Review: Transformers MP-29 Masterpiece Laserwave (Shockwave)

Man, the Transformers Masterpiece line just won’t slow down, will it? It’s only just now April and we’ve already had 4 figures released this year, with 3 more on the way. When it was announced that the line was getting a change in designer, a lot of people expected the releases to slow down a bit, but clearly that was never an issue. Hell, it seems like just a few months ago that MP Hot Rodimus and Laserwave were first revealed (September, as a matter of fact). I’ll be working my way backwards to catch up on the gamut of Masterpieces I’ve accumulated, but for now let’s take a look at the latest release: MP-29 Laserwave, better known as Shockwave.

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Alternate Mode

Like the original incarnation of his commander, Shockwave is one of those silly Decepticons who decided to turn into a gun for some reason. Unlike Megatron, Shockwave turns into a purple space gun, so we can actually still get toys of him. And what a purple space gun it is! It’s pretty much identical to the G1 altmode, just with a few altered details and different colors (we’ll get into that later).

The gun mode has a lovely heft to it due to the bits of die-cast in the hilt and along the barrel, and feels surprisingly rock-solid; give it a good shake, and nothing feels loose. Aesthetically, the only nitpicks I have are that the section of the barrel where his elbows are looks a bit too thin, and the targeting plate is a bit too small. It also would’ve been nice to see the tip of the barrel in silver, but I think that may have looked odd with the rest of the figure’s colors.

One feature of note is the trademark rubber hose, which you may notice doesn’t look very much like rubber. Well, it’s not! It’s actually a very long, purple spring with a string in its core, so you can’t pull it too far and wack it up. This is a pretty genius idea to replace the historically-problematic rubber hose; rubber tends to degrade over time and is easy to break. Time will tell if the spring method develops issues of its own, but for now it seems solid.

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Finally, Shockwave’s gun mode has a surprisingly neat light feature. With the help of two AAA batteries (not included), you can pull the tiny, difficult to access trigger to make his gun barrel illuminate with a brilliant purple LED. What makes this cool is a switch on the side of Shockwave’s torso that changes the LED function from a continuous light to a pulsating light. In this mode, click the trigger and the barrel’s light will pulse 10 times. It’s not something I expected in a light-up gimmick, but the effect is really neat and I’m glad it was included.

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Robot Mode

Following the Masterpiece line’s modus operandi, Shockwave bears a strong resemblance to his appearance in the G1 cartoon, albeit with a slightly lighter hue of purple. The sculpting is pretty damn spot-on, nailing the particular mix of geometric shapes and curves that make up the one-eyed logician’s body. Speaking of which, Shockwave’s head is a bit boxier than most modern renditions. Overall, MP-29’s aesthetics come off as exceptionally cartoonish, and a lot of this effect is due to the colors.

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As with many things (*coughscalecough*), the G1 cartoon was very inconsistent when it came to colors. While Shockwave’s toy was a very dark violet, G1 Shockwave was much lighter; exactly how much lighter depended on the episode. Sometimes he was a fairly medium purple, sometimes he was almost as dark as his toy, and sometimes he was a much paler shade. This pale, almost-lavender color also happens to be the color of his animation model, which I assume is why it was chosen for this toy.

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Problem is, most renditions of G1 Shockwave (and his various namesakes) go for the darker purple, which makes this Shockwave seem a bit off-color in comparison. To be quite honest, this doesn’t bother me at all. It’s definitely a lighter purple than I associate with Shockwave, but it certainly doesn’t look bad- I actually really like it. I’ve seen comments that it makes the figure look too much like a toy, especially since the majority of it is unpainted plastic, but… it is a toy. A toy with Masterpiece engineering and an extremely cartoon-faithful sculpt, but a toy nonetheless. If I had the choice, I’d have probably preferred a darker purple, but I’m completely satisfied with what we got.

Moving on from colors, let’s talk about articulation. Most of Shockwave’s promotional images were of him, more or less, just standing still. Admittedly, that’s pretty much what Shockwave did in the G1 cartoon when he wasn’t being shot or riding Starscream. That being said, and to my surprise, this guy has a surprising amount of articulation!

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First off, we’ve got ratchets everywhere: three ratchet joints in his shoulders to give universal movement; ratchet elbows with just over a 90 degree bend; ratcheted ab crunch; ratcheted hips with a soft ratchet outwards, and much clickier back/forth movement; ratchet knees that don’t get very far; and the back/forth movement on his ankles are heavy ratchets. (Note: the outward ratchet inside his shoulder is extremely tight, to the point that it seems to put stress on the middle rotational ratchet; I’m not sure if this indicates possible breakage, but it’s best to be careful, just in case.)

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Additional joints: ball-jointed head with an appropriate tilt potential (and he can look waaaay up) and ball-jointed wrists; bicep and thigh swivels; waist rotation that allows for about 20 degrees in each direction; and ankle tilts. His waist swivel and backwards leg movement is impeded by his backpack (or more accurately, his butt pack), and his knees are very limited. The ab crunch is really the biggest surprise here, and knees aside he can pose pretty darn well, though I find the overall sculpt doesn’t lend itself well to dynamic posing. But seriously, when did G1 cartoon Shockwave ever look remotely dynamic?

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MP-27 Ironhide set the standard pretty damn high for Masterpiece accessories, and while Shockwave can’t hold a candle to his tray of cartoon reference, he comes with a pretty decent selection. First off, he comes with quite a few optional hands: in the cartoon-accurate solid, pale lavender color, he comes with both a right and a left standard Masterpiece hand (he had two normal hands in at least one appearance), the standard laser cannon, and a replacement right hand in a salute position to replicate his usual pose. The saluting pose takes a bit of forced perspective to look right, but it works.

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Shockwave also gets the right jointed fist, the saluting hand, and the left laser cannon in translucent purple, which is accurate to the toy. I do wonder why these versions were included given that everything else about the figure is so slavishly cartoon-accurate, which makes the toy-accurate clear hands look a bit out of place. But hey, it’s always good to have options.

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When your left hand is literally a big laser cannon and you turn into an even bigger laser cannon, what do you do with your free hand? Why, wield a smaller version of your own gun mode, of course! On several occasions, Shockwave would indeed use a gun modeled after his own altmode. Why? Because it was a bad 80’s cartoon, but it’s also kind of funny. True to the ‘toon, Masterpiece Shockwave comes with a miniature version of his purple space gun that can be wielded by himself or by anyone else with the standard Masterpiece hand design. It’s a completely unnecessary and goofy accessory, but like MP-28’s fishing rod, I’m really glad it was included.

Finally, Shockwave comes with a big box-ish thing which serves a few functions. We saw it earlier in the review as the stand for his gun mode, but in robot mode it can either stay separate from the toy, or it can clamp around Shockwave’s gun barrel backpack to make a slightly larger but much more purple cartoon-accurate backpack. I find that Shockwave looks much better with the purple box attached, but if you just can’t deal with partsforming, you’re welcome to leave it off and just treat it like a stand. However, at least on my copy, the whole backpack assembly has trouble locking into the figure’s back if the box isn’t attached, so you might as well just suck it up and enjoy your cartoon-accuracy.

I also should point out that Shockwave has another light feature, this one built into his laser arm. When you press the button on his left forearm, his laser barrel lights up with a red LED. Unfortunately, I can’t show you this because I don’t have two LR44 batteries laying about, and I can’t be bothered to go buy any.

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One thing you may have noticed is that Shockwave doesn’t have any Decepticon badges. That’s because you get a sticker sheet with a few different insignias (two of which designed after the off-model cartoon appearance, which is hilarious), so you get to decide where you put them. Forearms for cartoon, chest for toy, or shoulders for Marvel comics. Like the clear hands, having options for toy-accuracy seems incongruous on a toy that is so cartoon-based, and I would’ve rather had the badges tampographed on since I’m rubbish with stickers.

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Before we close this review, there is one major question surrounding the release of this figure: how does the official Masterpiece Shockwave stand up to the unofficial Shockwaves? I can’t speak for Quakeblast, but I do own FansToys Quakewave. If you read my review of that figure, you know that I’m a big fan of Quakewave, despite his fragilities. I still think Quakewave is an excellent toy and one of the best renditions of G1 Shockwave, at least from the knees up. Quakewave has a few things over Shockwave: slightly better articulation, somewhat nicer colors, less cartoonish proportions, larger size, and a killer light-up eye feature.

On the other hand, MP-29 Shockwave’s overall aesthetic is much more appealing, his electronics aren’t horrendously fragile and frustrating, he doesn’t need to partsform, he pulls off the character’s distinct sloping legs, and he doesn’t have any scary, “oh god I’m about to break this toy” moments in his transformation. Most of all, MP-29 is much more fun to play with. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but which one is better?

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Honestly? I think they’re both great, and I don’t think one is objectively better than the other. Both figures are excellent renditions of G1 Shockwave at a Masterpiece scale, with Quakewave leaning towards a mesh of G1 toy, comic, and cartoon, while MP-29 leans hard into cartoon accuracy. At the end of the day, just pick which one you think looks better. Just keep in mind that Quakewave is a third-party piece and MP-29 is an official Takara figure, and the typical risks and benefits inherent to those categories. Personally, MP-29 is going on display with my other Masterpieces, while Quakewave will be relocated to a miscellaneous shelf. That’s right, crazy Masterpiece collectors- I’m keeping both toys. Your minds have been blown.

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Overall

Without a doubt, MP-29 is the best figure of G1 cartoon Shockwave ever released. He looks great in both modes, has some awesome light-up features, poses surprisingly well, comes with plenty of accessories for varied display options, and he’s just fun to play with. That being said, MP-29 goes for a very specific aesthetic with its sculpt and colors, so if that aesthetic doesn’t jive with you, you may not get the most out of Shockwave. But if you’re a huge fan of Shockwave and you dig what you see, I would highly recommend MP-29. 

Where to Buy

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Comments
4 Responses to “Review: Transformers MP-29 Masterpiece Laserwave (Shockwave)”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice review. Thank you for helping me decide!

    Like

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