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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Tetsuro's review of: Shockwave

Name: Shockwave
Allegiance: Destron
Rank: General (albeit questionable)

"Shock...Shock...Shock...Waaaaaave!"

It's fun reading Sir Auros' review of Tidal Wave, the Hasbro version of this figure; as we all know, that version was garishly colored and really didn't look much at all like the big guy's cartoon version. What makes it a specifically amusing read is his mention of a possible Hasbro release of the funkier Takara version, which, in turn, IS cartoon-accurate...almost. Well, that review was written when Armada was still running on television, and we all know that his prediction never came to be, leaving us suckers with the options of either settling for the miscolored Hasbro release or importing Takara's release with its superior color scheme. (I shall not speak of that horrible Energon repaint, though)

There's a story behind this glaring difference in coloring, too; apparently Hasbro's version represents what they wanted for the cartoon as well, but Hasbro's suggestions didn't translate too well for the animators...that, or they simply ignored them, which seems to happen a lot. I don't understand why Hasbro insists on having the Japanese make the cartoons since they will just ignore nearly all of Hasbro's own ideas...though both participants seem equally thick-headed in this matter (Takara having it their way and Hasbro having theirs) which is why you've got glaring continuity errors between Energon and Cybertron...but enough of that for now.

Now, his Japanese name may be Shockwave, but personally I find that name a bit of an ill-fit; Shockwave, in his G1 incarnation, was calmly calculative and ambitious commander among the Decepticon ranks whose intent was made clear when, in his first comic appearance, disabled almost all of the Autobots save one, and subjugated even the mighty Megatron (almost) to his will (cartoon version notwithstanding, however, albeit still somewhat true to his profile). In Armada however, despite Thrust's claims, Shockwave was...not like his G1 incarnation. His limited vocabulary and tendency to repeat his own name as a battle cry didn't help his reputation as an idiot. What he may have lacked in intelligence, he made up in sheer firepower - and his ability to combine with then current decepticon commander, Megatron. But if only to differentiate him from the Hasbro version, I shall refer to him by his Japanese name.

DARK FLEET:

Before I begin, I wish to mention one thing regarding the packaging; so far, Shockwave is the ONLY Transformer from the 'modern' shows I know of that comes blind-boxed. This means that there is absolutely no way to actually see the toy inside, only pictures of him around the box. Also, the front of the box uses a recolored version of the Dreamwave artwork, leaving me wondering who did the recoloring also.

Now, once you get him out of his box (which uses a bubble instead of a million twist-ties; bless Takara for this), he comes packed in his vehicle form. Or should I say vehicles? Shockwave consists of three different naval ships: An aircraft carrier, a missile boat and a hovercraft/transport, each with their own special gimmick. All three also have their own wheels underneath, allowing them to roll on the floor smoothly.

RAMJET:

Like all Armada/Micron Legends TFs, Shockwave too has his own minicon buddy.

And what a cruddy minicon buddy it is. Most minicons have at least some degree of articulation, but this guy reminds me of some G1 era TFs in that his both legs are fixed and his arms bend only at elbow. A lot like Powermaster Prime in his 'basic' mode. He consists of four colors: Red for the face, forearms and thighs, purple for the torso and feet, gold for the cockpit and grey for the legs. He's also really tiny, standing much shorter than his fellow minicons. His alt mode fares slightly better, if only because as a jet he doesn't need articulation, but he's clearly inferior compared to many of the aerial teams among the minicons.

AIRCRAFT CARRIER:

The aircraft carrier is ridiculously undersized of course, even for mini-cons. The aircraft carrier consists of only four visible colors, two of them being different shades of gray. The other two are purple for the decepticon logo at the front and the runway stripes running across the rear, and red for the minicon peg on the roof of the command tower.

This vehicle's gimmick involves interaction with Shockwave's minicon buddy Ramjet, which also displays the reason why they made the small guy...well, so small. Pushing up the lid on the left side of the carrier pushes up a storage compartment, complete with a little minicon peg and slots Ramjet specifically fit into; fold up his wings and cockpit and you can push him back down and inside the carrier for storage. A neat play feature, albeit the only downside is that only Ramjet can fit inside...though at least this way you can hide him out of sight. A particularly nice piece of attention here: the inside of the storage compartment is not lacking detail, the 'roof' even having a bit of gold for a highlight, which is somewhat impressive for a place that is usually not visible. There are two more minicon pegs on the topside of the ship, though they are a bit too close to each other to be used simultaneously.

MISSILE BOAT:

A pontoon/missile/battleship of some kind, this vessel is heavily armed. There are four large double-barreled cannons along with what seem to be missile batteries, all of which can be rotated freely...or, by attaching a minicon on the topmost peg, you can make them all rotate at the same time by pushing the minicon forward. This particular vessel actually has TWO gimmicks. In addition to the aforementioned minicon interactivity, this one also has two missiles up front that can be fired by pushing their respective buttons. On the front pontoons, there seem to be several hatches of some kind, which look like the large missile silos seen on submarines. There is also a minicon peg, one on both pontoons.

Now, earlier in the review, I said he's almost cartoon accurate, and here it is made clear why; the missile boat has some garish orange highlights, whereas in the cartoon, Shockwave was all black/grey/purple. But, compared to the Hasbro version, it's no big deal. The pontoons themselves are purple with orange up front and some black around the silos, and the rest of the boat is very dark grey, almost black. The cannons and batteries are purple with some silver, the command tower is grey with black window, there's some more orange in the rear and finally, there's a tiny purple decepticon logo in the middle.

HOVERCRAFT:

The third and final ship of the trio is some kind of transport hovercraft; the bottom section is shaped like that of a hovercraft, with the addition of two wings on both sides. The front even has a ramp for minicons to ride up to the flat topside of the ship. There are two command towers, only one of which has a window. The colors of this vessel are rather dark, consisting entirely of dark grey and purple, with a bit of silver, black and orange in a few highlights. There are four minicon pegs here, two on the deck, two on both command towers.

Now, the gimmick in this vessel is probably the most fun of all three, one which has been dubbed "party boat mode" by some; flipping both halves of the deck up exposes you to several orange hinges. There are four little tabs that can be flipped down, which serve as seats for minicons (that can sit down), turning the amphibious vehicle transport to a amphibious personnel transport. There may be a slight lack of foot space, but it's an extremely fun feature regardless. However, in my toy at least, I have slight trouble having the other side of the personnel transport remain up.

At this point, you may choose to combine the three vehicles, or use them for...

BATTLE ARMOUR FOR MEGATRON:

...of which my first impression was, for lack of a better word, OVERKILL. I mean, how can you possibly stand against a guy who's got a frikkin' aircraft carrier strapped onto his forearm? Just...HOW?

Okay, this mode, as imposing as it may look, turns Megatron even clumsier than he was before. His arms become far too heavy for him to hold up due to the shoulder ratchets, but fortunately his elbows are tight enough for him to hold his arms up, and he's well-balanced, so he won't tip over easily. Of course, holding two huge boats up like that neuters his rotating turret as well. So, if you thought combining Armada or Cybertron Optimus Prime with all the Autobots he could combine with simultaneously made him awkward-looking, it's nothing compared to this guy.

Fortunately, you also have the option to turn him into...

COMBINED VEHICLE MODE:

...which probably isn't what they call this thing, but hey, I've got to call it something. Anyhow, this mode involves both the missile boat and the hovercraft doing the splits, with the pontoon boat eating up the aircraft carrier while the hovercraft does something unmentionable to the missile boat...whoops, had my mind carry me away there a bit, hehe. But you get the basic idea; combine three naval vessels and you got a funky anime-esque ship that tramples both sea and space alike. Only the missile boat's gimmicks are usable here, though you might be able to use the aircraft carrier's storage compartment too if you've got pianist's fingers like I do.

One of the cool feats about Shockwave is that you do not need to take him apart to transform him into...

ROBOT MODE:

...which is, admittedly, pretty damn impressive, and not just because he is (with the obvious exception of Unicron) the biggest Transformer in the series, standing at 11 inches tall. He's rather thin as well, not all that bulky, making him look much less clumsy than he could be. Employing the same colors as in his vehicle mode, all I can really comment on is the fact that his face has a very nice sculpt; it's simple, but gives him loads of character. Here also is that 'almost cartoon accurate' thing again, as his face is dark grey instead of light grey, like the Hasbro version, though at least they painted his eyes yellow instead of red this time.

He's got a bit of articulation around the arms, too; his arms swivel sideways, and back and forth. His elbows bend as well, although his arms are far from proportionate, lengthwise, the elbows being far too close to his wrists...he even has hands, although he's unable to hold anything really, except a minicon maybe. Naturally, his gimmicks are pretty much disabled here, though you can still use that storage compartment (now on his arm) if you just lift his arm a little.

My biggest gripe is, though, that the missile boat's missiles are sticking out of his armpits, and the slots on his sides for the buttons are too shallow for them to properly fit in, causing them to inadvertently launch for much annoyance. His legs swivel in the same directions as his shoulders, but, without knee articulation, poseability is limited.

CONCLUSION:
Transformation: 6 - Despite the sound of it, it's very easy to transform from one mode to another. After the first time, at least.
Durability: 8 - The individual vehicles are sturdy, and the same can be said about his other modes, most of which can be based on the fact that he's meant to come apart.
Fun: 10 - I really don't think it's fair to give him anything less. He's loaded with a level of gimmicks and interactivity you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. This guy's packing when it comes to play value. Plus, despite having no guns to hold in his grimy hands, all the weapons he needs are right there on his chest.
Price: Okay, this is the Takara version we're talking about, so he might carry a heavier price tag than his Hasbro edition...however, at the time of the writing of this review, his price tag seems to be pretty equal with a MISB Tidal Wave, so I can safely recommend him if you do not yet possess any version of this mold. In fact, I'm recommending him anyway, because this paintjob is superior to both of the other offerings.
Overall: 9 - He looks good, he feels good, he's fun to play with...what's not to love? Well okay, the combined mode with Megatron looks ludicrous, but hey, at least it makes up for Prime's ability to combine with his minions, too.

 
 
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