Release Date: December 2012
Price Point: $22.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Shoulder cannon, Buzzsaw
*Text below and images from Transformers.com
Restored to a fully functioning state by the loyalty of his minions, and the arcane science of an alien world, SOUNDWAVE takes a new name to reflect his new lease on life. No longer content to simply manage electronic warfare for the DECEPTICONS®*, he charges into battle against the AUTOBOTS, using devastating sonic attacks to disable and disorient his enemies, so that his minions can finish them off.
This dynamic duo of TRANSFORMERS figures will be your fiercest DECEPTICON villains yet! Your SOUNDBLASTER figure converts from dangerous robot mode to communications truck mode so he can launch his sonic attacks. At his side is the sneaky BUZZSAW figure, who ejects from data disc mode at the touch of a button to auto-convert to robot mode! Together they’ll make double trouble for the AUTOBOTS, and the outcome of the battle is all up to you!
Includes 2 figures. Series 1 002 SOUNDBLASTER. Ages 5 and up.
2012's "media event" for "Transformers" was the "Fall of Cybertron" video game. A sequel to "War for Cybertron", this game included Soundwave and his cassette minions among its cast. Appearing as he did in "War for Cybertron", Soundwave was a powerful looking robot who transforms into a "communications truck" mode. A version of this design was already released as a Deluxe scale figure in the "Generations" line he would later be upsized as a Voyager Class figure with a whole new sculpt. Staying true to tradition, this sculpt was given a redeco and released as Soundblaster an identity that goes back to the days of the Japanese Generation One "Headmasters" cartoon. In that series, Soundwave was destroyed, but brougth back to life by his cassette minions. History has repeated itself with the Soundwave figure being given a new deco as Soundblaster.
What is unusual is the way this figure was released. Instead of being released later in 2013 as a redeco in a different wave (as is tradition), Soundblaster was released in the same wave/assortment as Soundwave, making it one of the few times a Voyager Class figure has been available at the same time as its own redeco. Included with this figure is a redeco of the Laserbeak figure included with Soundwave as Buzzsaw. This review will focus on the changes made to these two figures for this release. For a more detailed look at the design, sculpt and decos of the original release, please read Soundwave's review.
In Generation One, Buzzsaw and Laserbeak were both the same sculpt with different decos. In all their various media appearances from comic books to the television show they shared the same animation model, just with different colors. So it makes sense that Buzzsaw here is a straight up redeco of Laserbeak with no retooling. It's a simple color swap, the black parts remain black while the red parts have been replaced with gold. This matches up with the color swaps performed between G1 Laserbeak and Buzzsaw (red to gold). The silver paint on the wings is done in the same pattern. What is different is the "circuit" pattern visible near the head. Instead of just being silver or some other color done in a pattern, it's a mixture of brown against a shiny gold color. Flip him over and you'll see even more of it. He looks great and stands out nicely next to Laserbeak as a different character. I do find myself wishing now in retrospect that the black parts had some paint on them either on the eyes or the beak etc. It's not a deal breaker, but those parts look a bit plain.
To convert him back into a data disc, push the head back, fold the tail over it and then push the wings in. To transform him back, press the button on the bottom of the disc and all his parts will spring open. In general, when you drop him from Soundwave's chest (more on that below), the ideal situation would be for him to land on this button and activate the transformation. More often than not however one wing will just pop open with you having to press the button to complete the transformation.
Data Disc Mode:
In this form the gold color shows off even more since all the gold parts consolidate down into the disc form. Focusing on the "circuit" pattern, the background of it is a gold paint that's more reflective than the plastic. The circuit pattern is actually the same as Laserbeak's, but in reverse and done in brown paint. Because the color and pattern are both so different, it actually took me staring for a few seconds to register it was the same pattern. I like this use of a mirror image as I'm sure it cuts down on production time/costs while still giving us a distinctive pattern for Buzzsaw.
When Generation One Soundwave was destroyed and rebuilt, he came back with new colors, as did the toy. His deco went from his typical silver and blue to a more black/red/gold oriented color scheme. This iteration of Soundblaster lightens the character up a bit (visually at least) by making dark grey his foundation color instead of black. This has the same effect of "darkening" the appearance of the character, but I don't find the grey color anywhere near as striking as the black. All the silver plastic parts remain that way including the forearms, feet and thighs while the translucent purple parts have all been replaced with translucent red. The translucent red is very true to the character of Soundblaster and looks great against the grey plastic.
The deco pattern on this figure matches Soundwave all the way not only in where the paint applications are but in some cases the actual colors. Like soundwave, silver is used on this figure to paint the mouthplate and the vents on either side of the the head. His torso has silver on the "claws" and the sections above the feet on the lower legs are painted gold. Gold is also used to outline the chest panel which also has a Decepticon symbol in the center. There are some different colors used however. Yellow appears in place of purple on his forearms. The end of his cannon barrel is painted red here instead of gold. Finally, the waist panel is painted dark grey in front to match up with the plastic that makes up most of the figure. Going along with the "gold/yellow" theme, his eyes are cast in translucent yellow plastic, which has light piping that works pretty well when put up against a light source.
All the joints on this figure are just as tight as Soundwave's, which isn't a huge surprise since this is only the second run of this figure and from the looks of it, they produced both at the same time.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach the cannon if attached and set it aside for now.
- Pull the back panel all the way out.
- Push each fist into the forearms.
- Straighten out the robot arms and swing them back so they are horizontal.
- Swing the arms up at the shoulder hinges, making sure they connect to the sides of the figure (there's a peg and hole that match up).
- Swing the wheels on his back forward.
- Swing each forearm up against the shoulders.
- Swing the back panel out to give some clearance for the robot legs.
- Swing the waist piece back and the legs forward.
- You will need to rotate the wheel pieces on the legs to match them up with the arms, forming the sides of the vehicle.
- Swing the panels from the shoulders in towards the center to cover up the robot head.
- Push the top most part of the chest panel up, using the tabs on top to fit under the panels from the last step.
- Push the back panel up and onto the top of the vehicle.
- attach the cannon to the top of the vehicle.
With all the parts condensed down into this vehicle form, the dark grey panels really make that color the focus of the vehicle. However, you also get a better look at the translucent red wheels, which offer a nice contrast to the dark color. The silver parts from the robot mode such as the feet, "claws" in front (on the sides) and the panels on the sides help break up the colors as well. The paint scheme on this figure is exactly the same as Soundwave's, it just uses different colors here and there. On the sides, the sections over the wheel wells are painted silver and in the front the three central claws are also silver, matching up with Soundwave. The small "chair" on top of the vehicle is painted red, just like Soundwave. Another section where he mirrors Soundwave's deco is the back, where his vents (or thrusters if you prefer) are painted gold. Gold is also used around the edges of the translucent red panel in the front of the vehicle. Where Soundblaster uses different colors than Soundwave are the details on the sides including the section with triangular patterns. There, Soundblaster is painted yellow instead of the purple used on Soundwave. On each wheel, the rims are painted a dark gunmetal grey. This color is darker than the one used on Soundwave's wheels and seems to have been chosen to better align with the dark grey plastic that makes up most of the vehicle.
I do find myself wishing that at least one deco pattern was changed. Perhaps some type of deco on the shoulder panels to come together in the front, or maybe something on the sides, under the cannon section. I can't say this looks bad because it doesn't, I would have just personally preferred more of a change in deco pattern from Soundwave. That said, it is very distinctive looking and certainly doesn't look like a retread of Soundwave's colors in any way. As a redeco it succeeds, but it could have looked cooler.
This is a natural redeco of the Soundwave sculpt, but not as awesome as it could have been with darker and more heavily contrasting colors. It's also a bit disappointing that the deco patterns were kept the same as Soundwave, however I suspect the upcoming Blaster figure that uses the same base sculpt will do a much better job of changing up the colors and retooling. If you're a completist, then you can't pass this up, otherwise I'd treat it as a consolation prize if you can't find Soundwave.