In truth, Soundwave is difficult to do as a single post. Just his G1 incarnation alone is head of his own little faction within the Decepticon faction. The Micro-cassettes that lived in his chest were fiercely loyal to him, a relationship a lot of media since has portrayed as almost patriarchal. In fact, one entire shelf in my collection is dedicated to Soundwave, his tapes, and their various incarnations. Just like Ironhide, however, Soundwave falls into the category of Transformers I came to know simply from the bits and pieces of the cartoon I was able to watch growing up. Though I desperately wanted him, I never was able to snag my own as a kid.
Why did I want this toy so bad? He wasn’t a cool truck or sports car. He wasn’t a dangerous mechanical dinosaur or a jet plane. He was a tape deck. What could be less exciting to a kid than a giant robot of death that turned into a tape recorder?
Even with this though, ask almost anyone that isn’t a Transfan who they remember from the original cartoon. The answer will invariably be,
“Optimus Prime! Oh, and that tape deck dude with the cool voice.”
Now, if Ironhide and his southern drawl showed me that I liked a little human in my Autobots, it was Soundwave that taught me when it comes to the bad-guys, the more inhuman, the better. That cold, lifeless, heavily flanged voice everyone remembers is actually Frank Welker — voice actor for not only Soundwave but Megatron as well — doing the exact same voice he did for Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, only run through a resynthesizer by sound engineer Scott Brownlee. This, combined with a mostly emotionless, mechanical speech pattern, made Soundwave a very memorable villain. Of course, the emotionless part went a long way towards helping us forgive a guy that was constantly poking himself in the crotch.
What the toy’s bio told us is that underneath this aloof, detached exterior beat the heart of an opportunistic blackmailer and borderline sociopath.
“Cries and screams are music to my ears.”
Soundwave’s sensor array is so sensitive he “can detect radio transmissions of the lowest energy levels”. He displays a level of robotic telepathy as well, “by monitoring the electrical impulses inside someone’s brain circuitry, if he’s standing nearby.” This and his seemingly endless supply of micro-cassette minions is why he was such a sought-after toy despite being a “tape deck”.
Just as a little bit of trivia: did you know Soundwave’s toy isn’t actually meant to be a standard sized tape deck? He’s not a walkman or boombox either. He’s actually a micro-cassette recorder, which is clearly detailed on his toy’s stickers. Either by choice or just by not knowing, Soundwave is clearly shown to be a boombox in the original cartoon. Likewise his Micro-cassette minions are shown to be standard tape sized.
Soundwave is one of the original G1 1984 cast toy greats. Unlike a lot of his fellow castmates, his toy has a spot-on alt-mode as well as one of the best and most cartoon accurate robot modes in the history of Transformers. My G1 Soundwave was one of those rare gems known as a garage sale find — and boy does he look it. I normally don’t buy reissues of toys if I already have the original but I gladly broke that rule for the 2007 Toys R Us Classics “Commerative Edition” Soundwave. I did this for two reasons, first being the somewhat tattered condition of my Soundwave, the other being that they didn’t actually reissue the original Soundwave mold. In 1987, as part of the Headmasters series in Japan, Soundwave was actually killed in a duel-to-the-death with Blaster. In true G1 style, you can’t keep a good ‘bot down, and Soundwave was reincarnated as Soundblaster with a black and red colour scheme and a newly molded tape door. The door had been given extra circuitry detailing and then extended out to allow him to hold two cassettes at the same time. It was this version of the mold, in original Soundwave colours that Hasbro chose to reissue in 2007.
Of course, everything else matches up to the original.
Right down to the fact that Soundwave, unlike a vast majority of G1 toys, actually has storage for his weapons in alt-mode. His shoulder cannon and blaster actually store, as batteries, in the recorder mode’s battery compartment.
When Generation 2 rolled around, Hasbro had taken more to slapping original names on toys than truly considering the toys as a proper “update” to the ‘bots they were named after. Due to this, Soundwave became first a bright yellow sportscars and then an unreleased Honda Goldwing motorcycle. The less said about the re-decoed G2 Go-Bot releases, the better.
Then, during the heyday of Beast Wars, Hasbro made an extremely short-lived, reattempt at G2 called Machine Wars. The only thing that can be said of this reapplication of the name Soundwave, is that this time the head actually bears a resemblance to Soundwave’s head.
Soundwave was a repaint in decidedly non-Soundwave colours of the 1992 “European, Australasian and Canadian market” exclusive, Stalker.
If only they had made an attempt to make him blue and silver, it would have been so much more believable as Soundwave.