Hasbro‘s wide search to fill out the booming 1985 Transformers led them to include any transformable robots they could license, such as Shockwave, the giant purple Decepticon laser gun.

Origins

Shockwave’s origins are somewhat obfuscated by the tremendous number of knockoffs, bootlegs, and releases of questionable license that exist in the U.S. and abroad. Shockwave’s mold was first designed by ToyCo as the 1983 4 Changeable Astro Magnum, sold only in Japan. The toy was subsequently knocked off and sold in English-language packaging, as happened to many Japanese robots of the time. He was licensed and sold in the US as the Radio Shack exclusive Galactic Man, often referred to by fans as “Shackwave”. These versions were very similar, using gray and silver decos, although the Astro Magnum sported extra stickers that identified him as such. European toymaker Grandstand licensed the mold, with a new purple and flat grey deco, as Grandstand Convertors N-4-SR (pronounced “enforcer”). Ironically, N-4-SR may be the reason that Hasbro was not able to license Shockwave into the U.K. All these early versions used a different trigger with a more traditional crescent shape. Due to the suggestive positioning of the trigger in Astro Magnum’s crotch, Hasbro elected to substitute a wide, flat, louvered trigger.

Description

Shockwave transforms into a purple and silver roleplay-scale laser pistol with a oblong hexagonal barrel and a translucent purple flip-up sight. The gun mode features huge amounts of molded sci-fi detail, such as the laddered rear gun sight, muzzle brake-like holes in the barrel, and sculpted patterns on the grip. Another unique feature of the gun is the large rubber hose connecting the main body of the gun to a point further down the barrel. In gun mode, Shockwave has electric lights and sounds powered by a 9v battery and activated by the trigger. The barrel is lined with translucent purple plastic, and blinks rapidly in time to a simple electronic “pew pew pew”. There is a switch on the rear of the gun above the grip that can alter the electronic pulse to faster or slower settings (some other versions of the toy humorously label these modes “Thorp” and “Magnoid”).

Shockwave’s transformation is fairly straightforward. The rear of the gun (containing most of the electronics) folds up as a backpack, the pistol grip extends and separates to form the legs, and after removing the barrel, the remaining front section divides to become the arms. His head pops up on a spring as the arms are unfolded. His robot mode is unusual among his peers. He is very tall, towering over almost all other transformers released to date. He sports a translucent purple fist on his right arm, and the left arm ends in a narrow cannon barrel containing the blinking light. The black hose connects the wiring from the light to the back central body, allowing the arm to move freely. His chest has a wide purple window showing the capacitors and other components of his electronics. To top it off, he has a low, flat head with silver “ears”, and no face… only a single ominous gold-chrome eye. He is surprisingly articulated for a G1 toy, featuring one axis of movement at the shoulders, two at the elbow, his right wrist, head, hips, and knees. The strange traits of Shockwave’s mold have all become iconic and have been paid homage time and again over the years.
Date stamp location: Inside of right lower leg
Rubsign location:None (earliest production); Left side of chest

Collector Notes

Shockwave is one of the frailest G1 toys, and is riddled with fatal design flaws. His electronics are subject to all the typical vagaries of age, often including a corroded switch or blown-out light bulb. The larger problems, however, all lie in his actual body. The shoulders have ratcheting ring joints containing large springs – so large that they can force the upper body halves apart, cracking off the screw studs that hold the upper body together, leaving him with a large gap on his spherical underarms. The small internal tabs that keep his legs extended at the knee are too weak, however, and with wear or breakage, his legs will collapse under his own weight, leaving him unable to stand. His arm cannon’s barrel is often broken, usually with the circular muzzle brake snapping off. Damage can occur to a number of other joints, especially those that are tight or hard to move, such as the tabs and panels around where his thighs slide apart. Lastly, his rubber cable hose almost always dries out and cracks, with various degrees of severity. It is recommended to treat an intact hose with Armor-All or some other vinyl and rubber protectant on a regular basis to prevent further damage. Once damaged, the hose is almost impossible to replace due to the need to re-solder the wires, which in turn requires opening the body and risking breakage of the chest-to-back screw studs mentioned above. Compared to this, the occasional detached head seems relatively minor. See the TFL Blog for photos and further discussion of Shockwave’s issues.

Variants

Shockwave only has variations only in his sticker palette. The most common variation is the shade of the large Decepticon symbol on top of his chest. It’s not fading… the sticker comes in purple, indigo, or mauve varieties. This change in tone is also observed on contemporary Decepticon Jets. Very early Shockwaves did not include a rubsign, like toys released in 1984, but it was quickly added.

Availability

Shockwave was available in the U.S. and Japan (as “Laserwave” very early in 1985, and was possibly intended for 1984 release (see Variations, above). He was not sold in the U.K., although he was available in continental Europe and Italy, also in 1985. This is almost certainly due to the mold’s licensing by Hales Ltd. for the Grandstand Convertors release.
Case Assortments (Asst#/Item#): Shockwave (5799/5799E), case of 6
MSRP: $(unknown)
Packaging: Window box with top flap, inner styrofoam tray, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Milton Bradley): Window box with top flap (with MB logo), inner styrofoam tray, Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 4 Decepticon
Paperwork included: Instruction booklet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1985 large Catalog, “Reinforcements from Cybertron&rdquo.

Redecos & Retools

Shockwave’s mold was originally used in 1983 to produce 4 Changeable Astro Magnum. It was subsequently licensed in the U.S. as Galactic Man, and redecoed in the U.K. as Convertors N-4-SR.