Friday, 13 March 2015

TransFormers: Prime Arcee

(Femme-Bot Friday #9)
I've already raved about the First Edition version of this character, but that was rather harder to come by than the mass market 'Robots in Disguise' version. Naturally, this is a smaller, simpler model - cheaper to produce, that is - to fill what was to Hasbro, apparently, an unexpected demand for toys based on their new TV show.

Vehicle Mode:
At first glance, mass-market Arcee isn't dissimilar to the First Edition model. There's a lot more blue plastic (in the wrong shade of blue, albeit with a very fine - barely there, for the most part - metallic flake component), the front section isn't broken up with transformation seams, and the model is slightly smaller overall, but it's still a pretty good-looking motorbike. It retains the smooth lines of the FE but, due to the differences in layout, ends up being very slightly wider in proportion to its height, and has a rather chunky hinge just below the handlebars on each side. Much like the FE, I don't see many action figures being able to easily straddle Arcee.

Arcee's secondary colour has been altered for this model - no longer a metallic pink, she has only silver paint for her highlights. The bike's nose has the appropriate parts of the translucent blue plastic painted over with a fairly well-matched metallic blue paint, though the wing mirrors were left bare and see-through. The main seat has been painted black but, other than that, the vehicle mode has been left quite plain, including the raised area on the front mudguard.

Also like the FE, this version of Arcee comes with two weapons though, unlike the FE, she has only one blade and one ridiculously oversized gun. In the TV show, she has small, slim blasters that transform out of her wrists. The handcannon that comes with this toy is more than half the length of the bike. Each weapon can be plugged into sockets molded on either side of the front wheel, or the blade can be mounted near the front of the gun, in the manner of a bayonet, so that it sticks out in from of the front wheel... Though it has to be mounted either backwards or at an angle, or it clashes with the wheel itself. Disappointingly, the blade is molded symmetrically, so it can't be mounted on her pedals

Her kickstand is a more reasonable length than that of the FE, making it somewhat easier to stand her up in vehicle mode.
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Robot Mode:
From the front, at least, this mass market version of Arcee is truer to her appearance in the cartoon than the First Edition... though from other angles it's not so good. The wings are in something like their proper place but, with molded robo-boobs on the chest, she now has the entire front of the bike just hanging off her back, the wheel dangling quite a way behind her.

In most other respects, this is very similar to the FE - not much has changed on the legs (the rear wheel separates around its circumference rather than across its diameter, and the way they fold into the legs has been simplified). It's largely a good proof of the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". In some respects, it's even an improvement - the forearms are at least blue, even if it is the wrong shade.

Her blade weapon can be mounted on the underside of her forearm, as with the FE version, and the enormous handcannon - its length equal to more than half Arcee's robot mode height - can be weilded in several ways. Primarily, it's intended to fit over the wrist by plugging the rearmost peg into her hand, but the addition peg protruding a little further forward can also fit her hand, so the gun can be held like a rifle, or plug into the socket on her forearms, so she has a large gun slung under her arm. Since it's such a large weapon, I tend to favour the latter configuration... but, honestly, I would have preferred a more reasonably sized weapon... or two. Like in bike mode, the two weapons can be plugged together and, in this form, the blade really does resemble a bayonet.

The head sculpt is surprisingly very different to that of the First Edition - she has a wider-eyed, yet more neutral expression compared to the enigmatic smile of the original. Her face, crest and 'twists' are all painted the same silver colour, but the 'jewel' in her crest is painted red.
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BayFormer Wheelsnake Fan Mode:
Just for fun, here's a couple of photos of Arcee paused mid-transformation, with her blaster on one arm and the blade mounted on the other wrist, looking suspiciously like one of the CGI 'wheelsnakes' from Revenge of the Fallen... and it almost looks intentional.

Naturally, she can't stand on her freely-rotating wheel... but she fits RotF Arcee's stand fairly well.
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Despite the simplification, transformation remains essentially the same as with the FE version, except that there's no waist swivel needed, as the robot's chest is molded on the underside of the bike and disguised by the legs in vehicle mode. Also, the 'wings' remain attached to the front of the bike, which ends up - entirely complete - on Arcee's back, taking up even more space than it did on the FE model.

This model does improve upon the articulation of the First Edition, not least by separating the wings from her shoulders. The ball joints are now freer to move, and the ball-jointed elbows and wrists offer most of the range offered by the FE version's double-jointed elbow and upper bicep swivel. The feet are still not great for dramatic posing, but she's easy enough to pose standing with the requisite amount of sass.

I have two major gripes about this version of Arcee. First and foremost, the lighter shade of blue plastic is just far too light for authenticity. Then her secondary colour is silver, rather than the pink used in the TV show. I suspect this toy came out around the time Hasbro were still of the mind that (a) boys don't buy girly pink femme-bots and (b) girls aren't into TransFormers, so they tried to make the mass release Arcee as androgynous as possible, given her reasonably obvious robo-boobs.

On the whole, though, it's a solid and enjoyable figure, well worth owning if you can't get your hands on the First Edition or if, like me, you think it sufficiently different to warrant owning both due to a bizarre biker femme-bot fetish.

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