#1504: Soundwave



Another Transformers review?  Already?  It’s only been two weeks since the last one!  For someone who doesn’t really follow Transformers, I do seem to review a surprising number of them, don’t I?  Now, as I’ve said a few times in the past, my all-time favorite Transformer is Soundwave.  I tend to be drawn to figures of him.  Of my four Transformers reviews on the site, two are Soundwave.  But see, neither of them actually transformed.  Today’s review fixes that little wrinkle.  Let’s roll out!


Soundwave was released in the 10th Warrior Class assortment of the Transformers: Robots in Disguise toyline, based upon the cartoon of the same name.  He’s a part of the “Combiner Force” sub-line of figures.  From what I’ve been able to figure out from my researching the subject, this Soundwave is based on the characters design from around Season 3 of Robots in Disguise.  To the outside observer, this means he roughly translates to a decent approximation of the classic Soundwave design.  In his robot form, the figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 19 points of workable articulation (counting his articulated shoulder cannon).  Given how restricted the actual movement on Jazz was, it’s actually pretty awesome just how many strides Hasbro has made improving that.  His sculpt is nicely handled.  Very clean, and lots if really sharp work, especially on the head.  He’s bulky, but sleek, and I dig the overall style.  Sure, the “real world” application’s sort of gone out the window, but I don’t mind so much.  He’s just a really cool looking robot design.  Soundwave’s alternate form this time around is some sort of a tank or something.  I’m not 100% sure exactly what it is, but I know it’s not a walkman, which does make me a little sad.  I’ll get over it.  There’s a 14 step process to turn him into the whatever it is, at least according to the back of the box.  I found 14 steps to be a little more fluid than the diagram on the back indicated and had a little trouble getting him to transform at first.  I did get it figured out in the end, and he makes for an interesting enough car-thingy, I suppose.  Soundwave’s paintwork is decent.  Not super complex or anything, but it works.  I dig the various transparent parts, and the light piping on the head is definitely a fun touch.


Why another Soundwave, you might ask?  Because sometimes I just really want to buy a figure, but there’s not anything new at retail.  And that’s when the Transformers start to tempt me.  Sitting there, looking kinda cool, and easily attainable.  A while back, I saw this guy and almost bought him, but talked myself out of it.  I ended up not seeing him again for several months, but I was admittedly not looking very hard for him.  Anyway, I was at Target the other night, trying to kill some time while Super Awesome Girlfriend was looking for a few things, and they had this guy there.  Since I hadn’t seen him, and he was relatively inexpensive, I figured he was worth it.  He’s pretty awesome, and I’m glad I grabbed him.  And now I’ve fulfilled my Transformers quota for at least a little while.


#1489: Cybertron Advisor Meister



“08 Cybertron Advisor Meister

Function: Cybertron Advisor Assistant to Convoy

Transformation: Racing Car

Ability: Has a high performance stereo speaker system and is able to confuse enemies with light and sound displays.

Character: A skilled Cybertron warrior who loves Earth’s culture; knowledgeable and competent at undertaking dangerous missions.”

And behold, my stock of Transformers reviews grows exponentially!  Now I’ll have reviewed *three* of them!  As I’ve mentioned once or twice before on this site, Transformers generally aren’t on my collecting radar, and never really have been.  I’m moderately familiar with some parts of the franchise, though, and I do have a few characters that I’ll buy in toy form.  My all time favorite is Soundwave, but on the Autobots side of things, I’m also a pretty big fan of Jazz.  But wait…doesn’t the title say Cybertron Advisor Meister?  It does.  I’ll get to that in a second.


Cybertron Advisor Meister was released in 2008 as part of TOMY’s Transformers: Encore line.  In case you hadn’t yet caught on, Meister is Jazz’s name in Japan, and this is a Japanese release.  In fact, it’s a re-release, or a slight retooling anyway, of the original Jazz/Meister from the ‘80s.  In his robotic form, Meister stands about 5 inches tall and has 8 workable points of articulation, all in his arms.  His sculpt is okay for what it is, which is an old style Transformer.  This is back in the days when the priority was placed on the vehicle form, and less on the robot form, so he looks a little goofy to be sure.  There are a lot of cool little details, though, especially on the car parts of the sculpt.  I also quite like the head, which was the newest piece of the figure.  In his car form, Meister’s a race car, and he’s about 4 inches long and two inches wide, with four moving wheels.  My figure is missing his doors, but otherwise it’s a rather convincing transformation.  The paint work is actually pretty decent.  Mostly basic blacks, whites, and silvers, with a helping of vac metalicizing thrown in for good measure.  There’s some tampography on the fine details of the car, such as his number, Autobots symbol and the like.  It’s all quite clean, and a definite step above the decals seen on other releases.  Meister included a silver blaster, as well as shoulder mountable cannon (missing from mine).


I’ve always rather liked Jazz, but I’ve never had a proper toy of him.  I found this one at a 2nd Avenue of all places, in a bag with a bunch of die cast cars, for like $2.  I figured he was one of the Hasbro re-releases and was a little surprised to find out he was a foreign release.  It’s odd to me that something like this ended up at a 2nd Avenue, and I have the wonder what the story is behind that.  He’s missing a few pieces, but looks good enough in robot mode and I’m happy to have a Jazz for the shelf.

*I realized while writing this review that I’m a total dingus who left the foot pieces down for all of the photos.  Silly Ethan.  I’ll try to reshoot those when I can.

#0961: Soundwave




Despite being a really big action figure geek (I know, shock and awe, right?), I’ve never had any real affinity for Transformers. I mean, I can appreciate them for what they are, and I like a lot of the designs. I’m a huge fan of halfway decent robot designs. Heck, I even saw two of the films in theatres (maybe that’s not a point in my favor…) Every so often, I find myself looking at a Transformers figure or two, but I think the main thing that keeps me from really getting into them is in the name. For whatever reason, the whole transforming gimmick has never done much for me (which is weird, because I love me some gimmicky action figures!) Fortunately for nut jobs like me, Hasbro’s put out more than a few lines of non-transforming Transformers over the years. In the mid-00s, they were having great success with their more child-friendly Galactic Heroes and Super Hero Squad lines for Star Wars and Marvel, so they brought Transformers into the fold with Robot Heroes. I’ll be looking at that line’s version of Soundwave today.


Soundwave2Soundwave was released in the second series of Transformers: Robot Heroes, in a two-pack with Autobot Bumblebee. At this point in the line, the designs were pretty much exclusively Generation 1-based (meaning the original ‘80s line), and Soundwave was no exception. The figure stands a little over 2 inches tall, but he’s squatting, so he’d probably be about 3 inches were he standing up straight. He has three points of articulation, at the neck and each of the shoulders, which was pretty standard for the line. The articulation doesn’t really offer much actual posablity, though. He’s a glorified statue: the pose you see him in is really the only pose you’ll be getting. On the plus side, it suits the character, so that’s good. The sculpt is quite nicely done. His proportions are slightly exaggerated (this was the Heroes style), but he’s far less exaggerated than anything from Galactic Heroes or Super Hero Squad, which I think makes him a bit more versatile. The details are all sharply defined, and he’s got a very nice geometric look about him. He clearly takes a lot of influence from the animated version of Soundwave, which is hardly a bad thing. The paint follows the animated look as well, opting for flat colors instead of the usual metallics. It works quite well with the sculpt and the application is generally pretty clean, though there are a few issues with some slightly misaligned details here and there.


Though I’ve never been much of a Transformers guy, I really liked Robot Heroes. There was a time when I owned just about all of the G1-inspired figures from the line. I’ve since sold the vast majority of them off, but I kept Soundwave for a few reasons. First, he’s always been, my favorite Transformer. Second, he was the first Robot Heroes figure I got. My brother liked Bumblebee, so we bought this set when it was released and split it, and I liked Soundwave enough to pick up a bunch more of the figures. Even with most of the others gone, I still really like this guy.

#0869: Luke Skywalker – Snowspeeder




Sometimes, two things can be combined to make one single, super awesome. Take for instance chocolate and peanut butter. Great on their own, but put those two together and you’ve got yourself a winner. Over the years, a similar theory has been applied to all sorts of action figures and toys. Nine times out of ten, it’s Transformers + something else. In the mid-00s, Hasbro realized that the held the rights to both Transformers and Star Wars, and that no one had ever put those two properties together, so they did just that. Some of the more recognizable characters from the franchise were made into the alt-modes of their corresponding vehicles, and Hasbro even came up with an in-universe backstory for why the vehicles turned into robotic versions of their pilots. As a central character in the movies, Luke Skywalker got a couple of different figures, and I’ll be looking at one of those today.


SnowspeederTF3Luke was released as part of the sixth series of Hasbro’s Star Wars: Transformers line (the same figure saw a re-release in a later series as well, but there were a few cosmetic changes and less accesories). He’s the second Luke in the line. In his humanoid form the figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall and has 19 points of actual articulation (with a bunch more joints to facilitate the whole transformation thing). Luke is based on his basic pilot’s gear look, which makes for a slightly easier conversion to the Transformer aesthetic. He’s been made quite a bit more robotic and angular, and his look has been slightly tweaked to allow for the more mechanical parts of the ship he transforms into. The quality of the sculpt is okay, if a bit rudimentary. The head is definitely the best work. Though the transforming feature was a main selling point here, the robot mode definitely feels mostly extraneous, as he’s got a fair bit of excess stuff from his alt look. The first Luke’s alt-mode was his definitive X-Wing fighter. This one mixes things up, offering up a snowspeeder. The snowspeeder definitely got the focus here, resulting in a fairly faithful recreation of the ship from the movie. The transforming feature is a little difficult, but not terribly so. Paint is minimal on this set, but what’s there works and looks pretty decent. Once again, the speeder gets most of the focus, and ends up looking pretty cool. Luke was packed with a little 1 inch tall Luke figure, which is pretty neat. He also has a pair of blasters (which serve as the cannons in vehicle mode), as well as a lightsabre, though mine did not have that piece.


Star Wars: Transformers were something I never really got into when they were new. However, Gidget’s Gadgets, a small toy store near where my family vacations over the holidays, had a rather large selection of these guys when I was there in December. I was in a particularly Star Wars-y mood at the time, so I decided I might want to have one. Since they didn’t have an X-Wing, I went with the next best thing. It’s definitely a goofy figure, but I’m glad I got it. It’s a lot of fun!


#0466: Soundwave




If there’s one glaring omission from the numerous figures I’ve covered on this site so far, it’s Transformers. Transformers was a huge hit in the 80s, and it’s one of those toys that kind of forged its own path. The thing about Transformers is, they’re kind of their own thing. While the name technically refers to a very specific set of figures, it also loosely defines an entire genre of figures. There are “transformers” of practically everything. And none of that seems to have hurt the main brand, which doesn’t seem to be in any danger of falling out of popularity. That’s pretty impressive.

Amazingly enough, actual, name-brand Transformers make up about 0.14% of my action figure collection. That’s FOUR figures. Out of 2800. And only one of those actually transforms. Transformers thoroughly missed me. That said, I do like some of the characters, specifically Soundwave, the one that used to turn into a cassette player. He amuses me (three of my four Transformers are Soundwave). Recently, Hasbro has been getting into the “mix and match figures” idea, under the heading Hero Mashers. The line started with the Marvel brand and then expanded to Transformers. Soundwave was amongst them, so I picked him up.


Soundwave3Soundwave is part of the second assortment of Transformers Hero Mashers. He’s part of the regular assortment of figures, rather than a deluxe or multipack. He’s based on Soundwave’s original design (referred to as his G1 design), though I’m certain there are a few design changes that a more die-hard fan than I could point out. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation. As far as I can tell, the sculpt is wholly original to this figure, but I don’t have any others to check. It’s a well sculpted figure, though he’s definitely been adapted so as to fit the style of this line. Most of the work is on the simpler side, with no really fine detailing, but that seems to be in line with the rest of the line, and it’s done well. The figure has a few ports here and there for various add-ons and accessories to be plugged in. While it’s fairly evident that they are there, they meld pretty well with the rest of the figure. I’d be interested to see if that carries to the non-robotic designs in the Marvel line. The paintwork is roughly on par with the sculpt. It’s rather straight forward, with no real fine detail work or anything. There’s also a little bit of bleed over in a few spots, though nothing atrocious. Soundwave is accessorized with his standard shoulder cannon, as well as a handheld missile launcher (because Hasbro), two gold rocket add-on thingies, a gun of some sort, and an alternate left hand (which, going by the Colossus pieces included with a few of the Marvel characters, I’m going to assume is from another character). In addition to the accessories, Soundwave also has the main point of the Hero Mashers going for him: interchangeability. He comes apart at the elbows, neck, hips, and knees (but not the shoulders, curiously). The pieces are a bit of a tight fit and some, such as the neck/head joint, are really hard to get back in place once they’ve been removed.


Soundwave was purchased from the Kmart nearest the place my family and I stayed over the holidays. In all honesty, he was something of an impulse buy. Well, the closest that I come to an impulse buy, anyway. I had seen him a few times before and passed him up, but I was at Kmart, and they had him and I hadn’t seen anything else I wanted and I sort of caved. As just an action figure, he’s fun, though not the greatest figure I’ve ever owned. As a figure built for swapability? Hasbro’s got a little ways to go before they’re on par with something like Minimates. It’s a neat idea, and the toys are good, but the joints are just a little too tight for frequent swapping.


Guest Review #0015: Manta Ray




I’m sure most people remember being a kid and asking their parents to go to McDonald’s, not for the food, but because that month there was a cool toy that came with a Happy Meal. When I was just a wee babby Tim, Beast Wars (an offshoot of the Transformers brand) was my jam, so you can imagine the incessant begging that went on when I found out it was that month’s theme. Today I’ll be looking at one of my favorite McDonald’s toys I ever had, Manta Ray. Let’s dive right in, shall we?


First off, let me apologize for that pun, I’ve been informed that it was, in fact, terrible. Moving on, Manta Ray was released as part of McDonald’s 1996 Beast Wars promotion. She is based on, well, nothing really since she was effectively created to be a McDonald’s toy primarily. Despite her name, in Beast Mode, she is actually a mobula ray, those damn imposters. She stands about 3 inches tall fully transformed as a robot, although you can make her a little taller by leaving the beast head up. She has 6 points of articulation which is a little low for a Transformer, but it’s a McDonald’s toy, the bar can only be set so high. The sculpt is, again, what you’d expect from this kind of toy and nothing more. The legs look like legs, the arms look like arms. The head and torso are basically just blocks with some detailing, which is fine except that this is supposed to be a female character and the body does nothing to even suggest that maybe perhaps Manta Ray is not a dude. Although this may have something to do with how, in Japan, she is actually a he. Her face also looks like the front of a truck, but I guess she’s a robot so I’ll overlook that. The paint is sparse but acceptable with just a bit of bleed over on the gloves. Manta Ray comes with no accessories. It’s not a great figure by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to remember where it came from, and as a McDonald’s toy, it’s not bad at all.


As you’ve probably guessed, I got Manta Ray at a McDonald’s right alongside my chicken nuggets. I do recall being a little disappointed that I didn’t get the Rhinox toy, but retrospectively, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Manta rays are clearly way cooler that rhinos. Besides, for a Beast Wars junkie kid, this figure easily met its fun quota which is all that really matters anyway.

#0301: Marvel’s Death’s Head




Would you believe me if I told you that I had definitive proof that Transformers and Doctor Who share the same universe with just about every Marvel Comics super hero? Because they do, thanks to a set of appearances by one character: Death’s Head. As you clearly see in the title, he’s Marvel’s Death’s Head (which has two possessives. If I want to talk about the clasp on his cape, I’m talking about Marvel’s Death’s Head’s cape’s clasp. Think about that for a while…). Death’s Head was created for a Transformers comic while Marvel held the license. Not wanting to potentially lose a unique character to Hasbro, they quickly created a short strip featuring the character that was published in several of the comics in their UK line. Marvel also happened to be publishing a Doctor Who comic at the time, which also saw an appearance from Death’s Head before he finally made his way to the main Marvel universe. Now, 27 years after his original appearance, he’s finally gotten his very own action figure made by…. Hasbro. How about that?


DeathsHeadWilsonDeath’s Head was part of the second series of Hasbro’s Avengers Infinite, the line which serves as a replacement for Marvel Universe. He was long rumored to be an upcoming figure in the MU line, so following that line’s cancellation, the figure’s fate was uncertain. Fortunately, he found a home in AI, so everybody still has a chance to have a toy of their favorite tri-dimensional bounty hunter. He stands just over 4 inches in height and features 27 points of articulation. Death’s Head makes use of the MU Colossus body as a starting point, reusing the arms, upper and lower torso, and legs from the boot up. Given that both characters are larger in stature and both feature a similar banded metal patter, the choice of re-use is inspired. In addition to these pieces, the figure also has brand new pieces for his head, hands, shins, and feet, as well as add-ons for the cape/shoulder-pads and the belt/loincloth/waist armor. The new pieces are really great sculpts. The head sculpt looks to have been lifted directly from the character’s comic appearances, and the armor pieces have some really wonderful denting and weathering. My only complaint is how loose the cape add-on is, as it causes it to sit incorrectly if you aren’t careful. The paintwork on Death’s Head is nice and clean for the most part. There’s a bit of bleed over here and there, but nothing too distracting. The metallic blues in particular make the figure really pop. Death’s Head is armed with an axe, a mace, and a shield, all of which are new pieces that look pretty great and fit the figure’s hands well.


Like Deathlok and Valkyrie, Death’s Head was picked up from my local comicbook store, Cosmic Comix. Like Valkyrie, Death’s Head is a figure that I’ve wanted since the initial rumors of his release started cropping up. I’m not entirely sure why I’m so interested in the figure. I’ve read maybe two or three of Death’s Head’s comic appearances. I guess something about the character’s design just resonates with me. Unsurprisingly for a character designed for a toyline-tie-in, Death’s Head translates really well to the action figure format and makes for a pretty neat toy.