Mar 27, 2013

[Transformers] Takara Masterpiece Soundwave (MP-13)

This is Masterpiece Soundwave, released as MP-13 in Takara's Masterpiece Transformers series of toys. Beyond the fact that Soundwave is one of my favorite characters from the Transformers Generation 1 era, this is also one of the best Masterpiece figures I've handled (although I admit that I only personally own 2 of them so far). But man, this one is a real beauty.

I'm not sure if this will still stand as a decent review or will be just me gushing over the toy. I've been playing with it for more than a month now and it's taken me this long to collect my wits long enough to actually write about the toy. I love him. I really, really do.

So Masterpiece Soundwave comes with a lot of interesting goodies. And since I have the Asia-release (duh), it also comes with a quirky commemorative coin.

Apart from the core figure and his one cassette minion Condor / Laserbeak, this figure comes with some great touches from the show. You get get a replica of Megatron in his Walther P-38 gun mode with detachable scope, shoulder guard and silencer thingy. Of course you get Soundwave's signature gun, the Concussion Blaster that turns into a battery. You have his little scanner device that can be attached where his hand is. There's a clear energon cube that you can turn pink with a PDF print-out. And there's the little display grid that snaps into place on top of his chest piece where you can slide in some cut-out display images found in the manual. Oh, and Laserbeak has this weird pink cassette case that makes you wonder why they  couldn't make the energon cube in the same color or something. Weird Takara!

Now the detail on this figure is pretty amazing, especially in reference to the G1 cartoon series. His head sculpt is just gorgeous can isn't limited solely to looking left and right - he has some Y-axis rotation as well. The little cassette player buttons can actually be pressed (but do nothing) and they solved the problem of  securing his weapons and even Laserbeak by the uses of various grooves and plastic nubs where you lock the various accessories on.

He's nicely poseable for the most part with some great weight in his feet to help keep him stable. Thus you can manage a number of action poses with him kneeling and crouching with little effort. And he has full hip rotation apart from just bending his arms and legs, which gives you even more options for play.

Of course his main claim to fame is the ability to maneuver his hand to press the eject button just like in the cartoons. It's a majorly iconic pose, although don't expect him to have the capacity to actually press the button. His hand was designed to have the forefinger as a separate hinge with the last three fingers stuck together as a solid piece. Thus it takes very little pressure to pop that one finger out of the joint and send it flying across the room. Otherwise, his hands still look great and the groove for his gun isn't too hard to use - but it does mean that he can still "hold" the weapon without actually closing his fist. It's a minor quirk of the figure, but it does not seriously take away from the overall toy experience.

Laserbeak probably deserves a review all on his own - he's that good. Apart from his final styling that is nicely G1-inspired down to his head-mounted camera seen in the 1986 movie, he has the great gimmick of not needing extra pieces to transform. the original Lazerbeak had additional chrome plastic pieces that you'd attach to complete his distinct booster pack. This time around it's actually a direct part of his transformation and thus no extra pieces for you to lose. His wings also bend  mid way to give you some decent posing options along with some great swivel for his head as well. And as mentioned before, there are grooves on Soundwave that allow you to mount him securely whether on his forearm or on his shoulder.

While he's about the same height as the original Soundwave in robot mode, it's clear that the Masterpiece mold is a lot thicker. This is best seen in his cassette player mode where he's a really solid little device with lots of interesting details on the side like ports for headphones and even a little tuning dial. None of these were excessively necessary but are great to have all the same. The added thickness is mainly because of the weight and detailing for the figure and of course his ability to carry up to three mini-cassette minions in his chest. And it has a much better mechanism for this compared to the more recent Fall of Cybertron Soundwave Voyager-class figure.

What surprised me more is that a lot of pre-planning went into this figure that I had not been anticipating, especially since I recently picked up Ravage and Rumble (MP-15). Additional details like the ability to connect Rumble's piledrivers to Soundwave's cassette player mode like some external data feed like in the 1986 movie. And his feet actually have little storage pods to hold Rumble and Frenzy's weapons. Who knows why they decided to incorporate these little touches - I love them all!

So in essence, that's Masterpiece Soundwave, totally ready to defend Megatron's honor at the drop of a mini-cassette. He's one of my favorite Transformers by far and I find myself constantly bringing him out of the box for little play dates. What I really need now is a Masterpiece Megatron toy (MP-5), although I wish they'd release a better version of that toy.

Megatron doesn't get as much love as Optimus Prime given Prime's multiple Masterpiece releases. Just saying.

Oh, and if you really think I should slap a rating on this, you know that I'm still going to give it a perfect 5/5 despite the finger issue.

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