"Generations" Titans Return Soundwave Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Generations, Leader, Titans Return

Generations
Titans Return

Soundwave General Information:
Release Date: December 2016
Price Point: $45.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Soundblaster Titan Master figure, Rifle, Mini-Vehicle

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
The Transformers battle explodes into uncharted territory when the Titans Return. To control an ancient race of giant, city-sized warriors – the Titans – the Autobots and Decepticons must power up with Titan Masters, smaller bots that give bigger bots increased abilities. Unite and power up with this Titans Return Leader Class Soundwave figure and Titan Master Soundblaster figure. The Soundwave figure becomes the head of the Soundblaster figure.

  • Leader Class Soundwave figure, and Titan Master Soundblaster figure
  • Soundwave figure converts from robot to boom box to battle station
  • Titan Master figure becomes the head of Soundwave figure
  • Titans Return Legends Class figures Laserbeak and Ravage fit inside Soundwave figure (each sold separately)
  • Leader Class figure connects to Fortress Maximus figure (each sold separately)

The Decepticons unite with Titan Master partners to power up for battle. Soundwave is the stealthiest, most feared signal-stealer in the universe, and his Titan Master Soundblaster is a master of cyber infiltration. He drops a backdoor code into the systems of any bot he unites with, giving Soundwave a way in. With that access, Soundwave can raid any bot’s processors as easy as a Decepticon cyber virus, remaining completely undetected. Together, they steal a constant stream of information. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

For Soundwave, switching modes is almost as easy as stealing cyber-signals. This Triple Changer Soundwave figure converts between 3 battle modes: robot, boom box, and battle station. The Leader Class Soundwave figure converts from robot to boom box in 19 steps, and from boom box to battle station in 12 steps. The Soundblaster figure converts from robot to head and back in 1 step. When Soundwave figure is in vehicle or battle station mode, Titan Master figures fit inside.

Build the best roster for battle. Titan Master Soundblaster figure can become the head for any Deluxe Class, Voyager Class, or Leader Class Titans Return figures (each sold separately). Or unite this Soundwave figure with other Titan Master figures (each sold separately). And, it gets better. This Soundwave figure can connect to a Titans Return Fortress Maximus figure to form Cybertron City (Fortress Maximus figure sold separately).

Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons.

Soundwave has been a key part of the Transformers line since the very beginning. He was heavily featured in the original series and his G1 toy represented one of the key elements of the Transformers toy line: Robots in Disguise. Long after G1 ended, the character continued to appear in Transformers product. Among his appearances were in "Animated", "Transformers Prime", "Generations", the live action movies and even the current "Robots in Disguise" series. Even Hallmark is celebrating the character with an ornament! Despite not traditionally being a "Master" of any sort (Headmaster or otherwise) it was no surprise to fans that Soundwave would be in this line once Blaster was announced.

This figure is a redeco and retool of "Titans Return" Blaster. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Packaging:
Much like the Voyager Class packaging, Soundwave is in a large window box. One side has the "Transformers" logo set vertically with the "Generations" logo above it. You can see Soundwave in robot mode through the window and underneath is the name Soundblaster and Soundwave. The back of the packaging shows Soundwave's stock art in all three forms and the usual requisite legal information and personality blurb.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Soundwave includes two weapons. One is a cannon based on G1 Soundwave's shoulder cannon. It is basically a tube (shaped kind of like a battery) with one end that features eight small openings with the ends of rockets sculpted into them. Interestingly, there is no peg on this weapon, not even one that flips out. There is a 5mm port, allowing you to attach this to the peg on Soundwave's shoulder "G1 style". The weapon is cast in blue with a red ring painted around it at one end. When this sculpt was used as Blaster it only included one weapon so I was happy to see this classic weapon included with the figure.

Unfortunately Soundwave's handheld weapon is not exactly overwhelming. It is just the same weapon as Blaster's cast in blue. I would have much preferred he have a weapon that was based on his G1 cannon (which also resembled a battery). This weapon is very distinctive in appearance and is too easily identifiable as Blaster's.

The other accessory is a solid rectangular piece designed to fit into Soundwave's chest. While it is the same size as his other "Cassette" warriors, it does not transform or seem to have an identity. Indeed, it seems to be more of a vehicle/weapon for Titan Masters. There is a seat for a Titan Master to sit in and the front has three barrels on it that could be lights or even weapon barrels. There are two 5mm ports that flank the seat and towards the back are two pegs for Titan Master figures to stand on. It's a neat piece that does become a key part of his base mode. I'm glad they worked in some Titan Master compatibility with it. This piece is cast in gunmetal grey plastic with yellow paint on the sides.

Soundblaster

Soundblaster's name is a homage to the character G1 Soundwave became when he "died" and came back to life in the "Headmasters" series. This time out he transforms into Soundwave's head but it's a nice nod to the past.

Head Mode:
Soundblaster's head mode gives fans a look at Soundwave that they normally do not see: just his face and the head without a "helmet" on. The top of his head is round with a small, oval shaped crest. The familiar parts of the head design include his large, visor eyes and mouthplate. There are some additional line details like an "L" shaped design on either side of the mouthplate. The front half of the head is cast in blue plastic. The back is gunmetal grey. The eyes are painted yellow while the nose and mouthplate are painted silver. The colors really look great and the sculpt on the top of the head gives a different look at a design many fans are familiar with.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
To transform the figure you hold onto the back and swing it down, revealing the Titan Master's limbs and body. You may need to turn Soundblaster's head around to face the right direction.

Robot Mode:
This mode gives a hint at how extensive the retooling on this figure is. The legs are the same as Twin Cast's, including the round speaker-like details. The arms are also the same. The head, torso and waist area however are all different. The head is a tiny version of Soundwave's head, which resembles the Decepticon symbol. The chest has a flat "cassette panel". The waist area has buttons just like the ones on G1 Soundwave's waist area. I love this little sculpt and the idea that a "mini-Soundwave" is controlling a "larger" Soundwave.

The top half of the figure is cast in blue plastic. The lower part is cast in gunmetal grey. The lower legs are painted silver in front. I do wish the chest and/or head had some deco, but seeing as how most Titan Masters do not have any paint deco I am glad to see some.

All the joints on this figure are nice and tight on my copy of this figure.

Robot Mode:
Soundwave is an extensive retooling of Soundblaster. This is not just a simple color and head swap. Here is a rundown of what has been changed:

  • The helmet section has been swapped out with one based on G1 Soundwave's head. It features the iconic crest that comes up to two points on top and the parts on the side that angle upward.
  • The chest panel is a new one featuring an interesting layered design featuring all sorts of designs like cables, gears and shapes.
  • The waist area has button details just like the Titan Master.
  • The front panels on each lower leg feature designs inspired by the original Soundwave including a series of layered, horizontal lines near the knees. Other designs below that are new, looking like layers of armor panels.

I am really impressed by how much retooling was done on this figure. I am also very relieved the designers did not just give him a new helmet and call it a day.

Soundwave is cast in four distinct plastic colors: blue, silver, gunmetal grey and clear plastic. These are all iconic Soundwave colors and they look great here. The paint colors on this figure include silver, yellow, red and gold. Some of key details paint details come right form G1 Soundwave. That includes the red bands around his wrists and the yellow near his knees. Unfortunately there is one issue with the deco. On the chest there are raised details on the "cassette door". These lines are all painted with a vacuum metallized gold color. This looks great but the gold rubs off far too easily. I had this figure in a bag of other figures to bring to a gathering of friends and all it took was an hour in a bag with other figures to rub some of the paint off (you can see the aftermath in my photos). I was very surprised by this as vacuum metallized parts nowadays generally hold up very well without color falling off.

All of the joints on Soundwave are nice and tight. The shoulder cannon attaches to the peg on the right side next to his head. On the other side is a Titan Master peg. The button on the left side opens up the "cassette door" on his chest without a problem.

Transformation to Boom Box Mode:

  1. Detach Soundblaster and convert him into robot mode.
  2. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  3. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  4. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  5. Swing the compartment behind the helmet open, push the helmet in and close the compartment.
  6. Swing the front of the feet back.
  7. Swing the Boom Box handle up.
  8. Swing the arms up to the sides.
  9. Swing the legs out to the sides.
  10. Swing the panels that form the lower legs out to the sides.
  11. Swing each of the lower legs up.
  12. Here is a critical part to pay attention to. Attached to the knee joint piece is a small pylon that you need to line up with a hole on the ramp and panel that forms the side of the lower leg. Make sure these are lined up properly.
  13. Swing the robot feet in.
  14. Swing the section with the ramp on it up, forming the speakers of the radio. Connect the silver panels to the robot arms.
  15. Repeat the last two steps for the other leg.
  16. Attach the shoulder cannon to the peg on the back.

Boom Box Mode:
The Boom Box mode is largely made up of parts from the Blaster sculpt. However, thanks to the panels on the legs and the center of the figure being made up of new parts he looks entirely different than Blaster in Boom Box mode. This is especially true for the panels on the sides. Instead of round speakers, these speakers are rectangular in shape with what could be smaller speakers on the bottom. The speakers have cross hatch patterns in them like some real life speakers. One thing that has been kept are the cool (but non-functioning) details in the back such as the headphone jack (which fists real headphones), "power" plug and a rectangle that fits a USB device! I love these details. I think they add a lot to the toy and it calls back to G1 Soundwave being a "realistic" radio.

The "speakers" on the figure are all painted silver. The rest of the details were all visible in robot mode.

Transformation to Base Mode (from Boom Box Mode):

  1. Be sure Soundblaster is set aside.
  2. Detach the rifle and set them aside for now.
  3. Be sure the Titan Master vehicle accessory is set aside.
  4. Swing the panels on the legs out.
  5. Swing the ramps out.
  6. Swing the foot pieces out, and swing the control panel pieces up.
  7. Push the button to open up the media compartment, swing the translucent plastic screen up.
  8. Rotate the robot arms around.
  9. Swing up the forearms.
  10. Swing the weapons in the forearms out.
  11. Angle the forearms so the weapons from the forearms point forward.
  12. Attach the rifle to the 5mm port inside the media compartment door.
  13. The shoulder cannon can be attached to a peg on either ramp section.
  14. Attach the Titan Master vehicle accessory to the top of the Boom Box handle.

Base Mode:
The base mode features most of the same parts as Blaster. There are a few new parts however:

  • The balcony formed by the chest panel is different than Blaster's, complete with a screen on the back instead of the front.
  • The section on the left side connected to the ramp has octagon shape in it instead of a circle.
  • The right side section connected to the ramp looks very similar to Blaster's, but the design is actually different. While round, the inner section does not have any circles in it.

The newly revealed colors in this mode include red on the joint towards the sides, silver paint on the ramp sections and gunmetal grey on the cannons formed from the arms.

There are fourteen Titan Master pegs in this mode. The ones on the robot arms are pretty close together, so they are best for standing one Titan Master up at a time. The same can be said for the pegs on the red sections. There are six individual pegs on the ramp section that will allow you to stand a Titan Master on each of them. This is perhaps one of my favorite parts of these base modes - the ability to have the Titan Masters roaming around the base along with their vehicles.

Final Thoughts:
Soundwave is a fantastic retool and redeco of Blaster. The two characters look dramatically different in robot and Boom Box mode and that is key. Unfortunately the biggest problem is the vacuum metallized gold rubbing off the "cassette door". It is not enough for me to not recommend this figure, but it is something I want to caution all fans about.