Toy Review - Titans Returns Leader Class Soundwave, Sixshot and Sky Shadow
While the initial wave of Leader class figures under the current Titans Return banner had 2 figures, each wave since has only consisted of one. As a reviewer, this makes for a slight bit of a quandary as it seems silly (and awfully short) just to type up a review for a single toy. Thus…I’ve been stockpiling! So here, we’ll be taking a look at Wave 2’s Soundwave (and the Legends class figures that go with him), Wave 3’s Sixshot and Wave 4’s Sky Shadow.
Soundwave, surprising absolutely no one, is a slight remold of Blaster from Wave 1. And in robot mode, it’s about as perfect a representation of Soundwave as one could hope for without shelling out the cash for the Masterpiece version. I do have one minor nit to pick…and I imagine most will overlook this but for whatever reason it just bugs the hell out of me: Soundwave’s gun is just a repaint of Blaster’s. I am, inexplicably, really not cool with that. Sure, I’ll tip my hat to Hasbro for going a little bit extra by giving us Soundwave’s shoulder launcher but without the matching gun to go with it, it feels like a half measure.
While I won’t say that things fall apart as we get into Soundwave’s tape deck mode, well…I guess all things considered, they did the best that they could given that they were limited by having Soundwave be a remold. It looks fine. My actual problem is that, and it might just be my version of the figure…but do we have some mold fatigue going on here already? While Blaster was able to fit together fine with all tabs holding well while in boom box mode, on my Soundwave you’ve really got to fiddle with things before tabs go where they’re supposed to and even then, the tabs really don’t want to hold the way that they should. Again, while this might be unique to my figure, for review purposes, I can’t say this problem makes transforming the figure all that much fun.
Like Blaster, Soundwave’s minions make up the entirety of the Wave 2 Legends class…and they’re all repaints: Rumble is a repaint/slight remold of Rewind, Ravage is a repaint/slight remold of Autobot Stripes and Laserbeak is a straight repaint of Combiner Wars Buzzsaw. Rumble, like Rewind before him, is a fun little bot and since I’m a RIR/FIB [Rumble Is Red/Frenzy Is Blue. – Ed.] sort of guy, I’m happy with the color choice, though I can certainly see this ticking off any RIB/FIR folks. And yes, I’ll admit, I would actually be happy picking up this mold again for any Frenzy or Eject plans Hasbro might have. Given that Stripes proved to be a bit of a frustrating mold for me (as you have to fold in the legs EXACTLY right), Ravage is just more of the same. Buzzsaw and Laserbeak offer little in the way of surprises, even though I have absolutely no idea what that vehicle mode is supposed to be. It should be pointed out that like the Wave 3 Voyagers and Blaster’s “cassettes”, these also have the pre-placed foil stickers…and while not as bad as those from the Wave 3 Voyagers, some small hints of peeling are present. If you’re going to be taking your tapes in and out of Soundwave’s chest, well, I’d advise a high degree of caution.
Moving on to Sixshot, I’ll echo what most have said about him in that he’s as close to a straight G1 update as we’re ever likely to see. While the die-hard fanboy in me wasn’t thrilled that Sixshot was going to be a headmaster, I was very happy with the fact that aside from his winged wolf mode, the Titan Master can remain plugged into the socket for the remaining 5 modes…thus, Sixshot doesn’t have to be a headmaster if you don’t want him to be. Once you learn the modes, it’s pretty easy to flip from one mode to another to another with a good flow which is always appreciated. Each mode is instantly recognizable as its G1 counterpart, which is an added nostalgia high. [Screw you Hasbro, we KNOW that's not a "submarine" mode. - Ed.] The last thing that I absolutely have to give a standing ovation…the significant lack of hollow plastic syndrome which has plagued a fair amount of Leader class Transformers up to this point.
But I can’t quite gush about the figure. It’s good, don’t get me wrong…and getting bots that exceed triple-changers are a rare thing indeed…but there are just enough small flaws for me that I have to knock the figure down to simply “all right” or “okay”. First off, the wings are a little short for my liking. In robot mode, they look fine, but in jet mode they just seem…off. Even with the guns serving as the wingtips as they were designed to it just doesn’t look right to me. Second are Sixshot’s knees. While mine are fine and haven’t really heard of anyone else’s being weak either, the fact that they’re simply friction joints worries me a bit, especially given that for transformation, the knees do need to bend in both directions. Maybe I’ve been listening to too many Third-Party reviews lately on the YouTube, but I’m thinking that this would’ve been the perfect place for some ratcheting joints. Third, with six different modes, I’d have liked it better if there were more places to tab things in. The place this irks me the most is with the anti-aircraft tank mode. The two legs move independently as opposed to being able to be linked in some way. Ultimately this ends up resulting in modes that don’t feel as secure as they did in the G1 counterpart. Fourth, while I’m not crazy about the foil stickers, I gotta say that comparing this to the G1 version, he seems pretty bland and in dire need of some stickers. It looks like the folks over at ReproLabels/ToyHax have this covered though…I just need to break down and order them. Lastly, man do his guns look piddly. They’re as long as their G1 counterparts…but they’re little more than tubes with handles…which I guess is all a gun really is…but still. For display, I typically like to put the two guns together in their Titan Master accommodating mode which gives the toy a more intimidating-looking double-barreled blaster.
Wave 4’s Sky Shadow serves as a taste of the Overlord to come. He splits into two alt-modes, a jet and a tank. The jet is your standard ‘robot kibble hanging from the underside’ transformation and while the tank mode forms in an interesting way, rotating the turret-halves out and folding up the legs, the way they clip together can give you a serious “I’m gonna break this damn thing” vibe when trying to return to robot mode. Now that I think about it, everything associated with the tank mode on mine is SUPER tight. [There have been times where he’s pulled out the gun from the turret and then paraded around claiming he was the next king of England. – Ed.] There’s a mini-shield that clips to the nose of the jet as a callback to the original G1 figure, where the inner pretender robot attached there to serve as a drone. Personally, I like to use the peg of the shield to attach this drone further back toward the rear of the plane, creating a kind of Cobra Night Raven type of vibe. The colors look good and there’s nothing that really takes away from this figure. Heck, this is the first Leader class that I even checked out the base mode (again, given that G1 Overlord had his own base mode). Granted, it is a little meh…although it looks like the changes to the mold for Overlord will make some improvements. My only objection to the figure is conceptual. Reading his bio and looking at his stats…I have to say that getting a relatively weak (strength = 6 on the tech specs) thief in a “phase-6” type of body [Phase-6 referring to IDW’s Decepticon classification. Fellow Phase-6-ers include Overlord and Sixshot…and yes, Sky Shadow is included on TFwiki.net…but given current stats I can’t see why. – Ed.] just doesn’t fit my mind’s conceptual model. Given the original Japanese G1 version (then called Black Shadow) was a Thunderwing remold, I have to admit that this feels like a missed opportunity. Here’s hoping we’ll see an updated Thunderwing in the future. Maybe in the post-Titans line.
All things considered, none of these figures have any real fatal flaws and I could certainly recommend any of them…though, as stated above, none of them are without some nit-picks. At the very least, they do show some improvement in the line as there’s very little of the hollow-plastic syndrome that has plagued the Leader class figures of past figures in the Generations and Combiner Wars lines. One last note that I forgot to mention in the body of the main review, Soundwave looks to be the last time Hasbro put forth any effort in painting the Titan Masters...which is a damn shame. I'm sure I've mentioned it in other reviews, but a few added paint apps go a long way in really making these tiny figures pop.