Perceptor was your classic old-school nerd. He was overly verbose, overly obsessed with science, and had an awkwardness that lead to him being constantly admonished for not saying things in “words we can all understand.” As such, I completely dismissed him during the entirety of G1. He was that guy that turns into a microscope, what could possibly be less cool? Honestly I was uncool enough as a kid, I didn’t need the help.
It wasn’t until I got the Commemorative Series Toys ‘R Us exclusive re-issue of Perceptor in 2009 I learned that, for a science-nerd, he is one seriously well armed ‘bot. Carrying a rifle and a missle launcher, he can also use “his magnifying lenses to … convert his lens barrel to a powerful light cannon.”
I also learned that the face of Perceptor I have grown accustomed to doesn’t actually exist on his G1 toy. Furthermore, that he had a third mode, thanks to this mold’s origins in the Japanese Microchange series.
Perceptor made a bit of a stir when he made an appearance in Transformers: Animated with an updated vehicle alt-mode and a vocal processor swiped from Stephen Hawking. When asked at Botcon 2010 how he felt about this new version of Perceptor, Paul Eiding, voice of the original Perceptor basically said,
“I’ve been replaced by a Speak ‘n’ Spell. How do you think I feel?”
Such a pity that we will never get a toy of that.
G1 Perceptor made a couple appearances here and there in the IDW Comic book “Spotlight” series. Usually when a voice of pure, scientific reason is necessary to show up and tell people they are doing something wrong, and get summarily dismissed as too logical.
Then things changed. During a mission Perceptor has a near-death experience when his chest is blown completely through by an enemy blast followed by a pointblank shot to his face. Locking himself in his lab, he sets about not just repairing himself but installing some improvements.
When next we see Perceptor he is a much changed ‘bot.
Declaring “I have a new purpose now”, he goes on to add, “Our race’s distinct nature is based upon adaptability. That’s largely been forgotten since the war began.”
Sage as those words may be, Perceptor’s choice of adaptation raises a lot of questions about how far we can go in the name of war and what is the point after which we lose more than we gain. At the time, however, all I could think was, “Holy crap, they made Perceptor into a badass and made it believable.” I’ve seen, in real life, examples of intense intellectual capacity brought into singular focus. It can be scary.
So, let’s do the math and see where that leaves us.
It turns out that Perceptor is much, much beloved amongst the Transformers design group. Transformers Hall of Fame Inductee Hideaki Yoke, one time Senior Design Director, now VP of IP Development, Aaron Archer, and Senior Designer Bill Rawley have all stated that Perceptor has a special place in their hearts. Once you add that to the influences above, what we get is one unbelievably amazing update.
To make him palatable to the kids, (mostly) gone is his microscope alt-mode, replaced with a “Research Truck”.
The reason I type “(mostly) gone” about his microscope alt-mode is that mid-transformation his alt-mode’s lightbar, that transforms into his robot mode’s shoulder cannon, looks like a miniature version of G1 Perceptor’s microscope mode.
The closest thing I can say to a complaint is that I don’t understand the point of the fold-up scope on his shoulder cannon. The cannon is set too far back for Perceptor to make use of it.
Though not difficult, his transformation is pretty intricate to give him that distinctive silhouette. Theres’s just so much detail that carries over from the original: his chromed chest plate folds down uncovering lighter red detailing; he has the chromed discs on his forearms and shoulder cannon.
He even has painted details on his lower legs that mirror the trapezoidal details molded into the lower legs of the G1 toy.