Ahead of San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro revealed a new Soundwave figure that transformed into a tablet instead of the more familiar cassette player. Not one to traditionally scoff at the idea of modernizing characters from the '80s that had clearly become outdated, I balked at the idea that a Transformers toy could possibly be a tablet. It's not that a Cybertronian citizen couldn't become whatever it wanted to; it's just that a tablet is so thin it would be virtually impossible to get any form or function out of a toy that tried to mimic such minimal proportions.

Boy was I wrong.

The diminutive package is perfectly inline from what you'd see from any number of tablet manufacturers these days. It's a very minimalist design on the exterior that carries through to the inner box. Honestly, if there wasn't a picture of a gun-toting robot (not-so) in disguise on the front of the box, you could easily slip this onto a shelf at an electronics store and no one would be the wiser. That's especially true when you open it up, and inside is that familiar blank black slate we've all become familiar with over the past six years.

Part of that aesthetic likely comes from Soundwave's origins as a Chinese exclusive developed in part with tablet-maker Xiomi. This US release has some slightly different paintwork, but primarily is the same tablet foundation as the previous release. There's no specific affiliation involved with Soundwave, but he does have a more Android style than anything else. There's a simple plastic sleeve wrapped around the tablet too, which hides the more articulated robotic parts from the eye initially. Once you slide it off you can see the inner workings of Hasbro's figure, taking you out of the illusion ever so slightly.



The little pamphlet of instructions included is printed on paper cut in the shape of the Decepticon logo, which looks great, but does make it a bit hard to use without damaging the tips. That said, the instructions included a very clear and easy to follow, though it's still a bit of a challenge to work with Soundwave since he's so thin. It's not that the figure felt fragile at any given point, but there were times where it felt like putting just a bit too much pressure on a given joint might make it snap. Most of the larger Transformer figures have ball joints that snap on and off easily to relieve some of that pressure, but there's not a whole lot of give with some of Soundwave's more angular elements.

As I was working through the directions though, it was apparent there was some thoughtfulness in this design. It's quite astonishing how the development team was able to create an entire 7" figure out of a tablet that was no more than a 1/2" thick. How they were inspired to see an iPad and say, "Yeah, we can make that a Transformer," is beyond me. The engineering is so smooth and beautiful when you can take the time to appreciate where every cut and articulation point was made.What's more, it goes back to its normal shape with the same amount of ease. I still can't quite wrap my head around how Hasbro did it, but they did.

Hasbro has been revamping the classic designs of the Transformers for some time now, and seeing the company stretch its creative side in re-imagining classic characters as something new is always a treat. It's remarkable how well Soundwave has translated into this thinner form, but it's even more so that this figure works as intended. They even managed to sneak in a Laserbeak accessory, which attaches to his back. All that from a tablet. It's stunning, and I'm curious to see if more modernizations like this will happen in the coming years. After the success of Soundwave, it just makes sense.



The Hasbro Takara Soundwave Tablet was available exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con. This figure was provided by Hasbro for review.