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Fall Of Cybertron Soundwave

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Soundwave has spent centuries making himself indispensible to the Decepticon cause. His body is packed with electronic communications gear. He is capable of teasing even the faintest transmission out of the microwave background, cracking the toughest quantum code, and jamming the most powerful signal. Together with his minions, he is one of the most effective weapons in the Decepticon arsenal.

There was already a War for Cybertron Soundwave, and if you listened to us, you already own it. What can we say? Sorry that you're about to double-dip.

For a while now, Transformers have been getting smaller, but Soundwave beautifully bucks that trend. Measured to the head, he's 7" tall, and the shoulders come up half an inch above that. All his joints are sturdy, with big ratchets in the knee and elbow hinges. Plus, the swivel biceps don't fall apart this time, so that's another improvement.

Soundwave didn't get redesigned between games the way Optimus Prime was, but don't assume that this figure is just an up-scaled re-release. He looks the same because the source material is the same, but everything has been redone. There's more fine detail on the body, since there was a larger canvas to work with. You can see distinct lines on the legs and intricate grill work on the arms. The door on his chest is now gold instead of yellow, and there are sculpted details on the back of the "window." If you raise the panel up, there's something that looks like speakers. Lovely!

There's a button on Soundwave's shoulder, and if you push it (or use Soundwave's articulation to have him push it himself), the chest flops open. There's a panel there, but you can push it back to reveal a large hollow cavity that takes up the bulk of the torso. That hole is intended to house Soundwave's little Mini-Con Deployers, which are no longer cassette tapes, and are instead "data discs." The disc is 1½" in diameter and a little more than ½" thick. The "top" is detailed with a circuit pattern and a Decepticon logo.

Included with Soundwave is his #1 buddy, Laserbeak. The entire conversion is spring-loaded, and actuated via a button on the underside: when the disc hits a hard surface, Laserbeak pops right into existence! It works really well, too. Just "pop" and he's done! Considering that this started out as a cylinder, the final product looks quite good. It's red and black, the traditional Laserbeak colors, and has a recognizable bird shape. Thanks to the way it unfolds, some new technological details appear on this form, helping set it apart from the disc mode. The only thing we'd add is some way to attach to other figures - he needs to be able to perch on Soundwave somehow.

The idea behind the "auto-transform" gimmick is that you'll depress Soundwave's back like a plunger, ejecting the disc, and when it hits the ground it'll pop open. Well, that may be the idea, but the reality is a bit different: the discs need to fit tightly to keep from falling out, but any small variance in the molding can be problematic. Sometimes Laserbeak shoots out nicely; other times it feels like he's suck and going to crack in half. The chest cavity is large enough to hold three data discs at one time, but to do so you have to pull his back out - and since the plunger part looks kind of like a spine, we mean that literally!

Since Laserbeak is a distinct character, Soundwave's only accessory is his shoulder-mounted cannon. It's based on the G1 accessory, and painted gold at the tip. Early promotional photos showed him holding a gun that looked like Optimus Prime's, but the final figure doesn't have that. No great loss.

Considering his size, converting Soundwave is easy. It's similar to the smaller figure, but not identical, which is good: it would be weird if it was drastically different, wouldn't it? All the pieces go to the same places, so how much different could it really be? Sadly, you can't fake a boombox mode this time, so don't get rid of the little one just yet.

Soundwave still turns into a "communications truck," but the proportions are slightly different. Clearly the truck is bigger overall (5½" long, 3⅝" wide and 3½" tall), but compared to the old one, it's not as flat and the front end doesn't slope as much. So it's kind of "puffier," if such a thing can be said about a giant truck made of metal. The cannon mounts on the top, in front of a small red seat - last time both guns ended up on the sides when they weren't in storage.

Speaking of which, the disc storage thing still works in this mode. The button to pop the front end open remains accessible, and the plunger mechanism still slides forward. And yes, the discs still stick.

Voyager Fall of Cybertron Soundwave is a good Transformer, even if you already have Deluxe War for Cybertron Soundwave. He's bigger, sturdier, and though the disc gimmick doesn't work flawlessly, it is a cool idea. If you don't want to get the same character twice, you can get the black Soundblaster repaint, or wait for the upcoming Autobot remold, Blaster. You can get the mold without having two Soundwaves running around, so just pick which of the three versions you like best and get that one.

-- 02/05/13

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