Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Hasbro G1 Soundwave - Sound or Power?

While collecting vintage Generation 1 Transformers and their reissues, I've had some recent experience of stickering them up to look as they were intended. As a result, I've come across a number of errors and conflicting resources regarding where one should place particular labels. It's happened with Tracks, Hound/Detritus, Blitzwing/Overcharge, Hurricane, Quickswitch, Drag Strip, and Smokescreen. With the very recent Walmart reissue of G1 Soundwave fresh off the blocks, the subject was very much in the air again.

2019 Walmart G1 reissue Soundwave & Buzzsaw

The beauty of the Walmart reissues is that they have tried to mimic the original vintage Hasbro G1 Transformers packaging, which sets them apart from the original Takara and E-Hobby stuff that stayed much closer to vintage Takara packaging, as did Encore stuff. The TF Collection and Commemorative Series reissues also did not have that crazy nostalgia factor that the Walmart reissues do. The thing is, original Hasbro Transformers G1 packaging and paperwork is known for containing errors, mix-ups, and for being different to the source material, which in the case of Soundwave means Takara Micro Change Series.

UK Transformers collector James Wilson asked me whether or not the Walmart reissue Soundwave had the red speaker stickers on him. You know, the quadrilateral shaped ones that go either side of the tape door and end up on the inside of his leg. I knew these were not factory stickers, but rather they were off the stickersheet, and you can see their inclusion on the stock photography across Walmart Soundwave's packaging. As I say, though, stock photography is no indication of release reality. 

Soundwave boxart - courtesy of Botch The Crab

The G1 Soundwave boxart certainly doesn't feature those red speaker stickers on the inside of his legs. That's nothing to panic about, though, as the artwork for G1 was - in many cases - altered artwork from Takara's Diaclone and Micro Change Series lines, or other such pre-Transformers series.

MC Cassette Man stickersheet - courtesy of Himawari

Soundwave was originally the Takara Micro Change Series MC-10 Cassette Man, sold in Japan and later in Italy as "Recorder Robot". His stickersheet above shows the speaker stickers as #1 on the sheet, clearly labelled with "Microman" text. So, those stickers existed on the Micro Change toy's sheet, but were not in the MC-10 artwork, nor did they make it onto the artwork of Transformers Soundwave's inner legs. Why not?

Transformers Soundwave instructions - courtesy of Botch The Crab

Looking at the vintage G1 Soundwave instructions above, the artwork may not feature the speaker stickers, but they are there in the images created for the instructions. The toy in those photos is actually the Micro Change Series Cassette Man, but mocked-up to be a Transformers Decepticon Soundwave. The tell-tale sign is the long rectangular blue sticker at the bottom of the tape door which covers up the large "CASSETTE MAN" lettering that the Micro Change version of the toy has. So at this point, full production Transformers Soundwaves weren't ready for paperwork or box photography. You can see clearly that the instructions show the inside of the legs as the position for sticker #1, and they end up as speakers. Can you see how they still say "Microman" on them, though? 

Hasbro Classics Transformers Soundwave reissue

At this point, I decided to have a look at my Classics/Commemorative Series Transformers Soundwave reissue toy by Hasbro from 2012. No speaker stickers, even though this is a stickers applied toy. Of course, I'm making this sound like a grand old mystery, but James had already told me what the deal was, and TFWiki has the difference in sticker location between Hasbro and Takara product documented. James had said to me that Takara's Soundwave had those speaker stickers on his gun and launcher accessories instead. Why? Because they're supposed to be battery detailing!

MC-10 Cassette Man instructions - courtesy of Himawari

MC-10 Cassette Man sticker map - courtesy of Himawari

Going back to the source, the Takara Micro Change Series MC-10 Cassette Man, its instructions and sticker application map show clearly that sticker set #1 should be placed at the end of the battery accessory. That's why you don't see it on the inner legs of the boxart. If you now return to the Soundwave boxart image towards the start of the article, you'll see it on the end of his gun - and you'll even see the "Microman" text that wasn't removed! It should be noted that the most common Hasbro Soundwave art has Buzzsaw covering that part of his gun, and this is probably as good a reason as any as to why!

Transformers Soundwave & Buzzsaw boxart - courtesy of Botch The Crab
Takara VSY giftset instructions - courtesy of Himawari

Even though Hasbro changed the intended location of those #1 stickers for Transformers G1 Soundwave, Takara did not do the same for their release of the Decepticon Soundwave. Above you can see the instructions for the VSY Soundwave versus Grimlock set, still clearly showing sticker set #1 as belonging on the battery/weapon accessories.

So it seems Hasbro and Takara did not align on that aspect, but then how did the previous owner of my Hasbro reissue Soundwave know to put sticker #1 on the accessories? Sure, this info is not brand new or a mystery to many, but people tend to follow what the sticker map on the instructions tells them, and anyone who grew up with a G1 Soundwave toy in the US or Europe will have remembered them clearly as speaker stickers. I know I did.

Well, I reckon it's because originally it was Takara doing the reissues and Hasbro following along. The TF Collection 'book' reissue of Soundwave was the first on the block, and Takara were doing the instructions for these. Seeing as how the Takara reissue instructions were reproductions of the vintage Takara instructions, it makes sense that all Takara and subsequent Hasbro Soundwave reissues of the time would actually depict the batteries as the correct spot for sticker set #1. Just as vintage Takara Soundwave and vintage Takara Cassette Man instructions would have done.

So whether you have a Takara TF Collection reissue Soundwave, a TakaraTomy Encore reissue, a Hasbro Classics Commemorative Series reissue or even the Hasbro TF Universe reissue, the instructions will tell you to put sticker set #1 on the batteries instead of making them look like speakers. Interestingly, the new Walmart reissue does not use the same instruction source as all of the above, it attempts to mimic the style of the vintage booklets with nods to the current Hasbro look also, and it shows sticker set #1 as the speakers again! So a whole new generation of G1 Soundwaves will have red and black speaker detail instead of battery detail!

So why did Hasbro change Takara's originally intended location for sticker set #1? It could be possible that Hasbro felt Soundwave looked a little plain in cassette player mode with those red stickers on the accessories, instead of having simulated speakers emblazoned across the front of the alt mode. It could be that they didn't like the idea of those stickers ending up on the end of the accessories, since the extending gun had quite a ridge they'd have to sit over, with the tab running directly under the sticker when that accessory is retracted or extended. Maybe they thought the stickers would peel more easily there? Just a typical G1 mystery/inconsistency, lots of speculation, but no concrete answer.

As a side note, you may have noticed that the Classics Commemorative reissue Soundwave I have photographed (with his double-sized tape compartment a la Soundblaster), as well as the Walmart Soundwave, have the clear plastic hinges for the tape door very visible on either side of the silver button detail - as do all reissue Soundwaves. That's because almost all original vintage Takara Soundwaves also had the hinges exposed, unlike the Hasbro vintage Soundwave. All those reissues descend directly from the Takara vintage mould, hence this detailing. This is also true of the solid silver block of buttons on Soundwave compared to the more sunken and separated silver buttons on vintage Hasbro Soundwave. The very first version of the toy, the Takara Cassette Man, had them separate with no external plastic hinges just like the vintage Hasbro Soundwave. Well, at least I had an answer for that!

While I do very much like how Soundwave looks with those stickers as his speakers, and it is how I remember it from my youth and early collecting, I am a stickler for history, toy integrity and the fulfilment of the original designer intentions for G1 Transformers, especially sticker location. Therefore, I'll always opt for power over sound.

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All the best


  1. Fascinating, detailed and passionate view into the secret world of TF toys. Thanks as always Maz.

    1. Haha thank you, buddy :)

      All the best