"Robots in Disguise" (2015) 3 Step Changer Soundwave Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Combiner Force, Decepticon, Prime, Robots in Disguise (2015), Three Step Changer

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Soundwave General Information:
Release Date: May 2017
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: None

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Experience the excitement of conversion in 3 awesome steps, with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Combiner Force 3-Step Changer figures. To convert this 3-Step Changer Soundwave figure from robot to tank, swing the arms up and over and flip the legs behind the head in a smooth Hyper-Vault motion. Imagine charging into battle with figures that change modes in 3 steps! Scan the Decepticon shield on this figure to unlock a token in the mobile app (see below for app details). Soundwave is the ultimate spy, capable of locating any enemy. The treacherous signal stealer can detect any Autobot transmission and mask his own signature to avoid detection. The Autobots may not realize the Decepticon has targeted them until it’s too late. Join the battle with this figure based on the Transformers: Robots in Disguise animated series. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Three Step Changers were introduced early in the "Robots in Disguise" toy line as a way for younger kids to enjoy simple figures on a larger scale. Previously in "Transformers Prime" most larger Transformers figures aimed at young kids didn't really transform at all like the "Titan" figures (not to be confused with the Titan Class). Most 3 Step Changers have been Autobots, but in 2017 fans had a chance to add a Decepticon to their 3 Step roster: Soundwave!

Packaging:
The Three Step Changers are packaged in a cardboard box with an open window. There is no clear plastic blocking you from poking at the figure at the store, though it won't do a whole heck of a lot. The front and side features artwork of Soundwave as he appears in the television show in his new body. The back shows the figure in its various modes with transformation instructions, but there are no tech specs. Instead there's a boatload of safety information in different languages. It also features instructions on scanning the symbol on the figure to interact with the mobile Transformers app.

Robot Mode:
The character of Soundwave was a key player in the "Transformers: Prime" series. In that toy line he was a Deluxe figure and Legion Class figure. He even received a strangely wonderful "Beast Hunters" figure. This form was a very different look than fans were used to seeing. "Transformers: Prime" Soundwave was thin, tall and kind of lanky (but still very powerful). The character appeared in the same form in "Robots in Disguise" this past season, but was then disappeared. However, he is not gone. The character's voice has been heard in a couple episodes, so we know he is still scheming against the Autobots!

What we do not know however is just how Soundwave looks...until now! In an unusual twist, Soundwave has been released as a figure before his new animated form appears on the TV show. First a Warrior Class figure was released (to be reviewed at the time I am writing this review) and then a 3 Step Changer version. An Activator Combiner version is due to be released later this year. Each of these feature the character in a form that appears to be heavily based on his "War for Cybertron" design. If you subscribe to the "Aligned" continuity where "War for Cybertron" represents the past of the "Prime" and "Robots in Diguise" series, this makes perfect sense since Soundwave would be reverting to his "original" form.

Unlike his "Transformers: Prime" form, Soundwave is now bulky and more G1-esque. That is not to say he is blocky. The designers have struck a really nice balance between having him look sleek and powerful at the same time. For instance, his chest is more of a trapezoid-like shape that comes to points towards the bottom instead of just being a rectangle like G1 Soundwave. His shoulders have armor that come up to points on top and his knee armor comes to points on the top and bottom. Several of Soundwave's details carry over from the G1 design. These include:

  • The head design is based on the Decepticon symbol, complete with a crest that comes to two points on top with additional points flanking that area.
  • The right side has a shoulder cannon on it with small rockets (non-launching of course) sculpted into it.
  • The waist area has several details that look like buttons on an old radio (such as "Play" and "Stop"), but they are stylized here so they look like design embellishments.
  • The chest features a panel in the center that is a homage to the cassette compartment in G1 Soundwave's chest.

Overall the sculpt looks great. Of course, to accommodate the 3 Step gimmick there are always some design sacrifices. In this case the shoulder cannon looks like it is missing a piece in the back due to being on a hinge. Also the forearms appear to be missing chunks on the inside (again, to accommodate the transform). While not ideal, these sacrifices hardly ruin the figure.

Soundwave is cast in dark blue and red plastic. Dark blue makes up most of the figure, with red used for the wheels. Red paint is used on the face, cannon and forearms. Grey paint is found on the torso, thighs and lower legs. A bit of black is used on the chest and shoulders. One of the nicest designs is a yellow outline on the chest that calls back to details on G1 Soundwave's "cassette door". The finishing touch is a scannable Decepticon symbol on the center of the chest. There is actually a good amount of paint on this figure for being a 3 Step Changer. For the figure class, I think it looks great.

The only articulation on this figure are the forearms, which can move up and down. Each fist has a 5mm port, allowing you to attach weapons to it. In terms of play factor that is it since most of the "play factor" of the figure is in the transformation.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the forearms back.
  2. Holding the large panel on the back, pull it out, then up and over. The figure will pretty much collapse together.
  3. Each forearm can be raised a bit to slip over the tabs on the sides.

    Vehicle Mode:
    Like "War for Cybertron" Soundwave, this version is a powerful looking armored vehicle in its alt form. Like the "War for Cybertron" version of the character, this one features a lot of chunky, blocky sections like the front end and cabin section. The very front features the same "cassette door" detail (sculpted and colors together) as the chest has in the robot mode. Sculpted on either side of the vehicle are cannons like the one from the robot mode. There are some nice smaller details including a vertical row of three headlights on either side and thin windows in distinct, angled shapes. While there is not a ton of intricate detail on most of this vehicle, it looks great. I love how bold and powerful it looks, and the callbacks to "War for Cybertron" are a very nice touch.

    This mode is mostly dark blue plastic. Red paint is used on the windows and the rockets inside the weapons on both sides. Red is also used to paint the headlights. Yellow outlines the "cassette door"-inspired detail in the front while black is used to color the middle. Overall the colors are good in this mode. The only detail I would have liked to have seen added would have been a Decepticon symbol in the front and maybe some color on the rear lights.

    Unlike many recent releases, there is no 5mm port on this vehicle, so there is nowhere to attach additional weapons. The figure does, however, roll nicely on its four, chunky wheels.

    Final Thoughts:
    3 Step Soundwave is aimed at younger kids, and I think they will be thrilled with the figure. He manages to look bulky and sleek at the same time and there are some great callbacks to G1 Soundwave. Recommended for younger fans.

    Pros:

    • Good sculpt in both modes.
    • Good deco (by 3 Step Changer standards).

    Cons:

    • Lack of articulation.
    • Could use more deco.