Cliffbee.com: Beast Machines Blackarachnia Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Blackarachnia
Series: Beast Machines
Allegiance: Maximal
Alternate Mode: Technorganic Spider

Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Blackarachnia for this review



SPIDER MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 16cm Width: 20cm

   A tall spider with lots of gold, transparent yellow and purple plastics - which are well intertwined. There are some green painted elements, most notably eyes _under_ the transparent yellow plastic of her head. There are some transparent green and red elements on her abdomen, rounding out a colourful yet well executed colour scheme which seems to be a midway point between the original and its show representation.

   Unlike many arthropod beast modes, this spider can stand quite well on her six legs, which all have sufficiently tight joints. Having said that, the rear legs don't really carry the load and the front legs are short vestigial affairs linked to a gimmick - hence my comment about six legs. There are purple mouthparts and the shorter front legs look like elongated mouthparts themselves. There's a clearly defined, rounded abdomen which is nice, although the robot head and chest don't hide underneath it particularly well. The sculpt is quite detailed as you'd expect of Beast Machines, with a good mixture of organic and mechanical for that technorganic feel.

   The gimmick is simple enough - pull the vestigial front legs out to the sides and her outer mouthparts move in while the inner ones lift up. Which sounds good except that Blackarachnia is a Black Widow, and the "fangs" that point down, not in, so the pincer motion is just plain wasted. The gearing works well, but I don't think this justifies turning two legs into giant levers. The eyes lift up with the mouthparts which is a nice added bonus, I guess. Her poseability is okay, all six legs have some motion, which allows you to stand her in a few stable poses which I'm quite happy with considering how many arthropod Transformers have trouble with one.

   A pretty decent spider mode, save for the loss of two legs for no real gain. The mechanism controlling the gimmick is impressive even if the end effect isn't, but she stands better than most similar beasts, and the technorganic feel works here thanks to a good mix of colours and a complex sculpt.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Plug the middle pairs of legs together to form the robot legs. Pivot the abdomen forward, covering the head, which will reveal the robot head and torso. Collapse the shoulderblades into her back, position the rear legs as arms, rotate her legs down and fold them in, flip up her feet and you're done.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 7cm

   A purple robot with some black plastic on her upper arms, hips and a hairpiece on the back of her head, Blackarachnia has some gold plastics on her waist, forehead, shoulderpads and inner thighs while there are green paint applications on her breasts and thighs. Instead of hands she has three green hooked claws composed of a soft plastic (the rear legs - by the way the forelegs are also composed of the same plastic). Her lips are red while the eyes are transparent green, although the lightpipe is so weak they may as well be painted. There's a lot more purple than anything else now, which doesn't work as well as the good blend on her spider mode, although the colour still work.

   Hasbro always seem to be at pains to ensure you can't mistake their female Transformers and this robot mode is perhaps the most blatant exception. She has smallish breasts and a waist that would make Barbie look positively apple-shaped, while her hips are about three times as wide and the waist. Her legs are long and spindly - the arms are even tinier. Lastly we have the false long-hair piece at the back of her head, in case the stick figure shape wasn't enough. I really don't think much of this body shape which is so far removed from the shape of most Transformers. As if this wasn't enough the lipstick red on her mouth is used nowhere else on the toy.

   The sculpt is good, the colouring is fairly detailed, but Blackarachnia misses out on some really simple stuff like hands and a lightpipe. There are rivets holding the outer claws onto her forearms, but they don't actually move, so I don't know why they weren't just part of the forearm piece. The entire torso is quite narrow, and there's not much clearance between the torso and the outside of her arms, which looks weird (especially with those "childbearing" hips) a little further down.

   Blackarachnia's articulation is good, but she gets in her own way so it doesn't translate into the poseability you might expect. The neck has both a rotator and a hinge but the hairpiece makes sure all she can do is look down a little. She has a series of gold plates on her forehead which lift up to reveal compound (spider) eyes which is a decent idea but it needs a lightpipe. The shoulders, elbows and hips are ball jointed but her shoulders suffer from being so close to her narrow body. The knees and ankles are hinged and while her feet and heelspurs are huge, the backpack still destabilises a lot of poses. Other than the hooks, Blackarachnia has no weaponry.

   A weirdly proportioned robot which goes beyond stylised to the point that I think the designer badly needs to see some action. The purple which dominates is okay, but the transparent yellows have pretty much disappeared, and this is a loss. There's hardly any play value here - some hampered poseability, claws instead of hands and a rather pointless compound eye trick. There does seem to be a lot of effort in this robot mode, but it's all gone into catering for the designer's questionable tastes.

VARIATIONS

   She was repainted slightly for the Beast Wars Returns line, which was Japan's version of Beast Machines. Universe Blackarachnia & Black Widow are repaints of Blackarachnia.

OVERALL

   A good spider mode despite the loss of two legs and a robot mode which is most notable for messed up proportions. The sculpt is good in both modes and the colours work quite well in beast mode. If the designer had found an outlet for his frustrations before attempting the robot mode, Blackarachnia would have been a lot better - it's so determined to emphasise everything female that it lacks play value save for a very minor gimmick. While it's a lot simpler and has unfocused colours, I find the original far more rewarding - 4/10

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