Sunday, 3 May 2015

Shockwave, ToyCo & variants (Part 1)

Function: Military Operations Commander

Motto: "Clarity of thought before rashness of action."

Cold, brutal scientific approach to war. Seeks to overthrow Megatron as leader of Decepticons because he believes logic says he would be better. As laser gun, can emit lethal beams of energy from anywhere on the electromagnetic spectrum: gamma rays, x-rays, light, infrared rays, radio waves, etc. Flies in laser gun or robot mode. High fuel use, but can be powered by nuclear sources. Often confounded by initiative, emotional thinking.

Shockwave is one of the 1985 releases who appeared in the first episode of the cartoon series in 1984 and stands out for not being an original Takara mould. Shockwave is also one of the largest Decepticon figures from the 1985 line-up and is the only electronic toy with lights and sounds. Powered by a 9 volt battery Shockwave can emit two very annoying sounds in both robot and gun mode, alternated by sliding a switch and pressing down on the gun trigger which also causes his gun arm to light up.

Shockwave transforms into a futuristic laser gun and unlike Megatron in the cartoon series, he did not mass shift and shrink down. As well as gun mode he also has 2 other "modes" where he stands up in gun mode and another where, still standing, the barrel is removed and the arms are moved slightly apart.

The Shockwave figure however does not age well, the knee joints can break easily leaving a floppy leg or a leg which wont stay slid down; the rubber hose deteriorates and cracks; the hip plastic is weak and can break during very rough transformation. This being said the figure is well worth getting, especially if you can find one in good condition.

ToyCo is a Korean company still in existence and is responsible for the Shockwave mould. The rights for this mould are currently unknown which is why there has never been an official reissue released so far.
In 1983, ToyCo released 4 Changeable Astro Magnum to the Japanese market followed by a second version released in a different box and packaged in robot mode. The mould was then officially licensed to several different companies which will be explored below.

Astro Magnum version 1 (ToyCo)

The original Astro Magnum (source: eBay)
The Japanese text above the English name roughly translates as "Super Changeable Electronic Robot" and as the box states "4 Changeable", it has 4 modes: Astro Magnum (robot mode), Laser Vulcan (gun mode), Gun Borg (standing gun mode without barrel and arms spread) and Vulcan Base (standing gun mode).
Compared to the Transformers version, the main difference is that Astro Magnum is grey and has a different trigger mould. Additionally the fist and gun arm are translucent pink in colour and this version came with a 9v battery in the box.

Astro Magnum version 2 (ToyCo)
I'm not sure where this version originates from but it was released by ToyCo, was made in Japan and has English, German, French and Spanish text on the box, so possibly a western release? The figure is identical to the Japanese version but this did not come packaged with a 9v battery.

Astro Magnum Source: eBay
Galactic Man (Radio Shack)
Possibly the most well known "Pre-Transformer" which was released by Radio Shack in 1985 and retailed around $14 and $15 (cheap compared to Hasbros Shockwave who sold for around $25) and was fully licensed by ToyCo. This version was packaged in robot mode and the main differences compared to Astro Magnum is the stamping on the battery cover no longer says "Made in Japan", now it is "Made in Korea", possibly suggesting it was manufactured alongside Shockwave. The translucent fist and gun hand are a clear translucent plastic instead of tinted pink. The box again advertises 4 modes: Galactic Man, Anti-Aircraft Gun, Vulcan Base Destroyer and Handheld Laser Gun.
As well as the "ToyCo Trademark 1983" stamping on the inside right leg, on the inside left leg there was a clear sticker with Radio Shacks details (see photo below).

Radio Shack's Galactic Man (Source eBay)

Radio Shack's Galactic Man leg sticker (Source eBay)

Galactic Man (Tandy)
Tandy was an electronics store in the UK operated by the Tandy Corporation in the USA who owned Radio Shack. These stores in the UK had all been sold off by 2001 however since 2012 UK company Tandy Corporation Ltd acquired the brand rights from Radio Shack Corporation and are operating once again, though mainly as an online presence.
Tandys Galactic Man is the same as Radio Shacks, though it now has Tandy printed on the box and the sticker on Galactic Mans leg has Tandy printed on it.

N-4-SR (Village Toys)
Village Toys were a North American toy company who released transforming robots from a variety of third party toy companies such as Yonezawa and ToyCo under a toyline called "Convert-A-Bots". N-4-SR is one such of these figures and is officially licensed by ToyCo but it could easily be mistaken for a knock off. There appear to be two variants, the colours of which are very different to the usual grey releases. One version is a dark grey with purple shoulders, ears, trigger, leg panels and barrel. The fist and gun hand are a translucent plastic like Galactic Man and the eye is unpainted. The second version of N-4-SR replaces the dark grey of the main body with a pale green/grey colour, this is the only difference. The rubber used on the hose is very different, there is a clear hose which is covered by a black hose. 

N-4-SR version 1 (Source: TFW2005 member Bradforj)

N-4-SR version 2 (Source: YouTube member Waggsters)

Shockwave / Laserwave (Hasbro, MB, Takara)
Hasbro acquired the licence from ToyCo to release their own version of the Astro Magnum mould for the Transformers toyline. Unlike the other Transformers this figure was manufactured in Korea for both Hasbro and Takara. Their version was coloured a deep purple with translucent purple fist and gun hand; the eye was chromed gold and the trigger was also remoulded. Hasbro released Shockwave in North America in 1985, Hasbro Bradley (MB) also released their version in Europe. Takara renamed Shockwave as Laserwave which was numbered 49 and was the last Transformer in their 1985 line up. Laserwave also came with a 9v battery just as the original Astro Magnum.

A boxed original Shockwave from Hasbro (Source: eBay)

Hasbro Bradleys Shockwave (Courtesy of 20th Century Toy Collector)

Takaras Laserwave (Source:

That's it for the official variants of Astro Magnum / Shockwave, in part 2 I will concentrate on the huge variety of knock-offs released from this mould.

Go to Part 2.


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