“You’re stubborn as f**k and when people recommend things you deliberately avoid them”. Wise words from an old mushroom to his friend. You can’t really blame me, though, there’s just far too much to follow and give time to in the world of Transformers. Between the animated shows, the comics, vintage toys, modern toys, high-end collectibles, forums and intra-community ‘responsibilities’ – not to mention real life – picking up something new normally requires the dropping of something else. So what’s worth your time?
Until now, I had occupied myself thoroughly with the pursuit of certain types of pre-Transformers toys & paperwork, specific niche G1 Transformers variants, Binaltech and more recently Masterpiece and Transformers GT toys. I was fully aware of how much close collector friends of mine were enjoying other areas of the hobby such as 3rd party Transformers products, Minibots, IDW Transformers comics, animated shows like Beast Wars and Prime, Classics/Generations or ‘regular’ North American and Japanese G1 Transformers. Having these things recommended to me by my friends – who I trust – usually resulted in the brandishing of my two favourite weapons, the “I can’t afford it” shield and the “I don’t have time” sword. So what happened when the aforementioned recommendations were forced upon me by friends who were tired of taking no for an answer?
Exactly what they knew would happen, I’d love everything they recommended the same as they did, and I would proceed to become obsessed at the expense of other things. While Transformers GT was a pit of my own digging, the comics and 3rd Party toy you see above were the result of co-ordinated mass enabling and the generosity of wonderful people. So, let’s start with an area of TF collecting that I have been vehemently opposed to for some time, but have gradually come to appreciate:
The Fans Toys Quakewave or “Not-Shockwave” is a 3rd party product that aims to fill the gaping hole in the Masterpiece scale ranks of the Decepticon releases so far, probably intended to be more reminiscent of the feel and build of the earlier Masterpiece toys while respecting the more uniform scale of the latter releases. It features die cast metal parts, working optic and gun-arm lights and superb posability. More recently, the figure has been released with opaque purple plastic limbs to better resemble the G1 animation model of Shockwave (as opposed to the G1 toy) as well as a set of parts that allow the owner to modify Quakewave’s gun-arm to have the hose connected under the arm as opposed to the default over-arm configuration the toy was originally released in.
Surely nobody can deny that of all the often-stylised 3rd Party interpretations of G1 characters, the FT Quakewave is as true to the original concept and aesthetic of Shockwave as any 3P product has been thus far. Being so clearly aimed at Masterpiece collectors, they have had to go a long way to assure prospective buyers that the item is worth its near-$200 price tag. Knowing how expensive limited runs like this can become, the pressure has been on collectors to decide whether they will wait for an official Takara Tomy Shockwave, or opt for the Fans Toys version which seemingly offers the best of both halves of the Masterpiece line. I could see how beautiful the figure was, I was spellbound by pictures of it online, and was being held back purely by the price tag, other priorities and the fear of opening a can of 3rd party worms all over my fiercely focused collection.
These obstacles were immediately removed by the generosity of Asian collector Heroic Decepticon who’d decided he’d heard enough whining from me, and could not live with the injustice of my Quakewave-less existence. I would like to think that had I handled the toy in the flesh before now, it would have already resulted in an insta-purchase, it’s just that good. Quakewave is widely thought of as the very best 3P product we’ve seen to date, and that is an incredibly easy opinion to understand once you hold the item in your hands and transform, pose or just look at it. It’s possible to make that claim without ever having seen another 3P product, I repeat, it’s that good.
Talk about a solid and hefty feel, but weight and die cast alone are not quite enough to ensure quality. Joints are great, proportions are very much to my liking and he does exactly what I ask him to. There was no immediate stressing of plastic or any breakages/damage inflicted (apart from when I transformed the legs incorrectly and retracted them right onto the stoppers, causing a tiny dent). I would say the legs are too tight though, even when correctly rotated for retraction it requires immense brute force to get them to comply. Other than that, the rest of the transformation process is lovely, more involved than G1 Shockwave but nowhere near anything that could be considered complex.
I carried out the hose modification to make my Quakewave look as cartoon accurate as possible, however it did mean that I had to sacrifice the electronics in the gun-arm seeing as how the new forearm parts do not have space inside to house the electronics assembly, a real shame and the only down-side of the whole package. I didn’t want to display Quakewave with opaque limbs, so I removed the inner-laser electronics in order to keep the translucent limbs with the under-slung hose. The modifications really are that simple to carry out, and this coming from someone who’s never re-wired a plug.
You can see from the above picture that there are no issues displaying Quakewave alongside official Masterpiece Transformers, he’s the perfect scale for that. There’s a school of thought that the Fans Toys “Acoustic Wave” prototype that did the rounds a while back expedited Takara Tomy’s own efforts to get a Masterpiece Soundwave onto the market, high praise indeed if true. While Quakewave is not unanimously accepted as the Masterpiece Shockwave of choice, he’s as close as any 3P organisation is ever going to get. Could Takara Tomy promise such quality, die cast and opportunities for easy modification – while at the same time offer the aesthetic perfection and value for money? Is Quakewave perfect itself? No, for a start it can’t stand unaided in gun mode, and some cannot appreciate the chunkiness of the legs (one of my favourite features over chicken-legged G1 Shockwave).
In my opinion, those are not good enough reasons to say no to it, though. It does seem that if a product is pretty good, collectors can accept it as the representation they need for their collection, but if it’s 99% perfect, that 1% will nag them to the point of resistance. I can’t imagine my collection now without the FT Quakewave and I would have hated myself for missing out, which I would have done were it not for a friend. Should Takara Tomy release a perfect Shockwave, then all the better for the community as Fans Toys would undoubtedly have forced them to raise their game. I need one for gun-mode display anyway! I just had to get over that need for it to be “official”, an admittedly large obstacle that was removed by a good friend. Limiting beliefs and all that.
Quakewave wasn’t the first toy presented to me as a gift in order to open my eyes. Even though I’d finally cracked and purchased the Masterpiece Lamborghini toys, I had no plans to buy MP-10 or Hasbro’s Optimus Prime. That’s where Canadian collector Gordon Yip decided to step in and show me the error of my ways. Gordon was generous enough to understand that sometimes online images do not do a toy justice, and couldn’t stand idly by while a collecting friend denied themselves such a feat of cartoon-accuracy. I’ve rarely taken my eyes off Hasbro’s Masterpiece Optimus Prime since I received it, and the interactivity it shares with the MP cars and even the Transformers GT cars just enhances the appeal.
Either I’m the most irritating whiner in the community or I have the best friends in the fandom, because UK collector Morgan Evans saw fit to gift me a Masterpiece Grimlock, something he knew I would never buy myself. That would have been a serious mistake, as Grimlock has rocketed in price and the figure itself is beyond criticism, it’s phenomenal, and very hard to find someone who doesn’t subscribe to that view. The Black Tracks was a purchase I wanted to make but couldn’t afford nearly a decade ago, Santa Morgan made sure that wasn’t an obstacle. To be able to make this hobby about more than just selfish pursuits, realising that the real enjoyment comes from being able to share interests and happiness with the company you keep – even online – is what makes the Transformers community what it is.
Speaking of sharing interests, something that has opened up a completely new door for me in the hobby and allowed me to engage even more with my collecting buddies has been my discovery of the genius of James Roberts and the Transformers More Than Meets The Eye ongoing series of comics by IDW.
I say “my discovery”, but it’s another case of friendly recommendations falling on my deaf ears, and then finally being shown snippets and excerpts of the comics and realising what I had been missing. I had given up on comics a decade ago, finally finding them too immature for my liking. I was never a fan of TF comics, especially the Dreamwave series, so I didn’t give this the time of day.
Having caught up by – shamefully – reading the comics online, I promptly went out and bought the entire series after raiding all the old London comic haunts, resorting to eBay for issues #1 and #2. I’m always late to catch onto a good thing, and of all the items mentioned in this article, the comics have been the greatest gift. Quality storytelling, proper characterisation and a mature approach to the Transformers has got me irreversibly hooked.
The superb use of humour is a major feature of the series, as well as the in-depth characterisation of normally under-used characters and the ‘little guy’ in a particular group of Transformers. There is a feeling right from the beginning of the series that something enormous is being built up to, and I find it all totally believable. Not since Watchmen have I read anything so gripping. I’ve even read the whole series from issue #1 to #19 twice in the last two weeks, just to pick up on anything I had missed. Another great feature of MTMTE is how many lovely little nods there are to the toy-based heritage of the line.
And as for the art, Nick Roche and moreso Alex Milne have brought this title to life in a way that strikes dread into my heart should either of their names not appear on future issues. The same can be said for what Roberts has brought to Transformers and this series, I already know I’ll be going back to read certain issues over and over – something I never even did when I was crazy about comics years ago. Huge thanks must go to Gordon, Brandon and Morgan for making these stories accessible to me, to someone who had long given up on Transformers comics.
It’s really very easy to stick to your own guns with so much product and media out there for Transformers. I’m the kind of person who hopes he never receives vigorous film or movie recommendations as I hate the idea of telling someone I can’t stand what they like, my own tastes being so specific, and toys are the same. I even tend to get the same thing at my favourite restaurants on repeat visits. I don’t expect anyone to take my word for it – although I have had the odd happy/angry email from collectors about what my articles have made them buy – but Quakewave and the IDW MTMTE comics are some of the most enjoyable, quality and cherished things I’ve experienced in this hobby, made entirely possible by some of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
So what are you waiting for?
Endless thanks to Morgan Evans, Brandon Yap, Gordon Yip and Paul Hitchens for generous gifts and endless enabling over the years.
All the best