Series: Japanese Generation 1
Function: Intelligence Officer
Alternate Mode: Microcassette Recorder
CASSETTE DECK MODE
Height: 8cm Depth: 5.5cm Width: 10.5cm
A black and silver microcassette deck, Soundblaster shares his mould with Soundwave and is in fact a later version of the same character. While the technology may be dated, this is a classic Transformer form. He's mainly black with a largely silver front. At the centre of the front is a transparent red cassette door, which sticks out about a centimetre. He has a button console sticking out below the door with four chromed silver buttons (none functional), and a button above the top left corner of the door which opens the door when pressed down. The right corner has a tape counter sticker and a small protrusion simulating the reset button.
The area immediately surrounding the door is black, although most of the face is a silver plastic. The speakers are moulded into the top corners of the face, in silver, and are labelled "R" and "L". There's blue stickers on the sides towards the bottom, the left one says "STEREO MICRO CASSETTE RECORDER", the right side saying "REC/BAT" with a simulated red power LED. There's more controls on the sides of Soundwave's recorder mode - there's a dial on the left, presumably volume, and a slide switch on the right, most likely power. Neither actually do anything of course, but they both move, which is enough to keep me happy.
Like Soundwave, Soundblaster's cassette door opens, but rather than holding just one cassette there's enough room in this compartment for two cassettes. The original came with Buzzsaw and the recent reissue comes with Buzzsaw and Ravage. The packaged cassettes have their tape window stickers replaced with little white stickers that provide a schematic of an Autobot (Fortress Maximus, apparently) when viewed through the red plastic. It's not much more than a tech spec decoder really, but it's nice they added this feature. The door itself has some circuitry moulded onto the top right corner and a panel on the top left.
The back of the recorder is almost entirely black. It's largely robot mode kibble with one notable exception. The central piece is a battery cover - slide it off to reveal the "batteries" - the robot mode shoulder cannon and missile launcher. This is a really cool feature, since the missile launcher actually compacts to form a battery.
This is a fun alternate mode, and the double tape capacity increases the play value without being awkward. Granted, the microcassette recorder is almost resigned to history now, but older G1 fans will appreciate this cassette deck.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Fold the sides down and rotate forward to form the legs. Fold down the feet. Swing the arms out to the sides from behind, lift up the head and rotate forward. Slide out the fists. Lastly, remove the shoulder cannon from the battery compartment and mount it on his right shoulder, extend the missile launcher, load a missile and place in his hand.
Height: 18cm Width: 11cm
A boxy black and silver robot, Soundblaster has silver forearms, thighs and a silver groin. The central black section from the recorder mode is now his chest. The door protrudes as his chestplate while the button console forms his groin. The door button is on his left shoulder, his cannon on the right. Again in this mode the door can open and two cassettes can fit inside.
He has a black head with silver mouthplate and yellow eyes. The robot form is very close to that of Soundwave, with the black swapped for blue and the red door sticking out further. The face is pretty much identical and this really feels like the same character. Since the centre of the door needs to be clear for the schematic gimmick, Soundblaster's rubsign is on the outside of his left shoulder - and is only visible in this mode.
Soundwave had good poseability for his time and Soundblaster inherits this. The shoulders rotate 360°, the elbows bend and the head turns. The hips can swivel, allowing his feet to point outwards. Most of these joints are really there for the transformation, but essential or not, the end result is still a poseable Microman based Transformer. The knees only bend forwards, so the legs aren't all that poseable, but overall it’s still good. The missile launcher fires only a token distance, but it also looks pretty good as a gun, so I can forgive the weak launcher.
The feet are die-cast metal, as are the pegs connecting the shoulders and the hips (although this is less obvious). Combine this with the fact they bothered to design a battery compartment for his weapons and it's obvious they paid attention when designing this toy.
A good robot mode that portrays the character quite well, although I suppose one could claim it's almost the same as Soundwave's robot mode, which is a little boring. Still, the added play value and good poseability make this a good robot mode and Soundblaster's main attraction is the added capacity, so I'm happy it's still available here.
Sold originally with Buzzsaw in the 1980s, reissued in 2005 with both Buzzsaw and Ravage & again in 2012 with Enemy and Wingthing. The reissue also comes with two Microman style cassette cases. I can't comment on differences from the original since I've never seen one.
A nice update on Soundwave, Soundblaster has nice colours similar to those of the original version. Whether or not you'd want to get both toys depends on how much you like the concept really, but this is a good mould and if you don't have Soundwave this is a pretty good substitute. Soundblaster himself never appeared in Anglophone cartoons or on shelves outside Japan, so this is really a toy for the more dedicated fan. As a set the reissue is a great pack, and it certainly helps that it comes with two of the better cassettes - 9/10