Monday, 24 February 2014

Soundwave (Transformers Generations: Fall of Cybertron)

Possible Autobot lair?

Series: Transformers Generations
Year: 2012

Company: Hasbro

I don’t remember Soundwave from my childhood. But over recent years he’s become one of my favourite Transformers. His robotic monotone, bizarre tape deck alt mode, navy and purple colour scheme and ability to shoot out smaller robots are all awesome. But I don’t care for his more modern iterations from series like Prime – and I wasn’t about to fork out big bucks for a G1 or Masterpiece version. But the Fall of Cybertron toy? Yeah…I could get behind that one.  

Soundwave’s bot mode is a reasonably good approximation of his classic G1 bot form, but it’s been updated enough that it doesn’t look super blocky and outdated. It will annoy some of the diehards, but I think that’s been the case with most stuff released since 1990 anyway. 

His eyes (eye?) are light-piped. This doesn’t work as well as it did for Starscream, but if you hold him at the right angle you can give him some cool laser-eye effects. (Pew! Pew pew pew!)
Articulation-wise, he’s got:

*double-hinged shoulders
*swivel-hinged biceps (though it’s split into two separate pieces on the arm)

*hinged elbows (ratcheted)
*hinged forearms (mostly important to transformation)

*cut wrists

*swivel-hinge hips
*cut thighs

*hinged knees (ratcheted)
*hinged ankles

As much as I loved the few Transformers I had as a child and teen, no-one could ever accuse them of being over-articulated.  Soundwave is very well articulated – his large feet mean he’s very stable, and you can get him into some good, deep poses. The only drama is that his shoulders are massive, so sometimes they get in the way a little. Still, a little manoeuvring of the various joints should short it will let you work around it on most occasions.

I would have liked his head to be able to move (though with the gun there it would have been tricky), a cut waist and his hands to open and close, but I’ll live. On the whole, Soundwave is an excellent bot figure.  

His alt mode…well, it was was always going to be a little controversial. Given that this is based on the Fall of Cybertron game – which in turn is set millions of years before tape decks were even conceived – it works from a story perspective. Rather than the much-loved tape deck, Soundwave has become a more conventional “Communications Truck.” Personally, I think the design is okay – and I prefer it to the jet mode that he often gets in other media – but what lets it down is its relatively plain colour scheme. It works on the bot, but not so much as a vehicle.  As a result, mine will mainly go into vehicle mode to reduce space size for storage.
The instructions aren’t in colour, and I found these a little difficult – to the point where I initially thought that he hadn’t been put together properly and I wouldn’t be able to transform him. I think Hasbro needs to go back to using words on their instructions too, or possibly colour images rather than the grey and purple ones currently in use.  

As a side note, there was another Soundwave released for War for Cybertron. It was considerably smaller and still changed into the communications truck – but it also had an undocumented feature which turned him into a very boom-box looking shape. This one doesn’t seem to have that ability, which is a little disappointing.
On the vibrant streets of Columbia

Soundwave comes with two accessories – his shoulder-mounted gun and Laserbeak. Lasberbeak is pretty cool as accessories go – rather than a cassette, he’s now become a “data disc” to better fit with the FoC aesthetic. He transforms into bird mode by pressing a button on his base.

The box and instructions also depict Soundwave with a second gun, which is hand-held. However, mine didn’t come with this – I spoke to a friend who also has this figure, and I think the gun was cut from the final release.
Personally, I think it would have been better if a couple more of the data-discs had been included in the set to sweeten the deal. Soundwave isn’t a small guy, granted, but $50AUD is still a lot.

Soundwave is a not a badly painted figure by any means, but he has the same issues that I mentioned in my previous review of FoC Starscream. There’s a bit of slop at some edges, some missed details and some odd choices in terms of casting colour vs paint. The job looks consistent overall and you won’t notice issues unless you’re looking closely – but as with Starscream, I think that a figure retailing for this amount should have a little more attention paid to it. 

Laserbeak has some splotches of red paint around his face and neck, but his paint is otherwise pretty good. The silver details are all picked out without any slop (though the Decepticon logo has a bit of wear already), which is particularly impressive considering how small they are.  

The main issue I had with Soundwave is that Laserbeak doesn’t fit particularly well into his chest, and the eject function doesn’t work very well either. I’ve only been able to fit him in once, it was a chore getting him out and I’m loath to try it again in case I break either of them. This doesn’t bother me as an adult, but as a kid it would have annoyed me immensely.

As I mentioned in my Starscream review, Hasbro is on to a good thing with the Generations line – they’re toy-ish enough for kids, but nice enough for collectors. Hasbro has just recently annoyed more Generations stuff for 2014, and I’m very keen—Acid Storm is definitely on my to-buy list.  

By these standards, Soundwave is a cool, albeit overpriced, toy. I found him eBay brand new and paid notably less than retail for him, and I would suggest you do the same if possible. While we’re hardly getting gouged on these figures, I still think they’re stretching the level of price acceptability.
Still, pricing aside, Soundwave is a great figure and comes highly recommended. If Hasbro keeps doing this line right, I suspect I’ll keep buying them! 

Soundwave was always sensitive if anyone found out that he liked to collect action figures -- it just wasn't considered fitting for a grown Decepticon.

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