After a very boozey Friday night I had planned on spending my Saturday afternoon in bed. If all had went according to plan I wouldn’t have even put my pants on that day. I did not expect to find myself out toy shopping with a hangover. But my brother Doug called and said that he was heading into the city to hit up Monster`s Comic Lounge and he asked if I wanted to join him. Monster’s is one of the local comic shops that I don’t get to very often so I figured what the hell. I manned up and got dressed. So after he picked me up, Doug, my lil nephew Lucas and I headed to the Lounge. As usual it was packed full of Magic card collecting weirdos which always makes me appreciate my shop, Strange Adventures, all the more. The reason for the trek was that Doug had realized when bagging and boarding up a pile of comics that he had missed picking up an issue of Captain America from a few months back. After verifying that Strange didn’t have one in stock Doug was hoping to find one on the shelf at Monsters. No such luck. He did find a Marvel Legends figure he was looking for though, U.S.Agent. I had really just tagged along for the ride and had no expectation of finding anything but I don’t think any of you will be shocked to hear that I did manage to find something to piss my money away on. They had a fresh batch of Transformers: Prime figures, based on the computer animated cartoon of the same name that currently airs on Saturday mornings. There were a couple of car guys, Dead End and I forget the name of the other one. They looked pretty cool and that I was considering buying them but after some thought decided against it.
I consider myself to be a pretty strict Generation One (G1) Transformers fan, and an early G1 fan at that. Meaning basically that I like the characters introduced from the toy line’s inception up to the 1987 movie. After that I kind of lost interest. And I couldn’t care less about Beast Wars, Armada, Energon, the live action movies, or any of the other various off-shoots of the line. I like to keep my Transformers Universe simple. Megatron, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, etc. The Classics. One of the most classic and iconic Transformers of course being the Decepticons communications officer: Soundwave.
When Soundwave was first introduced to us via the comics, cartoon and toy line he was a cassette player which was pretty cutting edge back in the early 80s. The toy came packaged with a cassette tape that fit inside of him when in tape deck mode or in his chest when in robot mode. The cassette itself transformed into a predatory bird known as Buzzsaw. A slew of other cassettes were released shortly afterwards including the panther Ravage, the robots Frenzy and Rumble and even a Buzzsaw repaint named Laserbeak who quickly overtook the original bird in popularity. While Soundwave’s alt mode quickly became dated, it was still a really neat idea and it made him stand out amongst the dozens of cars and jets in the line. The tweaked voice acting of Frank Welker on the animated series really solidified Soundwave’s uniqueness and made him a cherished and enduring character that long outlived the walkman.
Transformers has gone through many changes over the years but those “classic” characters I mentioned usually end up in nearly every variation of the property. Soundwave has emerged time and time again in these alternate Transformers universes but to stay relevant his alt mode has had to change. He’s been a van in the Animated line, a satellite in the live-action movies and most recently a cybertronian truck. I have an action figure of him as the truck which is based on his appearance in the console game “War for Cybertron”. It’s a pretty sweet figure and it retains a lot of the original’s design so it was good enough for me to become my default Soundwave figure.
But then here I was at Monster’s Comic Lounge convincing myself that I didn’t need Dead End and the other guy because as neat as they were, they weren’t G1 and I don’t want to open that can of worms: collecting new and unknown characters. But no sooner did I put them down did I notice another intriguing Transformers Prime figure on the pegs, Soundwave. Now this did not look like any Soundwave that I’ve ever seen. Usually when they change a character’s alt mode they try to retain some of his overall design so that he’s at least recognizable. But this guy looked nothing like Soundwave in either robot or alt mode. At first I scoffed at the design but the more I examined it the more I liked it and felt compelled to share it with you.
So here we are, $25 later and I’m reviewing my new Soundwave figure. I keep all of my Transformers in their robot modes on my shelf. To be honest I wouldn’t even care if they transformed, I like the robots. For that reason I don’t get to bent out of shape when Hasbro changes a characters alt mode like they did with Bumblebee, from a VW Beetle to a Camaro (though that did kinda piss me off). Oddly enough though, it was this Soundwave’s alt mode that won me over. His vehicle mode is recon drone like those used in modern warfare. The fact that I hear about these things on CNN on a regular basis just made this thing seem so current and relevant. I also like that it ties into Soundwave’s espionage background . The drone mode looks great, and from what I know of them, quite realistic. His robot mode is quite strange looking. It’s so scrawny that it looks more like a guy in a suit of armor as opposed to a giant robot. He does have these long gangly arms though with long creepy fingers that give him a quite alien appearance. His legs have an animalistic appearance giving him a gorgon like stance and he has a number of fins/wings all over his body which is quite the contrast to his original boxy appearance. I wish the face was more familiar as that would have been easy to do and scored a lot of points with me; this one lacks personality and really doesn’t do much for me. I do like that they kept the character blue even though most drones I’ve seen are white or grey.
One of the coolest aspects of this toy, and was the feature that really convinced me to shell out my hard earned dollars, was the inclusion of Laserbeak. Soundwave’s airborne companion bears little resemblance to the original Laserbeak but I appreciate the nod non-the-less. Laserbeak is a small winged accessory that isn’t really recognizable as a bird or vehicle. He snaps onto Soundwave’s back in drone mode or onto his chest in robot mode (another nice nod). He blends into the chest so well that you would hardly know he’s detachable. Once removed Laserbeak can fly solo or perch on Soundwave’s hand.
This figure walks a little too close to the movie-aesthetic line for my liking but I find myself digging it anyway. This would never cut-it as my default Soundwave but he makes for a nify addition to my Transformers shelf. 6 out of 10.