"Movie Advanced" Soundwave Toy Review
*Official photos are from Amazon Japan.
The "Movie Advanced" line of "Transformers" figures not only featured characters who appeared in "Age of Extinction", but also characters from other movies in the live action series such as Dispensor. In the case of Soundwave, the character first appeared as a satellite in "Revenge of the Fallen". However he played a much larger part when he came to Earth in "Dark of the Moon". While he did appear at mass retail as a Legion Class figure in that toy line, the planned Deluxe version of the figure was never released in mass quantities in the U.S. On card samples of this figure are known to go for over $100 on ebay, putting it out of reach for many fans.
However, in the "Movie Advanced" series Takara Tomy decided to give this figure another release, this time with a new deco and without his "Mech Tech" weapon. This deco was originally intended for the "Movie Trilogy" segment of "Dark of the Moon", but it was never released. "Movie Advanced" gave Takara Tomy the chance to finally release this figure. You would think this would drive prices down on the collector's market, but nope. At the time I am writing this review there are still "Dark of the Moon" Deluxe Soundwaves up on ebay for $100+ and this Soundwave is averaging $65-80 since the run of "Movie Advanced" figures was fairly small and a second run is unlikely. That's not to say this sculpt won't be used again but for its first two releases at least it has proved to be an "in demand" item.
This Soundwave figure is based on the character's second form in the live action movie series. Whereas he appeared as a satellite first, he would later adopt a vehicle form with a new robot mode design. The result is a robot mode with some unique features that also incorporates vehicle mode parts into his form. Perhaps the most traditional aspects of his design are the head and chest. The head design is largely based on the G1 Soundwave's head. It's as if the designers took his features and exaggerated them. The two pronged crest in the center of his head is raised much higher on his head than say, G1 Soundwave and he has antennae on the sides of his head coming up a tad higher than his crest, reminiscent of the triangular designs on G1 Soundwave's head. He has thin visor eyes but unlike G1 Soundwave he has a mouth with some nasty looking teeth inside! For those wondering if this is also based on the Decepticon symbol you're on to something. It has often been speculated that the Decepticon symbol was based off of Soundwave's head design when Hasbro was planning the toy line in the 80's.
The other aspect of Soundwave that feels very traditional is the chest piece which is made up in part of the front end of the car. Several Autobots in the G1 series had the front of the car mode as their chest and this continues that tradition. His chest is a rather complex set of details including pieces of armor that appear to wrap around his body but the car details come through in the form of his distinct grille with a cross hatch pattern and the Mercedes Benz logo on top of the grille.
Soundwave may reflect some aspects of old skool Transformers design but he also features a lot of the key details from the movie's CGI model. Two of the wheels from the vehicle mode wind up behind his head, his forearms have distinct disks on them and his waist has a raised cone shape. Overall I really love the detail in this sculpt. There's a lot going on here and it looks fantastic.
The first release of this sculpt attempted to replicate the look of the character from the movie so he was largely silver. For this release however the designers decided to go a different direction. Soundwave is mostly cast in black plastic with some parts such as his eyes cast in translucent orange. Silver is the primary paint color used to give him details. You'll find it on his head, forearms, thighs and feet. A touch of gold is used on the waist and some red can be found on his lower legs. What's interesting to me is that on paper this isn't the most distinctive set of colors, but I do get a bit of a Soundblaster vibe from it and the silver is used in just the right amounts and places to keep the figure from looking dull or unfinished. Soundwave looks appropriately dark and scary with this color scheme and I like it a lot.
There are fifteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes four in each arm and three in each leg. There are a few ball joints including the shoulders and hips. However, the arm articulation is a bit restricted because the piece with the vehicle mode wheels is attached to it and folds down against the top of the body. Don't get me wrong, you can still move the arm partly out to the sides and swing them back etc. but it's not as unrestricted as other Transformers figures with ball joints on the shoulders. While Soundwave doesn't come with any weapons, he was originally designed as part of the "Mech Tech" assortment of Deluxes in "Dark of the Moon" so he has plenty of places to attach them. The armor panels on his shoulders each have a 5mm hole and both his fists can hold 5mm peg weapons. He also has "C" clips on his legs which were very common at the time compared to nowadays.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Straighten out the arms and legs.
- Swing the chest panel down.
- On the back pull the cabin cover section back and push it down lining it up with the windshield piece.
- Swing up the panel (previously hidden) with the car grille on it.
- Push the robot head down.
- Push the arms down a bit so the panels with the wheels don't interfere with the front of the car coming together.
- Rotate the panels with the headlights so they point forward.
- Push the central panel of the hood down.
- Move the panels from the robot shoulders into place to fill in the rest of the hood.
- Swing up the forearms against the upper arms then tuck them under the vehicle. The larger disks should face the bottom and the fists should wind up in the area under where the robot head is sitting.
- Pull the panel on the inside of the lower legs out a bit then swing it down, straightening it out.
- Push each of the robot feet up.
- Swing the leg panels forward and push the door panels into the sides.
- On the back swing in the panels with the rear lights on them and attach them to the pegs on the translucent orange section.
Soundwave is a licensed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in vehicle mode. One of the cool aspects of a licensed vehicle mode is that it pushes designers to meet design standards that the licencor has a say in. This generally leads to a good representation of the real life vehicle in toy form, and this figure is no exception. The sculpt has many of the design aspects of the real life vehicle including:
- A relatively long front end that ends in a distinct curve in the front of the car.
- Headlights that look almost like angled eyes sweeping back.
- A distinct front grille with the Mercedes-Benz logo in the middle and a bar extending out to the sides. Behind that is a distinct crosshatch pattern.
- The side of each wheel has five thick spokes set in a star pattern.
- Behind the front wheel well are two distinct raised lines sweeping back.
- The top of the hood section has two vents, each set at an angle sweeping back.
- The outline of the doors hints at the "gull wing" style doors which swing up to open on the real life vehicle (but not on the figure).
- Each door has a handle on the middle that you would grab onto in order to pull the car door up.
- There is a Mercedes-Benz logo on the trunk.
- The rear lights have a thin, curved design that come to points at either end.
- The exhaust pipes are trapezoid in shape.
Overall the sculpt is very impressive. He has most of the major details of the real life car and it looks sleek and sporty.
Most of the front and back of the vehicle are black plastic in this mode. Translucent orange makes up the entire cabin cover section. Silver paint is used on the grille, headlights and the sides of the wheels. The rear lights are painted red. Black paint is used on the top of the translucent orange to complete the illusion that it is part of the car's solid colored top section. The translucent orange windows really contrast nicely against the black plastic. The big deco on this figure comes in the form of metallic silver paint (which seems to have a slightly blue hue to it). This color is used on a very cool pattern starting on the hood leading all the way to the top of the vehicle. Inside it are hex shapes leading to a more solid color in the middle. On top of the hood is a Decepticon symbol in black. To me it looks a lot like Soundwave just "Trans scanned" this form and we're seeing him in his final conversion into that form. It looks awesome and I actually prefer it over a more flat silver pattern (even if it's not "screen accurate").
It doesn't look like it, but Soundwave has two 5mm ports on the top of the vehicle. They are cleverly hidden since each hole has a piece which spring sup when a weapon isn't attached. It really helps keep the vehicle from looking like it's missing a piece.
After finally getting to review a version of this sculpt I am really bummed that this figure hasn't seen a more massive release. It's not perfect, but it is super cool and looks awesome in both forms. The robot mode looks complex and frankly kind of evil and the vehicle form is a gorgeous representation of the Mercedes-Benz.