Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The 1985 Hasbro Toy Catalog part 12-INSERT SHOCK HERE!

If I were to continue in logical fashion with my ramblings about the 1985 Hasbro catalog then this would be part three featuring the Insecticons, who were the robots on the pages immediately following the Autobot Mini Vehicles which was where I left off last time. Since the '85 toy catalog arranged the Transformers in ascending order by size and price point, larger robots like Shockwave would've been last in my series but at the rate I'm going it'd probably be another 25 years before I got around to writing about him. Recently I made a shocking discovery while wandering the Google newspaper archive and consequently my intuitive and emotional thinking processes came to one conclusion: I have to skip forward a bit so I can talk about everybody's favorite loose cannon-that one eyed, two horned, flying purple people killer-Shockwave. So I jump forward now to part 12 not because my ego demands it, but because logic (and the Google newspaper archive) dictates it.

The Transformers
Decepticon Military Operations Commander

Cold and calculating, Shockwave seeks to overthrow Megatron's position of supremacy over the Decepticons. Pull out the handle, swing open the barrel and flip out his feet...and he transforms from a laser gun to a brutal robot. Pulsating laser-action lights and two ultra-laser sounds add excitement to this dynamic weapon. Shockwave is packaged with a magnetic impulse defuser, bio card, Tech Specs chart and decoder. Rub the secret liquid crystal logo to prove Transformer authenticity. Operates on one 9 volt battery (not included).

16 1/4x3 3/4x10 1/4" CU.:1.8
WT,: 20.4 lbs. PK.:6

Shockwave (like Jetfire) was a late 1984 release and consequently his page in the 1985 Hasbro catalog didn't get a "NEW!" graphic like those accompanying the pages for assortments that were new for '85. Shockwave had been around well before publication of this catalog in early 1985, yet (also like Jetfire) Shockwave didn't appear in the '84 Hasbro product catalog or in the little pack-in catalogs that came with boxed Transformers in 1984. I think it's because of his absence in the '84 pack-in catalogs that the vast majority of toy robots historians today believe he was a 1985 release. I do believe he made an appearance in some sort of Hasbro promotional material predating the '85 toy fair book, I just don't know for sure when or how those theoretical promotional materials were published. Unlike Jetfire, Shockwave didn't make an appearance in the 1986 Hasbro catalog, making him one of the few Transformers to not appear in two consecutive yearly product catalogs. How illogical!

Toys N More 12/02/84
Karl's Toys 11/12/85

The standard Shockwave line art that appeared in newspaper ads in '85 is not based on the photography from the 1985 catalog. This isn't surprising because that's also the case with most every other Transformer that year, too. While Transformer ad line art was derived directly from the toy fair catalog pictures for every other year of G1, 1985 was the sole exception. For every other Transformer from 1985 my best guess is there was probably a 1985 pre-toy fair catalog with photographs that served as the basis for the line art Hasbro sent to retailers that year. But what makes Shockwave super special is his standard line art first appeared in late 1984, meaning there had to be some other source of Hasbro promotional material for him (and possibly Jetfire) that appeared after the 1984 catalog but before a pre-'85 toy fair book would have come out.

Burns 12/03/84


That's why I was absolutely awed when I found this December 3, 1984 Shockwave ad from a store named Burns of Laureldale in Berks County, Pennsylvania. It contains ad text that is almost exactly the same as the text in the 1985 Hasbro catalog, with one important exception. After the part about Shockwave wanting to overthrow Megatron it also includes the line "...not because his ego demands it, but because his logic circuits dictate it." That tiny little addition to the text proves that there was some sort of unique supplemental Hasbro marketing material released in late 1984 well after the initial launch of the Transformer line that included copy and graphics to support retailer advertising for Shockwave. This would be material predating and different from the 1985 toy catalog. Best of all I ran across the ad while looking through Google's newspaper archive, meaning that anyone can go check it out and see definitive proof of Shockwave being for sale in 1984 from the comfort of their own living room or office or lonely little glass bubble tower on Cybertron.


Perhaps the greatest limitation affecting the usefulness of the Vintage Space Toaster Palace is that ultimately the user has to trust that I am telling the truth about the dates the ads appeared. I can search the entire country for old newspaper ads and come up with all sorts of proof that Shockwave came out in '84 but since I don't reproduce entire newspaper pages then all anyone can do is accept on blind faith that I have the dates right. Thanks to Google that's becoming less necessary. I like to think of it like I'm the crazy neighbor who says Elvis is visiting me at night and doing concerts in my bedroom. Of course nobody believes me. Up until this point the only way I could prove it was by producing noisy, crappy cassette tape recordings of Elvis singing to me in my bedroom. Even faced with that evidence it's understandable if there's still skepticism. But being able to find a Shockwave ad from 1984 on Google's newspaper archive where anyone else can pull it up is like ditching the cassette recorder and catching Elvis in a bear trap. All I gotta do is keep setting up those traps and catching more Elvises and I'm sure people will come around and see the truth about the ol' purple titan's birthday. I doubt my efforts will dispel any misconceptions the internet has about this issue overnight but I'm hoping one day, armed with the power of that ultimate highest of geekly authorities-Google-I will be the guy who changed what the internet thought it knew about Shockwave. Not because my ego demands it, but because...well you know.

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