Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bootleg Transformer Soundwave 20??

Ah, bootlegs. Where would be in the world without you? You make unaffordable toys more affordable with incredibly questionable design decisions and quality control issues! Still, when you just have to own a figure, and you don't want to break into triple digits to do so, a bootleg might just be the way to go. As an example of that, I'm taking a look at what is easily my most illegal figure, Soundwaveish.

Soundwavish (not his real name) was a figure I bought for eight bucks from an online site with two reviews total. After a month and a half of him not showing up, I pretty much forgot about the whole thing and went on with my life, figuring it had been worth a shot. Imagine my surprise two months later, three and a half months after ordering, when he appeared at my doorstep! Sure, they attached it to a raft and used oars to get it to America from China, but hey - it showed up, so what do I care that three poor Chinese working for slave wages died during the hurricane to get it to me, right? America!

In all seriousness, I doubt anyone died for me to have my Bootleg Soundwaveish, but I was shocked to see it finally show up. There are a number of hints to its bootleg origins. First, the Decepticon sticker is close, but not exact. Also, it is a bit larger than the actual Generation 1 its mold is stolen from (caused by recreating the molds from an existing figure, as I understand it), its colors are a bit off, and the plastic is thinner.
All that aside, when I look at this figure, I see Soundwave, and that's really what I was looking for. My brother was actually the one who owned Soundwave as a kid, and I was jealous. I loved both Soundwave and Blaster for their designs, as well as they were easily some of the most attractive robot modes in the entire 1980s lineup. It's not hard to figure out why Soundwave was so popular. Between his distinctive voice and sleek design, he was made to please.
This figure pretty much captures all of that. The cassette door on his chest works and holds the included tape cassettes of Ravage and Laserbeak (only Laserbeak is pictured), he still has the battery compartment on his back that can store his two cannons, and his transformation from cassette player to robot still could not be more simple, or more elegant.
Once he is transformed, he has an impressive height and a powerful build. Unlike most of the figures of the time, his proportions are solid with no kibble whatsoever to get in the way. From any angle, in either of his modes, it is obvious what he is supposed to be.
I am pleased that the blue of this figure really captures the essence of the original. Some of the stickers are very sloppily applied (not that I could do better, to be honest) and some of the paint decisions were made more in the interest of avoiding being sued than staying true to the original, but he came with two cassettes that transformed, two cannons, and everything needed to make me think fondly of the mid-80s. I really could not ask for more than that for $8.
This is far from the definitive Soundwave. Due to him transforming into a tiny cassette player, Soundwave suffers from Megatron syndrome, as I like to call it. His design has not aged well, and therefore there aren't many modern takes on the original Generation 1 form. Still, he has been re-released a few times from the original mode from both Hasbro and Takara, and sometimes it's just impossible to really beat a classic. Recently, he was released in the Transformers Masterpiece line, and it is absolutely a work of art, but it's also closer to $200 than it is to $8, which definitely limits its appeal to a lot of the more frugal toy shoppers out there.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend rolling the dice as I did for a bootleg figure, but I really do like Soundwaveish. He has a certain personality and charm that is all his own. I can't say I won't eventually grab a legitimate version of him, but for the moment this scratches my itch and keeps me content. Still, one thing to remember with bootleg toys is that they might not be the best for children. Who knows what was used for the plastic and the paint - your child might just start glowing or gaining superpowers after munching on this guy for a little bit.
All in all, though, Soundwaveish superiorish!

Fun trivia moment for those that actually scrolled down this far! In 1985, Hasbro actually released a working tape player based on Soundwave. The only problem? He didn't transform and was featured in his robot mode! Irony, thy name is Hasbro.


Eric Stettmeier on December 5, 2013 at 12:51 AM said...

I still have mine from childhood and I have always loved him! One of the best G1s ever!

It wasn't until I was an adult that I discovered his battery case opened and that his weapons were batteries!

Wes Grogan on December 5, 2013 at 1:58 AM said...

Hah, that's awesome, Eric! There are certain G1s that just.. nail it. Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Grimlock.. some designs just can't be topped. They can be approached differently, but never topped.

Colbey Hopper on December 5, 2013 at 4:08 PM said...

Technically that Soundwave is a hybrid of Soundwave and Soundblaster. In the Headmasters anime in Japan, Soundwave was destroyed only later to be rebuilt as Soundblaster. Basically he was now black and his cassette door was larger, holding two cassettes. The door was also a translucent ruby color.

I too have a fascination for knock off G1 Transformers, yet I prefer the ones that aren't colored like their real deal. Still not a bad pick up for $8.

Wes Grogan on December 12, 2013 at 7:29 PM said...

Colbey, I was never sure of the difference between Soundwave and Soundblaster.. I appreciate you letting me know!

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