#2656: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Ah, yes, non-Transforming Transformers.  A wonderful little oxymoronic concept that’s been rattling around ever since the introduction of Action Masters in 1990.  Over the years, it’s been something that Hasbro (and some of their licensees) have gravitated back to every so often, as a way of offering figures that are more accurate to what you see on the screen, thanks to not needing to have any sort of compromise for the sake of an alt-mode.  They’re newest stab at this venture is Transformers: R.E.D., short for “Robot Enhanced Design.”  It’s designed to pair off with the likes of The Black Series, being a highly-articulated line of collector-aimed Transformers figures…that don’t transform.  I’m giving the line a try with who else but Soundwave?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the three figures in the debut assortment of R.E.D., which was exclusive to Walmart.  I know, everyone’s super-thrilled, right?  This version of Soundwave is heavily inspired by his original G1 cartoon design, taking into account all of the impossibilities of that design in regards to an actual transformation sequence.   The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  In terms of sizing, he falls somewhere between and deluxe and a voyager class from the main line, meaning he fits in alright with the standard, actually transforming Transformers, if that’s something you’re interested in.  Despite being designed as a companion line to their other 6-inch stuff, he’s, of course, not even remotely in scale with Black Series or Legends.  Honestly, actual scaling aside, even just as a “hey wouldn’t he be cool robot figure to put with them” sort of thing, he seems a bit on the small side.  The articulation is overall pretty good on this guy.  It’s a slight step up from the Siege mold in its robot form, with more range in areas such as the shoulders and wrists in particular, but just a greater range of motion across the board, really.  The only area where I had any trouble was the ankles, which are just hard to get to move, I think in part due to the size of the joints.  They’re rather large joints, and prone to getting stuck.  In terms of sculpt, Soundwave is admittedly a pretty spot-on recreation of the G1 animation model.  They really got the proportions down pretty well, and the head and torso in particular really nail this particular look.  The torso even features the eject feature for the tape deck in his chest, although in the case of my figure, it does have a tendency to get stuck.  The articulation is pretty well worked in, and it all looks pretty clean.  For the most part, anyway. I do have one notable issue with the sculpt, and it circles back around the issue I had with the articulation: the ankles and feet.  They’ve given him these rather large ball-shaped universal joints, and they’re just kind of obtrusive and not very well worked into the sculpt.  They don’t follow the model, and they don’t look great.  But, from the ankles up, everything’s great.  The paint work on this figure goes for a flat color scheme to match the cel animation.  It’s a more muted appearance than other figures as of late, but it works out alright.  And hey, it’s a Soundwave with a red visor.  That’s cool!  Two of those from Hasbro in a year.  Not bad.  Soundwave is packed with a small version of Laserbeak in tape form, two sets of hands (gripping and fist/button pressing), his shoulder cannon, and his gun.  It hits all the basics, but it feels a bit light.  Couldn’t we at least get Ravage or Laserbeak in their robot modes?  Or perhaps the perpetual red-headed stepchild of the cassettes, Buzzsaw?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interactions with Transformers in the last two years have sort of shifted my opinions on things, because in 2018, this is the kind of line that I probably would have been a bit more excited by, being a fan of the Transformers as cool robots, but not much else.  But, Siege and Earthrise have showcased to me that Hasbro can make some really good robot action figures that still have transformations, making the prospect of this line a harder sell.  When Prime and Megatron were the only two we knew about, it was an easy pass, especially with that bit about the Walmart exclusivity.  Then they had to go and show this guy, and my stupid love of stupid Soundwave dragged stupid old me back in.  The Soundwave that eventually became mine wasn’t originally meant for me at all, however.  Max found two of them at retail, but was unable to get a response from me, so only bought this one for himself.  After opening and messing with the figure, however, he ended up just asking if I wanted this one, because he wasn’t really feeling it.  I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a G1 Soundwave I didn’t have, so I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  Ultimately, getting him within a week or so of the Earthrise Soundwave, he feels a little redundant and out of place, but I can appreciate him for what he is, even if what he is winds up being a bit…counterintuitive?

#2628: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Oh man, was my last Soundwave review on the site really Bayverse?  Yikes, I can’t let that stick.  I mean, at least he wasn’t some stupid sports car or something, but still.  Okay, let’s got extra, primo classic with this one then, I guess.

This summer, Netflix dropped a new Transformers cartoon, based on Hasbro’s currently running War For Cybertron trilogy of toy lines.  Hasbro corresponded with a set of Walmart-exclusive re-decos of some of their figures, making them a bit more show accurate.  With the show’s second part, Earthrise, upon us, Hasbro’s doing something a little different, and actually using this exclusive line to do some slightly reworked sculpts.  In the case of today’s Soundwave, that means he actually gets an earth mode this time.  Gee, I wonder what it might be?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the second assortment of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line.  He’s one of two Voyager class offerings this round, with the other being Optimus Prime.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 niches tall and he has 25 workable points of articulation.  As I touched on in the intro, some of the second assortment figures got some new tooling, and Soundwave is included there.  He’s got quite a few parts in common with his Siege counterpart, including the head, forearms, hands, feet, and parts of his pelvis.  I was a little bummed that the forearms were kept the same, since they were one of my only complaints about the original, but I guess they had to draw the line somewhere.  Additionally, much of the inner workings of this figure, notably the articulation, are shared between the two.  Siege Soundwave is a very nice figure in his own right, and very strong recreation of his G1 bot mode, so keeping a lot of the parts is fine by me.  The new pieces are largely just about changing up some surface level details.  Some of the more greebly bits are removed from the arms and legs, and he’s generally just made cleaner and sleeker, bringing him a little closer to his original design.  The biggest changes occur on the torso, which is a little wider hand has a slightly different construction at a few spots, as well as removing a number of the moving parts from the Siege mold.  The reasoning behind this change comes more into play in the next section.

Boom, here we are in the next section, where we discuss the figure’s alt-mode.  Since the ‘80s, Soundwave figures have had to deal with the question of what to do for an alt-mode for a guy who turns into out of date tech.  The Siege figure gave him a weird sort of dropship mode, which I didn’t hate, but I also didn’t love.  This release just decides to not even try and come up with a more up-to-date mode, so he once again turns into a cassette player.  The new torso has been designed to help facilitate this change more fully, and ultimately his transformation scheme isn’t too far removed from the vintage figure.  There are a few more moving parts, and the end product’s a touch more fiddly, but it’s overall a set-up that works.  In addition to the new alt-mode, Soundwave also gets a new, much cleaner and bolder paint scheme than the Siege release.  No silver paint this time, or at least no silver paint where his basic design doesn’t call for it.  He’s got all the silver paint he’s *supposed* to have.  Soundwave is packed with the shoulder and hand cannons that were included with the Siege release, as well as is gun that folds into a staff.  Additionally, he comes with Laserbeak and Ravage packed right in this time, instead of them being separate releases.  Both figures get new decos to make them look a bit more like actual tapes (with Ravage’s being the one that really sells it), and Laserbeak also gets a new more Earth-y bird head, which I really like.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like so many Transformers before him, this figure is Max’s fault.  Well, okay, it’s mostly Hasbro’s fault, since they, you know, made it.  But Max showed me the original leaked photos, and let me know it was a Walmart exclusive, and ultimately hooked me up with this one I’m reviewing here.  I love the Siege figure, but I didn’t love his alt-mode.  This figure fixes that, and also just makes for a slightly cleaner robot mode.  I like that a lot.  I don’t know that I’d say he’s definitively better than the Siege release, but I do really like the adjustments made here.  He’s definitely a good Soundwave.

#2606: Greasepit

GREASEPIT

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: EARTHRISE (HASBRO)

Siege‘s main big gimmick was cross line compatibility, a concept best exemplified in its Weaponizers sub-set of figures, a whole type of figure designed with augmenting other figures in mind.  For the follow up in Earthrise, the Weaponizers haven’t been kept, but their general modular nature has been, and has been funneled into a new sub-set of modular figures called “Modulators.”  I know, crazy naming scheme there.   I have as of yet avoided the Modulators here, but I’m jumping into the concept today with Greasepit.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Greasepit was released as part of the Generations Select component of the Earthrise line this year.  He hit right at the same time as Decepticon Exhaust, right around July (unless, of course, you got one earlier from overseas).  As with all of the Modulators so far, Greasepit takes the name of a G1 Micromaster, and makes a deluxe class figure out of the Micromaster Station that said Micromaster came included with.  In this case, it’s Decepticon Micromaster Greasepit and his gas station base.  In his robot mode, Greasepit stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 19 workable points of articulation.  The Greasepit base never had a robot mode, much like the rest of the modulators, and some of the Weaponizers as well.  This means that the robot mode here is all-new…ish.  Okay, it’s not all-new at all, because he’s actually mostly a repaint of the main line’s Ironworks release.  But, I never got that one, so it’s new to me, and it’s also new to Greasepit, so I wasn’t entirely wrong. It’s overall a pretty decent sculpt; the only thing I’m not big on is the lack of a proper waist joint, though it’s worth noting this was also an issue on Weaponizer Cog.  I do like that this guy doesn’t have as many visible gaps as Cog did, and I also just generally like how his robot mode worked out.  It’s rather boxy and utilitarian.

Greasepit has a handful of possible alt-modes, and like the Weaponizers, the way you arrive at them isn’t through the typical transformation process, but rather through some serious parts forming.  By this point, it’s expected, and it does certainly allow for some more out there alt-modes.  The primary one for this guy is his more squared off gas station mode.  This replicates the original G1 base configuration the most closely of the ones offered up by Hasbro.  It’s not a perfect match, since it’s got to contend with a sculpt that was original meant for Ironworks’ oil rig set-up, but it’s still pretty close, and it gets the idea across.  The other two listed modes are a sort of a tower thing, and a longer stretch of road sort of thing…I don’t really know what that second one’s supposed to be.  The tower looks a bit like the G1 toy’s alt-mode, so that’s a cool touch, but ultimately, neither of these two modes is gonna bet much use from me.  The color scheme on this guy is rather on the bright and colorful side, which I definitely dig.  He’s actually got some decals for a few of his more intricate details, which is something that’s been absent from the line for a bit.  They look fine, but you always have to wonder about long term viability with such things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Modulators are a far enough reach from core Transformers that I didn’t really have much draw to them, but I did think the Ironworks mold looked kind of cool.  He ended up being the only Wave 1 Deluxe not to show up at All Time, so I didn’t end up snagging him, but in contrast Greasepit came in before most other places, allowing me another chance at the mold.  He’s a lot of fun, and I certainly dig that first alt-mode.  I may not know much about these bases, but this one’s cool.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2501: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS PRIME: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)

It’s been a bit of a spell since I’ve looked at any Transformers, which is something that didn’t used to be a weird thing, but now has become one.  What a weird world I live in now.  Well, the lack of Transformers should be changing post-haste, as I have some new stuff waiting for review.  However, before getting into the new stuff, how about some old stuff?  Though I didn’t watch it new, Transformers: Prime is one of my earlier instances of sitting down and actually watching a Transformers show through, and I definitely dig some of the updated designs that came out of it.  Obviously, my favorites to come out of it are my favorites to come out of any incarnation of the franchise, so I am just all about this incarnation of Soundwave, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave was released in the first series of the Prime: Robots In Disguise “Revealers” line, which was the deluxe-class component of the tie-in line.  In robot mode, he stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of workable articulation.  As with most figures in this line, he was based on his cartoon appearance, which was a quite streamlined, almost bat-like design.  It’s pretty far removed from the classic G1 design, but it still really fits with the spirit of the character, and I feel makes for a much cooler update than what we ended up getting in the movies.  His sculpt was all new to this figure, and does a pretty respectable job of capturing Soundwave’s animated appearance from the show.  It’s pretty slick and poses pretty well considering how it’s designed.  He’s a touch restricted at the shoulders, but for the most part it’s impressive the level of posing you can get out of him.  This Soundwave, as with just about every Soundwave post-80s, had to come up with a new alt-mode that wasn’t just a cassette player, what with those being out of vogue these days and all.  Instead, Prime Soundwave’s alt-mode is a spy drone, reminiscent of the Predator B drone.  Honestly, it’s a pretty solid choice of alt-mode, given Soundwave’s typical characterization as a spy and all that.  His transformation process is a little more involved and finnicky than some of the more recent Transformers I’ve picked up, but it’s still pretty easy to figure out, and the end result is a pretty convincing spy drone.  Soundwave was packed with his companion Laserbeak, who can either be plugged into one of the 5mm ports throughout Soundwave’s body, or folded into his chest for easy storage.  The chest storage is definitely a nice throwback to the cassette set up of the vintage figures, and I really dig it.  In 2013, under the revised Beast Hunters branding for Prime, Soundwave’s mold got a slight re-working, a new color scheme, and a new capture claw weapon and Ravage in place of Laserbeak.  It’s a fun change-up from the initial figure, with a slightly brighter and bold color, and the new accessories are certainly a lot of fun.  Not quite show-accurate, but still kind of nifty.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I wasn’t watching Prime when it was first airing, I wasn’t picking the figures up either.  However, the Beast Hunters release of this mold was eye-catching enough for me to make my first “modern” Transformers purchase to pick it up.  I always dug that one, but when I sat down and actually watched some of the show, I found myself kind of wanting that more standard Soundwave.  I never did get around to snagging him…on my own, anyway.  It’s kind of been raining Transformers collections at All Time recently, though, and one of them had a lot of Prime stuff in it.  Max made it a point of setting aside this guy and one other figure (who I’ll be looking at tomorrow) for me, as a really awesome birthday present.  Now I have Soundwave and both of his smaller buddies!

#2413: Soundwave Spy Patrol 3

FRENZY, KNOK, WINGTHING, & SKAR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: EARTHRISE (HASBRO)

And yet another new item.  Wow, we are just rolling through these new boys, aren’t we?  For what it’s worth, there’s a week of time between Black Widow/Probe Droid and Drake, and then another week from Drake to today’s subject, even though there’s been no gap for you, the readers.  I’ve just been sitting here worried I was gonna have to dig into my old toys again.  I think I might be losing my grip on the now….where was I?  Or, more accurately, *when* was I?  Eh?  Time traveler thing? …Yeah, it’s really not that funny.  Sorry, I’ve not really had real people to run these things by as of late.  …the toys…should review the toys!  Yes, so the toys for today are some more Transformers.  It’s been over a month, so it’s probably time for some more of those!  I’m on record as being quite a Soundwave fan, and something that kind of accompanies that is the need to pick up his support crew, whatever their current alt-mode may be (since cassettes are so passe), and I’ll be taking a look at Soundwave’s Spy Patrol 3 today!  What happened to 2?  Don’t make me hurt you!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This four-pack is one of the online-only (in theory, at least) Transformers Generations: Selects offerings, officially falling under the Earthrise heading.  As I noted when I reviewed fellow Selects offering Hot Shot, these figures make use of minimal new tooling in order to accent the main retail lines.  Though listed as “Soundwave Spy Patrol,” only two of the figures included here are actually really meant for Soundwave, with the other two intended to go along with the Earthrise Doubledealer figure.  All four are technically compatible with Soundwave (and Soundblaster), of course.

FRENZY

One of the original four cassettes, released along with Soundwave in 1984, Frenzy quite frequently receives the short end of the stick on newer releases.  This figure follows that lead, since when it came time to release one of the two humanoid cassette bots, it was Rumble who got first dibs as part of the Spy Patrol 2 set.  Of course, with that set being practically non-existent for most collectors (myself included), maybe Frenzy’s not in quite as bad shape.  In robot mode, he stands just over 2 inches tall and has 9 workable points of articulation.  As one would expect, what with the two characters being always built on the same molds and all, Frenzy is the same sculpt as Rumble.  This is my first exposure to it, and I dig it overall.  Compared to a lot of the Siege and Earthrise stuff, he’s not quite as sleek, but given his alt-more is just a box, I guess a little bit of boxiness is certainly excusable.  He’s also a bit less of an outright figure of his own than the TR-style Frenzy from the Bumblebee cassettes pack, but with the smaller scaling, I find that to be fairly excusable.  Like all of the Spy Patrol guys, Frenzy turns into a definitely-not-a-cassette rectangle, designed to fit in Soundwave’s chest compartment.  I had heard that he was a little too large to properly fit, but I didn’t find this to be an issue with mine, though I did notice he was a little snugger in there then Ravage and Laserbeak.  Not by much, though.

WINGTHING

After the original four cassettes were released, there was one additional cassette added in 1986, Ratbat.  Ratbat made his way into the Siege line proper alongside Rumble, but much like the Rumble/Frenzy re-use, we also get a re-use of the Ratbat mold here as Wingthing, Soundwave’s Action Master partner, who has subsequently been re-worked into another of his cassette boys.  In bat-mode, Wingthing stands an inch and a quarter tall, and has a moving neck, wings, and feet.  His robot mode is decent, but not super posable, or really posable at all, for that matter.  Mostly, the joints are just there to facilitate the transformation scheme.  He’s kind of rudimentary, and doesn’t stand so well, but it’s a cool enough visual, I suppose.  This body’s transformation turns it into less of cassette-esque box than the previous molds.  Said box is even larger than the one Frenzy turns into, so there’s really no way to put it into Soundwave’s chest capacity, which is a definite bummer.

KNOK

Okay, now we jump into the “not technically cassette bots” segment of this set.  First up is Knok, who was originally Doubledealer’s Autobot powermaster, but has now been made a Decepticon, at least according to the instructions included here.  It’s okay, though, because he’s without any sort of insignia, so he can kind of be whatever you want.  Structurally, he’s pretty much the same as Frenzy, but with a new head (one of two new pieces included in the set).  Using the same sculpt as Frenzy means he’s as good as Frenzy, so I can definitely dig that.  Interestingly, in my case, I found that Knok actually fits into Soundwave’s chest cavity even a bit better than Frenzy.

SKAR

Last up is Doubledealer’s other powermaster, Knok’s Decepticon equivalent, Skar.  Skar makes use of the same basic mold as Wingthing/Ratbat.  He’s got a new head (the other new part in the set), but is otherwise identical.  So, you know, same basic issues that I outlined about the mold just above.  Not really my favorite.  He changes up the colors into something more classically decepticon-y, so that’s cool.  Again, he’s got no insignia, but he’s correctly labeled as a Decepticon.  Whatever the case, he can again be what you want.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I never saw the Rumble/Ratbat set once, and I was definitely a little bummed about missing out on the Rumble mold.  I was kinda holding out hope for the Frenzy re-deco, though, so this set’s announcement did make me a little happier.  I was even happier when I was actually able to secure one.  It’s funny, because I realized I’ve inexplicably ended up with a Frenzy to go with each of my main Soundwaves.  I’m okay with that.  Knok is pretty cool by virtue of being more or less the same figure as Frenzy.  Wingthing and Skar, I’m not quite as into.  They aren’t bad, nut they aren’t as cleverly designed as the cassettes, made worse by the fact that they aren’t actually compatible with the cassette feature.  Still, a 50/50 split on this set isn’t the worst.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2378: Shatter

SHATTER

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Shatter uses the powerful satellites of Sector 7 to hunt down Bumblebee.”

Alright, I’ve wrapped up what I’ve got of Earthrise for review.  So, for the last two entries in this Transformers-theme week, I’ll be jumping over to the live-action movie side of things.  As is usually the case when I jump into things related to the live-action Transformers films, I will be focusing on 2018’s soft reboot of the franchise, Bumblebee.  Last month, I took a look at one of the film’s two primary antagonists, Dropkick.  Today, I’ll be looking at his superior officer, Shatter!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shatter is a Deluxe Class-scaled Studio Series release, numbered 59 in the line.  As I discussed in my review of Dropkick, the two villains in Bumblebee are both triple-changers, something that’s not very easily replicated in the Studio Series style, given how much they pride themselves in the accuracy of the alt-modes.  For both Dropkick and Shatter, Hasbro opted to just do two versions of both.  Shatter’s muscle car mode was up first, and was, similar to Dropkick’s first release, based on an earlier version of the robot mode, and therefore not super accurate.  This one replicates her look after she acquires her jet mode, and aims to be a better pairing with the superior second Dropkick.  In her robot mode, Shatter stands just shy of 5 inches tall and has 15 practical points of articulation.  Shatter is definitely on the restricted side when it comes to posability, but that’s overall been the case for the Studio offerings.  That said, what articulation she does have works well, and she wasn’t as restricted as I’d expected at first glance.  It’s worth noting that, unlike most Transformers, Shatter doesn’t come out of the box fully transformed into robot mode.  There’s a few additional steps required to get her there, which can be slightly tricky if you don’t know quite what you’re doing (like me).  Once that’s done, she’s a quite respectable recreation of Shatter’s movie appearance.  Of note is the ability to see her actual face, something that the previous Studio Shatter lacked.  She also works in the remnant car details of the robot mode, which she kept after taking on the third mode, unlike the helicopter Dropkick.  She also includes blaster attachments for both of her arms, which work in a fairly rudimentary fashion (she just holds them like guns), but look good nonetheless.  Shatter’s alt-mode is a Harrier Jet, which this figure more or less turns into.  There are a few details changed on the final design, as I don’t believe this mode is officially licensed like most of the Studio Series releases are.  There are extra fins in a few spots, which is really the only difference.  It’s still a nice alt-mode, and doesn’t end up with any ugly under carriages or anything like some plane transformers end up stuck with.  The transformation isn’t too bad for a Studio figure, and certainly not as fiddly as Shatter’s last release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted to have a Shatter and Dropkick in my collection after seeing the movie, but I was ultimately not impressed with either of their initial figures.  Once this figure was shown off, I was definitely far more interested, especially after managing to get ahold of car Dropkick.  She ended up coming into All Time in a shipment on her own, along with the previously reviewed Earthrise stuff, and found her way into my “wait out this lengthy time at home” purchase.

As I noted above,  I got Shatter from my friends at All Time Toys, and she’s still available here If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2240: Astrotrain

ASTROTRAIN

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Alright, we’ve had a couple of mix and match weeks, how about another theme week?  I’ve got a bunch of Transformers stacking up, so let’s go for a week of those, shall we?  Last year’s main line was Siege, the first entry in the announced War For Cybertron trilogy.  It’s technically wrapped up, but I’m still making my way through some of its final entries.  I looked at the line’s first triple changer, Springer, over the summer, and now I’ll be taking a look at arguably a slightly more memorable character, Astrotrain!  He’s a train, a space shuttle, and a robot all in one!  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Astrotrain is actually bridging the gap between Siege and its follow-up Earthrise.  He was initially offered in the final Leader Class assortment of Siege, but was also included in Earthrise‘s first Leader assortment.  The two figures are functionally identical, but it’s worth noting that my figure is the Siege release.  Like a lot of the Siege stuff, Astrotrain is based on his G1 design, although in his case, it’s not so much his G1 toy design as it is his G1 animation design, which used a rather different color scheme than the original toy, more of a rarity when it comes to the actual toys.  In his robot mode, Astrotrain stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  He continues the Siege Leader trend of being a Voyager sized robot with a bunch of add-ons to justify the price point.  In his robot mode, he’s scaled to fit with the rest of the Decepticons, which of course means he ends up with a kind of small pair of vehicle modes, but that’s true of pretty much any toy version of the character, since the cartoon never really explained how Astrotrain was the same general size as everyone else as a robot, but then large enough to carry all of those same bots inside of him when in his shuttle mode.  I think I’m getting sidelined.  Astrotrain’s robot mode sculpt is quite a solid piece of work, recreating his animation design, and making for a quite nicely designed figure in his own right.  He’s definitely a bit more on the greebly side of things for a Siege toy, but for Astrotrain, I think it works.  Astrotrain’s first alt-mode makes up the “Astro” half of his name, being a space shuttle.  It’s a pretty sleek transformation process, even for (increasingly less of) a Transformers novice like me, and certainly much more satisfying than my last triple changer.  The shuttle mode is probably the most compromised of the three, being the middle point between the other two.  There are some definite changes to the general aesthetics of the shuttle, but it works overall and hits all the important notes.  What becomes the tender of the train mode is in this mode a launch pad for the shuttle, which is a nice piece of environmental set-up.  The last mode for this figure is the “Train” portion of the name.  Again, the transformation is quite a sleek and pretty easy to figure out, and the resulting train mode is probably my favorite of the three.  It’s not often the vehicle mode is my favorite mode of a Transformer, but here we are.  Astrotrain includes a sizable assortment of weapons, which the instructions identify as 2 “JF-50 Ionic Displacer Blasters,” “JF-30 Astro Blaster,” “W-15 Destabilizer Cannon,” and a “W-40 Turbo-Core Derailer”.  Heh, “derailer.”  That’s pretty funny.  All of the guns can be combined into one larger cannon, or used individually, or even combined into smaller combos, befitting the line’s modular nature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If I’m entirely honest, the final portion of Siege announcements didn’t do all that much for me, an only moderate Transformers fan.  While I’m happy for fans who were getting the more obscure characters like Spinister or Apeface,  I can’t say they particularly appealed to me.  However, Astrotrain was the one exception within that batch of announcements, being a character I was actually familiar with off-hand, and one I cared to own as well.  After my slightly disappointing first triple-changer experience with Springer, I was hesitant, but Astrotrain pulls it off a bit better, and is actually the first transformer I’ve kept in vehicle mode while up on the shelf.  This guy kind of surprised me.

I picked up Astrotrain from my friends All Time Toys, where the Earthrise release is currently in stock here.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2243: Megatron

CLASSIC ANIMATION MEGATRON

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

See, we’re kind of doing this one and one deal with me and Super Awesome Wife reviewing the Transformers now.  Why?  Well, because as she’s pointed out to me, legally the site is half hers now, so there’s not a lot I can do to stop it.  Guess this is just my life now.

At the beginning of me falling down the Transformers rabbit-hole, there was one major obstacle to overcome to get me really into that Transformers mind-set: owning an Optimus Prime.  Well now I have four of those.  You know who I still didn’t own a single figure of, though?  Optimus’s opposite number from the Decepticon side, Megatron.  Well, that changes today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like yesterday’s Optimus figure, plus the Soundblaster and Silverstreak  Bluestreak from last week, this guy is part of the Walmart exclusive “35th Anniversary Commemorative Series” sub-line of Siege figures, which started showing up on shelves towards the end of October.  While Silversteak Bluestreak and Soundblaster were more conventional re-decos, Prime and Megatron are based on the cel-animated appearances from the G1 cartoon, which gives them a fairly distinctive flair.  Like Prime, Megatron is a re-deco of his Voyager Series 1 release from the beginning of the year.  Unlike Prime, that makes him totally new to me, since that’s one of the few Siege items I never got around to picking up.  In robot mode, the figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 26 practical points of articulation.  Much like his counterpart Optimus, Megatron’s sculpt aims to be an idealized version of the G1 toy…more or less.  As with any modern update of Megatron, there are some needed changes, which I’ll touch on more when I get to his alt-mode.  The robot mode is pretty posable, though compared to Prime, it’s a little more restricted.  Not terribly so, and a lot of it owes more to his actual character design than to any design choices on the toy itself.  Compared to Prime, Megatron doesn’t have quite a clean and polished look, with slightly more deviation from that G1 animation design.  All of the important notes, are there, of course, but he’s more prone to some creative liberties, such as the far more obtrusive “backpack” that houses the alt-mode parts when he a robot.  It’s not a terrible way of handling things, but it’s also not as clean as the way Optimus does things.  Additionally, there are a couple of hollow spots on this figure, which Optimus mostly avoided.  That being said, Megatron still makes for a pretty solid robot.  The new paint scheme here is a major departure from the standard.  As a whole, he’s brighter, more eye-catching, and cleaner than the prior release.  He’s also got a cool, very artistic look, which simulates the cel-shading of animation.  While I felt that both Optimus figures were of a similar quality, seeing the updated Megatron really did a lot to salvage this particular figure in my eyes.  Now, about that alt-mode.  Megatron joins many others in losing his original G1 alt-mode, which was an accurate recreation of a Walther P-38 pistol.  With current safety laws, there’s absolutely no way that would fly, so this figure’s alt-mode is a tank, which has more or less become his accepted modern-day alt-mode.  The shift to tank from gun obviously requires some changing of the robot mode, but the figure manages to balance both alright.  The tank transformation is actually pretty straight forward, and I was able to get it most of the way without the instructions, so that’s good.  It’s a fairly cool looking design, and feels imposing enough to associate with a character like Megatron.  Megatron is packed with his usual arm cannon, as well as a large sword that calls back to the original Takara release, both of which are worked into the transformation.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As much as Optimus impressed me, I just never could bring myself to drop the money for the standard Siege Megatron.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the character on purpose, though, and I wanted a good one for my collection, so I was looking at other options.  I even considered picking up the Combat Megatron, but that seemed too drastrically different for me.  When I first spotted the 35th Anniversary figures, I did think this guy looked pretty slick, but ultimately held off.  But guess who didn’t.  Did you guess Max?  Yeah.  He bought one, and brought it into the store and let me mess around with it, at which point I pretty much knew I wanted one for myself.  And here we are.  Honestly, he’s a lot better than I’d expected, and he feels like he sort of completes a very important piece of my collection, so I’m glad I decided to give Megatron another try.

#2239: Soundblaster

SOUNDBLASTER

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

Who doesn’t love a good re-deco? Well, Super Awesome Wife probably doesn’t love this one quite so much because I told her she couldn’t review it.  I know, I’m mean like that. Much as I am ever tempted to just let her take over the reviews of Transformers as a whole for this site (or at the very least, all of the many re-decos), I’ve lain claim to today’s particular figure because it’s a variant of my boy Soundwave, and I just couldn’t not review a Soundwave.  It feels wrong.  So, what’s the deal with this one?  Well, the original Soundwave was released in 1985, alongside the other first round Transformers.  In 1987, Hasbro’s Japanese equivalent Takara, whose Transformers line had generally followed the same structure as the American, introduced the “Headmasters” line, which would tie-in with the Japan-exclusive “Headmasters” cartoon.  Soundwave wound up with an upgrade, now dubbed Soundblaster.  Though his initial figure wasn’t released in America, Soundblaster has become a go-to variant for Soundwave figures ever since, and Hasbro opted to add him to their celebration of the 35th anniversary of Transformers.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundblaster is one of the four figures in the “35th Anniversary Commemorative Edition” line-up of Siege.  The assortment is a Walmart-exclusive, and started showing up around the end of October.  All four figures included are re-decos, with Soundblaster being, unsurprisingly, a re-deco of the Voyager Class Siege Soundwave from earlier this year.  That figure’s fairly G1 faithful roots make it a solid choice for re-use here, and pretty much everyone was expecting to see it at some point.  It’s worth noting that he’s not actually a straight repaint; to be a proper representation of Soundblaster, he does get the appropriate re-tooled cassette door, which now can hold two cassettes instead of just one at a time.  Additionally, some of the tolerances on this release’s joints seem a little better, and the shoulder cannon seems to sit better this time around.  Other than that, he’s the same figure, and minor issues with the mold aside, I’m okay with that.  The new color scheme actually really does pop on this mold.  The black is slick looking, and boy do I love those new red eyes.  The new deco on the tape deck is also really eye-catching.  Soundblaster’s alt-mode is the same as the previous figure.  Honestly, it’s the one part of the Soundwave figure I wasn’t that big on.  As nice as he is in robot mode, this just feels a little…tacked on?  I don’t know.  I’ve had six months to get used to it, and I still don’t really care for it.  It’s not the end of the world, and you can still form the pseudo-boombox fan-mode.  Plus, I just don’t see myself ever displaying him any way but as a robot.  Soundblaster is packed with the same assortment of weapons as the first release, but done up to match his new deco.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Going into the 35th Anniversary line-up, Soundblaster was really the only one I was interested in.  At this point, you know I didn’t stick to that, but hey, I tried.  He was the second of them I found, and I was honestly pretty darn thrilled about it.  He’s not all that different from the Soundwave figure, but I wasn’t expecting that to be the case.  Plus, I did really love the first figure, so I’m still a real fan of the second one too.  He’s a good pick for this line-up.

#2216: Barricade

BARRICADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While I have mostly left the discussion of Transformers that are really just re-decos to other reviewers, I did touch on it a little bit back when I reviewed Red Alert.  Of course, the difference between the likes of Red Alert and the Seekers and today’s re-deco is that while the former grouping is all characters who are classically re-decos, the latter isn’t even a classic character at all.  The Decepticon Barricade was first introduced into the lore in the 2007 live-action film, in a role that was originally meant to go to Soundwave (which is why he interacts with Frenzy), and was designed as a subversion of good-guy Prowl’s usual role as the police car.  In 2012, fan artist Guido Guidi did a G1-styled illustration of Barricade patterned after Prowl (sensible, what with them having the same alt-mode and all), which Hasbro liked enough to make it an official thing. And here we are with a G1-style Barricade figure, a re-deco of a Prowl figure.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Barricade is the third and final unique figure in the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures, with the Weaponizer Six-Gun figure getting a re-pack in the final slot.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  For the most part, Barricade is sculpturally identical to the Prowl figure from Deluxe Wave 2.  Prowl was my surprise favorite from that line-up, and a lot of that has to do with how the body was implemented, so it means that Barricade’s already starting from a strong point.  He does get a new head, which he will be sharing with the Generation Selects Smokescreen figure.  It’s suitably different from Prowl’s head, while still hitting a lot of the same notes.  Whatever the case, it injects a little bit more variety into the Prowl mold, which is probably a good thing, since we’re getting four figures out of it.  Barricade’s main change-up is the colors, which for his robot mode are quite different, since he’s got a lot of purple, which is admittedly a very Decepticon color to have. He’s almost an inverted color scheme to Prowl, who was predominately light with dark, where as Barricade is dark with light.  Barricade’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as Prowl’s, as it should be, but again the colors are changed up, and the inverting is even more noticeable here.  Also, unlike Prowl, who was clean of damage, Barricade has wear right on either side of the front of the car, indicating he likes to run other vehicles off the road a lot.  That’s a nifty touch, and far more character-specific than the other damage we’ve seen.  Barricade does change things up a bit on the armaments front.  Rather than getting the same blaster as Prowl, he gets a pair of shoulder-mountable cannons, which can be combined into a handheld weapon.  Classically, the cannons are actually a Prowl thing, but they were missing from the last figure.  Fear not, though, as they will be coming in white with Smokescreen, meaning Prowl will be able to have them again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked Prowl a lot, and so that was enough to sway me on Barricade I guess.  Well, that and Max setting the whole assortment aside for me.  That helped too.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I knew what I was getting.  What I was getting was a solid toy, though, so that’s always a plus.

Barricade came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.