I LOVED early 80’s music; from listening to it on the radio, watching it on MTV, to recording great songs on my beloved boom box. For on-the-go action, I owned a chunky blue and silver Sony “Walkman” knockoff (my parents had a thing against brand names; read: too much $$). Despite never having the street cred of owning a real Walkman, I loved the hell out of that old, generic music player. It served me well for many, many years.
My love of that knockoff Walkman has A LOT to do with my love of Soundwave. Debuting in 1984 with Hasbro’s Transformers transforming toy line, Soundwave was a robot that turned into a tape recorder. It was a toy that I could actually relate to… if I could only afford to own one. You see, Transformers weren’t cheap, at least to this 14-year-old making money from a meager work-at-home allowance. But I soooo wanted one. Owning a Transformers toy back in those days easily earned you the respect of your peers.
So I put in a request to “Santa” that Christmas for a Transformers Soundwave action figure. Seeing that my parents never bought me a real Walkman, I didn’t hold my breath of getting the coveted Decepticon spy. At best, I figured I’d get an inferior GoBot.
Despite their frugalness, my parents did occassionally pull through and rise to the occassion. That Christmas I received my first – and only – G1 Transformers toy: Soundwave. To be honest, it was Soundwave’s amazing card artwork that sold the toy to me as kid. The appearance of this blue, mono-eyed robot with shoulder missile launcher and blaster in hand was all highly impressionable. The real kicker was that Soundwave wasn’t so far removed from the cool art it was based on. This toy rocked just as much in person.
Call me simple, but the process of converting the Soundwave figure was very straight forward and satisfying. As a box, transforming the ‘bot was as easy as pulling out and straightening his limbs. Soundwave wasn’t GoBot dumb; the conversion being just complex enough to excite me as a child.
Slap in a tape deck that opened up and my toy world exploded. An actual cassette that removed AND also converted into another robot toy? Toy AA batteries stowed in the back that actually became guns? My mind was doubly blown. As a kid that already owned Mattel’s solid metal die-cast Shogun Warriors, I also was strangely attracted to Soundwave’s chunky metal feet. Metal in toys is everything. I quickly developed a new appreciation for this new high-end Transformers toy brand. Compared to the Dungeons & Dragons toys I had been collecting up to that time, receiving Soundwave was like getting a Rolls-Royce.
Unwrapping Soundwave that Christmas in 1985 was like Ralphie getting his Red Ryder air rifle. Toy miracles DO happen. However, the experience also made me appreciate what I had even more. That knockoff Walkman I owned was way cool, and despite what everyone said at the time, those GoBots were actually pretty rad, too.
Oddly enough, my love of Soundwave never went beyond that Transformers character. As an adult, I’m still mesmerized by Soundwave’s original G1 design. I pick up the ‘bot whenever a throwback Soundwave toy is introduced. I look forward to receiving my Transformers R.E.D. (Robot Enhanced Design) non-transforming action figure to compliment my modest G1 Soundwave action figure display. Someday I may splurge on one of those MP Masterpiece versions (though I’m conflicted on buying something I already own, despite on how better it is). For me it’s not about being a completist, it’s all about reminiscing on the good times.
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