Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Did It, Myyyyyyyyyyyy Wave

If you asked anyone who’s watched the original G1 Transformers cartoon who was one of the most memorable & unique character in the series, I’m pretty sure Soundwave’s name would come up quite a lot.  Yup the Decepticon’s original communications officer has a lot going for him.  He’s got that cool monotonous effects rich processed voice, he’s bigger than your typical Autobot and as seen in the first episode, can beat up multiple bots at the same time, and of course, he’s got his little private army residing in his chest.

Unfortunately, for all the plusses Soundwave had going for himself, he did have one major minus (hey we can’t all be perfect).  While his fellow Transformers turned into jets, cars and weapons of destruction….he turned into a Walkman.

If you handed any kid today a Walkman, they would probably look at you with a puzzled look on their face and ask you what the hell that is…or at least ask where the touch screen is.  Unfortunately the Walkman doesn’t exude the same “coolness” factor or even cultural relevance today as it did way back in 1984.  And don’t even get me started on his posse, Laserbeak, Ravage, Rumble, Frenzy & co….who transformed into cassettes.  Yup back then, a robot that transformed into a cassette player with minions that transformed to cassettes was a cool idea, today it’s all irrelevant.

Cybertron Lamppost
But like I said earlier, you really can’t keep a good character down, even if his alt mode has gone the way of the dodo.  So given the problem at hand, the solution was quite simple, make him transform into something else (duh).  Since the original toy, there have been several updates to the character, mostly official and others made by 3rd parties.  Some versions had him transform into objects still close to his original alt mode, like a micro cassette recorder (yup THOSE still exist) or an MP3 player (disguised as a Walkman!).  But most updated versions of Soundwave have basically had him transforming to actual USEFUL vehicles while at the same time having it relate to either, communication, music, stealth…or have some way to have detachable complimentary components that can transform into any one of his minions, JUST to keep him sort of true to the spirit of the original character.  Soundwave has been a Cybertronian truck (that ejects “data discs”), and earth truck with what looked like giant speakers, he’s been a stealth bomber, a drone plane, a satellite, and well…a Mercedes Benz (with tentacles of death).

Micro Cassette Recorder
MP3 player with matching Rumble & Frenzy earphones!
Stealth Bomber
Cybertronian Truck?
Satellite...i think?
Mercedes Benz

Anyway, unlike the seekers, I’m not THAT big of a Soundwave whore, so I don’t have ALL the versions in my collection.  But in any case I’d like to talk about 2 of my favourite updated incarnations of the character.

Soundwave Prime
Now this has got to be the most radical interpretation of the character.  I admit initially I wasn’t so blown away by the design, but it was how his character was depicted in the Transformers Prime show that ultimately won me over.  He is the embodiment of creepiness….sulking in the shadows, recording bits of conversations to use to his advantage in the future and kicking all sorts of ass with his healthy supply of tentacles when he has to.  The drone plane alt mode is just perfect as well, to emphasize more the super-secret spy aspect of the character.  As an added bonus, he comes with his own version of Laserbeak that although doesn’t really transforms into anything, fits seamlessly onto his chest…just perfect.

Animated Soundwave
Ok, the animated aesthetic is really a love it or hate it type.  As a whole, the style of the show was the furthest departure from anything we as fans had ever seen in a Transformers cartoon.  I for one loved it.  And a big reason why is because unlike most Transformers cartoons, Hasbro/Takara-Tomy did the amazing job of actually translating all these animated designs into fairly accurate toys. 

Hello! I'm Soundwave....wanna plaaaay? 
In the series, Soundwave just played the part of a reoccurring character and but he had a quite interesting origin.  The details are a bit fuzzy, it’s been quite some time since I’ve actually seen it, but I do remember him actually starting out as a musical kid’s toy, that somehow got corrupted, turned evil and grew up to be big Soundwave.  Essentially he was Chucky for the Transformers world.

Like I said as a reoccurring character he only made appearances in 2 or 3 episodes.  As a transformer, he didn’t really transform into anything exciting…a nondescript van with one can imagine, huge speakers in the back or something.  But what really pushed this design all the way to #1 for me is his pal Laserbeak.  Like the G1 series, Laserbeak was a condor here as well, but he didn’t transform into a cassette, he transformed into a guitar!  And not just any guitar, an electric guitar of doom!  That’s right!  This Soundwave wasn’t satisfied with just terrifying little kids…he wanted to ROCK ON!!! And blast all the Autobots’ audio receptors with his death metal music of….death!  And it gets even better! After the initial release, an updated Soundwave repaint was released, no longer with Laserbeak, but with a new minion, Ratbat…and he transformed into a keytar….a KEYTAR!!!!! Simply amazing….unfortunately the line was cut short or I’m sure we would have eventually had Ravage as a bass, and Rumble & Frenzy combining to for a drumset….how AWESOME would that be?

So there you have it…my personal take on Soundwave, evil Decepticon…but ultimate Transformer rockstar!

*Thanks to for most of the pictures used in this post, most of my Soundwaves are in storage and I didn't have time to take them out.