The only point I like in Autobots: melting point.
|Motto||The only point I like in Autobots: melting point.|
Laserbeak takes pleasure in hunting his prey - usually the straggling survivors of a battle. Noticeably not brave. Will run for safety if threatened. Flies at speeds up to 250 mph. Uses two independently targetable laser cannons with extreme precision to get information from capitves. Shortage of ruby crystals that powers the lasers can panic his systems into shutting down.
More Images: | Screen Captures
|Product #||5874 , 5874 , 5874|
|Per Case||4 , 2 , 4|
|Re-Issues||Commemorative Series Laserbeak , Transformers Collection Condor , Encore Condor (Soundwave Pack-in) , Encore Condor (Cassette's Big Mission) , San Diego Comic Con 2009 Laserbeak|
|Recolors / Reuses||Generation 1 Buzzsaw , E-Hobby Cobalt Sentry Garboil , Kiss Players Position Sundor , Linkin Park Edition Laserbeak|
|More Toy Info||Laserbeak was sold with Frenzy.|
Additional Laserbeak parts info:
2 silver guns
-Submitted by: mag jr.
Now heres a bot who doesnt need an introduction. Soundwave is one of the best-known Decepticons of all time (heck, Hasbro based their faction symbol on his face). A treacherous, back-stabbing suck-up who was only loyal to Megatron, Soundwave also possessed a certain panache, for a bot who spoke only in a highly-processed monotone. He always seemed to enjoy knowing that people hated his guts and that he was a treacherous, back-stabbing etc. Needless to say, I thought he was a cool villain, and still do--whats a band of evildoers without the treacherous toady?
Still, someone at Hasbro seems to have a grudge against the guy, perhaps because of the "mass-shifting" phenomenon (more on that later)--they have refused to reissue him to date, insisting that mold problems prevent them from safely doing it (of course, they have used Takara reissue molds for at least one other toy, Stepper/Ricochet--but lets not go there). Leave it to Takara to happily step up to bat and reissue everyones favorite (?) Decepticon at the end of 2003.
In case you havent been able to afford a Takara TF Collection reissue (quite understandable) and are curious how these things are boxed up, the packaging is undeniably more fancy than Hasbros, at least on the outside--thicker cardboard with an embossed TF logo on the front, a 10-page booklet (including a fold-out miniposter of Soundwave standing with Laserbeak, Ravage, Rumble and Frenzy)--but it still comes in a plastic tray (identical to the ones done by Hasbro) housed in a flimsy cardboard tray (identical to the ones done by Hasbro--though not in design). The outer box is about the same size as the one Hasbro used for Hoist, Inferno, and Grapple.
Takaras inner cardboard tray looks like the interior of the Ark, with everything helpfully labeled in English--so Soundwave is labeled "Soundwave," Laserbeak is labeled "Condor" (his Japanese name), his weapons are identified (rocket launcher, concussion blaster)... unfortunately, they just cant stop themselves, and so they also helpfully tell you that the rockets are "rockets" and the extra cassette case (for Laserbeak/Condor) is, well, a "cassette case," which is taking it a wee bit too far. Imagine refolding it so that all this can function as a stand--thats how its shown on the back of the outer box! Just picture the envy of your TF-loving friends as they learn just what a "cassette case" and "rockets" are! Still, its a quality package overall. Two tech specs cards are included (for Soundwave and Laserbeak, of course), along with an ad for the PlayStation 2 game "Transformers: Tatakai."
I always thought Laserbeak was a cool little toy as a kid and I envied anyone who had one--sure, Ravage and Rumble were cool, too, and they were around the house for our small but valiant Autobot army to beat up, but they werent Laserbeak (and they werent mine, in any case; they were my brothers toys). I was actually secretly pleased when Takara slipped him into the set instead of Buzzsaw, so I suppose my inner little snot still thinks that way.
Laserbeak is actually still a cool little toy. Along with Ravage and Buzzsaw, hes also one of the original beast-mode TFs. Packaged in robot mode, Laserbeak came with his decals already applied and with his weapons attached to his back.
Laserbeaks bird mode is still fairly striking, although its limitations are more obvious now without a kids imagination to force its way past them--his wings can only move in and out, and he cant turn his head from side to side, both times for obvious reasons (his transform, the lack of modern tooling and joint options like ratchet or ball joints). His weapons (done in vac metal chrome) are well-sculpted, with the standard appearance blasters, rocket engines, and vents all showing up, and the decals on his wings add some interesting tech detail and more colors other than red and black. His faction symbol is plopped straight onto his head, perhaps so he never forgets who he belongs to.
Transform to Cassette Mode:
1. Remove the weapons from Laserbeaks back, then slide his head back into his body.
2. Fold his wings in, then fold his feet up underneath his body.
Laserbeaks cassette mode is a good "fake"--hes the exact size of a microcassette (I used to own one for interviewing, although my friends and I also enjoyed screwing with the vari-speed recording and laughing at ourselves saying stupid things in funny voices during the playback... ah, youth), two inches from side to side and one inch from top to bottom. Hes not perfect--his seams show (they have to, given the way he transforms), he cant have reels or actual tape (and good thing, too, or it could well have disintegrated by now), and his back end is black with a piece of red die-cast metal, not exactly what youd see on a normal tape of any kind--but hes still cool and kind of cute. Given the limitations of the times, I have to give his designer kudos for ingenuity.
Color-wise, apart from black and red, the cassette label is silver with an orange rectangular highlight (common on cheaper-brand cassettes of the day, actually--I still have a few somewhere in my closet--although the silver area was white paper).
I do have to say that fan speculation on any of the cassettes "Metal Position" logos and their apparent meanings is, sadly, wildly misinformed (to say the least). Not to burst any bubbles, but the highest-quality high-bias (and most expensive) tapes used a higher-quality metal oxide overlay (often chrome oxide, CrO2 if I remember correctly, which had a jet-black appearance when used on tape) on the filament-like synthetic stuff that actually forms the basis of recording tape; normal and low-bias tapes (i.e., medium- and low-grade, respectively) used lower quality oxides (often made with iron--ferrous oxide--noted for a light brown appearance). Somehow the generic term "metal" became a synonym for high-bias, even though just about all recording tape uses some kind of metal oxide.
As for position, well, notice the scale with the numbers under the tape window on Laserbeaks decal? On tape players with a tape counter, comparing the counter with the numbers on that scale would tell you exactly where you were on that side--and most blank cassettes carried the "Position" designation and numbers until the late 1980s, when tapes slowly started to be overcome by CDs and nobody much bothered to put tape counters in their players anymore, except for high-end manufacturers.
Oh, and the "60" only refers to the tapes length (sixty minutes, thirty minutes per side played back at normal speed). Sorry.
Apart from interacting with Soundwave (more in a minute), Laserbeak also fits neatly into the cassette cases provided by Takara, giving you a place to put the toy when you dont have him in beast mode or with Soundwave (Takara also couldnt resist adding the Takara logo as a molded imprint on the cases). A neat (if inessential) extra that Hasbro would most likely have ignored if they had reissued Soundwave and/or Laserbeak.
I still like Laserbeak and probably would have tracked one down on my own if it hadnt been reissued. This is a neat way to get a brand-new one. The only quibbles I have are that his joints are just a bit too tight, especially on his legs, and he does have some minor damage (scratches) on his decals, but otherwise hes a great extra for the main event. Which is....
Ah, yes, Soundwave. Both Soundwave and Laserbeak (and the other early cassettes, Rumble/Frenzy, Buzzsaw--duh--and Ravage) appeared in Takaras Microchange toy line--Soundwave as Cassette Man, the cassettes as generic Micro Cassette Robos (Laserbeak was MC-03, Soundwave MC-10--hmm, you dont think Takara made him reissue number 10 on his stated 20th anniversary by coincidence, do you?), before being melded with the Car Robots/Choro Q/Diaclone/U.N.C.L.E. (for Megatron) toys to form Transformers for the US market by Hasbro (which also released or licensed the toys elsewhere around the globe fairly soon after their US debut). As such, Soundwave has a lot of history behind him.
Soundwaves alt mode is a generic early 1980s Walkman (like the ones made by Sony, who came up with the brand name Walkman only to see it become a generic term, like Xerox or Kleenex), so it must have seemed natural for someone (probably Bob Budiansky) to make him the Decepticons Communications Officer.
He sits up higher than any Walkman made in the 1990s would--I have one I bought for a long car trip in 1996 (so I could listen to my mix tapes) and its smaller than this guy, even though it plays full-size cassettes. At three inches, hes as tall as a minibot, and about four inches wide and one and 1/2 deep, making him a big brick.
Hes also fairly detailed--he has a fake volume dial and on-off switch done in chrome, along with fake rewind, fast-forward, record, play and stop buttons on the front, a chrome (functioning) eject button, and an opening battery compartment.
A word on the battery compartment. If you examine his weapons closely, youll see that they resemble batteries (well, when the missile launcher is pushed back together instead of extended, it does). You can actually remove Soundwaves battery compartment cover and insert the "batteries," then close it up again--making him fairly self-contained, apart from his rockets. Naturally, as youll see here, Hasbro somehow failed to note this back in 1984, proving that mountains may erode and oceans may evaporate, but crappy, poorly-thought-out instructions are eternal.
Apart from all this nifty goodness, Soundwaves tape compartment can contain a microcassette--including most of the cassettes issued through the G1. Press down the eject button and the door opens, revealing all sorts of intriguing tech detail sculpted in; you can then pop in Laserbeak and shut the door, making the set even more self-contained (in fact, even with full weaponry for display, only three pieces--one rocket and Laserbeaks two back-mounted rocket/laser packs--are left out).
In the Microchange line, and again in his first Japanese release as a Transformer, Takara included fake headphones which would "plug in" to the hole on top of the toy, across from the eject button (these are pictured on the last page of the booklet bound inside the front box lid). Unfortunately, these werent included in the reissue, probably because of money or mold issues (or both).
Soundwave is largely blue and gray; if you apply the decals as Takara suggests, and put the large red and black labels on the "batteries" instead of the front of Soundwave, this makes him look much more like a real tape player--what did Hasbro think those were, speakers? Relieving this are the aforementioned chrome pieces and some nice gold vac-metal on the cassette door, along with a fake record/low battery light on a decal, a tape-counter decal (complete with molded reset switch)--told you!--and L and R molded onto the front on their respective sides (possibly because some Walkmans had speaker input jacks that allowed you to hook them to a larger system for playback or recording). This makes the toy one big 80s nostalgia rush, for anyone inclined to indulge.
It is clear that there are some mold issues going on here. Soundwaves cassette door has never liked to open or close properly and is easy to break, but Laserbeak doesnt fit very well in it (partly for mold reasons of his own), which makes it harder to close. Be careful. The more noticeable issue is that the chrome button piece on the front, which used to be molded into the front of the toy, is now a separate piece that sits on top of it, indicating that Hasbro may not have been blowing smoke. This piece and his cassette door are one assembly. Interestingly, the battery compartment contains original copyright stamps for both Hasbro and Takara.
Transform to Robot Mode:
1. Open battery compartment and remove batteries, then reclose the compartment.
2. Pull the sides of the tape player down, then swing the pieces down again and rotate them forwards to form his legs. Swing the metal pieces down to form his feet.
3. Pull the arms out and to the sides, then slide out his fists (they dont like to move into position, so be careful).
4. Flip up the head and rotate it forwards.
5. Place the concussion blaster on his shoulder, arm the rocket launcher, put it in one of his hands, and pose him.
Usually, the first thing you do when you get an old TF you had as a kid is marvel at how small it is. I never had a Soundwave, so maybe its appropriate that this one shocked me by being tall. Soundwave is huge for a G1 toy--7 inches tall and four inches from shoulder to shoulder. This makes him as large as most modern Mega figures and even some Ultras. Out of all the original figures, only Optimus Prime and Megatron are as big.
Soundwaves appearance is quite imposing, partly for his size and partly for that blank, sinister-looking face which lives on in the Decepticon faction symbol--although hes got yellow eyes instead of the red the comics and cartoons have always given him. Hes also quite poseable for G1--7 usable points of articulation (you can give him knee articulation by removing tabs from the inside of his knees, but as this tends to make him super floppy and unable to stand up, its not recommended), including the ability to move back and forth and up and down at the shoulders, elbow joints, rotating hips, and a rotating head, which only Optimus Prime also had (and then only by accident, as his head was attached by a screw). Even without the knee joints its easy to pose Soundwave. In fact, he actually has more points of articulation than some Armada figures.
His decals also add a nice dash of color and detail to what would otherwise be a somewhat dull color scheme, particularly on his legs and shoulders, and he looks better with a cassette in his chest than without, although its also fun to make Laserbeak perch on his arm and have him look at it, as if Soundwaves receiving a report.
His rocket launcher retains full functionality, which would not have made it through in the US. That means its spring-loaded, and it does launch its projectile nicely, although the button is so small, and the spring so stiff, that its a pain to actually try to launch anything in the first place.
His size also points up another problem--as Hasbro prepared for the cartoon and comic launches, someone must have noticed that what should be one of the smallest objects in the line (a tape player) made one of the biggest robots (a problem shared by Megatron, and, to some small extent, the cassettes). Thus was born mass-shifting, in which a tiny object could somehow become a gigantic robot the size of a house, no doubt weighing in the tens or hundreds of tons, begging the question of how anybody could pick up the damn things in the first place, apart from another robot. Fans and writers have spent most of the intervening decades inventing charmingly goofy explanations for this phenomenon.
Id bet its one reason Hasbro is so down on Soundwave--mass-shifting just brings up too many problems of scale for nonfans not inclined to overlook the problem so they can get to the good stuff, i.e. cool-looking giant robots pounding the snot out of each other. After all, even having giant transforming robots in the first place is still the stuff of fantasy, not even science fiction--if youre can accept that and suspend your disbelief that far, why not go along for the ride and enjoy yourself? Bringing up realism in a universe where planets can eat other planets and transform into even bigger robots is absurd. Its kind of like those people who worry about how Superman can fly, without bothering to wonder how he can also see through walls, bounce bullets off of his chest, and fool people into accepting him as an entirely different person by basically just changing his clothes. Just chalk it down to "magic" and move on.
This is one cool reissue. Laserbeak is fun, but theres no doubting Soundwaves preeminence as one of the best original TFs. This set is somewhat pricey, but usually less than the price of the original toys in anything resembling collectable condition put together, and about the same price as a Binaltech toy. I highly recommend this reissue to all G1 fans.
|Voice Actor||Frank Welker|