Friday, February 1, 2008

Weekly Transformers Feature: Shockwave

Although I've collected Transformers since pretty much the beginning of the franchise in 1984, my collection is much more heavily weighted in terms of toys that I've gotten in the past ten years or so. Even a significant part of my "G1" collection is made up of reissues or toys that I got through second-hand sources like eBay. So the figures I've actually had for 20 years or more tend to have special significance for me.

Another of my oldest figures is Shockwave. For those who follow character more than the toys themselves, if all you knew of Shockwave was the character you saw in the cartoon, you couldn't fully appreciate this character. In the comic, Shockwave was something special. Shockwave single-handedly reduced the Earthbound Autobots to near extinction at the point when Marvel decided to continue what was supposed to be only a four-issue mini-series and make it an ongoing comic. The cover of issue #5, the first issue of the comic as an ongoing, says it all. (Thankfully, the rest of the Autobots were eventually restored by their lone survivor, Ratchet, who I'll get around to talking about sooner or later) The next issue, Shockwave challenged Megatron, the leader of the evil Decepticons, to a battle for the right to assume leadership, and Shockwave won! This was not a Decepticon to underestimate!

One of the character traits that made Shockwave unique was an almost Spock-like devotion to logic. Even Shockwave's distinctive head, a faceless hexagonal block with only a single gold eye in the center, speaks to the cold and calculating nature of the character. He didn't want the leadership of the Decepticons purely out of a egomaniacal lust for power (as fellow Decepticon leader-wanna-be Starscream did). He actually thought that logic dictated that he would be better suited to lead the Decepticons to victory.

Shockwave's gun mode was equally distinctive at the time the original toy was released. While all Transformers up to that point were based on some real-world vehicle or mechanical device (whether or not the Dinobots predated Shockwave is a matter of conjecture, but even they were mechanical forms of real-world dinosaurs), Shockwave's "space-gun" mode was pure science fiction.

Sadly, my specimen of Shockwave is showing its age, and is very fragile. The joints inside both shoulders have been broken and repaired many times over, and despite fitting an extra pin in them to give extra support, they both gave away yet again when transforming the toy for the robot-mode picture seen above. Also, the toy can no longer support its own weight in a standing pose, which is why I took the picture of the toy's robot mode lying flat on its back. You might be able to tell from the picture that my toy's gun arm has also been broken and repaired. This is a common problem with old Shockwaves, as is the broken area around Shockwave's pelvis. At least I haven't lost the end of Shockwave's gun arm before I could glue it back on again! The same cannot be said for the "viewfinder" that is supposed to be present in the back of Shockwave's space-gun mode. Still, I think that mine remains more complete than many Shockwaves still in existence, and I'm sure that I'd be able to get a pretty good price for it if I were ever looking to sell it.

But don't hold your breath. As one of the few genuine Transformer links to my childhood, this one's staying right here.

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