The Reverend's review: Reflector
First Cartoon Appearance:
"More Than Meets The Eye"
"See and you can know, know and you can destroy."
Loves to observe things: vegetation, architecture, Earthen topography, and particularly comrades' mistakes. Likes to blackmail his associates and is impressed with his own ability. Has highly-developed infra-red vision that can record images in darkness, through camouflage and at great distances. In camera Mode, can emit powerful flash explosion that leaves enemy blind and disorientated for up to 15 seconds.
Reflector appeared in some of the earliest G1 episodes; a team of three Decepticon robots that combined into an Earth-style camera. Does that make him the first G1 combiner?? At least once we saw him team up with Soundwave gathering information on a hydroelectric facility, another time Thundercracker used him as a sort of "telescope". Some time later, Megatron (who had assimilated the "powers" of his subordinates) used Reflector's "flash attack" to disorient Optimus Prime. But Reflector himself remained largely unsung, and his last appearance was in a brief fly-by during the 1986 film. The depictions of Reflector's "robot mode" also varied - sometimes the three robots moved and spoke in unison, sometimes one or two were seen operating independently of each other. Even stranger, numerous Reflector lookalikes were occasionally seen as "worker bees" for the Decepticons. The main robot of the group, while looking just like the others, sported a recessed lens on his chest.
Fast-forward to 1986. A mailer was dispatched via Hasbro's mailing list; it was a promotion for "Transformers: The Movie" featuring a promo poster (different from the one we see now for sale in reproductions) and a mailaway offer for Optimus Prime, Megatron and a few others. Tucked down in one section was an offer for "Reflector". (Around the same time, small leaflets advertising Reflector could be found in boxed G1 TFs as well.) Since I tended to keep the cards and boxes back then, tucked away in a carton, I got my hands on enough "Robot Points"... and well... yeah, I had to have it. By the time of the mailer, though, Reflector had visibly evolved into three distinct robots named Spectro, Spyglass and Viewfinder, with their own colorings and appearances. They did not, however, come in a fancy box (just in a shipping carton, packed in a styrofoam shell), so artistic renderings from this era were limited to the mailers.
Reflector more recently appeared in Dreamwave's revision as a "Cybertron monitoring team" under the command of Shockwave, with their individual designs rather than the "reflected" or "clone" look of the original G1 animation trio.
Kid-sized Earth camera, featuring a plastic "telephoto lens" barrel that attaches at the front (and by the way, has some really well-detailed stickers), a flashcube on one side (with chrome front!), and a working, clicking button on the other. Does anyone remember those old cameras with the disposable, separate "flash cartridges" you got at the drugstore? Heh. Anyway, the camera also features an actual viewpiece on the back, complete with clear lens and mirrors inside so that you can actually look through the camera. A raised eyeshield at the front of the camera bears the word "REFLECTOR" in red letters, and the flashbulb has a hole in the front I'll get to in a minute. It's a little garishly colored for a camera - viewed from the front, it's got a blue middle with black sides, a red horizontal stripe, and gray trim. However, it's not so wild in its color that you're going to mistake it for, say, a mechanical cockroach or a Virgin Mary air freshener. In fact, I'm looking at my digital camera here on the desk right now, and while the styling is certainly different, it is remarkable how little cameras have changed in twenty years!
The camera also has an "attack mode" of sorts. Reflector comes with three very pointy grey missiles (watch your eyes), one of which can be fitted into the flashcube at a time. The instructions say "the flashcube is designed only to hold missiles and will not launch the missiles", but there's a spring-loaded trigger on the top, and mine actually launches the missiles relatively far (it ain't Snarl's lethal launcher, but it's still good). Maybe I got an earlier version or the instructions were just lying, who knows. Regardless, the set also came with a "lens laser", a black weapon that looks like a "Star Wars" style laser cannon with a circular base, and this can be inserted into the telephoto lens barrel. This camera has teeth. You never know when an ordinary household camera will decide to get back at you, do you? Must be that Mayan 2012 thing.
Robot Mode: (Viewfinder)
Viewfinder forms the camera's middle section and is a squat, blocky bot with a blue body (which features the camera lens in its center AND the original animation's green trim in sticker form!), chrome legs, big blue "boots", a chrome visor on his masked face and thin grey arms at the sides. His shoulders form the eyeshield on the camera, so one reads "REFLE" and the other sports "CTOR", and a rubsign is usually found on his left shoulder as well. He can move at the shoulders, hips and knees, and his inhuman face is actually pretty cool (if indifferent) in appearance. He has no holes in his fists, though, he carries the "lens laser" from the camera's attack mode fitted on the back of one hand. It might have looked cooler higher up on his arm, but as the shoulder joints double as the "posts" on which Spectro and Spyglass attach in camera mode, there really wasn't going to be a lot of room left over, so I'll let the designers off on this one. Viewfinder has a wider body than his two comrades, which allows for a difference of opinion - if you like your TFs looking like robots instead of people in plastic suits, you'll probably prefer Viewfinder's appearance. The eyepiece to look through the camera is mounted high on his back.
Robot Mode: (Spyglass)
Spyglass is a sleek, if relatively unornamented little bot, with a torso in sparkle-blue, dark blue arms and head, a "grill" detailed in his chest, and chrome/gray legs. A blue visor covers his eyes. He can turn his head 360 degrees if you so desire, and also has rotation at the shoulder and hips. His knees are reversed due to his transformation, so you can bend them in play but it doesn't look natural. Also due to his transformation, his arms fold behind his back, which means you can get a little poseability out of them if you want him point slightly away from one side. He folds up into a box (one end of the camera) with his head sticking out, the head doubles as the post that the flashcube is mounted on in camera mode. Also, the flashcube itself has a small post on its tail end, so you can have Spyglass carry it around (presumably with a missile in it). This looks a little strange due to the flashcube's size, but if you like it, go for it. His assigned weapon, however, is an "opto blaster" - a tall, thin rifle with a long handle running under the barrel. It's really too big for him no matter how you slice it, but it's lightweight and doesn't cause him to fall over forwards like many of the Action Masters would years later. Oh yeah, and if you're a weirdo you could put the flashcube over his head in robot mode, making him look like some one-eyed monster. I don't know why you would, I'm just saying you can do it if the need hits ya.
Robot Mode: (Spectro)
Somewhat similar in shape and size to Spyglass (as he forms the other end of the camera), Spectro sports a red torso, wide black arms, and the black texture w/ red stripe from the camera mode on the big gray boots that make up his lower legs. To his credit, he's not a recolor of Spyglass. His head is a black round helmet with a gray face, black eyes, and the button for the camera sticking out of the top of his head. Unlike Spyglass, Spectro's shoulders move FORWARD during transformation and his legs fold backwards instead of against his chest. This gives you slightly more human-like articulation at the shoulders, knees and hips, and although he can't turn his head, he can point his arms inward a little. Interestingly, when I was a kid, something about his face made me think of him as a real dummy - I pictured him stumbling about droning "Duhhhh" while Viewfinder and Spyglass actually did things. Dreamwave's "More Than Meets The Eye" profile books contain an entry on the Reflector group, and they actually characterize Spectro the same way. Might be coincidence. He carries a "shutter gun", which looks something like a conventional high-powered rifle down to the magazine on its side. In its favor, the shutter gun is probably the only weapon of the group that doesn't dwarf its user. Outside of that, while Spectro does resemble Spyglass superficially, his wider arms and torso make him look stronger than his twin (triplet)?
The three Reflector robots are all relatively short compared to the first G1 Decepticons (being closer to Rumble and Frenzy's heights than Skywarp or Soundwave), but they do look nice holding their weapons on display, even if they're somewhat less interesting due to the lack of jet wings or pistol barrels or car doors sticking out here and there. If you like to keep your TFs in alternate mode, they do probably look better as the camera, especially next to Soundwave. The camera mode, due to its rectangular shape, is also more durable and easy to store if you don't lose the telephoto barrel.
3 - Not much brainwork here. Despite its simple transformation, it's a relatively well-designed TF, with strong connection points between the three pieces.
9 - Surprisingly, these are some of the most durable of the G1 era. There's very little to break off, except maybe Viewfinder's arms, and even that's a long shot. The glass/plastic of the viewpiece and lens is recessed into Viewfinder's body, so it's not easy to scratch or break. When Spectro and Spyglass's joints loosen, it could affect the camera mode (since their legs form the front of each of their ends of it), but as this is a place where the fingers naturally go when you hold it and placing it on a shelf will hold their legs in place, I don't consider that a real issue.
7 - The three robots do not have useful alternate modes outside of the combined mode, so if you're missing one you're in trouble. Still, it's the only camera in the line, and they are a usable little team of gunslingers, even if their appearances in robot mode aren't particularly eye-catching.
I got mine via mail order back then, and I think it was $17. At this exact moment, I see a loose Reflector on Ebay, missing only one missile (no loss) for about $50 w/ 2 days left to go. A loose and complete one is listed at a starting bid of $180, and another (MIB in box but w/ stickers applied) is starting at $200 w/ Buy It Now of $500. So you should probably window shop a while and wait for the right chance if you don't like dropping three digits on a Transformer.
He's a unique entry in the G1 universe. Whether that makes you want him or dismiss him is your problem.