Toy Review: Combiner Wars Legends class Shockwave

Remember back in January when we ran our Bruticus Week feature? Well, here’s Bruticus Week Redux, because, yes, it’s taken this long for us to acquire the final piece of that particular Combaticon puzzle: Bruticus’s gun, who comes in the form of a Legends class Shockwave. This dinky Decepticon has proven frustratingly tricky to source and, much as we wanted him, we weren’t prepared to pay the ridiculous scalper prices for which we’d seen him going. So we had a bit of wait to find him for a reasonable rate. Still, here we go at last: Bruticus Week Day 8: the Day Everyone Got Shot.

Looking down the barrel of a gun / Son of a gun, son of a bitch / Getting paid, getting rich

Pew! Pew!

Was he worth the wait? The only logical choice is to read on and see…

No packaging shots this time. Partly that’s because, having waited so long, I was a bit over zealous in freeing him from his MISB prison (no regrets!) and forgot to take any snaps before doing so. But it’s partly also because at this stage in the game we’re all pretty much over Combiner Wars packaging aren’t we? It’s sufficiently stylish and functional, sure, but I feel now that I’ve seen enough of it  – and I wouldn’t even say we’ve bought that many figures from the line. Shockwave comes in robot mode, carded and packed in with a PTC (Pointless Trading Card).

One feature of his packing that is notable, however, is the character description which informs us that “the Decepticon scientist created Bruticus to pummel the Autobots.” It’s true that various incarnations of this purple cyclops have created all sorts of trouble over the years (let’s not forget, in Fall of Cyberton, Shockwave is responsible for giving the Dinobots their iconic alt-modes) but – correct me if I’m wrong, my TF knowledge is very far from encyclopaedic – having him build Bruticus is a new one, isn’t it? But the G1 cartoon does provide a precedent for the interactions between Shocky and the Combaticons, including the scientist in ray-gun mode being wielded by those big combiner hands for which he’s actually appropriately sized.

Screen shot from the G1 cartoon episode "The Revenge of Bruticus"

Screenshot from the G1 cartoon episode “The Revenge of Bruticus”

In the context of the episode, however, it’s hardly a team up. Rather, Shockwave is being wielded against his will to attack the planet he’s meant to be defending. There’s always that tricky issue of agency and intent with those wield-able weapon alt-modes. Still, however unintended, it’s an awesomely iconic moment and one that any fan would want to recreate with the Combiner Wars Bruticus. I guess claiming that Shockwave created the Combaticons is just one way to achieve said iconic image without having to get into the messy politics of all that endless Deception in-fighting.

Have you ever fired your gun up in the air and gone "ahhrgh"?

Have you ever fired your gun up in the air and gone “ahhrgh”?

Gun mode

Cue the klaxon! We’re going to break from tradition today and look at the alt-mode first, since – unusually Chez Addaltmode – it’s in this mode that the figure will usually be displayed (see above).

It’s strange that Shockwave is one of the most iconic and recognizable Transformers, but his alternate mode isn’t at all fixed: Optimus Prime is pretty always a truck (TRUKK NOT MUNKY!), Starscream is obliged to be a jet plane, and Bumblebee will eternally be a little yellow car, but Shockwave’s alt-mode changes to whatever is needed at the time, so long as his ‘bot mode appearance is largely the same. Since G1, He has been a ray-gun, a sports car (no, really!) a tank, a jet, a satellite, a crane, a helicopter, a half-track vehicle and a 19th-Century iron-clad ship. He’s yet to transform into a kitchen sink, but it’s probably only a matter of time.

Combiner Wars Legends Shockwave goes with the most classic sci-fi gun mode, with a scope and wide barrel that stays pretty true to his look in the original cartoon.  But – perhaps in homage to all those other alt-modes – the fins on the side and back here do create a vaguely spaceship kind of feel. So if you squint a bit and really want to pretend he transforms into a streamline little sci-fi vessel you can probably do that convincingly enough. But you don’t want to that do you? You want to give him to Bruticus and imagine some pew-pew mayhem. I know I do.

Pew-pew! Mayhem incoming!

Pew-pew! Mayhem incoming!

The only articulation in this mode is the gun handle which can be flipped out to allow him to be held by other Transformers or potentially also mounted on a stand.

Side view: he pegs together quite really solidly around the barrel but less at the rear, as you can see here.

Side view: he pegs together quite really solidly around the barrel but less so at the rear, as you can see here.

Bruticus (Blast Off arm) wields Shockwave

Bruticus (Blast Off arm) wields Shockwave

As you might be able to see in the photo above, gun mode Shockwave has a square peg just in front of his 5mm port, which makes him much steadier when held in a Combiner’s fists. It sits nicely against the carpal/palmar surface of the hand and means that he doesn’t lean off to one side under his own weight. It has a downside, though, in that it gets in the way if you attempt to equip him on any non-combiner figure with 5mm-post-hole type hands. Leader Class Megatron, for example, can’t be equipped with this Shockwave very neatly, which is rather a shame. I guess it’s a necessary trade-off to improve his pose-ability and stability when equipped onto Bruticus (which is clearly his intended purpose.)

"Mine's bigger."

Smokescreen suddenly realizes the great value ability to disappear behind a cloud of sensor-jamming smoke.

Transformation

Shockwave’s transformation is satisfying and relatively intuitive: push down the gun handle and scope and out pops that iconic face-without-a-face. The trickiest part of the sequence are the ball-jointed legs which first move to create a weirdly skinny-waisted scissor-legged bot before swivelling again at the hips to slot into a wider, more aesthetically pleasing stance. It’s the sort of movement you’re more likely to find on a deluxe class toy and while it’s satisfying to find such complexity on a little ‘un, the (very minor) flipside is that’s also pretty easy to pop one of Shocky’s legs off its hinges.

Robot Mode

Shockwave is a nice little bot – in terms of design and construction, I mean, less so in character. Despite its diminutive size this is an instantly recognisable, classic-feeling, incarnation of him. I’m never a fan of too much transparent plastic on my Transformers but here the pink detailing works well, particularly on his chest and arms.

"Fear not, Megatron, Cybertron shall remain exactly as you leave it."

“Fear not, Megatron, Cybertron shall remain exactly as you leave it.”

Shockwave, bot mode.

Shockwave, bot mode.

Shockwave’s arms are a little on the short side which makes his gun hand seem rather hidden and underwhelming. Why shoot with one dumpy arm when can use your whole goddamn body, I guess.  But, this minor grip aside, he’s decently proportioned and well-balanced with a very respectable range of articulation for such a small figure.

Taking a breather ("robots don't breathe, that is illogical") then back to the Science.

Taking a breather (“robots don’t breathe, that is illogical”) then back to the Science.

If you’re in the market for a smaller-scale Shockwave then this pleasingly detailed little guy is certainly worth considering. He’d stand alone well enough, but if you already have all the Combiner Wars Combaticons then he really is what you need to complete the look of your Bruticus. As a combiner weapon, Shockwave also goes a little way to correct some of the faults of the gestalt figure, since looks much more appropriately sized for combat than Bruticus’ own, somewhat underpowered guns.

Conclusion

Get him if you can, especially of you already own Bruticus. Don’t pay scalper prices, though, that’s just illogical and we all know how Shockwave feels about illogical behaviour.

Arranging them together like this was the only (chrono)logical choice.

Shockwave roll call: Deluxe Fall of Cyberton Shockwave; Voyager Transformers Prime Shockwave; Legends Combiner wars Shockwave. All of them disapprove, in a very intellectual way, of illogicality.

 

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