If you’re a fan of the Transformers cartoon series that began back in 1984, chances are you had Decepticon baddie Soundwave knocking around in your toy box. Well, we’re here to tell you that you didn’t.
Because, really, that wasn’t Soundwave. It was obviously supposed to be him. But there was something… off about the whole figure. In fact, many of the early Transformer toys suffered a similar discrepancy between the screen and toy versions. We still get night terrors thinking about the toy of Megatron. That was scary in a wholly unintentional way.
With that thought we’ll introduce you to the Masterpiece line: updated toys aimed at collectors, replicating your favourite characters exactly as they appeared on screen and in comics – the toys you wanted as a kid, in other words. And Soundwave is the first of these we’ve had the pleasure to review.
First thing’s first: the box. It’s heavy. Like, really heavy. This is always a good sign. Of course we ripped that shit open like a kid at Christmas (stuffy, hands-off collecting is punishable by death on this blog) and out poured a half-ton of plastic like the heaving guts of a freshly-smashed toy Piñata. You get:
- Soundwave, obviously
- Rocket Launcher and Concussion Blaster weapons
- Clip-on sensor
- Chest Panel readout thing
- Megatron gun
- A featureless plastic cube, for some reason.
Add to that a flabbergasting five cassettes, complete with tape cases and accessories:
As with the original toys, Rumble and Frenzy are clones of each other – but don’t ask us which is which. That’s a whole can of worms we don’t want to open right now and the rather ambiguous instructions are no help – so it’s up to you. We’ve called the purple one Rumble, and the red one is Also Rumble.
Soundwave himself is superbly articulated while still maintaining that stocky, boxy look from the show. A slab of die-cast metal in each foot gives him a nice weight and makes posing less tricky. Pressing the “eject” button on his shoulder pops out the door on his chest with a tape loaded and ready to fly out. You can stuff up to three of the little buggers in there at once, as the back wall of his tape compartment shunts forward to load each new tape into place. If you want your Soundwave to be battle-ready, you can swing his shoulder cannon up from its storage position on his back. It’s pinned on a bendable arm so you don’t lose it. His hand-held rocket launcher can fold and store in a similar fashion, and both guns pack away neatly when he turns into Walkman mode.
Transformation is quick and intuitive, and if we’re honest, not much more complex than the original 80’s toy. Is that good or bad? Who cares? Everything slides and clicks sharply into place, and that metal we talked about earlier gives the tape player mode a cool-to-the-touch, deluxe feel. It was at this point we learned the tape controls are actually clicky, pushable buttons. Pointless, but nice. We’re so easily amused here at TMW.
Now we’ve got to mention the tapes. These guys are awesome. We suspect more time was spent on these guys than Soundwave himself during the design process – this is some seriously clever shit. Our favourite is easily Laserbeak, who back in the 80’s required some clip-on rocket boosters (and some imagination) to complete his transformation into bird mode. That’s not the case anymore: bird, rockets and all fold up into a neat little package, sort of like you were trying to find the most economic way to post a condor. It’s genius. Rumble and Frenzy get enormous piledrivers that slip on to their arms, but also double as batteries for Soundwave. Amazing.
The only (and we mean only) point of contention is that wallet-pummeling price. You have to ask yourself if you’ve got £120 spare for a kiddies’ pretend tape player. If this were a normal Masterpiece release, we’d baulk at the cost. But this set wins us over – just – on virtue of being a generous, heaping, bumper amount of pure plastic crack.
“Post a condor”