Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Galaxy Force Soundwave

Galaxy Force as a whole seemed to have far stronger links to Generation 1 than any line before it, and these ties were strengthened further by the reappearance of a G1 character who'd been notable by his absence (apart from one reference in a Beast Wars spin-off) since those halcyon days: Soundwave.

No longer Megatron's righthand man, Galaxy Force Soundwave held no allegiance (except to himself, and possibly Noisemaze) and, rather than being anything like his old G1 self, lurking in shadows and using an innocuous alternate mode to get other people to carry him around and aid him in infiltration, this incarnation of Soundwave transforms into a strange, Stealth-style jet. In fact, aside from colour scheme, the only thing this guy has in common with his ancestor is that he has a minion who ejects from his chest (operated by Planet Key, rather than a simple eject button).


Vehicle Mode:
Well... it's a jet... or a spacecraft. It looks Stealth-like, futuristic, spikey... There's really not much else to say about it, other than it couldn't be further from the original. Even RotF Soundwave reimagines him as a communications satellite. In his alternate mode, Soundwave's minion compartment functions like a bomb bay, and his hexagon-unit weapons can be fitted to his wings. Only one official minion - Laserbeak - was ever made (or three, if you count the ones packaged with the Soundblaster repaint - Hell Buzzsaw - and the one that came with Universe Blaster - Blockrock - both of which are exactly the same mold).

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Robot Mode:
Here's where you start to recognise Soundwave. The colourscheme and, to an extent, the layout of the paintwork hark back to the Generation 1 character and the head, while significantly different, remains unmistakable. Even the combination of hand-held and shoulder-mounted weapons is a nod to the original.

Everything else, though...

In so many ways, this isn't a good model. It suffers from the all-too-common problem of planes that turn into robots - there's nowhere for the plane to go. Thus, the whole of the wing section just sits on his back impeding the movement of his arms, the nosecone hangs off one arm, and the cockpit hangs off the other, pretending to be a shield. If having the wings in the way wasn't bad enough, these extra pieces on the arms hamper his movement even more.

Because of the transformation, there's a rather weak joint just below the knee which, all too often, leaves his legs splayed like he's desperate for the lavatory. The arrangement of the feet is such that they're almost never stable - the heel pieces just aren't long enough. That said, he can still be made to pose reasonably well with some patience.

The overall look of him, while reminiscent of G1 Soundwave, is quite skinny... and, maybe I'm wrong but, isn't there something a little effeminate about him?

One very disappointing thing about this model - and many from the Galaxy Force line - is that his hands are not only molded fists with standard-sized peg holes, but completely fixed in place. Just adding some rotation to the wrists would have made a huge difference.

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Transformation is ridiculously fiddly, with the chest flipping over backwards to form the rear of the plane, and the legs carrying right on flipping to the front and sides of the plane. His arms have to be positioned just so in the mid-section cavity, or nothing else will plug into position correctly. Neither the most elegant nor impressive transformation... which is a shame, considering how much fun his two modes actually are.

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Laserbeak can be stood separately from Soundwave, or mounted on one of three specifically-designed ports - one on each wing, and one on his right forearm, which is actually pretty cool, and shows the kind of thought that went into his design. Transformation is not quite so fiddly as Soundwave and, aside from having disproportionately large feet (all the better to get him to stand, to be honest) he's probably a better model than the Generation 1 cassette-bot, and I really liked that model.
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