"Generations" Cybertronian Soundwave Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: September 2010
Price Point: $12.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Cannons x 2

*Images and text below archived from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
SOUNDWAVE is one of the most sophisticated electronics and communications experts on CYBERTRON. His body is heavily armored and shielded to protect the sensitive communications gear hidden within, where he stores every byte of information he collects. He is a living storehouse of secrets. No one trusts him, but everyone understands that the data he holds could destroy them all.

Turn the tables on the good guys when you throw this warrior into the fight! Your CYBERTRONIAN SOUNDWAVE figure is dedicated to destroying any opponent. If robot combat turns into a chase, take his "cannons" of his storage compartment and convert your villain into armored vehicle tank vehicle mode. His cannon accessories mount on his vehicle hood to make him a virtually unstoppable fighter!

Battle-ready robot-to-vehicle figure converts from robot mode with "weapon" storage to armored vehicle mode with "cannons" that mount on the vehicle hood -- and back again! Ages 5 and up.

Long before coming to Earth, the Decepticon Soundwave was considered one of the most powerful Decepticons, said to rival Megatron himself. To celebrate his appearance in the "War for Cybertron" video game, Soundwave joins the "Generations" line in the form he had back on Cybertron.

Robot Mode:
Several of the "War for Cybertron" designs attempted to synthesize the classic Generation One aesthetic and the more angular and jagged designs from the live action Transformers movies. This is very evident with Soundwave's redesign, which manages to combine this new aesthetic with some very classic features.

Unlike the Transformers from the live action films, Soundwave does not have a lot of panels overlapping machinery that peeks out from underneath. Instead, he has several angled and jagged sections of metal that give him a sleek and dangerous appearance. This is most evident on the upper body, where his already angular head is flanked by shoulders who two large pieces of shoulder armor that angle up and towards the center of the body. His forearms are very angular if you view them from the sides and you'll even find his feet go from wide to narrow in the front and look more sleek than blocky. Even his knee armor is thin and angular. Take a look at the panels on the sides of his legs and you'll find more angular sections carried over from the vehicle mode. Not only do these pieces play nicely with the aesthetic of the character, but they also relate to another design influence: the Decepticon symbol. In many ways, the way his shoulders angle up and his head design are reminscent of the top section of the Decepticon symbol. This is interesting as the original Soundwave's head design was the basis of the now iconic Decepticon symbol so this brings his design around full circle.

Sure there are new fangled details on this figure, but at its core this is still Soundwave, and not a Movie Soundwave or a weird Beast Wars 'gator Mutant thing, so certain elements have to be carried over from that iconic design from the 80's.

First, his head sculpt is very faithful to the G1 head design, complete with a crest that has the double tip on top (just like the Decepticon symbol) flanked by two pieces on either side of his head that come up over the helmet portion of the head with visor eyes and a mouthplate. It's such an iconic look that it even carried over to the Movie Soundwave figure (albeit a bit altered).

Soundwave's chest design is also right out of the original, with a rectangular compartment that looks just like the one from the Generation One figure. Of course, there were no Earth micro tapes on Cybertron ages ago, but he does retain many elements of his "future" cassette player mode. The chest panel is outlined by a thin border and it can swing open. Instead of storing cassette robots inside, you can store his cannons inside. This is a wonderful way to pay homage to G1 Soundwave while finding a creative way to store his weapons in vehicle mode.

Thanks to the clever design of the cannons, once you close the chest panel they appear like cassette spools through the window. At the same time, each of the weapons is designed with one flat end and one extended end in the chest to resemble AA batteries, just like the weapons from the original Soundwave figure. Even better? The weapons are not just two copies of the same cannon. One cannon has a flat end with several holes sculpted into the front while the other has a flat end that slides out for the robot mode. This triangular end is directly based upon the design of G1 Soundwave's missiles that plugged into his cannon in robot mode. It's not often that weapons on figures get this much attention, so I am quite impressed by the work that went into their design and their fidelity to the source material.

I've commented on much of the design elements added on for this interpretation of the character, but it is also worth noting that a lot of these design aspects accurately reflect the design of the character from the video game. Other aspects carried over from the game includ having vehicle mode wheels on the sides of his legs and the three "claws" right under his chest compartment. Indeed, perhaps the only bits of his design that don't necesarily carry over from the game are the way his vehicle mode wheels hang on his back and to some degree his weaponry since you pick up weapons in the game, thus causing the arm configuration to change. Still, I much prefer these classically designed weapons instead of something new.

Just as his design is classic, so are Soundwave's colors. He is sculpted in blue, silver and translucent purple plastic. Blue and silver are of course, two of the classic Soundwave colors and they look fantastic here. The two colors alternate between parts such as the torso to the thighs. Where the parts are molded in blue plastic, some silver detail is provided via silver paint applications. The silver paint is also found on the cannon end that extends outward as well as on his mouth plate and feet. A lavender color that simulates the purple glow that eminates from parts of Soundwave such as the arms and knees in the video game. Also simulating this "glow" is the translucent purple plastic found on his chest and weapons. The cannons are actually cast mostly in the purple plastic with silver ends. The cannon barrels are painted blue except for the middle where a line of the translucent plastic peeks through. A bit of gold is used for the outline of his chest compartment and in the center is a silver Decepticon symbol. Interestingly enough, his eyes are painted red here, which fits in with his Generation One cartoon appearance, but actually does not jive with his game appearance where his eyes are yellow. now sure this is technically inaccurate to the CGI model in the game, but somehow I don't mind. I think the red looks a lot more fierce than yellow and I'm (not so) secretly hoping this sculpt gets a redeco as Soundblaster, then we can have yellow eyes if need be!

Soundwave has seventeen points of articulation in this mode (not including the ability of his chest compartment to open up). It's a pretty standard number, but what's great is that they are mostly a combination of ball and swivel joints, allowing for a wide range of movement. Particularly useful is his wrist articulation since his weapons kind of push up against his forearms a bit. Technically you can swap his weapons so either one can be next to his head while the other is in his fist, but you can also have each held in his fists. The more traditional design is having the cannon with the "point" held in his hand while the other is attached next to the head.

Quite simply, this is a stunning robot mode in design and appearance. It pays proper homage to the original character, maintains fidelity to the CGI model and is fun to play with to boot.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach both weapons if attached and push the silver end of the hand held cannon in.
  2. Swing the fists against the forearms.
  3. On the back of each shoulder armor piece, swing back the blue, angled plastic piece.
  4. Raise the arms and swing the wheels on his back forward, then point each of the "claws" by the wheels forward.
  5. Swing the robot shoulders in so the two panels you moved in step three cover the robot head.
  6. Straighten each arm so it points back, then swing the forearms forward on the elbow hinge to connect them to the front wheel well section.
  7. Unclip the waist section from the center of the body and swing it back.
  8. Bend each robot leg at the knee.
  9. Unclip each foot and rotate themn around and swing them back.
  10. Connect the two legs together.
  11. Swing the leg sections over and connect them to the front section.
  12. The weapons can be stored in the chest compartment or attached to the holes on either side of the vehicle towards the back.

Vehicle Mode:
Taking a bit of a cue from "Transformers Animated", Soundwave appears to be a fierce looking Cybertronian SUV type vehicle. With his blocky design and fierce front end he looks like a vehicle designed to do damage! Among my favorite details are the claws on the front of the vehicle with the chest compartment section right in the middle. It's so iconic that even if you've never seen this toy before, you'd probably recognize it as Soundwave right away. It's also worth noting that his pointed knee armor pieces wind up on the back of the vehicle hear, coming very close to the ground. It seems like whatever the front claws don't finish off, these rear "claws" will!

While he is sleek and has a ton of detail (especially along the sides and back of the vehicle) his basic, blocky shape harkens back to the tape deck form of Generation One Soundwave. I also noticed that he has angled details sculpted into the sides of the wheels that vaguely resemble the outline of the Decepticon symbol. This is a great touch that also acts as a visual allusion to his head design.

The same colors from the previous mode carry over here, but thanks to the prominance of the wheels, you now get to see a lot more lavender paint on the sides. The blue and silver colors consolidate a lot more here, with blue making up a bulk of the vehicle's top and sides while silver makes up a lot of the front end, and the lower half of the sides. Overall, it's a really nice looking color scheme that evokes the feeling of the in-game character model and looks fantastic on its own.

I really like the way there are two ways to utilize the weapons in this form. You can have them set up as external weapons on the sides or just store them away in his chest compartment. Either way they become part of the vehicle mode, which is always a plus when you don't want to lose parts!

There is a bit of a variant on the vehicle mode, or more like a "half way" mode between the vehicle and robot. As part of a gag, there was a video put out with Shockwave and Soundwave from the "War for Cybertron" game where Soundwave actually did transform into a tape deck/boom box mode and began to play "The Touch" by Stan Bush as Shockwave battled! You can view the video here. It was a fun video, but what's more fun is that you can turn Soundwave into this "unofficial" form from vehicle mode. Just follow these steps:

  1. Lift up the foot panels and swing the legs back.
  2. Swing the robot waist section forward on the central hinge.
  3. Swing the front wheels back.
  4. Rotate the robot feet around.
  5. Swing the robot legs up so the bottom of the feet press up against the sides of the arms.
  6. Rotate the rear wheel sections around so the wheels point out to the sides and look like speakers in the front.
  7. Use the claws attached to the front wheels to balance the "boom box" so it can stand upright.

The "Boom Box" mode is a really cute "undocumented" feature and I think it looks fantastic. If you watch the video linked above, this really does look a lot like that and I think the use of the wheels as speakers is utterly brilliant. If you have the weapons inside the chest compartment, he looks like he's playing a cassette tape too.

Final Thoughts:
This is one of those "no brainer" figures to me. If you're a fan of Transformers and enjoy new interpretations of classic characters, this figure belongs in your collection. Highly recommended!

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