Superlink Toy Reviews: Laserwave

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Superlink

Transformers Superlink

General Information:
Release Year: July 2003
Retailer: Japanese exclusive
Price: $40 (Depending on Import Retailer, purchased at Image Anime)
Accessories: Missile



Tech Specs:*
"If you would make the universe kneel, then obey my left arm."
Held captive for ages, Laserwave is one of the more prominent Destrons in terms of firepower. The Optical Gazer blast emitted from his left arm can wipe out any line of defense instantly. Using this fearsome destructive power as a pretext, he has set his gaze, shining out of the darkness, on the leadership of the Destrons.

Strength: 10 Intelligence: 8 Speed: 7 Endurance: 7
Rank: 9 Courage: 9 Firepower: 10 Skill: 10

*Tech Specs translated by Doug Dlin.

Energon, and in turn, Superlink has offered up a ton of sculpts and color schemes that are meant to serve as homages to classic Transformers characters. Unfortunately, for a plethora of reasons, a lot of these homages are not exactly named what you might expect.
One example is Shockblast, who is an obvious Shockwave homage, but since Hasbro no longer has the rights to the name, they can't name him that. In Japan however, this toy escaped this fate - originally named Laserwave in Japan, this "Shockwave homage" is named Laserwave, a direct nod to its predecessor.

Vehicle Mode:
The idea for Laserwave being a ground based vehicle actually has its origins in initial sketches done by artist Don Figueroa when he was develping ideas for the Transformers War Within series. The way he envisioned it, Shockwave would be a ground vehicle with treads and a big cannon (in a similar shape to the G1 cannon) mounted in the middle. However, once "War Within" was published, Shockwave had kept his original form as a giant gun.

Transformers Energon has already borrowed elements from "War Within" designs, something you can see in Inferno and Starscream. Laserwave is just another toy in the line (technically Superlink, yes I know) that is also using elements from a "War Within" design, but it's most interesting because the design elements used never actually made it to the final comic book.

Laserwave's vehicle mode is quite simple actually. In essence it is a long vehicle on four treads with one big cannon, and two smaller cannons at the back. The interesting thing about the design of this toy is that the base portion with the treads and support parts is relatively narrow and sleek in design and size. What this does is visually enhance the appearance that the cannon is overwhelmingly large. The design of the cannon is not the rectangular shape one might expect. Rather, it is more squarish in shape at the base, and then extends out into a more traditional round barrel. These basic parts are surrounded by small details and extra bits such as vents on the sides at the base, two large circles (speakers for the sound effects) in the middle and the translucent green pieces at the end. This creates a complicated and rather powerful looking cannon. Very nice.

Functionally speaking, the cannon can move up and down, and the entire base that the cannon is connected to can turn around in a circle. The dual barreled cannon in the back can move up and down. Although the vehicle has treads, these are sculpted, plastic ones. In reality, it rolls on wheels underneath the toy. The cannon is also a missile launcher. Push the black tab on the top all the way forward and the missile in the front launches out. Not only that, but you get a cool "launching" sound effect. At the same time, the translucent green panels at the front all splay open. It's a nice, dramatic effect that combines visual and audio - nicely done.

While he may already have quite a bit of firepower at his disposal, Laserwave can add even more in the form of Energon weapons! On the cannon itself, there is one hole on either side that will accomodate Energon weapons. At the front section, there are another two holes. Want to ad more power? No problem. Flip up the rear, dual barreled cannon and you'll find a Mini-Con Powerlinx point! I'm glad they managed to squeeze this in since it offers line to line/year to year continuity in design.

Laserwave's color scheme is heavily based upon G1 Shockwave's color scheme, but with some additions. The primary colors here are purple, silver, grey and green. The green is probably the most interesting choice. This ranges from a dark, miltiary green on the cannon and dual barreled cannon section to translucent green plastic on the tip of the cannon and on the sides of the vehicle. Silver is used quite a bit. The treads are all silver, the base of the rear cannon barrels are silver and it even makes a big appearance on the circles that hide the sound effects speaker. A metallic color used a lot less is gold, which can be found on the base of the mian cannon and on top of the rear tread sections. In reading this, the color scheme sounds a lot more chaotic than it actually looks, which is really a surprise. I'm typically not a fan of the current Transformer line fascination with the color green, but it works nicely here.

Transformation to Satellite Mode:

  1. Flip the dual barreled cannon back.
  2. Rotate the cannon barrel around so it faces the opposite direction.
  3. Flip down the black piece on the underside of the cannon barrel.
  4. Separate and swing out the front portion of the vehicle to the sides.
  5. Rotate the purple parts so the parts that would be the botto of the robot feet face up.
  6. Flip up the panels on the purple sections of the robot legs to reveal gold panels.
  7. Swing the rear treads of the vehicle mode back and connect the rectangular portion on the leg sections to the holes on the rear treads.
  8. Flip out the panels on the rear tread sections to reveal more gold panels.

Satellite Mode:
While it is obvious this mode was originally meant to be more of a satellite (albeit, a destructive one), the television show has made this mode more of a mobile weapons platform, an aerial form for Laserwave if you will. Either way works, and it is kind of fun to have a mode with flexibility in its play value.

The new visual bits revealed here are a series of vacuum metallized gold plated panels. These are all done in a grid pattern that most people have come to associate with solar panels on satellites. What's really neat is that there's more to it than that. Also revealed are a ton of missiles! Now, none of these launch, but they are a visual treat as it makes you contemplate the sheer power Laserwave has at his disposal. In one section alone (one of the lower leg sections) there are sixteen missiles! It's just really, really awesome to contemplate how much destruction this guy can cause. For a bad guy, that works out perfectly.

Functionally, you can still do everything you did in the vehicle mode. Energon weapons still attach to the main cannon, and if you want to get creative, you can attach them to the foot pieces. The Mini-Con peg is exposed now, so you can attach whomever you want on there. The missile firing still works in this form as well.

One of Laserwave's sound effects was tailored to this form. When you push the black missile launcher tab a bit, a sound like some scrambled transmission plays over and over. I thought it was really neat to use a cool sound effect like this that fits the mode, rather than having some generic "pow" effect or something.

Like many third modes on Transformers, this one is a variant of an existing mode, but I think it looks different enough in both configuration and details that it works very well.

Transformation to Robot Mode (from Vehicle Mode):

  1. Swing the main cannon up.
  2. Split the front of the vehicle in half.
  3. Rotate the grey parts in the front so the wide parts face up, then swing back the smaller heel pieces.
  4. Swing back the piece with the rear treads.
  5. Fold the rear tread sections in.
  6. Swing the section with the main cannon up.
  7. Rotate the waist so the cannon becomes his left arm.
  8. Swing the dual barreled cannon out and down to form the right arm.
  9. Fold the rear tread section up. It locks into place by having the long piece with the rounded edges attach to a corresponding hole on the main body.
  10. Turn the robot head around to face front.

Robot Mode:
It is the robot mode which grabs you by the head and slaps you silly with homage visuals. Let's go down the list:

  • The robot head is shaped very much like the original, with a single eye and antennae on the sides.
  • The chest has a triangular shape to it, a stylized version of the chest that Shockwave had. Also, the chest panel is translucent plastic, which G1 Shockwave's chest was also made out of.
  • Laserwave's left arm is a cannon, similar to how G1 Shockwave's left arm was an arm cannon.
  • The leg design is very reminscent of G1 Shockwave's, with knees that extend out a bit and silver parts on the sides. Of course, here those silver parts are treads. On G1 Shockwave, they were handle grips.

While many of the design elements are homages to G1 Shockwave, these parts are all very exaggerated compared to the original. The head design is angled upward and the antennae are angled out to the sides like the head of a Macross Valkyrie. The translucent chest plate has a much more severe angle to it than G1 Shockwave's and the legs are much bigger in size, being normal sized legs instead of thin ones. All these sleek design elements speak of a very cool update on a classic character.

Laserwave's color scheme is also very much in line with G1 Shockwave's. He's mostly purple, but has more grey/silver than Shockwave did. The green is mostly concentrated on his arms here, but his eye is translucent green as well, with light piping to boot! What's nice is that the presence of green doesn't take away from any of the other colors. If anything, it adds an interesting backdrop for the purple, grey and silver to work against.

Thanks to the cannon arm and Mini-Con Powerlinx peg, you can still attach extra weaponry on this guy in robot mode. You can use the ones on his ankles, but they would look a tiny bit odd.

Laserwave has seventeen points of articulation in this form. This is provides plenty of articulation points to put this guy in some really sweet poses. He already looks sleek, but then having him in certain stances or aiming his weapon at the enemy just looks plain awesome. Thanks to the size of his feet, there are no stability issues either when he's standing (which you'd think such a big left arm would cause).

Final Thoughts:
Laserwave is a fantastic homage to a G1 character in two forms (G1 and War Within) with a good modern sensibility. Highly recommended!