Tetsuro's Review: Masterpiece MP-29 Shockwave
Military Operations Commander
"Clarity of thought before rashness of action."
Shockwave is one of those fun characters whose personality and function vary a great deal between continuities; however, unlike the likes of Soundwave, whom writers desperately attempt (and fail) to simply reconcile with the cartoon and comic versions, there's not exactly a lot of love for Shockwave, the almighty janitor of Cybertron; virtually all modern representation go for, or at least strongly lean towards, the "logical, ambitious rival of Megatron" approach.
Which is pretty understandable; while kids of the 80's remember Soundwave for his cool voice, the cartoon Shockwave was something of a pushover, whose only really memorable aspect was Corey Burton doing a David Warner impression. And that's really not something that'll stick with children.
Better for us, I suppose.
The inclusion of Shockwave in the Masterpiece has met some controversy, not so much for his inclusion - indeed, it seemed inevitable really - but because there have already been two third-party attempts at a Masterpiece-level Shockwave toy. I would love to give my opinion on the subject, but since I don't collect 3P toys, I'd just sound like an asshole if I did.
Aka. the gun. Was the alternate mode ever named in fiction? Certainly not in the 80's, not beyond just "laser gun" or "Cybertronian laser gun" anyway, which was what it was called in the instructions. Either way, Shockwave comes packaged in his gun mode, that glorious futuristic laser gun that was originally released by ToyCo as Galactic Man, and then in Radio Shack stores as...uh...wait, no, Galactic Man is
the Radio Shack version; the original ToyCo version went by such an awesome name as "4 Changeable Astro Magnum". Which would make you think he has four modes. Which he sorta does, in the same way Autoceptor has "hundreds" of vehicle and robotic forms; apart from two of them, they all look freakin' stupid.
Not that it matters, the MP can't really pull them off anyway. And speaking of pulling things off, the barrel is a fixed piece this time, and actually becomes part of a "perfect" transformation, forming Shockwave's backpack, in an acceptable break from cartoon accuracy. To this end, a transforming backpack is provided - by which I mean it Transforms into a stand for the gun mode. Which I'm hopefully still talking about. See, unlike the original G1 toy, the feet don't just flip out so you can display him in gun mode, they are hindered by necessity of the transformation. On the plus side, the notorious cable that connects the arm to the torso is no longer crap rubber, but a kind of spring with...something inside it. It's far more flexible and durable than the original, and thanks to the new electronics of this thing, no longer needs to house wires - because of this, it actually comes detached in box, in a separate baggy. Just pop it in and you're good to go.
Speaking of electronics, instead of a single 9V battery for the whole thing, you now put two sets of batteries inside him; two LR44s go inside his barrel/arm, and two triple-As inside his back. Both are hold shut with a screw and can be a bit tricky to open at first, forcing you to pull the hatches upwards at the same time as turning the screw. Also, there are no sound effects, but you do get a nice pair of LEDs (in pink!) in both his arm and his barrel; turns out, the die cast column that now connects the barrel to the backpack also houses the wiring for the gun mode LED. There is a switch on the side to toggle between two effects; one simply lights it up while holding the trigger down, the other makes the LED blink with a surprisingly long pulsing effect.
The gun mode is very solid, and thanks to the die cast rod holding the barrel, also means that the barrel doesn't "flop" even if the elbow joints turn up loose. My only real gripe with this mode is that there's hardly any clearance between the trigger and Shockwave's chest, even with my tiny pianist fingers I can only hold it with the tip of my finger, which is really awkward.
The transformation is rather creative, and although much of it is pretty much exactly as it was on the original, the rear end of the gun now folds into his legs, bulking them up, while the barrel, sorta folding together, forms a new backpack.
The robot mode is really nice looking, and I particularly like the silver-painted "fake" electronics inside his chest, harkening back to the original toy. Speaking of electronics, Shockwave brandishes a button on his forearm which triggers the LED in his left forearm, except this one only does the pulsing light effect. However, since the painted gun is not painted on the inside, the light bleeds right through it anyway, so why not pop in the toy-accurate clear hands? The light effect certainly looks more impressive that way. Speaking of alternate hands, Shockwave comes with a bunch; you get a pair of articulated gripping hands as well as "salute" hand, in both light lavender plastic and clear. In fact, all of the greys on Shockwave aren't really monochrome, but have a very subtle lavender hue to them, which complements the darker lavender colour nicely. He's got a light-piped monoeye, but this is rendered in the kind of bright yellow which looks sickly green when there isn't a light being shined into it; gold probably would have worked a lot better. He's also got diecast feet.
A rather odd choice on TT's behalf is the sticker sheet. Which in itself is something of a contested issue, after all, why have something like this after all the tampoed and sculpted symbols on previous Masterpieces? But the real oddity here is that you get a choice of two different style Decepticon symbols, an "accurate" one, and an "animation style" one, the latter being a bit boxier shaped with tiny eyes. Which is a nice touch, but considering no previous MP came with something like that, they'd look somewhat out of place with the rest of your MPs. I've just opted not to apply any of them, instead waiting for some Reprolabel ones to show up.
The colour of this guy has also been highly debated, mostly thanks to Takara's love for this particular shade - he's only marginally darker than the reissue Galvatron - which tends to photograph very differently depending on the lighting and camera settings, appearing lilac in some and almost blue in others. It is very cartoon accurate, where this type of colour was also rarely portrayed consistently, but again, it doesn't really fit in with the other Masterpieces which went for a nice compromise between animation model and toy; Shockwave is heavily inclined towards the former, much like the at-the-time-of-writing-this upcoming recolour of Red Alert.
The stand for the gun mode folds up and clips over the barrel on his back, forming a more cartoon-accurate backpack. There is also a normal left hand, if you want to recreate the animation error from MTMTE where he was briefly shown with two hands. The sole remaining accessory is Shockwave in gun mode, but tiny, so he can wield it, like in Desertion of the Dinobots part 1. Funny how animation errors become canon, eh?
What about the articulation? He's got ratcheted elbow joints that rotate about 100 degrees both ways, ball joint wrists, ratcheted shoulder joints - three of them in fact, one back and forth, two up and down on both sides - although the other of the two is intended for the transformation - moving skirt pieces, ratcheted hip joints, ratcheted knee joints, ratcheted ankle joints, unratcheted ankle tilts...but the most baffling decision is the outwards hip motion. Not only are they based entirely on friction, but they are very loose right out of the box, making any kind of extreme posing a chore. Fortunately, it's nothing a few spins with a screwdriver won't fix, but I'm not sure how long you can keep doing that. And speaking of loose, he's rather back heavy, mostly thanks to the chunk of die cast that's part of his backpack, so he leans quite a bit on his heels - and although pulling him up by the waist unclips it from his hips, giving him a waist joint (with ab crunch!), he tends to slant backwards even more.
Also I'm totally just gonna use the salute hand to pose him slapping Autobots. Because that's funny. Also maybe a limp-wristed Shockwave, but that wouldn't be as funny, just wrong.
Transformation Design: 8
- A remarkably simple affair, lending a great deal from his G1 predecessor, but the way the rear of the gun folds inside the legs is genius. TT did well updating the old toy for the new era.
- The only real points of concern are the die cast parts (the stand clips around it, scraping the paint) and the fact that you have to pull up on his head to clip his collar into the chest, the head which is only attached by a small ball joint and a peg.
- Some of you might disagree, but I wish he had some sound effects to go with the lights. In spite of this, the gun mode is solid and fun.
- Much in the same way as Star Saber, Shockwave translates fairly well into a toy, thanks to his already toyetic look and design. The only thing he lacks is shelf presence; if he were an inch taller, he'd be a winner.
- The moving skirt pieces and actual shoulders mean he has even more articulation than the original, allowing him to strike all sorts of dynamic poses; ironic for an emotionless character.
- While he has some faults, they are easily outnumbered by the positives. I think out of all the MPs I've purchased so far, the only toy to have made a better transition from animation into plastic was Star Saber.