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Transformers R.E.D. Generation 1 Soundwave

For today’s photos, red feels like an appropriate backdrop.

Full disclosure here: I’m not much of a Transformers guy. Transformers took off when I was a wee one and I kind of missed the boat. I had some friends and cousins really into it, and I even had a few myself that were gifted to me, but it was nothing I gravitated towards. And I say that as someone who very much enjoys the concept of toys that can switch between two modes of play – that’s just economical! I did get into the Generation 2 stuff a bit. I remember saving up, what was a lot of money at the time for a kid, to get the Generation 2 release of Optimus Prime, and I would also get a Megatron and a few others. It was a mostly passing fad as it basically occupied the brief period of time when I was transitioning from being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kid to one obsessed with the X-Men.

Since I didn’t grow up enamored with Transformers, I’ve very rarely dabbled in the collector scene for it. When I was younger and had my first post college job and more disposable income than I was used to, I did dabble in the Masterpiece line. I picked up the US release of Optimus Prime and I grabbed the Takara release of Megatron to pair with him. And that’s where I left the Transformers. It’s just too expensive a line for me to collect when I don’t have tremendous interest in it.

One character though that I have always had affection for is Soundwave. I feel like that’s fairly common as Soundwave is just so decidedly 80s in his design. He’s a tape deck that can turn into a robot, and better yet, he has tapes that transform into robotic, animal, sidekicks. He’s awesome, and there’s a part of me that has always wanted a kick ass Soundwave. Maybe I should have grabbed a Masterpiece version of the character or the G1 reissue from a few years ago. I didn’t, and instead I’ve turned my attention to the R.E.D. release of the character from Hasbro.

Walmart took special care to make sure this box got banged around before it got to me.

R.E.D. stands for Robotic Enhanced Design. It’s a bit of a controversial line in the Transformers collector community because these are Transformers that do not transform. What?! It doesn’t seem to make sense to have Transformers that literally do not do as their name suggests, but it’s also not a new concept. I remember seeing non-transforming Transformers released to stores not long after the Michael Bay films hit. Transformers are notoriously expensive, whether new or vintage, versus a standard action figure. It’s not at all surprising that Hasbro has sought to introduce cheaper versions to retail, especially as a whole new generation of kids got sucked in. I know I’m not eager to drop 30 bucks on a good Transformer for my kid when I don’t know how much play he’ll actually get from it. Plus, having a non-Transforming option means parents aren’t called upon to transform the toy every ten minutes.

The extra stuff gets its own panel, which is actually really helpful.

The difference with R.E.D. versus those other releases is that this one is not really aimed at casual fans, but collectors. That doesn’t mean casuals (like me) or even kids can’t enjoy them, but they’re definitely collector-focused. And the whole purpose is to produce robots that resemble their animated counterparts in a way that a transforming toy cannot. It’s not a secret that the old cartoon took a lot of liberties with the design of its characters. The show could have directly adapted the toys, but that probably would have resulted in character designs deemed too complex for animation, plus lesser robot designs could be improved for the aesthetics of the show. And now, collectors who grew up on that show can add some Transformers to their display that reflect the robot look of that cartoon. And honestly, from a collector’s point of view, it doesn’t feel that controversial a move considering the vast majority of collectors are going to display their toys in robot form anyway.

Hooray for product shots!

Even though my affection for Soundwave is deeply rooted in the fact that he could transform into a 1980s styled boom box, I still find the robot form immensely satisfying. And since the R.E.D. line retails for less than $20, I decided to take the plunge and add a Soundwave to my toy collection. The line comes housed in an attractive, red, window box. It’s shaped like a trapezoid with the figure in the center and off to the side is a window for the accessories, which are in their own, separate, tray. First of all, I think some may be taken by surprise at the size of the figures in this line. Soundwave stands pretty much right at 6″, which is pretty small for a Transformer. This line is likely designed to scale with itself, but it also feels like a typical size for a Hasbro action figure release. And it even feels like one as far as articulation and accessories go, which I’ll get to in a moment. If you’re a dedicated Transformers collector looking to mix and match your display with these guys and traditional G1 or Masterpiece figures, then you might be disappointed.

Meet your new friend, The Cannon.
Hasbro saved some sculpt-work for the rear of the figure, including that (non-functioning) volume slider.
You can see how high the head sits from the side, which is great for articulation.

Considering the primary goal of this line is really the aesthetics, I have to say Hasbro pretty much nailed this one. Soundwave looks like he stepped out of the old cartoon and onto my shelf. The paint is clean and vibrant and the physical structure of the character looks pretty good. I could maybe nitpick the broadness of the shoulders, but considering I’m not a big Transformers fan that feels unnecessary. He looks great to me, and I assume most will be quite satisfied with how this guy looks. My only criticism of how this figure looks is that he could have benefited from a bit more paint. The head is a little plain and something to bring out the facial details would have added some more “pop” to the look. There’s a little bit of paint slop here and there, but relegated to minor dots and blemishes. You can also see some residual plastic from the mold extraction process, but thankfully those blemishes are mostly found on the rear of the figure.

The other advantage to this design is that Hasbro can cram in quite a bit of articulation without worrying about the transforming function. First off, the cannon that mounts on his shoulder is prone to popping off. This isn’t a huge deal for a collector, but if you were thinking of this for a kid know that cannon is going to annoy someone who wants to play with this. For posing, I recommend not fighting it and just popping it off, pose your figure, then replace. Soundwave’s head is on a ball joint and rotates fine, but the cannon gets in the way a bit. He can look way up as Hasbro has the head seated pretty high, and he even looks down a little bit with some side-to-side tilt. The shoulders are also ball-jointed, but the blocky-ness poses a problem. There’s a butterfly joint, but it just can’t do much because of the chest. Hasbro clearly didn’t want to break up the chest with any articulation, and there is a reason for that beyond aesthetics, and it is an issue, but honestly it’s actually less an issue than one would expect just looking at this guy. The elbows are double-jointed and he can go way past 90 degrees as he can come up and touch his own shoulder. There’s a bicep swivel and the hands are on ball-hinges with swivel action. You can keep them recessed in his forearm or pop the ball-joint out of the socket slightly for additional range of motion. There is a waist swivel and the legs can go out and to the side. There is a thigh swivel and the knees are double-jointed and he can bend as far back as a Yoga instructor. The feet are also ball-jointed and can rotate all around and have an overall fantastic range of motion.

“I feel empty inside…”
“I now feel complete”

The final piece of articulation is in that chest. Soundwave may not be able to transform, but he still has a functioning tape deck. There’s a button near his head that causes the tape deck to pop open and he even comes with a non-transforming tape to insert. Honestly, this was the capper for me on this figure as if he couldn’t do that I would have passed. Since he can though, we’re all good! The eject function isn’t very strong on mine and it basically just cracks open enough to slip a fingernail behind it, but it works well enough. Overall, considering how blocky he is, I am really impressed with the amount of articulation Hasbro crammed into this guy. The only thing that’s unfortunate is that cannon, and I don’t even know why they made it removable considering he has no need to transform. They could have put it on a ball-joint and called it a day, but I guess that was just too much money to spend on one toy. He feels really nice to hold with solid weight. Nothing feels fragile. There is potential to damage the figure though via his articulation. The crotch piece, where the leg is affixed to the figure, has a sharp edge and when I was messing around with the figure it actually scraped my figure’s right thigh, essentially removing a tiny chunk right on the corner of the thigh piece. There’s a little mark on the other thigh as well so I must have done the same there without noticing. It’s something to be wary of though.

Not a lot is included, but I’d say he at least comes with the essentials.
Other robots assemble!
Wait! You’re not a real robot!

In addition to the figure looking great, the accessories do as well. Especially the tape which is fully sculpted and painted and looks great whether it’s in Soundwave’s chest or out. It’s his coolest accessory, but the not the only one. In addition to the fists he comes packaged with, Soundwave also has two additional hands. One is designed to work with his eject button to make it look like he’s about to summon one of his robot minions, while the other is a simple trigger finger. That one works with Soundwave’s blaster which also looks sharp. It’s well-sculpted and has the right amount of paint on it to really make it stand out. The hands are easily removable, though I had trouble getting Soundwave to hold his gun. I ended up heating up the hand to get him to grip it, as it just had little to no give and I didn’t want to scrape up the plastic. And now that I have the gun in his hand, I do not plan to remove it. It’s a solid assortment of accessories, though some may have preferred an open hand option. I do wish we got a transformed Laserbeak as well to pose on his shoulder, though that probably would have tilted the costs beyond what Hasbro wanted.

Modern day Hasbro All-Stars.

If I am only going to own one Soundwave, I feel like this figure scratches that itch. There will always be a part of me that desires a transforming version of the character, but I’d definitely display him in his robot form anyway so this will do. I just love how he turned out from a visual standpoint. There’s a nice balance to the molded plastic and painted parts and he’s just really fun to look at. Maybe a little bit of shading, especially on the head, could have brought an even greater level of detail, but this is fine. If you’re not philosophically opposed to non-transforming Transformers, then I think this will make you happy. The only real negative is that stupid cannon, but I suppose I could glue it in. And the only other impediment is the scale, but that only matters if you intend to place this figure alongside other, non-R.E.D. Transformers. For me, this is great and I think I’ll keep him beside my Weltall figure which complements him well. If you want to snag one of your own, your only option right now is Walmart. Yeah, I know, I prefer not to shop there (especially during a pandemic), but he has regularly been in stock online if that helps. For 20 bucks, I say grab him now if you’re even slightly interested and return him if it ends up not being your thing, but I think most who do take the plunge will be pretty happy with the end result.

You probably shouldn’t pick a fight with him, Soundwave.

NECA TMNT Casey Jones and Raphael (In Disguise)

“The class is Pain 101. Your instructor’s Casey Jones.”

There may not be a more quotable scene from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than the encounter between Casey Jones and Raphael. Raphael, after taking in a movie he appeared unimpressed by, stops a purse-snatching and scares the kids off with a simple gesture to his sai. The kids take shelter in Central Park, where they have a chance encounter with the vigilante Casey Jones. Jones witnessed the attempted thievery, but he’s not as forgiving as Raph. Before he can really lay into the teens with an assortment of sports equipment turned weapons, Raph breaks it up which brings about the memorable encounter.

It was a trip for me as a kid to see my favorite green heroes on the big screen, and it was almost equally as entertaining to see Casey Jones. Played by Elias Koteas, Jones basically leapt from the comics and cartoon and took to live-action effortlessly. His attire was simple: sweatpants, t-shirt, vest, and that trademarked hockey mask. It should have been easy to translate to a film, but the performance of Koteas throughout the film should not be dismissed so easily. He’s an entertaining and even endearing character. There was probably so much more that could have been done with him, but in an effort to tone down the violence from the first film the Casey Jones character was written out of the sequel, I suppose in favor of the much less-celebrated Keno. He did return for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, but the less said about that film the better.

As has probably been noted in every one of my reviews of NECA’s movie-inspired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures, this is a notable release because it’s the first of its kind. The movie was not expected to perform well, so Playmates did not support it with any toys. When it did prove a surprise hit, the company went straight to producing toys based on the sequel. That meant the Turtles themselves at least received figures as well as many others, but the characters and designs unique to the first film never did. And it doesn’t look like Casey received a figure for the third film, which is a bit surprising. Fans of Casey Jones have had to wait 30 years for a proper figure, but he’s finally here and fans are left to determine if he was worth the wait.

Not to be ignored though, is the fact that Casey Jones is part of the first movie two-pack released by NECA exclusively through Walmart. Along for the ride is Raphael in disguise sporting his trench coat and hat. This Raph is a scaled-down version of the quarter-scale figure, which is also just the regular movie Raphael, but with a coat and hat. It’s a fairly iconic look for the character that deserves a proper action figure and bundling him with Casey Jones makes perfect sense. I suppose there are some out there who would have preferred he come with another all-new sculpt, (April? Tatsu?) but I can’t say I feel cheated or anything.

Let’s talk about Raph first before getting to the main event, of sorts. Raphael is the exact same figure released previously as part of a four-pack of Turtles as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive and also released as a single-pack through GameStop last year. NECA has taken the movie line from GameStop to Walmart, in case you were wondering, and the previously released figures should start showing up any day now in two-packs as well. In comparing the figure with my SDCC edition, his face looks a touch lighter to me with a little more yellow mixed-in with the green. The eyes on my original Raph were kind of screwy as well, but this new one looks fine. It might have been neat if he could have had a new head, perhaps one with more teeth such as when he rescues April in the subway, but this is a good likeness of the character. His default mask “tails” is a new piece that diverts the tails around his neck instead of off to one side. He comes with the other two pieces, one going left and one going right, should you wish to swap it out, but I think the default one looks best. The coat is a soft goods coat and it looks really sharp. There’s one loose string on my Raph’s left shoulder, but otherwise the cut looks great. The buttons are non-functioning, but the belt and pockets are real. His hat is soft plastic and there’s a little hole for the knot of his mask. You could, if you wanted, pop out the tail piece and re-insert it through the hat to possibly get it stay on better, but he looks good no matter what you choose to do there. He also has his backpack, which is made of more soft plastic. It’s the biggest hindrance to getting the coat off and I suspect you would either need to cut the straps or pop his arms off to do so, but why would you?

Underneath that coat everything appears to be the same. All of the spots and battle-damage on Raph’s shell all look to be there. This also means all of the articulation is still in place as well. Raph will be restricted by his coat to some degree, though the cloth nature of it means it’s not as restricting as you may have expected. Raphael features a nice, tight, ball-joint at the neck. The default mask tails restricts his mobility a bit, but that’s what the other parts are for. He has ball-joints at the shoulders and elbows, plus hinges at both as well. There’s a forearm swivel and wrist swivel plus a hinge at the hand. Underneath the shell is a torso ball-joint that provides a little movement, but the shell (and coat) don’t allow for this joint to do much. He has ball and hinge joints at the thigh to go along with double-jointed knees. His feet are on a hinge, but there isn’t much movement there. It can also rock side-to-side a bit. This was plenty for the standard release, though for this version I wish the feet had more range of motion as the added bulk of the backpack makes him a challenge to stand. I can get him to stand in some poses, but ultimately I think I’ll use a stand when I place him on a shelf.

As far as accessories go, Raph seems a bit light compared with his box-mate. That’s fine since Raph really doesn’t need much aside from his outfit and trusty sai. That outfit is the star, of course, since it looks and feels fantastic. Despite not featuring a wire inside it, I found the coat easy to move and position. It can be bunched up in places to gain more range of motion at the arms, or allowed to conceal as much of this big turtle in a trench coat as possible. I was even able to get him to properly hold a baseball bat without much hassle. Raph also comes with both sai, even though he was down to one when he met Casey. He comes with gripping hands affixed to his arms, and optional open palms and finger-pointing/optional sai grips as well, just like the standard figure. NECA also tossed in a slice of pizza for good measure since I guess you can never have too many of those, though I kind of wish they had stuck a hole in the middle for his sai even though he didn’t do that until the second film. Or maybe a chewed up apple would have been fun.

Raphael is pretty sweet, but he’s also a variant of a two-year old figure. What collectors are really excited for is Casey Jones! Casey stands at about seven inches making him roughly half an inch taller than Raph, which feels about right. He’s in his first-appearance attire which includes a non-removable hockey mask. Underneath the mask is indeed a face that vaguely resembles Elias Koteas (you’ll have to search online to see for yourself), but the only way to get it off is to chisel it since it’s glued on. The mask also features pegs, and the straps are part of the sculpt, so your figure will look pretty stupid without a mask. NECA was unable to secure an agreement with Koteas to use his likeness, which is why there’s no unmasked head included. Though let’s be honest, basically everyone is displaying this guy with the mask on anyways, even if he only wears it for a small part of the film. Koteas confirmed on Instagram recently that he has actually given his blessing to NECA to go ahead and do a figure with his face on it, so don’t be surprised if we get an unmasked variant down the road (or a quarter-scale version with a removable mask) as part of another two-pack.

Sounds like we can expect a variant of Casey in the future.

Casey’s sculpt looks to be pretty damn accurate to the screen version. He has a white t-shirt with a vest over it that’s actually a shirt with cut-off sleeves. Both the shirt and vest are a soft plastic, though the sleeves on his arms are sculpted. He’s got his gray sweatpants on and black high-tops to go along with fingerless gloves for added bad-assness. The mask is the star of the show though as it looks great. It’s a thick plastic with a glossy paint-job that looks great. The decision to sculpt it separately with a face underneath also means his eyes looks menacing and the slits over the mouth could be actual cuts in the plastic rather than painted lines. If anything appears to be a touch off, it’s the hair which looks heavy as opposed to the more frizzy appearance it had on film. Hair is notoriously difficult to sculpt though so this barely registers as even a nit-pick. The knees also a look a tad odd, but again, that’s because NECA is trying to recreate a soft cloth like sweatpants in plastic form. NECA opted to make the plastic of the thigh go over the lower leg rather than do a kneecap. It’s tough to say what would look better and I bet the sculptors were left wishing the character had sported knee pads in the film. I’m curious if the expected quarter-scale version will experiment with soft goods for the sweatpants or stick with plastic.

Casey is pretty well loaded with articulation like his little, green, buddy. His head is on a ball-joint and partially restricted by the hair, but nothing that should cause issue. He has ball-jointed shoulders and double-jointed elbows to go along with a forearm swivel and the same swivel-hinge articulation at the wrist enjoyed by Raph. What I can’t determine is if he has any kind of ab crunch as the t-shirt prevents me from figuring that out. He has some waist articulation, but the shirt again prevents much of the movement. His thighs are on ball joints, but he features just a simple hinge at the knee. The ankles can swivel freely and there’s a hinge joint as well that’s quite restrictive. He’s a bit tough to stand as well, especially with the golf bag on, so he’s likely going to end up with a stand as well. He would likely need bigger feet to stand better, but that obviously wouldn’t be screen-accurate. More leg/torso articulation could have possibly helped as well, but then you’re cutting up those sweatpants and shirt even more which would have been less aesthetically pleasing.

The paint job on Casey is simple and effective. The clothing is done with a matte finish, but the shoes have a bit of a shine to him. His laces are painted black as well, which is probably screen-accurate, but I’ve never tried to stare at the character’s shoes. The t-shirt has an understated dark wash applied to it giving it a grimey look which is a nice touch. Casey doesn’t seem like the type who stayed up doing laundry. The only negative with the paint is the hinge piece of the shoulders was left unpainted, so if Casey’s arms are up it will look a bit ugly.

That’s a full bag.

As expected, Casey comes with a lot of goodies. He has his golf bag to store everything in which fits easily over his head and arm. It’s soft plastic so it’s fairly light, but once it’s full of stuff it’s no longer quite so light. The strap is rather thin and doesn’t disconnect so you’ll want to handle with care to not snap it at one end. For weapons, Casey comes with a pair of baseball bats (sadly, no Jose Canseco signature spotted on either), a hockey stick (left-handed, interestingly), a goalie stick, golf club (wood), and of course the infamous cricket bat. The weapons all look great with a paint-wash applied to nearly all of them to give them a weathered look. Most feature athletic tape, and the only one that looks brand new is the golf club. And it should, since that’s from the end of the film when Casey uses it to finish off Tatsu (“I’ll never call golf a dull game again.”) and is a nice touch since NECA could have chosen to omit it given the set is so scene specific. You can also fit everything into the golf bag with some effort, though the giant goalie stick looks a bit ridiculous sticking out of the bag. In the film, he only ever needed room for the two bats and the cricket bat so being able to fit them all wasn’t even a realistic goal, but they pulled it off. Not much to complain about either in terms of screen accuracy. I noted that the hockey stick is left-handed, but it looks like a righty stick on screen. And Casey certainly swings that cricket bat right-handed. The bats also probably could have been lighter in color, but I can’t say either thing is something that bothers me. These weapons are a lot of fun and I’m glad to see that Casey has a full assortment.

Look at all of that stuff!

Casey is going to need some hands to wield those weapons, and he has a bunch. His default hands are simple fists for when he wants to get his hands dirty. He also has two sets of gripping hands. I can’t really tell what’s different about them, the gripping opening might be just a touch larger on one set versus the other, but it’s pretty light. The goalie stick does require a bit more room to wield properly, but I seem to have little trouble regardless. His gripping hands are also really soft so you can bend the fingers around whatever he’s holding. Maybe the extras are just in case of ware and tare? He also has a pointing right hand and a more relaxed open left hand to rest a hockey stick or bat in. It’s a nice assortment and the long pegs and soft nature of the plastic makes swapping them pretty effortless.

Casey Jones is a more than worthy addition to what is perhaps the most impressive line NECA has ever produced. The likeness all of the figures from the first TMNT movie have been incredible, and Casey is no exception. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the fine work of sculptors Trevor Zammit, Kyle Windrix, and Trevor Grove. And no one should be snoozing on the Raphael in this set either. I was a bit on the fence with him and questioned whether or not I would have purchased a single-carded version of the character in disguise, but now that I have him I’m pretty happy to say that I do. My collection would have been lacking if I had a Casey Jones with no Raph to go along with him. As much as I identify Casey with April, a two-pack of them on a porch swing is certainly not nearly as exciting as the confrontation between mutant hero and vigilante.

If you want to add this two-pack to your movie collection, it can be found exclusively at Walmart for $49.99. It just started showing up last week and is still shipping to stores as I type this. Some areas will just start to receive it this week. It was also offered for purchase online, but basically sold out in seconds as NECA’s TMNT product remains extremely hot. Because of that, this set is not the easiest in the world to find, but it can be done. I’m just a blogger so my toys come from the store just like everyone else and I was able to find a set, so don’t despair if you don’t find one right away. And NECA is certain to keep producing these and I definitely expect at least a Casey re-release some day now that Elias Koteas is onboard. And above all, network with folks, make friends in the collecting community, and don’t feed the scalpers! Good luck!


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