PHOTOBER THE 31ST – Tidal Wave

And with that, Photober concludes.

I decided to finish out this insane endeavor in much the same way that I began it: with a toy that is of particular personal significance. Granted, much of this months has been based on that in one form or another. From things I just thought were pretty cool like Imaginext Power Rangers figures or Thunderhoof who represents a whole range of Transformers I wish we could have again. There was a whole five day week of Playmates Star Trek figures because that line was a major part of my youth and something I still get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to continue to collect today. There’s a couple things that have very specific personal significance to me, like my relatively unique testshot of the Fall of Cybertron seeker mold. And a lot of it was just stuff that resonates with me a certain way, like Botcon Brimstone, GDO Wheelie, or the EMIA Hyaku Shiki. And that’s the kind of thing we end on as we visit the full mold family for Armada Tidal Wave.

Tidal Wave was a standout toy for me in Transformers Armada. Transformers Armada itself is a standout line among Transformers lines. It was and remains very very different from anything we’d had before, or really since. It rubbed some people the wrong way at the time, but I was all about this huge, chunky toys that did new, interesting, different things. And Tidal Wave was no exception. Tidal Wave ultimately came in three varieties. Two are related to Transformers Armada, with the third being the redeco produced to pad out the early part of Transformers Energon. Alongside Hasbro’s Armada Tidal Wave, Takara made their own version for Micron Legend which was distinctly different from Hasbro’s take. Though even this was not really show accurate, but that’s not important now. Micron Legend Tidal Wave – or more correctly Shockwave is something I spent a lot of years trying to get hold of for a good price, completing my set. It’s also easily my favorite of the trio, and is technically the focus of this Photober entry. But I couldn’t not bring the others along too.

Supporters on Patreon make content like this possible! If you’d like to join, get your name on a credit page, access to early first looks, and help me continue to make more galleries and other assorted nonsense, click here or on the image above to head to Patreon and sign up!

So of course Tidal Wave is a robot. And quite a big one, too. If it’s not actually the size of a modern Commander Class toy like Jetfire, it’s not far off. It was the biggest robot in Armada besides Super Base Optimus Prime in Full Pants, and of course Unicron. Tidal Wave was far from super-poseable, because that wasn’t what Armada was about. And for something this big and chunky, too many joints would definitely work against it. But basic poseability is present, though notably the knees are only transformation joints which just hinge inwards. But it’s not even a big deal because the robot is just the start of what this toy offers.

Tidal Wave transforms without any disassembly to become a super battleship. It is one of the absolute coolest sci-fi-adjacent things I think I’ve ever bought or received. In intent, this is probably supposed to be a naval battleship, but there’s little or nothing about it that tells you that it specifically can’t be a space battleship. Quite like there’s no rule that says a dog can’t play baseball. Whether you want to interpret it as sea faring, or space borne, it’s still a tremendous piece of design. It’s big, and heavy, and virtually all solid, and it holds together brilliantly. The bow can sag if held in the air because of how all the parts join up, but none of the ship is remotely going to fall off from the rest. The super battleship is in its finest form as the Micron Legend toy where the deco feels most unified, but the Energon version is also quite pretty with the use of clear green plastics here and there. The Armada version looks a little poorer in color layout, but it’s definitely not dull to look at. And as it was my only Tidal Wave for many months before the Energon one came out, I was plenty satisfied with its appearance too.

Because the one battleship mode isn’t enough apparently, Tidal Wave breaks down to become its own small battle group. The big ship splits to become an aircraft carrier, a twin-hulled destroyer of I’m sure imaginary design, and a troop-lander hovercraft. The comparative scales of these vehicles is roughly exactly backward, but hey, welcome to Transformers. I’ll admit, I rarely have the vehicles separated, but I really love that they’re here and bring that much more interactive value to Tidal Wave.

The aircraft carrier and troop lander even have their own interactive features for use with Armada’s Mini-Con assortment. The carrier’s function is really only viable for Ramjet, the Mini-Con included with Tidal Wave who is extra-small, but it’s really cool. The carrier has a working flight deck elevator, which Ramjet can fit inside. It provides useful storage for the Mini-Con, and the aircraft deployment action is a nice extra touch. Mini-Con hardpoints on the deck also roughly correspond to where takeoff catapults would be for that additional bit of detail.

The troop lander opens on top and has fold down seats to accommodate up to four Mini-Cons. Again, you need smaller ones, and ones that are built so as to be compatible with the shape of these seats, but that covers more ground than you might think. And actually I didn’t think of it before, but these seats might work decently for Titan Masters. A really impressive part is how sturdy the seats are. They have multiple connection points, with support arms that fold down on hinges with the seat. It feels really satisfyingly mechanical and substantial.

The destroyer is the least interactive, but an active Mini-Con hardpoint can be used to swivel all of the gun batteries together. That sounds more impressive than it really is, I’m afraid. The destroyer also has a pair of missile launchers, which still work well on all of my copies. Too well, in fact! You can theoretically leave the missiles loaded in any given Tidal Wave in robot mode, but I wouldn’t recommend it; the triggers are kept inward to the torso of the robot and are very easy to set off. Conveniently, usually accidental launches result in the missiles landing inside the leg cavities, so they actually don’t get lost easily. It’s still annoying though and while I hate having extra bits floating around, it’s so much easier leaving Tidal Wave without the missiles in robot mode. Anyway, the destroyer may not be Mini-Con interactive the same way as the other vessels, but it sure does look pretty cool!

The thing that blows me away about Tidal Wave is what the Hasbro versions cost when they came out. For all the different stuff they do, multiple modes and hidden play features and all that, and being a giant, it’s inconceivable to think that this started out as just a $25 toy. Armada made up new classifications for the different toy sizes, but they all ended up being analogous to familiar ideas. Tidal Wave, along with Megatron and Galvatron were “Giga-Con” class toys. The only higher price points were the $40 Super Base Optimus, and eventually Unicron who was either $50 or $60 as a Supreme. Giga-Con would end up renamed Ultra as early as the following year with Energon until the price point was dropped around 2010-ish.

Tidal Wave is one of my favorite Transformers molds ever, and I’ve been so pleased to have all three major versions in my collection. There is actually a fourth, the Superlink version of Energon Tidal Wave. But its deco differences are incredibly minor and to me not worth being bothered about. On the one hand, I wish the mold could have seen a little more use in more distinct decos so I could really get a little fleet of them going, but there’s something to be said for the satisfying feeling of actually owning every distinct retail version of a mold. Now, in 2013 I saw a test shot Armada Tidal Wave at a dealer booth for like $450. Had I been traveling on a more substantial budget, you can bet that thing would have come home with me. Alas…

There’s over 70 photos of Tidal Wave altogether. Too much to attach to this post, but check out the rest on Tidal Wave’s gallery page!

And with that, Photober comes to a close. It’s been quite a journey for me. There’s been learning along the way – like that the next time I decide to try this it’s going to be “every weekday for the month” rather than every day of the month, so I can make sure to have some downtime. But through producing so much gallery content, I also was able to learn or refine some techniques and figure out some stuff that had been eluding and frustrating me for a long time. And while I’m not eager to go for this rate of output again soon, the knowledge that I did and was able to do it is a boost to my confidence as a creator. There’s probably more takeaway from this, and I might try to collect some of those thoughts – at least the ones I learned useful stuff from – in to future blog posts or something.

To all of you who followed along with me on my month of madness through subject matter you probably didn’t always care a lot about – thank you! I get mired in Transformers a lot of the time almost out of necessity, but I do want to spend time on other things here and there just to refresh myself. Hopefully you were able to find some of the diversions in to other topics enjoyable. And to all my patrons, I kind of neglected you a lot during this month as the time started to get away from me. I’ll do my best to make up for that in the coming weeks. After I have a much needed break. But thank you all for being here. A project like this is something I simply could not have done without your support of my work. Thank you so, so much!

Until the next gallery…