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Voyager Soundblaster - Transformers Generations - Figure

Height: 18cm

Articulation: 21 points overall - swivel neck; 6 points per arm: universal joint shoulder, upper arm hinge, upper arm swivel, hinged elbow, swivel wrist; 4 points per leg: universal joint hips, thigh swivel, hinged knee.

Colors: Molded metallic charcoal gray, dark silver-gray, clear red, and clear yellow. Painted gold, silver, yellow, and red. Buzzsaw molded gold and black, and painted gold and black.

Accessories: Shoulder cannon, Buzzsaw.

Release Data: Released December 2012 at an MSRP of $21.99.

Author: RAC

Restored to a fully functioning state by the loyalty of his minions and the arcane science of an alien world, Soundwave takes a new name to reflect his new lease on life. No longer content to simply manage electronic warfare for the Decepticons, he charges into battle against the Autobots, using devastating sonic attacks on his enemies so that his minions can finish them off.

Nice callback to the Headmasters anime there! I'd have liked a direct New Soundwave reference, but considering the sentence containing Soundblaster's original name uses the word "new" twice, I've got to give them an A for effort. This Voyager version of the War For Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron Soundwave design is the second pass, there having been a Deluxe version released alongside WFC Prime, Bumblebee and Megatron back in 2010. Though I've no longer got Cybertronian Soundwave to compare Soundblaster to directly, I've got my memory and ExVee's review to guide me.


Robot Mode

It's a larger version of WFC Soundwave- unlike Optimus Prime and Megatron, Soundwave didn't change bodies between games. The "teeth" on his chest aren't as big and the wheels on his sides don't fold back as far, but otherwise the design is the same. I think High Moon's fairly elaborate TF designs work better at a larger scale, frankly. There's a moderate amount of surface detail, like the patterns on the legs or the rough texture on the shoulders, but for the most part the design avoids having to put texture on uninteresting flat surfaces by making the surfaces more interesting. One small detail I really like is the pair of tiny speakers molded in behind his chest-window. Lastly there's the face, and it's a good balance between Soundwave's G1 toy and animation designs. While the basic shape is more reminiscent of the cartoon, the visor is sharper, more angled, and definitely toy-inspired.

When I said "larger," I meant it: Soundblaster is about the size of a pre-2012 Voyager, standing eye-to-eye with GDO Hot Spot with ease and being noticeably taller than Classics Optimus Prime and Reveal the Shield Lugnut. And it's not one of those cases where he's taller because he's skinnier either- he's pretty bulky! Naturally this puts him way out of scale with the other Fall of Cybertron figures; in-game, Soundwave is shorter than Megatron, who is about the same size as Optimus Prime. FoC Prime is one of the smaller Deluxes, so... yeah, that's not right. Of course, if you really want to justify it, maybe Soundblaster got rebuilt bigger, and that's why he's now more comfortable with frontline combat.

While not actually black, Soundblaster is a nice, deep, slightly metallic charcoal gray. With one exception, his color layout is nearly identical to Soundwave's, swapping Soundwave's purple for red, and his red for bright yellow. Interestingly, that includes swapping out Soundwave's red visor for some extremely bright yellow light-piping to ape the bright yellow visor on the original Soundblaster toy. And while it will take a direct exposure to light to get it to work- it doesn't pick up on ambient room light as well as I'd like -it glows brightly once lit well. The only color layouts that don't match one-for-one are the gold on Soundwave's shoulder cannon, which is red here, and the purple on his forearms, which is now yellow. Otherwise, he looks like a darker version of Soundwave, so all is as it should be. I especially like the change of the the clear purple parts to red- it not only fits in with the original Soundblaster's red cassette door, but it also reinforces the idea that Soundwave's been rebuilt on an alien planet. Every other War For/Fall Of Cybertron Decepticon has purple running lights.

In terms of construction, Soundblaster is still pretty similar to Deluxe Cybertronian Soundwave, but of course is more complex. While that figure had some decent articulation, most of the major points are improved here. The exception being the neck; the head barely turns. I guess with so much going on in the torso something had to give. The shoulders are on hinges to lower them for Vehicle Mode, and they don't lock down, but the amount of fidgeting this adds to the figure is minor. The shoulders swivel freely and angle outwards a little bit. Fortunately there's a hinge in the upper arm that takes over to get Soundblaster's arms well above his head, as well as an upper-arm swivel. He also has some great ratcheting single-hinge elbows that double over on themselves, mostly for the necessities of transformation, but Hasbro has made some great use of those hinges by molding an extended index finger on Soundblaster's left hand. He can reach his own Eject button! The wrists swivel, and they have what I consider the only serious structural flaw with the figure, in that there's no stop for the fists and one of them likes to slide back into his arm. That could easily be a flaw unique to my copy of the figure, however.

There's no waist joint due to the transformation joints. The hips are universal joints and thanks to the shape of the lower torso, their range is excellent. The legs can swing in a 180-degree-plus arc front-to back, and can swing straight out to the sides in a perfect split. There are thigh swivels that help with some stances, but could do more if there were ankles. The knees are ratcheting single hinges like the elbows, and they get 90 degrees, which is decent. The ankles technically have no articulation, but you can at least fold the foot back for kneeling poses, and his feet are big and broad and more than capable of balancing the figure. I'm really happy with the articulation here.

But of course Soundblaster's appeal doesn't just stop at being a Voyager-sized New Soundwave with very good articulation. He also has the long-awaited return of Soundwave's trademark gimmick: he's full of tinier robots. (Or he can be, at least; he comes with one so it's robot, singular, for now.) When you press the eject button on Soundblaster's shoulder, his entire chest flips open to reveal a round compartment for data discs inside. In true Soundblaster fashion, you can store more than one disc at once (though admittedly Soundwave can do this as well), and the backplate acts as a plunger you can press in to push them forward and out. It's a tight fit for Buzzsaw, and it works better at some angles than others; with the Decepticon logo on the disc facing upright, Buzzsaw tends to stick in the chest. Turn it just the right way though, and he goes flying. The backplate looks a little awkward sticking out from Soundblaster's back that far, and it does sometimes argue with the wheels on his hips. It's imperfect but as action features go, it certainly doesn't cripple the toy and I think it adds more than it takes away. But if you decided to ignore it completely, Soundblaster would still feel like a fine figure.


Transformation

Not entirely identical to the smaller figure but close enough: the arms and upper body form the front of the vehicle, and the legs form the back end. It all works a little smoother this time, which a second pass on a character design surely should. The biggest change is dictated by the disc mechanism, and it has changed the way the backplate is handled for the better. on the old Soundwave it could be a tight fit getting it into place properly, but here it's no trouble at all.

One thing worth mentioning: though the package art and the instructions do not make mention of it, there is a hinge under Soundblaster's chestplate which serves no other purpose but to angle the chestplate to align with the sloped roof of the Vehicle Mode. It doesn't tab in strongly, but it's obvious that this is what it's designed to do, and angling the plate like this makes Soundblaster match the angle of WFC Soundwave's "Windshield" almost perfectly. Unless you press on the plate, it'll stay in place without any problem.




Vehicle Mode

It's the same "Communications Truck" as WFC Soundwave, complete with scary insectoid teeth, but of course a lot bigger. He's not the biggest Voyager I've ever seen but he's not small either. For example, he's shorter than Classics Optimus Prime's Truck Mode by a foot (Prime's foot, that is) but he's bulkier overall. Considering he comes with Buzzsaw, overall it's a pretty satisfying package for the Voyager price point, and it's been a while since I was able to say this.

One place where Soundblaster improves on his Deluxe predecessor is that the hinged piece that the disc plunger is mounted on fills the unseemly gap in the rear of the Vehicle Mode that never looked right on the old toy. Sadly, it does have one of the same deco problems in the same places, where the silver paint on the fenders doesn't match the silver plastic very well. Which also makes his upper and lower "teeth" look a bit off. Speaking of, the one thing you can't do with New Soundwave that you could do with Old Soundwave is open up the teeth to make him look like a car that wants to eat you. Sad.

Soundblaster also has much nicer looking wheels done in both silver and clear magenta plastic. I wish he could've kept the painted-in running lights of Deluxe Soundwave, but he looks good just the same. He's got one hardpoint on the roof for his shoulder cannon, and there's a small red piece behind it that is likely intended as the lever for the disc-eject mechanism, but looks a lot like a seat, especially being positioned right behind where the cannon mounts. I'll have to get a Rumble and see if he fits. Speaking of which, the disc-ejecting feature is completely functional in this mode!


Accessories

It should be mentioned here that Soundblaster does not, in fact, come with G1 Optimus Prime's rifle despite the fact that he's shown with it both on the package and in the instructions. It seems very odd to me that this toy got so far in production with what's obviously a borrowed weapon that wouldn't be included in the final figure.

Shoulder Cannon

It's got a nice level of sculpted detail, and has the requisite eight smaller barrels around the central one, so we're good. I guess they made it silver to stand out from his torso more. Even so, the barrel is painted red so it still managed to look like a battery, so all's well. It fits on his shoulder, in his hand and on his Vehicle Mode all equally well. I do wish he had a hand weapon too, but considering he has a fairly complex minion and his shoulder cannon, you can just do as the designers did and borrow something from another toy. There's a whole wave of Deluxes with Fall of Cybertron weaponry that would be just perfect for him!


Buzzsaw

Buzzsaw is a golden disk- which bears no resemblence to the Golden Disk - that transforms into a condor made out of disk parts at the touch of a button. The disc is all painted detail on the front, and I like the pattern; it reminds me of something but I can't place what. The back, which becomes the top of the wings, has some nice sculpted detail. Put the disc down on a flat surface face up and press on it, and it auto-transforms into Buzzsaw. He looks pretty good! The face sculpt is quite reminiscent of the original condor cassette mold (though the eyes could've used some of the paint that's used extensively all over the toy), and the rounded wings and the tail look good, with a lot of sculpted detail. I wish he had feet of some sort, but between the flexibility of Soundblaster's arm and the flatness of the disc, it's no problem at all to balance Buzzsaw on there.

To change Buzzsaw back into a disc, fold up his head and cover it with his tail, then close the wings around the sides. My only concern is that some of the plates on the disc like to get caught in Soundblaster's chest cavity when you try to get Buzzsaw in or out. I have some concerns about that in the long term. I also wish there were a little bit more clearance; I have to wonder if the plastic tolerances on Soundwave and/or Laserbeak are any different. I like the figure overall; outside of transforming it doesn't do much, but it does an entertaining job of transforming, at least. Apparently this same basic mold is also used for Ratbat with a different head, so if you get Soundwave or Soundblaster plus the Ravage/Rumble pack, you've got all the major molds for minions at market right now.


Closing Remarks

Whether you get Soundwave or Soundblaster, I think you're going to like this figure. On its own merits it's a great toy: it looks nice in both modes, the articulation is good, it feels solid and substantial. Above which, it has a long-awaited return of a celebrated, character-defining gimmick, and executes that gimmick in a way that has minimal negative impact on the toy, if any. Buzzsaw could fit in his chest a bit better, but other than that the whole thing functions as intended, and is really neat. Soundblaster is a solid Excellent on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale, and is probably the best new mold I've gotten this year.



ReviewerRAC  
DateDecember 29th 2012  
Score 9 stars (9 out of 10)  
Reads11580
LinkFall of Cybertron Soundblaster Gallery  


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