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…