Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I love the '80s: Masterpiece Soundwave

Hey Everyone

I apologize that I have been MIA for quite awhile due to medical school, boards are coming and have taken up a lot of my life lately. Classes have ended for me and I have more time to dedicate this blog to you all :) but I still have the boards coming up. Life hands you lemons, you make margaritas. Don't stop at lemonades.

Today, we would be featuring an icon from a decade that holds dear to us - the '80s. That was possibly a decade best remembered by cheesiness, such as hover-skateboards, neon colored clothes, yuppy culture...but it also saw a ton of creative output. Movies were more imaginative than today, such as the Terminator, Mad Max, Robocop, Blade Runner, and Back to the Future. It was also the Bronze Age of comics and darker and grittier storylines made an immense literary impact on still felt today, with classics such as the Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.

And one thing most of us remember very well of the 80's: Transformers, and G1 stands out as the most awesome series, for me at least. The most cynical of us would remark that Transformers is nothing more than a sly corporate maneuver to get us buying hordes of transforming plastic toys. However, it cannot be disputed how Transformers has grown to become one of the biggest cultural phenomena in the modern world. It has spawned motion pictures, cartoon seasons, comic lines, video games, and an extremely loyal fanbase. You can't deny that transforming toys have a certain coolness to them, and one would be hard-pressed to find someone in today's world who hasn't hard of Transformers.

Soundwave: Decepticon icon in his G1 glory.
I have a soft spot for the Decepticons (even though they desire the subjugation of Humankind), and always wanted to get my hands on a Decepticon Takara Masterpiece. On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I was able to pick up MP-13 Soundwave (2nd wave) for a pretty good price. I was actually visiting the Hot Toys "Secret Base" exhibit (which will be featured in another post), and in the same building there's a ton of small toy shops that sell collectibles at competitive prices. If you're there, I strongly recommend knowing what you want to get, and visit a few shops to see their prices.

Soundwave is the stereotypical 80's Transformer who has appeared frequently as the Communications Officer of the Decepticons. You can't get anymore 80's than a robot that transforms into a microcassette recorder, and talks in a computerized monotone voice. JQ and I agree on one thing about Soundwave: he's one of the coolest Transformers out there.

Soundwave's flexibility allows him to even depress his own open/close switch.
Hasbro and Takara produce their own lines of Soundwave masterpieces, and the main difference lies in the color of the eyes. Hasbro's has yellow while Takara's has red. The other noticeable difference is the inside of Soundwave's foot: it's painted in Takara but unpainted in Hasbro's. Also, Takara's instructions are wholly in Japanese, and they probably have a stronger brandname (and higher markup) that translates to bragging rights. I've not been able to compare the 2 together, but I've heard the quality difference is minimal. The kicker lies in his minions: Takara's only has Laserbeak, but Hasbro's has the whole gang for a cheaper cost.

Laserbeak ready for deployment!
As expected, Takara delivers with Soundwave's paint job. The colors are spot on and the application is very neat. There were minor details that could have used a better paint application (the chrome on the fast forward button is not even), and yes we have to admit that most of our toys come from China. This may explain why the quality difference in Hasbro and Takara is negligible, and toy manufacturing quality (probably with some Japanese supervision) has greatly improved to give us quality Masterpieces.

Soundwave comes with a few accessories:

1) Laserbeak (or Condor in Japanese parlance)
2) Megatron as a Walter P-38 scoped with a extended butt
3) An energon cube
4) A viewscreen (for over the chest)
5) Concussion blaster (that doubles as an AA battery)
6) A sensor to replace one of his fists
7) A slipcase for Laserbeak in cassette mode

The instruction manual comes with a cut out for Soundwave's viewscreen, but fans have scanned high quality versions of it so that you won't have to cut your actual manual for the cut out.

Soundwave with his concussion blaster at the ready.
Sounwave's spy sensor, would be mistaken for a plasma blaster cannon if I was a kid.
Transforming Soundwave did take awhile due to our lack of Japanese, and posing him was surprisingly easy given his blocky G1 form. Soundwave also comes with additional "Easter Egg" functions that add personality to him. The fast forward/rewind buttons do spring when pushed on (but not the other buttons), and the earphone jack fits actual earphones.

In all, JQ and I had fun playing around with Soundwave, his innate coolness and good pose-ability makes him a worthwhile Transformer to collect. The 2nd wave is still widely available, and would fetch around 130-150USD. It's pretty obvious that the Masterpiece line is targeted to those who have lived in the 80's, and they did deliver to our expectations for quality and fun.

Here's some photos in the end JQ and I did for fun, and thanks for your continued readership! It means a lot to the both of us. Cheers!

PS: Here's a personality test on "Which Transformer are you?." Perhaps it's fitting for this post that I got Soundwave!

Soundwave and Ravage (note this Ravage is a separate toy and not to scale).
Decepticons may be evil, but Soundwave enjoys the steadfast loyalty of his minions.

JQ and I having fun with the almost functional earphone jack.

Ravage and Soundwave, making retro cool since G1.


  1. Welcome back Joshua! A great nostalgic post of Soundwave! Seems like its Takara week? Got to admit, Takara is great when it comes to details. Surprise the difference between Takara and Hasbro are minimal when it comes to the masterpiece version of the G1 transformers.

  2. Great pictures! Like the classic G1 series! Love the humor you guys did in listening to Soundwave!

  3. Great Masterpiece! Love the various pose shots on Soundwave! Good to have you back Josh! More posts soon?