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Transformers Animated
by yo go re

Look, it's finally concrete proof that girls don't sell!

Sure, we've been waiting for this toy since August 8, 1986, but as company reps love to remind us, "girls don't sell." And they're right, too: I don't know anybody who's bought her. They go to the stores, look on the pegs for her, but since she's a new character, popular, and so damn hard to find, they go home disappointed. So yes, it's true, "girl toys don't sell" - but the main reason is because "fans can't find them to buy."

Arcee has dedicated her life to the power of information. As a teacher, she saw to it that young Autobots all learned the value of facts, and how to tell truth from lies. During the war, she turned her dedication to the truth to carrying data for the Autobot High Command, often from deep behind enemy lines. She will face any danger to defend what is right, no matter what the cost.

Okay, now that's an interesting concept, and not one I'm sure we've ever seen in conjunction with Transformers before: the idea that they have "teachers" at some point in their development. You'd think they were just programmed. Of course, the Transformers of Animated seem to have a slightly more organic nature than others, but it's still not like they're ever really "children." You know in Futurama when Bender shows a picture of himself when he was only a month old, and it's just him looking the way he always does, holding a beer and a cigar? It's like that.

Arcee's altmode is a car of indeterminate sort, being of Cybertronian design. It's not an homage to her G1 version, but it certainly has the same sort of angled, slopey aesthetic that all the characters introduced in the film did. It's smaller than you might expect, a mere 4¾" long, 2¾" wide and a bit over 1¼" tall. She's hot pink, with white detailing and a few silver highlights.

There are yellow headlights painted on the hood, but the windshield/canopy is translucent blue plastic. The wheels roll, and there are two "wings" that can be attached to the rear of the vehicle, forming a bit of a spoiler. The stock photos of Arcee on the back of the card show the wings with a slightly different sculpt, and attaching more forward on the fenders. It's a minor difference, but if there's one thing Transfans love, it's to complain about minor differences. With these in place, the overall measurements grow to 5½" long, 4¼" wide and 1½" tall.

The instructions tell you to take the wings off at the start of her conversion, then reattach them at the end. That's a bit daft, isn't it? They don't get in the way at all during the process, so why bother? Still, the fact that they're removable allows you do decide how she should look. Anyway, her transformation scheme is pretty much reversed from the one designed (but never implemented) for the G1 version: the rear of the car ends up on her shoulders, rather than turning into her legs, for instance.

Still, the robot design is clearly based on the G1 character model, with a few tweaks to bring her in line with the Animated aesthetic - you know, big shins, thin legs, no parallel lines, etc. It's worth noting that she doesn't have the huge chin, though: her Leia-buns are a more integrated part of her head, rather than metal hair, and she looks feminine without being girly. The biggest identifier are the large "pods" that come up over her shoulders; even with the wings removed, those are unmistakably a familiar feature of the G1 design. Amusingly, Animated Arcee's character model changed after the toy was designed: she suddenly had wheels and wings on her back, and the car's canopy showed up on her butt (actually, kind of like Blackarachnia's spider-booty). Maybe that's what passes for a secondary sex characteristic on Cybertron.

Arcee is still hot pink in this mode, but with much more black showing. She moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, forearms, waist, hips, thighs, knees and toes. She has two trans-blue swords that store in her shoulder dealies: they click in place, but it's a tough fit, so at first I didn't realize they did, and thought they flopped around loosely. Handy hint: if they're not in her up to the hilt, they're not all the way in yet. Her hands are open to hold them, but the swords are thick enough that some folks are already reporting her thumbs showing stress marks. Slide them in from the top of her hand, rather than pushing them in from the front, and you'll be fine.

Arcee was originally meant for general release, but Hasbro cancelling the Animated line left her future in question. Toys Я Us picked her up as an exclusive, along with Cybertronian Mode Ratchet, but she's almost comically hard to find at the moment, as hinted at up at the top there. She and Ratchet are evenly packed, but she's selling much faster; and the oddest thing is that everyone seems surprised. It's a character we've been waiting for for 24 years, versus a character who's already had one release - and a pegwarmer, at that! Why would anyone expect Ratchet to be the one who's hard to find? It's not even that scalpers are getting her, just that she's the toy everybody's looking for right now. She won't fit into a G1 collection, but this is still the closest we've ever come, and she's a key player in Animated.

-- 04/13/10

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