"Generations" Fall of Cybertron Soundwave Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: December 2012
Price Point: $22.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Shoulder cannon, Laserbeak

*Text below and images from Transformers.com
This dynamic duo of TRANSFORMERS figures will be your fiercest DECEPTICON villains yet! Your SOUNDWAVE figure converts from dangerous robot mode to communications truck mode so he can launch his sonic attacks. At his side is the spooky LASERBEAK figure, who ejects from data disc mode at the touch of a button to auto-convert to robot mode! Together they'll make double trouble for the AUTOBOTS, and the outcome of the battle is all up to you!

TRANSFORMERS Generations FALL OF CYBERTRON Series 1 SOUNDWAVE Figure features:

Incredible SOUNDWAVE figure!
Communications truck mode!
Includes LASERBEAK figure!
Data disc mode!
Figure ejects and auto-converts!
Works with any data disc figure (other figures sold separately).

One of the Decepticons that has caught imaginations of fans over the years is Soundwave. In Generation One, he transformed into a cassette player radio. His minions were cassettes that transformed into various animals and robots. In many respects, Soundwave embodied the phrase "Robots in disguise" by becoming what was an every day object at the time. So iconic was this Transformer that if you look at his head design in G1, it was actually the basis of the Decepticon symbol itself. Given this, it's no surprise he has appeared again and again in some form in both the media and toy lines for "Transformers".

2012's "media event" for "Transformers" was the "Fall of Cybertron" video game. A sequel to "War for Cybertron", this game included Soundwave and his cassette minions among its cast. Appearing as he did in "War for Cybertron", Soundwave was a powerful looking robot who transforms into a "communications truck" mode. A version of this design was already released as a Deluxe scale figure in the "Generations" line, but now he's been upscaled as a Voyager Class figure, with an emphasis on his functionality with the "cassette Transformers" (now "data discs"). Included with Soundwave is Laserbeak, one of his "Deployer" minions. As a note: depending on what source you cite, Soundwave's warriors are referred to by different terminology. On the "Transformers Prime" show, Laserbeak has been called a Deployer by the producers. On the Fall of Cybertron web site, Soundwave's forces are referred to as "Mini-Cons". I'll probably wind up using the term "Deployer" more often than not purely out of personal preference. I will review Laserbeak first, then Soundwave.

Laserbeak Review

Beast Mode:
Laserbeak has traditionally been a bird of some sort whether it's his Armada counterpart or Botcon incarnation. This time is no different. His "beast/robot" mode is a bird, complete with a big beak on his head, an extended neck, a "tail feather" section in the back and two wings. Keeping in mind that he becomes a disc in his alternate form, it's no shock that he has mostly rounded edges on his wings, back and tail section. That is not to say he doesn't have any angled sections. His head, neck and arm/wing joints all have some angles on them with mechanical details sculpted in. Even his tail section has some pointed and angled details, driving home the mechanical nature of the character.

The primary "Generation One" influence on this figure is the head design, which has a wide, angular base extending to a beak that angles downward in the front. He has sharp, triangular shaped eyes and looks like a bird that means business. Like his G1 counterpart, he does have weaponry integrated into his body (who had weapons sculpted onto his body as well as separate accessories). You can see these on either side of the section where the neck begins and on his wings. Oddly, he lacks any type of feet, not even faux ones sculpted on the bottom so I'll just assume he hovers all the time unless he's in data disc mode.

Laserbeak is cast in red and black plastic. Most of his outer armor is red, with the inner "bird parts" cast in black. He has silver paint decos on the red parts (which come together to form detailing for the data disc mode). Silver is an appropriate color as that is the color used on G1 Laserbeak's weaponry. Disappointingly none of the black parts are painted, but he is basically an accessory in this set. He looks good, but he could have been better.

To convert him back into a data disc, push the head back, fold the tail over it and then push the wings in. To transform him back, press the button on the bottom of the disc and all his parts will spring open. In general, when you drop him from Soundwave's chest (more on that below), the ideal situation would be for him to land on this button and activate the transformation. More often than not however one wing will just pop open with you having to press the button to complete the transformation.

Data Disc Mode:
The "Data Disc" mode is common across all of Soundwave's Deployers in this series. It's a small, thick disc that looks pretty solid despite being made up of several panels pushed together. In this form it looks mostly red, with only some black parts peeking out on the edges and back. The front has an intricate circuit pattern with a small Decepticon symbol in the center. The back has some more solid silver paint details that are roughly wing shaped, angling to the sides, then upwards.

The Data Disc form can fit into Soundwave's chest, though you may have to fiddle with it a bit as it's a tight fit, not a loose one. More on this feature below.

Soundwave Review

Robot Mode:
In the "Fall of Cybertron" video game, Soundwave is a hulking, menacing presence. His upper body is wide with its box like chest, wide shoulders and thick forearms. His "boxiness" is offset by several angled and pointed designs on his head, arms, knees and even his triangular feet. Much of his design contains homages to his Generation One incarnation. Most notably his head and chest design. The head is basically the G1 head, with a bit of extra angled flair added, but it still has the central arrow shaped crest, a pointed mouthplate and visor eyes with "vents" on either side. His chest has a compartment for his Deployers, complete with a clear window and he carries a shoulder mounted cannon to the right side of his head. I'm happy to report that everything I just described here about the game's CG model also carries over to the action figure. He has all of the design aspects mentioned above and more.

The "more" I am referring to are some of the finer details from the CG model. This includes his vehicle mode wheel placement, which doesn't always match up well with the game or TV show model on action figures. Here, his wheels wind up on his legs and back, just like in the game. He has a line of triangular patterns on each forearm, similar to the game. He even has a series of ridged details right above each foot on the lower legs. Add to that his "claws" from the vehicle mode being on his chest, and you can tell the designers really tried their best to be sure this guy matched up with his in-game appearance. He looks imposing, powerful and yet totally like a different incarnation of G1 Soundwave all at the same time.

Soundwave is cast in very traditional colors: blue and silver. Some of his parts are translucent purple, specifically his "chest window" and the wheels for the vehicle mode. In a really nice move, he has translucent red plastic used for light piping eyes despite not having that color anywhere else on the figure. Thank you Hasbro for not going cheap and making his eyes purple or something. His colors are actually a bit dulled in the video game, but there they're quite vibrant and look great but he still looks "dark and gritty" as opposed to bright and cheerful (no worries there folks). The blue makes up most of the torso, head, arms and lower legs. Silver makes up the rest except for the purple parts.

Paint colors also reflect very traditional Soundwave colors: gold, silver, red, purple and lavender. The silver is used for a lot of details including edges on his shoulder armor, his mouthplate, the sides of his "helmet" section and some details on the sides of his legs. Red paint is mostly found on his arms, specifically the shoulder and forearm sections. A bit is found on the legs as well. While most people don't think of it as a "Soundwave color", gold is quite important. In the original figure vacuum metallized gold outlined several parts including his chest compartment. Here, gold paint outlines the purple piece on his chest and also appears at the end of his cannon and on the lower legs. It's not a lot, but rather just enough to remind us the color is an essential part of his color scheme without being overwhelming. His other colors: purple and lavender may seem like the same thing, but they're not. The purple is used for a Decepticon symbol on his chest, but that is very different than the lighter lavender color you'll find on his forearms and legs. These are the patterned strips that appear on a lot of the "Fall of Cybertron" Transformers that "glow" in the game. This lighter color gives off that illusion nicely and it looks great. Like the gold, it's used sparingly so as not to overwhelm the visuals on the figure.

Soundwave has twenty one points of articulation in this form. I'm stretching it a bit by including his fists, which swing in and out as part of his transformation. This includes six points in each arm and five in each leg. He has a connection point for a 5mm peg weapon on to the right of his head, allowing you to attach his shoulder cannon. The cannon can also be held in either fist. You can also store a 5mm peg weapon on his back thanks to a hole on his back.

Soundwave's primary gimmick is around the chest compartment and his Deployers/Mini-Cons. Push the "eject" button to the left of his head and his chest panel flips open, revealing a compartment for the data discs. Depending on how many you want to insert, you'll need to pull the panel on his back out. You can store up to two of the discs at a time. When you want to "eject" them, push the back panel in and the discs will drop out and (hopefully) transform into their beast/robot modes. The gimmick varies depending on each individual disc. Laserbeak is successful only about 1/3 of the time. Most of the time one wing flops out and I have to press the button to do the rest, but I don't have any other discs yet so results may vary depending on the disc/Mini-Con design. It's still a neat gimmick and it's the first time the full "action" shown in animation has been simulated in the figure. Previously you would manually remove the cassette (or in the case of Cybertron Soundwave, his weapon) by pulling the Deployer out. This action is much more dramatic.

One caveat (aside from Laserbeak not always fully transforming) is that the panel pulled all the way out looks rather odd. It almost looks like you're pulling his spine out horizontally (and the ridged design of the rod that connects the panel to the main body even looks like a spine). That said, I enjoy the way this figure was largely designed around a gimmick but still looks great in sculpt and color. It's also not an unposable brick (I'm looking at you Armada Scavenger).

If I were to lodge one complaint, it's the fact that Soundwave doesn't include his traditional two weapons (even the Deluxe version had that). It's a small quibble however if you take the figure as a whole and consider he comes with Laserbeak.

One curious note about this figure. If you look at his instructions, package photography and even early photos of him from Botcon it seems like he was going to include a rifle based on G1 Optimus Prime's rifle. This pairing is odd to say the least, but even more odd? This rifle does not actually come with the figure! It's not just mine, I've confirmed with a few friends that their Soundwave did not include this rifle. It's very strange and I grant the rifle would be out of place but it's still kind of odd that the rifle made it all the way into the instructions (as an alternative weapon to boot) without being included with the figure.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the cannon if attached and set it aside for now.
  2. Pull the back panel all the way out.
  3. Push each fist into the forearms.
  4. Straighten out the robot arms and swing them back so they are horizontal.
  5. Swing the arms up at the shoulder hinges, making sure they connect to the sides of the figure (there's a peg and hole that match up).
  6. Swing the wheels on his back forward.
  7. Swing each forearm up against the shoulders.
  8. Swing the back panel out to give some clearance for the robot legs.
  9. Swing the waist piece back and the legs forward.
  10. You will need to rotate the wheel pieces on the legs to match them up with the arms, forming the sides of the vehicle.
  11. Swing the panels from the shoulders in towards the center to cover up the robot head.
  12. Push the top most part of the chest panel up, using the tabs on top to fit under the panels from the last step.
  13. Push the back panel up and onto the top of the vehicle.
  14. attach the cannon to the top of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Soundwave's vehicle mode in "Fall of Cybertron" is a "communications truck" by description, but in practice it looks like a fast moving tank! With it's teeth and claw like shapes in the front, the chest panel looking like a big "Cylon" style eye and layers of armor paneling along the sides, Soundwave does not look like a vehicle you want to mess with! This figure has many of the requisite design elements from the CG model including the sleek lines on the sides of the vehicle, the big claws in front and the unique shapes of his wheels. Where it differs is the bulk. Fact is there are a bunch of robot parts that need to come together to form this mode, and it's bulky, looking like an alien SUV or APC whereas it has a much lower profile in the CG model that makes it look a bit more sleek. I actually prefer the more "bulky" look as I think it befits the character, but your mileage may vary on that count.

This mode focuses heavily on the blue plastic on the figure, which is appropriate as the color makes up most of the CG model in this form as well. The silver is most prominent in the front and on the weapon on top of the vehicle. Here the translucent purple wheels take center stage, with the gunmetal grey paint on the rims standing out beautifully. Too few Transformers have this detail nowadays. It's a small, simple detail that really adds a lot to the figure. The lavender strips all wind up on the sides of the vehicle giving the side armor a glowing quality. The red details wind up on the sides too, and this time around you can see red on the top of the vehicle on what appears to be a chair (but is really a tab to help with the robot mode gimmick). Perhaps the most surprising deco to me was the gold from the lower robot legs becoming what look like boosters on the back of the vehicle. Many of the ground based vehicles in "Fall of Cybertron" have "boosters" that allow them to accelerate quickly, and Soundwave appears to be no exception!

The vehicle only has one point to attach weaponry, the hole at the top. Granted if you choose a weapon that can combine with others this isn't a huge deal, and I find myself okay with the design choice as having holes on the sides of the figures would ruin a bit of the aesthetics of the sleek lines on the sides. In a fun bit of design, you can still utilize his "eject" feature for the data discs in this mode. The eject button is still accessible at the front of the vehicle. Press the button and the front end flips down. Then swing the back panel up and back and push and you can launch the discs! Since they're not really dropping the auto transform may only work "so so" but it's still a neat bit of functionality.

Final Thoughts:
Soundwave is a really fun figure. He's kind of an exception to the rule nowadays where he's a toy built around a gimmick but still manages to retain most of the positive qualities of a Transformer (good sculpting, articulation etc.). Even better, the gimmick is closely tied to an iconic feature of the character. He's not perfect however. The "rifle mystery" is just strange and he does look rather odd with his back plate pulled all the way out. However, relative to the strength of the figure these are quibbles. Recommended!

Lightbox Gallery