Saturday, December 05, 2009


Toys&Gifts Outlet 11/01/84
Well my truck is breaking down again and I need to go get groceries because my dog Scrounge is out of food so I thought it would be a good time to do the responsible adult thing and write a retrospective on 25 year old newspaper ads for toy robot laser guns. Specifically the greatest transforming toy robot laser gun ever, the toy that would eventually go on to be most prominently recognized as the Transformer Shockwave. As it turns out Shockwave was only one of many different versions of this same basic toy. I've written about ads I've found for some of these other alternate Shockwaves separately but I thought it would be a good idea to bring together a lot of them all in one post because doing so gives a nice overview of the toy's many incarnations. And besides, half the time Scrounge never eats her food when I put her bowl down anyways.

TG&Y 11/11/84
Playland 12/09/84


ToyCity 11/22/84

Why this guy appears in so many different packages from so many different companies is beyond me. I do know the officially licensed versions came from a South Korean toymaker named ToyCo and they were pretty generous with the license, allowing multiple companies to distribute it. ToyCo's own "Astro Magnum", Radio Shack's "Galactic Man" and Hasbro's "Shockwave" versions are all legitimately licensed versions of the same toy. Some of the others could be knockoffs or they could be lesser known licesnsees. Whatever the reason, this toy has the distinction of being advertised with more different names than any other robot I've seen. It was not entirely unheard of for a robot to appear in different toylines over a span of years back in the 70s and 80s, like what happened with the GoDaiKin GoLion eventually becoming Lion Voltron or the Shogun Warrior Combattra becoming the GoDaiKin Combattler-V, etc. What's incredible about this robot is it got advertised as Robo Gun, Tobot Laser Blaster, Robot Pistol, Astro Magnum, Galactic Man and of course, the Decepticon Military Operations Commander Shockwave all within the span of one year. I've written before about the Tobot Laser Blaster and how it may actually be an alternate name for the Convert-A-Bots N-4-SR, which is yet another clone of the mold. This begs the question-what is a Tobot anyways? Does it turn into a Robor or a Roy Tobot Gaser Lun? WHAT IS A ROBOR? Who is Roy Tobot and why is he selling Gaser Luns?


Eckerd Drug 12/02/84
What is so cool about this guy and the whole toy robot scene in 1984 was that these multiple versions were being advertised all over the place and were in stores simultaneously, the only exception being the Radio Shack version which debuted in 1985. Every other toy company had their Shockwaves in stores by Christmas of '84. In '85 the various incarnations dwindled off and the only ads I've seen for this toy from that year and beyond are the Hasbro and Radio Shack versions. This may be due to Hasbro locking up the license as their former vice president of Boys Toys Bob Prupis explained was standard procedure once Hasbro found a toymaker making a robot they liked. But back in '84 many different versions of this laser pistol got their equal time in the pages of newspapers across the country, most likely because Hasbro got to ToyCo after they'd already begun distributing Astro Magnum and had entered into their contract with Radio Shack. What was also notable about this toy's marketing was that the multiple license holders and bootleggers actually tried to differentiate their laser pistol cyclopses with unique plastic colors and packaging, unlike today when the most predominate Shockwave knockoffs emulate the original Hasbro release down to the boxes. I guess there's just no market for reproduction knockoff reissue Tobot Laser Blasters these days.

Radio Shack 11/24/85
Karls Toys 12/12/85


This is really just the tip of the iceberg and there are many many more Shockwave clones out there. ToyCo must have simultaneously made and lost a fortune off the popularity of this mold with all the official and bootleg versions. I will eventually get all these ads and a couple other Shackwave ones up in the Miscellaneous Robots section of the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. Although I already have a section devoted to Galactic Man I need to figure out how exactly I'm going to arrange all the Astro Magnums and Tobots, Tobors and Robors amongst all the other toy robot Gaser Luns. But before I do that I have a tog that needs fixing and a druck that needs feeding.

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