Alternate Mode: Station Wagon Car
Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Soundwave & Laserbeak for this review (I have since acquired Soundwave & Laserbeak).
Note: this is a case fresh review - I've just opened this toy
Height: 5cm (8cm with Laserbeak loaded) Length: 12cm (15cm with Laserbeak) Width: 6cm
A midnight blue wagon with black windows and ceramic green painted details, Soundwave sports a gold Decepticon logo on the hood and various other gold highlights. The tyres and hubcaps are black, with ceramic green circles on the hubcaps. The major car details such as headlights and doorhandles are sculpted but unpainted - this isn't lazy, rather a thematic decision which I'll come back to. The colours don't really fit into the classic Soundwave concept, but the theme does. At any rate, the very light ceramic green and very dark midnight blue compliment each other well, and it's nice to see something different here. The windows are actually transparent, although you're only going to see this if you hold him up with a light source behind him.
It's not something I've really ever noticed, but looking at this car makes me realise that Transformer _wagons_ are very rare - Cybertron Red Alert (and repaints) is the only other one that springs to mind. He's your surfer/hot rod wagon - aerodynamic and low to the ground, although without the flames. There are musical themed details all over this car. The button console seen on the G1 version's groin is on the front bumper - in gold. There's a "power" button painted on the roof, also in gold. The doors have a sculpted "boombox" with speakers flanking a cassette door, the rear door features a graphic equaliser. There are green elements on the boomboxes, however the EQ is unpainted. Laserbeak fits into this theme nicely - his alternate mode is an electric guitar, which can plug onto the roof, the stand cleverly becomes the bird mode feet.
There are no gimmicks here, but Soundwave's theme is done well, and plugging Laserbeak on adds some play value. He rolls well on his wheels, and fits together very solidly.
A nice vehicle mode, more for the innovation and theme than for tribute or play value. The theme is a refreshing tribute, the colours are something different and it's nice that we get a wagon rather than yet another sports car. While I don't generally like the unrealistic alternate modes we see in Animated, the theme here certainly justifies Soundwave's lack of realism. Despite his stylised look, Soundwave is based on a real vehicle - the Xion XB (thanks to KilljoyBob for this info).
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Detach and set aside Laserbeak. Fold down the buttons on front, and then under the car. Split the front, rotate the halves around to form boots, flip down the roof sections to form feet. Swing the rear wheels down, swing out the doors forming arms, drag the rear fenders down to form shoulders. Flip up the robot chest and pivot up, clicking into place (something Hasbro neglected to do in their promo pic, above), flip out his head and hands.
Height: 13.5cm Width: 11cm
Again Soundwave is mainly midnight blue with some ceramic green highlights. His faceplate, the false tape door details on his chest and his feet are gold while his thighs are black and his eyestrip red. The face - and its colours - are a clear tribute to G1. The black rear tyres sit on the front of his upper arms, resembling speakers. Again the colour scheme is both innovative and attractive, with a little more actual tribute this time.
Again we see a lot of musical elements, this time in a more traditional format. The tape door on his chest sits above a button rack on his waist - and it's not the same one as in car mode. The psuedo-speakers are a nice touch. The gold feet are reminiscent of the die-cast feet on G1 Soundwave, if not especially musical. The hands are strange flat affairs which look bad at the end of his long arms. Sean Adamchick & Mike both pointed out that Soundwave can "hold" the guitar - well it can plug into the insides of his arms. Basically, the pegs on the main body can plug into the insides of his forearms, allowing for a "playing" stance - the other hand will simply rest on the neck of the guitar.
The proportions are typically weird, although he lacks the long chin of many Animated toys. The arms extend down to the ankles, the chest panel is wide and sticks out notably while the legs sit apart, thanks to weird jointing in the knees. There's a kibble block behind his head, which has woofer-esque green circles on either side of his head - so it's well integrated kibble.
The poseability here is reasonably good, with some caveats. His head and waist turn, the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while his elbows have a hinge above a ball joint and the wrists hinge inwards. The hips and knees are ball jointed but there are inwards-swinging hinges below the knees which force Soundwave to stand with his legs apart - and his legs bent inwards. There are hinges on the ankles but they're for transformation. There are no heelspurs since the windshield sits on his heels - this, along with the weird knees, affect the leg poseability. The wide chest panel gets in the way of the shoulders. You can plug Laserbeak's feet onto the outside of either forearm and the chest plate can pivot forward, simulating the tape door opening.
The robot mode shape is odd, and this gets in the way of his poseability, but again Soundwave's musical theme is well handled. The colours again work, and this robot mode really nails the tribute. I've heard reports of loose leg issues, although that's not an issue on Goktimus' Soundwave. A decent robot mode, which would have been a great one if they'd ironed out the joints and bothered to give him proper hands.
A black 1980s style electric guitar, Laserbeak's body is essentially arrowhead shaped. There are red painted areas on the body and headstock. There are six moulded strings, six moulded machine heads on the headstock (the knobs). For the first ever Transformer guitar, this is a damn fine effort.
Transforming him consists of collapsing the neck and splitting the body, swinging the halves out to the sides to form wings and reveal the bird head underneath.
The condor mode is surprisingly well formed, and the guitar sculpt doesn't detract at all. The head is well sculpted, the legs are tiny. I'm annoyed that the eyes are left unpainted - even if we couldn't go for gold seen in G1 (and there _is_ gold on Soundwave), surely they could have given him red eyes. Otherwise, this is a solid bird mode.
None that I'm aware of. Electrostatic Soundwaveis a repaint with a new sidekick.
Soundwave's best aspect is his innovation. The colour scheme is something different, the choice of a wagon is something different, the musical theme is interesting and very well executed and Laserbeak's guitar mode is something we've never seen before either. I'm impressed by both alt modes, even if the main feature of the play value is the fact you can attach one to the other. Soundwave's robot mode's proportions get in his way, affecting his poseability, and the hand design is just plain poor - although the mechanism for him to hold Laserbeak helps offset this. Overall, this is a good toy, with a lot of innovation, despite the usual odd proportions getting in his way - 8/10