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BTS-04 SONICRON

Series: BTS Toys
Allegiance: Decepticon
Year: 2011



Prelude: First the copyright stuff. This is a third party toy made by BTS.Toys and is not affiliated or licensed by Hasbro or Takara-Tomy. BTS.Toys is known so far through a custom trailer for Classics/Henkei Optimus Prime - and several repaints and upgrades for it - and of course the recently released Matrix/Jetpack/Energon Axe upgrade for G1 Optimus Prime. So not a newcomer in the third party sector but so far there was no complete standalone figure. The basic design of Sonicron comes from a concept art done by Guido Guidi, no idea who that is and to be honest, I don´t really care since I´m not into comics. So much for that.
(Note: The concept art was for IDW’s All Hail Megatron comic series, but ended up not being used)

Packaging: High quality book-box style. The front cover opens to reveal full sight of the figure and contents inside. Pretty cool, when closed up you notice the magnetic sealing, so no hook and loop fastener. I have seen that on several DVD packages but never on a toy box. Inside we have the figure itself next to decent amount of accessories. Paperwork consists of the instructions and a collectors or tech spec card. Not bad so far. Inside the front cover you find the profile of Sonicron and on the back of the box are cut-out paper versions of G1 Laserbeak/Ratbat and Ravage. But cutting these out will result in a damaged box, so I wouldn’t not recommend that. And throwing the box into the garbage can is also not recommend, since it’s a nice one where Sonicron can be put back in when not on display. All in all, a nice package.

Alternate Mode: The figure comes packed in robot mode, but we start with the alternate mode, as that’s the shorter part. Worth mentioning first, all the accessories actually have a place in alternate mode. Only the rocket launcher sits on his backside and can easily be left aside. All the other things are integrated into the voice recorder. It’s pretty cool that you don´t have spare parts lying around that have to be put on or off when going from one mode to the other. The recorder itself is very detailed, the details nicely breaking up the dominantly blue body. A lot of button-imitations and descriptions for these are all over the place. They did not skimp on details here, there are silver paint apps and many of those buttons are semi-translucent. As for gimmicks that you can use in this mode, we have of course the tape deck and some little flip out speakers which are probably unnecessary but are a nice touch anyway. The tape deck opens via the only button which you can really push and that one is located on top of the recorder. It actually pushes down another button beneath it that is used in robot mode. But more of the tape deck later on.

Now for the BUT in this mode: The recorder itself looks cool and consistent but the seams are partly catastrophic. At least initially before you do a little work yourself. The right side (when looking at him from the front) is hard to get into place. It needs to clip in to sit tight and that is hard to accomplish. And when it’s finally done, you still have seams the size big enough to fall in. The same deal on top of the recorder. This part is made of the second (left) arm, which does not fit as exact as you would except, but still manages some way. The worst is the leg section which forms the left side of the recorder. When viewed form the front, everything is good, but when viewed from the side, you have a seam as big as a canyon. That results from clipping bott legs together and those “lamellar” things that are the shins originally. Not what it should look like in my book. On top of that is a combination where you put the two guns into the shoulder part. Pretty loose and did I mention the big, big seams? Did I? OK then, good engineering does not look like this. At least the two plugged-in guns will stay in place. So much for that, not what a collector would expect and more than just a little flaw that one can live with.

Interestingly, like mentioned, the left side is the crappy side, yet it’s still used as the front of a „third mode“. This is not a joke, this really is in the instructions. Meaning, next to the voice recorder mode there is the „Spy Submarine“ mode. It consists of folding out the little speakers and turning them around to face forward, then taking the rocket launcher off the back (or wherever you keep it) and plugging it in on top. And if you have a hell of a lot of imagination this might actually work. Someway. Well, not really, so know you know and we can move on.

Transformation: Switching from one mode to the other is relatively easy. You might need the instructions the first time or maybe not at all. Just be careful, for if you work too fast and don´t know where exactly to pull and push you might end up breaking something. The reason for that is the joints themselves. Most are pretty tight, some are too tight, and some are loose or very loose. And that is a dangerous combination when you have to move a loose part connected to a very stiff joint. So be careful when transforming him the first time and try to get some counter pressure on every part you want to move, at least until some parts have been loosened up a little by moving them a few times. Don´t movie anything on a lever basis - like moving the arm - by grabbing the hands. Otherwise it’s taking off the rocket launcher, pulling out the two guns, and transforming him in a similar way to others. The plastic quality feels good, not like Hasbro or Takara would put out, but decent. Most of the problems result from the inaccuracy of the parts themselves, combined with too stiff or too lose joints. Especially pulling down the middle section can prove to be an ordeal. Remember, you don´t want to break something on a third party toy that you probably buy only once.

Robot Mode:: Now, is it Soundwave or not? All in all I must say, yes, definitely. He is instantly recognizable for anyone who knows him and what he should look like. The entire appearance looks great, not symmetrical, but that is not a must and results from his voice recorder mode. Most notably the arms are different from each other, but I can live with that, in fact I like it. Not every Bot needs two identical sides and different arms are nothing new since the movie or Bay universe. Size-wise Sonicron is just a tad bit smaller that G1 Soundwave, but that is more than big enough for your Classics display, where most figures are Deluxe-sized. In fact he passes for Voyager easily and that fits for being the right hand of Megatron. Most details are still visible in robot mode and he even has his „Play“ buttons on the crotch like the original. But those are for robot mode only and not visible in recorder mode.

Now for some facts on things that were discussed when the figure was still in production and only a few samples were shown. Posability is highly important in today’s figures and Sonicron can hold his own easily when it comes to that. Despite having only two ball-joints (shoulders) and only pins and hinges otherwise, his posability is as good as it gets. Even those broad legs (when looking from the side) don’t hinder him in any way. So you can get a lot more poses out of him than you may have thought when looking at the pre-release pictures. All that was shown there is easily possible. Before you ask, yes! He has knee joints, bending the correct way and fully useable. The combination of two hinges and a swivel at the hips even gets you more poses. Only the elbows can’t go further than a straight 90 degrees but that is ok, not perfect, but ok. Soundwave is not a ninja style fighter, so the arms and the nearly stationary feet are ok. The waist can turn, but you have to lift it a bit from the crotch, which leaves an ugly gap between them. Not recommended. By the way, the head is also on a ball joint, but sits too low to look up or down much. Only left and right works fine. The hands look ok and can turn on the wrists. All in all, highly posable, at least for me and what Soundwave is supposed to be. The legs, yes, they are thick. But in person it looks a lot less bad than it does in the pictures. And it does not hinder the figure or the posing in any way. So I can live with it, others have a big back-pack, he has broad legs. What is worse? Your choice.

Ah yes, the back-pack. He doesn’t have one, but in this case it’s a pity. Because he has a very thin and stupid looking plate sticking out his back. This plate is made from two halves which are needed for the transformation and connect both halves of the entire figure. But yes, it looks stupid. Solution? Well, there is none, the only thing you can do is take the module that holds the rockets off his right arm and clip it on the back. Not perfect, but at a little better and I can live with it. It is not so visible that you can look at him only from the front, you can display him angled to some degree without seeing anything of that stupid plate. Its not like other figure don’t have things like that.

What I think is pretty cool: almost all the other accessories like the blaster/shoulder gun/rocket launcher can be placed at random wherever you want them to sit. Personally I like the rocket launcher on the shoulder replacing the one that looks like the vintage version. Even Soundwave needs an upgrade from time to time. Talking about upgrades, there is also a second head included in the box. One that kind of looks like his head from War for Cybertron, or maybe its from some comic, I don´t know. A screwdriver is needed for switching, but I prefer the one that is already on him.

But now to the “BUT”: The gimmick of those flip-out speakers still works in robot mode, but ends up on his legs. Pretty boring, but luckily you can pull those off and clip them to the shoulders. Leaves a hole in the legs, but looks much better. That is, if they weren’t quite so loose. The speakers just sit there rather than clip into place. So if you want it to be really cool-looking, leave the speakers where they are, inside the legs, and place some additional c-clip weapons on the shoulders for additional fire power. You can take those from any figure that has the c-bar or c-clip attachments and can spare some weapons. The arms, well, they are tight and strong enough to easily hold a G1 Laserbeak like they should. But the sliding mechanisms in the forearms are pretty loose and even on mine the left shoulder could be a tad bit tighter. The worst are the hips, endlessly hinged together but nonetheless loose as a nodding dog toy. Pretty severe! Not so much a problem when posing him, but the moment you lift him off the ground, he wobbles around like no other. So the best is to get yourself a good solid clear nail polish to fix this as good as you can. Did help a lot with mine.
Other than that, he looks great and is definitely an eye catcher in your Classics / Henkei display section. Did I mention that he works together with all of the G1 tape-formers? And that is what makes him a winner for me.

Extra - tape deck section: Now we talk about the most important thing on a Soundwave figure: the tape deck. Why? Because he needs it and he is one of the few that has one, one that is fully compatible with your G1 Tapes. So let’s check out how that works. First of all, the top seam is not the best, you can see that it is not fully adjacent with the body. But that is just a minor thing. And no worries, once closed it stays that way, no matter what you do. This deck is a bunker and will not spring open at you. You need a strong push to close it up and you will definitely hear it click and lock tight. And the reason for that seems to be a very, very strong spring inside. You push the little red button on top of him next to his head and BOOOM! It opens. And it opens like a bomb. So much force behind it, I have never seen something like that. I feared that the whole figure would go from robot to confetti in my hand the first time.

Well, what’s to complain? It opens and I guess it will no matter which tape you put in there. Should this ever fail, then the only reason might be the spring itself by taking the figure apart from the inside. The G1 tapes themselves are all a good fit; I have tried Laserbeak, Ravage and Ratbat so far and had no problems at all. It closes and opens perfectly, a little too much force for my taste, but otherwise fine. Despite the silver painting inside the tape deck, which you can see through the window, it looks way better having a cassette inside. So again, this is perfect for your classics display where not only Sonicron himself will fit in but also the G1 tapes do not look overly out of place. The only downside may be that the only official Classics tape (Ravage from Universe/Henkei Hound) will not fit. But Ravage was not designed to because it does not fit into G1 Soundwave, either. Too big, just a little, but too big. So take the G1 version and everything is fine.

Additionally, as I mentioned, all the accessories can be stored in both modes, meaning in robot mode mostly on his back. Most of the holes there are not real peg holes but screw holes instead, which have the same size. And this works, believe it or not, for the guns of G1 Ravage, too. So when Ravge has taken his place inside the tape deck, you can store his weapons on Sonicron’s back as well. I think it’s just a lucky coincidence since it is not mentioned in the instructions. But I have a good use for that and it gives Sonicron a good spare point for not leaving any accessories unused lying around. It’s nice when everything has a place to sit or store.

Extra - Quality failures: Unfortunately there are some aspects that are pretty bad and will be noticed sooner or later after unpacking and toying around with him a little while. Sonicron has a bunch of quality issues. Compared to the add-on trailer for Optimus Prime, the high quality standard was not upheld for Sonicron and is quite simply insufficient for a final retail toy, no matter if it’s an add-on or a full figure. Luckily most of it can be fixed more or less. But not everything and sometimes not so easy. First thing you are definitely in need of is clear nail polish to tighten up several joints, especially those irritatingly loose hips. They are connected with hinges, but it helps if you completely fill in the inner section where the joints connect to the hip itself. You’ll know what I mean when you have him in hand and take a look from the back. I did nothing on the shoulders yet but I screwed open the left arm to tighten the sliding section below the elbow.

Take a careful look all around your figure, because there may be some plastic parts left over from casting the parts like when you cut loose a rocket out of the grid. So a sharp knife is also recommended to remove those little sticky pieces. Also you need the knife in addition to a small nail file to correct the part were the right arm has to sit tight to the body to form the right side of the recorder. Doing so, you will notice an upside-down T-shaped hole in Sonicrons body (right side) and the proper connector, also T-shaped, on his right arm on the inside. Those two have to be brought together and to fit properly you have to plug them together and slide the arm upward. And there is your Problem, the arm will not go high enough to meet with the left arm, which lies over his head. If you don’t connect all that properly, it will leave big ugly seams and will only hold together pretty loose. So take the knife and file to make the hole bigger and the T shaped plug smaller until you have a good tight fit and almost all seams will be gone. Be careful not to take too much material off or you will have to replace it with clear nail polish if the plug is too loose after cutting.

Next is the hatch on his back where the head comes out or goes in. This is a pain in the butt to get open without a proper tool. I Recommended using a knife to do some cutting around the edges. Same goes for the hatches on his forearms that open to hide or reveal the hands. You don´t need to do that but I assure you, you will need a proper tool every time you transform this guy if you don´t since you will either not get those hatches open without breaking your finger nails or not open at all.
What bugs me the most besides the thing with the T-shaped peg is the leg panels. You remember those as the front of the submarine with those „lamellar” things? These are just clipped on, similar to the c-clip system and they have to open and close for transformation because the feet are behind them. Quality on that part is really low. Every time I transform him, at least one of the two ends up in my hand and both of them already have stress marks inside the clip. So I fear that they might break someday and I need to come up with something to do about it someday. Maybe slice off a little material and if it’s too much, rebuild it with nail polish. That might also work for those loose sitting speaker on the legs. By the way, the weapons handle also could have been a bit longer. It is not particularity small, but since the hand has quite a bit from the arm built around it, it’s not long enough anymore. But it holds ok, it will not fall out or anything.

All this may sound devastating for this figure and it may very well be. But then again there are things that are worse and even worse figures out in the official lines. Most flaws and failures are an easy fix. Not everything, but I can live with it. I have the impression that Sonicron was made on a tight schedule and could have used a bit more time for development. Some of these problems could have been avoided I think. But then again, it is a third party toy, which means you know what you’re buying and what you may have to expect. Considering the rather low price for such an item compared to others you can be satisfied in some way. Could have been made better, but could also have been much, much worse.

Conclusion: Well, it is hard to go and tell someone, you need to buy this or just stay the hell away from it. If you are too hung up on the mistakes that were made on this toy, you should probably skip him. If you see him as a third party toy, know what you buy with something like that, and redeem the flaws as good as you can, then you will be left with a figure that can look very cool. Also consider that this is one of the few that can interact with your G1 Tapes and gives you an alternative version as Classics/Henkei Soundwave as well as a good range of motion and very detailed paint apps for a pretty good price compared to other fan toys that may have better quality but less possibilities what you can do with it. And he is bigger than any Scout- and most Deluxe-class figures, more Voyager-sized and lots of accessories are included. Did I mention that he works with G1 Ravage? OK then.

You see, hard to recommend or not. To be honest, a full recommendation is not in the cards, no matter how much you love Soundwave. For me, he was worth it, especially because I did not go for the (way more expensive) Takara Music Label version. The Music Label can play actual mp3 audio files, which explains the higher price tag, but I guess I would not use that function at all. So I prefer the compatibility with the G1 tapes, since I’ve been a big fan of those ever since the G1 cartoon. And all hope that Hasbro or Takara will update Soundwave to Classics/Henkei/Generations/United may be abandoned by now I guess. However, if you have the Music Label version and are satisfied with it, then by all means stay with it and skip Sonicron or maybe go for the Soundblaster repaint that recently showed. Keep the flaws in mind when going for him so that you do not forget what you spend you hard earned money for.

In my opinion, for a good priced Voyager-scale third party figure that brings a classic character into the Classics toy line, it’s good deal. Flaws or not, there are not only downside but also many good things going on here. And the simple but effective interaction with the G1 tapes just made my day. I’m looking into my own Classics/Henkei display and I’m satisfied with what I see. Two grades are given below, one „the way he is out of the package“, including both the good stuff and those unnecessary flaws, and one when the flaws are corrected and „for what he is and offers“, namely one damn good looking Classic Henkei Soundwave with G1 Tapes.

Original Rating: 3-
Corrected Rating: 2-



 
Tags: - BTS Toys - Decepticon - Everyday Object/Tool - Soundwave (G1) - Third Party




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Published 18.10.2011
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