Transformers Animated Activators Soundwave Toy Review

in 2009, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: September 2009
Price Point: $7.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None


*Images and text from
SOUNDWAVE is a master of manipulation. He twists sound to his own ends, imitating voices, wrecking radio broadcasts, or causing machinery to malfunction. He does it all just to play on the fears of his victims. He takes delight in causing friendships to collapse, and his favorite sounds are a voice raised in anger, or a scream of panic.

Spring into action with this quick conversion vehicle-to-robot enemy! With just the press of a button, this DECEPTICON villain changes from SUV mode to robot mode – and back again! Ages 4 and up.

Activators are sub-line of Transformers aimed at providing simpler transformations with a fully functional and posable Transformers figure. Activator transformations are primarily accomplished through the pressing of a switch or tab and manipulation of a few extra parts. Such transformations are much akin to the early "spring loaded transformations" used in many Beast Wars Transformers figures.

There are few Transformers as well recognized and loved as Soundwave. Jokes are sometimes made about his now outdated tape deck mode from Generation One, but many updates on this classic character have shown that he can be reworked into objects that make sense in a 21st centurty world. In the case of "Animated" Soundwave, the character was given a new form that still reflected some of the primary elements of the original G1 character. This Activator was much anticipated as it was delayed for a while following the end of the "Animated" television series (along with several other figures that are slowly trickling out over the next few months).

Robot Mode:
Many of the animation models from Transformers Animated were based on the designs of the characters' Generation One predecessor. In the case of Soundwave, his robot mode was given some key aspects of his G1 design. Each of these aspects is represented in the Activators sculpt:

  • The robot head is designed with a high crest and a crown-like structure right under it. Fans may recognize this as the basis for part of the traditional Decepticon symbol. In addition, G1 Soundwave had visor "sunglass" eyes and a mouthplate, both of which are found on Animated Soundwave but exaggerated.
  • On Soundwave's chest is a panel outlined by a thin line and flanked by two lines extending left and right. In G1 this represented his cassette storage compartment. In Animated Soundwave, it seems to be where his primary intelligence is stored. Either way the homage is obvious and appreciated.
  • On Soundwave's waist is a section with several buttons representing the "Play", "Stop", "Pause", "Rewind" and "Fast Forward" buttons from a radio. While unpainted, they are sculpted onto this figure.
  • The panels on his forearms each have a rectangular design with two circles inside of it. These are visual references to the cassettes which G1 Soundwave carried. These tapes shared a similar shape and I love how a cool looking design can also act as a nice bit of visual homage.

In addition to these G1 based designs, Animatd Soundwave has many designe elements unique to the character. Among these details are a set of speakers, one mounted on each shoulder and two mounted onto the panel on his back. He also has six sided knee armor panels on each leg, just like the animation model. On the insides of the forearm panels, you'll find his lower arms sculpted in a slightly curved shape with a fist at the end. Like the animation model, the figure's upper body is very wide but then shrinks into a small mid-section before moving down to tube shaped thighs. The thighs then lead to large lower legs that are more angular. The result of this design is one tough looking robot. The smaller parts in the middle bring visual emphasis to the top and bottom sections of the character, which looks fantastic.

Soundwave is cast in black and blue plastic, the two primary colors of the character in the cartoon. Blue makes up most of this form with black used for parts such as his thighs and upper arms. Metallic gold paint with a bit of a greenish tint to it is used for a lot of detailing including his fac eplate, the speakers on his shoulders and his feet. Unfortunately this color was not used on the "buttons" on his waist. Still they were used to nice effect on the chest, where they paint the outline of his "tape deck" chest plate. Inside the plate is a gold Decepticon symbol. Matching the animation model and following Transformers tradition, Soundwave's eyes are painted red. It's the only red spot in this mode so it really stands out nicely against the darker blue and black colors.

Soundwave has fifteen points of articulation. I'm really glad that Activators managed to continue the tradition of highly articulated fields even if they are in a smaller, more compact form. The way I see it, if Beast Wars could do it, why can't the Activators? This articulation includes three points of articulation on each arm and the ability of his head to turn. It may not have been intentional, but Soundwae does have sort of an action feature. If you pull back on his arm at the shoulder joint and let go, it springs back since that's where the spring loaded mechanism for the figure is located. Depending on how you position his arms this either looks like he's punching someone or slapping them, either way it's quite amusing.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the robot feet up into the lower legs.
  2. Connect the two lower robot legs together.
  3. Rotate the lower arms so the forearms face forward, then swing them in against the body.
  4. Pull the panel on the back of the robot mode forward and push the clips into the slots on the hood.

Vehicle Mode:
The difficulty with updating Soundwave is often the question of "What do we turn him into now?" This time around, the designers made the Decepticon an SUV vehicle that seems partly inspired by SUV's such as the Escalade and party by more "fun" vehicles such as the Scion xB. The vehicle is a high riding one indeed, with a very tall front end that leads to a cabin section that extends all the way to the back. His tall and wide doors also give a sense of the size of this vehicle if it were real. The beauty of this design is that it retains much of the "blocky" look of the G1 Soundwave tape deck while creating something unique for this character.

Several sculpted details add to the visual appeal of this vehicle. First and foremost are "button" like designs on the front of the vehicle that look like the buttons on his waist in robot mode. In this form the cassette homage details form the arm panels in robot mode are much more prominant, making most of the side of the vehicle. On the top of the hood and cabin are raised designs resmbling the letter F and E respectively. In the middle of the "E" shaped designs on the top of the cabin is a circle with a line through it, a symbol traditionally representing power on modern electronic devices. He also has smaller design features such as three lights on either side in the front of the vehicle and small lines and indentations running along the sides of the vehicle.

In this form Soundwave is mostly blue, with the wheels being the only black plastic showing. Black paint is used to paint his windows and light blue paint is used on the sculpted details on the sides and top of the vehicle. I like the way the light blue contrasts with the darker blue that makes up most of the vehicle. It gives it the appearance of energy radiating off of his body. The "Power" symbol is painted gold along with the "buttons" on the front of the vehicle. Overall it's a great paint job that represents the animation model in a relatively accurate manner and still manages to look powerful despite its small size.

Final Thoughts:
I'm really fond of this little figure. He represents the animation model in plastic form very well and I like the paint job done on the figure. He has plenty of articulation and even a fun "action feature" in robot mode to boot. Add in his rather simple transformation and you have a figure that looks great and is fun to mess around with. Highly recommended!