I am tackling Masterpiece Soundwave as a two-parter. Next week, Soundwave himself, but first up his family of minions.
When it was announced that the then Asian market-only release of Masterpiece Soundwave would get a North American release, it was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy. We were suddenly silenced, as a collective wave of awe overcame us, when it was confirmed that the North American release would come packaged with all five Masterpiece Decepticon Mini-Cassettes.
So, basically the opposite of the effect Obi-wan felt when Alderaan was destroyed.
The Takara and Hasbro Asia release up to this time had only come with Condor, the Takara name for Laserbeak.
This seemed like a misstep to me from a toy-centric view. Yes, I realize that Laserbeak is the more famous of the two, but I always had a preference for Buzzsaw, who came with the original Hasbro release of Soundwave. This actually made me realize that, for all I knew at the time, the original Takara release of Soundwave might have come with Laserbeak. Off to the internet I went to confirm that the Takara release came with… Rumble actually. Still, I do prefer the golden psycho-bird.
These birds are little marvels of engineering, not requiring additional pieces to form the guns that make up the bulk of the G1 toy’s robot mode.
The inclusion of a camera which opens on their heads for all that sneaky spy-birds action.
It seems that every time I do a post involving the Decepticon Mini-Cassettes, I get the urge to fill a hole in my collection. Last time it was G1 Rumble, a hole that was filled when a friend actually gave me a Rumble in great condition he had come across in his stuff, though sadly missing his guns. This time, it is Buzzsaw. However, this time, along with G1 I’ve also found another area I feel there’s a hole; Buzzsaw is missing a Generations-style update in my collection. I became acutely aware of this gap when the wonderful Laserbeak repaint of Revenge of the Fallen Skystalker was released as part of the GDO Generations alongside Swerve, Wheelie, Springer, and Hot Spot.
I especially like this mold, the bird-like qualities of the robot mode (especially when you mis-transform the head by turning it around) as well as the stealth bomber alt mode seem to fit Laserbeak perfectly.
You can even do a gerwalk-ish mode to give him a bird-like alt mode as well.
Unfortunately Buzzsaw only has his Timelines release — the repaint of the equally wonderful Energon Divebomb mold from BotCon 2006 — and that one goes for ludicrous sums of money, so that probably isn’t happening any time soon.
Another part of this release that filled me with happiness was the correctly named Frenzy and Rumble toys. RiRFiB FTW.
Though both come with the piledrivers, it make more sense to me for Rumble to have them. You can attach the various pieces in different ways. This includes attaching the just the boosters or the entire piledriver assembly to their backs, though I’m not sure to what effect.
Unlike Laserbeak and Buzzsaw’s inclusion of their guns pieces into their actual transformation, Rumble and Frenzy’s are separate pieces. According to Shogo Hasui, the designer who created Masterpiece Soundwave, this wasn’t a limitation, it was a purposeful feature of the toys,
“Frenzy and Ramble still required excess parts because the gun on their back were also to be hand-held”
These guns can be either stored in their piledrivers or in compartments hidden in Soundwave’s feet.
Of course, these guys have already received the greatest updates in their United release.
Lastly is a fan-favourite, Ravage. Really my only disappointment in the group, I just want to know where his nose went?
Oh! Nevermind, I found it rotated up into his head. Sometimes I should probably actually look at the instructions, especially with Masterpieces.
Once I realized he actually did have a nose, my estimation of him went way up. I still wouldn’t haven’t minded using add-on pieces to give him properly large missile launchers. That being said, he still has the advantage over his Classics release, whose articulation is quite limited and whose missile launchers are so small and nondescript that you can miss them altogether. As far as Generations updates, Ravage kinda got a raw deal, though Ravage is the only one to receive an upgrade in full cartoon form via Beast Wars.
In reality the only disappointment I have is that my favourite of the Decepticon Mini-Cassettes is beyond my reach. It took quite some convincing to myself to buy the reissue of Soundblaster, paying the import costs for Masterpiece Soundblaster is beyond even my powers of justification, despite how amazing the Ratbat that comes with him looks.
That aside, I am quite happy with this collection of Masterpiece Mini-Cassettes. They so perfectly evoke a combination of all things G1.
Likewise, their Generations counterparts, even with Buzzsaw missing are wonderful updates.
Though G1 is still where it’s at.