Review: FansToys FT-03 Quakewave

(Note: This was one of the first reviews I wrote up for this site. I’ve edited it up a bit and replaced the original pictures with better ones, but it’s still a bit different from my standard review format, so don’t be, like, scared or anything.)

Third Party Transformers toys have come a long way since their rise to stardom with the FansProject City Commander and TFC Toys’s Battle Rollar. What started as upscaled garage kit add-ons has turned into a vicious, competitive market full of both unique ideas and derivative copies. At this point, the big names are FansProject, TFC Toys, iGear, and MasterMind Creations (with MakeToys and ToyWorld rising to the top), and for a new third party company to make a name for itself, they have to debut with something big. With their initial debut release neutered by a coincidentally-timed official product reveal, FansToys bounced back something fierce with their ambitious FT-03 Quakewave, their unofficial Masterpiece Shockwave.

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Robot Mode

The first thing you may notice about Quakewave is that he looks very much like Shockwave from the G1 cartoon. In fact, he’s almost a perfect representation of the G1 cartoon Shockwave… from the knees down. Yes, his lower legs are very much not the iconic long, swooping shapes of the original, and are instead very square and blocky (though the big chunks of die cast metal do imitate that). Is this a valid criticism? Not really. Why? Because this toy is amazing. This is a Masterpiece Shockwave in everything but name. The head and body are sculpted perfectly, with some really nice and solid plastic and very good build quality. Quakewave feels dead solid, mostly thanks to the impressively satisfying ratchet joints that comprise the majority of his major points of articulation. Even the smooth non-ratcheted joints on his elbows and outward waist are firm and feel great. The only real balljoint on this figure is the head, which does everything except tilt from side to side, which is a small (but forgivable) bummer. The only joints that feel a little loose are his die-cast feet, which have a tendency to not hold their position. Thankfully, due to Quakewave’s ankle articulation, they rarely need to hold poses.

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As far as gimmicks go, Quakewave’s only real feature are his LEDs: a yellow one located in his noggin and a red one in his left forearm. I’ve only installed the one in his head, and it turns his translucent golden orb into a BLINDING BEAM OF YELLOW INTENSITY. It’s a gorgeously bright optic, but it will leave spots in your eyes if you glance at it. The red LED located in his laser gun hand is equally brilliant, and with both lights on and dark surroundings, Quakewave looks downright striking.

Since I got in on the third run of Quakewave, mine came shipped with the optional opaque hands and the alternate rotating forearm. The opaque hands are for those (such as myself) who weren’t so keen on the original toy-accurate translucent purple hand/laser in favor of a more cartoon/comic-accurate light metallic purple. While I could have lived with the clear hands, the fact that they threw these alternate hands in is incredibly awesome. Equally awesome is the alternate forearm piece that completely replaces Quakewave’s left forearm in order to allow his hose to be mounted on the bottom of his arm rather than the top, but at the expense of the light-up feature. While it is possible to cram the light functions into the new arm, I personally think he looks fine as-is.

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Alternate Mode

In homage to ToyCo’s 4 Changeable Astro Magnum, Quakewave assumes the form of a big ol’ space gun. It’s quite faithful to the original gun mode, and feels very solid in the hand, mostly due to the die-cast in the handle. Quakewave does rely on partsforming when it comes to the barrel of his gun, but it’s so well-done and intuitive that I can’t call it a criticism of the toy. It makes a nice, compact backpack in robot mode and an accurate magnetic impulse defuser in altmode. It’s also worth noting that the laser LED ends up at the tip of the laser gun’s barrel, so I assume that would look pretty cool turned on (as long as your wires are intact). Also, Quakewave does not have any sort of functioning trigger. Whether or not that matters to you depends on how into role-play you are, I’d assume.

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Things to Look Out For

Now, this is a Third Party toy, and while one of the finest, it does not totally match up to mainline toy quality. The biggest issues are:

  • His batteries are REALLY DAMN HARD TO PUT IN. Quakewave was designed to use CR-1020 batteries, which are nigh-impossible to find in North America. The closest replacement is the CR-1025 battery, that fits… barely. You will spend a good fifteen minutes futzing with the head battery, trying to shove it in without damaging the delicate wiring. The arm battery is a bit easier to get in, but it’s still a tight fit. Definitely use caution and refer to Vangelus’s video for guidance.
  • The on/off switches are very, very fragile. They’re simply long, thin plastic parts that can easily snap if you’re not careful. Sadly, that happened to my Quakewave’s head switch. I can switch it on, but I need a tool to switch it back off.
  • Collapsing/extending his legs for transformation requires a ludicrous amount of force, and you may feel like you’re going to break the toy the first couple of times. One way to do it is push/pull at a slight angle to pop one out/in first, then use that leverage to get the other one out with less effort. You really need to transform him a couple of times to get a feel for it.
  • The hose apparently has a wire in its core, so it is prone to breakage if worked with too much. Odds are it won’t rot away like the G1 toy’s, though.
  • When sliding the laser hand to the side for the gun mode, it is entirely possible to detach and/or break the wiring running from the LED to the battery box. This really all depends on the quality of soldering and wiring of your figure, and there is no easy fix to this that doesn’t require a good amount of wirework. Just be sure and use caution.

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Overall

Don’t let the dangers put you off this toy, though. FansToys hit it out of the park with Quakewave, and with three runs of this figure plus an exclusive grey Shackwave variant, I’d say they’re making up for the premature neutering of Acoustic Wave. This is a near-perfect Masterpiece Shockwave. He scales well with official MP releases, standing a bit shorter than MP-10 and a bit taller than MP-11. Selling at a price roughly equivalent to MP-13 Soundwave, Quakewave is well worth the asking price. If you can get him for below $200, do not hesitate.

Where to Buy

Sadly, Quakewave seems to be sold out on all the major sites and no more production runs are planned, with FansToys moving on with their MP-style Dinobots. Aftermarket prices on eBay and the like are up to insane numbers, so I would recommend hitting up TFW’s Junkion Exchange threads to find a good deal.

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