Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#55: Transformers Masterpiece - Soundwave

Following up last year's new Masterpiece Optimus Prime, this year Hasbro is putting out two Toys R Us exclusive Masterpiece Transformers: Soundwave and Acid Storm. They initially were released at SDCC, and were briefly available on the Toys R Us website, and have recently been showing up in stores if you're lucky enough to catch them. I missed out on the initial website release (they were made available at 4am and sold through in about an hour), but by being obsessive enough to check the website every day, I was lucky enough to catch them in stock and order one.

I was thinking about buying the Japanese release, but I felt it was a little too pricy. I figured there would be an inevitable state-side release from Hasbro and figured I could wait it out. I'm glad I waited because the Hasbro version is cheaper and comes with more than one cassette.

Masterpiece Transformers are updates of (mostly) classic characters, given the deluxe treatment, and designed to make the robots look the way the original toys wished they could have. They're bigger, they're a lot more expensive, and they are basically meant to be the ultimate versions of the character. They did a good job of making a great looking robot mode for Soundwave. This is G1 Soundwave looking like he did in the cartoon. He even has a waist, whereas the original toy had a very rectangular body shape.

Because Transformers was a product of the 80s, having Soundwave turn into a microcassette recorder made a kind of sense. The original toy was basically life sized in this mode (judging by the size of the "batteries"), but since the Masterpiece toys are upsized, he's now larger than life. Most Transformers toys are smaller than they would be in life, so this is a bit of an interesting reversal. Because the robot mode has been improved to look more like the cartoon character, the transformation process has become a bit more involved to get him into a box shape. There are a few extra panels here and there, but overall it's fairly easy. One thing that is a downgrade from the original is that the batteries don't fit in a compartment on the back, but rather are kind of just there hanging off the backside.

I normally don't even mention packaging, but I really like the box Soundwave came in. It's a huge improvement over last year's Masterpiece Optimus. It's a big purple box with the Decpticon logo in white along one corner, with a piece of cardboard that wraps around. Apparently they've redone the numbering for the American releases because this Soundwave is MP-02. For collectors who don't open their toys, this would be disappointing because there's no way to see the actual toy without opening it.

A comparison with a re-release of classic Soundwave.

And in microcassette recorder mode.

One of Soundwave's accessories is one of the all important Energon cubes. It's just clear, and could have been improved with a more purple color.

One of the sides of the Energon cube can be removed so that it plugs into his chest.

He also includes a screen that goes over his chest, representing the way Soundwave's chest often doubled as a display screen.

Whoa, looks like we've got a G1 purist here!

Megatron is also included, with a removable stock, barrel, and sight. This is the same Megatron that was released with earlier versions of Optimus Prime.

Soundwave without any microcassette Transformers just isn't satisfying. So how about five of them? Each one has its own plastic case.

Here are Laserbeak, Rumble, Ravage, Frenzy, and Buzzsaw in their robot modes. The packaging lists Frenzy as the bluish one and Rumble as the red one, but I stand on the "Frenzy is blue, Rumble is red" side of this debate, and will consider them as such. Interestingly, the microcassettes are the same size as the original toys. Thanks to advances in toy engineering, their transformations are more involved and have better robot modes for it. Laserbeak/Buzzsaw and Ravage are both able to incorporate elements that were additional pieces on the original toys. Neat!

Rumble and Frenzy both have their own accessories, so that you can re-create Rumble's earthquake causing pile driver arms, no matter which color you think he really is.

Soundwave has double elbows, so he can pop open his own chest.

There is a bit that sticks out on his arms, so you can securely mount his flying minions on his arm. And naturally, a cassette fits inside his chest. Only one, this isn't Soundblaster.

A size comparison with last year's Optimus Prime release.

Masterpiece Soundwave is the same price as the Optimus Prime from last year, who had a trailer and is taller. So it feels like maybe not as good a value. But Soundwave does have five minions, which helps. He certainly feels like a better deal than the Japanese release which only has one minion. I can't think of anything that could be substantially improved for a possible future release, so at least I won't feel the need to get another G1 style Soundwave for my collection again.

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