Anyone who wasn't living under a rock in the 80's knows about the Transformers. In fact, by 1986, they transcended cartoons, comics and toys to become a worldwide phenomenon. Exaggeration? Consider this: Of all the toy-based cartoons from the 80s, how many not only survived for 20 years, but thrived--spawning at least 3 new series and an upcoming feature film? Not too many (That means YOU, Smurfs). We'll leave the main discussion/breakdown of the beloved Transformers series for a later date. For now, let's meet one of the more obscure members: PERCEPTOR.
For those of you who need a refresher course, the Transformers were a race of robots living on the rather bleak planet Cybertron. The race was made up of two opposing forces: The Autobots (read: good guys) and the Decepticons (bad guys). Long story short, the two groups were running low on the resource that keeps them alive: Energon. Luckily for them, another source was found--on Earth. So, the Autobots and Decepticons traverse the galaxy, crash land on Earth, and duke it out for piece of Energon they can find. The rest is history.
So who's this Perceptor and why was this toy cool? OK, well, every Transformer toy was cool, so that should be enough for you. Ah, but here's the difference with this guy: He was actually functional. Sure, all the other Transformers could turn into guns, planes and cars--but what kid wants that? Some smart dudes in Japan and at Hasbro decided to make sure at least ONE of the toys was educational (apparently working with motor and hand-eye skills wasn't enough), and Perceptor was born.
So who is he? An Autobot scientist with a specialization in metallurgy and a penchant for over-analyzing everything. When not lumbering around and kicking ass as a robot, Perceptor spent his time as a really huge microscope (how's that for an oxymoron?). As you might expect, his toy version actually changed into a "working" microscope as well, allowing children to enjoy the rich world of dead bugs and dust balls on a daily basis.
But before we get too excited, Mr. Perceptor's lenses weren't exactly up to "electron microscope" standards. Truth be told, you could probably get a better image by smashing your mom's good dinnerware and holding it about 2 inches from your subject. But, hey--let's give those manufacturers an "A" for effort! Sure, you ended up with a fairly useless scientific tool, but, rest assured, that blurry scope doubled as a damn big laser cannon when Perceptor rocked out in his 'bot form.
As you might expect, your average toy store didn't sell quite as many Perceptors as they did Optimus Primes, Megatrons or Starscreams. In fact, we're fairly certain Perceptor might have been outsold by 20 year old hula hoops. But our obscure Autobot friend can hold his head high and know that, while he may be quite lame, he is by no means forgotten. Here's to you, Perceptor--you were definitely 'more than meets the eye."
- For more information on the Transformers, visit the Transformers Wiki
- If you want to buy a classic G1 Japanese Perceptor, TF Source sells an mint-in-box version.