Friday, 26 May 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2017/Generations Lifeline

(Femme-Bot Friday #41)
With Fun Publications' loss of the TransFormers Collectors' Club license at the end of 2016, the fifth and final year of their Subscription Service hit the kinds of delays that members hadn't seen since the first couple of years, back in 2005-6. This didn't really bother me a great deal, as there was only one figure that interested me in the whole set - the almost inevitable green repaint of Generations/Legends Arcee as a Paradron medic, seen briefly in the G1 cartoon - so I hadn't subscribed. It's often a huge risk to not grab a Club exclusive at the earliest opportunity as their prices tend to skyrocket very quickly... but, given the cost of year five of the Subscription Service, it was a gamble I was willing to take.

Of course, the other gamble is, will the figure actually be worth even the first, very slightly inflated secondary market price?

Vehicle Mode:
OK, so this is basically just the first official G1 Arcee figure repainted into a minty green to represent the Paradron Medics... but let's not dismiss it too quickly. What's interesting about this figure is that the Club chose to follow the paint job of Takara Tomy's Legends Arcee rather than Hasbro's Generations version - this means Lifeline's vehicle mode is entirely white and green, with grey paint on the headlights, front grille and the seats, with none of the stark - and entirely inappropriate - black paint which only seemed to be there to complement the black plastic that should never have been on Generations Arcee to begin with.

There are a couple of disappointing aspects to this Collectors' Club exclusive: first and foremost, it actually loses paint versus the Legends figure it's based on - specifically, no rear indicator lights - and no extra details have been added. Secondly the colour matching between the green plastic and paint isn't great - the latter being slightly yellower and less saturated.

One oddity is that the wheels are molded in white plastic - this means they blend in better than Arcee's grey wheels, but it does mean the entire model uses only three colours of plastic... then again, the vast majority of the grey plastic on Arcee was painted over in white or pink anyway, so I guess this makes sense.

The weapons can all be stowed, as on Arcee, but while I've found the smaller pistol more easily slides into and out of its storage point - acting as a clip for the hands, to keep the arms from drooping out of the undercarriage - the larger gun is more inclined to pop out of its oddly-designed storage point at the rear of the vehicle.

Ultimately, this is quite a plain vehicle mode, rescued only by the fact that it's such a lovely, curvy car... And at least in this colourscheme, she doesn't look as if her holographic avatar would be Penelope Pitstop...

Robot Mode:
The first thing to notice about this figure is that the Club used the second version of the mold, where the hands are open and there's a little ridge that prevents the weapons being fully inserted into the hands. I'm not sure I prefer this over the Combiner Hunters version - where they were resculpted to hold any 5mm peg weapon - since those can, with a bit of cajoling, be made to hold any of Arcee's rectangular-pegged weapons rather more convincingly.

The second thing to notice is that the Club used neither Takara Tomy's face paint template nor Hasbro's. She has a darker pink face than either version of Arcee, with a splodge of an even darker pink over the lips - neither as minimal as Hasbro's nor as sharp and precise as Takara Tomy's: no cupid's bow and enigmatic smile on Lifeline. The eyes are opaque blue over the same clear, colourless plastic as the car's windscreen and Lifeline's swords. Other than that, the paint template seems to follow the Takara Tomy version with the ring of pink around the forearms, just below the elbow, and the pink hands, though she lacks the small paint applications in the square recesses just below the kneecaps. She also doesn't have the complete 'knickers' paint application on the lower part of the groin, or any colour in the tech detail block in her belly. Her Autobot symbol does feature a white background, which means it stands out better here than on the Takara Tomy figure.

Lifeline comes with the same two pistols and two swords as Arcee, though the smaller pistol is white and the swords are colourless translucent plastic. The larger pistol is coloured pretty much as one would expect - green rather than pink - but it features the Hasbro version's paintwork on the nozzle and the angular protrusion from the top. One of the swords has a slight kink in it and hints of cloudiness which suggest plastic stress. It doesn't seem to be in danger of breaking, and I suspect, by the looks of it, that the sword was damaged when the seller received it.

Given that the paint on the hands of my Legends Arcee has started breaking off as a result of simply putting her weapons into her hands, I'd expect the same to happen with Lifeline sooner or later, only it'll be even more noticeable because her forearms are molded in green plastic beneath the pink paint.

Buying this figure on the secondary market - via eBay - I lost out on Lifeline's partner, Quickslinger... But I already have Flanker, with Swerve, and it's exactly the same mold in different colours. Flanker wasn't great, so Quickslinger was a loss I could live with.

Lifeline's bio card shares the poor grammar common to most of the Club's exclusives, and features this bizarrely convoluted way of saying 'Lifeline is the last Paradron Medic':
"LIFELINE shares the identical body-type and core programming routines of the famous Medical Corps of Paradron, of which she is the last remaining member."
Aside from this, her bio does have some interesting features, not least giving her a sense of ennui as a result of the seemingly never-ending war, and a slightly sinister implication that she is developing into something of a sociopath. Unlike a lot of Club bio cards, Lifeline's actually goes into a little detail about her weapons - the guns being described as an Energon infuser and a plasma projector, while the swords are "standard issue solid light surgical tools, which were designed to be reconfigurable to the medical needs and relative size of the patient". Given that the Club's final membership incentive figure, Ramjet, had a decent bio I wonder if this is in any way indicative of all the SS5.0 figure bios... if so, it seems rather a shame that the club should close at a point where its character write-ups were actually becoming readable.

With this in my collection, and no other Arcee repaints hinted at thusfar, my G1-style Femme-Bot OCD is satisfied for the time being... Though it's a bit of a shame Hasbro didn't come up with any repaints for such a cute mold. It's not financially viable for me to 'troop build' with this particular Generations Paradron Medic, but it would be nice to have more than one... Including shipping, this set me back about £95, which was certainly more than it's really worth, just not uncomfortably so, like the old BotCon 2006 Megatron (which would have cost me £250 the first - and, so far, only - time I've seen it 'in the wild', but now regularly exceeds three times that). Whether it's worth tracking down comes down to how much you like the Arcee mold in the first place, and how important the Paradron Medics are to you, considering they appeared in only one episode of the original TV series and, as far as I can tell, only one panel in the Club's own ongoing comic series.

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