Armada Toy Reviews: Tidal Wave

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Armada, Decepticon

Armada

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Giga-con
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: July 2003
Transformation Difficulty Level: 4 (Expert)
Accessories: Ramjet Mini-Con figure, Missiles x 2

The third Decepticon entry into the Gigacon sized toys is Tidal Wave. Also known as the "Dark Fleet", this big guy is not only a Transformer in his own right, but he is also designed to be armor that augments Megatron (and of course Galvatron).

Ramjet

Vehicle Mode:
Ramjet is a fighter jet in vehicle mode. His primary color is purple, which matches the purple color used on Tidal Wave. His cockpit is painted gold and some parts (mostly robot bits and hinges) are molded in orange plastic. A Mini-Con symbol is molded into the left wing. Fans will notice that Ramjet is a very small Mini-Con, and he is. The reason for this becomes evident later in his interaction with Tidal Wave. However, despite his small size, the designers still worked in some nice details including lines and shapes that look like panels. On either side of the main body are two sections with vents sculpted in. The Powerlinx port is
on the underside of the vehicle.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the jet wings up.
  2. Swing the cockpit section back.
  3. Swing down the section with the Powerlinx point in it.
  4. Swing up the purple foot piece.
  5. Swing down the orange arm pieces.

Robot Mode:
Many people gave me very bad impressions of Ramjet before I got him, so I was expecting the worst Transformer ever when I got him. So I guess with my expectations braced so low, I was pleasantly surprised by the little guy with the understanding that he had to interact with Tidal Wave as well. Now I admit he's certainly not the best Mini-Con out there (Liftor is a bit more deserving of that title), but he's hardly a piece of garbage either.

Ramjet is mostly purple in this form, though we see more orange on his upper legs, face and lower arms. His lower legs are silver. He can't move much since his legs are basically
stuck together (the lower legs are one solid piece) and only his lower arms move (the entire upper body is one sculpted piece. However, sculpt wise he doesn't look that bad. His upper body has quite a bit of details, including a beveled chest and "abdominal" area and his lower legs have designs on them such as triangles. His face is a very standard mouthplate with a crest on the top of the head design, but it serves its function.

So, Ramjet isn't a masterpiece, but nor is he totally trash. Besides, you're buying a toy this big for the main event - not the popcorn and soda
right?

Tidal Wave

Vehicle Mode:
Tidal Wave's vehicle mode is a bit different than the typical Transformer. You'll notice from the picture above that he's packaged broken up into three different vehicles. However, his typical appearance in the Armada cartoon has featured him as one vehicle. In fact, he's both. Each vehicle can operate as an independent vehicle, or the three can combine into one large vehicle. The instructions call the vehicle mode(s) the "Dark Fleet", but it does not really specify whether it's the combined form or separated form that is
called that. According to Hasbro, the term refers to all three ships when they work as a team.
The individual ships don't have names, so I'll just use generic terms to describe them.

Aircraft Carrier: Tidal Wave's aircraft carrier section is roughly 7 inches long (roughly 17 centimeters) and 2.5 inches wide (roughly 6 centimeters) at the widest part towards
the middle. He is primarily two shades of gray, a lighter gray which makes up most of the top and sides and a darker gray, which make up a section of the top, sides and the underside of the aircraft carrier's front end. A large Decepticon symbol is sculpted at the front of the carrier and is colored purple. The front half of the carrier has orange lines painted in (indicating the path for planes) and the back half has angled lines indicating an alternate path. Both orange line sets are painted over sculpted detailing.

There is quite a bit of mechanical detailing on the carrier. Towards the front section you'll see exposed panels that show tubes and wires underneath. Two more of these panels can be found on the rear portion of the carrier. The control tower is on the right side and has windows sculpted in on two levels. It would have been nice to see them painted in to bring out the details more, but it's not a big deal (to me at least). Flip the carrier over and you'll
see the four small wheels that it runs on. You'll also see a bit more detail, with lots of tubes and circles connected to each other, a really neat touch since the underside is out of
sight most of the time.

In terms of interacting with Mini-Cons, the carrier has two Powerlinx points in the middle and one on top of the control tower. The ones in the middle of the carrier are somewhat close to each other, so you have to sort of pick and choose which Mini-Cons you put on there. It helps if you use Mini-Cons whose Powerlinx points are "offset" like Bonecrusher's. There is another interaction which is unique to Ramjet, and here's where you get to see why the little guy is well, such a little guy. Look at the left side of the carrier and you'll see a dark gray tab sticking out a bit. Slide it up and a compartment will reveal itself on the top of the carrier. That compartment has a Powerlinx point in it which allows you to attach Ramjet to it. Fold up Ramjet's wings and cockpit and you can slide the compartment back down, allowing you to "store" Ramjet. This is a really neat play feature, and it helps you understand why Ramjet was designed to be so small.

As a side note, the detail in the compartment is really nice. On the Powerlinx point and the "door" that hinges up, there are sculpted details like circles, vents, lines and tubes. I love the fact that they put effort into sculpting a section that is, for the most part, not seen most of the time.

Gunboat: Tidal Wave's Gunboat is roughly 7 inches long (roughly 17 centimeters) and 3 inches wide (roughly 7 centimeters) at its widest part towards the back. This section is primarily dark gray and light green. Some silver is used here as well. The front sections, which look like passenger compartments are light green. Silver paint is used on the top for detailing while a copper spray op is used on the front. The rear section is dark gray, with four silver guns on it that have purple painted on. Four smaller all purple guns are also mounted on this section. Towards the rear, orange is used to paint in details near the two
rear guns. At the center is a silver control tower. The tower's windows are painted
black.

While the carrier had quite a bit of detail, this has a bit more owing in part to the fact that most of this vehicle portion doesn't have to be a flat surface for other vehicles to land on. The front green parts have a lot of details that look like panels that can be opened as well as tubes, wiring and other mechanical looking bits. The central tower is also nicely detailed, with more lines and wire/tubing. At the center of the gray section is a Decepticon symbol that's painted purple. The six guns on the gray section look quite formidable, and the cannons on the larger guns can be moved up or down. At the very back of the vehicle you will find
details that look like futuristic thrusters, which is anice touch since that becomes part of the robot lower body as well.

The gunboat has three Powerlinx points. One on each of the front green parts, and one at the center of the gray part. The two on the front are dead points, but they are great for adding more firepower to this vehicle via armed Mini-Cons. The one at the center is an active one. Plug a Mini-Con in and move it forward on the point and all six guns move from side to side. This is a fun feature that gives the vehicle some life. The guns aren't the gunboat's only weapons. At the front he has two orange missiles that are launched by pressing the orange buttons on
the sides.

Transport: The transport portion of the Dark Fleet is about 6.5 inches (about 16 centimeters) long and 5 inches (about twelve centimeters) wide. The transport is mostly dark gray and purple. Gold is used for coloring on the top and as spray ops on the side. Purple is used for the sloped parts at the front which have silver spray ops at the edges. Orange paint is used for the top of the two towers at the rear of the vehicle. The thrusters at the rear are molded in silver plastic.

Sculpt wise, this portion of the Dark Fleet continues to pour on the detail. There are two towers at the rear, one with windows. The front has a nice grille detailing at the front, and a Decepticon symbol is sculpted in at the front, left side. The sides offer the most detail, with ovals, rectangles and a ton of mechanical designs such as tubes and control panels (especially if you flip down the wings). I love the fact that the detailing on the sides is asymmetrical. Each side has its own combination of detailing.

The transport has four Powerlinx points, all inactive. Two are towards the rear (one on each tower) and the other two are towards the front. These are very evenly spaced points, so you can put almost any Mini-Con you want on them without worrying about them being at odd angles or anything.

The neatest feature of the transport is that it not only transports Mini-Con attached to its Powerlinx points, you can have Mini-Cons travel in robot mode in the transport as well! Swing each top half of the vehicle to the side and you'll see a ramp for Mini-Cons, complete with a sculpted arrow pointing towards the purple ramps at the end. But wait, there's more! On each side, you'll see orange hinges. Push down the gray rectangles in the middle of those hinges and you get four seats for Mini-Cons! Now you can have Mini-Cons sitting on the seats as they
calmly discuss battle strategy or the pros and cons of eating Nucleon. I did not know the toy had this feature until I bought it, so I was very pleasantly surprised. Now of course, not all Mini-Cons are capable of "sitting", but there are enough that you can easily fill up the four seats the transport provides.

Combined vehicle mode:
To combine the three vehicles, do the following:

  1. Flip the wings on the transport down, and swing out each half of the
    transport to reveal the C shaped clip inside.
  2. On the gunboat, swing the green sections out to the sides and then
    swing them forward on the hinge.
  3. Swing the square shaped pieces on the back of the carrier to the sides.
  4. Take the square shaped pieces on the carrier and connect them to the
    square holes on the green sections of the gunboat.
  5. Connect the C shaped clip on the transport to the column on the back of
    the gunboat.
  6. Swing back and adjust the transport side sections so they attach to the
    clips on the gunboat's sides.

The combined vehicle mode of the Dark Fleet is an impressive looking ship. The combined ship measures roughly 12.5 inches (about 31 centimeters) from front to back and about 10 inches (roughly 25 centimeters) at its widest point (wing to wing at the rear). Overall, this is one monster vehicle. The details of all three vehicles mesh together well, as does the color scheme. Combined, you now have ten Powerlinx points to mess with on one vehicle, which just gives you loads of options in terms of how you want to augment Tidal Wave's power. Overall, this is a very powerful and impressive looking vehicle, worthy of any Decepticon fleet.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Although Tidal Wave can act as three separate vehicles, he doesn't need to
be separated to transform. You can transform him from the assembed form to
robot mode.

  1. Detach the missiles and set them aside.
  2. Swing the transport sections out to the sides.
  3. Rotate the middle section (where the purple upper leg pieces meet the main body) around.
  4. Rotate the legs so the gold parts of the transport halves face the
    opposite side.
  5. Swing the legs down.
  6. Flip the purple pieces at the end of the transport halves/legs up to form the robot feet.
  7. Rotate the piece with all the guns on it around.
  8. Split the aircraft carrier section in half and swing the arms down.
  9. Pull the robot head (now visible) up.
  10. Push down the control tower on the left arm.
  11. Rotate the lower halves of each aircraft carrier half around to reeal
    the robot hands. Adjust the green thumb/fingers as desired.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Tidal Wave stands at an impressive 11.5 inches (roughly 29 centimeters). At the same time however, Tidal Wave is rather thin, so he doesn't look like a big, bloated robot, but rather a tall, impressive war machine. Although you know that Tidal Wave is a composite of three different vehicles, he doesn't look like it at all. Now that all his parts are in a more familiar, humanoid shape, they work together to make him look like a nice, complex machine.

No real new colors get introduced in the robot mode, but we do see more of some colors used already. His head is light green with silver parts on either side and a purple face (with orange eyes). His upper legs are purple with silver ratchet joints. His lower arms are dark gray and his fingers are light green. All the other parts of this mode were already visible in vehicle mode so there aren't many surprises there. Some folks may be wondering just why
Tidal Wave isn't the same color scheme as his television show counterpart. Basically Hasbro feltthat there was way too much purple happening on the toy store shelves (between Razorclaw and Silverbolt, I guess there's reason for that!) so they wanted a scheme that would stand out, and still work with Megatron and Galvatron. There is still purple of course, but not a lot.

The green and gray helps him color coordinate (yeah, I just typed "color coordinate") with Megatron. The dark gray and purple help him color coordinate (there I go again) with Galvatron. So in the end, the toy's color scheme is a happy medium. Fortunately for hardcore fans, the Micron Legend version of Tidal Wave "Shockwave" is in show accurate colors, so I can't wait to get one to review!

In terms of sculpt, I have to admit that from preview pictures and first looks at Hasbro's March event, for some reason Tidal Wave didn't intitally "grab me". Even when I first saw him in the packaging at Target, I thought "Eh, he's alright..." It wasn't until I took him out, played with him and fully transformed Tidal Wave that I really appreciated the design. For many of those who complained over the years that Transformers had gotten away from a G1 aesthetic and that the beast generation ruined the look of Transformers, Tidal Wave is for you. He's blocky, choc full of weapons and mechanical parts and there's not a trace of organics on him. However, at the same time, he looks sleek, powerful and big in the sense that he'll tower over most of your other Armada figures.

Combine with Megatron/Galvatron:

  1. Slide Megatron/Galvatron's upper body upwards and swing the cannon turret around to the front.
  2. Swing out the sides of the transport and rotate them so the C clip faces the direction of the bottom of the side pieces. Attach this to the central column that Megatron/Galvatron's body rests on.
  3. Take the aircraft carrier and slide the control tower down until it locks into place. The clip connects to Megatron/Galvatron's left, lower arm.
  4. The gunboat has light gray clips which swing down and connect to each other. This piece connects to Megatron/Galvatron's right arm.

The combined mode for Megatron/Galvatron and Tidal Wave is an impressive sight. With Optimus Prime getting two levels of backup via Overload and Jetfire, it's good to see Megatron/Galvatron with something to boost his power as well! Also, as you can see from this picture, you can still Powerlink Mini-Cons all over these guys when they're combined, creating a very formidable looking force.

While these guys look great combined, the unfortuante fact is that you really can't do much with them except have them stand there looking impressive. Although the joint is ratcheted, Megatron/Galvatron's arm joints can't hold up the weight of Tidal Wave's parts, so if you try to lift the arm and then let go, it just flops back down. Megatron/Galvatron's legs don't really have a wide range of movement, so not much is happening there either. Still, if you imagine these guys combined as one big standing artillery battery, they're pretty neat.

Tidal Wave is one fun and impressive toy. I admit he didn't look to impressive to me on the toy store shelf, but once you crack the box open, this guy is a lot of fun to play with, and that's probably the most important part of any Transformers toy. Highly recommended.