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Blackjack's Review: Fall of Cybertron Shockwave

Name: Shockwave
Allegiance: Decepticon
Size Class: Deluxe Class
Accessories: Gun Assembly, Gun Barrel

While practically every first-year cast bar Gears had a new toy in the Classics line, there are some whose revival as a Classics toy would prove problematic. The Dinobots, for one, or the Insecticons… Hasbro seems to be keeping beast-formers at a minimum. The Constructicons as well… one could only imagine how badly the line would bomb if they made six identically-coloured new moulds, and don’t even mention the distribution. Chances are only four Constructicons would get released and the other two would only show up in Takara markets or something. Soundwave and the cassettes are anachronisms, but HasTak has unashamedly reissued them around a billion times, and he eventually got a new mould based on the War for Cybertron design.

What about Shockwave, though? The logic-based, emotionless, gun-armed, one-eyed Decepticon who totally handed Megatron his ass on a plate and led the Decepticons for a good majority of the Marvel comics? And was a fairly important guy in the cartoon?

See, Shockwave’s original G1 toy was not a mould that originally belonged to Takara… or, if it is, Takara probably destroyed the moulds in a fit of madness alongside the Dinobots, Mirage and Wheeljack. In any case, if the moulds still exist they would probably already release Shockwave three times, plus an e-Hobby exclusive, so it’s a fair bet the original Shockwave mould is either destroyed or out of bounds legally.

To be fair, Shockwave did receive an Alternators toy, transforming into a Mazda, but ‘Shockblast’ really wasn’t an accurate representation of the giant space gun we all know and love… other incarnations of Shockwave in other continuities has been hit and miss. Energon gave us a ‘Shockblast’, which was a complete mess of a toy. Transformers Cybertron slapped the name Shockwave on a random Minicon repaint to retain the trademark once they got it back. There was a new Shockwave in Transformers Animated, which was a highly awesome character but he turned into a tank and was grey, plus he was mostly an original character as compared to a new version of G1 Shockwave. The War for Cybertron game gave us a new redesign for Shockwave, but he’s DLC, and in any case there are many characters above him in line to get a new toy. The third live-action movie introduced us to an all new Shockwave, and while he is a growling, giant sandworm-summoning beast master, his design was wholly awesome and managed to be both muscular and skeletal… but, again, like Animated Shockwave, he felt like a separate character to G1 Shockwave.

Of course, the big push for Shockwave in the third movie had borne fruit, and Shockwave became a main character in the Fall of Cybertron game. Yes, yes, all you people who listen to Hasbro’s Q&A or whatever may claim that Fall of Cybertron is in the Prime continuity and all that, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a G1 game. Unless in the third game Bulkhead, Knock Out and blue Arcee shows up, it’s a G1 game with elements of TF: Prime mixed in.

And, well, since this second Generations line has just been released, it decided to tie in with Fall of Cybertron and release several new toys. I’m very, very apathetic at getting Optimus Prime mold #153 or a sub-par, miscoloured Bruticus, but two toys caught my attention… we’re finally getting a new Insecticon toy, and, finally, finally a new toy of G1 Shockwave.

I immensely enjoyed the Animated and Movie versions of the chap, and I have both their Voyager class toys standing on display, but as I said as much as I like them, they are not G1 Shockwave. So I picked Generations Shockwave up the first chance I could get. Is this Cybertronian version of Shockwave viable enough, or should we keep looking? Read on and decide for yourself.

Alternate Mode:
I’ve never been a big fan of Cybertronian mode toys. They usually look good on the screen or page, but as toys I’m not very fond of the odd-looking ‘tanks’ or ‘jets’. The fact that I can’t think of any good designs that made it into toy form since, well, G1, doesn’t help either. I mean, Prime Megatron or Movie Megatron or ROTF Megatron or whatever, they look awesome on screen but their toys are pretty random, honestly. Shockwave’s movieverse counterpart, likewise, suffers from transforming into a jumbled pile of parts that could only be charitably called a ‘tank’. The WFC toys, apart from Megatron, who’s basically a generic futuristic tank, turn into… well, completely random things. Bumblebee suffers the least, turning into a rather nice Tron light-cycle crossed with a Volkswagen, but it did not translate very well into toy form. Optimus Prime turns into a shoe, and Soundwave turns into a block.

Now, well, the original Shockwave transformed into a futuristic space gun. A forty feet, flying space gun, which is so completely random it’s awesome.

Modern incarnations of Shockwave have generally been futuristic tanks (the odd Mazda aside), to take on the artillery theme the original left us with. Energon Shockblast was a satellite in addition to a tank, which would actually be quite nice, but it’s not so much as a satellite as ‘random pile of robot parts’. Now in my head I always see Shockwave as a big floating gun, and apparently the designers at High Moon Studios thought the same, and revived the ‘flying’ aspect of Shockwave’s alternate mode… he now transforms into a jet, but it’s not really a jet. It’s a dreadnought of some sort, resembling a blockier version of the original Decepticon warship the Nemesis.

Of course, it doesn’t really resemble a warship per se, it more looks like something out of Battleship, but at least it doesn’t look like a shoe with wheels. Of course, it is a jumble of robot parts rearranged, but they are mostly hidden… and who’s to say whatever alien ship Shockwave scanned doesn’t have toes pointing out of the front? Or folded-up arms masquerading as engine intakes or something? Still, hull plates are sharp and angled, and the front-swept wings look pretty menacing in contrast to the very blocky design of the main body. It doesn’t look at all like it could fly… and neither did Shockwave’s forty-feet long space gun. It’s marvelous.

And, to add to the space gun analogue, the center of the vehicle mode is very distinctly a cannon, mainly the big gonzo gun he carries around in robot mode. It’s shaped like an inverted Y, and you can just believe that this thing isn’t really a jet, but a flying gun emplacement or something that’s shooting rays of destructive energy at Autobots. Sort of.

Shockwave is almost mainly a dark shade of purple, with black and silver accenting his paint scheme. The robot mode arms and feet are black, as is the main reactor of the cannon. The barrel of the cannon is silver (although the tip is covered by purple kibble) and the wingtips and some other details on the hull are silver as well. A clear shade of pink colour parts of the cannon and what would become Shockwave’s chest, and the tip of the cannon is painted in pink. Not sure about the usage of pink, but it actually brightens up Shockwave a little instead of making him look drab.

So, well, it’s a passable alternate mode. Not very good, of course, and I’d much prefer a giant flying space gun, but since we can’t have that and tanks are played out we get this instead, which is quite passable… but then, I didn’t buy Shockwave for his alternate mode, no. It’s, like, a bonus to the main dish.

Robot Mode:
Shockwave’s transformation is rather simple, yet satisfying. Although it’s rather evident the designers designed this toy with the robot mode in mind… Shockwave nails down everything important about the G1 character. The hexagonal head with a single eye and sharp ears, that hexagonal chest, a gun arm with a hose, a broad upper body, a boxy backpack and long, lanky legs. This Shockwave toy chose to replicate the skinny legs of the original toy as opposed to the bulkier one his fictional appearances have used, which is actually quite a nice looking appearance.

Transformation includes his head popping up with the aid of springs because that’s what Hasbro’s thing is. The springs feel rather tight and I worry that if I transform him too many times the springs may give away.

He is, of course, still gloriously purple, with pink, silver and black accenting some details, but otherwise he’s as purple as Shockwave ever gets. There is a fair bit of new detailing revealed. His lower legs have pink and silver accents, his crotch has silver and parts of his abdomen have pink. There is a tiny Decepticon insignia under the hexagonal chest. The jumble of wires that serve as his neck (which I absolutely love) is cast in black plastic, and his head, obviously, had silver ears or horns or what-have-you. Tragically his eye is red to be show-accurate, which is a shame… I’ve always preferred Shockwave’s original yellow eye, the red does not make his single eye as distinct as it could have been.

His red eye light-pipes something fierce, which makes him even more awesome. The eye, it wants to glow and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Shockwave is a WFC design, however, and he has several differences with his G1 design. I have already mentioned the lanky legs, but other than that are the wings jutting out of his back, Seeker-style. I wouldn’t mind this so much if the wings don’t have these pterodactyl ‘claws’ on the medial position, but it’s a minor quibble. It does take getting some time to get used to those wings, but I do not think they ruin Shockwave’s design at all. If anything, it helps Shockwave to look even larger and more threatening than before. Another difference would be the giant triangular gun thing. The original Shockwave has this small barrel instead of a fist, and a hose running from his back to his arm, but Generations Shockwave replaces this assembly with simply a giant gun, and the hoses run on the gun itself instead of looping towards the back. It makes sense, actually, not to have a weak spot hanging around where anyone can rip it off, but it was what Shockwave looked like before, and I thought it was a shame this was changed. The giant gun arm wasn’t exactly to my tastes either.

Modern Deluxe toys, however, are decently shorter than older Deluxe class toys. Hasbro has been doing some downsizing lately since Dark of the Moon, and as a result Shockwave has substantially less mass compared to other Deluxe toys. Now Shockwave isn’t as noticeable as the horrible FOC Jazz or Optimus were. His lanky legs and wings help out in making him rather tall. He is about the height of Classics Starscream, and is actually one head taller than shorter Deluxe toys like Thunderwing. It’s very nice that Shockwave won’t be dwarfed by other Deluxe toys.

Articulation wise, though, Shockwave suffers a little. He’s got double-jointed shoulders, double-jointed elbows, hinged wrists, as well as a ball-jointed head. His thighs are ball-jointed, and his knees are hinged… and that’s about it. The wings and feet can move a little, but that’s more because of transformation than anything, and unless you have a desire for Shockwave to wear a tutu and do ballet, his feet articulation is useless. His chest, abdomen and waist cannot move and is simply one big block. The long legs also feel rather unarticulated due to their length but it’s actually quite nicely done. Shockwave doesn’t have any kibble to block articulation, so unlike his WFC compatriots he can pull off any pose you like. Brandishing his cannon, typing in a computer, ‘ARE ALL DEAD’, the aforementioned ballet pose…

Don’t like Shockwave’s giant silver-tipped gun? Well, the silver barrel slides off quite easily to reveal a triple-barreled rifle underneath. It’s a nice feature, and I think I do prefer this configuration as it bears more resemblance to the original Shockwave’s thin gun arm. The gun assembly is removable, and you actually have to remove it to transform him into vehicle mode, but it pegs very, very securely when you attach it to his arm, as if it was meant to stay there forever and ever. And stay there forever it shall. As a feature of a modern toy, Shockwave’s gun can peg onto his backpack for storage or be held by his fists, but whyever would you do that? That would be stupid.

Shockwave has two hands, yes, but you can fold in one of them when you attach the gun and it’s unnoticeable. Get over it. The gun assembly pegs in very, very nicely, with no indication that he originally has two hands before, and the shoulder and elbow joints are very tight so the hand won’t droop when he points his gun forwards.

What is there to say? If you’re looking for a modern representation of G1 Shockwave, this toy is your man. It is flawed, of course, and if this was anyone else but Shockwave the review wouldn’t be quite so glowing, but Shockwave is not flawed enough to be a bad toy.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 5/10 It isn’t so much as a transformation as to turn him into a random jumble of robot parts that happen to look like a half-convincing dreadnought… but the transformation is fun to do and does not compromise the robot mode. I don't quite like the fact that you have to detach the gun arm every time you turn him into vehicle mode... Shockwave really likes to have a gun arm and it's a bit terrifying trying to pry the gun off his wrist.

Durability: 8/10 The legs feel slightly flimsy due to their thinness, and the spring that reveal his head worry me, but other than that Shockwave surprisingly feels very solid. I haven’t tried dropping him on anything to test out that theory, though.

Aesthetics: 8/10 He isn’t quite perfect, but the robot mode is unmistakably G1 Shockwave, and a great representation of the character design in the game to boot. The vehicle mode isn’t half bad either, and, again, actually a nice representation of the design of the jet in the game.

Articulation: 7/10 It’s not quite as much as older Classics toys… but really, it’s noticeable only because Shockwave has these long legs. If they were blockier like Starscream no one would even complain. Hell, Shockwave is more articulated than Starscream!

Fun: 10/10 I absolutely had fun with my Shockwave. I’ve always wanted a G1 Shockwave since I first saw him in the comics. And I finally have him.

Price/Value: 5/10 Eh, it’s not that he’s a bad figure, it’s that I’m paying a slightly higher price for a toy that has less mass than past Deluxe class toys.

Overall: 7/10 Shockwave won’t wow you, I won’t lie. Looks aside, there’s nothing special here that hadn’t been done countless times in other transformers. He’s got a normal transformation, a normal range of articulation… he’s a very average toy objectively. However, he is Shockwave, and a very decent toy of one at that. And if you, like me, look for characters first and foremost, you should grab him. And that’s… logical.
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