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Transformers Masterpiece MP-13
Soundwave Review (36 Pics!)

When I get into conversations with fellow collectors and regular readers, they’re often surprised to find about some of the “other” lines I collect. See, the truth is, I’ve been holding out on you guys. Some toys I collect never seem to find their way onto the site. Masterpiece Transformers is one of those lines.

I always intend to get the Masterpiece Transformers up for review when I buy a new one, but somehow the schedule makes sure they elude me. Even this week when I was taking pics for Soundwave, my inner editor was still screaming at me about the MOTU & DC reviews I need to catch up on. Truthfully, though my “backlog” of reviews that I want to do is about 50% Transformers including all of the MPs I’ve bought. So it’s time for the drought to end. And how better to end it then to strike while the iron is hot with the newest release: MP-13 Soundwave.

Looking back, I sometimes feel like I was the only kid who didn’t have Soundwave. I did have access by means of his being a “neighbor toy” for a few years – which ironically is why I never got him. See, my parents would take note of my friend’s toys and then avoid buying those specific characters to encourage us to play together. It’s a cute parent thing to do and it did work, but it also created a handful of toys I still want to this day (and many I’ve gone back to get). Soundwave & his cassettes are on that list. A few years back, I almost pulled the trigger on the SDCC reissue, but for one reason or another it never happened. And after skipping the G1 original/reissue, picking up the MP seemed like a good fit for my collection.

Soundwave presented a dilemma though – should I wait to see what Hasbro would do or bite the bullet on Takara’s? Obviously, I opted for the latter. While I think Soundwave is a lock for Hasbro (we may find out at Toy Fair), I went ahead and pre-ordered from BBTS. He’ll surely be less than $160 from Hasbro, but I’m not that satisfied with the brighter colors on Prime or the sawed-off teeth on Grimlock – and, let’s be honest, I have him now.

The Masterpiece line, by virtue of its name, really needs to be held to a high standard. When the line first kicked about a decade ago, I snagged that first Prime for around $65. I have some nitpicks, but he’s still one of the best toys I’ve ever owned. Heck, I can’t find it in myself to part with him now that I have the technically superior MP-10 version of Prime. But, after Prime, the line kinda stumbled. For years, the line consisted of repaints or new figures that suffered from strange decision making. I wanted the line to be better, but the figures didn’t seem worth the price. That changed in 2011. Not only has the line stared going at lightspeed (near monthly releases coming up, ugh!), but the quality and behind-the-scenes work have reimagined this line into something worthy of the name. And, simply put, Soundwave personifies it.

In his robot mode, I could nitpick a thing or two: his index finger has a tendency to pop off (but also pops right back on), his gun is a bit of a pain to transform, or I’d like a more secure latch on the cassette door, but the truth is that I have to be looking for the negatives to find them. When I opened the box, I pretty much had the ideal Soundwave for me, a (supposedly) grown-up 80s toy collector. There’s a reason that the popular lines the last few years have been ones like MOTU Classics, 25/30th Anniversary Joes, or the Super Powers-inspired DC Classics. It’s the toys of yesterday made to today’s standards that seem to reach into wallets most easily. And that pretty much sums up Soundwave for me.

Out of the box, he’s a gorgeous figure and that’s before you start playing with and posing him. Thanks to a combination of standard articulation and transformation articulation, Soundwave can really move. There are hinges and swivels all over the figure and that’s what really puts him over his G1 original. Despite the decades of Transformers merch, I’m always drawn to the old toys – there’s a simple robot charm that so many recent releases tend to lack, but man some of those guys are stocky at best. MP Soundwave brings that classic charm and combines it with killer articulation. It’s what makes the figure work for the money, particularly the articulation that lets him push his own eject button.

There are also a lot of little sculpted touches that help the figure stand out as well. Some are obvious like the working cassette door, the inner chest being engineered to hold 1-3 cassettes depending on a setting that you control from the figure’s back, or the vestigial control buttons they took the time to spring-load. Some not so obvious ones are the sculpted designs on the inner pieces like the speakers inside the arms. Heck, there are a few things – like some paneling in the feet – that I don’t even know why it’s there, but it’s still neat. Continue to Page 2…

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73 comments to Transformers Masterpiece MP-13
Soundwave Review (36 Pics!)

  • Impaler

    Doesn’t Laserbeak have a flip-out camera in his head?

  • Dayraven

    More mp reviews please. It kind of wounds me that I haven’t pulled the trigger on them but I can collect vicariously through you.

    • Will do. I at least want to get to everyone from MP-10 onwards soon and then try and stay caught up after that (if I can afford to keep up, yeesh…).

  • Black Arbor

    Hey, hey, a review on a Sunday! I like it! It helps me get through the normal drought of weekend reviews. Seeing this Soundwave makes it all the more painful to have to wait a few more days for Toy Fair (come on, Adam West Movie Masters!).

  • Megatherium

    He’s so beautiful…. :'( They really need to make a new Megatron. I don’t care if they have to paint the whole darn thing blaze orange! (Okay I do, but if the giant one can get buy with a little orange cap on the barrel a new one could too). I JUST WANT A MEGATRON THAT IS MP SCALE! IS THAT TOO HARD TO ASK???

    • Absolutely. A new Megatron is a must! But I can wait a little if they need to figure how to do him right/better than MP5.

    • Paul

      You might want to look into the ToyWorld “Hegemon” figure. It’s a 3rd Party Megatron fig, but it’s the best I’ve seen.

    • I know this may be kind of anti-productive, but what if they did an MP-Megatron that just didn’t Transform? I would much rather see a definitive “Megatron” that doesn’t have to sacrafice sculpt or articulation because of engineering limitations necessary to transform him into a gun.

      • Hrm. I don’t know. As cool as the MPs look as robots, a lot of the fun still comes from Transforming them. MP Sideswipe gets turned back and forth near daily. I think if they absolutely had to to make a a good-looking Megatron, then I’d go for it, but I’d like them to try really hard to do it right first.

        As Paul noted, that third party Hegemon from ToyWorld did a nice job. Is it IP theft if Takara upscales that to MP? 😉

        • Paul

          Hahaha! It would blow my mindhole if Takara upscaled a 3rd party toy. Mind-boggling on so many different levels.

          Yes Hegemon is just under MP scale. I believe he’s about a head shorter than MP Soundwave, but it’s the closest I’ve seen as I really don’t like MP Megatron (though he was released during the earlier parts of the line).

      • jackstatic

        One could easily argue that a megatron that doesnt transform isnt definitive.

  • Beedo Sookcool

    Excellent review, outstanding pictures, and funny comics, as usual! I look forward to your MP-10 review, especially finding out how you think it’s better than the MP-04 version of Optimus. I didn’t pull the trigger on MP-10, and when I found out it was smaller than MP-04, I never looked back.

    I was going to review MP Soundwave myself, except 1) you already did such a good job on it, and 2) mine is still in a warehouse in Wisconsin, waiting to be shipped.

    Looking forward to the inevitable Soundblaster and Shattered Glass versions, now! And bring on more cassettes! Woo-hoo! 😀 Like you, this was one of those iconic 1980s toys that I never had as a kid, but a friend did. Now, thanks to that psychological scarring, I am (amongst other things) a Soundwave focus collector.

    SOUNDWAVE SUPERIOR.

  • Sandman

    After the thoroughly poor showing of MP Rodimus, and the “okay but nothing amazing” MP Sideswipe/Red Alert, Soundwave is a great figure and a splendid toy to add to the collection.

    He’s one of those toys that doesn’t even need other figures. Like MP Grimlock he looks fine on his own, lording it over lesser beings.

    Now if only the extra casettes weren’t so expensive…

    Great review as usual. 🙂

  • J. Lee

    All gonna say if I buy any MPTF it will probably be Soundwave. Always liked him as a kid and this is perfect. The energon cubes are a nice bonus. Gotta start saving up and hope a thought about a Hasbro one thatbcomes with the tapes happens.

  • Noisy, Your parents were clever folks in regards to your play habits and as such, I salute them.

    I only have Prime and Megs from the Masterpiece line since I spend too much on vintage stuff as it is, but Soundwave looks like a must have. It’s a beautiful homage to the grand character with the radical voice from the TV cartoon. Great review and dio pics as always!

    • Thanks, Clutch! My parents were wily that’s for sure. 😉

      Soundwave is probably the first MP in awhile that will be a must have for more casual TF fans. Hopefully, TRU orders plenty if they do pick him up.

  • Would sooo love him standing next to the G1/G1 repro just for the size ref . . . and if i may ball all out and get me this guy! Or shall i better invest in the Blaster repro of years ago? hmmmm.

  • I cannot afford the MP figures currently (I’ve got the original Prime/Convoy, Skywarp, and Grimlock), so I haven’t really been paying much attention to the releases, but… when the hell did they get so small? I’m not even talking about Soundwave. He’s fine next to the Seekers, Grimlock, and Prime, though woefully out of scale with the original Prime and Megatron. This is the first I’ve seen of Red Alert and Sideswipe next to the others and… what the hell? Those guys are tiny. Like, way smaller than Binaltech tiny, judging from that picture. That’s hugely disappointing. I fully intend to go back and pick up some of the releases that I’ve missed once my cash flow improves, but I might skip some of the Autobot cars if they’re going to be so dinky.

    • MP-10 Prime reset the scale (you can see both in the group shot) and the cars are now scaled to fit him in regards to the old animation height charts. Some have been upset with the size because they’d rather have a larger toy than a scaled one, particularly for the $60, but I’m happy with the better attempt at scale.

      • Beedo Sookcool

        I’m sort of (but not really) glad they rescaled the line to fit with the Seekers, but I’d rather they’d worked out any scale issues before they went further than MP-01! And are the Lambos really smaller than Binaltech / Alternators? Chiz!

        Did not think it through.

        • I for some reason can’t find any reviews that show the MP Lambor in robot mode next to his Binaltech counterpart, but there is one here that shows them in vehicle form. The size difference is staggering:

          http://vxt.ca/news.php?articleID=429

          For reference, though, here’s one that shows him next to his Classics counterpart. The $100 MP Lambor is maybe a half inch larger in robot mode that the $15 Classic figure (which was $10 when it was released a couple years ago, but I put the current price of Classics/Universe/Generations toys in there for fairness’ sake, since that’s how much it would retail for if it were on the shelves right now).

          http://botsndolls.blogspot.com/2012/10/review-mp-12-lambor-sideswipe.html

          • For fairness sake’, I don’t know that comparing the marked-up, imported price (and adding $20 to it on top of that) to a domestic MSRP makes much sense.

            If we were able to pick up Sideswipe off the shelf in Japan, he’d retail for about $55 and a Generations Deluxe is around $17-18, so there is an admittable price difference. If Hasbro would import him we could probably snag him for around $35-40. It’s no contest to me that he’d be worth that. I mean, I’ve had all three of the Sideswipes we’re talking about. The MP is heads above the other two. He’s an on-model Lamborghini, on-model and properly scaled in robot mode, and has great articulation. They’ve got me onboard with the cars for awhile to come.

            • Beedo Sookcool

              Kee-RIPES! Now I’m not sorry at all that I passed on paying over $80 for him (not counting shipping to England, VAT, Customs, & processing charges)!

              Thanks for that comparison!

            • I based my comparison on what I would have to pay to get either of these figures. I did a quick comparison shop, and MP Lambor is going for $100 most places. Even if Hasbro did import this figure, I doubt if they’d drop the price by more than half.

              I’m not denying that it’s a nice looking, functional figure, I just don’t personally think he’s worth the price. Even at your estimated $35-40 domestic (which I don’t know if that would be correct, but let’s assume for argument’s sake that it is), he’s still barely bigger than a $15 deluxe, and in my eyes doesn’t scale well with his supposed line-mates.

              • If we’re using what it would take to get the figures now, then the ol’ deluxe Sideswipe tends to sell for about double on eBay, so he’s a $30 figure. If Hasbro imports Sideswipe and drops him under $40 (MP-10 dropped from $250 to $100 so it’s not out of the question), then I’d definitely have to recommend going with the MP.

      • It really depends, I would say, on how you look at scale. If you look at the shows/comics, the cars should be a head or two shorter than Optimus, not waist height. If you want the vehicle forms to stay in scale to one another, the Seekers shoot that right out the window. You’d need one the size of a coffee table to get them in scale with the rest of the MPs.

        • Yeah, scale in Transformers is a gigantic joke. The robots don’t stay the same height in the same episodes. It’s an awful reminder of how bad those cartoons really were! Takara is working off some animation sheets that gave dedicated heights though. I went looking for it earlier, but it’s lost somehwere in a 700pg thread at TFW. I’m happy with how they’ve interpreted the scale all the same.

  • ero

    Would love to collect these, but sheesh, so much stuff out there, I just can’t spend the bread. And I think I’d be even more uptight about these around my kids than I am with regular toys. Don’t need that.

    • Yeah, I had to make some budget sacrifices to afford this line for sure. Is Soundwave worth a wave of Marvel Legends? That I don’t know… (Then again, he might be worth the Hit Monkey wave for sure… LOL)

    • If I get Soundwave, he’s going straight into the detolf. I will be the only one who handles him. I let a friend see my MP-01 Optimus Prime once and it was like I was letting a stranger hold my baby. After I swore NEVER AGAIN.

      I’d say that even when I do I’d be wearing rubber gloves, but that sounds a bit too extreme. I usually try to wash my hands before I handle most of my collectibles anyway. Not that I’m dirty, just want to wash off any oils or whatnot before I handle my plastic meat.

  • Paul

    A wonderful review with some really great pictures! I’m pumped that you’re going to review the MP line on the site as I really try to do my research before spending that much money on a toy. This is such a gorgeous figure that it’s almost impossible for me to wait, but I think I’ll have to wait (and hope) for the American release.

    The ONLY nitpick that I have (and it’s minor) are Soundwave’s hips. I’m not crazy about how they’re connected. Visually, I wish they would have connected higher up in his crotch area. At certain angles, it almost looks like the legs aren’t integrated into the figure. The body just kind of sits on top of the legs. I would totally rather have the better articulation that this setup provides, so this is just a nitpick.

    • Thanks, Paul! One of my 2013 resolutions was to get the Transformers back on the site. I think I was avoiding them because they’re so much more involved than the standard 6″ stuff I usually look at. Soundwave’s review here was spread across three days! I’m hoping the American release is awesome (just not awesomely different)!

      I can see what you’re saying about the hips – had the lower torso just covered the ball joints a little better, but he can move realy well and I’m not what impact that might have had on the articulation.

  • Beedo Sookcool

    Admittedly, I’m still waiting for shipping confirmation, so I still don’t have this guy in hand yet. But I believe I can think of a way to make him even cooler.

    Remember those COMM*Tech chips and readers from the Episode I toys? What if Soundwave were a COMM*Tech reader, and the cassettes had chips in them? Press the PLAY button, and you’d hear a snippet of “spy recording.” Press the EJECT button, and Soundwave recognises which tape(s) he has inside him, and instructs them (by name) to “EJECT!” FF plays “Transform Up” sound effect, REW plays “Transform Down” sound effect, STOP activates laser battle sounds, and REC plays snippets of typical dialogue such as “AS YOU COMMAND, MEGATRON” and “SOUNDWAVE SUPERIOR.”

    Yup, I’d drive the price of this toy up to $300 if I were a brand manager. };D

    • Brainlock

      SOLD!

      LOL
      and count me as another who wanted, but never had the original 80s Soundwave. I think the only opportunity I had to get him, I passed for a slightly cheaper toy, which I can’t recall what it was at the moment? the first time I had an opportunity to buy him (and Megs. and Shockwave.) later was the Action Masters version, which did NOT transform. Every version since has been tanks or planes, which is NOT really Soundwave! urg. (No, I don’t count tank Megs, either!)

      • Beedo Sookcool

        That’s why I love reissues, mate. When I finally got a reissue Soundwave (the Toys ‘R’ Us version), I was amazed to find that he’s the same age as me. Now all I have to figure out is how to get that Electrum-plated Linkin Park Soundwave . . . .

    • That would be cool, but I honestly don’t see how much value that would add to the figure if it drove up the cost way up.

      • Beedo Sookcool

        The $300 is a bit of sarcastic hyperbole for comic effect, taking into account inflation since 1999, standard price-gouging on imported Japanese toys, and my own less-than-astute business savvy. Heck, I don’t actually know what such a Soundwave would cost, but I’ll take a crack at guessing . . . .

        The COMM*Tech readers went for $20 or less back in the day, and each figure that came with a chip and accessories was under $8. Reckon on an extra $25 – $30 for Soundwave and all his button wirings, and another £5 at most per Casetticon for the chip. I’d still pay that, but I’m a Soundwave fanatic. But probably not $300.

  • Jon

    Great review! I hope you continue to hit on more MP and third party Transformers because you got them on my radar a few months back and that’s when I discovered this guy and had to have him.

    Just don’t review the cassette two-packs, because I CAN’T spend $70+ on two of those, as awesome as Laserbeak is. 😛

  • Polo23

    Where or what website can I go to buy this Soundwave???

  • Great Review, I WANT IT, but of course cannot afford it *SIGH*

  • Vangelus made a PDF with the instructions screens as well as the takara papercraft pink energon lining for the plastic cube.

    http://vangelus.ca/2013/01/30/masterpiece-soundwave-papercraft-edit-1/

    Also Hasbro HAS to change something or add something. By making it different there will be at least a few owners of the TT version that will now double dip when they would have passed on the domestic release if it was exactly the same.

    Also possible there are budget/safety issues requiring a change of tooling or paint, etc.

  • John Rubik

    Wanted Soundwave & his cassettes but *$130 for MP Megatron was my absolute limit and I only paid so much for him because I knew there would never in a million years be a domestic release. Hasbro will probably come through for me again. (But let’s not have it take years like it did for Thundercracker, please!)

    *No, my $350 Fort Max preorder doesn’t count. He could eat Masterpiece Transformers for breakfast.

  • Xylob

    Awesome review! Any chance of an IAT Masterpiece checklist??

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  • StrangePlanet

    This Soundwave has doomed me.
    When I first saw the grey prototype, I began a slow decline into madness. It looked amazing and I had to have it. I was a bit too old for He-man and GIJoe, but I still watched Transformers. Animation was iffy but the ideas and the history behind it were solid. So for almost a year I have been obsessing over Transformers. Watched every one of the G1 toons and then started in on the Headmasters series. I bought a bunch of toys that could go in the Masterpiece scale I have going. I used to be happy with my MP-01 Coonvoy, the Wal-mart Starscream and the BT-01 Smokescreen – now I have triple that amount.
    But then the root of all this arrived in the mail and I marveled at the beauty and majesty of MP Soundwave. It really is fantastic and yes, I could have waited for the domestic relese, but screw that, I have him now and I’m still giddy as a schoolgirl whenever I look at him. Soundwave is technically inferior to MP-01 (that one being larger, mostly metal, lights up) but although MP-01 is still the best toy I own, Soundwave is a very close second. Heck, I’m getting him Ravage and Rumble too, damn the cost. He’ll be hard to beat as toy of the year.

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