Series: Music Label
Alternate Mode: Microcassette recorder - and a working MP3 player
Thanks to Excelon Zero for loaning me Soundwave for this review (I have since acquired Soundwave).
Height: 5.5cm Depth: 3.5cm Width: 8cm
A blue and silver microcassette recorder designed to closely resemble the original, Soundwave has a blue cassette door with five blue buttons below it and silver on the bottom, with various blue and silver on the other sides. There's a silver Decepticon logo on the door and a grey door release button on the top towards the right (as you look at him) of the door. It's a pretty decent scheme and is unmistakably Soundwave. There are actually three versions - one is all white (to fit into the iPod aesthetic) and another black (to match Soundblaster), but I'm going to concentrate on this version since it's the one most collectors will purchase.
The player is noticeably smaller than the original, and it's also a lot lighter since it lacks the die cast metal of the G1 toy - although he does have electronics inside (and potentially a AAA battery). The door is no longer transparent, although it does allow some light to pass through - it is slightly cloudy at best. There are five buttons - back and forward on the top row with smaller volume down, play/pause and volume up on the bottom row. Understandably, these buttons aren't too similar to the non-fuctional buttons of the original - which didn't have to work even be practical.
The play value here - if you could call it that - is of course the ability to play music. Soundwave's tape door opens (when you press the button) revealing a slot for a 1GB miniSD card (apparently a 2GB card can also work) - which works out at around 275 songs at a standard 128kbps. There is no display nor any advanced functions. The supplied earphones plug into a hole on top - the hole where his shoulder cannon attaches (a nice touch). I'd recommend purchasing both Soundwave and the Music Label Earphones since from a collector's point of view, although I'm not sure that the combination would be that durable for using whilst commuting. I'm pretty sure Excelon Zero does actually his while commuting, and I can't see any wear on this Soundwave - and that's despite the fact that there's a _lot_ of silver paint here.
It's really quite cool that we finally have a Soundwave that can transform _and_ play music, and to be honest that's the real appeal of this alternate mode. I wouldn't really say it offers anything as a from a Transformer point of view that the original doesn't - and it cannot hold the cassette Decepticons - but the MP3 ability is nice. Personally, I have 30gb of music so I'll stick to my iPod, but I really do appreciate the functionality of a MP3 player which works as Soundwave.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Swing the sides down, unclip the arms from the back, rotate the hips back then swing the legs down. Flip out his feet and heelspurs. Slide the panel on top back and his head will pop out. Slide the shoulders forward, rotate the forearms into position, plug the shoulder cannon (with 3.5mm plug styled post!) into the socket on his shoulder and, if desired swap his closed fists for the open ones, allowing Soundwave to hold his gun.
Height: 14cm Width: 9cm
A blue robot with silver forearms, feet and thighs, Soundwave has a silver mouthplate and red eyes on a head, and this is again clearly Soundwave. There's some grey on his wrists, elbows and knees where the silver paint would wear fairly quickly. The tape door is his chest, complete with the well placed Decepticon symbol. The shins are smooth rather than the broken-up insides of the original - which still works. The front of the shoulder cannon has six red dots - which match the eyes. It's a very good representation of SOundwave despite the change in eye colour.
The MP3 player is contained in the torso here, so you could still use it, although you'd have to remove the shoulder cannon. The gun - which is no longer a functional missile launcher - is a single piece with a false missile painted silver, and is very faithful to the original, even down to a false extension in the middle. On the left side the text, "DESTRON SOUNDWAVE << WAVE BLUSTER>>" has been printed in white. You gotta love Japlish sometimes!. Soundwave can only hold the gun in the open fists, which is annoying because the wrists joints are fairly tight - you'd be putting a lot of stress on them swapping fists all the time (on a borrowed toy, I'm not even going to try!).
The poseability is good here - his heat turns while the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides. His elbows have balls _and_ hinges, which allows him to touch his hands to his shoulders - very unusual for a Transformer. The wrists are also ball joints while both the hips and knees have two joints, allowing a full range of leg motion. The feet and heelspurs cannot overextend down, which would provide a little more support, but Soundwave is stable in a lot of poses anyway since he's fairly light.
A really poseable robot mode which looks good if maybe a tad simple compared to the original. My main complaint is the handling of the fists, which renders one weapon surplus to an extent - and also increases the likelihood of misplaced fists (one of G1's worst aspects). Despite these setbacks this is still a good robot mode, all the more impressive that it contains a working MP3 player.
As mentioned, he came in three colours. The white version is almost entirely white with a cloudy white door and metallic blue feet, shoulders, fists and head. The black version has a transparent purple door but is mostly a straight swap of blue for black. Despite the obvious link, it's Soundwave and not Soundblaster. Soundblaster has a protruding red chest anyway.
A novel toy and a nice collector's piece, but at ¥10000, he's quite pricey for a very simple MP3 player. Visually this is an impressive toy and the robot mode poseability is fantastic. I'd recommend the blue one unless you're a real fan of Soundblaster (who is the same character, mind you), but considering that many fans would never use the MP3 functionality, I'm not sure that Soundwave represents value for money as an action figure - so I'd only recommend him if you're already interested. Had the price been a little more competitive, I would have snapped this up - 8/10 (and most of the lost points relate to value for money at retail price)