Will this version of Soundwave prove SUPERIOR? Or will it be INFERIOR?
Long have Transformers fans hungered for a voyager representation of the Decepticon intelligence operative. For an all too brief second a slight Generation One update of him (just a recolored version of the Soundblaster mold which could hold two cassettes) came the Toys R Us exclusive. Not many could enjoy it because it was made in such limited quantities. Hasbro did re-release the figure as a SDCC exclusive but again only few could nab it. Then there's the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Voyager who was canceled just when he was set for release.
So you can easily see the drool from many a Transformer fan in anticipation of this version of Soundwave. In fact, this is the first version since Generation One to in fact have all his cassettes released: Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ratbat, Ravage, Rumble, and Frenzy (though VERY soon Takara will be releasing Masterpiece Soundwave which will have all save Ratbat). Another reason fans are salivating is unlike the current Transformer Prime Voyagers which run now around $29.99, this version (along with future releases of Grimlock and Blaster) will carry a nice $22.99 price tag while two pack accessories (Ratbat/Frenzy and Ravage/Rumble) will run $9.99. A nice deal wouldn't you say?
Now for the figure itself. The mold and design of the figure is amazing. It almost reminds me of the Voyagers from the Transformers Classics and Animated lines Hasbro released a few years ago. In fact, he easily stands with them and just towers over any of the more overpriced Transformers: Prime Voyagers. The light pipe on his head is just perfect, as is the articulation, which doesn't have any back clutter or solid joints that keep him from posing dynamically. Yes, you can pose him in the classic pose of him ejecting his tapes.
The gimmick: his back has a spring which can be pulled to load his tapes into his chest. If you press the button and then pull forward on the spring, the tapes will eject. It's an interesting gimmick that does work for the tapes save one (Ravage, more on him later). As for the question of how many tapes you can load in his chest? I could do three, but I heard it's possible to put four in.
For his vehicle mode, Soundwave is quite bulky, more so than the previous Deluxe adaptation of this figure. That's to be expected, though, given this is a Voyager class. The transformation from bot to vehicle is quite simple. The actual vehicle mode isn't bad, but I have to confess I love the Deluxe version's more just for the fact that you can put the shoulder accessory on the side of the vehicle, not the top as you have to for the Voyager class – it looks kinda awkward. Overall, it's still a nicely designed vehicle and for those classic G1 purists, there is a fan mode (not an official Hasbro approved transformation) were you can convert this figure into a boombox.
Accessory-wise, Soundwave comes just with Laserbeak, even though the box art on the back has him pictured with a pistol. Alas, the weapon was pulled last minute. He can hold the usual complement of Transformer weaponry from past lines. However, if you're looking for the accessory to give him, I suggest his old-school G1 pistol. I used my TRU exclusives and as you can see I'm quite pleased with those results. He can use his shoulder cannon, but come on...it looks so small when he wields it.
The only real accessory he has is Laserbeak, which is a fine molded update. The only problem with the figure is he lacks paint apps on his head. It's really the only major complaint I have with the pack: the lack of accessories and detail on the one we do get.
However, that is rectified once you purchase the remaining two packs of tapes. All four figures are nicely detailed (RatBat, unlike Laserbeak and Buzzsaw before him, actually has a finely painted face). Obviously, Rumble and Frenzy have a slight articulate edge over their companions and I'm actually surprised Hasbro gave them this given how cheap they've been on previous movie line sidekicks. Then there's Ravage, whom I have a slight love/hate relationship with. On one hand, Ravage is the most complex of the cassettes given he has the most bulk of the six. He has great details and Hasbro did give him some nice articulation. It's just I'm not really much a fan of his bot move. The whole tail section is quite flimsy and really can't snap in. So if you pick him up, he'll be flipping backwards in your hand. I know this was done so he could be the whole cassette, but when the other figures of the line have a straight out solid transformation and he doesn't? Well, I'm kind of disappointed with it. Still, if he's standing by himself, he is quite a dynamic figure.
It should be noted that along with the four figures, you get a VERY nicely detailed purple colored clear plastic case to house them if you don't want to burden your Soundwave. The craftsmanship of these cases are amazing and unlikely the flimsy and easily breakable TRU re-release, these are quite sturdy. They also make nice Energon cubes too, which Soundwave made in the cartoons. Okay, my inner geek can't help but enjoy that.
I have to say, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Voyager Soundwave surprised me. I fully expected a cheap, poorly gimmicky, and rushed figure from Hasbro. Instead, I get a figure that fits perfectly in my Decepticon collection. His articulation and mold are just insane. If there's anything negative to him is he doesn't come with that many accessories. You have to buy the extra packs to do it. However, since this was originally what you had to do with Soundwave, well that's awesome. Again the pistol problem was a quick fix for me. Really the only issue if you don't want to buy this figure is that, Takara's Masterpiece Soundwave is on the horizon to be released. Regardless, this is an AMAZING Soundwave figure in his own right. For classic fans, or just fans of the character, this is a MUST HAVE figure. The accessories? Well, I like the Ratbat/Frenzy one the most. Again the Ravage/Rumble pack depends on if you just want to finish your collection. Then I'd say do it. This is one of those rare cases that Hasbro totally got things right. So my final verdict on this pack is:
Transformers Fall of Cybertron Voyager Soundwave: MUST BUY
Ratbat/Frenzy Two-Pack: MUST BUY
Ravage/Rumble: MUST BUY