Height: 14 cm to top of head.
Soundwave is one of the most sophisticated electronics and communications experts on Cybertron. His body is heavily armored and shielded to protect the sensitive communications gear hidden within, where he stores every byte of information he collects. He is a living storehouse of secrets. No one trusts him, but everyone understands that the data he holds could destroy them all.
So, basically he's Google.
And so we have the last new mold for the War For Cybertron toys in Generations. Of course the Cliffjumper remold of Bumblebee is coming along down the road a bit, but after that it may be the end of the road for the video game tie-in. Pity, I'd have liked a toy based on Breakdown's game design...
Packaged in robot mode, Soundwave... has a big box for a chest. While that may be expected, it's not like the old toy, where it's wide and shallow. Soundwave looks like he's walking around with an oven glued to his chest. What this really needs is some width. The thing I can't get over is that the figure's body looks and feels too narrow. Maybe it's just me. I just have an expectation of a Soundwave as having his bulk side-to-side, rather than front-to-back. Or possibly this would be okay if this mass did go out toward the back at all. Being fully front-loaded like this just makes him appear uneven.
The way the torso and head are made especially is a bit odd. If you pose Soundwave in a natural looking way, the toy tends to appear to be looking downward. To compensate, you need to more or less have Soundwave do the dreaded crotch-thrust, which takes us right away from the realm of "natural". I'm pretty much judging the idea of natural as having the chest window be more or less vertical. Thankfully, whichever method you choose to pose the toy, it will be stable thanks to its huge feet. To give an idea about this, they make up together the majority of the vehicle mode's roof. The heel is comparatively short, but the total area the feet cover lends a great deal of stability to the toy. ...so long as the ankle remains plugged together. The ankles swivel as part of transformation, but are made to tab into place in robot mode. They have springs to help push them towards the vehicle mode position when unlocked from the robot mode, so the stability is gonna be shot if you accidentally dislodge them. Soundwave's range of movement is mostly unrestricted by any body parts, though the pieces on his shoulders that will eventually be his fenders can catch at points when moving the shoulders. But on the whole any joint on the body can be used freely.
Among a line giving us the likes of Drift and Darkmount, sadly the thing that most comes to mind with Soundwave is "unimaginative". He has a very standard and uninspired degree of articulation. While he is essentially a capable toy, you won't find any of the excellent and inventive ways to pose the toy as some other items have recently offered. The head isn't even on a restricted ball joint. It's a simple swivel. It feels wrong to criticize when the toy simply doesn't try to exceed a standard of articulation, but after some standout examples, I guess I'm taking for granted when Transformers do push the envelope to great success.
Not the Altern(ity/ator) nightmare RAC described Bumblebee as being to me, in fact Soundwave is pretty straightforward. The biggest thing to remember is that the fists have to turn to a certain position to be able to fit when you transform the arms. It's very enjoyably intuitive otherwise. Going back to robot mode is a little less fun just in trying to get the first pieces to pop loose, but at least they feel solid the whole time.
One thing I like about the War For Cybertron designs is that the vehicle modes look like what Cybertronian forms should - utility transport modes to get around faster, having no hint of a position for a driver. In this way they call back in a small way to Vehicon alt-mode design, though lacking the elements that made them appear as living vehicles. But Soundwave is no different from the previous three War For Cybertron derived toys. The barest hint of a passenger compartment is simply the transparency over the chest cavity. But I'd say that's more coincidental, with no sign of doors, hatches, or other openings for interior access.
Soundwave locks together nice and solid in vehicle mode. Always a benefit, but it does typically lead to an issue of there being very little to do once you get there. Unless you like to sit and spin wheels. Soundwave does have some moving pieces. The front end is equipped with a very tooth-like grille structure. The block of three teeth below the "window" move as a single unit, and each side's "tusk" can move independently. It's a small thing, but at least if you do it right you can almost make it look like some horror show of a mouth. The chest compartment can still open in vehicle mode as well, allowing access to the stored weapons.
I can't really pin it down, but something bugs me about this vehicle mode. Descriptions of it as a box on wheels aren't far off. Clearly it's designed as a heavy, armored truck kind of thing (allowing for an additional bit of utility in that Soundwave can transform to potentially wrap his stronger armor panels around the outside of his body for better defense) which is not the easiest kind of vehicle to make be interesting. Being able to attach the weapons to the sides helps a bit, but I still feel like something is missing in the shape of the roof and front end. Possibly a bigger gun or maybe a radar dish or something. But at least it's not simultaneously lacking in some element of visual interest and being a horrible, unstable mess. Then I'd just have to start crying.
Kind of a cute callback. They're the same basic idea as the original Soundwave's weapons, of course scaled down. They still resemble batteries, though they're also made to appear like cassette spools when stored in the chest cavity. It wasn't immediately obvious to me, but there's notches around the rim of the chest storage for the pegs to fit into for storage.
Either gun can be hand held, or plugged into the hole on the right shoulder, depending on your preference. The intended rifle can be a little bothersome. It's hard to get the slide-out portion to actually slide far enough to grab hold of (at least with my large adult hands) and then you have to be sure to pull it all the way to the end or it won't stick in place. I find the best method for getting the barrel out far enough is to hold the weapon pointing down, and then as if you're trying to flick something off your thumb, strike the backside of the weapon with nail side of your finger. In my case this consistently pushes the barrel just far enough to be able to pull the rest of the way.
The guns do mount in vehicle mode if you wish. The peg holes for them are on the snug side, so while they won't flop around or fall out, it can be uncomfortable inserting them to start with. I also wouldn't try twisting them once they're in. The guns are clear plastic, and of course that doesn't take such stress very well.
Soundwave is the toy that takes no risks. It'd almost be more appropriate for this to represent cartoon Shockwave in that regard. Cybertron shall remain as you leave it, way to think on your feet there, buddy.
I mentioned before that I feel bad for calling the toy out on the matter of not taking any chances. But Generations has shown so much promise that what I want most is for it to keep pushing. So far it's been rewarded with some fantastic stuff that needs to come back in the future. Soundwave is not a bad toy, but he feels uninspired. On the other hand, I'm glad to have an option that's not either 25+ years old, $70 bit of crappy electronics, or Cybertron Soundwave. At least this one holds together solidly in vehicle mode. The lack of any little helpers is regrettable, but completely understandable at this price point. And I'd rather not have had to pay a higher price or make some other tradeoff on this toy for a Frenzy or Buzzsaw.
...maybe a Ratbat, though...
Soundwave is Good, but I really wish he'd have been great. I'll admit to being happy he just doesn't have some glaring design flaw like the Cybertron toy. Also vaguely neat that there are Cybertronian stereo-esque ways to transform the toy, which was referenced in the video game.
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