When Hasbro looked to produce the second series of G1 in 1985, a number of molds from Takara’s defunct robot toylines were available to them, and found their way into Transformers usage. One of the last designs pressed into Hasbro’s service was Perceptor, a working (although unrealistic) microscope.
Perceptor was originally designed by Hideaki Yoke and released in 1984 in Takara’s Microchange: Microchange line as MC 20 Microscope Robo Micro Scope. This version was molded primarily in unobtrusive black plastic, with silver highlights. However, the massive popularity of Transformers was a death knell for Microman, and many of the molds were quickly reused. The US Patent, titled Reconfigurable microscope toy (aka Transformers G1 Perceptor) was filed on May 30, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD287520 S).
Perceptor transforms into a small desktop microscope, molded in red and teal plastic. He features chrome focus knobs (one working knob and two dummy knobs), as well as a stage, mirror apparatus and adjustable objective lens. The windowed stage can allow some light from the tiny mirror to pass through, and objects can be magnified up to 14 times at the eyepiece. One will quickly notice the presence of molded tank treads and working roller wheels on Perceptor’s base. These can be used to transform him into a tank mode, with the microscope tube forming a cannon. This was part of the original design, which intended the tank mode for use with a Microman figure piloting the vehicle. Perceptor’s transformation is straightforward, resulting in a blocky robot. The mirror and stage fold up to form his unusual chest plate, and the scope tube rests on his shoulder like a cannon. In robot mode, Perceptor wields a red and black missile launcher, as well as a darker red rifle. While the dummy focus knobs are removable, they are only absent in his tank form. Perceptor is decorated with molded detail, particularly on the bright red plastic behind his chest plate, and various stickers of robotic parts fill the flat, rectangular surfaces on other parts of his body.
Like so many older Takara designs, Perceptor has weak points that did not withstand rugged play. The primary offender is the large, thin frame that connects the scope tube to Perceptor’s collar. More often than not, one of the pegs of this piece would snap off. It is also common for Perceptor to be missing the black panels on top of his shoulders, which simply didn’t attach firmly enough and were easily knocked loose. Like the Decepticon Jets, Perceptor’s missiles have very thin catch tabs, which are prone to breaking off.
There are a few minor production variations of Perceptor throughout his G1 release. The most notable (and least common) of these is a version that sports gold-hued chrome on the dummy focus knobs, corresponding to a later Macau-based run of the mold.
Perceptor was available in 1985. He was reissued in Japan’s 2005 Transformers Collection. He was reissued in the US in 2009 in the Universe 2 line, albeit with the spring removed from his missile launcher. Unfortunately, this means missiles are not even capable of staying in the launcher.
Redecos & Retools
Perceptor’s mold was originally used to make MC20 Microscope Robo Micro Scope in 1984, in black and silver. The mold was redecoed back to those colors, albeit with Decepticon insignias, in 2005 as Magnificus, part of Takara’s Collector’s Edition line.