I am a total dummy and forgot yesterday was a “holiday.” So I spent my Thanksgiving cat-sitting, watching Roxette music videos, and heading over to a friend’s house to eat the cooking he spent all day on. He made this really good vegan puff-pastry thing with lentils and veggies in it, along with some killer mashed potatoes. I also tried Cheetos mac and cheese, which was slightly disappointing. So I took the day off.
That means we’re concluding Childhood Favorites Month on a Friday instead of my usual Thursday. Let’s blame the overeating holiday instead of me just totally spacing that there was a holiday at all.
Today, we’re taking a look at 1992 GI Joe Shockwave from the DEF sub-line, who is my final choice for this year’s Childhood Favorites. It was kind of a tough call, since so many figures fit that definition. But Shockwave won out.
ON the surface, Shockwave v3 is a simple figure from a complicated sub-line. GI Joe’s War On Drugs was waged with more expensive carded figures, all of which included light-up spring-loaded missile launchers. The enemy figures in the sub-line were also actual drug dealers, which was kind of a unique thing for a sci-fi military toy line. I have mixed feelings on the whole thing.
I do not, however, have mixed feelings on the figure itself. Let’s kick open the doors (after we’ve obtained a proper warrant) and take a look at DEF Shockwave!
The Helmet that Made Me Love 1992 GI Joe Shockwave (DEF)
The War On Drugs was a big thing when I was a kid. In 1992, I’d already been exposed to a ton of anti-drug commercials, “very special episodes” of cartoons and sitcoms, talks from parents and teachers about how only bad people do any drugs (aside from caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol), and the NES and arcade video game NARC.
In NARC, you played as a faceless man in either a red or blue jumpsuit armed with heavy automatic weapons and a fast sports car. You gunned down and ran over drug dealers. That was the game. By the time GI Joe’s DEF sub-line came around in 1992, that is how I pictured our Real American Heroes– specialized “anti-drug” soldiers who gunned down every guy in a trenchcoat they came across.
Shockwave, dressed all in blue and with an entirely-covered face, fit that role perfectly. We were taught to believe there was nothing more vile or dangerous than a drug dealer, and only a heavily-armed military cop could protect us from them. Hell, GI Joe and Cobra even teamed up in the DiC cartoon (one of the few episodes I saw as a kid) to get that no-good layabout Lt. Falcon into rehab and murder some drug kingpins.
In 1992, drugs were more evil and insidious than a high-tech, multi-national terrorist organization with a full-on military. Even Cobra thought drugs were reprehensible. Which is ridiculous, but that’s how the propaganda worked.
I received DEF Shockwave in 1992, along with a Headhunter. My friend across the street had Cutter and Headman. 1992 was a banner GI Joe year for me, so those four figures factored heavily into our Joe adventures.
And I thought 1992 Shockwave was an awesome figure– not just because of the NARC tie-in, either.
In 1991 or so, I actually briefly owned a 1988 Shockwave. I traded some kid at YMCA day camp another figure (I forget who) for his Shockwave, who I’d never seen before. I thought it was the coolest-looking GI Joe ever. I loved the full balaclava and the color combo. It was the best trade I ever made.
Then, the next day, YMCA day camp took us to the local Aquatic Center for swimming and hanging out. After I had my fill of the pool, I went out back to the nice little backyard the indoor pool had. I happily played with Shockwave and a Cobra figure around the grounds until, suddenly, it was time to go. I panicked because I still had to go get my towel, swimsuit, and lunch box from a locker inside and the bus was about to leave. In all of the clamor I left Shockwave somewhere in that backyard.
I was bummed out for weeks.
Then, in 1992, I received a new version of Shockwave. It was the DEF version. Somehow, it lived up to my expectations. It had a full mask, but it came in the form of a removable helmet. This was even better. I’ve always loved toys with removable helmets and armor, and a helmet that obscures a figure’s entire face is even better. The new Shockwave also came with a gun, which my traded-for 88 Shockwave never had.
I didn’t mind the little yellow battering ram tank, either.
From there, Shockwave joined the ranks of Heavy Duty, Eco Warriors Flint, Sonic Fighters Tunnel Rat, and Ninja Force Storm Shadow as one of my “main guys.” The game NARC did influence how I saw the character (and having an enemy drug dealer figure didn’t hurt, either), but I eventually moved past that one-note dynamic.
Shockwave survived the house fire and I somehow managed to never lose his helmet. It was the most valuable part of the figure, after all. For most of his life until the mid 2010s, he used Red Star’s AK-47. It just seemed to fit how I saw the character, as a heavily-armed door-kicking SWAT soldier who was the GI Joe team’s expert on urban operations.
I still have the figure, his helmet, and Red Star’s weapon. But he’s pretty beat up. So the one you’re seeing in this review is one I purchased a few years ago. I’m never giving up on that childhood figure, but I wanted a pristine one, as well.
For me, this is an important GI Joe figure. I’ve since realized the implications of what DEF actually was and what a militarized police force means in the real world. I have some mixed feelings on the whole thing, but the actual 1992 GI Joe DEF Shockwave toy is one that I still treasure.
So let’s examine those feelings and the toy itself.
1992 GI Joe Shockwave (DEF) Review
As with all of the 1992 DEF figures, Shockwave was an all-original mold. Every figure in the sub-line came with a large, light-up spring loaded missile launcher to justify the higher price.
Each figure’s file card had a large “Real American Heroes Don’t Do Drugs!” emblazoned on it. I’m not sure I believe that for two reasons:
- Then how do you explain Hunter S. Thompson, Carrie Fisher, and every Seattle grunge singer?
- You just know Chuckles, Heavy Metal, Ace, and Wild Card are no stranger to crushing up and snorting ADHD medication every chance they get.
Shockwave was released alongside a new version of Cutter, a new version of Mutt, and a new character named Bullet-Proof. The various DEF figures all got varying amounts of accessories and paint applications, and Shockwave does okay in both departments. He doesn’t have the color variety of Mutt or the accessory loadout of Bullet-Proof, but he comes with what he needs and is both aesthetically pleasing and believable in his role.
Shockwave is mostly cast in blue plastic, with black, silver, and flesh tone paint and/or highlights. It’s a nice sculpt, with a simple blue uniform worn under a black flak jacket. The boots, gloves, and knee pads are also well done. The gas and/or stun grenades on his chest are picked out in a nice silver, which keeps him from being too boring.
He also has two holstered pistols and a few pockets and pouches. In short, he looks like a functional SWAT guy.
He’s not overly detailed, but the sculpt is well done and has just about everything it needs. I’m also quite fond of his head sculpt, which is about how I picture the character when reading his file card– he’s a clean-cut choir boy who goes to church every Sunday and prefers to eat at a national chain steakhouse every year on his birthday, where he orders one medium-well steak, an order of onion rings for the table, one light domestic beer, and one cup of decaf coffee for dessert.
You don’t see many good guy figures who use this shade of blue, but because 1992 GI Joe DEF Shockwave is supposed to be a cop, it works for him and he doesn’t end up looking like he should be on the Cobra side instead.
It’s funny that later repaints and remolds of this figure didn’t include his accessories, because the accessories really make the figure.
DEF Shockwave came with a black submachine gun, a black helmet, a translucent yellow missile launcher, and a black missile that resembles a battering ram. He also came with a black figure stand, which is not pictured. You know what those look like, though.
The SMG is pretty nice. It was later used many times in the Battle Corps and Repaint eras, included with various figures. It’s a no-nonsense, workmanlike weapon that pretty much goes well with anyone. The figure holds it without a problem and it fits well with his look.
The helmet is where the figure really shines, though. When I was a kid, I thought it looked kind of like a welding mask. But I still loved that it obscured his whole face and you could remove it, so he could be either a menacing frontline shock trooper or a regular guy. Whatever the situation required.
In other media, the helmet’s face shield is sometimes represented as a clear visor. This was probably done because the character would look too scary for the DiC cartoon with that full black helmet. I’m glad the figure and card art went with the all-black look, though. The helmet looks amazing and has always been my favorite part of the figure. It also preserves the “masked badass” look the original Shockwave had– and he always pulled it off better than Beachhead.
I actually like the missile launcher, too. If you’re going to have a huge, spring-loaded launcher, making it into a tank-like battering ram for busting down doors is a great idea. It also looks like it has additional weaponry. For me, it joins the ranks of Clean Sweep and Lightfoot’s little robot pals. It’s always been a cool accessory that you don’t have to worry about the figure actually holding.
Most of the DEF missile launchers were pretty decent. Mutt’s net launcher is cool, Cutter’s grappling hook launcher makes sense for a guy who captures drug smugglers who operate on waterways, and Headman’s stationary launcher is certainly intimidating. Only Headhunter and Bullet-Proof really suffer from huge missile launchers they can’t really hold. Overall, I think Shockwave got the best launcher of the bunch and I consider it a vital part of the figure.
The 1992 DEF Shockwave mold was used a couple of times in the Repaint Era, for Sure Fire v1 in 2001 and Sure Fire v2 in 2002. Sure Fire v1 had a new head sculpt (and a helmet), but Sure Fire v2 just used the entire 92 Shockwave mold with no helmet at all. Sure Fire v2 did come with Red Star’s AK-47, though, so I kind of predicted that one as a kid.
Neither of these figures are as good as the original Shockwave use of the mold. They both look okay, but they don’t feature DEF Shockwave’s cool gun or helmet. I’m not a big fan of the Sure Fire character, either. He’s just one of those “good at everything” fanservice characters that comes off as boring and hackneyed.
Comparing DEF Shockwave to the original is trickier. I had 1988 Shockwave before I had 1992 Shockwave, so I have serious nostalgia for both figures. They both excel in different areas. Each figure has the same amount of color variety (4 colors) and each one features a cool look and great sculpting. I love DEF Shockwave’s removable helmet. 88 Shockwave has a seriously plain-looking chest with some missed paint applications, but the yellow Tetris block camo is so good that it makes up for it.
I think 88 Shockwave is actually the better figure, but only slightly. And that’s due to his accessories. His backpack, knife, and SMG are seriously cool. They also look good with the 92 figure, even if the blues don’t match. I am not a fan of that huge Desert Eagle pistol, though. It’s just awkward for a figure to hold. I love 92 Shockwave’s helmet, but his handheld weapons are boring compared to the original’s.
I don’t want to get too political over the course of writing about an old army doll, but it’s kind of inevitable. The war on drugs has been an unsuccessful disaster. Militarizing the police was undoubtedly a bad thing– it colors the public’s perception of law enforcement and it makes the police act like an occupying force with army hardware instead of people who serve and protect their communities.
DEF glorified a militarized police force and vilified drug users. There absolutely are evil drug dealers in the world. Many of them. But drug dealers and drug users are usually just normal people like you and I. Some of them may need counseling, community support, and rehabilitation. None of them need a full SMG mag unloaded into them.
So it’s hard to say how I see the character of Shockwave. I tend to think of my childhood portrayal of him, where he was usually just the Joe team’s expert on urban combat. Shockwave doesn’t really work in a jungle, forest, or desert setting, no matter what Marvel Comics tried to depict. So, if a mission calls for operating in a city, you want Shockwave on your side.
Now I think of the character less as a SWAT guy (though he has useful SWAT training) and more of a generalized city operations guy. If you combine 92 Shockwave with 91 Snake Eyes, 91 Low-Light, 92 Mutt, and 92 Barricade, you have a great urban operations force. He also works very well with figures like Mace and Chuckles. I see him as a guy who kicks down doors, but also a guy who leads investigations and surveillance efforts. He’s just as much of a detective as he is a SWAT guy, in my mind.
I think every figure in the DEF sub-line is fantastic. Shockwave might be my favorite, tied closely with Bullet-Proof. There are some troubling real world implications surrounding DEF, but you can honestly say that about GI Joe as a whole, anyway. DEF just gives you a bit more to think about and ponder than Slaughter’s Marauders or Night Force do.
Politics aside, I’m glad these figures were made. 1992 GI Joe Shockwave is a Childhood Favorite who I still really enjoy to this day.
Overall: Objectively, DEF Shockwave is a great GI Joe figure. He has great, practical colors that suit his specialty and is a worthy update to the original figure. His accessories are fantastic, especially the helmet. He also has a very cool spring-loaded missile launcher that serves an important purpose. He may not be quite as good as 1988 Shockwave, but he’s pretty damn close. Forgetting any real world baggage, this figure is Highly Recommended.
- 1992 Shockwave at Forgotten Figures
- 1992 Shockwave at 3DJoes
- 1992 Shockwave at YoJoe
Closing Thoughts on 1992 GI Joe Shockwave (DEF)
Thanks for joining me! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. If you do any black Friday shopping, please remember to be nice to the workers who are helping you out.
Childhood Favorites Month was quite fun and I intend to do it again next November. The hard part will be saving some childhood favorites until then.
What do you think of DEF? Which version of Shockwave is the best? What’s your favorite removable helmet in the GI Joe toy line? Let me know in the comments!
13 thoughts on “1992 GI Joe Shockwave (DEF) Review”
DEF! Gotta be honest: I had Cutter, and that was it. I didn’t keep the packaging, so I quickly forgot DEF was even a thing for a good while. My friend had Shockwave, but lost the helmet, so we usually used him as Generic Dude; I don’t think he had a name. Whenever we needed an armed civilian, we used that Shockwave.
MAN, though, that helmet would have been a game changer! It’s so awesome! And now I appreciate that figure a lot more, though the way we used him actually meant that we used him a lot and in many roles.
And man…the whole D.A.R.E. thing is a whole other thing. I mean we come from a specific point in time like everyone else. Our time was THE WAR ON DRUGS, but it really wasn’t much different from the general War on Things We Think Kids Shouldn’t See, as well. Violent video games, cartoons made to sell toys, etc etc. And yet somehow I grew up wanting my heroes to blow up robots because those random mooks probably had a family somehow. Weird how things work out!
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Thanks for stopping by, Eric! and lol at the name you entered.
I actually like your role for this figure, which was something much needed that ty companies never made. Until The Corps! made civilians, but I didn’t have those as a kid.
DARE was wild, and I didn’t even get to mention it in this article. You’d have a “cool cop” in sunglasses rolling up to the school in a murdered-out black Dodge Viper, telling kids that if they smell a marijuana they’re doing to die. We at least had the cool neon colored DARE shirts, though.
And I’m with you– I always preferred my heroes to blow up robots, too.
I never had any of the DEF figures – I only ever saw the images of them on the backs of the Battle Corps cards and wondered who they were supposed to be.
It was also strange for me to learn that there was a GI Joe figure named Shockwave, since I associate the name with the far more famous evil Decepticon. Since Shockwave isn’t really an A-lister, it hits in a way like if there was, I dunno, a Battlecharger named Duke or something like that.
I agree with everything you’re saying about the political implications of this figure. It’s hard to overlook now. I never played Narc as a kid, only recently trying out the game in the back of a dive bar, and I was legitimately disturbed by it. Parents practically called congress over something as harmless as Mortal Kombat, but Narc is a game where you walk into the street and mow down poor people with a machine gun, and every spray of blood and severed organ is lovingly rendered. It’s certainly a product of its time! As is also true for DEF, which at least kept the blood and guts in the realm of imagination.
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Thanks for stopping by, Drac!
NARC has to be a very interesting thing to experience for the first time as an adult– especially an adult who’s aware of what’s going on in the world. And you’re totally right that stuff like MK and DOOM are very tame compared to something real-world-sinister like NARC. It’s really strange which things our society deems as appropriate and inappropriate for kids.
I am sure I knew of the Decepticon Shockwave by the time I had either of the Joe Shockwave figures, at least due to Action Masters. But I guess name re-use between Hasbro properties seemed common even back then and never bothered me. It still doesn’t really bother me at all. Though it’s funny that a kind of nebulous name like “Shockwave” was allotted to these two very different characters.
DEF as a concept was kind of dumb in 1992. And, now, when you see the devastation the propaganda has had on our country, it gives me more pause on the entire subset of figures. Really, a lot of G.I. Joe is extremely problematic in today’s world. So, you kind of have to just accept that as a given in order to move forward.
For me, this figure was simply amazing. I got him in 1999 and he was one of my first profiles. Then, Sure Fire happened. And, honestly, that character somewhat sullied the entire mold for the 1992 Shockwave. They took one of the best figures in the line and simply stole his look to give it to a goomba who used his parent’s money to suck up to the Hasbro in the final years of the vintage run. This was a guy who had pictures of himself with pornstars on the official G.I. Joe fanclub webpage. And, faked letterhead from Hasbro’s legal team to try to take down Zartan’s Domain because it was the most popular G.I. Joe website of the day.
In 20 years, Shockwave hasn’t really recovered. At one time, I army built the ’92 figure. Now, I have one. He’s still awesome. But, he’s kind of tough for me to use because Sure Fire stole his gimmick. It’s not Shockwave’s fault. But, he suffers for it.
Fun fact, the 2002 Sure Fire was supposed to be the 1988 mold of Shockwave. (Tomahawk was supposed to be the ’86 Hawk, too.) But, Hasbro couldn’t find the molds in time to meet the deadline to get the wave out between the first wave of non o-ring Joes and the second wave that was resculpted to include o-rings after fan backlash. That back would have been much better with those other molds. I’ve tried the ’92 helmet on the 02 Sure Fire. But, it doesn’t really work. The black is too much of a contrast. He needs a softer color to really work.
I’ve always used Joe figures like this as a militarized police force. Often times, they were the bad guys. Or, they were “good” guys who abused their power and got kind of bad guys into really big trouble when they escalated a situation. I also used this Shockwave as an urban commando as well as a bomb disposal technician. He really is a great piece of sculpting and is an prime example where a V2 design was equal to the V1, even when the V1 was iconic.
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Thanks for the comment, Mike! And thanks for helping me put some pieces together on the guy Sure Fire was named after via Twitter DMs, haha.
I went back and read your old profile yesterday and I could tell it was an early one. It’s very short! I’d love to see you revisit him through a current day lens.
For a long time I used an extra DEF Shockwave head on Sure Fire v1 and gave him an extra DEF Shockwave helmet. That worked out well and gave Shockwave some good backup. And I used Sure Fire v1’s head for v2 so he wasn’t just a Shockwave clone. But I sadly put everyone back together again to take photos for this review. I actually wonder if an extra Law helmet might work nicely for Sure Fire v2? Or maybe even an accessory pack helmet of some kind. He definitely needs something.
I’ve always loved your concepts for law enforcement and security forces in the GI Joe world, too.
Preach! 🙌 I’m here for the sermon. 📖 My kid brain loved DARE, and loved GI Joe. But my kid brain did not love DEF figures back in 1992. 🤣
I was actually thinking abut this figure yesterday while at Kroger. I saw an armed security guard next to a display of Mt. Dew. He was dressed in a dark blue uniform with a black tac vest and black knee pads. On his vest, he had a right-hand-drawn pistol. Basically, he was cos-playing as 92 Shockwave (minus the grenades). Then I began to wonder why a display of Mt. Dew needed an armed security guard in the first place. 🤷♂️ #unsolvedmysteries
Since re-starting my ARAH collection, I’ve gotten all of the DEF figures *except* Shockwave. He’s common, but kinda pricy! For example: I found a mint on card 92 Bullet-Proof for a great price, but haven’t been able to find a loose complete 92 Shockwave in similar price range. 😳 Methinks Ol’ Shocky is popular. Mehopes I’ll find him soon – with his helmet, please and thank you🙏
P.S. I bet NF Shockwave’s gear would look incredible with this mold.
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Thanks for stopping by, Sam!
Maybe it was Code Red Mountain Dew, the most valuable of all Mountain Dew? Or they were expecting hordes of gamers to bust through the door at any moment. Hard to say. Kroger/Fred Meyer is the store that sometimes has armed goons guarding its dumpsters to make sure no one gets any free bread or whatever, though. So none of this surprises me.
I hope you find Shockwave soon! I have the full DEF set, but I’m missing Mutt’s proper gun, Cutter’s launcher, and I think Mutt’s net-missiles. It’s all either expensive or hard to find, sadly.
I’ve really enjoyed your childhood favorites feature! Especially because every figure you profiled is one I didn’t have until later releases when I was more prone to listening to outside interpretations. I really appreciate these windows into your childhood vision of them.
As far as DEF goes, I had Cutter, Mutt and the Battle Corp repackage of Headhunter. I bet I prioritized Cutter and Mutt because they were characters I was aware of; by 92 I was much more familiar with the Sunbow cartoons thanks to blockbuster. They’re both pretty great updates, who I’d easily nominate to the list of characters with excellent, probably better second molds.
So, my first experience with Shockwave was both Surefires. With the first one, I really didn’t understand what everyone online was so upset about. I didn’t really know the real life connections, I didn’t have any attachment to Shockwave yet, and from the grainy pictures I spent an hour loading on yojoe his head seemed pretty similar, and I probably prefer that more navy shade of blue he has. When the second Surefire came out, I just retroactively called the first figure Shockwave, because the mold was too good to only use one of them at a time. But everything I thought was cool about it was old news to people, and him and Big Brawler both getting a second go within a few years is a pretty damning sample of how little the team behind the scenes were listening to fans back then.
The details are really great. He’s very modern for 92, to the point that his later releases as Surefire still felt very concurrent to the tacticool sensibilities of the early aughts. If I had gotten him in 92, I’m not sure his battering ram robot could have beaten out Barricade’s back storeable missile launcher that I also interpreted as some sort of door smashing projectile, But I would have loved that helmet!
I didn’t take the drug part of DEF too seriously as a kid, I think I’ve talked before about how I rolled Eco Warriors and DEF together right into Mega Marines, it was all just stopping evil science chemicals that eventually added up to mutants. There’s lots of data about how much D.A.R.E. gave harmful and unnecessary awareness about drugs to kids who otherwise might not have encountered them for years… but I don’t know if we’ve studied enough how many kids that smug ass lion made into furries.
You might be disturbed by the glorification of an authoritarian police state, but you’ve gotta respect the attention to detail here: he even has “MADE IN CHINA” stamped on his butt!
My jokes tend to fall flat, but I couldn’t help that one. Yeah, the DEF was sometimes cringey at best, and disturbing at worst. I like the figures, so most of the time I just kind of ignore what they represent.
This Shockwave is a pretty nice figure. I think the sculpt and balaclava/hat combo on the original makes him a bit stronger, but this figure is comparably good. His SMG has to be one of the best guns in the line, and I can easily say I like it better than V1 Shockwave’s SMG. I like his helmet too, though I somewhat wish it didn’t have that slot for his eyes. Then again if it didn’t, people would probably complain about that like they do with the V1 Alley Viper.
Shockwave was made in China like fentanyl is now.
Surefires would’ve been better with that helmet.
Oh, war on drugs. (I already regret posting this) I’m less libertarian on that than I used to be. Marijuana being legal is fine…though I’m tired of going to public places and being around folks that smell like a Cheech and Chong movie. I don’t smoke it or anything. I’m no fun. But at least I take a shower and wash my clothes.
I don’t think US culture is mature enough to legalize all narcotics, nor is it a good idea. The corporatization of vices is not a good thing IMHO. People hate Big Tobacco, but soon we’ll have Big Weed, if all drugs were decriminalized, why not Big Heroin, Big CRACK. When things are made “okay” you have more people trying them. More people doing things like gambling/betting legally, for example, and everyone praising the tax revenue at the expense of other people’s “weakeness.”
But drug dealers are mostly scum, be they small timers, cartels or major international conglomerate whatevers. But drug addiction is a health issue. DARE was right about one thing: Winners don’t use drugs… because in the end they usually lose. For all the “functional hard drug users” there’s how many more that aren’t or that died? That’s why I’ve got a cousin with 3 kids other people had to take care of and who know how many abortions. That’s why we don’t have Carrie Fisher no more, that and maybe Disney pressuring her to lose weight.
Great review dude…i luv this version of shockwave its simple but perfect and the blue is a really cool shade…yr right though all of joe is kinda problamatic as you get older and put some thought into it…especially now as a father of a young kid i really have no interest in introducing problem solving through violence into her play patterns…i luv joe but it was a product of a specific time and place..thanks for the great reviews and all the work you put into them i really look forward to each one