Sunday, 3 May 2015

Shockwave, ToyCo & variants (Part 1)

Decepticon Shockwave
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.
STR…10; INT...10; SPD...7; END...7; RNK...9; CRG...9; FPR...9; SKL...9

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 won't stay straightened; 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.
On the 10th November 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.

The earliest prototype image of Astro Magnum I've found is a mock up from ToyCo's promotional magazine featuring a very light green and dark purple, in fact this colour scheme is very similar to one of the Convert-A-Bots colour variants of N-4-SR (scroll down for the photograph), coincidence maybe? The head sculpt is completely different as is the gun hand and and of the barrel.

Extract from the ToyCo magazine. The Japanese text reads "Transformable Gunbot".

There was also several adverts for Astro Magnum printed in magazines before or around its release featuring a very different colour scheme. These colours are also featured on Astro Magnums box.

Astro Magnum Advertisement including the price: 3,980 Yen, the same price Laserwave was sold for in Japan.

Astro Magnum Chrome Version
On the 22nd April 2021, ToyCo posted a photograph on their Twitter account followed by a video of a chromed Astro Magnum. They state this version did not appear to have been sold at retail so it may have been an anniversary item which the company kept stored away and only recently rediscovered it.

Source: ToyCo

Source: ToyCo

Source: ToyCo

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). The box also advertises the IC2 Sound board the toy has to make the irritating laser sounds.

Sticker Sheet. Source: eBay

Compared to the Transformers version, the obvious 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. The inside of the right leg is stamped with "ToyCo Trademark" and no date is present on this stamping. The box and stamping on the back of the battery compartment on the figure state this was made in Japan.

"Made in Japan"

A second batch of the Astro Magnum figures were also released in the Japanese box but this version came with 2 lots of instructions, the original Japanese and the instructions which were released with the Western version of Astro Magnum (see the red boxed version 2 below). Another difference with this figure is that it came with clear plastic hands instead of the original rose tint.

Source: eBay

Source: eBay

Astro Magnum Back of Box text (Translation)

Children love robots and pistols and this changes between the two. With 4 modes and an integrated IC2 speaker you can enjoy 2 different sounds and flashing lights. This is a toy that children will want.

99 Laser Rifle
Uses a high energy infrared laser and portable power cells. Used for battle support, it exerts tremendous destructive power. Capable of launching grenade-type attacks at the rear of shielded targets where conventional lasers are otherwise ineffective.

Overall Performance
Weight: About 3.9kg
Laser: AM-73X Infrared Laser (Wavelength 10.6ยต)
Output: Under normal operating conditions the output is more than Sx10° watt / cm2 from the gun barrel at a cross section of the beams energy density.
Power Supply: Power Cell: JBA 7000 Series with a 92 Type Power Cell.
Destructive Effect: From sea level altitude, a temperature of 20°C, atmospheric pressure of 1020mb, atmospheric absolute humidity of 8.5g

100m Range - About 50,000℃
500m Range - About 45,000℃
1,000m Range - About 38,000℃
2,000m Range - About 26,000℃

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 and I have seen examples with North American toy store price stickers. The figure is identical to the Japanese version but this did not come packaged with a 9v battery. Like the Japanese version, the western version was also released with clear plastic fists. The box also advertises the IC2 Sound board the toy has to make the irritating laser sounds.

Astro Magnum Source: eBay

Astro Magnum with clear  fists. Source: eBay

4 Changeable Spark Man

4 Changeable Spark Man (Source: eBay)

Previously thought to be a simple KO, Spark Man is an official ToyCo licensed product complete with an undated ToyCo trademark stamp on the inside of the right leg. This is also the first release to be manufactured in Korea (previously manufactured in Japan). Other than the missing trademark date, it appears to be identical to the more well known Galactic Man with the clear fist and gun hand. This indicates that Spark Man could well predate Galactic Man. The only company mentioned on the box is on a sticker on the top right saying "1983 Intecs Ltd" (which also appears on the 1985 G1 box). The battery cover had "Made in Korea" stamped into it much like the official G1 Shockwave; the box even states "Patent Pending". Coincidentally (?), "Spark Man" was a name attached to Shockwave in Ron Friedmans briefing binder to Hasbro, before he was given the name Shockwave. The sticker on the chest reads "1983 Intecs Ltd" which is rather bland.

Many thanks to @masarujasu for uncovering the fact that this was an official release. Please visit his blog article here.

Spark Man back of box (Source: eBay)

Galactic Man (Radio Shack)
Possibly the most well known "Pre-Transformer" which was released by Radio Shack in 1985 and retailed for $14.95 (cheap compared to Hasbro's Shockwave which 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 (now bearing a date), 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 Man's leg has Tandy printed on it.
Click here for the Tandy Galactic Man article.

Galactic Man (European Radio Shack)
Identical to the American Galactic Man, the only difference is the text (in French, Dutch & German) on the box.

Courtesy of eBay seller gerrutcamaro

Courtesy of eBay seller gerrutcamaro

Courtesy of eBay seller gerrutcamaro

Electronic Magnum

Source: eBay
An example identical to the official Radio Shack Galactic Man with a clear translucent fist and gun hand. This is made by Royal Condor, a Korean company in 1984. There are no ToyCo trademarks on the box however there is a ToyCo copyright stamp on the inside right leg along with the 1983 date. Earlier versions of this figure are near identical to the original Astro Magnum as they do not have a date stamped on the inside leg yet they have the "Made in Korea" stamp on the battery cover as seen here on TF Scraps blog.

Source: eBay

Note the trademark stamp on the inside right leg. Source: eBay

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 three variants, the colours of which are very different to the usual grey releases. One version has a very similar colour scheme to Galactic Man, another is 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 third colour variant 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: eBay 

N-4-SR version 2 (Source: TFW2005 member Bradforj)

N-4-SR version 3 (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 and on the back of the box it says it is manufactured by Intecs Ltd. The trademark stamping on the inside right leg is identical to Radio Shacks Galactic Man. 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 focus on the huge variety of knock-offs released from this mould.

Go to Part 2.


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