Cliffbee.com: Scalpel Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Scalpel
Series: Movie Tie-ins
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Microscope



MICROSCOPE MODE
Height: 8cm Depth: 6.5cm Width: 6cm

   An off white and black microscope, Scalpel is a modern, electronic microscope. Much of the body is off white while the sides of the base and the eyepieces are black. The neck is grey and the lenses are transparent plastic with red behind them. There are gunmetal clips (the ones that hold slides) moulded onto the base while there are black knob on either side of the head of the microscope and two more on the head itself. The lens underneath is black, if you tip him up you'll see a purple Decepticon logo instead of a clear lens. The colour scheme is simple and uncomplicated, and while there's a hint of purple on the back side of the head, it's functional, as you'd expect from a microscope.

   This is only the second ever Transformers microscope - the first was Perceptor back in 1985. While that was a fairly loose interpretation of older microscopes, this one is pretty close to what modern microscopes actually look like. The base is a functional block, the neck is ridged and the head is irregular but no frills. There's little play value here - the head can slide up and down on the neck. The dials are false, as you'd expect. Unlike Perceptor, we don't get the option of using Scalpel as a microscope - not that Perceptor's optics were any good, mind you.

   A simple but decent microscope mode. By nature it's quite static and simple - boring even - but then the appeal of this mode is more the unusual nature of it. It does what it needs to, and it features the sort of realism usual in the movie lines. He stands out amongst the movie toys, which are heavily dominated by sports cars and military vehicles, and this is a good thing.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Complex and specific for a voyager, Scalpel is probably the most complex scout we've seen. To the point where both the Hasbro pictures and instructions have it wrong. The picture above is essentially correct, although you can fold up the black sides of the base as a sort of back ridge, minimising the square look if you wish. The six legs fold out from within the base, the neck swings underneath the base while the head rotates to become the thorax and head of the bug-shaped robot mode. The eyepieces fold up to become his head, the area surrounding the eyepieces fold into the thorax and the colourless arms fold out from within the thorax. Okay, I've summarised but the picture does most of the talking, in truth.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 9cm Length: 11cm Width: 11cm

   A bug-like robot rather than a humanoid one, Scalpel has six slender grey legs attached to a black abdomen, an off white thorax section and a black head. The head is actually the eyepiece, with transparent eyes and antennae. There's a red patch behind each eye and that Decepticon logo is now on top of his back. There are small colourless arms, like the forelimbs of a T-rex, attached to either side of the thorax. There's some purple painted detailing on the underside of the thorax, visible from the front, rounding out the paint job. It's a fairly straightforward colour scheme since he's using the functional colours of the microscope mode.

   The shape is more or less insect-like, and while he's robotic he stands quite delicately on his legs, in the way that many Beast Wars insect modes do. Since the legs are attached to the abdomen at the back, his weight is all at the front and he has a tendency to fall forward - and faceplant spectacularly. While the stability is an issue, the body of this robot mode is very solid once formed. The legs buckle fairly easily on their ball joints, and the sockets of the upper ball joints (there are two per legs) crack ridiculously easily - after transforming twice 2 of 6 have cracked on mine. Thankfully it doesn't affect stability, although it strongly discourages me from transforming him again. This is the mode I'll end up displaying him in, anyway.

   There's a lot of articulation here, if not a lot of poseability. The legs have two ball joints each, but the legs are pretty much limited to the single standing pose in the picture above. The sides of the microscope base can fold up onto his back to reduce the blockiness of the robot mode (and make the body a little more compact), and I suspect this was the original intention of the designer. They work in either position, so you get the choice (I fold them up). The arms are ball jointed with little tiny hinges half way along, and provide some poseability.

   A fiddly robot mode, but a fairly creative one and it's amazing to think that this turns into a realistic microscope alternate mode. The colours are unremarkable by necessity, the detailing is good and the lack of kibble is impressive. The cracking sockets are a major flaw, but not a killer one, thankfully. He displays will but the play value is ruined by this fragility.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   While the transformation is complex and the instructions are useless, once you work him out, Scalpel is a very well designed little Transformer. The microscope and robot modes are in sharp contrast - it's amazing they did this at the scout level. The colours make sense, the detail is good and there's pretty much no kibble. The leg sockets crack too easily, which ruins play value but he doesn't have much anyway. Despite this flaw, I'd recommend Scalpel since he's so cleverly engineered and so unique - 9/10

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