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

Name: Shockwave
Function: Decepticon Deep Cover Spy
Subgroup: TFAnimated Voyager Vehicles

“Secrets are the foundation of power.”

Shockwave is the ultimate spy. Able to change his voice, energy, signature, and even his appearance at will, he has spent years infiltrating the Autobots power structure. Graduating near the top of the class from the Autobot Academy, he moved through the ranks of the Elite Guard*, eventually becoming head of the Intelligence Division. Not once did anyone suspect the bright, friendly Autobot know as Longarm of being a devious enemy spy.

Galactic Powers and Abilities:
-Expert code breaker and thief
-Enjoys blackmailing Autobots in positions of power
-Stole his Autobot identity from old historical files

*In the Animated cartoon Longarm Prime is head of the Cybertron Intelligence Division, but he is not actually a part of the Elite Guard.

In the G1 cartoon, Shockwave was Megatron’s long-suffering man on Cybertron voiced by Cory Burton. In the Animated cartoon, Shockwave is Megatron’s man (suffering or not we don’t know yet) on Cybertron voiced by Cory Burton. Otherwise, the two have little in common. At this point in the cartoon (Season 2 has just ended), we really don’t know much about Shockwave at all. About the only thing that is known, is represented here in toy form. Shockwave, as a spy, can transform into his own tank mode (not yet seen on the show) and into Longarm as well as “Longarm’s” alt mode, that of a crane. The idea is pretty impressive, though not exactly new. Punch/Counterpunch from G1 also had two robot mode configurations. However, it’s not a concept that’s been revisited in toy form since. That alone made me want to take a look at this figure.

Since Longarm is a doubly fictional character (well, he’s the alter ego of an imaginary character...), I’ll refer to him as “Infiltration” mode in the respective parts of the review.

Alternate Mode:

Shockwave’s true vehicle mode is an “H-tank”. For a while, as I was fiddling with him, I really hated this mode. I thought it looked nothing like a tank. The proportions were wrong, and it just seemed like a jumbled mess. Then, I rotated the turret 180 degrees so that it pointed toward the longer legs of the “H” and the change in perception was substantial. I won’t claim that it’s suddenly the BEST EVAR! but I can look at and see a tank rather than a robot lying on its belly.

As noted, the tri-barrel turret turns a full circle. All three barrels can angle up, with the smaller barrels having far more freedom. They can angle down a bit and angle up at any point on a circle until they are in their “hidden” position pointing straight back. Although, the red tips on the side barrels look like eyes on stalks, the articulation gives him multi-attitudinal aiming capabilities. Even so, it’s not too exciting. Even less exciting are the “rolling” wheels in the treads.

Aside from some rivets and a few instances of grooving, the figure is largely smooth, in keeping with the Animated style. Though, being a military vehicle , Shockwave looks slightly less cartoonish than others; on the other hand, having an alt mode that is completely fictional (and not particularly viable) might negate any gains on that count.

Very dull grey plastic populates the majority of the figure. The rest, black, off-white, and a metallic teal break up the grey parts, in no small thanks to being the colours of the mode’s main and only weapon. A bit of silver emblazons the Decepticon coat-of-arms near the end of his barrel, and red fills in the muzzle flashes of the two smaller cannon.

All in all, while there’s nothing horribly wrong with this mode, it just doesn’t stand out as exceptional either.

Infiltration Mode:

A crane is a bit rarer an alt mode than a tank, and I don't think we've seen one in quite this configuration before, so Shockwave gets kudos for that. The only real differences between this mode and his vehicle mode are the angle of his treads and (admittedly cool automorph) reconfiguring of the cannon into a crane. Whether anyone, after having seen his true alt mode, would think that this an entirely new figure, I’m not so sure of. Then there’s the Decepticon symbol in clear view underneath the crane arm. Oops.

Like his tank mode, this has no major flaws, and I think that it would have worked well enough on its own (assuming they gave it a gimmick of some sort).

Robot Mode:

If Shockwave’s alternate mode was a bit boring, it’s because all the effort was put into his robot mode! He takes the ultra-thin Animated aesthetic to an extreme that makes him look scarecrow-esque while maintaining enough bulk in his limbs to refrain from looking gangly. Amazingly, he’s slightly taller than Lockdown! Finally! Other highlights. He has wicked pincer hands, each finger with independent articulation. A translucent red plastic bauble gives him the classic Shockwave cyclops eye, and he has a nice shiny gold Decepticon emblem on his chest. I’d also like to take this opportunity to address a misconception I’ve heard others bandy about: that his Infiltration mode’s face is visible. While this does seem to be the case at first (this was another disappointment I had when first playing with him), Shockwave’s false face can actually swing completely upward, leaving Shockwave with the wholly black face as depicted in the cartoon.

Colours are largely the same as his alt mode. Pure white is the only new colour, appearing on his chest. Black makes a larger bid here as well, side-lining the grey to a large extent.

Articulation is fabulous. His transformations require many joints, but almost all of them end up in useful places. Please note that the instruction sheet has Shockwave mistransformed. Besides the aforementioned face-tilt, the entire neck assembly can extend, allowing Shockwave neck articulation superior to any other figure in the line. A second note: There have been reports that his “thumb” claws are held so tightly that the plastic breaks when rotating the part. If this part feels tight, play it safe! Use a screwdriver (2.5mm Phillip’s Head worked best for me) to loosen the nearest screw the highly scientific measurement of a smidgen. In layman’s terms that's about a quarter to a half turn.

My only complaint here comes from the chin strap on Shockwave’s helmet. It keeps popping off, which, while annoying in an of itself, makes it easily lost. Could also be a choking hazard for animals and small children.

Overall, a good showing here.

Infiltration Mode:

First off, kudos to Hasbro. This is exactly what an Infiltration mode should be. It uses all the same parts as the robot mode, yet feels like a completely different character. Where his robot mode was long of limb, this mode is short and stocky. All Shockwave’s robot parts are present, some of them quite obvious, yet none of them ruin the effect. However, if you look at the pictures accompanying this review, you’ll see what does ruin the effect. Yep, he forgot to take the Decepticon logo off his crane arm! D’oh!

Unsurprisingly, the only colour difference from robot mode is the silver Autobot symbol on his chest (which, by the way, can easily become scuffed in tank mode). Likewise, Shockwave’s articulation remains about the same; he only loses his head movement. In another clever bit, though I suppose this is cheating, Shockwave can use the same ability which gave him the name “Longarm” in the episode “Autobot Camp”. All you need to do, naturally, is to transform one or more limbs into Shockwave’s regular configuration. This looks much more impressive using the legs rather than the arms, I’ll admit. Either way it does add a bit of play value.

This mode has a lot going for it. I am quite pleased.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: Easy going from vehicle to robot, but a bit fiddly the other way round. 4

Durability: Everything seems sturdy so far, but he does have lots of little hinges and tabs, so I wouldn’t recommend rough play. 6

Fun: Neither of this alt modes are particularly exciting, but his robot modes are both pretty awesome. Also, the automorph that flips out the crane arm or barrel on his weapon is far more enjoyable than it has right to be. But then, I'm easily amused. 8

Price: $20 USD. Overall, I think it’s a good deal. 7

Overall: Shockwave is a toy born out of an interesting concept. It’s no doubt difficult to make a figure that turns into two distinct vehicles and a robot, and since Shockwave is supposed to turn have a second completely different robot with it’s own alt’s understandable that there would have to be some sacrifices somewhere. I believe that the goods points out-weight enough of the flaws to recommended him. 8.
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