Ravaging my childhood in a good way

Mar 29, 2011
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:classic designs, inclusion of 3 fantastic Transformers

Cons:very rare, none of the articulation found in current designs

The Bottom Line: If you get Soundwave it's probably for the nostalgia of the 80's design. To that end he is practically flawless.

There are so many things I love about Soundwave I may end up having to write a book to explain them all. It started with the cartoon, of course. I loved his character in the show: his voice, his demeanor, his track record. Starscream could be an idiot and Megatron was so megalomaniacal that he frequently got embarrassed by Optimus. Soundwave, on the other hand, rarely failed. It was him and his minions that often made it possible for the Decepticons to even contend with the Autobots.

As I grew up I became a fan of minions – just the concept in whatever application. I don't know if that's because of Soundwave or if they are both born from something else in me. I love playing necromancers in games bringing an army of my undead minions against my foes. Soundwave has his tapes, and like him they almost never failed. There were other groups like the combiner teams, but Soundwave was the only one with his own private army (until Blaster and his similar Autobot minion team, that is).

Even better was that these minions had strong personalities. What would Transformers be without Rumble, Laserbeak, and best of all Ravage? They were great characters, and I was fascinated by the concept of such different bots transforming into the same basic tape shape.

Today on Whine Time: “Never Having Soundwave.” As a kid I never got my hands on a Soundwave except for when I visited friends that had him. I had been looking for one to add to my shelf in later years, but the prices were more than my penny-pinching heart could bear. Imagine my delight when he was re-released! I was frustrated by the difficulty in acquiring one, but I obviously eventually did.

This re-issue is fantastic. He looks exactly like what I remember. Many of the others in the recent Classic Transformers line have been updated or reimagined, but not Soundwave. The main difference between this and the original is that he comes with Laserbeak and Ravage who were not included in the original package though Buzzsaw who did come with Soundwave originally is the same design as Laserbeak. It was actually Ravage who tipped the scales for me to do whatever it took to get my hands on this reissue.

The box itself is quite nifty with a velcro door and large window. If you prefer to display your Transformers in the packaging this will be one of the nicest looking ones on your shelf. The front and back artwork might just be the best I've ever seen on one of these packages.

I guess technically Soundwave is a micro cassette recorder though he could also pass as a walkman. In essence he is a rectangular box with some buttons and decal details. I suppose he might not look all that impressive to someone who doesn't have the memories of these kinds of devices. He just kind of sits there looking inconspicuous.

Most of his buttons don't do anything, but he does have an eject button that opens his chest. His tapes fit inside making him look even better. His chest has a different design from what I remember of the original. That one only held 1 tape at a time, but with the new one both Ravage and Laserbeak can fit inside at the same time. This means that the door protrudes out from the chest more than the original.

I guess he doesn't really look authentic. It's easy to look at him and instantly know he's a Transformer rather than a real tape deck (although I believe there is a real, working version of him out there). That doesn't much matter to those of us interested in his nostalgia value.

Like the tape deck the tapes don't really do anything except look harmless. One side has decals to make them look more like real tapes while the other side looks more robotic. These guys are more about taking the shape of tapes than really hiding their robot parts. Limbs and heads are visible.

So, again, nobody is going to mistake these for real tapes even at a glance. That doesn't keep them from being cool, though.

These guys are exceedingly simple to transform. The steps are few and uncomplicated. You might have to work with Ravage's legs just a little, but it won't be any big deal especially if you handle any of the more complicated figures.

Soundwave is pretty stout, but the tapes have some thin parts. You might want to be careful with that I've known designs similar to Ravage's to break easily. I have never felt like these were so flimsy that they were on the verge of breaking, and they don't take any effort to move, but I can see rough play wreaking havoc on them. These aren't as forgiving as newer designs.

Old Transformers used to have a lot more accessories than the typical ones today. This was fun for options, but it often meant loose pieces to keep up with. Both Ravage and Laserbeak have shiny silver additions. These fit into the round tape holes in robot mode but just sit around loose in tape mode.

Soundwave has two primary weapons: one is a hand-held gun and one a shoulder-mounted cannon. What is uber cool about these is that they become batteries that fit into a realistic battery compartment on Soundwave's back.

The hand-held one has a detachable silver tip. It locks into place and is released by pushing a button but doesn't fire like the spring-loaded types common these days. The tip doesn't have a place to go in tape deck mode so it just sits off to the side with the tapes' weapons. The package comes with 3 tips, but they all look exactly the same with nothing else to do with the others so I've never taken them out.

This is where I'm really going to spend a lot of time talking like an excited little kid who just got exactly what he wanted for Christmas. The robot form of Soundwave is beyond description for those of us that grew up with him. He looks just exactly like the original which looked pretty much exactly like the cartoon version.

He's blocky and broad-shouldered which gives him a more menacing look than you might expect from a tape deck. His alt form may look inconspicuous, but his robot form looks like he's ready to beat you to a bloody pulp or maybe just blast you into next week with that wicked shoulder cannon.

As you would expect the tape door is his chest allowing him to easily release his tape minions. His head is detailed and distinctive. His feet are strong and support the figure well. He's very easy to balance.

If you're used to the current lines of figures you might not be quite so impressed. He has very little articulation. His shoulders allow him to raise and lower his arms easily and provide a little outward motion. His elbows bend. His head moves side to side and can look up.

He has some hip and knee movement but not anything that lends to posing the figure. You could get him into a comical sitting position, but otherwise he's going to pretty much stand straight up.

His hands are little more than lumps of plastic with holes in the middle and have virtually no detail. They hold the gun well so as far as functionality they do what they need to.

It would be fun to be able to pose him as if he were pushing his own eject button (as he often did in the show). I've tried balancing Laserbeak on his outstretched arm or shoulder, but that didn't work out well. So posing is limited. Even so he looks regal in his stiff, straight stance – like he's daring you to make a move.

Laserbeak the tape becomes a condor. The coolest thing about him is his head design and yellow eyes. I was never particularly impressed with the look of his wings as they don't look like natural wings. His wide feet are molded into solid plastic which keeps them from looking as cool as real feet would but make him extremely stable. You can't knock him over without flipping him completely over.

His wings have a couple of joints. His neck has a joint at the body and one at the head. His head can raise and lower but not look side to side. So, again, while he might not be as impressive to someone used to current designs which often feature more articulation and detail he looks like the original G1 figure which is really what so many of us were wanting.

I've saved the best for last. Ravage is one of my all-time favorite Transformers. I might or might not have bought Soundwave if he hadn't been included, but for Soundwave + Ravage there was no question.

Like the others he can't really match more contemporary figures for detail and articulation, but he is the best of these 3. His head has a little detail and yellow eyes but no ears. His legs have a fittingly cat-like shape, and while they are shiny silver rather than black plastic they are darker than I remember from the old one.

His joints all have up/down - forward/backward movement, no side to side. His head and neck are all one stiff piece with a single joint at the body. The same goes for his tail.

Each of his 4 legs has a shoulder, elbow, and ankle joint. They allow for some good poses. I've had him walking, pouncing, and standing straight. Despite being so thin with legs so close together he balances well. He's easy enough to knock over if you bump him, but he doesn't wobble as much as I would think.

If you're a fan of the original G1 line of Transformers I can't imagine you not being completely pleased with Soundwave and his crew. This is as true a blast from the past as a reissue could possibly be. As I've said a few times, if you like the current designs you might be disappointed with the detail and articulation. My only real complaint is how hard he was to find. He was definitely worth the effort and is one of my most prized shelf pieces. 5*

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