Voyager-class Decepticon Shockwave
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Optimus was a young and optimistic recruit in the Autobot Academy, wanting to face off against real Decepticons in a battle as part of the Elite Guard. Unfortunately, he missed the war by a few million years, and eventually failed to pass the Academy. His ambitions and dreams crushed, Optimus was instead assigned command of a small maintenance crew for the tedious and boring duty of repairing and cleaning-up the Space Bridge network. But when the Autobot crew accidentally comes across the very powerful, life-giving All Spark which was lost at the end of the war, they are suddenly ambushed by the greatly-feared leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, and his own broken army of experienced soldiers in their search for the legendary artifact. The Autobots get away from the Decepticon warship, and Megatron is destroyed in a fluke explosion, but damage causes their ship to crash on an unknown planet. Optimus Prime and his crew go into emergency stasis lock for 50 years, and reactivate in the future underneath Lake Erie near Detroit, Michigan. The Autobots reformat their alternative forms to match those of Earth vehicles so as to blend in. As they begin to explore Detroit, they come across a human girl named Sari Sumdac, whose father owns the largest robot manufacturer on the planet. When she sneaks aboard their ship to see more of the transforming alien robots, Sari encounters the All Spark, and it rebuilds her electronic key card to carry many of its own powers. With Sari’s help in understanding Earth’s unusual cultures and customs, Ratchet, Prowl, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Optimus Prime swear to protect the All Spark from rogue Decepticons until Elite Guard reinforcements arrive.
Thousands of years ago, Longarm’s goal was to be an Elite Guard intelligence operative, providing Autobots with the information necessary to keep the Decepticons off of Cybertron. Being in the Elite Guard’s intelligence unit requires a sharp mind and being able to get along well with others, and Longarm is exceptionally gifted at both. He helps others in need- his alt form being an all-terrain crane- and his processors are well-tuned. And he started his career off on the right foot when he helped fellow cadet Bumblebee to uncover a Decepticon infiltrator called Wasp in their very Elite Guard boot camp class! Since that time, he has risen through the ranks and fulfilled his dream of becoming one of Commander Ultra Magnus’ closest associates and the head of the Elite Guard Cybertron Intelligence. But Longarm Prime never forgot his past and the hard work it took to get him where he is today…
The voice of Longarm Prime (and by extension, Shockwave) is performed by veteran voice actor Corey Burton (the exact same role which he originated in “The Transformers” in 1984), who also covers Autobot Ratchet, Decepticon Megatron, and several other semi-regular & guest characters in “Transformers Animated”. But he is currently known for providing numerous official voice recreations of a wide range of Disney characters in both direct-to-DVD videos and in the theme parks, as well as other announcer-like performances.
Vehicle Mode - Autobot Crane
Though there are molded tractor treads on the four ‘legs’ of the crane, none of them can turn, and he doesn’t roll about.
The base of the crane can swing side-to-side, and the boom can raise up-and-down with a free-hanging hook on the end. The crane turret is attached only via a simple peg, and does not snap into place; it is held- and turns- only with friction. (I find that removing it for transforming him between modes can be helpful at times.)
Infiltration Mode - Autobot Longarm Prime
Longarm’s crane turret is usually stored on his back, but the toy allows it to be removed.
Unfortunately, Longarm Prime has a very dark and disturbing secret. Behind his faceplate is the face of evil. While Bumblebee was correct in recognizing a Decepticon agent amongst his class, he wasn’t cleaver enough to know that it actually wasn’t Wasp. In fact, the secret agent was Longarm himself! Using his size-shifting ability, the Decepticon was able to create a false shell to hide his true identity: a tall and powerful Cybertronian known as Shockwave, who fights for a completely different reason. By spying on the Elite Guard from within, he is able to secretly give vast amounts of crucial information to his master, Megatron, and it allows him to wreak havoc from within when ordered to do so. It’s all logical, really- the Decepticons are strong, and it should be they who rule their home planet Cybertron, not the weak-minded Autobots.
Vehicle Mode - Decepticon Tank
Unlike Longarm’s crane form, Shockwave’s tank form can roll about on four wheels (even though the tractor treads themselves still do not move).
Spy Mode - Decepticon Shockwave
The silver Autobot symbol on his chest can spin around to be replaced by a gold Decepticon symbol! (The latter on mine had that worn look out of the box, possibly due to a manufacturing error. But the reason I haven’t returned it is because I like that it gives it a kind of rusted look, like the corruption within has corroded it. An unintentionally bad-ass decoration!)
Though still visible when disguised as Longarm, Shockwave’s mooneye actually has light-piping that is revealed in the conversion. Now when lit from behind, Shockwave’s mono-eye glows brightly red!
Additionally, Shockwave now has a functional neck joint, where previously Longarm did not.
Shockwave has large articulating independent fingers now, but loses the wrist joint that Longarm had due to how his hands transform.
The cannon turret can still be stored on his back if you want, but it can now attach to either forearm (he doesn’t grab a handle). The same turret was/is capable of attaching to the side of Longarm’s forearm, but this was not seen in the series or the instructions.
What the Instructions Don’t Tell You
The Voyager-class Decepticon Shockwave set, fortunately, has only one mark in this frustrating category:
- He actually has a functional waist joint in Shockwave/Spy Mode. Where his waist and chest come together, you can snap his upper torso forward only one notch. (This joint is rather tight, but allows him to slightly bend over to closer match his posture in the series.)
…but the instructions don’t tell you any of this.
Multi-mode bots with three-or-more forms are rarities because of their complicated format- parts need to be able to either be hidden or used. What works for one mode might not for another, and so those parts need to be moved aside in order to make “convincing” alt modes. The amount of engineering and planning needed for this is even more significant compared to a standard two-mode figure. On top of that, each mode needs to be integral in some fashion & used by the character in the show. And to finish the idea, it needs to actually resemble the character on the screen (though usually the toy is designed first, and the animated character afterwards). And so, a multi-mode character from “Transformers Animated” needs to have the highly-stylized appearance whilst keeping all the functionality in all its modes. No easy task. I do not own many multi-mode Transformers (intentionally for various personal-taste reasons), so my exposure- and thus criteria for them- is admittedly narrow, limited, and low. I know that things usually aren’t hidden easily. So…
Both vehicle modes have a lot of gaps in them and don’t give it a much-needed solid appearance as either a tank or portable crane. The redeeming quality of the two vehicle modes is how the turret converts from crane boom to cannon barrel- it uses a cleaver spring-shifting procedure that I’ve never seen before, which allows it to shift automatically between the two regardless of which way you’re trying to transform it! But I do worry that the turret’s attachment peg will wear out quickly from twisting and removing it, and I would have liked a locking tab of some kind. The wheels in tank mode also don’t roll easily and other parts underneath drag on the ground easily. But then, why weren’t the wheels designed to let him roll on both vehicle modes? The other problem I have is that Longarm’s head is visible underneath at all times. I mean, what the hell is that little fold-over panel covering!? It’s pointless! Now, for the two robot modes, I’d say that Longarm is the, erm… most stable, but his hips still have a frequent tendency to shift around along the transformation joint; same with the thigh panels. I absolutely love, though, how Shockwave’s light-piping eye is completely cut-off due to how the head transforms, and it doesn’t glow at all until he grows to full size. (The disadvantage, though, is that it’s tricky to convert his head in either direction, and isn’t clearly explained in the instructions.) The integration of Longarm’s open-palm hand into Shockwave’s now-three-fingered claws was also very cleaver, and doesn’t look as obvious or bad as I thought it would! On the other hand, the legs in both robot modes look almost nothing like they do in the series- the upper legs are supposed to be green-tinted and very narrow while the lower legs widen more from the knees to the feet on Shockwave. But, even with this rather large discrepancy in appearance, both robot modes are sufficiently different from each other that it doesn’t make much difference. The extended upper legs are also not held solidly and they have a tendency to shift around at the transformation joints (which is really my biggest complaint with all four modes- crucial parts don’t lock in-place as well as I’d like). Poseability, also, is average- with awesome independent claws but oddly-angles neck joint(s) on Shockwave, and unstable hips on Longarm. I’m not as nostalgic about the original G1 character to complain that his cannon arm was switched to a bad-ass-looking rifle here (but I do like the swapping logos on the obviously-G1-inspired chest).
A lot of hard work obviously went into the Voyager-class Decepticon Shockwave, and it does show, but there are a few small areas that tarnish the figure in ways that force me not give it a straight-out glowing recommendation.
|Posted 10 January, 2010 - 03:02 by EVA_Unit_4A|