People are still scrambling Toys "R" Uses this week to get their hands on Masterpiece Soundwave. He's scarce and tends to be bought up in the first five minutes of whatever store he appears at. It's been a mad dash, and hopefully more will continue to filter into stores. I got mine at Comic-Con, from Entertainment Earth's booth, thanks to some help from Phillip Donnelly and his magical mug. (Brandon Bird also owes PD some thanks, as the mug was not only magical but transferable.)
How is the toy? Well, long story short, it's the best robot toy you'll ever own that folds up into a box. And man, does it fold up into a box! I know there's something in my brain that pumps happy juice through my body when I know a robot can transform into something, but damn if that Box Mode ain't superfluous. It's not like you can't do all the stuff you can do with his box mode in robot mode! That mini-cassette door still opens and everything. And it's not like Box Mode actually looks like a micro-cassette recorder -- he looks like a box with a very tiny window in it. This is entirely because his cassette door is still the same size as the original's to accommodate identically-sized micro-cassette toys, but the robot mode which surrounds that door is a chunk larger, and so you have this ridiculous... thing. Like Soundwave's altmode got elephantiasis.
The door still opens when you press the eject button on the top/shoulder. This time around, there's room inside him for three Recordicons. The back wall of the cassette storage area can slide in by pushing on it, and a button on Soundwave's backside will reset this wall to the usual one-cassette-deep width, so long as he's not full of dudes at the time. The arrow buttons on his crotch also depress, but those don't accomplish anything. There are ridges on both Soundwave's shoulders and his forearms that Buzzsaw or Laserbeak's feet can plug into, all perch-like.
He transforms about as simply as you'd expect -- very similarly to the original toy -- but with a few added wrinkles of some additional fold-out panels to cover up his articulation. His shoulder-mounted missile launcher and hand-held rifle are also included, but this time they don't transform into his batteries and store inside a battery compartment. Mind, they still transform into the same battery shape, but you don't put them inside him like batteries inside his battery compartment anymore (that's where his head goes) and instead they kind of just peg behind him and fill up space easily viewable from behind. D'oh well.
Soundwave also comes with a plethora of additional accessories, other than the five Recordicons and their stuff. He has a little vacuum cleaner attachment for his wrist, he has a digital-readout screen which you can plug into his chest door to make it look like he's computing stuff, he has an energon cube which you can pull the lid off of and plug into his chest door to make it look like he's making energon cubes -- all things he did in the cartoon. I'm not a big cartoon guy, so those won't get much play from me. He also comes with a nontransformable Megatron rifle. I think it's the same one that came with earlier MP toys.
Unlike the Japanese release, though, this Soundwave has yellow eyes instead of red, which reflects more his original toy and early comic book appearances. I welcome this change! I was happy to learn he was getting yellow eyes. On the other hand, his Frenzy seems to be purpler than the Japanese Frenzy, in order to make him look more like cartoon Rumble, even though the packaging still calls him Frenzy. Buzzsaw's accent color is now more yellow than orange, and I think there may be some other very slight color differences all around.
IMPORTANT: Be careful with Soundwave's dang index fingertips. Seriously, this piece will drop from him like ripened fruit. The only thing keeping the fingertip on the rest of his finger is the tiniest bit of friction, and trying to articulate it without it sliding out of "joint" (I use this term loosely because there is barely a set of bumps in there to keep it in place) will almost always cause it to go diving for whatever floor or table or couch you're over at the time. You will be looking for this finger constantly. Years from now, there will be no Soundwaves with complete index fingers. I prophesy this.