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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Ganon578's Review: FOC Soundwave and Data Discs

Name: Soundwave & Laserbeak, Rumble, Frenzy, Ratbat, and Ravage
Function: Communications & Data Storage
Subgroup: Generations: Fall of Cybertron
Size Class: Voyager & Legends

Soundwave has spent centuries making himself indispensible to the Decepticon cause. His body is packed with electronic communications gear. He is capable of teasing even the faintest transmission out of the microwave background, cracking the toughest quantum code, and jamming the most powerful signal. Together with his minions, he is one of the most effective weapons in the Decepticon arsenal.

Ratbat is the most independent of the agents employed by Soundwave. He spends most of his time away from the others, engineering complex financial schemes rigged to cripple the Autobot network. Decepticon Frenzy, on the other hand, enjoys the company of others, if only so that his sonic interference can cause chaos among those around him.

Ravage rarely speaks, and when he does it is often only to recite some worn piece of Decepticon dogma. In contrast, Decepticon Rumble never shuts up. He issues a constant stream of sarcastic patter designed to provoke enemy and friend alike to violence. They couldn't be more different, but both are totally loyal to their master Soundwave.


So far we’ve gotten several toys in the Fall of Cybertron line, under the Generations banner. A lot of heavy hitters have already been released: Optimus (x2), Megs, Bumblebee, Starscream, Grimlock, and even a smaller version of Soundwave himself, to name a few. It’s been nice that Hasbro has been fleshing out more Classics-type characters via the Fall of Cybertron toys, and it’s also great that Soundwave has made a return to his early abilities regarding his minions. Truthfully, there haven’t been recent Soundwave designs that lend themselves well to storing or ejecting cassette tapes; it’s much easier to do so when you turn into a boombox. However, real cassette tapes haven’t been in circulation for years, so it makes absolutely no sense to make a new boombox Soundwave outside of the Masterpiece line. Kids nowadays wouldn’t even know what cassettes are! It also doesn’t make much sense to design a modern SUV with random boxes flying out of it. Thankfully, making anything ‘Cybertronian’ allows for some latitude in this department, and now we have a Voyager-class Soundwave with the ability to store and auto-transform his minions, in the form of ‘data discs’. Does Soundwave resonate well with his minions? Or is he mute?

Alternate Mode:

As typical with the Fall of Cybertron figures, Soundwave’s alternate mode is a nondescript ‘Cybertronian’ truck. Mostly it just looks like a blue block on wheels with teeth in the front. The design isn’t bad, it just doesn’t resemble much of anything. The detailing is nice but simple; some panel lines run along the vehicle mode, and the design is broken up with some silver, red, and purple paint apps. The wheels are nicely done with good detail and molded of clear purple plastic with silver detailing. The vehicle mode rolls well along the floor. The cassette/disc launcher door makes up the front of the vehicle, and also features some clear purple plastic with a purple Decepticon symbol in the middle. The only real bad spot on the whole mode is the back – it’s rather open with nothing to conceal the backside. It’s not a huge deal by any means, and is about the only blemish on the entire mode.

For weapon storage, there’s a spot on the top of the vehicle on a large panel that slides back and forth. The main function of this panel is to eject the data discs while in vehicle mode. The front panel of the vehicle springs open when the ejection button is pressed on the top of the truck. Once open, the top panel can slide forward using the red handle near the back, and the data discs will be ejected and auto-transformed (more on that in the robot mode section). For the most part, the ejection works, and it’s a good feature to be able to use in the vehicle mode. Hasbro/Takara could have easily designed this to be only storage in vehicle mode without any real functionality. There isn’t much else to describe about this mode; it’s simple, gets the job done, but ultimately it’s just a nondescript Cybertronian vehicle that shoots out data discs.

Robot Mode:

After a simple and quick transformation, Soundwave is in his iconic robot mode. A number of G1 cues are here: the head mold, the shoulder cannon, the blue & silver/grey color scheme. Obviously this one was designed as a modern-day G1 Soundwave to silence fans who wanted a Classics Soundwave released. This version fills the part well, both in looks and functionality. For detail, Soundwave is a no-frills robot. The panel lines and Cybertronian detail are simple, yet effective. There isn’t too much going on as to make him look like a circus of lines, but also just enough detail to not fall into the bland category. The vast majority of Soundwave’s color scheme is blue, with silver, grey, red, and small amounts of purple as highlights. The front chest plate is a thing of beauty, with clear purple plastic covering a detailed silver piece that resembles a tape deck. Soundwave is appropriately boxy, but has enough angles to not look like a total brick.

In the articulation department, Soundwave has plenty of joints. Shoulders swivel all around, upper arms, albows, wrists, neck, hips, thighs, and knees all contain joints (some of them ratcheting like the elbows and knees). This all amounts to Soundwave having a good range of motion, and his feet are large enough and he’s balanced well enough to put him in some good action positions. The arms are designed very well; the upper arm itself swivels in two directions, easily allowing for proper positioning to set Laserbeak on his forearm, while not hindering the movement at the shoulder. The only real downside is the neck – it only swivels back and forth, and mine is rather tight. It works, but it takes some finger strength to get it to go.

In my opinion, Soundwave’s functions are the real highlight of the figure. He has his typical shoulder cannon, which can also be held like a blaster. Speaking of which, Soundwave’s left finger is slightly out, like it’s positioned for a trigger. Which would be really cool if he actually came with a gun. The instructions and box art show Soundwave with a proper rifle (albeit a G1 Optimus Prime rifle), but sadly the weapon was omitted in the final product. My only guess is the weapon took the product just over the weight limit for Voyager class. That sounds like a dumb reason, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility in the toy business. Maybe Hasbro thought this compensated by allowing Soundwave to eject data discs. This brings me to the best feature of this toy: the ability to store and eject auto-transforming minions! Soundwave has a small grey ejection button on his shoulder. Pressing it spring-opens his chest, revealing a cylindrical cavity designed for storing data discs. Soundwave’s little minions – Laserbeak, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, and Ratbat – all fold up into data discs, allowing them to be inserted into Soundwave’s chest. Soundwave can hold two at a time; the only downside is this pushes the ejection panel very far out of his back. The chest can be closed back up while the little guys are in storage. A simple press of the ejection button and the discs are ready for ejection. Pushing the panel on Soundwave’s back (it does take a great amount of force if the discs get stuck) shoots the discs out to auto-transform via spring loaded mechanisms – and this is where things fall apart. Maybe it’s just my set, or maybe this is a greater QC issue. The discs fit rather tightly and can be finicky getting them in, which leads to some ejection and transformation issues. Sure, the discs pop out, but Laserbeak is the only disc in my set that easily auto-transforms each time. The others mostly pop out as discs. It’s quite a let down and I wish it worked better. However, having the option of sticking whichever two discs suit your fancy into Soundwave and ejecting or storing them is a fun feature, and easily the main reason to pick this guy up.

Laserbeak:

Soundwave comes pre-packed with his ever trusty Laserbeak. Color-wise, Laserbeak is as red and black as ever, with a little bit of silver thrown in. There isn’t much to say about the disc mode – it’s a disc. With silver paint apps. Getting Laserbeak back and forth isn’t difficult. He folds up easily, and a simple button press makes him spring to life. It’s rather fun to fling him back and forth so quickly. Truth be told, I wish he actually pegged onto Soundwave somewhere, but he sits well enough on the arm without pegging. My one problem is with getting him into and out of Soundwave’s chest; he easily gets stuck depending on how you load him, and sometimes a lot of force is required to get him back out. I feel like this mechanism could have worked more smoothly, and this is a reoccurring trend with all of the data discs.

Ravage & Rumble:

I won’t go into much detail on these, since they will be reviewed elsewhere on this site as a two-pack. Rumble is the blue disc, and I like his coloration. Mostly blue, a little black thrown in, and some lighter blue and silver for the disc mode. He transforms well enough and is easy to snap back together. However, it’s annoying that he only half auto-transforms. You still have to swivel his arms and push out his feet for full transformation. Not a huge deal, but definitely a letdown. Speaking of letdowns, Ravage is atrocious. He doesn’t transform well, is a pain to snap back together, and looks awful. Easily the worst of the bunch.

Frenzy & Ratbat:

Same here, not too much detail on these. Frenzy is the red disc, and is a spitting image of Rumble in a different color. Everything I mentioned above applies here. Ratbat is a remold of Laserbeak, and a fantastic one at that. It’s not simply a new head – the detailing is also different, and the disc seems to have a slightly different shape on the underside. It’s really an impressive remold for such a tiny figure. Ratbat transforms the same as Laserbeak, and is just as easy to get back into disc mode. He’s a neat little guy, and definitely worthy of a purchase.

Overall, Soundwave is worthy of your money. He’s simple and fun, and looks good on a shelf. Pair him up with some more data discs and you have a small army of awesome.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 8. A simple and smooth transformation; quite fun to go back and forth. No painful tabs or things that don’t lock in tight.
Durability: 9. With the recent decline in plastic quality, it’s nice to see Soundwave is made of solid materials. There isn’t anything on him that I imagine would easily break – maybe the spring loaded door?
Fun: 9. Soundwave is well balanced and solid. Pairing him with Laserbeak adds quite a bit of fun, and adding the other four discs is a fantastic bonus. The auto-transform gimmick ‘kind of’ works. Where’s his gun?
Aesthetics: 8. He’s kind of a brick, but fits in well with a Classics or FoC collection. The colors ad detail are good, if a bit simple.
Articulation: 9. He’s got a good amount of joints, and there isn’t anything hindered.
Value/Price: 8. Soundwave & Laserbeak by themselves are a good deal at retail. If you add the other discs, this package gets rather pricey ($40-45 USD), though you are getting six figures for that price.
Overall: 9. I think Soundwave is definitely worthy of consideration. Not an absolute must have, but if you pair him with all the discs, there’s a lot of fun to be had. He looks great, transforms easily, has minions that can auto-transform out of his chest, and can store up to two of the minions at a time.
 
 
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