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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
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Clay's review of: Blackarachnia

Name: Blackarachnia
Function: Saboteur
"I use deception for the purpose of good- I use it a lot."

Stealing Megatron's mysterious new technology, Blackarachnia -black rose of the Maximals- succeeded in altering her Maximal Protoform into a powerful Transmetal 2 structure. Despite her Predacon pride, she detests Megatron and fights for now with the Maximals. The definitive femme fatale, she despises life's pleasantries. Fires strong venom pincers that operate as paralyzing claw, retrieving enemies from up to 100 meters. Electro disrupter housed in rear segment casts illusions altering her physical placement and appearance for up to 5 minutes. In robot mode she packs a deadly roundhouse kick. Generally concerned with her own self-preservation, Blackarachnia will at times astound with heroism, but cannot be fully trusted.

When I first started buying Beast Wars figures earlier this year, I had never seen the show, so I was going after them based on what animals they turned in to. I aquired Blackarachnia pretty early on as a result. I was pretty happy with the spider mode, and nicknamed it "Morgan" after someone I know who is afraid something awful of them. About half a year later, I finally got to see some of the Beast Wars episodes, and the appeal of the figure roughly doubled after that. Instead of having the figure hang about on Unicron as a spider, she now holds hands with Silverbolt on a shelf reserved just for Beast Wars. Awww...

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! (Alternate Mode):
Blackarachnia's alternate mode, as the name would suggest, is a spider. When I first got the figure, I was duely impressed. At first the concept of a cyborg spider may seem a bit off-kilter, but in the case of Blackarachnia, it works exceedingly well.

The reason for this is twofold: the first part is that it makes a believable impression of a spider. The large abdomen is detailed with fine etchings of hair, the legs are articluated with ball joints, the mandibles can open and snap shut, etc etc. The second part is that makes a believable impresson of being mechanical in nature. Chrome paint abounds, along with minute details of hoses, gearboxes, valves and other varying industrial details. It's the synergy of these two aspects being so well executed that make the toy pull of the spider mode so well.

As for action features, the jaws can detach and be drawn out on a string, which will automatically retract (and quite quickly at that). Thus, Blackarachnia is a projectile spider. The whole mandible assembly can come off for the robot mode and be used as a grappling hook as well. Nifty! The other feature, which is somewhat more accessible in robot mode, is the two-sided faction crystal. It can be rotated around to show either Predacon, or Maximal. It's this kind of inclusion that shows how much that the later toys were influenced by their on-screen counterparts. (Blackarachnia switched from Predacon to Maximal halfway through the series, if you haven't seen it). In other words, part of the character is actually molded into the toy. That's a pretty radical shift considering the show began by using designs from this toy or that, and going from there.

The Femme Fatale (Robot Mode):
In the long, long tradition of toy cyborg spiders that can turn into female robots with human-templated body types, Blackarachnia can definately be counted as one of them. One of the undercurrent reasons for this figure's appeal is the fact that the original Blackarachnia toy looked almost nothing like the character in the show.

As for the toy itself, it's really quite a piece of work. As mentioned before, the mandibles can detach to be used as a grappling hook, but what's also detachable is... the top. Considering that the design used with the top absent is the same design as the show, one can only guess that Hasbro added the shirt out of modesty. It's certainly a unique feature among Transformers.

The reigning positive of this toy, however, is the detail. A lot of the colors blend into one-another, and molded details of organic parts mix the mechanical bulkheads, just as in the spider mode. Basically, that's the zenith of this toy: it's not a robot in disguise, per se, but it blends the organic with the mechanical superbly.

There is one down side, though. Part of the almost over-feminization of the toy design was to give it high heels. While this would have been fine with other designs (Energon Arcee is a good example), the fact is Blackarachnia is quite top heavy (no pun intended!), and having tiny little high-heeled feet doesn't help. Two of the spider legs can be swung down and behind (probably by design) to help stabilize the figure, but it's still a bit like playing Jenga to get her to stand up on her own. It can be done easily enough with a bit of practice, though, so don't let this deter you from the figure.

Transformation: 7. Both mods are well done, and the spider is very believable. However, a couple of the parts (like the abdomen missles) don't really lead anywhere or do anything, so the robot mode is made a bit unbalanced by the kibble with little to gain.
Durability: 9. Lots of little spider legs on ball joints have the potential to pop off and be lost. As for the physical stoutness of the toy, it seems pretty resolute. I don't imagine anything actually breaking.
Fun: 10. Even before I saw the show, I really liked the spider mode. The robot mode required more of a point of reference, but I dig it too, now.
Price: 8. Old show character, so the price could potentially vary wildly. I got mine boxed for about $20 in early 2005, and that seemed perfectly reasonable to me (I believe it originally sold for around $15). Just keep in mind things like the original price, and whether the figure is complete, boxed, loose, etc, and eyeball it. I don't think I would have spent more than what I did, though.
Overall: 9. Blackarachnia isn't purely subscribed to the "Robots in Disguise" motif, but the spider mode is very well done as a blend of natural and mechanical, and that carries over seamlessly to the robot mode. Even if the robotic Femme Fatale seems to be a bit of an awkward concept at first, it still has its appeal of detail and articulation. Besides, there's only been about one female transformer per decade, so there's always posterity. It's a great overall figure, and one of the very few Transmetal 2's that are worth bothering with. If it weren't for her falling over, she'd be immaculate.
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