"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Activator Combiner Soundwave & Laserbeak Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Activator Combiner, Combiner Force, Decepticon, Prime, Robots in Disguise (2015)

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Soundwave General Information:
Release Date: July 2017
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Laserbeak Mini-Con

Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Soundwave spies on Autobot communication. Oh, scrap! The Autobots have detected his location. Not so fast -- Laserbeak attaches to Soundwave to activate signal scrambler-mode and mask their location.

Kids can combine forces and activate awesome pop-out battle modes with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Activator Combiner figures. This Activator Combiner 2-pack features one Soundwave figure and one Laserbeak figure. Attach the Soundwave figure to the Laserbeak figure to activate signal-scrambler mode.

The Soundwave figure converts from robot to tank in 7 steps; Laserbeak figure converts in 1. Activator figures work with other Activator Combiner figures (each sold separately). Scan the shields on these figures to unlock Soundwave and Laserbeak characters in the mobile app (see below for app details).

Combine forces and join the battle with these figures based on the Transformers: Robots in Disguise animated series.

Includes Soundwave figure, Laserbeak Activator figure, and instructions.

The theme for "Robots in Disguise" in 2017 is "Combiner Force" where combination in various ways informs the gimmicks built into the toys. One segment features "Activator Combiners". Riffing off of the "Armada" series these two packs feature a larger figure with a Mini-Con. The Mini-Con can be attached to the larger figure to activate a feature. Each larger figure measures larger than the Warrior Class figures, but not as large as the larger 3-Step Changers. They are in a size class all their own. Summer 2017 brought a new wave of these figures including Soundwave with Laserbeak.

Soundwave was a key character during the "Transformers Prime" series, but he only recently reappeared in the "Robots in Disguise" series. As with previous seasons, a Decepticon is often set up as the main bad guy, and in "Combiner Force" Soundwave fills that niche. That means this year several toys of Soundwave have popped up in "Robots in Disguise" including the recently reviewed 3 Step Changer. This version comes with his trusty partner Laserbeak (who also appeared in "Prime") in a new form.

Packaging:
The Activator Combiner figures are packaged in a window box. The border primarily uses white and red colors with the "Transformers" logo set vertically on the right side (if you are facing the box). Above that is the "Robots in Disguise" logo along with an Autobot symbol inside a circle. Towards the bottom of the packaging is the "Combiner Force" logo. Above that are the names "Soundwave" and "Laserbeak" inside arrows that come together in the middle, symbolizing their ability to "combine" (yeah, we're using the term pretty loosely here). The artwork on the packaging features Laserbeak flying in beast mode and transforming to connect to Soundwave in vehicle mode. Both figures are in robot mode in a plastic tray inside the box. The back of the packaging shows CG renders of the figure in all its various modes. This includes Soundwave both connected and not connected to Laserbeak. It also mentions that the Mini-Con feature can work across figures including Optimus Prime and Hi-Test (pictured in vehicle mode off to one side). Below all that is legal information in various languages.

Laserbeak

Laserbeak did appear in "Prime", but he was more of a vague, wing shaped drone than the bird-like form fans are used to. This time out his form has changed to look much more like his G1 namesake. This Laserbeak features wings that sweep back on the sides, a head that comes up from the main body with a sharp looking beak and triangular face. He has vertical stabilizers in the back that look almost like mechanical feathers too. Even better? There are two blasters pointing forward situated near the main body, calling back to the G1 Laserbeak's cannons. The barrel of his weapon mode actually forms his "tail feathers", completing the bird-based appearance. Laserbeak looks fantastic and I love the sleek new take on a classic design.

Laserbeak is cast in dark blue and black plastic, the same colors as Soundwave himself. The blue is mostly concentrated in the main body with black on parts like the head and wings. He features some red deco on the edge of the wings and the eyes. Red appears on Soundwave also, but it also serves as a nice color callback to G1 Laserbeak (who was mostly black and red). The finishing touch is a scannable Decepticon symbol on the left wing. This unlocks the character in the "Robots in Disguise" app.

To transform Laserbeak into weapon mode, swing the blasters at the base of his wings back. The head should slide down and in. Swing the wings up, then the ends of the wings down. Swing the tail back. The tail has a 5mm peg that swings out.

Laserbeak's weapon mode is a dual barreled cannon. The way his wings come up on the sides give it an extra sleek appearance. The peg on the bottom allows you to attach it to any figure with a 5mm port.

Overall I really like this reimagining of Laserbeak. He looks cool in both modes and I like the idea of a "Targetmaster"/Mini-Con Laserbeak.

Soundwave

Robot Mode:
In "Prime", Soundwave looked very different than his G1 incarnation. Instead of a boxy, brutish looking robot he was thin and full of angled lines. His new form however is much more of a callback to his G1 and "Fall of Cybertron" era forms. His chest and shoulders are wide and his lower legs are thick. Many details on this figure pay homage to previous Soundwave designs. This includes the head shaped like a Decepticon symbol, a panel on his chest that looks like a cassette deck door (but highly stylized) and even small "button" like shapes on his waist area. This design features an additional element: two rocket launchers set on top of his shoulders. Each of these features three "rocket tubes" (non functioning) that give him some awesome looking firepower. I really like the sculpt on this mode. It may be a simplified figure, but it looks great.

Soundwave is cast in dark blue, black and dark grey plastic. These are pretty standard colors for the character (though the dark grey is sometimes represented as silver depending on the medium). Most of the figure is blue, with black and grey making up smaller parts. Red paint is used on the face, rocket launchers and lower legs. A shiny black paint is used on his chest panel, with a light beige color surrounding it. The forearms are painted dark grey, matching up with the plastic on the thighs. The finishing touch is a scannable Decepticon symbol on his chest which unlocks the character in the "Robots in Disguise" app. The colors look good overall and I am glad that every major part of the figure has some paint on it. This not only looks good, it shows an extra bit of care given to a figure that is not aimed at older collectors.

There are seven points of articulation on this figure. This does not sound like a lot, but for this class of figure I was actually surprised. The head can turn, his arms can swing up at the elbows and thanks to the transformation he has knee articulation. Soundwave features five 5mm ports. Two on each arm and one behind his head. Laserbeak can be attached to any of these and of course you can add on other Mini-Cons to give Soundwave more firepower. In a fun action feature, turn the wheel on his back and his shoulder cannons will move back and forth in a reciprocating motion!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the robot arms back.
  2. Push the robot head forward.
  3. Swing each of the shoulder launchers in.
  4. Pull the lower half of the body down, then swing it back.
  5. Swing the lower legs back to form the front of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Soundwave's vehicle mode feels very much like a complete reversal of his "Prime" vehicle form. Instead of being an aerial drone, he is now a ground based vehicle. Instead of being thin and compact looking, he is thick, chunky and tough looking. Like "Fall of Cybertron" Soundwave this vehicle looks like an armored truck that can tear through the battlefield. Like that vehicle this one has a mock "tape deck door" at the front of the vehicle and lots of angled sections such as the front wheel wells and the doors on the sides. The vehicle looks rough and tough and I think it looks awesome.

This mode shows off mostly blue plastic. If you look carefully, the blue on the shoulder cannons (now cannons at the back of the vehicle) is slightly darker than the blue on the rest of the figure. A dark shade of yellow is used to paint the outline of the "tape deck door" in the front of the vehicle. Red is used on the windows and the rocket launcher barrels in the back (which look more like thrusters here for the vehicle). The chest details show in the back here and add a nice splash of detail to the back of the vehicle. This deco looks great but there is one missing detail that is unfortunate. In the front there is clearly a section sculpted to have a symbol painted onto it, however there is no Decepticon symbol there. Whoops!

Soundwave has a very fun action feature. Attach Laserbeak in weapon mode to the 5mm port on top of the vehicle and the rocket launcher/cannons in the back will flip out to the sides. You can also activate this by pressing the black buttons on the top of the vehicle. Now roll the vehicle along the ground and the rubber wheel on the bottom of the vehicle will turn causing the cannons to move back and forth. It looks fantastic and it is a super fun feature that recalls the "Armada" Mini-Con gimmick. If you want to attach more weapons and/or Mini-Cons there are 5mm ports on the sides of the vehicle as well.

Final Thoughts:
For those who read my Activator Combiner Bumblebee review you will know that I was very unimpressed with this class of figures at first. However, this figure does it right. The figure looks great in both modes and has a super fun action feature in both modes. While the Warrior Class Soundwave may be more along the lines of what older fans want, but if you are looking for a fun interpretation of Soundwave I would give this figure a chance.

Pros:

  • Sculpt looks great in both modes.
  • Good deco for an "Activator Combiner" class figure.
  • Nice update to Laserbeak's design.
  • Fun action feature in both modes.

Cons:

  • Could use a couple more paint applications.
  • Allowing the legs to swing forward would help the articulation on the figure a lot.