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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's Review: DOTM Legends Soundwave

Name: Soundwave
Function: Communications Master and Sadistic Spy Extraordinaire
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Legion Class (the new overpriced successor to Legends Class)

This is the third review I’ve done for a Dark of the Moon (DOTM) Soundwave figure, so I’ll try to avoid too much repetition. Soundwave is of course an iconic G1 character, and I for one was very pleased to see his lice action film debut in Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF), while being a little disappointed that we never saw him join the battle in robot mode. This was rectified in Dark of the Moon (DOTM), where Soundwave plays an integral part in the plot on Earth, now transforming not into the Cybertronian spy satellite of ROTF, but a sleek Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. He also truly does bring credence to the old Transformers subtitle, ‘Robots in Disguise’, as he uses his alternate mode to spy on the human characters and manipulate Sam into becoming an unwilling spy for the Decepticons himself.

Surely the introduction of a classic G1 character ranking just beneath Optimus Prime and maybe, just maybe, Megatron as a cult icon would warrant the release of several toys spanning the various size classes? Especially for a new Decepticon playing a major role in the film? As it happens, apparently not…

In a wonderful curveball marketing move, Hasbro opted to fill its DOTM toy line with a multitude of Bumblebee repaints and non-screen characters, omitting the majority of new screen characters introduced in DOTM – including Soundwave. I doubt it will come as a surprise to anyone that the toyline bombed and still clogs shelves over a year later, despite the film remaining the fifth highest grossing movie of all time. Whoopsie Hasbro!

While Takara did in fact release Deluxe Class and Human Alliance Class versions of Soundwave for the Asian markets, the only way to own Soundwave in the Western Hasbro line was to buy a miniscule version in the overpriced Legion Class (formerly Legends Class).

Even with the Human Alliance and especially Deluxe Class versions of Soundwave fetching such high prices, I doubt anyone really views the Legion Class version as an alternative. However, many people may well pick him up to add to their army of mini Transformers, or just so that they do own DOTM Soundwave in some form at least. Of course, Movieverse Legends / Legion Class figures are often notoriously poor, and at a new higher price point (6 GBP upwards nowadays unless there’s a sale!), is he worth it?

Alternate Mode:

DOTM Legion Class Soundwave transforms into a sleek, sexy, inordinately expensive silver Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. Measuring 3” (7.5 cm) long, Legion Class Soundwave is 1/62 scale in SLS mode, making him the same physical size as many other Movieverse Legends Class toys, but not necessarily the same scale – for instance, he looks oversized next to ROTF Legends Class Bumblebee who is 1/64.5 scale at the same length.

The SLS mode is actually very nicely detailed for a Movieverse Legion / Legends Class figure, with vents, doors, lights, front grille and even a tiny but perfectly sculpted Mercedes insignia on the front. Legion Soundwave also has an unusual number of paint applications for a modern figure of this scale – the headlights are picked out in a slightly lighter grey than the base plastic (squint and you’ll see that I’m right, honest!), the brake lights are red, the front grille is carefully painted black leaving the grey frame and Mercedes insignia untouched, and all of the windows (yes even the rear ones which are so often neglected by Hasbro) are painted dark metallic blue.

The designers have even gone the extra mile sculpting the wheels to match one of the real life SLS alloy options – and it happens to be the one used in the film (in common with the Deluxe Class figure, but unlike the Human Alliance version). Sadly the alloys are not painted, but, hey, you never expected they would be, did you?

All in all, clearly an inordinate amount of effort has been expended to make this mould as accurate to a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG as realistically possible at this scale. So why did Hasbro throw that away by moulding the thing in extremely dark metallic grey plastic?

Ach well, while the base colour may not be screen accurate, DOTM Legion Soundwave’s Mercedes Benz SLS AMG mode is easily one of the most detailed and accurate Legion / Legends Class Alternate modes ever.

Robot Mode:

DOTM Legion Class Soundwave follows a relatively standard car transformation for this size class, with one exception: his legs. Instead of bending out, they swivel out to form the feet. While it’s nice the designers decided to try something new, there really was little point, and novelty is all it has achieved – it hinders the robot mode, although thankfully not so seriously as the off-the-wall attempt at something new in ROTF Legends Sideways / DOTM Legion Dino.

Standing 3 ” (8 cm) tall, DOTM Legion Soundwave is a decent sized robot for his scale. The dark metallic grey plastic used with small sections of black on his shoulders and hips, while far from film accurate, does help give him an imposing look. The head sculpt is superbly detailed, and the eyes are picked out neatly in red. For some reason, his upper chest is painted in an even darker gunmetal grey, which at least adds variety without clashing, but is a little random. Oh – and he has a black Decepticon insignia randomly printed on his right shoulder.

His arms have the satellite dishes / speakers sculpted on with the edges of the front two dishes on each arm picked out with AllSpark blue. Sadly, the dishes seem to be an afterthought in an attempt to make this mould Soundwave rather than a generic car-former, and they are spindly half circles, cut off by the car mode edges. Indeed, Legion Class Soundwave’s arms are incredibly spindly, and it is only those half-arsed dishes that bear any passing resemblance to the bulky gorilla arms of the CGI model. The legs, on the other hand, suffer in quite the opposite way – instead of being short and spindly, they are instead long and bulk out remarkably at the feet due to the bizarre transformation design. Also thanks to this, his knees are permanently bent like someone holding in a crap. Lacking any knee articulation, there is nothing you can do about that.

Disappointingly, no attempt has been made to provide the shoulder-wheels of the CGI model – and this could have been easily achieved at least in a rudimentary fashion perfectly befitting a Legion Class figure. His skinny waist silhouette is destroyed by the car mode roof hanging off his back and between his legs – not dissimilar from the Deluxe Class version, but more forgivable at this smaller scale at least.

Useful articulation is quite poor – we’ve already noted that his knees are perpetually half-bent, lacking articulation. The transformation design does leave Soundwave with two joints at each hip and shoulder, although only one of each is particularly effective for posing. Legion Class Soundwave is perfectly capable of standing menacingly though, which is all I’ve come to expect of Movieverse Legends / Legion Class anyway.

Overall, DOTM Legion Class Soundwave is best described as underwhelming. He’s a perfectly generic Legends / Legion Class car Transformer, but little effort has been made to make him look anything like DOTM Soundwave’s rather unique CGI model. He’s not the worst Legion Class figure out there (to date, I’m certain honour goes to DOTM Legion Topspin), but he’s not anywhere near the best. It’s terribly disappointing that the designers did not put anywhere near the same level of effort into the robot mode as they did the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG mode.

What is truly tragic is the fact that DOTM Legion Class Soundwave is one of the best Movieverse Legends / Legion Class Decepticons out there.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3 – DOTM Legion Class Soundwave has a generic car transformation with an unnecessary twist that actually has a negative effect on the robot mode proportions. He would have been better had they stuck to a standard car-to-robot transformation model, although it’s also disappointing that no effort was actually made to have Soundwave transform into something vaguely resembling his unique CGI model. It would not have been hard to get those shoulder wheels for instance…
Durability: 9 – Soundwave is largely solid, although the thin black plastic pieces used for the shoulders could be a slight liability.
Fun: 5 – Legion Class Soundwave isn’t bad fun – he’s alright to absent-mindedly fiddle about with. Plus his Mercedes Benz SLS AMG mode is remarkably detailed and carefully painted. However, he doesn’t have any of the DOTM Soundwave hallmarks. He’s generic.
Aesthetics: 5 – I’ve balanced this out at 5, as the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG mode is really great, while Soundwave’s robot mode does not have any of the unique features make his character in the film. His robot mode is totally generic, and perpetually looks as if he needs to take a dump.
Articulation: 3 – Soundwave has very little useful articulation, even for a Legion Class figure – in part due to the novel leg transformation, which serves also to throw his robot mode proportions out. Sadly, he really needs knee articulation to sort out that awful constipated pose…
Value/Price: 3 – DOTM Legion Class Soundwave seems to command something of a premium, despite his wide release. I imagine this is partly due to the fact he was the only version of the character available in the West, and so demand is understandably higher. I was fortunate enough to get him at US retail price from Clay back when he was released, but even at the modern retail price of 6 GBP upwards, he’s overpriced (as all Legion Class figures are nowadays). At 12 GBP ($20 USD) as he goes for now, he is totally not worth it. Of course, you can currently pick up a random black repaint of this mould at retail just now as part of the RID Cyberverse Legion line, which is largely populated by Prime characters.
Overall: 3 – DOTM Legion Class Soundwave has an excellent Mercedes Benz SLS AMG mode and has the most detailed and realistic alternate mode of any Movieverse Legends / Legion Class figure. That said, he’s a Transformer, and a distinctive iconic character, so should also have a robot mode depicting the CGI model’s key features. Sadly, DOTM Legion Class Soundwave fails on the latter, transforming into a generic robot. He’s a perfectly serviceable Legion Class figure, but he’s not a particularly good Soundwave figure. This, coupled with the bloated prices the toy now commands (no doubt due to the lack of a Hasbro release of either Deluxe or Human Alliance Class versions of DOTM Soundwave) I can’t recommend him, unless you can find him cheaply.
 
 
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