An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!

Yep, that's right, Shockwave. If a team of top lawyers stumble upon this site, there's more than enough copyright violations, libel and general illegality to mean attaching a non-trademarked name to a figure is the least of my problems. I might get the odd email from an irony-free fanboy (is there any other kind of fanboy?) but I can just ignore those, so it's all win. The toy is based on the same mould as the Binaltech Meister (released in America also as Meister, and I bet there's some incredibly interesting reason why they didn't call him Autobot Jazz). The mould was then given a new head, a wrist-mounted weapon in place of the left hand and some sporty additions to the car mode, and issued as the Binaltech Laserwave in 2004. Trademark reasons saw the American release named as Shockblast™ but no-one real pays much attention to this.

Despite general misgivings about the Alternators line I keep getting suckered in for some of the more interesting designs, and picked Shockwave up for about £8 (missing his handgun) recently.

The Mazda RX-8 is a fairly neutral car... it's one of those modern efforts that has nothing really wrong with it, but the design displays a certain lack of imagination. The deep purple works well, though, and all the usual Alternators traits are present - rubber tyres, details such as a Mazda badge, opening doors, 'working' front wheels and so on.

Sadly Alternators have some bad traits as well, and these are present on Shockwave as well - wince-inducing join lines being the biggest problem, plus the nagging feeling that nothing seems to pop back quite as smoothly as it did before when transforming back from the robot mode. There's also a rarer Alternators problem, albeit one that features in most fan-orientated Transformers lines now - a comedy number-plate, this one displaying the legend 'SHKWAV'. Someone should probably explain to whatever nerd who designs this stuff that the reason why Robots have Disguises is so they won't get recognised - it's not an opportunity to leave little hints as to the true identity of the robot scattered around.

Of course, the other problem with Alternators is the ludicrously overcomplicated transformations. I'm all for a bit of complexity, but most of this just seems contrived - the legs especially seem to take the scenic route. Most frustrating of all is the botched head retool. Shockwave's head is a dead ringer for the original, but this means it's a totally different size and shape to, ahem, Meister's. But they haven't bothered retooling the hole in the bonnet the head comes through, and as a result getting the head into place is a frustrating process. And while all this is going off, there's a decent chance the arms will just pop off. Sure, they pop right back on, but that's hardly the point. Sloppy, sloppy design.

Once you get there, the robot mode's great. Necessity has on several occasions forced the design team to move beyond guys who turned into cars in the first two seasons of the show, with some left-field results (such as robots with cat heads, or cars with cat heads). But this one really works, and Shockwave actually gels beautifully with the mould, rather than looking like a head just bunged on the top. The colour scheme is perfectly, but the figure also has the same solid look and poise. However, while there are a lot of joints, Shockwave has a relatively limited range of poses - like Hound, the feet are awkward and don't help with the figure's balance, while the shoulder joints are too delicate to move the arms around much.He can still strike a couple of dynamic poses, but it's really not the range that such a complex figure should offer.

Both modes look splendid and in either makes an impressive display piece. Shockwave really gels with the car mode as well, not just feeling like an arbitrary selection (hi, Ravage!). However even after you've got used to the slapdash engineering the transformation is still a lot of hassle to get a robot out of a car, and the moulding is too flawed to really make the figure as good as it should be.