I remember being just as surprised as I was excited when news of a Masterpiece Soundwave actually came through a few years ago. Looking back on it now, it was kind of unexpected. He’s really the only other Decepticon to come out of the Masterpiece line sans a whole mess of Starscream retools and the all but forgotten MP-05 Megatron.
This is Toys R Us’ exclusive release that came out back in 2013; I remember waking up at ungodly hours to hit my nearest store on bike just to get a chance at him. Unfortunately they were always short-stocked, and someone would always be waiting in line before the store opened to grab one before me. After a week or two I just caved and paid a bit more premium to buy it online. I recently checked the price for this set and it’s doubled ($320~), so at the very least I feel better for buying it when I did.
Classic (literally) mini-cassette player mode. Not quite an iPod, but I’ve always liked Soundwave’s iconic alt mode a lot, to the point where I used to carry his original G1 toy out in my pocket when I was in elementary school and pretend I was the baddest kid on the block because I had a cassette player that was actually a Transformer.
Even non-functioning switches are molded into the sides of the cassette mode – the classic silver dials can actually move and rotate, but they (obviously) don’t actually activate or control anything.
Totally inconspicuous. What hip joints? What foot hinges? This is 100% an ordinary run-of-the-mill mini-cassette system, silly.
The cassette window opens with a push of the silver button, though unlike the original G1 toy it can’t actually pull down and extend any farther than shown.
A really neat feature is how Soundwave’s inner cassette-accepting block can actually be pushed back several notches into his chest cavity, to allow more cassettes to fit. There’s a switch on the back that progressively pushes the block forward one notch at a time when pressed, so you can have a snug fit of up to three cassettes (I think) inside at any given time.
The actual cassettes fit fairly well, though sometimes they can be caught on the roof of the cavity when the door opens. When this happens, you can get it loose by just turning Soundwave upside down, closing the door, and opening it again and letting gravity do its thing.
Several of Soundwave’s accessories are also compatible with him in his alt form, including Rumble and Frenzy’s pile-drivers.
The headphone jack on top is also actually a working headphone jack…sort of. You can plug things into it, but don’t expect to hear anything.
Real talk though: Soundwave looks damn gorgeous on his feet. Maybe it stems from the fact that his G1 toy basically stood like a brick with legs, but it’s so refreshing to see the added articulation so clearly reflected in a simple standing stance.
The mess of screw holes all over his behind and backside are a bit of an eyesore, but easily overlooked since it is the backside.
The only real metal parts that this figure makes use of is in the feet; most of the silver is diecast, but there are some plastic bits inside, along with the actual plastic connecting joints themselves. Soundwave is a larger Masterpiece (standing taller than Starscream and most Autobots) but in keeping with the tradition set by MP-10, still only uses diecast sparingly.
Soundwave can actually kneel pretty naturally (for a robot) thanks in large part to his multi-jointed ankles. Despite having basically block feet, the joints Takara worked in there allow Soundwave to pull off wide stances without looking funky.
The hands are also done really well, in standard Masterpiece fashion. The three lower fingers are molded together but can articulate on the base knuckle, while the index finger features two points of articulation, allowing for a fair amount of creativity with the manipulators. The thumb is molded in place and can’t move.
The batteries that were snuggled inconspicuously before on the back of Soundwave’s cassette form now make up his two primary weapons – a shoulder cannon and handgun. Unlike the G1 toy, the shoulder cannon is no longer removable and actually swivels and moves around on an articulated joint attached to his back, while the handgun extends out without the need of added chrome barrels or anything of the sort.
Taking a break to check out the microcassette family. This edition of Soundwave, as released by Toys R Us, includes all five of the mini-cassette warriors shown above, negating the extra cost and effort of hunting down each Takara pack individually. If I recall correctly, the Japanese release of Soundwave only included Laserbeak, so Hasbro definitely got it right with their jumbo all-together release here.
Laserbeak and Buzzsaw are identical in mold, though unique in their color schemes. I never really cared for Buzzsaw, so he’s really the least valuable cassette in the set for me.
Their transformations into cassette mode are impressive; from a vulture-bot to a near-flat rectangle seems to be no small feat of engineering. Even their jetpacks feature several hinges that end up allowing them to fold flat, whereas the original G1 toy required those bits to be part-swapped add-ons.
The connection is a bit loose on mine, but that’s probably from the plastic wearing down over time. It’s hard to pose Laserbeak well on Soundwave’s shoulders though, because the shoulders will have to be flat; Laserbeak’s talons won’t clip if the shoulders are slanted.
Next up is Ravage, the only cassette without a recolored clone. Just like the vulture-ssetts, he transforms fully between cassette and jaguar mode without the need of add-on parts or swap-outs. Each individual paw is even articulated, along with the inclusion of details like a tongue and tail.
As a very avid fan of the Transformers IDW comics, I’ll be going by their interpretations of the characters for this post. To me, Rumble is red, Frenzy is blue.
Both come with piledriver sets and micro-guns that can be stored in aforementioned piledrivers. A connecting piece is also included for each, which helps them link up with each other and then to Soundwave in cassette player mode, as shown above.
I didn’t realize until like after this photoshoot that I actually kept putting the piledrivers on wrong. Rumble’s arms are supposed to be angled upwards, not downwards as shown above, for the piledrivers to clip into place.
The piles themselves do extend about an inch out, though sadly they aren’t automated or hydraulically driven. They can basically act as a set of extra legs if you’re having trouble balancing Rumble on his tiny feet.
Hasbro also went out of their way to include five clear mini-cassette holders, because you should never store or carry your Decepticons improperly.
Another nice little gimmick accessory is the addition of a place-over chestpiece with a grid pattern or Soundwave. You can place a slip of paper behind it (included in the Takara version I believe) with the schematics of the Decepticon spaceship as seen in the cartoon.
The block included with the figure is clear; it’s really just a small clear box with one side as a removable lid. I went the extra mile and decided to fill mine with glow-in-the-dark pink paint for the extra-authentic Energon feel.
The fun never stops. Also included is yet another Megatron in gun form – the same type included with Masterpiece Starscream. It’s actually a bit big for Soundwave’s hands, but he can generally swing his leader around with little issue.
And finally, Soundwave also features the inclusion of his little hand-replacement-sensor, featured for all of one episode of the cartoon, if I recall correctly. It attaches to his wrist after the hand is folded back into the forearm, and I only found out after the photoshoot that it could also be stored on the underside of his cassette player mode.
It’s a metaphor for how much ass this figure kicks.
So all things considered, as Masterpieces go, Soundwave is a superb addition to the lineup, and a much-needed addition for the Decepticons…who are currently nearly all Seeker remolds and recolors. The TRU release is really the best bang for your buck, since you’ll be paying a lot more for the extra cassette sets individually if you decide to go with Takara’s original release.
One little quirk that I figured out during the course of this photoshoot was that Soundwave actually includes a lot more than I originally gave it credit for…and that’s because the Hasbro version of the figure doesn’t explain half of the figure’s gimmicks in its instruction manual. There are hidden panels and gimmicks with the cassettes that I never had a clue about before doing some online research, and were hidden right beneath my nose. Other than that small quirk though, this is basically the perfect Soundwave figure; you really can’t get any better than it, including those actual playable MP3 Soundwaves.