When it comes to Transformers I’m pretty strictly a Generation 1 fan, in that I like Transformers from my childhood. And technically I really only like the first 4 or 5 years of Generation 1; stuff that came out in the late 80s and early 90s is still considered G1 but I have no attachment to most of those characters. Hasbro still puts out G1 inspired product which I appreciate but its few and far between. Most of the Transformers available in stores now are either based on the live action movies or the new animated series Transformers: Prime. This here is a fairly recently released (2010) figure of the Autobot scientist Perceptor. Preceptor was one of the more widely used G1 characters back in the day. He didn’t do a whole lot in the comics but in the cartoon series he often used his scientific mind to get the Autobots out of a jam. He had a unique C3PO inspired voice and was one of my favorite characters on the show.
As I kid I sort of had a Preceptor toy. I had a knock-off version. Transformer knocks-offs have been around since the beginning of the brand and exist so that parents can try to pass off cheaper toys to their kids; but kids know better. I knew mine wasn’t an official Perceptor the moment I laid eyes on him. In my parents defense I think he may have been a birthday present from another kid; my parents were good about not cheaping out in the toy department. The major difference between my childhood Perceptor and the officially licensed Hasbro one was the color. Perceptor was red with blue highlights, every kid knew that, and yet mine was black with gray highlights. In more recent years the black version of Perceptor was actually integrated into Transformers continuity as a Decepticon named Magnificus. I actually think that the paint scheme of my knock-off was perhaps even superior to the original (you can’t go wrong with black)but I would’ve been happier having a red one as consistency between the toys and figures was important to me.
That level of consistency was not so important to the guys at Hasbro though. Perceptor was one of the many Transformers who’s face on the toy did not match up to what we saw in the cartoon. On the show Perceptor had a very human like face and yet the toy (official and knock-off alike) had a solid faceplate instead of the mouth and nose. I’ve already made mention of this lack of consistency in reviews of my vintage Windcharger and Gears figures so I won’t bother complaining about it again. This change in appearance wasn’t entirely a bad thing mind you. While the faces may not have matched up with the animated designs, often times these “wrong” faces were pretty damn cool. As a stickler for uniformity I would have preferred a red preceptor with a humanoid face but judging my knock-off on the look of the figure alone, I think the black, face-plated version is cooler and I’m glad the design found a second life as Magnificus.
But enough about my Perceptor knock-off who sadly didn’t survive the yard sale years, let’s talk about the real deal. This Perceptor was released as part of the “Reveal the Shield” line of Transformers, which was basically a continuation of the G1 friendly “Universe” line. The term “ Reveal the Shield” is in reference to the heat activated rub emblem found on the figure that reveals either an Autobot or Decepticon logo when rubbed. Now this is the Perceptor toy I always wanted as a kid. A toy that looks like the Perceptor from the cartoon; or at least pretty close. The colors are right on with the red base, blue highlights and black head. And more importantly the face is finally right. This figure has all of the elements that you’d want to see in a robot –mode Perceptor. He’s got the shoulder mounted cannon thing, the clear glass on the chest, and the silver knobs on the wrists. I think he looks great.
If you read this blog on a regular basis then you know I don’t really care about the transforming aspect of the Transformers. I just like the robot designs, the personalities given to the characters, and the story of an inter-galactic war spanning for millennia. That’s the stuff that keeps me coming back for more. The fact that the good guys can turn into cars and the bad guys can turn into jets is inconsequential to me and seems redundant most of the time. I hated having to transform all of my toys from robots to vehicles and back again multiple times during a play session. Nowadays, since I only buy Transformers for display rather than to play with, my figures are never in the alternative modes. I open up the package, transform them into their robot mode if they aren’t already in it, and then they go onto the shelf in that mode and that’s how they stay. I actually dread writing about Transformers to some degree because I loathe transforming them so that I can take a picture of their alt mode for the review. I sometimes cheat in that regard as I did with Perceptor, I lifted the truck pick from another site to save myself the trouble. Normally I have very little to say about their alt modes anyway but Perceptor has a rather unique transformation that deserves some attention. Perceptor has always transformed into a microscope. That kind of made him stand out in an army full of cars. The reason for this is because the original Transformers toy line created for North American children was cobbled together from various lines of transforming robot toys from Japan. This is why the sizes are so different and why you get the occasional oddity thrown in like Perceptor or Soundwave who transformed into a cassette player. It always seemed kind of weird to me that a robot who transforms into a microscope would be so much larger than a robot who transforms into a tank but I didn’t question it too much as a kid. Transformers are supposed to be “robots-in-disguise”. They took on the appearances of earth vehicles so that they could hide in plain sight. But even in the cartoon when Perceptor transformed, he turned into a massive microscope that wouldn’t fool anyone. He was definitely a weird addition to the team.
Now while this figure retains all of the distinguishing features of the classic Perceptor he doesn’t actually transform into a microscope anymore. He’s a truck now. It almost seems blasphemous at first because every Transformers fan associates Perceptor with being a microscope. It seems a shame to turn him into something else, let alone a boring old truck. However I’m pleased with the choice. I think changing Soundwave from a tape deck into something else (tank/van/drone) was even more shocking but it had to be done. I appreciate that the designers took such care with these characters to maintain their original look in robot mode even if certain aspects didn’t really make sense anymore. This truck version of Perceptor would probably be much more fun for as kid to play with that the microscope was. The microscope was neat and even “worked” to a certain degree but it wasn’t functional enough to win any science fair projects with. I think that this is an excellent modern day look for Perceptor.
Having said that, this figure kind of sucks. I was all prepared to give this figure a glowing review with a high rating until I picked it up for the first time in ages and remembered what a clunker it is. Maybe it’s just my version but this toy’s joints are very loose. His legs are very wobbly to the point that he has trouble standing which is ludicrous given how big his feet and legs are. The worst part is that is arms can’t be posed for s**t. The hood of the truck which makes up his back in robot mode just hangs there loosely, not snapping or attaching to anything. His shoulders are attached to this piece so anytime I try to lift his arm his back swings out and his shoulders drop. It’s a nightmare to pose. It’s still a great looking figure for display purposes but he would not be fun to play with. 5 out of 10.