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Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Superior (su·pe·ri·or) \su̇-ˈpir-ē-ər\ Adjective. Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin, comparative of superus upper, from super over, above. "Situated higher up."

So yes, "Soundwave: superior."

Stationed in orbit above Earth, Soundwave swiftly taps into every satellite in range. Within minutes, communications, data traffic, weather information, and high- resolution spy photography flood his sensor net. The spill of data fills him with pleasure, and one by one, the humans' systems come under his complete control. From his seat on high, he is in a position to control the destiny of mankind without their knowledge...or to run their civilization into the ground.

Robots can feel pleasure? I mean, yes, it makes sense that if Soundwave were going to feel plasure about anything, it would be total control of the flow of information, but still. He's a robot. No emotion. But I suppose if we accept blind homicidal rage, then less... fiery emotions should be kosher, too.

Soundwave is technically part of the "Movie Preview" series of toys - what that's supposed to mean, I don't know, since he (and wave-mate Bumblebee) were released on May 30, just like every other damn piece of TF2 merchandise. He's no more of a preview than any other character we didn't know was in the movie. Unusually for a Deluxe class figure, he's packaged in robot mode, probably because that's the most "Soundwavey" mode of all.

If you know what you're looking for, then yes, Soundwave has some features you'll recognize that reveal his identity, but it's all minor stuff, like the gold frame around his chest or the red stripes on his wrists. Beyond that? Not so much. The robot is very short, only 5" tall at the highest point (his shoulders, as you can probably tell). He's also incredibly stocky: he's more than 5½" across the shoulders, which means that, yes, he is literally wider than he is tall. The kibble on the shoulders is in keeping with the movie's Cybertronian designs, but that still doesn't make it attractive.

The head is at least mildly similar to the familiar Soundwave design: the guy was the pattern for the Decepticon logo, so it's sure as shooting one we're all familiar with. The head is long and angular, with a silver faceplate, red eyeslit, and a small crest on his forehead. There's been a fan-made Soundwave head design floating around the internet since the first TF movie, and it was a lot more recognizable than this.

The packaging proclaims Soundwave is a triple changer, which is a bit disingenuous: real triple-changer technology isn't being introduced until the third film. He doesn't really have two vehicle modes so much as he has one mode with two wing positions. The first step, following the instructions, is a satellite, apparently, though it looks almost exactly like Vector Prime. Seriously, lay him down, and you've got the long angular nose, the vertical wings, all that. Of course, since this mode is meant to stand en pointe, the similarities get masked a bit. Still, this has nothing on Shockblast - now that was a nice satellite! In this mode, Soundwave is more than 7" tall, and 7" wide, counting the skinny little spines sticking out the sides.

This Soundwave doesn't eject other robots from his chest, but that doesn't mean he's alone. Ravage showed up in the first Revenge of the Fallen trailer (so maybe we should have expected Soundwave would show up as well, but that's neither here nor there), and he's included with this toy. Now, it's not an actual second figure or anything, just an intricately sculpted missile that can be launched from the top of the satellite. So Ravage isn't a cassette tape, he's some kind of payload delivered from space. This missile is him in his protoform/entry mode or whatever you want to call it: the way they all fall from space. So in the movie, you can probably expect to see Soundwave fire him at Earth like a bullet. Or at least drop him. Assuming Ravage is the same general size as Scorponok, Soundwave is going to be much bigger than this toy suggests.

Anyway, the "third" mode is a... vehicle? Is that right? The instructions don't even bother to call it a jet or anything, it's just a "vehicle?" Thanks, "company!" I'm sure I will enjoy using "toy." Effing generic-ass terminology. At least the packaging has the decency to dub it a space cruiser. It may not mean anything, but at least it took a few seconds' work. Converting the satellite to a vehicle is little more than a matter of raising the wings, and plugging them into slots near the back. The Ravage-rocket is still here, and both altmodes have a portion that looks like an armored version of Soundwave's face - but since it's on the robot's back, it's not, really. The length is the same, but with the wings spread, the width is bumped up to 9".

Is it possible the two modes are mislabeled? Like we said, the satellite looks a lot like Vector Prime's vehicle mode, while the supposed space cruiser has a trilatery symmetry that would really suit a piece of equipment in geosynchronous orbit. Eh, either way - it's not like either mode is readily identifiable, and Aaron Archer has already admitted that they took some liberties with the actual movie design in the interest of making a better toy. It's entirely possible that this Movie Preview toy isn't actually previewing anything we'll see in the movie.

Soundwave definitely isn't the cream of the crop with these new movie toys. The robot doesn't have very good proportions, changing him isn't very complicated and neither of the altmodes are particularly pleasing. There are portions of the toy's physical construction that don't really serve any purpose; seriously, why is the "nosecone" on a balljoint, when a hinge would serve all the function is needs? And yet, despite all that, there's still a bit of fun here, and that makes him worthwhile. It's entirely likely we'll see another Soundwave later in the line, truer to whatever his movie design turns out to be, so don't kick yourself if you can't find this one: he's okay if you happen across one, but he's not worth seeking out specifically.

-- 06/09/09

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