so you just fold down the handle grip, pull the battery apart and then pull out the silver “missile” and you’re good to go. It’s a great update to the original weapon and he can hold it comfortably in either hand. When you’re not using it you can collapse it back into a battery and store it behind his back.
You also get this arm attachment and I have no idea what it is. It probably tells you in the instruction booklet, but my Japanese in a little rusty in that I can’t read a blessed word of it. I seem to recall him using something like this in the cartoon, but I can’t remember when or for what. Perhaps some intrepid fan can clue me in. Either way, to use it you simply collapse Soundwave’s hand into his arm and clip this onto the stump. You can also store this by pegging it into Soundwave’s butt like it’s a tailbone.
And then there’s Megatron himself. This looks a lot like the one I got with my old 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, but I’m not complaining because it is a great looking piece. It scales wonderfully with the figure and Soundwave looks totally bad ass when wielding it. I’m really going to be torn on whether to display Soundwave firing Megatron or holding Laserbeak.
Speaking of which, did I mention there are little clear rails in Soundwave’s arms so you can attach Laserbeak and have him resting on his big daddy without falling off? Well, yes there are.
Next up, you get the Energon Cube. Sure, it’s just a clear plastic cube, but if you take off one side you can attach it to Soundwave’s chest so it looks like he’s manufacturing it. Folks, I have wanted a Soundwave figure that could do this since I first saw him do it on the cartoon. It’s a simple effect, but it looks great. Hmm…. Maybe that’s how I should keep him displayed.
Last up, you get a grid plate that attaches onto his tape door. You use this in conjunction with the two graphics that you can clip out of the back of the instruction sheet so it looks like Soundwave is using his tape door as a data monitor display. It’s another beautiful touch and if you’re handy with photoshop and a color printer, I gather you can make all kinds of extra things to have him display on there.
I’ll confess to having a lot of hesitation over buying this guy. Was he going to be that big of an improvement? Was he going to be worth the money? I’ll answer both of those questions with a big, “hell, YES!” Not only is he beautifully designed and executed, but there’s also not a single QC issue with mine, and with Takara lately, that’s a reason to celebrate. If you were going to hold my feet to the fire and have me come up with one negative about this guy, I would cite Takara’s overall scale (or lack thereof) for their Masterpiece line. Much like MP-10, Soundwave is just too big to comfortably fit in with the Autobots like Lambor or Prowl. That having been said, I still think the Autobots are perfectly sized for what they are and I’ll say the same for Soundwave here. They’re perfect on their own, but not really great for interacting with each other. I’m just not destined to have Prowl wrestling Soundwave any time soon, and I guess I’m OK with the decisions Takara made here. After all, relatively speaking these guys are scaled with each other about the same as the original toys were and when has scale ever been an acceptable constant in the Transformers Toy Universe anyway? But I refuse to end this feature on a gripe, no matter how petty. So I’ll leave it with this, My list of Ten Favorites for 2013 is right around the corner and, at the risk of spoiling anything, I’m pretty sure that Soundwave here has his place on that list locked down.