One of the most interesting toy lines to come out of the Transformers Movie toys has been the REAL GEAR ROBOTS. Although technically these characters were not featured in the movie, in a sense, they were implied.
There was a scene when the power of the AllSpark Cube was being unleashed to a degree, somewhat uncontrollably, and several otherwise ordinary machines, including an automobile and a Mountain Dew vending machine, suddenly gained sentience, the ability to transform into robots, and a certain amount of attitude.
One could extrapolate from this scene that these were not the only Earth-made mechanical items affected. Ergo, taking that extrapolation to a further degree, it's not unreasonable to assume that somewhere out there, out of sight from those in or watching the movie, the Real Gear Robots were born.
This line features a series of small robots that are disguised, not as cars or tanks or planes, but as ordinary electronic objects of one sort or another. Alas, none of the toys are actually functional as such, but with an average retail price of under $7.00 in most places, did you really expect them to be?
The first assortment of these toys gave us such items as a digital camera, digital music player, high-tech binoculars, and other items, all of which looked fairly convincing, if in several instances a little too small to really pass themselves off as actual versions of what they represented. Two additional items have been added to the line, and I would like to review both of them here.
Let's start with the Decepticon of the new two. His name is MEANTIME, and he's a very fancy-looking digital watch.
Meantime is one of the Real Gear Robots that probably could be passed off as an actual item. He's certainly big enough, and his wristband just about fits around my wrist. I have no doubt that it would readily fit around a child's wrist.
Granted he'd probably still be noticeable, although not by much. I've seen watches that weren't too far removed from Meantime. Big, complicated, tech-looking devices that make me wonder if when the wearer is out of sight he's going to use the thing to contact some interplanetary vessel in orbit or vanish back into the future timepoint from which he and the contraption on his wrist came from. Compared to some of those sorts of timepieces, Meantime isn't especially implausible in appearance.
The main "face" of Meantime in his digital watch form measures about 1-3/4" in diameter, and his two wristband halves extend his total length to about eight inches. The overall design of Meantime is quite ingenious. It can't have been easy to figure out how to get a wristwatch to turn into a reasonably humanoid robot.
Obviously, Meantime is not an actual functioning watch, but he does have a believable clock image imprinted on him. It's a digital readout, and this is the first digital readout of any sort on any of the Real Gear Robots (among those that have such readouts) that doesn't try to take advantage of the release date of the Transformers movie. Meantime's displayed time is 5:17 and 40 seconds, with a date listing of WE 01-02.
About the only thing other than not being an actual operating watch and being maybe a little TOO complex in appearance that sets Meantime apart from an actual timepiece is the presence of the Decepticon emblem on his watch face.That's right, Meantime is one of the bad guys (with a name like "Meantime", you're surprised?). It's the movie Decepticon logo, which I have to say I don't regard as an improvement over the original. It just doesn't quite look right to me somehow.
One might expect, looking at Meantime in his watch form, that one of his wristbads unfolds to become his arms, and the other unfolds to become his legs. Remarkably, that is NOT the case. The two wristbands split to become one arm and one leg each, and moving them around into robot position also automatically raises Meantime's head up from the main watch body of the robot. It's really very effective and quite an interesting transformation.
The only really odd part is Meantime's feet. Due to the nature of the watch straps and the necessity of lowering hands from the segments that transform into arms, Meantime looks as though he has two extra feet. These can be displayed as either next to the feet that are directly beneath his legs, or folded behind the legs. Either way, they look a little peculiar, but there's really no help for it.
Apart from this oddity, though, Meantime is surprisingly effective in his robot form. He is superbly well proportioned, unlike some of his Real Gear Robot compatriots who have had to sacrifice a certain level of humanoid form in order to accommodate their Real Gear modes. He is of average height compared to most of the others, who tend to range in the 4" - 5" range. Meantime is 4-1/2" in height. Meantime is also incredibly well articulated. I suspect this is reflective of the fact that his arms and legs are part of a necessarily well-articulated watchband. But even those parts not directly related to that aspect are well poseable. Meantime is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, wrists, legs, knees, and ankles, with quite a good range of motion at all points.
I've said this before, but this is a far cry from the days of Generation One, when the Transformers really couldn't move all that much in their robot modes.
The back of Meantime's head has been molded in transparent orange plastic, allowing for the backlit reflection trick that makes it look as though his eyes are glowing.
Meantime's overall color scheme is dark blue with dark grey trim and a litle bit of orange. It certainly helps Meantime come across as a Decepticon, having such a dark color scheme.
All Real Gear Robots have a general introductory statement on their packages, which reads as follows: Congratulations on purchasing this fine Real Gear Robots product! With this purchase, you've uncovered one of the most closely held secrets on Earth, known to only a very few humans. The power of the Allspark has been unleashed, and machines all over the world have come alive. Unlock their secrets, and join the battle!
And that pretty well corroborates the notion that when the AllSpark was unleashed, it did a lot more than turn a Mountain Dew vending machine nasty, but within the concept, anyway, that would also be something that the powers-that-be would probably want to keep under wraps.
Meantime also has an individual character profile, which reads as follows: Meantime is one of the most powerful of the Real Gear Robots. It's just too bad that he uses his powers for nothing but trouble. He can speed up, stop, and even reverse time up to ten minutes. Rather than uusing his powers to make chores or homework go by faster, though, he likes to hang out at skate parks, where he speeds time up to cause huge wipe-outs, then reverse it so he can watch the accidents again.
You know, I know these toys are directed towards kids, but honestly, you've got a Decepticon here with the power to alter time, and we're worried about the fact that he's causing accidents at skate parks instead of making chores go faster? If that's all he's doing with a power like that, we should probably count our blessings. I think one would have to assume that, perhaps given his small size, there's a fairly limited range to this potentially devastating power, or he likely WOULD be using it for a lot more than that!
Regardless, these Real Gear Robots are an abundantly cool new branch of Transformers. I would readily recommend any of them, and certainly MEANTIME would receive my enthusiastic recommendation as a very cool part of that collection! Now, let's consider the Autobots' newest entry into this fascinating line. His name is HIGH SCORE 100, and he's a video game controller.
This is one of those where clearly the item is too small to actually be passed off as a real video game controller, at least for a conventional video game system that hooks into your TV set, such as a PS2 or an XBox. High Score 100 measures about 3-1/2" across and 2-3/4" top to bottom.
Structurally, I'd say he most closely resembles the game controller for a Sony PlayStation 2. At least he certainly bears a striking resemblance to the one I have sitting here -- except for the colors -- and all the dust on the PS2 controller. I really should use this thing more often...
Whereas the PS2 controller is mostly black, High Score 100 is mostly a sort of ivory white. There are two handgrips -- or they would be handgrips if High Score 100 weren't about 60% of the size of a cull-size controller. There is a cross-shaped directional control button on the left side of High Score 100, and a series of four buttons on the right side. Although these buttons are molded from separate pieces of plastic and not just painted on, they do not actually press inwards.
Below these are two raised "thumb controllers", and these, in fact, DO actually move, although not with the same ease of motion as an actual video game controller. Apart from the smaller size, the only thing distinguishing High Score 100 from an actual video game controller is his rather segmented appearance, and the presence of the Autobot logo imprinted on the top of the game controller.
The first aspect of transforming High Score 100 is actually tricker than it looks. You're supposed to slide the little button on the center of the game controller upwards. However, you need to be sure to keep your hands away from the top of the device when you do this, or you'll keep the procedure from working. Sliding this button partially raises the robot's head, and slides his chest panels over into place.
The rest of the transformation is fairly easily. At their small size, these Real Gear Robots are not going to be overly complex. Once the transformation is completed, the end result is -- well, one might have to think that High Score 100 has as Optimus Primal from Transformers Beast Wars as his personal idol or something, because the end result looks a whole lot like a robotic gorilla.
Granted, no one's going to mistake him for the noble leader of the Maximals. High Score 100 is far more robotic looking than Primal ever was. But between the almost muzzle-like face, the stocky build, the massively long arms, and the comparatively short legs, there's no denying that this particular Autobot has a fair amount of simian in his system somewhere.
In robot mode, High Score 100 is surprisingly well articulated, especially given his decidedly stocky appearance. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, elbows, waist, legs, knees, and ankles, with quite a range of motion at all parts. The wonders of ball-and-socket construction and articulation.
As a robot, High Score 100 is a little more colorful than his video game controler mode. At least, more colors are seen. He picks up quite a bit of dark grey trim. There's also some metallic dark green on him that becomes a bit more prominent in his robot-gorilla mode, and his eyes, really just a narrow slit across his face, is a sort of pinkish-purple.
One thing of note -- High Score 100 is easily the shortest of the entire group. I'm not counting Booster X10 here, since he transforms into a bird, but among the more or lss humanoid Real Gear Robots, High Score 100 is not quite 3-1/2" in height, where's the average height of the others tends to tange from 4" - 5". Granted, he's just about as wide as he is all, and likely has a strength advantage.
All Real Gear Robots have a general introductory statement on their packages, which I related with Meantime, but of course High Score 100 has it as well.
High Score 100 also has an individual character profile, which reads as follows: High Score 100 has been made into a master martial artist by years of watching some of the most dangerous fighters in the known universe try their skill against one another. By careful observation, and copying their moves over and over again, he has reached a level of fighting skill previously unheard of among Transformers. If you are patient, and willing ot learn, he will teach what he knows. But be warned: the path to ultimate power is fraught with hazards.
Hmmm, interesting notion -- a video game controller that's better at fighting than the person using the controller. Shame it's not real.
Interesting that there's also no reference in the card to his distinctly gorilla-like proportions.
Not surprisingly, High Score 100 pulls in a "10" on his "Skill" Ranking among his various attributes, followed by an "8" in the Strength department.
On the whole, as I said before, these Real Gear Robots are a very cool new branch of Transformers, and unlike some of the characters more directly affiliated with the movie, they've been somewhat easier to find as of this writing, and are available at all major toy retailers.
And certainly HIGH SCORE 100 gets my enthusiastic recommendation as a very cool part of that collection! I hope Hasbro considers continuing it as a general part of Transformers!