Growing up on a farm, I was familiar with guns at a pretty young age. I had my first BB gun at the age of 9 and was hunting pheasant with my Dad with a 20-gauge shotgun by the time I was 12. When I was even younger, thanks to Star Wars, I often had pretend gun battles while running around the family homestead, blasting invisible Stormtroopers with a stick while I took cover in the trees or behind a propped-up tractor tire. Guns were a part of my real-life and my imaginary-life for my entire life.

That probably explains why I was obsessed with the Decepticon Transformers that turned into guns, mainly the leader, Megatron, and his military strategist known as Shockwave. My parents never got me Megatron, probably because it looked too much like a real gun, but they made an exception with Shockwave because he was clearly a laser gun.

Shockwave was released in 1985 after the initial wave of Transformers hit the market in 1984. To keep up with demand, Hasbro licensed quite a few transforming toy designs from numerous Japanese companies, giving them a new paint job, maybe adding some Decepticon or Autobot stickers, and christening them with a new in-lore name and backstory; Shockwave was no exception.

Shockwave was originally called “Astro Magnum” from Toyco and released in 1983…

I have to say, as much as I love the artwork of Shockwave on the Transformers box, that Astro Magnum artwork is pretty darn cool. It also accurately reflects which arm is the blaster, unlike the Shockwave artwork.

Toyco licensed their Astro Magnum design to quite a few companies who released their own versions of the toy in various markets, including Korea, Taiwan, and, most famously in North America, at Radio Shack, under the name Galactic Man.

As you can see, the design was exactly the same, just with a black and gray paintjob, which is also pretty darn cool. This version of Shockwave is known to TransFans as “Shackwave” and I kinda love that.

As I said, there were quite a few variants released, far too many for me to go into here, especially since I’m not an expert on the topic. If you really want to get into the weeds of Astro Magnum’s history, head over to Soundwaves’ Oblivion for a two part article (Part 1, Part 2) that gets really in-depth.

As you can see, my mother kept the box and the Styrofoam for Shockwave. I’ve said before that I’m not sure where she heard that I should be keeping the boxes for toys because they’d be more valuable someday, but thank God she heard it and followed up. The box is clearly showing it’s age, what with the plastic that has frosted over with dust, but considering it sat up in our non-climate controlled attic for 30 years, it’s still in pretty good shape.

Unfortunately, I lost Shockwave’s instruction manual and other inserts years ago.

And if you’re wondering, yes, the sounds and lights still work! Somehow we remembered to put him into storage without batteries installed, so his battery compartment is clean as a whistle. In fact, I’d have to say my Shockwave is in really good shape considering he’s one of the most fragile G1 Transformers out there. The list of design flaws on the page for Shockwave makes it sounds like he should have broken years ago. Needless to say, he stays safely inside his box on a shelf nowadays.

As you can probably guess, Shockwave is one of my favorite pieces in my collection. While I was obsessed with him as a kid, I found that I never really played with him all that much. He mostly stayed in robot form so I could still have him blast away at those pesky Autobots and I never took him outside on my rough-and-tumble adventures on the farm. He was more of a display piece than anything else and, in hindsight, I’m kind of glad about that because it meant he’s remained in great shape to this day.

Also, he’s just so dang cool!


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