The first and only official Korean Transformer?
Various Korea toy companies obtained licenses from Hasbro and Takara for many Transformer figures from the late 80’s from G2 Prime and reaching its peak with the R.I.D. Car Robots line (called “Car Bots” in Korea), where Korean fans were lucky enough to see a official Brave Maximus reissue. As robot toys have always been a lucrative part of its toy industry, Korea has seen and contributed to many TF knockoffs, from the infamous Trans Dump Man to various oversized Bluestreak clones and many others that are now even more rare than their counterpart counterfeits from Taiwan or Hong Kong. However, whether official or not, with the exception of the earliest G1 figures, nearly all of these were manufactured in China for sale in Korea. As for official Transformers releases, only one figure (that I know of) was actually made in Korea for worldwide distribution. That is, of course, the subject of this post – Shockwave.
Shockwave was known to be made by Toyco, a Korean company which is still in business today. I assumed Toyco was owned by Intecs. Ltd, or vice versa, as often times the manufacturer operates various DBA’s if they make multiple types of products. However, I can’t find any references to Intecs on any Korean site. My guess is that Toyco was responsible for the mould and Intecs handled the electronics, or that Intecs is either a subsidiary of or was bought by Toyco. The Korean business registration system is horribly antiquated and copyright and trademark enforcement is still very inept, so it’s been very difficult for me with my limited Korean ability to track down any information on Intecs, but I will keep trying. On to Shocky…
Let’s get on to the contents. We’ve got a simple styro insert, not too far off from the original – in fact, it’s almost identical (which probably has led to a lot of eBay box scams*).
*For a full guide on how to tell the real thing from a fake, see the tfw2005 forum post by Joopsta.
vs. original US version insert:
The engineering flaws of the space gun mode always irked me. I had an official Hasbro release as well as a Shackwave; and what bothered me the most about the gun mode was the floppy barrel. No matter how new or untransformed a Shockwave that I’ve seen, the design of the hinged arms would always be weighed down by the gun barrel. Still, for a futuristic gun the details like the flip-up crosshairs and electronics were very satisfying. Too bad about that rubber hose though. It just never stood a chance.
The correct shade of purple for Shockwave has always been a source of controversy for many, but personally I’m a big fan of this darker version. It’s the most similar to the one I had as a kid by Hasbro. It is a shade darker than the real thing, however, and more violet in tone. I still really like it.
The KO version goes a step more ghetto and doesn’t even have one of the rubber ends inserted into the hole (at least in the case of the one I got), and the other end already came partially ripped open, exposing the wires on both ends. It’s alright though, cuz I’m only using him for display and I never leave batteries in electronic toys for fear of corrosive leakage after re-learning my lesson time and time again. (Poor Omega.)
I should have snapped a photo, but this KO also came with a fleet of Decepticon stickers of all sizes, from regular small G1 toy badge size to iPhone 6+ size (that I promptly slapped onto my aluminum luggage case). If that weren’t enough, the stickers are foil too. That freebie alone is worth a few bucks on the street. The other thing I like about these stickers is that the chest badge for Shockwave is a weeeee-bit smaller than the original decal and cut out better, making his chest tat look better in bot mode.
I thought it was interesting that mine had a gold eye, even though most KO guides on this figure mention that their Cyclops had a silver eye, instead of the original gold eye. Perhaps I got a later production run. The details are fine, the diecast parts are solid, and the only parts that I can complain about are the loose leg and the detached rubber hose. The plastic does feel a bit brittle, especially at the hips where it is the thinnest – if you were to lift up the metal thigh too fast it could definitely break off the edges pretty easily. But as far as KO’s go, this plastic is a higher quality than most, with a good texture and sheen that surpasses that of current releases. But only time will tell.
To KO or not to KO, that is the question.
Whether or not to buy KO’s is a sensitive subject for many collectors, especially with the amount of time and money spent on the authentic collectibles. The existence of a knockoff of an item definitely dilutes the value of the genuine item, as prices an item can fetch will always diminish if the supply is in abundance, even including reproductions. Is that always a bad thing? Well, the value of collectibles may alway fluctuate, but if something that was once valued at $1000 drops to $500, then what does that to the rest of the items that were priced using that $1K item as a benchmark? The entire market shifts to compensate in order to continue sales, while items without KO’s now become the big ticket items – which only tips the KO manufacturer to set their sights on a new target to knockoff. Items are no longer priced according to their intrinsic value or former worth, and it becomes solely a buyer’s market based on supply. It changes the rules of the game.
So, as I share my glowing review of a KO, along with others on this blog, it is with guilty pleasure that I indulge in buying these figures, knowing full well that I am supporting the KO industry. KO’s are, in the end, bad for the collectible industry – bad for real collectors, bad for the original manufacturer, and especially bad for the environment, with all the excess pollution generated in addition to the waste generated by the production of the original. Will I stop buying them? Perhaps if I can get all the figures that I want in pristine MISB condition at standard market rates. But as it looks, that won’t be the case until I win the lottery. But whenever I can, I’d much rather buy the official release for my collection.
Final parting thoughts. Over the course of time, we have seen many original moulds such as Sunstreaker lost to damage, as well as trademarks and licenses lost to legal disputes and negligence such as ‘Streak and the subject of this post, Shockwave (who’s Shockblast?) So in some ways, these KO manufacturers do offer a small contribution to the preservation and popularity of these figures, allowing for collectors to continue enjoying figures they may never have a chance to own because of price or scarcity. This is where the official reissues come into play. If it were not for Takara’s reissues to date, some newer generations of fans may have never known the allure of the G1 and some pre-TF figures, from the boxart and packaging to even the character itself. There is a legacy of G1 (and its pre-TF) history that can not be properly expressed via images and text online – the physical artifacts exist as tangible evidence of a former existence. When Takara cannot make further reissues for whatever reasons, KO’s will have to do.
It fills a void that only a reproduction of an object can sometimes fill.
So, I would just urge toy collectors to exercise self restraint in supporting the KO industry. There are too many scammers selling KO’s as the real thing and clogging up the market with counterfeits. Buy official releases when you can and you help support the best franchise in history.