When the best Decepticon transforms into an antique

I found my vintage Soundwave Transformer, the best Decepticon from the 1980s, can change into an anachronism

Pictured: Soundwave, both his glorious original form and his recent "can't even beat Bumblebee" incarnation (Dreamworks)

There are moments in a Gen X dad’s life when he presents to his child(ren) the treasures of the past that he has kept perched on a shelf or desk, never to be touched until said children promise not to break them. I have Sir Robin from Monty Python and the Holy Grail on my desk to the left, looking over my shoulder whenever I work. Above me on a shelf the vampire Mister Burns (from a Simpsons Halloween Special) stands beside Hank Scorpio, surely plotting something diabolical.

Most of you who lived through the glorious pop culture era of the 1980s will recognize Soundwave immediately. While the original Transformers cartoon is chock full of cool characters, I thought none could compete with Megatron’s loyal spy. Soundwave, by far the best Decepticon, with the cool voice and expressionless face, usually stood off to the side waiting for orders, but when called upon he rarely failed. This toy usually stands (sometimes as a robot, sometimes as a malicious tape deck radio) beside the vampire Mister Burns as well. While on work conference calls, I will often transform him back and forth to while away the boredom.

Sometime not long ago, my then 10-year-old son found the small, evil robot bird Laser Beak cassette (it was cool in the 80s, alright?). He asked me what it was, and the moment came for me to introduce him to the awesomeness of my vintage Soundwave Transformer.

I could not figure out where to start.

I was shocked how hard it was to describe what a robot bird/cassette is to someone who had heard plenty about robots but has no idea what a cassette is. The best analogy I came up with was “like Blu Ray but in a plastic case, with a coil of thin plastic inside it.” I realized that his formative years were devoid of music devices that required one to insert physical objects into them to play (the infant friendly Veggitales music DVDs have been collecting dust for years). 

I wasn’t painting a very good picture, but I wasn’t going to stop. Soundwave deserved better. So I wound up digging through some old boxes in our basement until I finally found a real cassette to show him. The context finally established, I was able to finally regale him with the story of Laser Beak and his master Soundwave.

“Huh,” he shrugged in awe.

It was worth it.


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