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Numbat's review of: LOC Soundwave

Name: Soundwave
Allegiance: Planet X / Decepticon
Sub-Group: Legends of Cybertron

When Soundwave was a mere child, he noticed that he was different from the other little Transformers. Sure, he was shiny, and articulated, and even more detailed than many. But, he lacked that most special and essential of qualities the ability to transform. He watched with dismay as his friends impressed the girls by turning into flashy futuristic cars, and jets, spacecraft even animals! He longed for the chance to change into even the most misshapen of mutants then he would at least be accepted. Then, one night, walking along a backstreet in Crystal City home of all the new-age bots Soundwave stumbled upon an advertisement that was to change his life forever. 'Yoga class Wednesdays at 8pm...' A spark lit behind his stylish and most delicate purple visor! He would take on a hobby, and show his worth in another way! And so, Soundwave went along to the Yoga class, and found himself well accepted by the hippy-cons, and discovered that his wonderfully agile frame allowed him to excel at Yoga! He developed his skill fast, and became renowned the universe over. Then, one fateful day, his hopes were dashed. Despite winning the gold in the Cybertronian Games, he still found himself ridiculed by his contemporaries for his all too obvious disability. Broken hearted, he left Cybertron, and set up shop on a strange, uncharted and isolated world. Here, he befriended the local wildlife. Sure, they were transforming mechanical birds but they turned into strange, pointless hexagonal canisters, so there was at least empathy between them. Yoga was Soundwave's main comfort, though. Without it, he would have gone mad. And because of it he discovered something quite marvelous he could contort himself far beyond the realms of believability! And so, welding a pair of wings to his back, he returned to the forefront of the Galactic scene, slap bang in the middle of another civil war. Only now, through the study of Yoga, he could transform!

Well, erm, yeah.

Sorry for the long sprawling random origin story there. It's just that, well, it kinda sums up the LOC version of Soundwave.

As most readers will know, the Legends of Cybertron (LOC) line reproduces larger figures on a pocket-money scale. Detail and transformation sequence are kept as intact as is possible, and the results are far more variable than their RID predecessors, the Spychangers. But, of course, that is a result of the disparate transformations possessed by the larger scale figures, and overall, I feel that Hasbro / Takara have delivered an excellent range of affordable wee Transformers.

The level of complexity tackled is truly a full spectrum. From miniaturised Deluxe figures (e.g. Hot Shot) right up to Leader Class tots (e.g. Megatron), there is a huge selection to choose from! Some are hit-or-miss, but that's hardly surprising!

I was much intrigued by Soundwave, though. His Voyager scale counterpart is one of the most complex and well executed Transformers in my view (ignoring the exposed head in spaceship mode, of course). Yet, I always felt that the mold had been taken to its limits in terms of the small size in relation to the transformation. How could a 3 1/2 tall figure replicate this? How successful could it possibly be?

Well, read on, and I shall flesh out the hints given in that rambling intro story...

Alternate Mode:

LOC Soundwave is a hit-and-miss figure with that not uncommon Transformer trait one mode is good, the other not so good. In his case, the not so good mode is his spacecraft. As my random, imaginative (and not at all alcohol or drug induced) intro suggests, this miniature Soundwave has not been endowed with a great alternate mode, and one hellish transformation.

Like his robot mode, the jet / spacecraft measures 3 1/2 (9cm) long. The colours are largely similar to his larger counterpart, but the little fellow is missing the black and silver on the canopy, and a lot of the painted detail. There is a good degree of molded detail, however, which goes some way towards making up for this (although I personally prefer the blue canopy I never liked the black one!). The cockpit is coloured a nice metallic purple, although this is a little dark against the blue, without any silver to outline it.

Alas, there is a gaping hole at the rear of the vehicle far more serious than the Voyager counterpart's! Then there are the robot mode's arms, just sitting alongside the fuselage! The chest is in full view at the rear, and the head still protrudes underneath, this time staring at the ground. In fact, it is really difficult to say whether this mode is just a contorted robot, but I suppose you have to decide where the line is drawn.

Basically, not a shining moment in alternate modes, including the LOC line.

Robot Mode:

LOC Soundwave's transformation couldn't accurately replicate that of his Voyager scale counterpart. The larger figure already pushed the limits of complexity at it's size! So, I suppose one of the reasons I bought this little chap (other than the coolness of his robot mode, which we'll get to...) is that I wanted to see just how they had achieved the transformation in this much smaller scale. The results are, well, mixed.

Basically, the arms are where the changes really centre. As anyone with the larger toy will know, this is really the crux of most of the Voyager Soundwave mold's complexity. By removing them from the equation, the designers have instantly cut out this most tricky section. However, what have they done instead? Nothing. A big fat zip. The arms just sit along the side, as we've seen, and do not change. I think this is a shame, but I see where the designers are coming from.

Even with this part of the sequence removed, the transformation is hideously fiddly especially from robot to jet. I'd say it's far more irritating than you could ever find the larger version, and I do find it a barrier to whether I want to transform him or not (totally unheard of)! Besides, the alternate mode result is not even that good...

As LOC Soundwave comes packaged in this mode, it is likely he'll be picked up by even the most haphazard TF collector!

The designers obviously felt that, as they had to lose something, they'd better try and make sure the robot mode looked true to the Voyager scale figure, at the expense of the spacecraft mode.

Still, the transformation is something of a nightmare.

Standing 3 1/2 (9cm) tall, from toe to wing-tip, Soundwave is not a bad height. However, this is somewhat misleading, as with his Voyager counterpart, with regards to bulk. He is a rather lanky fellow! His proportions are similar to those of his big brother, although some have been altered a little so as to accommodate the transformation for his tiny stature.

The detailing is stunning, and was certainly what attracted me to the figure. The sculpt is superb, from wing to chest plate to legs to head. Also, the colour scheme is almost perfect, with the gold and metallic purple totally setting the whole piece off. In fact, paint wise, the only negative is that little LOC Soundwave seems to have thrown his purple visor away! Instead it is the same blue as the helmet. This is a real shame, as the metallic purple would have been perfect, and the visor is much larger than LOC Evac's eyes which do receive colour treatment!

Interestingly, LOC Soundwave comes with a Decepticon insignia emblazoned upon his chest which led me to identify him as being Planet X / Decepticon. I guess it's a personal call as to whether this is a good or a bad thing.

The only other real issue here is the arms. They are very blocky, with a rather low level of detail, and molded in uniform horrible grey. There seems no reason for this, given the quality of the rest of the figure!

Other than those niggles, the figure is a spitting image of his larger self, right down to the blocks on the wing-tips. However, there is no Laserbeak or canister weapons, so these touches fall somewhat flat. Of course, the chest doesn't open, and I can forgive this given the amazing value these toys represent.

There is something of well, I'm not sure if it's an improvement or not, so I'll just call it a difference in design with this little chap. Given that the arms are removed from the transformation process, the canopy of the jet can no longer be attached to the left arm. Instead it is on a wee lever, attached to the wing rack on Soundwave's back. Although it now sits at his side in robot mode, obstructing what little articulation the arm had to begin with, it does have two ball joints which allow it to be fairly poseable. Also, it can be removed altogether, if you prefer (I'm not a fan of removing parts to make a robot mode myself, though).

Oh, and he has big feet (all the better to balance with...).

As I've already alluded to, Soundwave suffers from what seems to be a common problem with the LOC line dire lack of articulation! Although the legs are fairly poseable, thanks to the transformation process, the arms are not, nor can the head move. The arms only have a shoulder ball joint, which does actually have a limited range of motion. There really is no excuse for this, but all things said, he does have better poseability than any other LOC figure I have acquired thus-far.

When you couple the poseability with the wonderful detail, this miniature Soundwave is very displayable in robot mode, at least. Play value is a bit more limited than other LOC figures though perhaps leaving Soundwave as a collector's piece, rather than a versatile plaything.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 3 I find it difficult to rate, but this should be seen as negative, although complex. I mean, is it a transformation or just a Yoga-bot?
Durability: 3 He does not feel sturdy in the least, but detachable joints should improve his lifespan.
Fun: 7 Although the alternate mode is not great, and the transformation maybe something of a nightmare, the robot mode is excellent and very attractive.
Price: 10 I got mine for 2.97 ($5.50). At similar prices most places, this is a bargain by anyone's book!
Overall: 7 Although he does have fairly hefty drawbacks, the robot mode is almost enough to counterbalance them. When coupled with the great price, there really is little reason not to pick him up with your monthly shop!

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