Scout-class Decepticon Scalpel
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
Scalpel is a field medic for Decepticon units- small and wise for easy transport between different locations across battlefields and the galaxy. Small because he can literally wriggle his way into the crevices of larger Cybertronians to get to their injured innards, often relishing the opportunity to make the big brutes shiver as he cuts through their circuits. Once in the right spot, he doesn’t bother with time-consuming disconnections between spark chamber processors and tactile sensors- better to get in and out quickly despite the shouts of those he is trying to ‘help’. Traveling from world to world has also given Scalpel a crucial knowledge of soft, weak, sensitive biological life-forms too, allowing him to extract information from them or implant mechanical Cybertronian cells into them to make them more docile under Decepticon rule. So being deployed to Earth by Soundwave to reanimate Lord Megatron was a great honor and chance to show off his significant talent, plus the added bonus of examining both a small fragment of the All Spark and some of these “humans” up close was too good an opportunity to pass up!
Standing barely 12” tall, Scalpel displays no weapons that shoot, but he does have several built-in medical tools such as a buzzsaw. He also certainly has the use of his two small clawed arms & six legs.
In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, the voice of "The Doctor" (i.e. Scalpel) is performed by John Di Crosta. So far as I can tell, he’s only been in a handful of American video games and movies, with no particular standout performance or character as of 2009.
Umm… no. He’s a jet injector.
I said he’s a microscope, specifically a stereo optical microscope.
But, in the movie, he’s a jet inject--
I know that already. I’m just saying that, in toy form, he transforms into a microscope.
That’s not fair. He’s supposed to be a--
A what- a hypospray? Too bad, ‘cause this is what Hasbro and TakaraTomy gave us.
But I liked him better as a disguised--
And he appeared in disguised form for, like, what- one second? That was barely enough time to identify what the hell he was before he changed. Never mind the fact that most people don’t even know what it was he changed into!
Dude- it was enough to be able to positively identify him as a--
You just like saying “jet injector”, don’t you?
This toy is not a functional microscope; indeed, there are no reflective surfaces within to convey light into the eyepiece. Nor can it really be identified as a particular brand or model; it is merely an imitation of one. (However, the eyepiece does feature vaguely-transparent ABS plastic, a feature to be utilized later in robot mode.) Small highlights include a pair of focus control knobs sitting on either side of the white upper half, and the opening for the objective lenses underneath reveals a printed purple Decepticon logo. Unfortunately, Scalpel’s purple chest markings(?) appear on the top of the upper half as well, and could probably be called the only robot kibble he’s got! The larger black coarse- and fine-adjustment knobs, which raise and lower the upper half along the vertical column are also represented, though they do not rotate. The base has surface details to represent the hold-down clips, and sample/objective grid, but is otherwise featureless. An unavoidable square hole rests in the back of the base above the column, exposing one of his legs minimally. And on the bottom of the base are his collapsed-together legs.
For features, Scalpel only has one- the upper half can ratchet up-and-down along the vertical column. And because of how he transforms, it can also rotate at the base of the column as well, though this would not happen on a real microscope.
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
However, Scout-class figures are too small to incorporate a Mech Alive feature, so Decepticon Scalpel has none.
Scalpel’s robot mode (back) only vaguely resembles his appearance in the movie, with just a few common highlights tying them together. In this form, he’s probably about half the size of what he is in the movie, which is why I estimated the scale as 1:2 in the stats above. Though not specifically labeled as such, he and many other smallish ‘bots in the film are being categorized by the fan base as Insecticons- a sub-category of Decepticon from the G1 toy line and 1984-86 TV series, which transformed into various types of bugs. [German accent aside, supposedly Scalpel’s cruel and sadistic personality & methods are a tribute to Predacon Tarantulus from “Beast Wars- Transformers” (1996-99).] Aside from his six long-but-thin legs, perhaps his most recognized attribute are his large red eyes covered by thin-rim glasses. Unlike in the movie, the glasses cannot be removed, but he does have light piping through the eyepieces in the back of his head; perhaps an additional tribute to the fact that he has holo-projectors in his eyes in the movie. A nice detail on the glasses themselves are the squinting eye lines they added, which give him a very devilish look. (As a heads-up, the small antennae on the top of his head have been found by many to be boxed incorrectly. They pop-out easily enough, and are supposed to curve backwards, not forwards.) He has two very tiny transparent arms that have a tinge of purple (intentional?). The purple printing which appeared on the top of half of his disguise mode is now properly formed on his chest; the Decepticon logo has been moved to his back. While in the movie the back half of his body is very small & cylindrical and his legs very large, on the toy both are reversed in proportions, giving him a lot of mass up-front.
For such an unconventional-looking robot mode, poseability is bound to be different and thus not easily comparable with the traditional humanoid shape. While each leg has a knee and hip ball-and-socket joint, they aren’t actually all that poseable, being more for transformation. While you can swivel them about, the hips don’t let you raise up any higher that they are fully-extended. (One of mine actually developed a crack when I tried to see how far it could go; that ABS plastic is rather thin, so be careful!) A piece of advice: when transforming him, it does help his stance to have the tiny hooks on each “thigh” point upwards; it gives you a hair-more reach in each claw and hip. Though he has, like, three transformation joints in his back, only one of them can really be used to bob his torso up-and-down at his waist. But be careful- with the inflexibility of the legs, he is rather front-heavy. Both shoulders are ball-and-socket, and the elbows are single-pin joints that swivel easily forward/backward. The neck and head have independent swivel joints (but cannot swing side-to-side, so he always looks forward). The small white jaw and antennae can also move a little due t how he transforms. The glasses can be removed if you force them straight out forward, but they are not meant to be removed regularly.
. . .
His light piping is weak and has no coloring, but it is functional. Beyond that, he has no special gimmick or weapon.
What the Instructions Don’t Tell You
The Scout-class Decepticon Scalpel set, fortunately, only has one mark in this frustrating category:
- Simply put, when you open him for the first time out of the box, he is about 75% transformed, and needs to be completed. Unfortunately, the instructions don’t take this into account, and start where his robot mode is completed, and don’t tell you how to get there! So you spend a bit of time trying to figure out if the central column can twist or not (it does), how to store the extra white panels beneath his torso, and how the two black & one white panels move about onto his back!
I don’t mind having him half-transformed in the packaging, but help me get to robot mode first before you go on, sheesh!
(This may be the only pic we ever get of The Doctor... and it's a screenshot. Thanks, thanks a lot, ILM.)
Why wasn’t he a jet injector? I don’t know. How a microscope was selected, I don’t know either. Other than having to unfurl and rotate each and every leg each time you change him is time consuming, and the reward at the end- poseability- isn’t all that great. The arms and head are really the only things you can move about in robot mode, and they work fine… once you intentionally remove and spin around the antennae on his head. (Trust me- it’s a hassle you don’t want in such a tiny Transformer.) While fine by themselves, the legs get more of your attention. The proportions are way off compared to how he appears on-screen- huge legs, huge eyes with glasses, and small mid-body. Like several other Transformers toys, he was deserved of a larger-scale class (Deluxe-, in my opinion) than he got. However he is, by far, more intricate in parts and how he transforms that the average Scout-class figure, which are usually intentionally-simplified sets. His surface detailing was also minimal, so I guess that fits his toy class. I’m guessing that if he had been a Deluxe-class, he could potentially have been one of the very few Transformers ever to be built at 1:1 scale! Am I disappointed that he got no weapons or features other than his dimly-lit eyes? Not really, since we didn’t see any in the movie; adding some may just have been counter-productive as well! The microscope mode turned out just fine despite having many separation lines. What really impressed me, though, was the ability to ratchet the upper half up and down along that column; a nice and simple real-life touch! Things to change? Paint apps were fine, materials were fine too, and the decorations were minimal. Only thing that really concerns me is how fragile the legs are- they’re thin as needed, but the ABS has low tolerances- one of the ball joints in the hips was cracked when I got him, and it finally broke when I opened it not realizing there was a problem. Though he looks fine simply standing on your shelf, that’s the only thing he’s good at in either mode. I got the
Scout-class Decepticon Scalpel because he was such a creepy character in the movie, not because it was a good figure. Not recommended for regular collectors, it’s perhaps only for those who wanna fill out the tiny gaps in their collection. Get him as a last resort, after you’ve bought everything else that you want first.
|Posted 14 September, 2009 - 03:03 by EVA_Unit_4A|