Masterpiece Theater Showdown: Takara's Shockwave Vs. FansToys Quakewave
While most of the early Transformers were taken from Takara’s Microman and Diaclone toylines, giving them the Masterpiece treatment was pretty easy with minimal fuss. However, some of the toys in the 84 and 85 waves were licensed from other toymakers…most notably Shockwave and Jetfire. With this aspect deflating collectors’ hopes in ever seeing a Masterpiece Shockwave, as usual, third-party companies sprang into action to provide their own versions. The one that caught my attention was FansToys’ Quakewave. Released in 2013, Quakewave was only the third product FansToys had released up to that time but their reputation was quickly growing into one of the more reliable, higher quality third-party creators out there. Thinking this to be my only shot at a Masterpiece-styled Shockwave, I slammed down my money and said “Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie!”
Although Hasbro/Takara typically play nice with the third-party folks, you could almost catch a hint of the old ‘oh-no-they-di’in’t’…as an official Masterpiece Laserwave (Shockwave’s Japanese name) hit the streets in early 2016. And upon the revelation of the toy, I have to admit that I wasn’t in quite so much a hurry to put the money down for this one for reasons we’ll discuss in the review. So let’s get to it! Which of these attempts at the cold, logic-driven Decepticon Military Operations Commander is worth your hard earned cash?
Let’s start with Quakewave, as he’s the one that came out first. The first thing you’ll notice is that the colors are spot on when compared to the original G1 toy. The second thing you might notice is the bulk. This guy’s been doing some reps at the gym…and it’s pretty safe to say that every day is leg day. In spite of that, Quakewave remains very poseable with all the articulation typically afforded to Masterpiece-styled figures. Within the figure, there are two separate sets of electronics: one for his eye and the other for his gun-arm…or the gun mode itself. Transformation into his gun-mode has enough nods to the G1 toy to get you started but enough differences that you’ll want to keep the instructions close by…particularly for the legs. My personal favorite bit is opening the chest for head storage…much better than what Takara came up with. There is a slight bit of parts-formering here though…but it’s nothing major as, again, it evokes the original toy. Remember how when transforming the original, you had a separate piece that served as the tip of the barrel…keeping Shockwaves arms pinned together? And when you put the toy in robot mode, you had nowhere to store it? Well, FansToys remedied this situation for you…as Quakewave’s backpack turns inside-out to form the tip of the barrel for the gun-mode. At the time I bought the figure, I felt this was a FANTASTIC solution…but as the years have passed…well…my opinion has become a bit more subdued. I still like the idea, but the execution…well, can be fidgety and doesn’t really hold on as well as it should. Credit to where it’s due…Takara nailed it in their solution. Quakewave’s gun mode is pretty hefty and solid (aside from the aforementioned tip of the barrel)…but does manage to have one flaw…no trigger. There is a piece that serves to lock the gun handle in place that, if not connected, looks like a trigger but for all intents and purposes, yeah, there’s no trigger. Sure, you can justify this in your head if you think ‘Well, why would Shockwave need a trigger anyway, right? He’s an autonomous ray-gun.’ But with it very apparent that FansToys was pushing for the G1 look…well, the G1 toy had a trigger…soooo…a wee bit of fail here. Personally, it doesn’t bother me all that much, but your mileage may vary.
Up next is the Takara version: MP-29 Destron Laserwave. Like Quakewave, the first thing you’re going to notice is the color…but not in a good way. While Takara claims to be sticking closer to the character’s cartoon appearance…well, his coloring in the ‘toon is pretty inconsistent, so they really could’ve gone in any direction they wanted to. They opted to go in a more lilac/lavender direction…which, if I were mean…and I am…I’d say this was your little sister’s Shockwave. Like, seriously, pair him up with a My Little Pony or something. [All right, you got that off your chest…now deep breath and pretend to be a professional again. – Ed.] You mean I can’t say he should be having a tea party with Rainbow Bright and She-Ra? [No. No you cannot. Need I remind you of the Feminist Commandos and Social Justice Warriors that monitor all things internet and raid, pillage and destroy at but a moment’s notice? Just because we haven’t been attacked in a while doesn’t mean they’re gone…it’s just that we’re past due! – Ed.] Point taken. All I’m saying is that a darker purple might have been a better choice. Naturally all your standard Masterpiece articulation is here and his accessories allow you to choose between transparent and solid hands, a separate saluting right hand and, this is pretty neat, a left hand in case Shockers here wants to ditch the ol’ hand-cannon and play a game of basketball or something. There’s even a mini-me version of his gun mode so he can shoot himself…[No. You stop right there. Not another word. – Ed.] He also comes with stickers so you can apply his wandering Decepticon logos (common locations include the top of his chest and forearms). In spite of the color, the appearance of the figure is very much G1 Shockwave with very little in the way of alteration. Takara’s approach to the “wire”…most noticeable in gun mode…is rather unique. Instead of going the way of FansToys, where it’s a plastic hose with wire inside it, MP-29’s is a slinky with a thread down the middle, tied to each end so as to keep the entire thing in shape and avoid any stretching or such. I’d have liked it better if they opted to color it black…but, well, why flog the coloring dead horse yet again? The one thing that Takara really needs to be applauded for is how they handled the backpack. It splits into two pieces…the outer covering serves as a display stand for the gun…and as you can see in the photos, it’s very much needed and welcomed. The other part of the backpack becomes the tip of the gun’s barrel as well as a die-cast support running between the two arms…making that section of the gun pretty solid. Unfortunately, where Takara’s design suffers is in the back end with plenty of gaps and hollowness. Oh, and I forgot to mention, when changing from gun to robot…pulling the head out of the chest can be a rather tricky affair…with many online reviewers actually pulling the head off! I think I’ve found a way around this…just as you feel it starting to catch, but not quite locked into place, don’t continue to pull straight up…instead kind of wiggling from side to side until it finally locks. Doing that, I’ve yet to pop the head off.
It’s pretty obvious from my write-ups which version I prefer. But here’s the thing, I’m also a completist…mostly. So, even though I might not like him as much, MP-29 does stand amongst my Masterpiece collection, being the official release. Although Quakewave does have some flaws, I find he makes a great addition to any Classics/Universe/Generations collection as a proper leader-class Shockwave…and not the teeny-tiny versions of the character we’ve been given under this banner.