The vehicle mode in this case is an alien/extraterrestrial stealth bomber. Its equipped with three bombs: two that transform into weapons (Harmonic Wave Cannon and Subsonic Shocker) and the third transforming into an eagle called Laserbeak®. This last one makes the figure even more special because the original Soundwave has cassettes that transformed into minions at his service and one of them was al eagle called Laserbeak (the original bearer of that name, BTW). The bombs/weapons are reference to the batteries (as in power cells) the original Soundwave have which became his hand and shoulder guns. In this case both can be hand held but to create the "Tribute Look" you must have the Subsonic Shocker on the shoulder. The Laserbeak figure can be placed on the top of the wings or on his right arm by locking it to the holes you'll find there.
Design-wise, Laserbeak is a nicely engineered figure. Advances in toy manufacturing has made possible what in the past was a dream: having great detail and design engineering into such a small figure. The thing that I admire the most is how the ends of the bomb unfolds to form the wing but only that: theses pieces have parts that unfold as well and have the appearance of feathers, making the eagle mode more realistic than on the original Laserbeak, where wings were more jet-typed and liked these details. And to make this even sweeter, wings can be folded all the way up. This is nice because it looks like he's swooping or resting, when he's on Soundwave's arm. :) On the center of the wing you see what looks like a rotor as in a VTOL jet or a helicopter. The top side rotor is painted red while underneath it is red as the wing. The body is like 90% black with red used on top of the wings as mentioned and grey for the legs and tail. I forgot: the head and legs are rather simplistic (already have enough moveable parts for such a small figure :P ) and can only swing up and down.
The jet design is odd since its alien, but still cool. Quite detailed but lacks extra features other than the mandatory Cyber Key gimmick the line is centered around. The three bombs however can be placed underneath the wings in vehicle mode for storage, which gives it a nice and realistic look. The third bomb can be placed inside a compartment on the rear of the vehicle, but said compartment can only be opened using the Cyber Key. Having the key installed like that ways really odd and ruins the feeling of the figure, but that's the only way to open that compartment. The upside is that the compartment is located in such position that, by opening it, you can "drop" bombs while "flying". :)
The transformation is quite complicated, this being a Voyager Class figure. It reminds me the transformation of Smokescreen, a figure from the Generation 2 line. The legs comes out of the main body to the outside, then the arms are pulled out from within and finally the fuselage of the jet folds in to form the body of the robot. The frame of the jet is shaped like a "V", and inside the "V" is where what becomes the torso of the figure rest when the jet is folded. This is the part that reminds me Smokescreen.
The robot mode is rather "skinny" compared to the original G1 Soundwave, but the lack of "fat" is made up by articulated limbs; actually the original Soundwave was quite articulated, too, though he was not intended to. That was because of his transformation. The knees are "protected" by these "spiky" guards (side halves of the jet nose) which gives it a gladiator/barbarian look (a look shared by Energon Divebomb and other anime robots and a look I am very obsessed with these days. The arms has the top and middle parts of the jet nose and some times these pieces get in the way, making posing difficult. You has to either have him with arms folded in "combat mode" or with his fists facing the body in order to have him "straight". There are some issues with the way his head looks. It is way likely you will end up with a "long neck" Soundwave because of the deign of the hinge where the head is located. You has to push down the hinge (not the head) in order to make a "Short Neck" Soundwave (A tip given by a fan over Tfans.com)
The plastic used on this figure looks and feel of good quality. There are no rubber parts anywhere that could make the figure to look or feel cheap, unlike Cybertron Thundercracker.
The color scheme is one of the key (no pun intended) elements on any figure. On this case the designers did things the right way and used colors that matched the original Soundwave, which are mostly dark blue and grey for the hip, upper tights and forearms, with golden for the chest plate. Some red applied on the knee guard top and the shoulders. The final product is a beautiful robot that give justice to the character he is supposed to be a tribute of.
The Unlocked CyberKey content (which can be viewed on Transformers.com) is the color chart for Soundwave in the TV show and probably the toy as well, though the indications tend to point towards the later mostly. In addition there are some liner notes regarding the history behind the making of this new Soundwave and a trivia about the original one. The CyberKey code is: vmj8.
I don't know about you but I am very pleased with this figure. The price was reasonable (larger figures with complicated transformations are bound to be expensive and let us not count the outrageously high cost of life these days! >_<) and the final product is of great quality and nice looks. Only thing I regret/wish is that this idea is not developed any further. I was left with the desire of seeing bombs that transformed into robots or other animals, just like the cassettes. Maybe I am asking too much but that's my prerogative. :P
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