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Hasbro: Transformers R.E.D. Soundwave Review

Transformers that don’t transform is that divisive type of topic that can lead to bloodshed and name-calling. But this is the internet, where a puppet eating some fake eggs causes the world to shift on its axis.

I have always been on board with non-transforming Transformers. I even wrote an article about it a while ago, in a move that I can say with certainty is some type of god-like omniscience that proves I should have my own cult. Send monies for eBlessings and such. But seriously (ish), I do get it. Optimus was all “Transform and roll out” and not so much with the “Stand there for a couple of seconds and then roll out.” It’s in the name. It’s in the theme song. It’s in the way that you use it. It comes and it goes.

Added to that, I have been loving the recent War on Cybersiege and the Rising of Earth’s something or other line that has pumped out an awesome amount of actual transforming Transformers with G1 inspired whatnots. So I’m pretty much all over the place.

But when this Transformers R.E.D. Line was announced, I saw a streamlined, non-transforming, character-focused line at a good price that had the potential to go deep. As a bonus, it offered up some options that I’ve never wanted to do to the transforming versions: customs. Paintjobs on a more basic figure are much more appealing to me.

So to make an already long intro slightly longer by adding words to it, I preordered the initial batch of R.E.D. Figures as soon as they popped up on Walmart’s site, and then patiently waited through the multiple “your item has been delayed” emails that most of us got. When they finally, finally shipped out, I was positively verklempt with anticipation, and I’m not even sure I know how to be verklempt. There are no instructions.

It’s usually common to go for the two top dogs when reviewing these things, but I wanted to break it up and review Soundwave before I opened up Optimus and Megatron. He was the one I was looking forward to the most. Soundwave and Shockwave are probably my two favorite Decepticons, so I’m pretty happy that Soundwave made it out in the initial run instead of the maybe more expected Starscream. Not that I have anything against Starscream.

I was a little taken aback when initial images showed these figures to be even shorter than the brand new GI Joe Classified line. I was expecting them to be bigger. But the shock was short-lived. No doubt it’s a weird size, but then I don’t really need these to scale with anything. I’m not going to have Soundwave going out on a mission with Destro. They wouldn’t scale right even if these were taller. These are their own thing. And after that initial and admittedly irrational issue popped up, popped out and then popped, I realized I was fine with the size, and having it hand I’m fine with it here as well. As long as the scale within the line is good. Which, I guess we don’t know for sure if it is or not yet. We’ll see.

In keeping with the “Transformers as Marvel legends” type of thing they’ve got going on, Soundwave is very nicely articulated. Obviously there are a few areas that have to deal with the design, but they are minor issues. He has:

  • Ball-jointed head with a great range
  • Excellent shoulder range with bicep swivels and a slight butterfly joint (that doesn’t move a lot but there is some wiggle)
  • Double jointed elbows
  • Hinged wrists
  • Waist swivel
  • Excellent hip articulation
  • Thigh swivels
  • Double-jointed knees
  • A disc-hinge with the ML pivot ankle setup.

So overall, it’s quite a nice setup, and he poses very well. I didn’t find myself getting too frustrated moving him around. Optimus and Megatron probably won’t have quite the same setup—I’m kind of dreading Optimus and his hip situation, and I’m not spoiling it for myself by looking at advanced reviews—but Soundwave’s are pretty good.

For accessories, Soundwave comes with a pair of fists and a pair of trigger hands, the left of which doubles as an ejector hand. There is a button, and the chest does open, although it’s very weak so don’t expect it to flay open with any force. You have to open the chest manually after the latch unlocks. You can fit a single cassette inside, and he comes with a non-transformable Laserbeak in cassette mode.

It took a bit to get the gun in his trigger hand, but it’s not coming out once it’s in there. The shoulder-cannon isn’t a perfect fit, and there will be a little damage to the peg when you’re trying to attach it, but once it’s on it seems to stay put. Likewise, the hands are in solid once they’re popped in.

I don’t want to admit to how long it took me to realize that the shoulder cannon and his gun are both supposed to be batteries.

The streamlined look is obviously evocative of the cartoon over any other interpretation, and for a change of pace I really like it. It’s simplistic, of course, but with Masterpiece and the WFC figures I have other figures that scratch the hyper-detailed itch. Sometimes a nice, clean simplified design is exactly what you want. The paint is good overall, but his visor is a little messy in closeups.

After fiddling with this first figure I’m pretty excited about the potential for other figures. It’s a nice, clean, no frills figure that, while it doesn’t do anything mind-blowing in terms of engineering, is just pure action figure fun, and that’s all I need. I’ll be taking a look at Optimus and Megatron later in the week.