This week’s review is that most-maligned of Gobots, Scooter.
Scooter is another one (of many) that have truly awful names. In this case, someone looked at what he transformed into and said ‘yep, that’s a scooter. Call him ‘scooter’’ and then went back to whatever they were doing.
When the TV show came along, the animators made Scooter into a cowardly little wretch, and he was voiced by Frank Welker (the same chap who did Megatron) in what is surely his most embarrassing voice of all time. That squeaky, whiny, nasal voice did to Gobot fans what Wesley Crusher did to Star Trek.
All of this is a shame, really, because he’s a pretty nifty little toy, with an interesting alt mode. So here’s my opinion on him, along with (as usual) his tech specs at the bottom (click on any image to enlarge).
Scooter turns into…. Well…. A scooter. When you consider the idea of these ‘robots in disguise’ was to hide, then for hiding in the city, a scooter is a pretty good choice. The red isn’t too bright, and he looks quite up-to-date (for the 80s). In fact, Scooter could infiltrate pretty much any city in the world today and not be noticed. I find that pretty damn awesome.
I quite like the alt mode toy. It’s got a bit of charm with stickers in the right place (the ones on mine are fairly worn, as I bought him in 1985 and played with him quite a bit). You’ve got a headlight and taillights, as well as a neat little dashboard. There are some join lines, but it’s not always apparent first-off that this is a transforming toy. The real giveaway is that while he has a single front wheel, he instead has two dinky plastic wheels at the rear, as well as a moulded lump to simulate a rear wheel. I suppose that Bandai put the two wheels there so he didn’t just fall over when he was transformed, but it does look pretty dumb. There’s no reason at all to have them that way otherwise, as a rear wheel wouldn’t interfere with the transformation in the slightest.
I’ve always enjoyed transforming Scooter, simply because he’s so interesting. The arms swing down from the sides and turn about on little ball joints, then the legs stretch out (one at a time or both together), bending at the knees like a person standing up. The chest compacts down with the shield folding onto the front, and finally the head is tilted back for the face reveal.
Robot mode is the thing that really makes Scooter a cut above the rest. Unlike many transformers (or even other Gobots), Scooter has very human-like proportions with defined shoulders, correct length arms (and a neat little hand sculpt), articulated knees and properly sized feet. You can still quite clearly see the scooter in there, but suddenly he’s a pretty good looking robot. What I like to draw attention to is the face. It’s not the bland/generic robot face that most Gobots had. Instead it’s a nicely sculpted face with fully humanoid features, while still maintaining that air of an alien robot.
Overall, Scooter looks pretty good in both modes and was let down (of all things) by a dreadful TV characterisation. This isn’t the irritating annoyance from the TV show. This is the face of a bad-arsed hero who is going in behind enemy lines to collect data, hack computers, steal plans, and get out of there in one piece. This is the tough-as-nails technical officer who pilots and operates the Command Centre.
Tech Specs and characterisation
There’s not much to know about Scooter, even though he was one of the more important characters in the TV show and movie. We know he’s an infiltration expert and inventor, as well as being a pacifist. I’ll combine what I know from this source along with what I can divine out of the toy to give something a bit more adequate.
Strength is not what this Gobot is about. If he’s got to rely on his fists, then he’s done something wrong. His handlebars may turn into nifty little daggers (to my mind) but he leaves the heavy lifting to guys like Road Ranger. 3
Brains are Scooter’s strong point. He’s got to be smart to be able to hack into and out of security systems, come up with ideas and inventions, and bluff his way through checkpoints and obstacles. He tends to discuss strategy with Leader-1, even though he is a pacifist, and is obviously smart enough to realise that the front lines are not the only place for a soldier, particularly not one with his unique abilities. I’m going to give him a (10).
If anyone’s ever seen a scooter getting around the city, you know they’re not exactly speed machines. Scooter suffers from a slow alt-mode, as well as being one of the smaller gobots (most others tower over him by 50% or more). Their walking is his running, just to keep up. He’s really built for stealth, not speed. (3).
As a non-battlefield combatant, Scooter doesn’t really need much in the way of endurance. He needs mental fortitude and will (this is reflected in his intelligence score). On the other hand, scooters, particularly in places like China and India seem to take a remarkable amount of punishment before giving up the ghost. I’ll put him in the middle and give him a (5).
Scooter’s one of the smallest Guardians, and in the world of the Gobots, size matters. As a result, he’s not all that high up the totem pole. For a cheery optimist like Scooter, this frees him up to tinker with his inventions and experiments, as well as work out new ways of thwarting the Renegades. (2).
Courage is one of the primary attributes of the espionage game, and this little bloke has courage oozing from every orifice. What he lacks in size, speed, and endurance he more than makes up for with determination, strength of will, and innovation. (10).
This is a department where Scooter gets interesting. He doesn’t mount any weapons. In fact, in one episode of the TV show, he got weapons mounted and then asked for them to be removed because he’s not all that great at front-line fighting. Instead, Scooter has holo-projectors built into both of his arms that allow him to project three dimensional images to distract, divert, or terrify the opposition. I’m sure that the lasers used in the projection could also be used as weapons in a pinch, but I don’t think they’d be very effective. (1).
Skill is another stat where Scooter combines all his other abilities. It’s not so easy being a genius inventor if you’re also a butterfingers. Scooter has a pretty high skill through his many behind-the-lines adventures, kitbashed inventions, and realistic holograms. If you’re looking for someone who can improvise a jailbreak with two bits of blu-tack and a wire coathanger, Scooter’s the Gobot you go to. (8).