Friday, 8 May 2015

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Arcee

(Femme-Bot Friday #17)
In the TransFormers: Prime TV show, when it's in the process of becoming 'Beast Hunters', Smokescreen and Bumblebee get new colourschemes. The former goes blue and yellow, almost a nod to Binaltech Smokescreen in his vehicle mode appearance. The latter reverses his paint pattern and becomes black with yellow stripes (aka Shadow Strike Bumblebee). Observing this, Arcee remarks, pithily "If I reversed my colourscheme, I'd be pink...", guaranteed to raise at least a giggle from G1 fans.

Of course, the toy range did things slightly differently... Most of the toys were at least partially remolded with spikes and other protuberances, which struck me as a bizarre waste of money when new colourschemes would have sufficed in almost all cases.

Clearly no stranger to irony, not only did Hasbro remold Arcee, but they (sort of) reversed her colourscheme as well...

Vehicle Mode:
From the front, this looks just like the original mass release Arcee, only with the very front of the bike painted black rather than blue, and the wheel mounting molded in blue rather than black. From the sides, the myriad new molded parts are obvious. Her petrol tank now features ridged armour, her flanks now look like bat wings, and her exhaust pipes look like boney extrusions. There's also a smaller set of wings sticking out at the very back of the bike's body, though the flattened area between them rather makes it look like a stylised cargo rack.

The colourscheme on this thing is pretty hideous. Not only is it broadly reversed compared to the original, the pink used is rather grey and features a darker, purplish marbling that does nothing good for the model. The blue plastic seems much the same, and the translucent blue is basically identical. Aside from that, this model features a greater variance of colour, including the silver paint on her main 'wings' and the six extrusions from the back wheel, metallic pastel blue the visible robot knee spikes and the odd grey sections dotted about. There are also touches of orange by the seat that aren't there on the original... not sure if they're supposed to be additional turn signals, but they're just in front of the turn signals molded into the very back of the bike.

In all honesty, when I first saw this inadvisable and superfluous remold, my first though was that it should be released in metallic purple and yellow, as a homage to Batgirl from the ancient Batman TV series.

One rather surprising variation in the mold is that the kickstand now has a larger, flatter foot. It doesn't look as neat folded up, but it just about serves its purpose... though it could have done with being longer, more than it need to be wider at the base.

Like all the Beast Hunters toys, Arcee comes packin' a ginormously oversized, multiply spring-loaded weapon, in this case, the so-called 'Echohawk Bow'. This plugs into the front section of her front wheel, where the mudguard has been remolded to accommodate it, but it can be a real struggle getting it into the correct position. Once there, it stays pretty firmly, and the arms of the bow can fold back to wrap around the sides of the bike... making it even more unpleasant to ride, no doubt. What's really bizarre about the bow is that it's molded in purple-marbled pastel blue for the midsection and grey for the arms, so it doesn't even blend in with the bike. Straight out of the packaging, it's also entirely unpainted, and so looks rather drab. There's a fair amount of molded detail, some of which looks remarkably like bits of the Predacons - the central part, for example, looks almost alarmingly like the beast head sculpt for Sky Lynx... And that makes me wonder if it's intentional. Nevertheless, it does look pretty good attached to the bike... or it would, if the colourschemes for both were better...

Robot Mode:
I make no apologies for customising this model straight out of the packaging, and I'll probably take it even further sooner or later - the colourscheme on this is not only awful, it goes completely against the character in the TV show (specifically regarding her disparaging comment about following Bumblebee's example and reversing her colourscheme). The clash of flat pastel blue, metallic pastel blue, marbled dull pink, grey, and then black paint on her abdomen doesn't even suit the toy. I get that Beast Hunters introduced some out-there colourschemes, but it did so inconsistently - Wheeljack and Bumblebee had mostly their normal colours, while virtually everyone else went bonkers with bizarre marbling and unflattering plastic colours.

Most of the new-looking parts are on the back in robot mode - the top of the bike and her 'wings' - but her lower legs and forearms have been beefed up considerably. The new head sculpt is excellent, so it's a huge shame that the paint job on the standard model is dire - the only pink is the central crest on her forehead, the 'curls' either side of her head are unpainted, and her face is a rather dull off-white. It's not even a very thorough paint job - the edges are undefined and the paint is very thin around her mouth... Making matters worse, her expression is dull and neutral compared to the subtle smirk of the other two versions. On the upside, the light piping is still excellent... even if it doesn't help with her vacant expression.

The alterations to the bike parts cause some problems for the robot, in that the extrusions from her rear wheels clash not only with each other, but with the winged rear section of the bike, which hangs down right where they want to be.

While the Echohawk Bow fits nicely in vehicle mode, it seems oversized for Arcee in robot mode - end to end, it's significantly taller than she is. Mind you, I suppose that's no worse than the original version's enormously long 'wrist' blaster. In most photos I've seen it's placed in her hands using the twin 5mm pegs that fold down from each launcher but, given that Arcee still has a 5mm port in each forearm, I tend to mount it there using the lower peg. This not only gives the impression that the central 'beast head' section is a buckler, protecting her hand, but it allows her to carry the weapon in both hands - the upper peg can be folded out and gripped in the other hand for a surprisingly natural bow-holding stance. Also useful is the fact that the 'arms' of the bow are somewhat poseable due to pinned joints at the base and a short way down each arm.

One thing I neglected to mention in any detail when I wrote up the standard version of TFPrime Arcee was that she retained the slim pedal-pegs on her ankles for mounting the forearm blades packaged with the First Edition even though her own forearm blade lacked the necessary sockets. They are still present on the Beast Hunters remold despite the absence of any forearm blades in this package.

Transformation is completely identical to the standard version, though I did find some parts didn't want to peg in securely, and ended up shaving off bits of plastic here and there. That helped with the arms, but not the 'wings', which went from being too tight a fit to completely loose. I also found that the rear wheel doesn't fit together quite as well, though that may be more of a QC issue than anything else.

Articulation is likewise unchanged though, as mentioned above, the protrusions from her heels have a tendency to clash with each other and her 'tail' unless the legs are splayed quite far apart. She poses well with the bow and, despite its size, it doesn't get in the way of her movement.

While I like the Echohawk bow generally, it is rather too big for Arcee, and the way it connects to her in vehicle mode leaves her looking incomplete without it. The front wheel can be rotated 180­° to compensate, but it's not a perfect solution. I do like that it can be held in either hand or mounted on her forearm using the 5mm sockets, the latter being my preferred method.

I was very keen to get my hands on this variation on Prime Arcee because each version of the mold has offered something interesting, and she's such a strong character in the show, even though she never looks like this. In hand, however, it's a real mixed bag. The dark blue plastic is an excellent colour and very glossy - truer to the TV show than the original Prime RiD release, and richer than the First Edition... but it's also not exactly abundant on the model... most of it is either off-white, pale metallic cyan, or the vile marbled pink. When I saw the all-blue Japanese version, I was very tempted to hold off... and may yet pick that up as well if the import prices aren't totally prohibitive.

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