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Transformers – Masterpiece Soundwave

We’ve all heard about the dangers of gateway drugs. They open a door that leads to a bottomless vortex of needing more, more, MORE, and suddenly nothing else seems as important. For many people who grew up in the ’80s, Soundwave was the gateway drug into the vast world of the Transformers. While they were all awesome in their own way, there was something about Soundwave that just connected with people on a different, more intense level, even people who wouldn’t normally be interested in something like this suddenly became interested in Soundwave. At the time, cassettes were the major music medium and we all had some kind of tape deck on which to play our cassettes, so having a Transformer that transformed into something that was actually meaningful to us on a personal level elevated Soundwave from mere novelty to something that transcended the figure itself. He was the “cool” transformer to own, and no Transformers fan could call themselves such if they didn’t own Soundwave. Soundwave became the iconic “face” of Transformers in the ’80s, more so than even Optimus Prime or Bumblebee, and, to this day, he is perhaps the most fondly remembered.

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When Takara announced last year that a Masterpiece Soundwave was on the way, a collective “FINALLY” was audible. Sure, there have been many Soundwave figures that Hasbro and Takara have released over the years, but none have come close to capturing that original magic. Until now, that is. Masterpiece Soundwave ignites all the same emotions and excitement the original did back in ’84. This is the figure we’ve all been waiting years for and hoping against hope we’d someday get. So Ibentmyman-thing, DisThunder, and I have come together here to not necessarily “review” this figure, because there really aren’t many negatives here to nitpick, but to share our thoughts on this fantastic figure. So read on and enjoy as we take a look at Masterpiece Soundwave.

Ibentmyman-thing

Soundwave was one of the better Transformers in the ’80s, and he’s now one of the, if not the, best Transformers out now. I remember having all the cassettes and waiting for what seemed like forever to get the main guy that completed the entire ensemble. The sheer cool factor of being able to slide one of the cassettes into Soundwave and closing him up inside has never worn off, and it’s just as fun now as it was then. His storage capacity has gone way, way up since then. Now that the big guy is here I’m eager to get the rest of the cassettes and load him up.

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Though the figure itself is a pitch perfect representation of who I consider to be one of the three most important Decepticons (along with Starscream and Megatron), it’s the little details about Soundwave that impress me the most. One of his most important and oddest duties on the cartoon was creating the Energon cubes that could be filled with sweet, sweet Energon, and now this figure can replicate that peculiar talent. It’s such a completely odd and out there inclusion, but it attaches perfectly to his chest, and though it’s not something I ever would have thought to ask for, I love that he can do it.

Additionally, there’s the little technical readout display panel that also fastens into place. I still need to print out some type of display to put in there, but the fact that I can is completely cool. The sensor you can snap on in place of his hand is another plus, and Megatron’s gun form is always welcome. Although it’s not a new addition to Masterpiece-styled figures, Soundwave is one of a very small number that should have the dubious honor of firing Megatron’s alt mode when Megatron is feeling too lazy to kill Autobots by himself.

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I think the one thing that really hits me most of all is a feature that isn’t even on Soundwave. Lazerbeak’s back-mounted twin laser cannons are no longer a separate piece that have to be connected after his transformation from cassette to robotic deathbird, but are actually part of his cassette mode. That’s top-drawer engineering.

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His robot mode is perfect, his tape deck mode is perfect, his articulation is stellar, it’s nigh-impossible to find anything wrong with this toy. It was expensive, but well worth it. In fact, I can’t think of a toy in recent memory that’s given me this much for my money. I’ve had Soundwave standing on my desk for about two weeks now with his cannon in one hand and Megatron in the other, and I can’t help picking him up and fiddling with him or just looking him over every once in a while. The toy buzz has not worn off yet. I’m tempted to dig through my childhood stuff and find the old round kazoo/harmonica-type doohickey that I used to talk through to emulate Soundwave’s unique voice. To my young ears it replicated the sounds exactly.

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Every fan of Transformers needs this figure.

DisThunder

Megatron didn’t exactly have it easy in G1.
“I’ve got morons on my team!”
Between Starscream’s magic combination of ineptitude, cowardice, and ego, and the rest’s special power of turning the most war-worthy alt-modes into a liability, it really shouldn’t be all that surprising that Megatron could only rely on the walking tape deck.
It doesn’t hurt that this tape deck has one of the most intimidating and iconic looks in Transformers. Add a legion of deployable minions he can call on for all manners of trouble, and you start to realize this stoic yes-man really does have the goods to be Megatron’s right hand man.

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I’m pretty sure if there were five names the fandom uttered after seeing Masterpiece MP-01 Convoy back in the day, Soundwave’s was one of the first two. It’s not for lack of representation — hell, is there anybody that owns G1 toys that doesn’t still own a Soundwave? Part of his allure was always just how good his original toy was: even compared to newer stuff, he had respectable articulation, good size, looked close to the cartoon, and, of course, the tape “gimmick.” Even as his alternate mode went extinct, Soundwave did what his Autobot enemies should’ve done — aged gracefully more like a classic car than consumer electronic.

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Still, there’s nothing wrong with updating a good toy from 1984, it’s what this hobby runs on these days. And when it’s done right… well, that’s why they call them “Masterpiece.”

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Soundwave wasn’t my favorite Transformer back in ’84. That distinction was shared by Prowl and Grimlock on a rotating basis, but Soundwave was definitely in the top 5. Now, I may still be in the “honeymoon” phase with my Masterpiece Soundwave, but not only is he now at the top of my favorite Transformers list, but this figure may be my current favorite toy ever, displacing the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime.

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The original G1 Soundwave was one of the fortunate few toys that was actually close in appearance to Soundwave as he was rendered in the original cartoon. The animators were known to take some liberties here and there with the characters when it came to design, but man, Soundwave was close. If you were collecting Transformers back then, then you remember wanting toys that actually looked like the characters did on the show. As close as Soundwave was to his television counterpart, he wasn’t perfect by any means. But now Takara has produced a figure that is exactly the figure we all wanted back then. I mean, he just looks so darn… perfect.

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There are few toys that bring me joy by just looking at them, but Soundwave is definitely one of them. Every time I look at my shelves and see him, a big, dopey grin slowly crosses my face. He makes me feel like I’m 10-years-old again.  As an adult toy-collector, I think that’s the mark of a toy that’s been perfectly executed because while I do collect many toys just because I can appreciate the sculpt, paint, articulation, whatever, it’s the emotional impact that will really separate the good toys from the great toys. And for me, Soundwave here is hitting all the right spots.

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And Soundwave isn’t alone — Lazerbeak is every bit as impressive as his buddy. He may even be a bit more impressive because he’s the same size as the original G1 Lazerbeak, but his transformation is so clever that he actually does look just like he did on the show. And he can perch securely on Soundwave’s arm so as to relay information he gathered while spying on the Autobots. I don’t know what else to say about it — it’s just so darn awesome. I can’t wait until the rest of his deployers are released within the next month or so, but for now I’ve got my United Ravage, Rumble, and Frenzy all keeping him company (Ravage is hanging out in his chest because he fits!).

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If you missed out on the Takara version, or feel it’s a little too pricey, the good news is Soundwave is coming to the US with all five deployers. All the details haven’t been released yet, so make sure you keep checking back for more information.

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