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?