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Transformers Generations
by yo go re

The Transformers are a race of impressive warriors, but an army needs more than brute strength - for instance, crazy tech researchers. What's James Bond without his Q?

Perceptor is one of the most brilliant scientists ever produced by Cybertron. Much of the technology the Autobots take for granted is due to his discoveries. It is rare that he actually builds or invents anything himself, but his insights make it possible for engineers and inventors to continue the pace of technological development.

In Generation 1, Perceptor turned into a microscope, because that's the #1 thing a kid wants to play with. While the other children had to make do with jet planes and guns and dump trucks, lucky was the youngster who opened their Christmas present to find a mutha-effin' microscope, bitch! Today, though, he's a truck. A science truck! Technically he's a half-track "research vehicle," but that's not any more of a real thing than a science truck.

The truck is 5" long, 2¼" tall and 2⅝" at its widest point (the side view mirrors). The front half looks like a typical SUV, with heavy-duty tires, normal headlights, a grill, all that. There's a light bar on the top, which is a little exotic, but there's not a single person who can say they've never seen a civilian truck with one of those for no reason. The back half sits on some very complicated tank treads, and looks like a military transport. The license plate reads "MR51409," which I'm guessing means somebody on the design team has a 2-year-old kid.

Converting Perceptor is quite hard (in both directions). It's not that he's poorly designed or anything, just that there are a lot of times when you need to have things lined up just so, or the parts won't move past one another as easily as they should. Getting the arms and legs in place when you're going back to vehicle mode, for instance, can be a very dicey proposition. And here's a specific warning for you: if you try to raise the head into position and then lock the back into place, like the instructions would have you do, the tab that holds them together sounds like it's going to snap. For a smoother result, get the back in place, then raise the head (and vice versa when going back to his altmode).

Perceptor isn't a technically Generations figure (he's got a Reveal the Shield gimmick, so he's part of that post-movie movie line), but he shares their design aesthetic of "change the altmode all you want, but leave the robot recognizable." The black feet and hands, the big red shins and shoulders, blue legs and forearms... it's all from the old bot. He even has dials on his forearms, which serve no purpose on this figure other than to help him look like the old toy. The silver-rimmed panel on his chest flips down, giving you a better look at the detailed sculpt behind it. The U-shaped section where the torso meets the waist is another callback, as are the ridges on his knees. It's just great detail all over.

The G1 toy had a mouthplate, apparently, but every comic and cartoon appearance gave him a real face. Recognizing the clear superiority of the non-toy design, Hasbro's gone with the "mouth and nose" approach for this toy. He has a straight line for a mouth, and deep set eyes, so he doesn't look very expressive, but that suits his characterization.

Perceptor's only weapon is the cannon mounted on his right shoulder. Amusingly, it has a targeting sight, but it's too far back for the robot to use it. He's decently articulated, though, with a swivel neck, balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and balljointed ankles. Some fans have complained that moving Percy's arms cause the back to move as well, but they're either moving the arms wrong or failing to connect the back properly in the first place.

This figure is a very good Transformer, hampered only slightly by the needless fussiness of his actual transformation. It would have been nice if they'd given him some handheld weapons (the IDW comics have apparently turned him into something of a gunslinger), but he's supremely cool in robot mode, quite a bit of fun as a research vehicle, and once you learn all the tricks needed to convert him smoothly, a lot more fun than frustrating. All that's missing is the ability to turn him into a microscope. There were plans to repaint Perceptor as an update of Reflector, but since this series of figures barely got out at all (you can't have Movie 2 figures shipping when Movie 3 figures are on the way), that seems unlikely to happen. If you're interested in the mold, Perceptor may be your only chance.

-- 07/26/11

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