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 of these early Real Gear Robots have been recolored into new characters, and I would like to review them at this time. Their names are WIRE TAP V20 and NIGHT BEAT 7.
Let's start with WIRE TAP V20. He is a recoloration of the cel phone originally known as Speed Dial 800. He's also representing the other side in the Transformers' conflict.
Speed Dial 800 is an Autobot. It amazes me that we can cram technology into a handheld contraption that people can make phone calls, text messages, watch videos, take photographs, store and listen to music, and basically base their entire lives around these tiny little devices and pretty much forget that there's a real world out there -- and they generally forget it while they're driving along at a high rate of speed and trying to use one of these things at the same time.
So a cel phone as an Autobot? Doesn't quite work in my book. But -- a cel phone as an EVIL DECEPTICON? Okay -- that makes a lot more sense.
Wire Tap V20 is not that drastic a recoloration of the original toy. Speed Dial 800 is dark grey with blue trim and a certain amount of silver. Wire Tap V20 is black with a greater amount of silver trim, and some red. This is especially evidence in the button panel in cel phone configuration. Speed Dial's numbers are printed in blue, with a silver panel near the top. Wire Tap's are printed in red without the silver panel.
Obviously, the display screens are drastically different. Speed Dial's is colorful and shows the Autobot logo, with a clock that reads "7:47", a number play on the release date of the Transformers movie. Wire Tap's screen is more mono-colored, orange background with black imagery, including the Decepticon logo and a clock that reads 3:35. Personally, I was glad for the time change, at least. That 7:47 turning up on quite a few of the original Real Gear Robots got to be a bit like a joke that's told too often.
Unlike some of the Real Gear Robots, which are distinctly too small to pass for actual working models of whatever they happen to be, Wire Tap V20 is of a size that could be an actual cel phone. Frankly, there's probably smaller cel phones out there these days. Wire Tap is not, mercifully, a functional cel phone.
Wire Tap V20's transformation isn't especially difficult, especially if you keep Speed Dial 800 on hand to compare him by. Once again, some fairly significant color differences come through. Speed Dial's arms and upper legs are the same dark grey color as the rest of his body. Wire Tap V20's arms and upper legs are mostly red, with some copper trim on the lower arms, an interesting contrast to Speed Dial's blue. Both Transformers have silver faces, but Wire Tap has a little extra trim around his face, a sort of reddish metallic copper in color. Very notably, Wire Tap's feet are silver, whereas Speed Dial's are dark grey, blending in with the rest of his body.
One distinctive point is that Wire Tap V20 has a Decepticon emblem directly beneath his head. Speed Dial does not have an Autobot emblem in the same place. Guess Decepticons have some identity-security issues.
Articulation of the toy is excellent. One thing that almost any modern Transformer has all over it's original ancestors is articulation. The original Generation One Transformers -- and please believe that I have all the respect in the world for them -- weren't terribly poseable in their robotic forms. Fortunately, that was rectified years ago, and continues to this day. Wire Tap V20 is poseable at the arms, elbows, wrists, legs, knees (although they're rather highly placed), and feet.
For those concerned about picking up a repaint, it may help if you regard Wire Tap V20 as the "Nemesis Prime" for Speed Dial 800. And I have little doubt that in the long history of Cybertron, identical models of robots have been created.
Wire Tap V20's slogan, which appears directly beneath his name, reads, "Cracking the Signal", and his personal profile reads as follows: Wire Tap V20 is a master code slicer for the Decepticons. No matter how tough the encryption, no matter how tight the security, Wire Tap V20 will find a way through. He's a genius at compromising people's computer systems. Wireless carrier waves allow him to remotely access your computer from the other side of the house, emptying bank accounts, cracking government code, and filling your browser history with compromising links. With him in your house, nothing is safe.
Fortunately for all of us, Wire Tap V20 is a fictional character, and in this form, simply a toy. And a pretty cool one. It's been a while since I've seen any new Real Gear Robots in the stores since Wire Tap V20 and the other recoloration turned up, so it's entirely possible that the line has run its course. But I don't know for sure. I'd like to think that there might be more. It's a very cool line.
Now let's consider NIGHT BEAT 7. He is a recoloration of the music player known as Booster X10. He also represents the other side of the Transformers' conflict.
Booster X10 was highly unusual for one of the Real Gear Robots for two reasons. One, he was the only one (until now), that came as two pieces, a high-tech music player and a remote earpiece for same. Secondly, and more notably, he was the only Real Gear Robot that did not transform into something relatively humanoid. He transformed into a robotic bird of prey.
Clearly, Booster X10 was intended as a nod to original Decepticons Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. Those two birds were associates of the original Soundwave, and as such transformed into cassettes. These days, with technology being what it is, you can buy computerized music players that are actually smaller than audio cassettes used to be.
Night Beat 7 uses a name that has some history in the Transformers universe. There was an Autobot named Night Beat in Generation 1. He was one of the Headmasters, originally released in 1988. His alternate mode was not that of a music player, but rather a sporty blue and yellow car with flames on the sides. The original Night Beat technically spelled his name as one word, Nightbeat, and acted as a detective for the Autobots, and tended to be characterized as rather relentless in his duties.
The new Night Beat 7 shares some similar characteristics with his Generation One predecessor. According to his character profile on the package: Most of the other Real Gear Robots focus on covering their tracks, but Night Beat 7 makes it his job to expose them to the light. Using sophisticated reality-search software, he constantly scans the world around him for evidence that a Decepticon has been at work. He's trainined in finding the most obscure evidence, from the faint time particle trail left by Meantime to the sonic leftovers of the mischief of Booster X10."
Interesting that the other music player would get a mention here. But clearly, reading this profile, what we have here is another detective, but one that uses more electronic means than the original Nightbeat probably used.
There's no real structural comparison between Night Beat 7 and any prior Autobots. Although the Autobots in Generation One did have their share of cassette-bots, used primarily by Blaster, none of them transformed into birds of prey like Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. In this respect, Night Beat 7 is unique among the Autobots. One would imagine that he and Booster X10 are doubtless not on friendly terms, and probably have the same sort of rivalry as Soundwave and Blaster had back in the day.
Unlike the other recolored Real Gear Robot, Wire Tap V20, who wasn't too far removed colorwise from his earlier counterpart, Speed Dial 800, there are considerable color differences between Night Beat 7 and his earlier counterpart, Booster X10.
Booster X10 is mostly a rather vivid orange in color, with significant amounts of black trim, and transparent orange wings. He even has a yellow beak, and a fair amount of silver trim. Very conversely, Night Beat 7 is mostly a might metallic blue, several shades of it, really, with no black trim, and transparent dark blue wings. His beak is a silvery blue much like other parts of his body.
Interestingly, Booster X10 has his name imprinted on his earpiece. Night Beat 7 has no such feature.
Transforming Night Beat 7 isn't anywhere near as complicated as one might thing. One might tend to assume that transforming a compact little music player into a robotic bird of prey is not going to be an especially easy endeavor, but it's really relatively simple. Flip the tail back, stretch out the wings -- the "feathers" emerge automatically -- and the head is pretty much right there. The trickiest part is getting the little bird legs to fold out. The earpiece attaches to the bird's back via a small fold-out peg, and becomes a laser cannon.
Articulation of the toy is excellent. Although Night Beat 7 is hardly humanoid, there's still plenty of articulation. The wings can be pivoted at their base and folded in somewhat even when extended, although this is really part of the articulation needed for transformation, and they cvan also be moved upwards somewhat. Technically, Night Beat 7 can almost "flap" his wings. The head rotates at the neck, the tail can be moved, and the legs and feet are VERY articulated, poseable at the legs, knees, and feet.
And as was the case with Wire Tap V20, for those who dislike the idea of picking up a toy that is "merely" a repaint of a previous toy, I would stress that the vast color differences between Night Beat 7 and Booster X10 really make them look like two distinctive, separate characters. And certainly there's history for more than one robot bird in the Transformers line.
Even if these are the last of the Real Gear Robots, it has been -- and is, a very cool line, And certainly both NIGHT BEAT 7 and WIRE TAP V20 definitely have my enthusiastic recommendation!