It has been quite a while since I bought any Transformer toys. I lost interest during the Energon/Armada/Cybertron lines
in favor of the Alternators line. But as it doesn't seem like there are any new Alternators due out in the foreseeable
future, I decided to dip into the other lines and see if I couldn't find something that would pique my interest. When
Jetfire came out as part of the Classics line, my interest was piqued. I never had a chance to get the Generation One
version as a kid. And I didn't want to spend the kind of cash that would be required to get one these days. So the Classics
version seems to fit my needs perfectly. And while I was indulging in some G1 goodness, I also grabbed the Commemorative
Edition Soundwave from Toys R Us when it hit clearance. I actually already had the first version to be reissued in Japan
some years back. So this was mainly a means of getting an additional cassette.
Packaging - 6/10Jetfire comes in a trapezoid shaped window box. The box is just large enough to accommodate his jet mode. Unfortunately it only allows you to see the top of the jet which is a bit dull. Hasbro did include a nice feature in the form of the flip open display to show at least part of his robot mode on the front. The back shows both modes along with technical data and a description of the character. The packaging is attractive and I like the way it borrows from the G1 designs for the graphics. But it doesn't really show off the actual toy well.
Soundwave's packaging is quite a bit different. The graphics are similar. But Sound wave comes in a box with a flip open front panel. They used some of the artwork from the recent Transformers comics for the front cover. Then when you flip open the panel you can see Soundwave in his alternate mode along with both Laserbeak and Ravage in their robot modes. The inside of the flip open panel provides more character info, technical data, photos and even an oversized pop-up book style image of Soundwave's robot mode. There is really just one problem with the packaging. They packaged it backwards! All of the figures I have seen on the shelves as well as the one I ordered online have the plastic tray with the toy packaged facing the back of the box. It is easily fixed of course. But if you happen to be a MIB collector, you face the question of having to open the packaging to fix the error or live with it that way. (I did fix the error before taking the photos for this review.)
Sculpting - 6/10Sculpting generally isn't one of the strong points for Transformers. Compromises are generally necessary to allow them to look good in both robot and their transformed form. In Jetfire's case, the preference was given to his jet mode. It makes a pretty convincing jet when the booster rocket accessory is removed. Adding the booster won't fool anyone into thinking that this is the original Jetfire. But it does create a reasonable stand in for those of us whose memories have been dulled by the years. The one point that really disappointed me was that they didn't do anything to hide his fists. His robot form is less impressive. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the Alternators line, but going back to a transformer whose robot mode is basically an unfolded version of its vehicle mode doesn't cut it for me.
Soundwave provides an interesting opportunity to look back and see how much progress toys have made in the two and a half decades since Soundwave was created. Surprisingly, he still looks pretty good. His tape player mode is not perfect, but little touches such as the rotating volume dial on the side and the controls on the front are very cool. You can even open up the battery compartment and store his weapons inside. His robot mode is rather clunky and does have a few rather plain areas such as the upper legs. But for such an old toy it is still pretty impressive. There is one major drawback that should be noted though. This isn't really Soundwave. Technically it is Soundblaster. Later in the Transformer line in Japan they altered Soundwave's chest compartment so that he could hold two cassettes. It's that altered mold that they used here. While it is kind of cool to be able to store multiple cassettes like they did in the cartoon, having both versions I have to say that the original looks much better. Plus, since this is suppose to be a reissue (or a commemorative edition as the packaging calls it) why wouldn't you use the true original sculpt?
Paint - 6/10There isn't a lot of paint work on either Jetfire or Soundwave. Soundwave has a painted face and a bit of gold trim around his cassette door. All of the other color comes either from decals or the color of the plastic used. It isn't terribly elaborate, but it does look good. Jetfire has a similarly simple paint scheme. The vast majority of the figure is light grey and then trimmed in red and black. It works well in his jet mode both with and without the booster rockets although they did skimp a bit by not painting both sides of the tail fins. But in his robot mode the red and black areas get concentrated on the chest while the rest of the figure is mostly the dull grey. One thing that should be noted about the paint work is the quality. There is no sloppiness or stray marks on either figure. As usual, Hasbro's quality control for their painting is top notch.
Articulation - 6/10Soundwave sports an impressive, or at least impressive for its time, thirteen points of articulation. Jetfire of course has even more: fifteen points of articulation for his robot mode plus the various moving wings and landing gear. Both figures have some notable shortcomings in their range of motion. Jetfire's shoulders which are simple rotating joints were a real disappointment. Soundwave's limitations are a bit more understandable given the age of the figure. Actually, for his time, Soundwave's articulation would have been quite impressive.
Accessories - Soundwave 9/10, Jetfire 5/10Jetfire comes with a gun, two projectile launchers and a helmet. The helmet makes him more imposing. But it is a bit too large for my tastes and without it, Jetfire has a tiny little head. I don't care much for the gun either. It is too big to be a pistol but too small to be a good rifle. And the extra hand grips on the back that allow it to be split in half and attached to his jet mode make it look more like a jackhammer than a gun. Making the launchers look like thrusters is a nice touch. But the gaping holes they leave when removed aren't.
Soundwave comes with quite an impressive bunch of accessories. The figure itself has a shoulder mounted cannon and gun. Both are formed from the removable batteries that you store in the battery compartment when not needed. It would be nice if the ends of the batteries had been painted silver to look more like a battery. There are also three silver projectile that should be able to be fired from his gun though mine doesn't seem to work. But the real highlight here are the cassettes. Both Ravage and Laserbeak are included along with their weapons and even two cassette tape cases. The paint on Laserbeak is a bit light in color, so much so that I thought it might actually be Buzzsaw instead of Laserbeak. (Buzzsaw was an orange repaint of Laserbeak that came with the original Soundwave toy.) They also included a strange sticker on Ravage's side. From reading on Wikipedia, I believe that this is another change from the Soundblaster version of the toy. But I don't understand why they would have used it here.
Transformationthe transformations for both fairly simple, especially after all of the Alternators. For Jetfire, you stand his jet mode on its end. The legs and arms slide or flip into place. Then the nose and cockpit section flips down to form the chest. Adjust the position of the wings and you are done. Soundwave is even easier. The legs fold down from the sides. The arms flip around from the back and the head flips up. It is kind of nice to have a couple of Transformers that you can transform without having to refer back to the directions each time.
Value - Jetfire 5/10 Soundwave 6/10Jetfire retails for $20. While he certainly has the nostalgia factor going for him, he seems more like a slightly oversized deluxe figure. While that extra size fits the character well, I don't think it fully justifies the larger price. And speaking of a hefty price, Soundwave's is $45. Though if you were lucky, Toys R Us did have him available on clearance for a short time. While that certainly isn't cheap, it is in line with what the other reissued Transformers have sold for. And of course it is a lot cheaper than a mint condition original would be. The only real question is whether you want to get the Soundblaster version and get Ravage as well or import the true reissue version from Japan and only get Laserbeak.
Happy Hunting:I was rather late in picking up both of these figures so they have largely disappeared from shelves now. Soundwave was a Toys R Us exclusive. But they have already clearanced them out. Big Bad Toy Store has some of them in stock for close to the original price though. You could also check with your favorite importer. Soundwave has been reissued several times. Most recently he was part of the Encore series of G1 Transformer reissues. Jetfire is also available to preorder from Big Bad Toy Store or Entertainment Earth. You may also want to keep an eye open locally. Many stores have been pulling out old cases of Transformers Classics to fill the holes left by the Movie merchandise. As a result, I've seen a couple of Jetfires pop up long after I thought they were all gone.