Thursday, 5 June 2014

TransFormers: Prime First Edition Arcee

I have already confessed to a certain bias when it comes to Biker Femme-Bots. Ever since the excellent Superlink/Energon Ariel/Arcee mold and its myriad repaints, I feel that Hasbro/Takara Tomy haven't made a single significant misstep. Motorcycles are ideal for the (admittedly rather sexist) idea of smaller, lighter, more elegant robots in disguise and, even when they go all weird, like the Revenge of the Fallen 'wheelsnakes', I have a certain affection for them simply because they are Biker Femme-Bots.

So when TransFormers: Prime came along, with its smart, capable, battle-hardened, cynical and downright sexy Arcee, I knew I was in for another collection within my collection. I mean, let's face it, when Hasbro finally gives us an Arcee mold, we're inevitably gonna be in for some repaints. Making matters all the more fun, Arcee was one of the precious few TransFormers: Prime figures that got a unique First Edition mold ahead of the regular Robots in Disguise version.

But what's so special about First Editions anyway?

Vehicle Mode:
The first thing that struck me about FE Arcee was that there's a section of the bike's nose that was left unpainted... and what's really frustrating about that is that the two (so far) repaints of this mold (NYCC 2011 and TFCC Timelines TransMutate) have exactly the same omission... despite being premium exclusives. I suppose it's a small detail, but it's very noticeable, and really does detract from an otherwise accurate nose on the bike.

The rest of the bike is a decent compromise between accurately representing the CGI and fitting in all the pieces necessary to turn the bike into a bipedal robot. For starters, this means FE Arcee is a little wider than the CGI appears, making her effectively impossible for a normal-sized human to ride unless their legs were supposed to go inside the side panels. This might almost make sense, were it not for the pedals just below.

Other than the aforementioned missing bit of blue paint underneath the headlights, the colour scheme is pretty accurate. A nice rich Royal Blue has been used for the majority of the body. The plastic has a very slightly pearlescent quality to it while the blue paint on the nose is metallic. The rest of the bike - wheels, fenders, 'engine' parts - is cast in black plastic with touches of silver on the central parts of the wheels and the exhaust pipes. The front fender should have been blue with the raised area in metallic pink, but that's not critical to the look of the model. The windscreen and headlights are cast in a nice translucent cyan which bodes well for light-piped eyes in robot mode. There's silver and black paint on the fuel tank and seat, but nothing that really sticks out in this mode.

As with most of the more recent Biker Femme-Bots, Arcee has a functional kickstand though, to me, it seems a little too short for its purpose, causing her to fall over rather easily. That said, at least part of the blame can be laid on the slightly wobbly wheels.

This version of Arcee comes with two of her 'arm blade' weapons, albeit rather oversized versions. One can peg into either side of her vehicle mode using the pedals as mounts... And it's actually weird how good they look there - the tips of the blades like up very well with the bottom of the side panels and the blades sweep backwards as if they're part of a customisation kit for a real bike. Still, however cool the feature is, it's a little strange they even thought to incorporate the parts this way since she never uses her blades in motorcycle mode in the TV show.

Robot Mode:
The first thing that struck me about FE Arcee is that she unashamedly has Robo-Boobs. Like the original Live-Action Movie Arcee before her - though without being so overtly kinky - she wears her robotic femininity right there on her chest... and it's actually quite cleverly done, too. Strictly accurate to the CGI it may not be - it's far too pointy and angular for that - but it's the first sign that this is a remarkably thoughtfully designed model. Further deviations from the CGI are right there on her shoulders - her 'wings' are attached in the wrong place... but, y'know what? I actually quite like the effect.

Like quite a few Biker Femme-Bots, TFPrime FE Arcee has an awful lot of bike on her back, but it's reduced substantially by the chest transformation alone, still the front wheel, windscreen and handlebars, plus the folded-down tail section of the bike make for pretty large protrusions. It's possibly to rotate the front wheel around so it gets marginally closer to the slot in her back, but it'll never actually go in.

As with vehicle mode, blue is the colour of the day, but more black plastic is visible on her arms and thighs, as well as the touches silver and black, now on her midriff and waist, and more of the metallic pink and bluish silver become visible on her legs, knee spikes and the crests on her helmet. It's a shame the central red 'jewel' wasn't also picked out, but I guess there was no room in the paint budget for that... That also explains why the forearms are black rather than blue, I suppose...

The head sculpt is excellent, but it's odd to see Arcee with that kind of subtle, serene smile on her face, when she was more often scowling... then again, a more characteristic expression would have been strangely incongruous on such an otherwise elegant model. The light piping on the eyes is pretty brilliant, and has the kind of 'pupil' detail that has become common in the TFPrime line.

Her two forearm blades are noticeably oversized but work pretty well in robot mode. Not only can they be wielded via the port in each forearm, but they can also be stored back on her legs, since they have two sets of holes for attaching to her bike mode's pedals.

Aside from the fiddly nature of the bike nose/robot chest, transformation is incredibly simple and smooth. Some of it almost feels unnecessary (compare and contrast the head reveal to that of the RiD version of Arcee) and a lot of it is very similar to the original Live-Action Movie Arcee. It's a shame the bike parts on her back can't be pushed further into the body, but they don't harm the overall look of her too much.

By and large, Arcee's articulation is great - her ball-jointed hips have excellent range and lead directly into a thigh swivel, the knees have good range, so the only problems would come from her high-heeled feet but, due to their size and angular design, they're pretty handy in just about any pose. Her waist joint isn't 'articulation', strictly speaking, because it's there primarily for transformation... and the joint itself is oddly placed, anyway. Her arms might have been more mobile had the 'wings' been placed elsewhere (perhaps on little arms like her robo-boobs). As it is, they clash rather a lot with her handlebars but, since they're on swivel joints themselves, they can be swung back down and out of the way. Other than that, the ball-jointed shoulders offer reasonable range, there's a bicep swivel, double-jointed elbows and the wrists are pinned. The way the head is jointed is quite interesting - the head itself is on a ball joint, but the neck is pinned at the collar, allowing a small amount of tilt forward.

One thing to note about all the TFPrime Arcees - and the FE versions in particular - is that they are hopelessly out of scale with the rest of the line. The RiD version is the same height as RiD Bumblebee, maybe a touch taller, and this one is about a head taller than that.

This one version of TFPrime Arcee easily justifies my Biker Femme-Bot fetish. She manages to look awesome just standing since the legs allow for a variety of subtly feminine poses... but they're also great for the more dynamic poses and moves Arcee pulls off in the TV show. This model is far classier than the rather excessively sexualised Live-Action Movie model, as befits the character in the TV show. As I write, I have a total of four TFPrime Arcees - this one, the RiD model, the Beast Hunters remold and the NYCC2011 G1 repaint - with another - TFCC Timelines TransMutate - on the way, and I think they're all pretty awesome.

But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?

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