Alternate Mode: Station Wagon Car
Thanks to griffin for loaning me Soundwave & Ratbat for this review.
Height: 5cm (8cm with Laserbeak loaded) Length: 12cm (15cm with Laserbeak) Width: 6cm
A charcoal wagon with transparent red windows and blood green painted details, Soundwave sports a gold Decepticon logo on the hood. The tyres and hubcaps are black, with red 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 are essentially a tribute to Soundblaster. This toy is a repaint of Animated Soundwave, just as Soundblaster is a repaint of the original Soundwave. This repaint has a very evil look, and looks quite striking.
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, with only small flames on the hood - these red flames have been added for this repaint. The button console seen on the G1 version's groin is on the front bumper - in grey. The doors have a sculpted "boombox" with speakers flanking a cassette door, although most of the music theme of the original Soundwave is lost here. Ratbat can sit on the roof, in bat mode.
There are no gimmicks here, but Soundwave's theme is done well, and plugging Ratbat on adds some play value. He rolls well on his wheels. This toy - well griffin's at least - doesn't fit together very well, unlike the original.
A nice vehicle mode, more for the innovation and theme than for tribute or play value. The music theme is gone, replaced by the blood red evil theme providing a Soundblaster tribute. While I don't generally like the unrealistic alternate modes we see in Animated, the wagon is innovative. 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 Ratbat. 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 black with some red, although there's less red here. His faceplate, the false tape door details on his chest and his feet are grey 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, and while it's dark, there's still that blood-red evil theme here.
There are more of the musical elements now. 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 hands are strange flat affairs which look bad at the end of his long arms. Ratbat's guiatr mode can plug into holes inside either forearm, allowing him to hold and "play" the guitar. He doesn't hold the neck end, mind you.
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. The colours work well although he loses the musical theme - and for that reason I prefer the original's robot mode. 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 keyboard-guitar with grey (not white) keys and the R=head of Ratbat as the guitar's head. He has red painted eyes and a grey face. The sculpt is excellent and details (beyond what you'd expect of Animated), with lots of buttons and dials.
To transform him, pull apart the halves of the guitar, he'll ratchet open. Rotate the head into position and you're done.
A very wide bat which uses the keys as his wings, and who can perch on top of the wagon or on Soundwave's forearms. It's a nice idea within the Animated style, and while the colours don't really link to G1 Ratbat, the tribute is obvious.
None that I'm aware of.
Soundwave's best aspect is his innovation - the wagon mode and Ratbat's guitar mode are both unusual. The colour scheme isn't quite as good as that of the original but it provides something different along with a nice tribute to Soundblaster. I'm glad they included a new sidekick here, giving this repaint something genuinely new. 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 Ratbat helps offset this. Overall, this is a good toy, with a lot of innovation, despite the usual odd proportions getting in his way - 7/10