With the release of the new Transformers movie just over the horizon, the merchandising blitz has begun in earnest. Most retailers debuted their TF movie product on June 2, as per Hasbro's original "street date." And when they did, Transfans were plunged quickly into a whole new universe of characters, not all of them from the movie, such as the Real Gear Robots.
The Real Gear Robots are a return to the old days. The very old days. Pre-"Transformers" days.
As the die-hard fans can tell you, the line we know as "Transformers" was created by combining two unrelated transforming toy lines from Japan: Diaclone, which featured model cars that turned into robots; and Microchange, a spin-off of Microman based upon normal household objects. For years, every TF property has followed the Diaclone model, but the Real Gear Robots are old-school Microchange, all the way! As the package says:
Congratulations on purchasing this fine Real Gear Robots product! You've uncovered one of the most closely held secrets on Earth,
known only to 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!
Kinda sounds like the stuff they print in instruction manuals, huh? Not that anyone actually reads those. The RGR packaging is nice, and really stands out on the pegs with a rounded blister hugged by a swoosh, and a card that looks similar to the movie line without tying itself into that product expressly. The toy is held in place not by twist-ties, but by two thin strips of plastic taped in the back. The first release sees three Autobots and three Decepticons that all change into small handheld electronics.
Spy Shot 6 doesn't talk a lot, preferring to remain in camera mode as an observer in the background. It's probably from years of spying on the Decepticons. He's got a perfect memory, able to produce a description of anything he's ever seen or heard. He prefers not to fight, but when it comes down to it, he can fire focused beams of laser-intensity light through his lens.
It's been two full decades since Hasbro told kids to mail in their robot points in order to receive Reflector, the original Transformer camera. Technology has advanced a lot since then - both in terms of Transformers, and in terms of what a camera looks like. We really needed an update!
Spy Shot 6 is a digital camera,
one of the slim, pocket-sized models that are, like, one step above the camera on a cellphone. It's 3" wide, 2" tall and about ½" deep. The detailing is really good, all the way around: looking at the camera, there's almost nothing that says "robot inside." On the front, we have an appropriately styled flash, viewfinder, textured grip and slightly extended lens. There's a power switch on the side, a tripod mount and a connector port on the bottom, and a shutter button on the top - press the button and it actually depresses and clicks, just like Reflector's did.
The back of the camera features zoom controls, the other side of the viewfinder (though it is too small and blurry to actually see through), a dial/d-pad
to move through menu options, another dial that doesn't really match up with anything on a real camera, and two arrow buttons beneath the 1" viewscreen. Spy Shot 6 has apparently been hanging out on Velocitron, because the image on the screen is a nicely framed headshot of Cybertron Ransack. They even have all the on-screen displays here: the picture was taken at 7:47 (a reference to the movie release date), with a fairly close zoom, no flash, an F-stop of 8.2, and the camera set to "fine" mode. It's also the only image he's taken - 1/1, also a reference to the Real Gear Robots' supposed 1:1 scale (though it seems they're closer to 1:2 or 1:1.5)
Transformation is simple, yet still rates a 2 out of 4 on the back of the card.
What's a 1, then? Or a 0? The camera's lens is the robot's torso, and the case splits and rotates to become arms and legs. The head just pulls up from within. In robot form, Spy Shot 6 stands 4¼" tall, though his shoulders go up a bit higher than that. And that means that's how big he is "in real life," as well - this isn't a case like Soundwave, where a palm-sized object turns into a 12' tall robot. In Transfandom, that's known as "mass shifting," but the RGR don't do that; what you see is what you get.
The newly exposed body parts are a dusty green, which blends with the yellowish gray of the camera's body. The head has a definite "old school" feel, reminscent of an old flash. The eyes are light-piped red, and the face is silver. Articulation is really good, especially for a toy this size - Spy Shot 6 has a balljointed head, balljointed shoulders, balljointed elbows, claws that can open and close, balljointed hips, swivels at the thighs and hinged knees. That's 13 points already, and you can get a bit more if you're willing to use the parts that transform the robot to pose it, as well.
The Real Gear Robots are a real treat - the last time we got a "real" sized TF was, what, Armada Laserbeak? It's a facet of the Transformers' history that's been overlooked for a long time, and has never really been portrayed like this. Some of the RGR line are real clunkers, but Spy Shot 6 isn't one of them. As a camera, as a robot and as a roundabout reference to a G1 rarity, this is right near the top.