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.
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!