Friday, 1 June 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2014 (Timelines) Flareup

(Femme-Bot Friday #49)
BotCon 2014's theme - 'Pirates vs Knights' - was one that didn't resonate with me in the least. The boxed set had little of interest, and the vast majority of the attendee extras seemed pretty bland. There were two exceptions, both attendee exclusives. The first, because I can't resist a Femme-Bot Fatale, was Flamewar, a repaint of Beast Hunters Arcee, the second was another Arcee repaint, Flareup... and, coincidentally, both characters appeared in BotCon 2005's 'Descent into Evil' set using the Energon Arcee mold.

I have a general fondness for motorcycle femme-bots, but didn't pick up 2005's Flareup as I already have several variations on the Energon Arcee mold and thought the new head sculpt was terrible. I hadn't planned to get this one either, but it turned up on eBay at a very reasonable cost, which tipped the balance in its favour. Let's see how she shapes up...

Vehicle Mode:
The Robots In Disguise release of TF Prime Arcee made for a decent bike, so it's no surprise that it looks great in Flareup's colourscheme. Red and black are the dominant colours, with an appropriately fiery, metallic orange paint running along the side panels and silver details on the bottom of the bike, the seatback and the exhaust pipes. The very rear of the bike, where it tapers to a point, is also decorated with an angular flame pattern in metallic orange. The translucent orange headlight and windscreen stand out well against the glossy black paint applied to the bike's nose and wing mirrors, and the red paint on the wheels is a great highlight though, unlike on Flamewar, it doesn't extend to the central ring of the wheel, only covering the outer ring and the spokes.

On Flareup's right flank, she has a 'Cybertronian Knight' insignia - nothing to do with the 'knights' that turned up in Age of Extinction and The Last Knight, and actually a rather overcomplicated version of the Autobot insignia, with elongated crests, cheek guards and a chin spike, along with large wings sprouting from either side... It actually looks like some sort of crossover between TransFormers and Lord of the Rings, as drawn by a tattoo artist. Personally, I'm more than a little puzzled by the choice of a sort of duck egg blue/pastel purple for the insignia... Cyan was already taken by the Wreckers, sure, but this colour almost seems like something that should be applied to a faction of Decepticons rather than a troop of Autobots.

As with Arcee, she comes with an oversized hand-cannon that can either be held like a gun via one peg, or fitted over the hand via another, as well as the blade weapon that sprouts from her forearm. In vehicle mode, these can only be pegged into the 5mm sockets on either side of her front wheel, where they look a little silly.

Robot Mode:
You'd probably find that there isn't a single colourscheme that wouldn't work well with this particular mold. Personally, I do prefer the First Edition, but each has its own shortcomings. Given that BotCon 2014's Flamewar was made from the Beast Hunters Arcee mold, it's really asking too much for this to have utilised the larger, more complex mold.

The paintwork is mostly great - the metallic orange has been applied to her chestplates and cuffs, black to her kneecaps, belly and groin (the latter being a little slapdash on mine), silver to the inner parts of her elbows and the 'medallion' thing on her collar, which also sports a small, very basic version of the Autobot Knight crest, minus the wings. I'm not sure if it's filled in or just printed without most of the details, but I can't make out anything but the eyes.

Her weapons are identical to the stock, original Arcee's and interact with her in exactly the same way. In fact, it's quite tempting to give both the blades to my Arcee, and possibly let Flareup carry the two guns... Possibly plugged into her arms via the sockets just below her elbows, sort of like G1 Megatron's fusion cannon...

Neither Flamewar nor Flareup got remolded heads, so this one is the stock, original Arcee mold, just with the front section of the helmet painted entirely silver, the crest painted metallic orange, the face painted pale yellow and the eyes... painted over in opaque blue, because the plastic for her light piping is orange, just like her vehicle mode headlight and windscreen. This is a real shame given that Flamewar got translucent purple light piping... but I guess they best they could have done with a coating of translucent paint is something sort of green-ish? Not entirely inappropriate, but it probably would have clashed horribly with the rest of the colourscheme.

Curiously, there are a few deviations in her paint job versus the character art, Nothing unusual, per se, but these are quite significant: the artwork has orange paint on the outer two sections of faux-windscreen that make up her upper central chest area - just below the 'medallion' - along with more extensive black paint down her belly, meeting the groin section, and orange on her outer thighs. The chinstrap on her helmet also appears to be orange on the character art, and - perhaps most glaringly - her base red appears to be rather more orange.

As was often the case with FunPub's output, there are all kinds of oddities in Flareup's character bio. It namedrops 'TargetMasters' and "the controversial Darkmount Strategem" but doesn't go anywhere with either reference. Probably the most bizarre sentence is "She demonstrates and uncharacteristically cheerful disposition that can be disconcerting given her speciality, but her bravery and purity of spark also serve as an inspiration." I'm guessing that's intended to present her as a Sailor Moon-esque ditzy-yet-dangerous type, but if it's an 'uncharacteristically cheerful disposition' that tends to suggest cheerfulness is not one of her characteristics? Unless it's only uncharacteristic in a typical munitions expert... but then, surely, it should be "She possesses a cheerful disposition not normally associated with a 'bot with her speciality", or something along those lines? She does get a couple of lines about her abilities (well, an ability - extreme heat resistance), and her blade is mentioned while her gun is not.

I really like this mold, so I'm not going to complain about having yet another cool-looking iteration on my shelves. I've noticed a few scuffs in her paintwork while I've been writing this, and I'm not sure whether they were there when she arrived or if they've occurred as a result of handling her - hopefully the former.

The simple repaints are very rarely the highlights of the BotCon exclusives, and I'd say Flareup is eminently avoidable. Despite my motorcycle femme-bot compulsion, it was literally only the surprisingly reasonably price that encouraged me to pick her up on eBay. Either the seller didn't fancy their chances at the usual inflated prices for BotCon merchandise, or they just wanted rid of her. Either way, my gain. Flareup is definitely never going to be an essential purchase - which could also account for the low price - but is a decent figure and a great repaint.

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