Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: Shockwave

With BotTFCon coming up, I've been rummaging around in my toy bins, trying to put together a complete list of the parts I need to complete various folks, from my Slugfest whose package was missing a gun, to my shell-and-robot-only Carnivac, to Side Burn whose small gun disappeared almost as soon as I got him (shouldn't have opened him in Phil Zeman's car, maybe?), to my poor old Shockwave with his right leg snapped off at the knee.

Poor Shockwave? Hell, he's in damn good shape considering how long I've had him -- since my 12th birthday, October '85. His electronics still work perfectly (as I discovered to my delight a day or two ago); he's hardly got a mark on him aside from that bum knee; his rubber hose is in fine shape; his sights scope is fine; he's still got his gun barrel; his shoulders haven't split the way I recall others having problems with; even his Decepticon insignia is in pretty good shape. About the only other problem is a loose elbow joint on the gun arm. He's also missing a little bit of the gold paint on his eye, worn away by years of transforming, and has a little bit of rust on his screws and metal parts -- but nothing big enough to really matter.

This is all the more remarkable since he's always been on of my very favorite Transformer toys -- from the moment I first saw him in the stores, right up to today. I spent a good chunk of 1985 pining for this guy. I loved his character in the comics, and the way he was drawn in US issues #7 & #8 was absolutely superb (the only time I can think of where they managed to make the fictional character look nicer than the toy itself, actually. They always kind of made him look fat and doofy in the cartoon, and they inexplicably carried the rim around his face all the way across, instead of leaving it off the bottom like the toy. This minor detail has always bugged me greatly.) He was THE one toy I wanted above all others. And I played with him a lot over the years. And if I EVER get that knee fixed, he'll go back into rotation for display. I'd love to have him menacing my new Wal-Mart Dinobots. Into the tar pits, primatives!! My BC wish list includes a junker Shockwave with an intact knee joint, though I'm not holding my breath. Still, Monocle and I have this great plan where we split up a junker -- he gets the rubber hose, I get the knee. Heh. It's a nice fantasy, at least.

I still find that he's an absolutely beautiful mold. He's the perfect example of simple elegance in design. His transformation is hardly anything complex; basically he leans over and puts his arms over his head. Yet because he's so well sculpted, his parts all fall together to effectively look like a gun. A future space laser gun, yes, but still a credible one. This is what I'm talking about when I gripe about guys like Tigerhawk looking like a jumble of robot parts in their alt modes. Seal up a couple of joint lines, and Shockwave could pass as a non-transforming toy laser gun. The only incongruous element is the backpack hinges.

In robot mode, Shockwave is well-proportioned and has a nicely sinister, alien look to him -- most prominently in his lack of a proper face, and with the replacement of one hand with a gun arm. I should mention here that for my purposes, "nicely proportioned" doesn't mean "humanly proportioned", but just that he looks *right* somehow. A human with his proportions would look massively deformed, with huge shoulders, a baby's head, and freakish bow legs. The same holds for most of the G1 animation models, actually -- it's definately not their resemblance to human form that makes them appealing to my eye. For a point of comparison on this, go check out the TFU entries for the Seacons. Their robot modes are given unusually large heads, close in proportion to what a human would have... and it makes them look like freaks.

Anyway! Getting back to Shockwave --

Proportionally, my only complaint is that his legs, when viewed from the front, are rather thin and stick-like, the unavoidable result of their forming his gun handle. His knees also have a tendency to wear down the tabs inside them which hold him up in robot mode, causing his legs to collapse in on themselves and leaving you with a rather stumpy little Shockwave.

He's laden with details, yet they blend in with his overall appearance. He doesn't look "busy" the way many toys do; he just looks... well-sculpted. Most of his body is just plain dark purple; there are a few grey bits, metal upper legs and feet, clear pinkish-purple for his chest, fist, arm-gun and sights scope, and gold paint on his eye in robot mode. That's it. It's simple, it's clean, it's elegant, it's low-key, and it *works*. Sometimes a rainbow of bizarre, dissonant colors is fun (Buzzclaw, anyone?)... but Shockwave is proof positive that it isn't always necessary. That clear plastic, incidentally, is put to brilliant use on his chestplate, allowing you to see the diodes and wires and whatnot hidden away inside his chest.

Shockwave has pretty good articulation, especially for G1; in the first two years of Transformers, only Jetfire definatively beats him. It'd be nice if his arms could rotate forward at the shoulders, a feat that would be almost a given if he were designed today. Otherwise, he's got full motion at the elbows, can swing his arms out to the sides from the shoulders, can turn his head, and bends at the thighs and knees. Not too bad.

Overall -- I still regard this as one of the best 4 or 5 toys from all of G1. It's too bad he goes for such insane prices today (couple hundred bucks on Ebay for a boxed one. Aieee.) Worth getting if you can afford it.

Postscript: I ended up buying a whole Shockwave leg from a dealer for a delightfully low price, something like three bucks. Shockwave is now fully functional once again.

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