Series: Beast Wars
Function: Double Agent
Alternate Mode: Black Widow Spider
Height: 5cm Length: 17cm Width: 13cm
A black spider with gold legs, Blackarachnia has some gold banding on her mouthparts and a red patch on her abdomen similar to that found on Australian Redbacks (close relatives of the Black Widows). The gold plastic in her legs is almost a sandy colour, save for it's metallic sheen. The show incarnation of this toy has a lot more gold, and that gold is much lighter, but this is still a nice colour scheme in it's own right. The black plastic is actually a very dark smokey plastic, which is only apparent when you hold her up to a light source.
This is a pretty good spider form, as you'd expect of Beast Wars. Naturally, she has eight legs and a three segment body (head, thorax and abdomen). The abdomen isn't quite as as pronounced as it should be, since she's a repaint of Tarantulas, who is a far more generic spider than Blackarachnia's meant to be. Her legs are long and spindly, four point back and four point forward. These forward facing, longer legs, are on ball joints. She'll stand on her legs or if you prefer, you can just lay her on her belly.
While the articulation in the legs doesn't amount to much, there's still play value here. A gold two-pronged grappling hook sticks out the back of the abdomen, and can be fired by pressing a green button on her abdomen. The hook is on a white piece of string about 18cm long, and she'll happily hang from a hook (or whatever you can find). The string is wrapped around a pole within her abdomen, and it's a matter of unscrewing two screws if you want to release that loop.
While it's not all that detailed, this is still a good spider mode with the major aspects done right. Compared to the arthropods that came before Beast Wars, this is an excellent beast mode. The play value is good considering the limitations of such a specific beast shape. My only real complaint is that the purple robot feet are visible underneath the back of the abdomen. The colours aren't show accurate, but that's not really the toy's fault.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Unfold and pull back the robot legs from underneath, flip up the feet and heelspurs. Fire the grappling hook, unclip the launcher from her abdomen and set aside. Unclip the arms from underneath the thorax, swing them out to the sides and fold down the thorax & head to form her chestplate, which will also bring the arms into place and reveal the robot head. Rotate the forearms, give Blackarachnia her launcher and load with a projectile.
Height: 16cm Width: 13cm
Again based on the smoky black plastic, which is present on the torso, outer thighs and forearms. The transparent nature of that plastic is more apparent now - the thighs give it away. She has purple inner thighs, feet and a purple head with green eyes and a white mouthplate. The boots are painted copper while there's some green on her upper arms. The spider legs hang off her upper arms and look pretty good there. There's no green on the animated version, which has a lot more gold and less purple, so while this is a decent colour scheme, it doesn't look much like the show character.
This is a well laid out robot mode. The legs hanging off Blackarachnia's arms are a great feature yet they don't get in they way of her poseability. The forearms are the mouthparts, so Blackarachnia has claws rather than proper hands. The claws are "backwards", with the larger mouthparts on the insides. You can swap them over if you like, and her elbows are stronger than the easily cracked plastic on Tarantulas.
The thorax is now her chest and the beast head is the groin and waist. This works well, and the thorax is a lot more appropriate as her chestplate than it was for Tarantulas. Sure, she has breasts, but they make sense for a female (even if the show character had small insignificant breasts).
As was the case for most of the early Beast Wars toys, Blackarachnia has both a standard head and a mutant head, although in this case it's really two faces on the same head. Folding the robot head forward 90° will give us the mutant head, which was the one Tarantulas had in the cartoon. While the robot face is weaker thanks to a gap in the moputhplate, the cartoon version has a head based on the robot face while the mutant head clearly looks like the show Tarantulas.
Play value is quite good, and Blackarachnia has great poseability. The neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees are all ball joints, while the feet and heelspurs are hinged as part of the transformation. The launcher can fire the grappling hook again, or she can dangle from this hook, just as in spider mode. The four front legs from spider mode can detach and form missiles, which fire quite well. Blackarachnia doesn't come with spare legs, so you have to be careful not to lose any missiles. The launcher actually has a compound trigger, which sticks out on both sides, in robot mode the "underside" of the abdomen is on top of the launcher, with a different part of the single trigger piece now accessible.
The versatility of his weapon is quite cool, and the colour scheme is aposematic, which is appropriate for the character. It's a shame those colours don't match the show, it really detracts from the appeal of this robot mode. The toy is still visually appealing, the beast legs on the arms are well done and the boobs are now appropriate. She's quite poseable and the elbows are nice and strong - another improvement over Tarantulas. The hanging claw has nowhere to go if you've decided to go with a proper missile launcher, but the claw can kind of stow on her back in the recess where the launcher sits for beats mode. You can of course remove the claw with a screwdriver, which is what I've done (it's easily reversible).
The Japanese version, Black Widow, has show more accurate colours, and on the whole has a better colour scheme. Black Widow was reissued in 2006.
As mentioned, Blackarachnia is a repaint of Tarantulas.
Sadly she's not quite as cool as Tarantulas, mainly because of the colours. Still, she was the first mass market female Transformer in the Anglophone markets, which makes Blackarachnia as landmark in the line on her own. If you're a fan of Beast Wars, I'd definitely recommend her. She's not that easy to find, but is a better bet - and the Japanese version saw a re-release which makes things a little easier. If female Transformers - which are still rare - appeal, this girl's worth picking up, and as a central character in the Beast era cartoons, she's a must for fans of the series - 7/10