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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's review: Scalpel

Name: The Doctor (a.k.a. Scalpel)
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Medic/Interrogation
Sub-Group: ROTF Scouts Class

"Ve must havv ze brrrain! On ze table! Chop-chop!"

The Doctor, named Scalpel in the toyline, is the only transformer in Revenge of the Fallen who has an original name. No, wait, make that two. 'Doctor' and 'Scalpel'. Both names had never been used as a Transformer name before, and both are equally appropriate for the character seen in the movie. (Myself, I prefer to call this guy 'Doctor'. It sounds more sinister and creepy, and it's also the name used by him in all his appearances bar the toy.)

Doctor is a rather unique concept. Other than Glit and Hook (and the rest of the Constructicons), Doctor has the distinction of being one of the few proper Decepticon medics. Doctor is one of the better characters designed for the movie, having enough screentime without needing to resort to toilet jokes or cursing. Still, what with all the new concepts introduced to the new viewer in the second movie (Combiners, Pretenders, Insecticons, the Fallen, Soundwave, fembots, the Matrix, inhuman transformers, resurrection...) it is easy to overlook Doctor. Now obviously Doctor is there for comedic effect, as well as doing... the more delicate stuff that the larger Decepticons could not do. He is characterised as being a little loony and psychopathic, yet comedic and funny to a degree. His body language, large glasses and German (or is that Russian?) accent helps too. Overall, Doctor is one of the best designs for the transformers in the movie. Sure, Devastator, Jetfire and Demolishor are impressive, massive and eye-catching, but Doctor has that charm on him.

Doctor's appearance was very spidery or crabby. He has three pairs of long, clawed legs jutting out of his body, two small mandibles/hands near his adorable head, and two little... sensor-like thing (something like an insect's mouth), I guess, under his proper mouth. On top of that, he has two buggy eyes with glasses! When was the last time a transformer had glasses? Antennas complete the creepy assemble.

Doctor first appeared when Ravage and the quartet of Constructicons dived down into the Laurentian Trench. Ravage ejected Doctor from his chest compartment as soon as they hit rock bottom. The Doctor crawled around Megatron's face, before declaring that he 'Needz partzz! Kill ze little wun!' With those orders, Long Haul and Mixmaster gladly mutilate Scrapper (or a Constructicon really similar to him, anyway) for parts. Then, Doctor gibbers that the AllSpark shard Ravage stole from the humans would make energon, and the dimunitive Decepticon plunged it into Megatron's face, thus reformatting him into a NEW TOY more powerful body. What happened to the Doctor and the Constructicons after this wasn't clear, but Doctor showed up a few scenes later when Megatron, Starscream and Grindor had kidnapped our human heroes. After Megatron threatened Sam Witwicky, the Decepticon leader orders Doctor to examine the 'alien specimen'. Doctor, in his microscope mode, transforms and happily scuttles up Sam's chest, introducing himself as 'Ze doctor', and using his numerous appendages to bully Sam around a bit, before snapping his teeny fingers, ordering two... winged snake-like things to drop a small goo-encrusted eel/snake/worm - like Decepticon. Doctor forced Sam's mouth while the 'interrogator' went in, and used his tendrils to probe around Sam's brain. Doctor pulled his little helper out, and downloaded the findings from his little minion. He showed the Cybertronic glyphs, which interests Megatron greatly. Doctor tossed the little worm-thing away (which slammed onto one of Megsy's fingers on the way) before demanding to Megatron that Sam's brain must be... extracted. 'Chop-chop!' As Sam tries to negotiate, the Doctor uses his hands to pull around Sam's nose and mouth, before producing a buzzsaw, and was about to operate on Sam, when Optimus Prime drops in and steals the show. Literally.

Doctor was not seen afterwards. Both the comic and novel adaptations showed Doctor as being sniped by Optimus Prime before his grand entrance, but this scene was not present in the movie itself. So, his death is probably retconned by Bay, much like Barricade in the first movie.

Now, unlike Frenzy from the first movie who didn't get a decent toy, Doctor actually got a proper toy in the main toyline. Marketed as Scalpel (naturally, as 'Doctor' is nigh-impossible to trademark), Doctor is based not on the final CGI render, but of an earlier character model. The robot mode is passable enough for his film slef, but the microscope mode is way off from the final microscope mode seen in the movie. Keeping that in mind, I had rather high expectations for Doctor after seeing his stock photography. I really, really like this toy. Unlike the piece of crap that is Ejector, I still sort of like him (mostly because Doctor's actually adorable) but in terms as a toy, Doctor doesn't deliver. Detective Barricade's first review gave him a full marks of ten. All due respect, I disagree with him, and while he's not the worst toy, he's far from deserving a full marks of ten. I really, really love this toy, it's just that he doesn't deserve full marks.

MICROSCOPE MODE
The microscope mode seen in the movie is a more traditional, cylindrical single-lens microscope, almost similar to G1 Perceptor/Magnificus' altmode. And it's black in colour. Doctor's toy-form is based on a sleeker, more modern microscope with two eyepieces, something that modern/advanced school labs are starting to use. And the toy's microscope form is mainly gray and white. This is presumably based on earlier concepts of Doctor, seen in the bonus material of the DVD, where the toy's microscope mode (albeit with three lenses) is used instead of the finalized model.

Basically, it's not really realistic. It's not as pointless as the toaster, but it looks... shabby, somehow. It's as if the designers were in a rush and decided to take shortcuts with this toy. The base of the microscope is sturdy enough, but the seams which move apart during transformation effect the look of the microscope mode. Two of those metallic thingies which hold down the specimen slide are molded and painted silver in the base. The, um, spine (I can't remember the scientific terms for them, so bear with me) allows the main lens ensemble to move up and down its length. A neat little feature which sadly is rendered a bit pointless by the shortness of the spine.

Then, we come to the eyepiece/lens ensemble. First thing off the bat, the whole thing could easily shift from its intended formation. The massive gaps found in that part also doesn't help. This fact is worsened by the fact that instead of, say, clear plastic, the lens cap has a Decepticon insignia. There are also, for whatever reason, neon purple cyberglyphs decorating a chunk of the microscope mode. This is odd, considering that it doesn't do much than decoration in the robot mode.

While the white that forms the main microscope body is a nice contrast to the blacks in all those knobs and the eyepiece, too much gray plastic breaks up the colours, causing the thing to look... broken up, somehow.

The microscope mode isn't so good, which is a pity, since it's a cute concept and Scout-sized toys, or even shorter Deluxe-sized toys could interact with this microscope. I think it could've been easy for them to paint many of the gray parts into white, while dropping the purple decorations and instead investing on a latch that would hold the microscope pieces tighter.

ROBOT MODE
Doctor's robot mode manage to pull off 'adorable' and 'creepy' at the same time. But that's where he gains and loses the most marks. Let's start from the very top, shall we? Now Doctor is almost entirely silver (with hints of blacks and grays) in the movie. Since the toy has to use the white microscope mode, Doctor's predominant colour becomes white, with black for his abdomen and mainly gray for his six spindly legs. It's an okay colourscheme, if a little bland. In fact, it's better than having Doctor being all silver. I mean, with Megatron, Sideways and Sideswipe all being silver robots, it's a good thing that guys like Ravage and Doctor are being given slightly different colourschemes.

The legs pose the biggest problem, what with the soft plastic that holds the ball joints together being easily broken if you rest the full weight of Doctor on it for a too long time. So beware!

Doctor has only several good points of articulation, with eyes on hinges and two joints on his hands. All his legs are on ball joints, but are for the most part useless unless you want to make the ball joints loose.

In my opinion, using clear plastic for his hands does look... rather 'cheap' somehow. Also, the transformation scheme means that the hands needed to be squeezed into a limited cavity, causing either the hands or the chest/microscope kibble things to pop off their ball joints. This could've been avoided by modifying the transformation scheme a little, which is a shame.

I like the face, I really do. Two bulging, monocle-esque eyes, with detachable glasses! While the stubby arms couldn't reach past the chest to pull off the glasses, the fact remains that Doctor has a pair of cute, adorable little glasses. Not much you could do with them, but it's a neat little feature that shows the amount of effort put in designing the character and the toy. The antenna and mandibles molded in are also precious. I've been told that there is a variety of Doctor with shorter antenna in order to fit inside the microscope mode better. Mine is the longer antenna variant, but it's not too much of a difference.

Let us come now to the body/abdomen. The, um, spine of the microscope rotates 270 degrees so that it's now positioned horizontally under the adbomen of Doctor, with the rest of him poking up in his front. Regrettably, this causes major balance issues. With Doctor's six flimsy (albeit cool) legs, the main body has a tendency to drop down. This is worsened by the fact that the ball joints for Doctor's legs (on mine at least) are very, very weak, causing them to pop off relatively easily. Unlike, say, Scorponok from the first movie line, whose legs are screwed on tightly but having ratchet-ish joint to move, Doctor's legs are very weak and pop off with little effort.

Doctor hinges on the thin line of compromises between functionality and coolness of the design. I mean, a toy like, say, Arcee or Demolishor or Scorponok look inhuman and awesome at the same time, but still retains functionality, durability and posability. Doctor is a very good concept which deserve a much better toy than this.

Transformation Design: 4/10 Could be worse, I suppose, but it's not really intuitive.
Durability: 1/10 The legs break apart easily, and the ball joints are made of soft plastic that crack really quickly. Meanwhile, the antenna is also fragile.
Fun: 5/10 The lack of inclusion of a buzzsaw accessory is understandable, but he couldn't even stand properly without twisting the ball joints! Still, a decent figure unlike Ejec-crap-tor.
Aesthetics: 4/10 It sucks as a display piece, but at least it's cute enough in microscope mode.
Articulation: 2/10 Rubbish. There are a lot of joints, but only the neck and the hands actually do anything to help posability. The legs can't do anything practical, and it couldn't even stand on its own.
Value/Price: 5/10 Average for a Scouts toy, but not exactly cheap.
Overall: 5/10 It's a toss up, I guess. It's not 'avoid like the plague' Ejector, but it's just not that good. I for one like him, but then I have a thing for inhumanoid transformers. You should grab Doctor, but it's not that good a toy. It's something unique and very different, and very fun to fiddle with. While I was tempted to give it an 8, it is a frustratingly fragile toy, despite the awesome design. Still, it's nice to round up your ROTF cast with something small.
 
 
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