Sunday, 12 May 2013

Superlink Laserwave

Shockwave is one of many characters who had been overlooked in the TransFormers toy ranges following G1 and, technically, he wasn't really a TransFormer anyway - he was one of many third party transforming robots who was repurposed by Hasbro.

Strangely, Hasbro/Takara Tomy seemed to lose access to the name 'Shockwave' for several years, not to mention applying it, seemingly at random, to the character known as Tidal Wave in the west, leading to miscellaneous variations on the theme of Shock/Laser/Blast/Wave for any character fans might recognise as Ol' One Eye.

As another robot who originally turned into a gun - an enormous, purple laser gun, no less - but such alternate modes are very much out of fashion these days. Since Megatron moved on to being a tank, it's surely logical that someone like Shockwave, generally to be found with a honking great cannon on one arm, would follow suit... And so, we have Laserwave...

Vehicle Mode:
Well... it's a sort of tank, I guess... That is to say, it actually looks more like a weird kind of hydrofoil that also happens to travel on land using treads, and has a honking great cannon mounted on top. Although, to be perfectly honest, it really just looks like a folded up robot. I mean, the front of the 'vehicle' is clearly just a pair of legs, and the gun turret is made up of the robot's chest, with his head not so much disguised as it is merely tucked into his shoulder. One arm hooks over its shoulder, and the other... is the aforementioned honking great cannon. Um. Yeah. Looking at this from the side, I can't help but think of Usain Bolt's victory pose...

One thing I will never understand about this model - and the US/UK version - is the use of green as a tertiary colour. Virtually the whole of the gun arm is olive green, which is a strange contrast to the purples, silvers and coppers of the rest of the model. It's also about the largest single component of Laserwave's body. This is, in part, because the gun arm houses all the electronics. There's nothing especially impressive going on here - a slider switch activates a kind of signal transmission noise at the halfway mark (which may or may not be continual... mine's a bit glitchy), and a missile launch/blast sound at the end, opening up the solar panels and translucent green spiky things as it goes.

There is a spring-loaded missile launcher at the very tip, but mine has a hair-trigger and often won't clip into place to begin with. There are also two ports for Energon weapons, one on each side of the main cannon, though Laserwave comes with no accessories by default.

The turret does rotate a full 360 degrees, but the cannon doesn't lift especially high before it starts to look rather weird. While the treads are obviously fixed, molded details, there are rolling plastic wheels under each set, so Laserwave does sort of roll around in this mode.

Satellite Mode:
I'm in two minds about Laserwave's second alternate mode... on the one hand, it looks like an afterthought... almost as if someone left him around, half-transformed, and someone else said "hey, that almost looks like a satellite... let's give him some fold-away solar arrays to complete the picture!". Lots of panels open up to reveal copper-chromed panels and what could be missile pods, but there's no escaping the fact that this is essentially the same barely-disguised robot, just with his legs splayed rather than pegged together at the feet.

An otherwise redundant part flaps down from the gun arm to stabilise him on a level surface and the shield/gun thing flaps back from his shoulder to revel more solar panelling, on which the gun things could double as antennae. This also reveals Laserwave's only Mini-Con port, on what becomes the robot's forearm... not exactly great positioning.

There's actually some debate as to whether this is a satellite or a ground-based base, but I honestly can't see something like this being much use on the surface of a planet whereas, in orbit, that honking great cannon could be directed just about anywhere.

Robot Mode:
This robot mode somehow conspires to be an excellent interpretation of Shockwave, despite some very obvious shortcomings and oddities. While the character is known for his gun arm, this one is surely overkill. It's so long, he can't even hold it by his side. The strange choice of colour is also even more jarring in this mode - it almost looks as though Laserwave's arm was replaced by a random chunk of weaponry, rather than something built for this specific robot. It's kind of like RotF Megatron's Murder Arm, in some respects, not least because it's only articulated at the shoulder. There are no changes to the sound effects in the gun arm.

Nothing much happens with the colour scheme in this mode - no new colours, and the olive green parts still look out of place on a predominantly purple and grey/silver robot. Laserwave's 'other' arm, the ostensibly normal one, now seems to carry a shield. While it's attached by a hinge, to doesn't tend to flap about too much, and it doesn't have any adverse effects on the arm's mobility. That said, the arm doesn't really make the most of its double-hinged elbow. The clawed actually has a mobile thumb, so in some ways it's capable of more than the average TransFormer's hand.

The head sculpt is somewhere between G1 Shockwave, G1 Whirl, and a security camera. Much like the Binaltech/Alternators Laserwave/Shockblast, it has an incredible bit of light piping, where a seemingly tiny input yields a very bright illumination in the eye... compare and contrast with some other models where the entire back of the head is translucent plastic, and yet the light barely reaches the eyes!

There's also an alleged 'Hypermode' - most of the larger Decepticons had some partial transformation, or spring-loaded feature that upgraded their weapons - though it's basically just a pair of the solar panels which flip up from behind the tank treads on his backpack.

Discussing Laserwave's transformation is almost irrelevant... it happens, it's simple enough and relatively painless, though there are points - most notably the sliding parts of the rear treads and the mid-torso hinge - that feel incredibly flimsy. I do honestly expect them to break at some point. The solar panels in his rear treads have a habit of popping out, but they're easy enough to clip back in. Neither of his alternate modes is especially convincing but, never have seen Energon (I only decided to look it up on YouTube today, on a whim) I'm not sure that disguise was the point of Laserwave's alternate modes... much like his Dark of the Moon counterpart (who didn't even transform in the movie... and also wasn't purple).

Aside from the disappointing arms, this is a fairly poseable model - the feet may not be the most mobile in the world, but the way they're constructed - all angles - makes them fairly stable even when not planted flat on a surface. As long as he's balanced, he's stable... and he can balance in some fairly extreme positions thanks to some very solid ratchet joints in his hips and knees. The gun arm does affect his balance, but not by much, only really when it contains batteries, and then only when it's extended out... it actually makes for a fairly effective counterbalance for some positions.

Since I tend to display most of my TransFormers in robot mode, Laserwave is a cool enough addition to the Decepticon ranks, but he's not an especially well thought-out toy. Certainly one for fans of Shockwave, but otherwise a bit poor... The Japanese version has more extensive paintwork (the whole of the treads are painted silver, whereas only the inner workings are painted in the Hasbro release) and features the copper-chrome in places, rather than flat copper but, other than that, they're pretty much identical, with none of the plastic colour variations that have become common in recent years.

1 comment:

  1. My Laserwave had a hair Trigger missile too. I was most disappointed by the lack of an elbow on his gun, as I would have happily forgone the awful sound effects for a bit of articulation.

    IIRC, he did use his satellite mode in the cartoon while assaulting an Energon base or something. It was a while ago, so don't quote me :p

    Kinda cool and kinda lame all in the same toy with this one. I really liked his chromey solar panel things though!!