Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave and Laserbeak
It was only a matter of time before Megatron’s favorite lackey got the Masterpiece treatment. Before I get to the masterpiece (no pun intended) that is Masterpiece Soundwave and Laserbeak, there has been an awful lot of new info about the Masterpiece line this week.
An exclusive (though I’m not sure to where, eHobby would be my guess) Tigertrack (aka a yellow repaint of Sideswipe) will be coming out soon. Not terribly unexpected as it is the obvious repaint.
By far the bigger news is that over the course of 2013 in addition to the previously announced MP-15 (Rumble & Ravage) and MP-16 (Frenzy & Buzzsaw) we’ll be getting MP-17 (Prowl), MP-18 (Smokescreen), and MP-19 (Bluestreak). This is fairly big news as it will mean a total of at least seven MP releases this year, where previously there have never been more than 3 in a year (I think…might have been 4 with repaints). (I think I smell my wallet burning.) There is no word on which color scheme will be used for Bluestreak (G1 toy gray, G1 animation gray with black hood, or the famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, blue and silver). Since the previous Masterpiece toys have been heavily based on the animation models, the G1 gray with black hood seems most likely. I’ll be crossing my fingers for a blue and silver exclusive later, but since after all these years they have never bothered to give us a G1 Bluestreak in blue and silver, I won’t be holding my breath.
There is also a report of a Masterpiece Acid Storm coming out in Australia (the info was found in a store computer). In recent years the USA usually gets the same releases as Australia (at least I think they have for the most part) so I’m hoping he comes out here. It seems odd that they would do Acid Storm instead of Sunstorm. I’m wondering if maybe it was a mistake and it is really Sunstorm coming out. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Transformers Masterpiece Laserbeak
The Good: Laserbeak is perfect. He is as close to the G1 animation model as is possible, as if he flew right out of the cartoon. The fact that they were able to integrate his weapons instead of making them separate accessories is nothing short of genius. His paint job and head sculpt are spot on and he even has the pop out camera on his head (though you can’t see it very well in the picture). His cassette mode is nicely painted.
Oddly he comes with a pink cassette case. Not sure why as all G1 cassettes came with clear cases as far as I know, but that hardly matters. (And for anyone out there not old enough to remember what a cassette is, think of it as a low quality rectangular thick CD.)
The Bad: The only bad here is the cost. The set of Laserbeak and Soundwave was $160 initially from the major online importers (if you haven’t ordered one yet, the price has already gone up for their second shipments). The cassette two packs coming out in a few months are $60 each, so at $30 Laserbeak seems a little overpriced, but not so much as Sideswipe and Red Alert were. (Admittedly, I might feel different about that if not for the plastic tires on MP Sideswipe and MP Red Alert that make the price seem worse.) Still, while a little overpriced, I can’t really complain since he is just so damn perfect.
Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave
Soundwave comes with a ton of accessories, so before we get to him, I’m going to go through his accessories.
Soundwave comes with a piece that can be connected onto his tape bay door. It is meant to simulate the grid that he would display when showing information in the cartoon. This is very cool. Unfortunately, in order to complete the affect, you need to cut out the displays from the back of his instruction book. As I file all my instruction books in plastic file boxes and would never think of cutting them up I can’t show you this. It’s not worth the hassle for me, but you can easily make a color copy or scan and print it out so you don’t have to cut up your book. While it is a bit cheap that they didn’t just include it separately, I really can’t say this takes anything away from the toy.
Anyone who has watched the original G1 cartoon knows that Soundwave could create empty energon cubes, ejecting them from his chest. MP Soundwave comes with a plastic box that can be connected to the tape bay door to simulate this. The cube only has five solid sides, but there is a cover for the open side. It would have been nice if they had included a battery operated LED as part of the lid to make them glow pink. It’s such an easy thing, I’m sure one of the third party companies will have that available soon. Again, this doesn’t take anything away from the toy.
While it is a bit of a pain, Takara has made a foldable insert for the cube. It is downloadable for free from their website. Here is the link to it. I haven’t had a chance to do it myself, but while it won’t be an LED, I think it will look pretty decent. It would have been nice if they had just included it with the toy, but I guess that was too much to ask for.
Also of note, anyone purchasing Soundwave from Amazon Japan received two additional energon cubes as a bonus. As you may recall, Sideswipe ordered from Amazon Japan came with pile driver accessories not available any other way (though some of the online toy resellers were able to get them). At least this time it was just more of the same parts, not really a big deal.
Gun Mode Megatron
I wish I had time to dig out my gun mode Megatron from the early Masterpiece toys to check, but I’m fairly certain that this is the same mold Megatron gun that came with the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime or Starscream (can’t recall which, though it might have come with both). Nice accessory, but it only makes me wonder more if we’ll get a new Masterpiece Megatron in the future. It would be nice since the last one was so badly designed that they almost always broke right out of the box.
Soundwave comes with a “sensor” (according to the instructions) that snaps on when you leave his hand folded inside his wrist. I’m sure he probably used this in a specific episode, but I can’t recall which one. Nice.
They really thought of everything with Soundwave in regards to accessories. His shoulders were designed to connect with Laserbeak’s feet so that he can stand on Soundwave’s shoulder without falling off.
He also has a clear plastic piece sticking out of his forearm so that Laserbeak can perch on his arm as he did so often in the cartoon. What makes this so impressive is that rather than just molding a part onto his arm to connect Laserbeak to, they added a separate piece of clear plastic. While it is of course, not completely invisible, it attempts to hide it, and that to me was really going all out.
Of course, Laserbeak can be fit into Soundwave’s chest in cassette mode. (That kind of goes without saying.)
The Good: Soundwave is absolutely amazing. As you can see from the pictures, they’ve captured him perfectly right down to his weapons. The little details they put on him are truly remarkable. Even though they don’t actually do anything, they put springs under the rewind and fast forward buttons so you can press them. Also, if you look right in front of his knees, there are blue plastic blocks. These are set on springs so during transformation they can retract into his leg. It’s a small detail, but if you recall the G1 Soundwave, who is very similar to the MP in overall design, has an open void there. A small thing, but it really makes him that much more perfect.
Unlike a lot of Masterpiece toys, he really holds his gun well. Most of them have it pop out if you look at it funny. You can even completely close his hand around it without it being pushed out of the slot.
His paint job is perfect (I keep using that word, but it is really the only one that fits). I especially like the little things like painting the tips of the missiles in his shoulder launcher and the red stripes around the weapons. Accept for a few joints that you can barely see that were left unpainted, there is no gray plastic, it’s all painted silver. His buttons are all chromed including the slide and wheel on the sides of his cassette player mode.
The head sculpt is really great. I don’t recall there being those black areas on the sides of his face in the cartoon, but it looks great regardless.
His shoulder-mounted launcher is not completely removable. It can be pivoted around and down into his back. The G1 toy used his weapons as the batteries. While they have kept the battery shape of his weapons, they cannot be stored the same was as the G1 toy. Instead his hand weapon folds down into the same size as his shoulder launcher and attaches to the other side of his back. When transformed to tape deck, a plate covers the top of them, so you can only see them if you completely turn him around. It would have been nice if they were covered up, but it’s hardly necessary. Not really an issue for me.
You can fit three tapes in Soundwave’s chest. The back panel inside is spring loaded, and when it’s full, you press a button on his back. Each press only moves it up one notch, so if it’s full, each press only ejects one tape at a time.
They even molded his hands so that his trigger finger is separate from the rest of his fingers. This means he can be posed pressing the button to open his tape bay door just like in the cartoon. It’s details like this that make this toy so great.
Another thing, and this is really true of all the recent Masterpiece releases, he is far easier to transform than some of the earlier toys in this series. (Some of them made me want to scream, not that it helped.)
I, unlike most collectors, am not a fan of having too much articulation in toys. In general, more articulation just means they fall down too easily when you stand them up (this is the main reason so many of my Transformers are displayed in vehicle mode). Soundwave, like most Masterpiece toys has plenty of articulation, but the joints are well designed so he stands up straight with no problem. This is a very big plus for me with any toy. Also, his legs don’t need to be angled out to the side in order for his feet to sit flat on a surface (though they could be, he is very poseable). This is another big plus for me.
The Bad: The price is high, but he is so well designed and such a perfect G1 Soundwave that it really isn’t bothering me. It’s hard to find anything significantly wrong with him. There are a few little things I mentioned above, but his trigger finger can come off if you aren’t careful, but it pops right back in, and it’s nothing like the awful fingers on the original Masterpiece Starscream. His gun is a bit tricky to transform. I couldn’t flip up the handle without a pair of tweezers, but someone with longer fingernails might not have any problem. Once the handle is folded out, the barrel pushes out the front, but not by much. It makes it touch to grab onto and pull out the rest of the way, but its not that bad. They could have painted the barrel on Gun Megatron (not the extended barrel). A pair of fake headphones like the original Japanese G1 Soundwave came with and a port to plug them into would have been a nice bonus. The reality is that none of these things take anything away from him.
As much as I love the newest versions of Masterpiece Starscream and Optimus Prime, I think it’s hard not to call Soundwave the best Masterpiece ever, even better than Grimlock.
“Cries and screams are music to my ears.” – Soundwave
Thanks for reading!