Cliffbee.com: Shockblast Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Shockblast
Series: Energon
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Modes: Tank, Satellite



TANK MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 28cm Width: 9cm

   A long purple Cybertronian tank with purple moulded treads, some silver detailing including the tread gears, a giant green turret on front and a black and silver laser assembly on the back, Shockblast has some transparent yellow blades on the front of the turret, as well as a transparent tip. There's also some grey and black plastic here and there. To be honest, this is a bit of a mix of colours, and while for the most part I understand the colour choices I'm not really sure why a purple tank has a green block on it. It's dark enough that it doesn't clash at all, but it's still somewhat incongruous.

   This tank mode _looks_ like a robot mode twisted around. While some Transformers are clearly designed around fantasy modes (Hod Rod, for example), Shockblast is obviously not designed around this mode. Yes, he has treads and lasers, but the cannon is more of a laser than a true cannon. There's a few gaps here and there, giving away the design process. The turret doesn't actually clip down, although the whole assembly can ratchet around. In the middle there's a spark crystal, which is more or less lost amongst the giant green block in front and twin laser assembly behind it. There's also a Decepticon logo on the right side, just in front of the spark crystal, but it's not exactly prevalent here - it comes to the fore in robot mode.

   Play value is probably the best aspect of this tank mode. There's a sliding switch on top of the green block, push it halfway forward and the three blades will flip out, while three smaller panels behind them will lift out and the missile-tip at the front will stick out slightly. Slide it all the way and the missile will fire about half a metre, and the yellow panels will fold back and lock in place (revealing themselves as solar collectors). Sliding the switch back will retract the yellow parts and grasp the missile if you've re-loaded it.

   There are ridged wheels underneath his treads, allowing Shockblast to roll noisily - as tanks tend to do. As mentioned, the turret assembly ratchets right around, and there's a fold-out "leg" for the cannon itself to rest on. The robot hips sag a little, so swinging the turret as part of your play wont really work. The cannon can lift up to about 80 on a ratchet, but the 55 and 25 notches look better than the top notch.

   Lastly, if you arm Shockblast with batteries (not included, and they're the reason he has a huge green block), there are two sound gimmicks. When the slider is in the halfway position, Shockblast makes a laserish sound, which continues until you move the slide. When pushed right forward (or retracted), you'll hear a missile firing sound.

   Regular readers of my toy reviews will know that I'm not impressed with electronics gimmicks simply because they're included - and Shockblast's sounds don't really do much for me. I'd much rather the green block be smaller, or the launcher mechanism better than Shockblast devote so much of a mediocre tank mode to two AAA batteries and a speaker.

   When it comes down to it, it's very obvious that this tank mode is more an afterthought than an integral part of this toy. The cannon unit could be better designed, the entire turret assembly is longer than the base and there are simply far too many gaps. The worst of Shockblast's three modes in my opinion, not least because the treads are the most tank-like aspect.

TRANSFORMATION TO SATELLITE MODE

   Essentially, you simply fold everything out except the feet and head. Basically, the laser assembly lifts up to become a solar collector, the switch slides halfway to open the blades and yellow solar collector panels. The treads swing out to the sides to form - you guessed it - solar panels.

SATELLITE MODE
Height: 14cm Length: 38cm Width: 30cm

   A rather spread out affair - but then satellites tend to be spread out since their solar panels want to maximise exposure and aerodynamics aren't an issue. The purple is still his main colour, but there are now a total of eight gold-painted solar panels (one at the back, four sides, three small in front), so gold is suddenly very prominent. The green cannon is somehow more appropriate here, as is the transparent yellow.

   I find that if laid flat on a table, this satellite looks a little static, but if you tilt the cannon down - either in your hand or by hanging him off the edge of the table (he's stable like this) makes for a very dynamic orbital craft. With that giant cannon in front, this is more of an orbital weapon that civilian satellite, it's appropriate for a Decepticon.

   The play value here is more or less the same as that of the tank mode in that it revolves around the cannon. The slider switch still works, although the midway point is now the default - I recommend _not_ putting batteries in if you want to use this mode. The wheels are obviously no longer functional, and while the turret's ratcheting is still possible it's not really appropriate. The end result is slightly less play value, granted, but it's more meaningful since Shockblast works as a satellite.

   It almost seems as if the designers originally intended for Shockblast to transform into a satellite and were later told they had to give him another mode, because there's a lot more of him devoted to this mode (all those panels and the death-ray cannon) than to the tank mode. The marketing guys at Hasbro even call this a base mode - which it's clearly not. It's a shame then that he comes packaged in the tank mode, since this is both a more interesting mode and far less of a stretch of the imagination.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   From tank mode, fold down the front treads to form his legs, separate the feet, rotate and fold out the heelspurs. Rotate and the rear tread assembly onto his back, fold the tread panels flush against his back. Turn his head around to face forward and flip up his antennae. Swing the cannon down to form his left arm and unfold the laser-assembly to form his right arm, unfolding the claw inside. BTW it's possible to swap the arms, but this is the standard configuration since the Decepticon logo is meant to be on the front of his left shoulder, not the back of his right one.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 19cm Width: ~15cm

   Again mainly purple with that giant green block forming most of his elongated left arm, Shockblast has a grey chest, grey thighs and feet and a black right forearm. His chestplate is transparent yellow with some purple paint and his face is a single transparent yellow eye (with lightpipe). This is a very, very, obvious tribute to Shockwave, which is most apparent on his head, but also the cannon-arm and the purple with grey feet and thighs. Aside from the green - which again doesn't quite fit - this is a really good colour scheme which confirms that this is the mode Shockblast has been designed around.

   Well proportioned and with big chunky shoulders, Shockblast looks strong, and with a giant missile-launching cannon for one arm and a claw with a laser-equipped shield as the other, he doesn't look like the type of guy to pick a fight with. The rear treads form something of a backpack, but it's nice and compact and you can flip out the contained solar collectors for a powered up mode. While this backpack is technically kibble, Shockblast's huge footprints and this powered up mode mean the backpack is not a drawback in any way.

   This is a pretty poseable robot mode. The head turns, the shoulders are both double swivels and the elbows bend in wards. The claw's inner prong can open and shut while the laser-shield can swing up. The waist swivels, although sadly there's a transformation hinge at the front which doesn't clip together - you can fold the robot in half and there's nothing keeping it together other than the friction of the hinge (which is thankfully quite significant). The hips and knees contain both hinges and swivels, while the ankles rotate and the feet and heelspurs are hinged. Twenty two meaningful joints, not including the shield or the various hinges on the cannon itself - the end result is a very poseable Shockwave homage. Thanks to the fantastic leg articulation and big footprints, Shockblast is incredibly stable despite carrying a huge mass on his long left arm. Even pointing the cannon straight out to the left isn't a problem!

   The play value here is really all about the poseability, although the cannon gimmicks all still function - the missile launcher gives Shockblast a ranged weapon while the claw and shield combine for a handy compound melee weapon. While it's not exactly play value and doesn't work as well as some others, I feel I should mention the lightpipe in his eye, which helps enhance the G1 tribute.

   It's difficult for me to really find any major flaws specific to the robot mode - and considering Shockblast is designed around this mode, that's not so surprising. The only thing that really stands out is the loose waist connection, but the friction in that hinge makes this more of a annoyance than a problem. The G1 tribute is great, the colours work, poseability and play value is great and the cannon arm works well.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of although Sixshot is a repaint of Shockblast.

OVERALL

   Clearly designed around his robot mode, Shockblast is a nice tribute to Shockwave and a solid toy in his own right. The robot mode is excellent and the satellite mode is also strong - which makes me wonder why it has been relegated to the add-on third mode when his tank mode is a lot weaker. Ignoring the marketing decision to try pretend that the satellite mode doesn't exist, this a good toy with appeal for both G1 fans and fans of newer lines. Don't let the tank mode (in which he is packaged) fool you - Shockblast is a worthwhile toy - 7.5/10

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