Friday, 16 September 2016

Titans Return Soundwave

Titans Return Soundwave

I don't think anyone was remotely surprised when Titans Return Soundwave was revealed in January 2016 to be a repaint of Leader class Blaster. The appearance of Legends Buzzsaw in Combiner Wars Legends Wave 5 was by itself a good indication that his boss would be along at somepoint and so it proved.

As ever the renders used for the preview images don't tell the whole story. The Titanmaster is completely different colours, it swaps Blaster's red for dark blue and black for dark grey to produce a Titanmaster which colour-wise is bang on for Soundwave. The moulding on the leg fronts is a little strange, retaining Blaster's speakers, but the Titanmaster figure has a new head which is a dead on likeness to Soundwave. Depending on how much you like the Titanmasters this might be incentive itself to buy the figure and if so you're going to be in a lot of trouble shortly!

Be careful attaching the Titanmaster: I had a small scare where the clip got knocked off centre. Attempting to right the clip pushed it down into the body from where it was retrieved and, with the aid of the Titanmaster head, successfully reinserted but all it's held in by is a mild bump on the outer edge of the clip so be warned!

In head mode the Titanmaster produces a Soundwave face with faceplate, yellow visor for eyes and above that some circuitry moulding that looks a little like robotic brain. This is covered when the larger figure's helmet is folded into place forming a REALLY good Soundwave head. If I was being picky, and since this is a repaint/remould I can be, the faceplate could have been slightly higher and the visor slightly shorter. From the sides & rear the hinge on the back of the helmet really stands out as it matches neither the rest of the helmet & bulk of the toy, blue, or the Titanmaster's legs/back of the head, dark grey, but is a very pale grey.

As expected we now find the 5mm peg on the shoulder occupied by Soundwave's Shoulder Cannon which stores on the other 5mm peg on the rear of his waist in radio mode. Great addition to the set but unfortunately his other gun is screaming "Blaster's gun in blue" at me. I'd have gladly lost this completely, preferably for Soundwave's other battery gun but I think the set would have worked without a hand weapon at all.

The red on Blaster's upper body now becomes blue, as do the black hands, while the black upper arms and & red forearms become grey, perfectly matching Soundwave's colour layout. The tape door here is now completely clear, and is a new piece. It looks a little odd projecting out from his body like it does as previous Soundwaves have had flat tape deck doors.. You can't see it on the renders but between Blaster & Soundwave the thighs have swapped legs! On Blaster the diagonal lines were on the outer half of each leg but on Soundwave they're on the inner. The lower legs are the part of the toy where Soundwave struggles the most: the fronts need to be flat, and original Soundwave's were anything but flat. There's lots of moulded detail but it doesn't capture the toy or cartoon leg designs in all bar one respect: there's some yellow ridged detail round the knee present on both animated & toy versions.

Legs aside, it's a really, really good Soundwave robot. It almost works better as Soundwave than Blaster. Almost.

When I first saw the Blaster design I wondered if an alternate arm/leg transformation might be possible to give Soundwave a thinner tape deck mode. Alas Hasbro weren't that clever but they've changed the leg panels that form the back & sides of the legs to form newly designed speaker panels. It's not your 1984 Soundwave in tape mode but it's the closest any non Masterpiece toy has got. It IS a tape deck and it's a tape deck that isn't just Blaster, coloured blue. But it's a tape deck that is demonstrably Blaster in origin. As I said before the battery shoulder cannon attaches to the 5mm post on the rear of the waist, evocative of the battery function but not replicating it. As before the gun also attaches to the rear of the toy but since I wrote Blaster's review I've seen it suggested you might want to tilt it up diagonally to act as an aerial for the tape deck. Be careful with the gun though: I snapped half the handle off removing it from Blaster's hands the last time I transformed him!.

From the renders the base mode looked the same as Blaster but there's some changes there too. The moulded patterns inside the flat panels are changed, which shouldn't be a surprise as these are the reverse of the new speaker panels. The pattern is very similar, but is different. The front edges of the base now feature a 5mm peg for you to mount the shoulder cannon missile battery on. Oh my goodness, I've played with Soundwave since 1984 and only just realised that the shoulder cannon formed from a battery contains a missile battery! I knew the design was there, just never put the word for it together with it's alt mode function! The inside of the platform formed from the tape deck is different too, now being a solid platform with one Titanmaster peg on it.

Why did they choose the robot's ankle hinges, only really visible here as the ends of the base mode walls, to be red? Matches no other colour on the toy so they could have been any colour like blue, light grey, dark grey, that was used on the rest of the toy but no they choose red which stands out a mile!

At the time of writing this toy has only showed up at Smyths in the UK and isn't on their website. We don't have a Smyths in Swindon so mine was obtained from the Cribbs Causeway Bristol store while en route to a week away. It was the only toy I had for the week so Soundwave's Battle Disco got more attention than many of my TFs do. I was expecting to think "this is just a Blaster repaint" but the changes to the moulding and colours work really well and elevate it beyond that. Definitely worth getting, even if you got Blaster!

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