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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Reverend's Review: TFC JB-02 Tactical Officer

Name: JB-02 Tactical Officer (AKA Headmaster Soundwave)
(also available as JB-02B Tactical Officer Hyper Mode (AKA Soundblaster)
Manufacturer: TFC Toys/Junkion Blacksmith
Size Class: Headmaster

I suppose it was inevitable that Junkion Blacksmith release a Megatron (err, Destruction Lord) figure and not also produce his most trusted lieutenant (and apparent sycophant). JB-02 comes in two versions, a blue "Tatical Officer" (actual box text's spelling) familiar to the original G1 cartoon's viewership, and the darker JB-02B ("Hyper Mode") version from the Headmasters animation. They are identical to each other except for their colors. Like all the JB offerings to date, they are Headmaster partners with a third mode intended to resemble, or at least invoke that of their larger counterparts in their original toy form.

Robot Mode:
Tactical Officer should be instantly recognizable as who-you-think-he-is. His blue-helmeted head is essentially a miniature version of the original, with its crest, red visor and faceplate, although it doesn't have as much colored detail. His cassette window and accompanying striping are represented on the chest, although the chest has been reduced in its vertical proportions and some new mid-torso detail has been added between it and the cassette player buttons. The painted buttons retain the familiar configuration, and he also has the silver shins, feet and forearms of the original character. Some yellow "grill'-like detail has been picked out in the shins. Tactical Officer also possesses actual fists, unlike his boss Destruction Lord and enemy commander Justice Leader, though these are quite thin due to the need for transformation (which we'll get to in a moment). His shoulders, being curved instead of square, can move more easily than the original Headmasters, and he has ball joints at his hips and knees. The "backpack" common to all Headmasters inhibits hip movement to a degree, but he's still far above Hasbro/Takara Headmasters in most respects. And yes, he does have the flipping panel on his back to cover the large robot face back there. However, he has no shoulder or hand cannon.

On the JB-02B variant, the primary color is now near-black, the cassette door is also darkened (though not red like the toy), and the mid-torso detail is not painted.

As I've mentioned in the other Junkion Blacksmith reviews I've done on this site, one of my favorite aspects of these toys is the ability for them, at Headmaster size, to interact with the city-bots. Now Tactical Officer and Megatron can ride in Scorponok's open chest cavity together in scorpion mode, throw Justice Leader down Trypticon's ramps, and get jailed in Fortress Maximus' cell. They can also pilot the large Decepticon Headmasters, although this is less interesting because those Decepticons tended to have cramped cockpits that are difficult to fit their partners into. I guess maybe Soundwa.. I mean Tactical Officer can hot-wire Highbrow or something.

Alternate Mode:
Move the arms forward a little bit, then spread-eagle Tactical Officer. Rotate each shin 90 degrees outwards (so that the silver "circles" on the outsides of his legs face forward), push his head down into his body (don't worry, pushing it down extends a plunger on his arse you can press to get the head back up out of the torso), and bend the shins up against his upper arms. You now have an approximation of his G1 cassette-player mode.

Obviously, what's different here is that now Tactical Officer has big, obvious speakers on either side of his alt-mode, which he did not possess before, and the decreased size of his cassette door is a little odd-looking. The alt-mode in general is a nice feature, but not a must-have one. The main thing that worries me is that the thin fists have to move forward to accomodate the splayed legs, and it seems to me like it'd be easy to break them off in a moment of absent-mindedness. Hasn't happened to me yet, mind you, it's just a potential issue.

Head Mode:
Starting from robot mode, move the arms somewhat forward again to get those fists out of the way. Rotate Tactical Officer's shins 180 degrees (so the feet face backwards), then carefully move the upper legs forward (make sure not to force them against the arms) until his shins are resting against his chest. Flip up the panel on his back to reveal the head mode's face. Head mode is a good representation of the character, though its a bit wide (as all the Headmaster heads are). Tactical Officer displays a well detailed forehead, with its arching "ears", pointing center crest, red visor, silver faceplate and lower helmet detail. You can insert his robot mode's head into a Headmaster body's port, but I don't like doing this since Tactical Officer's head isn't a plastic square, I'm afraid to break off some of his detail in the process. Never fear, there's a plastic adapter packaged with him that will connect him to the body's port, though not as securely. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work on the G1 toy (some Junkion Blacksmith JBs do include special connecters for their original bodies), but it is fun to imagine Tactical Officer blackmailing other Decepticons into letting him take over their operation as their head.

Transformation Design: 4. The original HM's essentially bent over to transform, and Tactical Officer is more or less the same thing, though with more articulation and a slightly more complex design that allowed more detailing. The arms do seem a bit longish and tend to get in the way, but I guess it was either that or shorter, stumpy arms.
Durability: 3. The problem with Tactical Officer in this area is that parts tend to rub against each other more often than the Justice Leader or Destruction Lord toys. The "ears" for the large head mode point down his back and restrict hip movement, his arms get in the way on the other side. I'm not saying its a serious design flaw, but it does mean you need to be a little more careful.
Fun: 6. Like the other JB's, Tactical Officer fits well with city-bots and larger Headmaster cockpits, and the concept of shrinking Soundwave down to this size to operate and pilot other Transformers is a fun idea. Of course, being the size and type that this toy is, he's limited by his physical design.
Aesthetics: 7 I found Justice Leader's paint apps to be on the sloppy side, and Destruction Lord was not far behind that. Tactical Officer (Hyper Mode or not) is cleaner looking, and I do like how small details (the buttons, the chest stripes) were included in the design. In head mode, he's a bit large, but only against the heads of non-Headmaster toys.
Articulation: 6. Tactical Officer has the same good articulation of his fellows, but I deducted a point due to the space issues I mentioned above. Parts can be forced against each other if you're not paying attention.
Value/Price: 9. As of the time of this writing, BBTS preorders of this series are about $15 US per figure. That's a pretty good bang for the buck if you actually want the thing.
Overall: 5. It's a nice accessory, good if you have Headmasters or city-bots.
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