Thursday, 14 November 2013

Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave Review

"Cries and screams are music to my ears"


That was my first expression on getting this figure - woah.

Hasbro have really outdone themselves with this set. You get Soundwave, all 5 cassette-bots, tape cases for all of them, Rumble and Frenzy's pile drivers, a sensor device, an alternate chest piece that can be used to display readouts, a gun mode Megatron and an Energon cube that can be attached to his chest. Incidentally, the Energon cube was an Amazon exclusive in Japan.

Its a lot of stuff, all at £120ish. When you consider that the Takara Soundwave cost £150 or so at most online retailers - it becomes clear just how much of a bargain it is.

What makes it even sweeter,  is that in the UK the box is the same as the American version. Which means that we, the originators of the English language - actually get full English text on the box and in the instructions.
No multi language nonsense. Well done Hasbro UK, please keep it up, pleeaaaaaaaase. We speak English, in fact its our language, so we don't need French, German, Spanish, Italian and whatever other languages you can squeeze in there.

The box itself is the first of a new style of packaging for the Masterpiece line in the west. Gone is the clear plastic craziness, and in its place is a sleek, classy box. The Decepticon logo and Soundwaves name are embossed on there, and the cover slips off. They have even started renumbering the Masterpieces, as Soundwave is "MP-02", though in reality (and Japanese numbering) he is actually MP-13. Which is kinda fitting, as Soundwave was always one of the creepiest Transformers.

The box feels expensive, which is crucial really with such an expensive set. But enough about the box - we want to talk about it's contents.

Which is all of this lot

Well not all of it, not yet at least, as I am going to review Soundwave first, then the tapes in a separate post.

There is just way too much to talk about, so hit the button below to continue on with the review, and to see lots of photos

Robot Mode

Soundwave is a big bot. He is a little shorter than MP 10 Optimus Prime, but a bit bigger than Masterpiece Sideswipe and Red Alert. He is suitably chunky, though not heavy. He doesn't feel too light, as the die cast feet help to add a bit of weight, and he feels very solid.

The proportions on the figure are also spot on, he looks exactly as Soundwave should. He is blocky, but at the same time sleek, and he looks tall. He does not suffer, as some figures do, from odd proportions anywhere. Everything is sculpted perfectly to a degree that he looks like he just stepped out of the cartoon.

The only things that don't look like they came from the cartoon, are the panels on the sides of his legs, which form from the bottom/sides of the tape mode. But its such a trivial thing and I think they actually add a nice bit of extra bulk and detailing to his lower legs.

His buttons are nicely detailed, as are his shoulders. The detailing on the shoulders is only minor, but again it adds a bit of detail and the paint apps are nicely applied.

The detailing continues into areas you would not expect, such as the forearm panels which open up to conceal Soundwaves hands. There are speaker details molded into the panels, and they even go so far as to have "R" and "L" molded into them - to signify right and left.

These are the small touches that help to make the Masterpiece line such a favourite.

It adds a lot to the already impressive level of detail on the figure. What is great about the detailing on Soundwave is that most of it is so subtle. Its not intrusive, like a lot of the Hyper Detailing we see on modern toys and Transformers in particular. The details are there, but they smoothly blend into the sculpt.

His gun is also fairly great, with a small degree of transformation in its own right.

Articulation is as great as you would expect from a Masterpiece figure. He does everything you would expect, and then some things you probably would not - such as the articulated cannon on his shoulder which can pivot up and down and is permanently attached to Soundwave. On the original figure, this was a piece that you detatched and was stored in the battery compartment. Its also one of the most frequently missing pieces of many original G1 Soundwave figures.

There are very strong clickly joints on the hips especially, but there is nothing loose and all the joints are really tight.

In this review, you wont find much if any mention of QC as the Soundwave I got is near perfect. That is so rare in any type of figure, that I may just sit back for a minute and ponder that.

The tape door does open and can store 3 Cassettes. There is a button on the back which enables to push them forward to eject them, which is kinda cool. But in practice, I have found the tapes, mainly the bird themed ones, sometime get stuck,and they are really difficult to get out if they do get stuck.
There is no space to get your fingers in, and it can be quite tense.

The head looks up and down, and can turn around 360 degrees, he has ankle tilts, articulated hands with a separate forefinger which has an extra joint at the knuckle. What this means, is that you can have him press his own eject button, as he was want to in the original cartoon to send his cassettes on a mission.

That is Soundwaves most iconic pose and it is great to see it represented here.

The elbows are double jointed, there's ankle tilts, wrist swivel, waist swivel, knee swivel....a lot of swivelling for Soundwave. Maybe they should have named him Swivelwave? (Bwahaha!)

The one strange bit of articulation is his legs at the thigh. The move forwards, as a result of the transformation joint, but they cant really move backwards. Its not a problem but does slightly limit posing. However, even this can be gotten around by rotating the upper legs below the thigh.

Basically, there ain't much to complain about.

The headsculpt is excellent, and is another thing lifted directly from the cartoon. However, whereas the Takara version had a red visor, as it was also in the cartoon, Hasbro switched it to yellow to echo the original toy which also had a yellow visor. In the Marvel comics, Soundwaves visor was yellow there too so he can be your toy or comic Soundwave - the choice is yours.

Its a very minor change, and it does look great. Obviously, this will annoy some folks but it honestly looks great.

Speaking of nerd rage, he does come with the tiny silver paint app on his head crest. This was also on early runs of the Takara figure, but it was changed at some point causing mass wailing on the internet.

Soundwave maybe should also have come with a tissue for people to wipe away those tears...

The yellow visor is almost the only thing that is different to the Takara version, or at least its the only thing I can spot.

Whilst I wont talk about the tapes I will talk about the accessories - because he comes with loads.

First he comes with an Energon cube which is another iconic (I am using this word a lot today) item from the cartoon. Its a clear plastic box, that you can put a piece of pink paper in to make it look like its full. You can download that from Takara here.

In the show, Soundwave used to produce the Energon cubes from his chest and never one to miss a trick - Takara recreated that ability with this figure. Well, sort of.
You see, another of Sounwaves many accessories is an extra chest plate that allows you to snap the Energon cube to it.

Its a good looking piece, and just clips on to his tape door - so its a faux tape door attached to the tape door.


One of the other features of this clip on piece, is that Soundwave comes with a readout that you can place behind it to recreate another one of Soundwaves abilities in the G1 cartoon.

Its not something I imagine many people will use often it all, but it shows the level of thought that Takara put into designing this figure. Virtually every base is covered in some way.

The last two accessories are a Megatron in gun mode, and a device which replaces his fist with a "Sensor"

Now, I remember this sensor device from an episode of the cartoon, but I cannot remember which. It is nicely detailed, and is a cool extra, that you cannot complain (though I know some will) about it being chucked in. The Sensor can store on his back in robot mode and also Tape Deck mode which is kinda neat.

The Megatron gun is the same one which came with the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime, but shrunk down. Unlike Soundwaves own gun, it does not have a peg to fit in the groove of his hand. Though he still manages to hold it securely, but it is not anything we have not seen several times before.

Mine will forever live inside the box though.

Tape Mode

Transformation to robot mode should be familiar to anyone who has ever transformed the original toy.

Legs fold up, arms swing back and you are done.

Well okay, theres more to it - but not much. The transformation is brilliant intuitive, managing to walk the line between being simple but with an element of complexity - it is a Masterpiece toy for collectors after all.

So, there are some parts on the sides of his lower legs that fold up and form the sides of the tape deck. These can be a little tough to fold up, and you may feel like they are going to break - but they should be fine.*

There is also a neat bit of transformation involved with the button section folding down to give him a waist, but I am finding it really hard to explain, whilst drinking all this anti flu medicine.
Yes, drinking it.

*Liam cannot be held accountable for any breakages you encounter here!

That's Soundwave right?

In the end, you end up with a great, blocky Cassette player which looks perfect. It is exactly what Soun dwave looks like, perfectly recreated in toy form. He looks simple, but like the bot mode its deceptively so as theres lots of little details which become more apparent the more you look at it.

All of the buttons can be pressed, and do have a springy feel to them. There is a little molded counter just above the tape door, but its not painted so its easy to miss. A fake red battery/record light has also been stuck onto the front - just to complete the illusion.

But its when you look at the sides that the detail gets kinda mental.

Look at those pictures and you will see, a volume switch, an on off switch, an SD card slot, a couple of other memory card slots, inputs and outs and a variety of other things that I have no idea what they are.

Seriously it is nuts.

See that rectangle at the bottom, with the two circles? That is a port for connecting Frenzy or Rumbles Pile drivers to, to recreate the scene in Transformers the Movie where Soundwave transforms to play back Lazerbeaks transmission.

Sadly, I messed up here and never took a photo of it - but I assure you its cool. Its another extra that they thought to include, though its not something many folks will even notice let alone use a lot.

The top of Soundwave also has a headphone jack, and continuing the crazy detail - you can actually plug a set of headphones into it.

Just ask Batman.

The back of the alt mode is probably the most disappointing aspect of this figure.

On the original, the gun and shoulder cannon, slotted in behind the belt clip as batteries. However, on the Masterpiece figure, they are just clearly visible.

It doesn't really diminish the figure in any way, its just a little disappointing. When you think of all the effort they have gone to, to include some of the most obscure features he demonstrated in the cartoon - it seems odd that this was left as it is. Particularly when you consider that in Tape Player mode you can even store Rumble and Frenzys weapons in Soundwaves feet!

You can add the sensorehere, but it being silver makes it really stand out.

The alt mode is fairly great, as it nails exactly what it is supposed to, which is Soundwaves original mode. Whilst this is great as a collectors piece, it does not make for the most exciting toy in the world, so there's not much play value.

That is until you add the cassettes to it obviously.

It is kind of hard to go into great detail on the alt mode (that has not stopped me trying), as it is mostly just a box.

Masterpiece Soundwave is the perfect example of what the Masterpiece line is now all about. There is an incredible dedication to show accuracy, with extremely high levels of quality and articulation. This is the most perfect version of G1 Soundwave we are ever likely to get - which is the point of Masterpiece.
In terms of action figures, I would go as far as to say it is one the best I have ever owned, purely for how it achieves everything so perfectly.

But then I gush about most figures I buy, as I tend to only buy figures I will like - though occasionally I do end up with a dud.

In the end, if you have not bought this figure already, then get out to Toys R Us ASAP and pick it up as it is already becoming hard to find.

Massive props to Hasbro for putting out such an incredible set at a relatively decent price.

Now to write that Cassette review....

Follow my rambles on Twitter @Incapable_Hulk

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