numbat's review of: Galaxy Force Soundblaster
GX-03 Soundblaster (Toy’s Dream Project)
None / Independent
I’m a big fan of Soundwave and Soundblaster – but, then, who isn’t? When I first saw pictures of the Galaxy Force Soundwave, I was blown away. With the present trend of beautiful homage pieces to G1 characters, it’s hardly surprising that Soundblaster has now found his way into the Galaxy Force line, as a Soundwave repaint. What is surprising, is that Soundblaster has no mention in the Galaxy Force story (as far as I am aware), whereas, in the original Japanese G1 continuum, Soundblaster was the resurrection of a terminally damaged Soundwave (with Twincast as his polar opposite, created from the remains of Blaster).
Regardless of the fact that this release is clearly aimed at a particular audience, it is without a doubt one of the nicest pieces to appear in the Galaxy Force range. Alas, it is an exclusive to Toy’s Dream Project stores in Japan, and limited to a world-wide total of 4000! So, as I’m sure you can imagine, he does not come cheap…
A quick note on the packaging. In line with with similar releases, the box is black-and white. Interestingly, the figure does not come with a card, which, as Clay pointed out, is unusual in Takara releases.
As with Galaxy Force Soundwave, Soundblaster becomes a futuristic jet (nice, compact, and heavy at 7 ½” [9cm] in length). Now, it has been argued that this form is a tribute to what the original G1 character could have appeared as on Cybertron, but, unfortunately, the G1 cartoon managed to ruin Soundwave (and Soundblaster, by implication), through showing him as, well, an, um, you know, one of those… in the first episode. He basically just stood there with his arms sticking out to the sides. All I can say is, ‘Thank God they didn’t carry the homage that far!’
The jet mode is far more appropriate, and suits the beautiful new paint job that it has lovingly received.
The overall black (generally symbolic of death in the Japanese Transformers series) looks stunning, and the gold and silver flashes of detailing, coupled with the transparent red combine to give Soundblaster an ominous quality. There’s even some great gold wash-work along the wings, which gives a feeling of dread when the light picks it out, lacing it’s way along the sharp contours of the jet mode. And, of course, there’s the Planet X sun symbol, shining out from the imposing red plate.
As a side note on the colouration differences from GX-02 Soundwave, I far prefer Soundblaster’s cockpit, which has black above and below, as opposed to Soundwave, who has blue below, and black above. I just feel, that this, along with some other minor differences in the paint scheme gives Soundblaster a more unified look.
Two of the bomb / canisters can be unfolded, and clipped back to the wings to provide large guns on the underside. I particularly like the asymmetry, and it actually works surprisingly well.
Alas, there are still the same problems that plague Soundwave. Well, there’s really only the one – the fact his head dangles from the underside of the fighter! This is not an uncommon problem with Transformer jet modes in general – especially those with more complex transformations and / or increased articulation. But, it is a detractor, nevertheless.
This aside, I thoroughly enjoy this alternate mode – more so than Soundwave – and feel it’s very appropriate for the character. The jagged edges along the underside of the nose just scream evil all the more with the darker colour scheme!
Well, the transformation is superb, and quite reminiscent of some of the cyber-jets in complexity. Generally, it’s superb, and the thought that’s gone into it is phenomenal for a main-line toy (as, at least, Soundwave is, if not so much this repaint). However, it can be just a little fiddly reversing the whole process. Still, after a few cracks at it, you should have it sussed. It’s a really nice touch that when you pull the cockpit canopy away from the nose, there’s a tiny seat there, exposed!
Now, the alternate mode may be great, and has certainly added that much needed functionality to Soundblaster, but the main show is definitely the robot mode.
Measuring 7” (18cm) from head to toe, he’s a respectable height, but when you take his wings into account, grows to 8 ½” (21.5cm). It surely gives him a presence upon the shelf that other Transformers lack!
Now, while we’re on the subject, the wings are the most major departure from the original G1 character, but they are a very welcome one! Coupled with the extremely angular sculpt, and his rather lanky proportions, the overall impression is very foreboding. Whereas Clay quite rightly pointed out the angelic quality of Soundwave, I feel Soundblaster looks far more like a wraith or wright. It’s amazing what a change of colour can do! There’s still the grey influence on the limbs, present in Soundwave, but the rest has a much darker feel, and the metallic red lacing – particularly on the wings – adds that final touch of dread.
Still, with all this deathly aura floating around this figure, he still lacks any obvious alliance with either Autobot or Decepticon. For some reason, he just seems too creepy to actually be a Decepticon. I reckon either side would fear Soundblaster equally.
I realise I have largely digressed!
As to a few of the other notable points of interest, I have to say the single shoulder cannon has to be one of the greatest additions to a Transformer toy in ages! Their standing in fashion seems to have waned over the last while, but it’s always been a feature I’ve loved! And the three barrels, in transparent red look amazing. And, of course, as Clay points out in his Soundwave review, the barrels can be rotated (as a group) while the weapon is attached to Soundblaster’s shoulder!
His other, handheld weapon is also nice, and quite different, and adds to the figure nicely on display.
Of course, if you don’t want to use these weapons, they can be stored away, folded back to their canister mode, clipped behind Soundblaster’s wings.
Articulation is amazing, as we already know from Soundwave. The angular plates over the thighs move independently, and really add to the poses!
And, finally, we have the chip gimmick. I have to say, never a fan of gimmicks, I am even less so of these force chips or planet keys, than I was of the Minicons – at least they transformed! (Incidentally, I note that the Japanese Takara Planet X chip is painted far more carefully than the international Hasbro versions…) Still, in this instance the chip opens Soundblaster’s chest, revealing the final of his three canisters, bringing us smoothly on to the final section of the review…
Not to be left without his own crony, Soundblaster’s final canister turns into Hell Buzzsaw! A nice homage to the G1 character, and his colour scheme continues this trend. He’s largely black, with some grey on the legs and tail, but the highlights are all picked out in rich gold. As such, he co-ordinates beautifully with Soundblaster, and, perched on his master’s wing, the pair look like a vision of Death.
Articulation is superb, again – and I have to say the spiked plates emanating from the rear of his biomechanoid wings are a wonderful touch. (Although, I am drawn to him, no doubt, as he very much resembles a slightly more abstract cartoon of the Guide MKII from Douglas Adam’s ‘Mostly Harmless’ I drew a year or so ago).
These guys are a set unsurpassed by any other in this line, and, in my opinion, outdo Soundwave.
9 – It is an almost perfect transformation. The only issues are the slightly tricky reverse transformation, and protruding head on the underside of the jet!
10 – Really amazing – easily the most secure feeling Transformer of this level of complexity I’ve ever found.
10 – I really don’t think I need to explain this mark!
3 – Alas, here’s the problem. With there being only 4000, they are not too cheap, and the price range is huge (currently from around £35 [$60] to upwards of £90 [$160]!!!!). There are decent prices to be had just now, but it’s a fairly safe bet that prices will rise with Soundblaster becoming increasingly difficult to come by (you can rest assured I will not be selling mine in the future!).
8 – Soundblaster & Buzzsaw would warrant a ‘10’ if it weren’t for the price and availability issues (which, of course, go hand-in-hand). Still, if you can get a hold of one now at a price you are comfortable with, then you’d be totally crazy not to go for it!