Tuesday, 6 September 2011
L is for Longarm/Shockwave
The Winning Toy
"Shockwave is the ultimate spy. Able to change his voice, energy signature, and even his appearance at will, he has spent years infiltrating the Autobot power structure. Graduating near the top of the class from the Autobot Academy, he moved through the ranks of the Elite Guard, eventually becoming head of the Intelligence Division. Not once did anyone suspect the bright, friendly Autobot known as Longarm of being a devious enemy spy.
* Expert code breaker and thief.
* Enjoys blackmailing Autobots in positions of power.
* Stole his Autobot identity from old historical files."
Toyline: Animated US
Size Class: Voyager
Faction: Decepticon (with an Autobot alter-ego)
Function: Deep Cover Spy
Quote: "Secrets are the foundation of power."
Longarm's robot mode is short and stumpy (like how a Decepticon would view an Autobot) but this size and stature is quite a shock after you see his second robot mode anyway. Longarm's torso is mostly grey with a white chest and a silver Autobot insignia in dead center, though for some reason it's on a black background, so it looks odd against the white chest. His limbs however are mostly black.
His chest is connected to his upper arms by a large grey connector which enables it to move fully (like a human's) and the lower arm is connected to the upper arm by a small black connector on a pivot, which again allows fully mobility. Longarm's hand is connected by a ball joint and can be folded inwards by about 90 degrees, as well as being rotated around at the wrist fully. Longarm's hand has sculpted fingers on the inside (but the outside looks more claw-like for some reason....) His upper arm is also hunched forwards due to the way he transforms to crane mode, making him seem much smaller.
Longarm's legs are connected to his groin by a thick black connector that is able to bend downwards to give him a squat posture. The upper legs are connected to the lower legs by a hinge that enables him to bend it backwards by about 45 degrees, however since he also has a pivot in place just under his knee joint, he can also rotate his lower leg around fully. The feet are able to support the full weight of the body due to the supports on both sides
Longarm's crane attachment can be stored on his back like a backpack or on either arm by plugging it into the sockets (giving him a crane weapon akin to Cybertron series Mudflap's)
Longarm has a grey helmet that surrounds his white and black face. The helmet is very deep (reaching backwards fully past his actual back!). His forehead has a bright red orb (for reasons explained in the next part) and under that are 2 blue eyes with black "mascara" around them. He has a sculpted mouth just under the nose that comes from his forehead piece. The helmet has a ventilator-like system coming from the sides down to the chin.
Now, doesn't he seem like a lovely little chap...but wait a moment! If I move a few pieces around he changes into another character entirely.....
Ahhh! It's Shockwave! He's been Longarm in disguise this whole time! Now that I'm over this shock, i'll review his toy (that was a shocker though!)
Shockwave's body is obviously the same colour scheme as Longarm's but with a few differences, because he rotated his lower legs around, the formerly all black legs are now partially grey (and the feet are swapped around too). He also has the same articulation, so I won't mention that again.
Okay the first thing that tends to be changed is the insignia, basically it is on a swinging hinge that you activate by just pushing one side in one way until the golden Decepticon insignia is revealed.
The next thing to change is his arm posture, by doing the (often) tricky process of folding the connector upwards into the chest and lowering the outer part of the connector too, you can make his arms appear much higher. Next, you should fold his upper arms inwards, so that it's the way it should be in his tank mode, and as a nice added treat, you can also flip out some red shoulder ornaments to make him look different to his Autobot counterpart.
After you've dealt with the upper arms, you then pull out the lower arm from the upper arm, revealing a thin section of the arm as well. Next you rotate his lower arm around by about 45 degrees, rotate his hand around a bit too, and fold out the white claws from his lower arm to create Shockwave's three clawed hands.
As for the legs, you dislodge them from the connectors they are on in Longarm's mode and extend it downwards until it clicks, giving him more height than Longarm, next, if you folding out the tracks from the lower part of the upper leg, you can fold it upwards to create more armor for the upper leg (and also helps it to mirror the arms somewhat as well. The lower legs are simply rotated around by 180 degrees. Shockwave's cannon is just like Longarm's crane, and can be positioned in the exact same ways as the crane
The head conversion is possible the most impressive however in my opinion, you simply rearrange it, so that the neck is exposed, and as you straighten it out the Longarm face retracts and a black panel replaces it, giving Shockwave his classic black face and red eye combination. The ventilator's white parts are able to be rotated upwards on a pivot which gives him antlers.
I have to note here that despite both being the same character, the simple movement of a few parts makes Shockwave almost a third taller than Longarm (Longarm's head comes to the bottom of Shockwave's chin!)
Longarm/Shockwave is quite a rarity in toy terms, in that only does he have 2 robot modes, he also has a different alternate mode for both robots! Both modes of course feature molded tracks that are pretty much a stable for Cybertronian vehicle modes in the Animated series (Ratchet, Ironhide and Optimus had them in their Cybertronian mode toys, and most other character's character models show tracks for wheels on most vehicles, with the exception of cars, jets and bikes)
Okay, first up is Longarm's alternate mode, a tracked Cybertronian crane. Basically he is a grey, black and white vehicle with what look like legs coming from the "torso" of the vehicle. These "legs" don't walk, nor are they on wheels to make him roll (like in the TV series) but there's no undercarriage in the way, so you can just drag it across the floor if you want to
The crane on top is connected to the "torso" by a peg inside a hole, which enables it to be rotated 360 degrees. The actual crane arm is able to be raised up and down by about 45 degrees. The hook itself is able to be swung on it's pivot at about 180 degrees, and is strong enough to hold a small item by it. The crane does have a small problem however, there's a Decepticon insignia visible on it's underside, which is VERY visible when the crane is upright
Now, if you rearrange a few parts of Longarm's vehicle mode, you can create Shockwave's Cybertronian Tank mode. The colour-scheme obviously stays the same (it's a nice toy, not a magic toy) but because of the flattening of the legs, the tracks actually reveal wheels on the bottom, enabling him some very smooth riding.
The tank turret is made from the crane attachment in Longarm mode, so it retains the same pivoting ability. The crane arm itself is retracted into itself, which flips out the end of the cannon (with Decepticon insignia on the end). It retains the ability to be raised by about 45 degrees upwards as with the crane arm. On the bulk of the turret two small cannons are flipped out manually to make it look different to the crane attachment.
A little think I like to do to differentiate Shockwave a bit more from Longarm, is to fold out his robot mode claws to connect to the front of the rear tracks, just to make it a bit more interesting as well. Shockwave's cannon has a small indentation on the end of it, which is purely for aesthetic reasons.
The Animated version of this character has a fairly interesting history, he was introduced first as a Boot Camp mate of Bumblebee and Bulkhead in a flashback in season 2 (as well as in a few scenes in The Arrival, working with the Elite Guard) Longarm is later seen talking to Bumblebee and the other Earth bound Autobots about a possible Decepticon spy, believed to be Wasp coming to Earth to get revenge on Bumblebee for exposing him, when it's revealed to the Audience that Longarm Prime, the head of Cybertron Intelligence, is in fact the Decepticon Shockwave, who works for Megatron himself.
Shockwave is later exposed as a double agent, but not before fatally injuring Ultra Magnus and stealing his hammer, after which he fights with Ratchet and loses the hammer, before being rescued by Megatron, who has since stolen Omega Supreme, and uses Arcee's memories to try and control the giant Autobot and clone him. He is eventually arrested with most of the other Autobots in Megatron's inner circle and sent to Trypticon prison.
It's also been hinted at that Shockwave killed the former head of Cybertron Intelligence (Highbrow Prime) and took his job soon afterwards as Longarm. It's also worth noting that Shockwave/Longarm's inclusion in the series was at the original character's voice actor's insistence (he also voiced him in this series as well)
Now, the name Longarm has been used a few times in Transformers history, most times as a Mini-con crane in the Unicron Trilogy, but also as an Autobot Tow Truck in the movie toyline (whose character model in Rising Storm was also slightly redesigned to emulate this version of the character). The name also has some similarities as Longrack (BWN) and Strongarm (Energon) but these are mostly just naming similarities since neither had crane based alternate modes (Longrack was a Giraffe/Excavator and Strongarm was a Jeep)
Shockwave on the other hand has been used many, many times. The first as with many characters comes from the original G1 toyline where he was a repaint of an older figure called Astro Magnum from an older toyline from ToyCo in Japan as well (with Astro Magnum's grey colour scheme being the inspiration for this toy as well) which was also released in Radio Shack as well under the name Shackwave. Shockwave received a new toy in the Alternator's toyline, but renamed as Shockblast for Trademark reasons where he turns into a Mazda (which is a bitch to transform by the way)
Shockwave also has characters from Energon (as Shockblast as well) and the Movie series, being one of the main characters in the 3rd movie, Dark of the Moon and all it's associated media. Also, Tidal Wave was called Shockwave in Armada and Energon in Japan. And of course a purple repaint of this very figure, made available with a legends class Bumblebee figure as well sold at Target stores (giving his "true colours"
Something interesting to note is that in the original TV series, Shockwave is played as a sycophant and totally loyal to Megatron, however in all the comics before and after that series, he's been played as a power-hungry psychopath (he managed to defeat all the Autobots in his first full appearance in Marvel, and took down the Dinobots in his Spotlight issue)
Is he Cool?
Yes...Yes...YES he is an extremely cool toy, there's no way to deny it, even if you don't like the Animated TV series, it's aesthetic or anything like that, there's no denying that this is a well designed and truly unique toy. Not to mention is play value and the fact that his toy is just fun, plain and simple as it is.
This toy fits well with the rest of the toyline, without looking out of place or out of character-model, like one would expect considering his extensive transformation process, ie there's no parts just poking out from his tank mode in his crane mode or vice-versa
This toy is a real rarity in any of the Transformers toy lines, I mean a robot with 2 vehicle modes isn't that rare (Blitzwing, Astrotrain and so on) and even a figure with 2 robot modes (Punch/Counterpunch) but this figure has 2 robot modes AND two vehicle modes, with one vehicle belonging to each robot no less! And what makes this even better is that all four modes look different enough that they are convincing as separate characters (I mean if you saw 2 of these toys together, one in crane mode and one in tank mode, you might not realise straight away that they are in fact the same mold!). Of course there have been older multi-form transformers before (like G1 Sixshot and RiD Megatron) but all of those modes have parts of their other modes in their other modes, and doesn't tend to work quite as well as this one does.
Another good thing is the level of articulation in this figure, normally characters who have multiple modes tend to have limited articulation (so as to hold all the unused parts and they tend to hinder the movement of the legs or arms etc)
The head gimmick is quite frightening really, you always thin it's going to collapse on itself, but it is quite stable (luckily). Also, with Shockwave's head design, and the positions of his arms and legs etc, he looks like the grim reaper's classic appearance, whilst his smaller Longarm mode looks more like an astronaut.
I highly recommend this figure to any collector, regardless of your collecting preferences, if you like Autobots, have him as an Autobot, same with Decepticons. Also, something I like to do is to use this grey version as Longarm, and the purple repaint that is also available as Shockwave (they look best in those modes individually as well)