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2005 – Cybertron

Review – Transformers – Cybertron – Soundwave

Ah yes, Soundwave. One of the few G1 transformers that has been hardly ever remade but really probably deserved to be. We’ve had a ton of Megatron’s and Starscreams but Soundwave has had what, that Beast Wars bat that turned into an Alligator? I’ve always thought Soundwave was cooler than Starscream personally, and who is more deserving of a remake than Megatron’s right hand man?

Of course the original Soundwave was a cassette deck. So how do you remake him? Cd Player? MP3 Player? Stereo system maybe? The newer lines haven’t really used the idea of mass displacement. It’s really kind of a lame concept anyway. How about we turn him into a jet of some sort then? Megatron has become a jet and the Decepticons are known as being flying types. But what kind of jet? What’s a good jet that just screams “Soundwave”? Why a stealth bomber of course. A jet designed to be invisible to Radar and fly at the speed of sound.

Well, this Soundwave mostly turns into a bomber. It’s actually a bit slippy on the robot kibble and design department. It’s more like “Soundwave folded in half” really. Unfortunately it looks like complete crap. The transformation is ahorrendous mess as well. Nothing fits properly together and returning this toy to bomber mode is about as complicated as Big “Don’t even think about turning me back into a mammoth” Convoy. The toy loses some serious points for this.

The bomber also includes three large bombs. Two fit under his wings and the third fits in a panels on his underside. The one in the panel can be “dropped” by inserting the Cyber Planet Key.

Still, this wouldn’t be much of a remake if it didn’t look anything like Soundwave is supposed to look would it? Can a stealth bomber really turn into a robot resembling a cassette player’s robot mode. The answer is… sort of.

The general idea is certainly there, most importantly the head and chest area. The previously mentioned bomb door becomes the chest, it’s still opened by the Cyber Planet Key to release the bomb housed inside. Best of all, the bomb is a Transformer too. All three of them are to some extent. The primary bomb turns into Laserbeak, the two secondary bombs become weapons for Soundwave.

Otherwise the Robot mode actually has fairly little resembleance to his G1 counterpart. He is a lot skinnier all around than G1 Soundwave for starters. However, what his robot mode does have going for it is a lot of Vampiric styling. Especially with the wings and all around jagged edges. This works well with his name, Soundwave, since Vampires are supposed to turn into bats. Someone was certainly thinking when they designed this toy.

So as an overall opinion, it’s a nice toy really, and not too bad of a Soundwave. However a better update more akin to G1 would be better suited if yopu’re looking to fill the SOundwave hole in your Classics collection. Also the frustrating transformation is a downside to anyone who actually likes to transform thier Transformers. There’s actually an MP3 player transformer resembling Soundwave being released in Japan that fits much better into the Soundwave as a Classics design mold but it’s got real electronics in it making it slightly cost prohibitive to the casual collector. Anyway, Avoid this toy unless you want to keep it in robot mode forever, if that’s the case it’s got some interesting style going for it that makes it an allright Soundwave figure.

Review – Transformers – Cybertron – Crosswise and Smokescreen

It seems to me that Hasbro was strongly considering the upcoming classics line near the end of Cybertron. We got Blurr, we got Breakdown GTS, and we got Smokescreen, right at the tail end. It’s actually fairly rare for Hasbro to release a G1 homage recolor and actually get the name correct. We’re lucky that Smokescreen wasn’t named Ironhide or Silverstreak really.

But no, this color scheme belongs undisputedly to G1 Smokescreen, and the appropriate name was assigned. Still, that’s only one hurdle for Hasbro to overcome. The other is mold. This deco could have easily been applied to a repaint of Repugnus and called Smokescreen.

But no, once again, we get an appropriate alternate mode. Smokescreen is a repaint of Cybertron Crosswise. Crosswise isn’t exactly a Datsun 280ZX but he does closely resemble the Bugatti Veyron and looks sporty enough to be an update of our old G1 buddy.

What makes things even better, is Crosswise, upon his release was loved by G1 fans for his “hood as a chest” transformation. Even better, he has little flip up shoulder launchers. Crosswise isn’t an exact update, but he does all around resemble one of the G1 Autobot cars in the family of Smokescreen and Jazz.

So it works really well when he’s repainted as one of said cars. The original Crosswise color scheme works very nicely as well. The sleek black makes this Autobot come off as fit for espionage and skirting the edge of what’s good. Still, he’s not quite sinister looking enough to come off as being a Decepticon at all, since for the most part Black Transformers are evil.

Still, the mold is not without it’s flaws. The transformation is slightly confusing and complicated. I almost always end up popping one of the large rear wheel “spike” pieces off while trying ot get his arms to work and my Smokescreen has never quite fit back together solidly in vehicle mode. He’s got a lot of little panels and such that need to fit just right. He’s a bit reminiscent of the RiD Autobot Brothers in this respect.

It is a good molt though, and certainly a refreshing change from the brickish Autobots we’ve had from the past several lines. I’d have to say he’s worth picking up in both color schemes, but if you’re just looking for a G1 hook up to go with your Classics, Smokescreen is the way to go.

Review – Transformers – Cybertron – Downshift

Transformers have had a pretty low point in their life the last few years. Armada and Energon has some fairly weak toy design in terms of sculpt and articulation. Seriously, what’s up with Armada Hot Shot’s shoulders?

Still, Energon was better than Armada, and Cybertron has been better than Energon. Lately, Cybertron has even been better than itself. The toys are starting to receive joints that make sense again, they have all sorts of neat detailing, they have better alt modes, and better transformations.

One of the latest Transformers released to the market is Downshift. Now, you may remember Energon Downshift who was highly reminiscent of Wheeljack in design and colors. This version of Downshift shows homage only in head design. This 70s style muscle car Transformer more closely resembles Alternators Wheeljack than G1 Wheeljack. And so as far as I’m concerned, this toy can be Downshift, brother of Wheeljack, and Energon Downshift can take the roll of Wheeljack. Confused?

As mentioned, Downshift’s alternate mode is a 70s style muscle car. It’s not styled after any one car but shares elements of the Barracuda, Mustangs, Cameros, and others. It’s colored primarily green with black stripes, hood and soft top. There is some light detailing in the interior of the car as well but they don’t extend below the cut off between the top and body of the car.

The transformation isn’t too complex and the end result is slightly reminiscent of the older styled G1 cars such as Jazz and Prowl. Yet the transformation itself is not all that similar to those old toys. Downshift’s robot mode is pretty solid all around though cut joints in the arms as well as an unhindered neck joint would have helped a bit.

One aspect of the last several lines is gimmicks. Generally, many of the gimmicks involve sticking keys or smaller robots it some orifice on the larger robots to shoot missiles or open claws. Downshift’s cyberkey gimmick causes the grill of his car mode to open up into a sort of claw. It’s effectively neat, especially since it still works when the rear half of the car is folded downwards in robot mode, but it’s not particularly useful for anything cool. The better gimmick is the pair of shoulder mounted missile launchers Downshift includes. They not only give Downshift minicon hardpoints to use but they can be attached to the sides of the car mode for a heavily armed 70s muscle tank look.

Ok, yeah, sticking the launchers on the sides of the car is really dumb and ruins the look of the best vehicle mode ever in the history of Transformers.

Downshift is a really great toy and would make a great addition to any Transformer collection. You might even like it if you’re just big on 70s muscle cars.