Soundblaster comes packaged with Enemy (red redco of the Frenzy/Rumble mold) and Wingthing (redeco of Ratbat). Some people may be scratching their heads as to who these two characters are. They aren't new characters if you are wondering. Both are actually homages. Enemy (or at least his color scheme) first originated in Takara's original Microchange line. Later Enemy say release in 1984 as a working AM radio with headset. The next year Enemy showed up as an electronic voice changer toy made by the same company. I'm a child of the 80's and even I had to go back and look up this info as my memory was foggy at best. After finding the pictures (thanks to TFWiki.net) I do remember seeing both back in the day.
Wingthing first made his appearance as the transformable partner to Action Master Soundwave in 1990. Seriously, who saw that coming?
It appears to me that the original artwork for each character was recolored placed on top of Soundblaster creating a new look for the box's front. In typical fashion the Encore box uses the popular Japanese Headmasters artwork on the back.
On the side you get a small look at photography of the actual toys.
The inclusion of the trading card style tech specs puts a smile on my face. I know that is silly, but I wish all TFs came with tech spec cards such as these. Now to find a way to purchase Twincast's cards...
Gone are the days of styrofoam insert trays sadly. Of course this isn't any surprise as most toy companys started using cardboard and twisty ties or plastic trays such as this to be more friendly to the environment. The display of the toys is quite nice as each item has its own dedicated place in the tray.
We'll start off by taking a look at Enemy. By now just about every Transformers fan should be familiar with this mold as it was used to make Frenzy and Rumble back in 1984. Both of them were eventually reissued in the Encore line a few years ago with some improvements. Gone are the foil cassette detail stickers. Actually all the stickers are gone - replaced with tampographed detail. I was happy to see that change and the fact that it was carried over here is fantastic. Enemy also sports the Fort Max schematics on the front that shows the weakness of the giant Autobot Headmaster when inserted into Soundblaster's chest.
Surprisingly this mold is holding up well. All the joints were tight and able to hold (limited) poses. Enemy comes packaged with his familiar silver chrome twin blasters. The details you see on the legs are also tampoed on. And yes, his feet are die-cast metal!
Wingthing is my favorite of the pair simply because of the colors. The orange is a very vibrant orange and looks great mixed with the black die-cast. Ratbat was the only cassette I never had growing up so I don't mind at all of owning this mold again. As with Enemy all the details have been tampographed on.
What a great looking...Wingthing! He comes packaged with Ratbat's weapons, but instead of the standard gold or silver chrome they have a pewter or nickel like finish. It's a subtle change, but a nice one.
Soundblaster is pretty much a straight up black repaint of Soundwave with one exception...his cassette door. The door is colored red like those small tech spec decoders that came with the original toys and has the capacity to hold two cassettes!
While this is far from being one of my favorite G1 molds I do have to admit it looks striking in black and silver. I for one like the large tampographed Decepticon symbol on the cassette door. I should mention that some of the details are stickers and come factory applied. There isn't a sticker sheet included so you don't have to worry about having a naked Soundblaster.
I'm not sure why a change was made to the face, but now there is more silver paint applied. I was first turned off when I saw the solicitation pictures, but once in hand it's not that bad. I thought there were already enough subtle differences to distinguish the original from the reissue. Oh well.
Unlike the cassette molds holding up well the same can't be said for Soundblaster...or at least mine. I guess this shouldn't be too surprising as the mold has already been reissued several times (Soundwave & Soundblaster in the TFC line, Soundwave Commemorative Series and Encore). I noticed while transforming there seems to be some stress marks in the plastic around the metal pin that holds the arms on. This obviously was a factory error or defect and thankfully doesn't look like it harm the toy. Just to be on the safe side though I don't plan on transforming this toy that often.
Wingthing especially looks good in Soundblaster's chest. I guess it's the combination or the bright orange plastic and the translucent red cassette door.
Takara Tomy has done a great job with the Encore line and this release is a fine example. I'm sure with the inclusion of two new cassettes will help with the overall sales. I've already seen a few on eBay sans the cassettes so I know people were excited to add some "new" characters to their G1 collections.
If you missed the TFC reissue of Soundblaster and you don't want to pay a small fortune for the vintage piece then I highly recommend picking up this release. Just keep your fingers cross that yours doesn't have the stress marks that mine has.