Cliffbee.com: Universe Blackarachnia Toy Review

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Name: Blackarachnia
Series: Universe
Allegiance: Decepticon
Alternate Mode: Technorganic Spider

Thanks to Griffin for loaning me Blackarachnia for this review



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

   A tall spider with lots of purple and orange along with a transparent orange thorax. There are some fluoro green elements on her abdomen while the eyes are painted red. There's also some transparent purple and some silver on her abdomen, rounding out a bright but well blended colour scheme. The colours are broadly similar to the original version of this mould, Beast Machines Blackarachnia.

   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 a Beast Machines mould, 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 bright but generally well blended colour scheme (the green is a little weird, but the rest works), it's a reasonably similar overall effect to the original toy, mind you. It's a decent spider mode, save for the loss of two legs for no real gain. The gimmick is impressive only in its mechanics and she stands better than most similar beasts.

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 and orange robot with some black plastic on her upper arms, hips and a hairpiece on the back of her head. The shoulders, inner thighs, visor & fingers are bright orange while her face is silver with red lips & eyes. Unlike the original, there's no lightpipe here. The colour scheme is more garish now, since there's the large outburst of silver on her face along with the silly choice of red for her facial features.

   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.

   The sculpt is good, and there's a lot of silver detailing on her torso to compliment it. 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 colours don't work as well - they're too jarring and the red eyes look weird. 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. Again she's not that different to the original, with the main difference being a colour scheme that doesn't work as well.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, she is a repaint of the Beast Machines toy of the same name.

OVERALL

   A good spider mode despite the loss of two legs and a robot mode which is most notable for messed up proportions. This repaint doesn't bring anything new to the mould aside from a poor robot mode colour scheme - and it's the same character anyway - so it's difficult to get excited about. Unusually for TFU, there's no allegiance symbol anywhere on this toy. I'd recommend the BM version over this repaint (and the BW version is better again). Not a toy I recommend - 3/10

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