Ok, bear with me for a little bit while we travel back in time. A time when toys were amazing and new, easy to play with, and will hold a place in your heart for your entire life. Back in the mid 80’s, a new generation of toys hit the market, and forever changed the way we looked at ordinary vehicles and items, and what could potentially be hidden within.
When Transformers first came out, I was but a young lad, but I instantly knew that these robots that were more than meets the eye were going to be a big part of my life. I was 10 years old at the time, and I was gobbling up every transformer figure I could get my dirty little hands on. I quickly gravitated towards one Decepticon in particular, and his name was Soundwave. He had this amazing robotic voice, knew exactly what to do in all circumstances, and had these amazingly awesome pets. Best of all, he transformed into a cassette tape deck, and could infiltrate just about anywhere!
With this being a week of looking back at old cartoons, I figured a great way to do that would be to take a look and “review” my original G1 Soundwave, and compare him to the newest version, the Titans Return Leader Class Soundwave.
SCULPT – G1
Let’s be honest here, when it comes to sculpting on these transformers, they are pretty even. The lines and shapes sculpted into the plastic is crisp and clean on both versions, and I’m extremely happy to see that they tried to carry over as much of the original version to the new one as possible. The overall shape of both figures is very similar (which is a good thing), and a lot of the shapes are very similar to each other.
There are small angular lines throughout both figures, which help bring that sci-fi, metallic feel to both of them. While the G1 Soundwave is very boxy overall, it just works. I mean, he transforms into a cassette deck for goodness sake, he’s supposed to be boxy. The Titans version keeps most of the angular shapes, but does add in some nice rounded edges where applicable, but does not overdue it.
Soundwaves face sculpt is almost identical to each other, and the Titans version reminds me very much of the original. The cassette deck window has more sculpted detail on the Titans version, but that is honestly the only place where the sculpting detail is better. On the G1 version, there are many more smaller details throughout the character, which truly add to the G1 version ranking higher in my opinion. The other part which scores the G1 higher is the fact that there is metal, yes, metal, throughout the figure. Anybody can sculpt in plastic, but the original actually has sculpted metal!
PAINT APPLICATION – Titans
Both figures carry the same color scheme, which is nice to see due to some of the other variations I have seen of Soundwave. He is supposed to be blue and silver, and it’s pure blasphemy to have him in any other colors. Both versions do a great job in having very crisp and clean paint, and while there is not a lot to mess up, it’s refreshing to have figures that are just perfect in the paint applications.
The G1 version has a lot of stickers, instead of actual paint application, which gives the Titans the edge here. I must admit though, that adding in those stickers, and placing them on the figure was something I truly missed. It might have been boring, and I screwed up a lot with crooked stickers, but that just meant it was one of a kind, and truly mine. Kids these days would have no clue what to do with a sticker sheet, and would be appalled at actually having to do work to get a perfect figure, but what do they know!
My original G1 figure is now over 30 years old, and all the paint is still holding up, and most of the stickers are perfectly intact. He may be a little dirty and scuffed up, but that is just due to the countless hours I have spent playing with him, and blowing up Autobots in every possible way!
ARTICULATION – Titans
Ohh articulation, how I wished the G1 versions had some! This is the one area that the newer versions, and especially this Titans model completely blows the G1 version out of the water. Back in the day, we didn’t really care if you could pose the elbows, or bend at the waist, we just wanted to have fun playing with our toys. Unfortunately now, articulation is a huge selling point in action figures, and toys that do not have at least 20 points of articulation is a complete failure. As a toy photographer, I can appreciate this, and despise when I can’t get a figure into a reasonable pose, and will curse the manufacturer at every change I get.
The Titans version has joints in all the right places, can bend at the elbows, knees and hands, and even has a little bit of ankle pivot. The head unfortunately can only look side to side, and a little bit up, but enough movement to look around, and that is good enough for me. There is no waist pivot or bend, but does have pieces that move out of the way when you bend the legs up.
Unfortunately, the G1 version is more of a brick wall than an action figure, but you know what, I don’t care. The engineering that had to take place 30 years ago to get these toys to transform into recognizable objects was absolutely amazing, and they didn’t really care about articulation as long as the figure transformed correctly. Because of my love of the original Soundwave, I won’t talk bad about it for long, but lets just say that he doesn’t even have knee joints (or ones that bend the right way), and there is no true articulation beyond the single elbow joint.
The one advantage that the G1 version has is that most of the joints are METAL, and not cheap plastic. Let’s see how this Titans version does in 30 years after I take him out of his sacred hiding place to do yet another VS review. I have a feeling his joints won’t hold up quite as well.
Transforming – G1
The entire point of Transformers is to turn these really cool robots into cars, planes, dinosaurs, tape decks, and whatever else we could possibly think of, so I think a comparison on how easy it is to transform each of them is in order. Hands down, without a doubt, and with absolutely zero counter argument, the G1 version is the easiest to transform. It takes all of about 7 moves to completely transform the G1 version from robot to tape deck. That’s it! 7 moves! I remember playing as a child and how easy it was to keep playing because I didn’t have to stop, and take out a manual to figure out how to transform my robot. Each figure was super easy, and while it took away from articulation (again, I’m not going to talk bad about the original versions), anybody could transform these figures, and I could remember how to do each one of them. Even as an adult, I can fish these figures out, and completely transform them without any issues.
When trying to transform the Titans version, I think I muttered every obscenity in the book, cursed the beings who thought of this incredibly hard way to transform the figure, and might have even kicked a kitten or two! I kid, I would never harm a cute kitten, but if one of them was the engineer who designed this toy, I might have punted him across the room. I mean, how much fun is it when you need a Masters degree in mechanical engineering to figure out how these things work? By the time I was done transforming the Titans version, I was sitting in a pool of sweat, half eaten cheetos, and some other liquid I’m not comfortable talking about here. Seriously, these things are damn near impossible to transform, and even harder to remember how to do it. To make things worse, the “instructions” were printed on a dark paper, with purple ink! Purple ink!!!! Any designer knows that you do not use dark ink on a dark paper, but what the hell do I know, I’ve only been designing for the better part of two decades.
Extras – G1
The G1 version came with a tape that transformed into a mechanical bird. Enough said, end of discussion, period! Yea, yea, yea, the Titans version is technically a triple changer, and can also transform into a structure, and comes with a removable head that transforms into it’s own little robot, but really, who cares! Neither of those are a pterodactyl looking, laser shooting, spy extraordinaire like Buzzsaw. There were multiple other versions of tapes that you could get that were able to fit into Soundwave, and each one of them was a specialist in some area.
Yes, both characters come with a shoulder mounted cannon, and a hand blaster, but ultimately, the original G1 version that included Buzzsaw wins this every time. While I have unfortunately lost the other accessories that came with Soundwave, I still have Buzzsaw, and he is an amazing little figure himself, and I would not trade it for any accessory the Titans figure comes with.
Overall, the plain nostalgia that the original G1 series brings back would make it impossible for any of the newest version to knock it off of the pedestal that I have it firmly planted on. My original Soundwave is dirty, and scruffs and scratches, has something on it that I’m not quite sure what it is and doesn’t seem to want to come off, but I would not trade it for the world! The quality that those original figures had to still be around 30+ years later in good condition, cannot be understated. This is a figure that I played with all the time, for multiple years. I can almost guarantee you that if I gave the same amount of use to the Titans version, it would be in pieces in a trash can somewhere.
While I am extremely happy that the Titans version is very much like the original in design and look, it will never replace that old friend that was there for me as a child, young man, and now as an adult, and I’m sure for much longer.
What was your favorite original Transformer, and do you still have it today? Let us know in the comments, and share that magical feeling you felt when you opened, and played with your Transformer. Don’t worry, I won’t be upset if it’s not Soundwave.
Stan is a graphic designer from Orlando, Florida, and has been an avid lover of toys for his entire life. He love’s doing anything that exercises the creative side of his brain and toy photography has been a tremendous outlet for that. When he is not taking photos of toys (which makes his wife shake her head and roll her eyes when he packs toys on all his vacations), he can be find photographing his daughter doing dance, woodworking or flying his drone for cool aerial photography.