Sunday, 7 March 2010

TransFormers Collection #19 - Perceptor

The sad fact about Generation 1 is that, while it was mostly based on existing molds from Takara's Diaclone and Microchange lines, some of the toys never made it over to the UK, even if they were released in the US. Perceptor is one such model. In many ways, you have to wonder about the thinking behind bringing Perceptor into the TransFormers brand - sure, he transforms... but into a microscope (and, loosely speaking, into a kind of tank thing). Great disguise, certainly, and one that was re-used for Scalpel (aka The Doctor) in Revenge of the Fallen... but in a line of toys that transform from robots into cars, planes, etc, Perceptor stands out as something quite irregular.

Naturally, Soundwave also originated from the Microchange line, as did Blaster... but they worked somehow... A Microscope just seems incongruous.

As a character, Perceptor was fond of big words. His big moment in the animated movie came when, having seen the Decepticon forces approaching Autobot City, he announced "A cursory evaluation of Decepticon capabilities indicates a distinct tactical deficiency," quickly translated by Springer to "We're outnumbered." You could almost see him getting on very well with Shockwave, in other circumstances.

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Alternate Modes:
Yes, Perceptor is a triple-changer... of sorts. One mode works quite well, the other seems like an afterthought, though the sculpted detail suggests otherwise. What makes Perceptor rather cool is that his microscope mode almost works. The lenses can move, but never really manage to focus on anything (whether this is a deficiency of the design or just the plastic used, I'm not sure). The slide tray and 'mirror' (chromed plastic, natch) are misaligned, though, so the viewer is never really looking in the right place, or has enough light to function well. Still, in a slightly more subdued colourscheme (white/beige and silver or black being the most likely choices) Perceptor's main alternate mode would look pretty convincing if you weren't paying attention to some of the details. Red and that bizarre turquoise (which really doesn't photograph well) aren't exactly colours you'd expect to see on a scientific instrument.

Nor a tank, for that matter. It's not exactly camouflage. But then, is it a tank, or is it a mobile gun platform? Or is it, as I suspect, a fortuitous coincidence that earned a change to the mold that left tank treads on the insides of Perceptor's legs? Whatever, the second alternate mode really does not convince. The E-Hobby exclusive version of Perceptor came with a Microman figure, referencing the mold's Microchange origins. The figure would sort of balance sat down behind the cannon, propped up against the slide tray. Considering where the lenses were pointing, the 'pilot' would have to hope he never pointed this 'gun' toward the sun...
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Robot Mode:
Curiously blocky, and yet actually quite poseable, largely due to the jointing in his legs required to transform him. If only he could move his legs forward and back, he'd have been an excellent example of a TransFormer done right, even back in the days of Generation 1.

But, of course, he can't and he's not. That's not to say he's bad... just very boxy... and, from the side, almost completely flat. The articulation at the shoulder is such that he can hold his arms up/out at some rather strange angles, but beggars can't be choosers. The viewer from his alternate mode becomes a massive cannon mounted on his shoulder (technically, it can go on either, but the left shoulder has a small raised area suggesting the cannon should be mounted on the right), and comes with both a rifle and a hand-held missile launcher... making this scientist one of the best armed Autobots in G1.

The head sculpt looks nothing like the box art, or his TV series/animated movie/comics appearances. Of course, after the live action movie, you could just say that's his battle mask.
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Transformation from microscope to robot and back is fairly self-explanatory, but the secondary 'tank' mode did cause me some confusion, simply because it doesn't look like much of anything. I was quite amused to see that there are further references to his Microchange origins on his stickers - see the closeup of his leg, marked with 'MC 20', his Microchange reference number,

I'm very glad Perceptor came back on the market as one of Takara's 20th Anniversary reissues. I never had the opportunity to own him back in the 80s as he got a US release, but never made it over the Pond. In some ways, I'm not surprised - he really doesn't fit with the TransFormers brand. Even the majority of Generation 1 Autobots managed to be less blocky than Perceptor... and yet had less articulation.

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