One reason I’ve never gotten back into Transformers is because I felt like there was just too much product out there to get on board. Too many universes, too many different styles, too many different scales, and most significantly, no clear successor to the G1 I grew up with, i.e., no “200x” G1, no “25th Anniversary” G1.1 But when the War for Cybertron (WFC) and Fall of Cybertron (FOC) games came along, it seemed like I might finally have gotten the line I had wanted.
Unfortunately, Grimlock made no appearance in War for Cybertron, and so I passed on the toys (though I now wish I’d picked up Megatron). But when the Dinobot leader was added to the cast of Fall of Cybertron, I knew a new Grimlock was just a matter of time. In the meantime, there was a very cool-looking Shockwave available. I figured I’d need someone for my eventual Grimlock to fight, so I picked him up. Aaaaaand then it turned out that Grimlock was going to be a “Voyager”-class figure, which means it towers over the “Deluxe” Shockwave. (Although I’ll admit I haven’t played enough of the game to know whether that’s actually an accurate size comparison between the two.) Still, FOC Shockwave looked really cool, so I decided to keep him.
I’ve always found Shockwave an interesting character. In developing his bio, Bob Budiansky reportedly envisioned him as an evil Spock, hence his obsession with logic. What he also shares with Spock in a lot of TF fiction is an aptitude for (mad) science and, well, basic competence. Unfortunately, none of this showed up in the original cartoon, where he was little more than Megatron’s consigliere, running things on Cybertron while Megatron fought it out with the Autobots on Earth. As a kid I preferred the Shockwave from the early Marvel comics, where he was an unmitigated badass who kicked the shit out of Megatron, kept Optimus Prime alive as a severed head, and was featured in the greatest Transformers cover of all time.
In the 200-page TF fanfic I wrote as a teen, which took place in the time between the end of the movie and the start of the post-movie cartoon season, Shockwave was a major character. His obsession with logic proved to be a major plot point in the story (think the end of the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”).
Packaging: Hasbro has put so much more time and effort into its boys’ brands than other companies, and that really shows. They’ve got this down to a science. While I’m not sure the red color scheme of the Generations toys are all that eye-catching, the graphics are great, and I like all the information the packaging provides (i.e., the “intermediate” description of the difficulty).
Design & Sculpt: Shockwave is part of Hasbro’s Generations toyline, which, according to its description on the Transformers wiki, “aims to recreate older Transformers characters as new toys and celebrate the history of the brand.” As such, it mixes and matches characters from various continuities, though as of late it’s been heavily focused on the two videogames and the IDW comics (which have already cross-pollinated a bit anyway). This makes perfect sense to me because, as I said, I think the WFC/FOC stuff is as close to a “200X”-style Transformers as anything I’ve seen.
So, the figure is based on Shockwave’s appearance in the videogames. It’s a fantastic look, probably his best since the original toy and arguably his best ever. The sculpt captures the narrow angularity of the game model, although I’m fairly certain it’s not 100% accurate to that look (and I’m sure there are TF fans who could list every minute difference).
I think the biggest bummer about the figure is the size. He’s barely 5½” at the tips of his antennae. For someone who grew up thinking that G1 Optimus Prime, Megatron, Grimlock, and Soundwave were “normal”-sized Transformers, the Voyager scale seems like the “standard” scale to me nowadays, whereas these “Deluxe” figures seem small. I just can’t help but think how much more amazing this figure would be if it were Voyager scale. True, we’re getting Beast Hunters Shockwave in that scale soon, and it does look great, but I still like this design better.
Plastic & Paint: The figure is molded mostly in dark purple, with silver and light pink highlights. The front of the chest and his eye are molded in translucent pink, and the head has a light pipe so that it shines when there’s a light behind it. He seems like a good candidate for a couple of LED lights, and yes, it’s been done.
Transformation: The transformation was more complicated than I expected. This is only an “intermediate” difficulty according to the packaging, but I still had to refer to the instructions (although that was partly because I wasn’t entirely sure what the gun was supposed to look like). I like the completed “space cannon” look – it’s a nice update and makes a lot more sense than a giant handgun, although all that pink and purple does make it look an awful lot like something the Covenant would make.
Articulation: I haven’t bought a Transformer in a while, but back in the 1980s they didn’t have much articulation. That’s not the case with Shockwave. I’m not sure I can really provide a full rundown, since there’s a lot here, but the important parts are that the legs have knee hinges as well as swivels just above the knee, ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed elbows, fairly complicated joints at the shoulders that allow for a ball-joint-like range of movement, and a swivel head. In a perfect world I’d have wished for left-to-right hinged ankles, a ball-jointed head and a swivel waist, but I’m satisfied with what’s here.
Accessories: The G1 Shockwave’s left hand was just a laser gun nozzle. This version has two hands, but he also comes with a gun that he can both hold in his fist and, if you fold in his hand, you can attach the gun to either arm (this isn’t mentioned in the instructions). The gun itself has two parts, and you can pop off the silver-and-pink barrel to reveal three sculpted black barrels beneath. The weapon is based on the “Sling Shock” gun from Fall of Cybertron, which was designed by Shockwave himself. The gun has two tubes sculpted on either side near the back, which I believe is a nod to the vintage figure’s famous rubber tube. The gun can also be stored, either in one part or as two separate parts, on Shockwave’s back.
Quality Control: I’ve put this figure through its paces – it’s hard to put down, I’d forgotten how much Transformers are, in industry parlance, “finger food” – and I’ve had no trouble with it at all.
Overall: This is a really fun, great-looking, well-executed action figure. While I could wish for an extra bit of articulation here and there, the only thing that really bothers me is the height.
…please, please do not let me get back into Transformers.