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Transformers DOTM
by yo go re

Three movies, three versions of Shockwave. He was a boss in the first movie's videogame, was photographed for a newspaper in the second movie, and finally gets to be a real character for the third.

Few have ever seen Shockwave and lived. His is the hand that ensures Decepticon plans remain secret from the Autobots. He eliminates evidence and witnesses with brutal, emotionless efficiency. The only hints he ever leaves of his presence are smoking craters and the collapsed tunnels through which he travels.

He travels by tunnels? That's weird. The rest of the bio sounds true to the character, though: the original Shockwave was a coldly logical being, kind of like a robotic Spock: he viewed emotion as a weakness, but was a brutal combatant. And unlike other Decepticons, he never tried to undermine Megatron or usurp control - not that he was averse to taking command, he was just waiting for the math to be right.

Shockwave isn't a character who got a toy for no reason: he's actually in the film. You can tell because he appears in pretty much every trailer, easily recognized by his big red cyclopean eye. The figure's eye is light-piped and really lights up spectacularly - it's very bright. It also makes him look like a giant, ambulatory HAL 9000, which is scary on its own.

Other than the head, there isn't anything about the design that's particularly "Shockwavey." After the eye, one of his defining features has alwas been the shape of his chest, and there's been no attempt to re-create that here. The way the tank treads poke out of his torso is vaguely similar to Energon Shockblast's back, but that may simply be a coincidence. It's not that he has a bad design - the "ribcage" look is cool, his feet are fearsome, and he's got a nifty structure on his back - but it could have been given any head and any name and it still would have looked the same.

One advantage the toy has over the movie is that Shockwave is purple - onscreen, he's the same unpainted gray as everybody else. Articulation isn't plentiful, but the joints he does have are good: knees, thighs, hips, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck, plus a little more if you cheat and use joints that are meant for conversion. He has two removable weapons: a blade on his left arm, and a giant gun on his right.

Yes, to really emulate G1 Shockwave, the gun should be on his left hand, but don't think you can swap it: the plugs on the arms aren't in the same place, so the gun won't fit on the left. There's a thick black tube that runs between the gun and the figure's back, and both ends plug into hinged sections to allow for more poses. It still feels a little short, though; another inch or two would really help. Since this is a Mech Tech weapon, pressing the large button on the end causes two arms to flip open, revealing more guns. The button locks in place, too, so the extra tech can stay open.

When converting Shockwave, there are a few things that the instructions don't quite make clear the first time through, but you'll catch on quickly. And we've really got to compliment how well everything fits together: there are lots of tabs and slots, and all the pieces lock in tightly when you've got him changed properly.

Shockwave's altmode is a... thing. It's some kind of car tank wheeled blade gun pincher thing. If it seems like we've just saying random words, well, the altmode seems like it's just random pieces. Maybe he's like The Fallen, and never actually transforms in the movie, and this is just something Hasbro made up to justify turning him into a toy.

The thing is 6⅝" long, 3⅛" wide and 2⅜" tall. The front wheels roll, and there are tiny wheels hidden beneath the rear tank treads. The gun and sword from the robot are mounted on top in this mode, so it still looks destructive. And yes, the Mech Tech features still work. Technically the hose isn't used in this mode, but you can put it on if you want it.

Whatever this monstrosity is supposed to be, there's no denying that the sculpt is impressive. There are neat technological details all over, even on pieces that are the back or underside of robot parts. The shape is a jumble of angled plates, but it looks like something designed to deflect artillery fire, so that kind of makes sense. The purple and grey coloring is maintained in this mode, and no new colors are introduced.

Shockwave is an odd Transformer, and so our recommendation is a weird one, as well. The robot mode is cool and the accessories work for him, so that's good. The altmode is a mess, which would normally be bad, but the actual design of his engineering is really impressive. So get this one if you like what you see in the packaging, but don't expect the altmode to win you over if you're ambivalent.

-- 07/05/11

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