Sunday, September 2, 2007


[Shockwave: lecturing kids on how to blast your opponent away]
Written by GL

Sorry again for the long delay of your retro-info addiction, super-friends. I finally got my Photoshop back, and my desktop, on track - and hopefully the rest of the week (and the weeks that follow after) will flow smoothly. But, enough about me, it's time for our Generation I weekly feature.

Today's entry is about a dude (that I had growing up) that's probably one of the coolest hand-held weapon mode Transformers ever. I'd also stake that he had, at the time, one of the most complicated transformation mechanics. We're talking about Shockwave.

Shockwave (or Laserwave in Japan) was eternally a Decepticon. He was usually known best for his ability to transform into a laser cannon, his single cannon hand and his single robotic eye (that made up his whole face). Little known fact: Shockwave was the Decepticons' military operations commander. Some say Shockwave's power was second only to Megatron's, but that is debatable. The guy is cold, brutal and as perfect as one would expect of a purely mechanical being to be.

[The Two Most Powerful Decepticons: I like your single eye]

Keep in mind that Shockwave never traveled to Earth, and therefore he was never modified from his Cybertron mode - a 35-foot-long ray gun. He can fly in both modes, and can emit beams of energy in a wide variety of forms. Although his energy output makes him inefficient, he can store energy in his chest.

[Gun Mode: that's pretty big]

In the animated series, when Megatron was preparing to lead his troops in pursuit of Optimus Prime, Shockwave was instructed to stay behind and guard Cybertron in Megatron's absence. Swearing that Cybertron would remain as Megatron left it, Shockwave performed his duty for four million years, while the Transformers were in stasis on Earth.

Shockwave prominently appeared in several following episodes such as 'The Ultimate Doom', 'Desertion of the Dinobots', and 'The Search for Alpha Trion'

The script for animated The Transformers: The Movie details Shockwave's death. Unicron crushes Shockwave's command tower with him in it, rips it off the planet, and tears it to shreds - and although this was not shown in the finished film.

Shockwave was released in 1985, part of the second year releases of Generation I. He was also present in both the original 3-episode cartoon pilot, and the 4-issue comic book miniseries.

The Shockwave toy transforms from a robot into a ray gun featuring electronic laser noises and lights. The toy itself was one of the first Transformers figures coming from a company named ToyCo, and (get this) it was first produced under the name Astro Magnum. It is believed that this was the only toy that ToyCo ever made. Astro Magnum was, however, gray with a red eye, and a standard trigger design. Astro Magnum was the version I had - and it was a toy from beyond.

[Hasbro's Shockwave: take note of the purple tone of this version]

Of course, Shockwave was not the only Transformers figures not made by Takara, there were others such as Jetfire or Omega Supreme. Shockwave happened to be the only non-Takara toy that was actually marketed and sold as part of the Transformers line in Japan.

In the 1980's Transformers were such a success that Hasbro wanted to get has many Transformers products as possible. Since they were running out of Takara toy molds to use, they went and bought licenses to use the molds of other companies - that's how they got Shockwave, Jetfire, Omega Supreme, Roadbuster, Whirl, Chop Shop, Venom, Barrage and Ransack. The bad news is, those licenses are now expired, so Hasbro and Takara no longer have legal rights to reissue these characters - not even for the Encore Reissues.

[Instructions: Shockwave required a 9-volt battery for the laser effects]

On a side note, the original Decepticon lineup for the 2007 live action Transformers film were Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave. However, Shockwave was eventually left out and the lineup was left to Megatron, Starscream, Scorponok, Frenzy (who replaced Soundwave), Barricade, Bonecrusher, Blackout and Devastator (known as Brawl in merchandise).

Shockwave does appear in the Transformers: The Game where he's a triple changer and a game boss.

I said it before and I'll say it again: the sheer mechanics of Shockwave were a testament to the fact that retro toys were just plain cooler and better made than those of today, especially in the realm of Hasbro's Transformers. Those made today may be bigger and new-fangled, but they lacked the creativity and simplicity of those made in the past. Rock on!