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Arcee

Transformers: Alternators
by yo go re

Citing slowing sales and the pending release of the movie toys (they didn't want two lines of realistic vehicles on shelves at once), Hasbro ended their Alternators line. Its Japanese equivalent, Binaltech, has continued on slowly, offering mostly themed repaints, such as fan-favorite Arcee.

Sweet, kind, and loyal Autobot to her friends, Arcee is also a merciless, lethal warrior to her enemies. Arcee's intelligence, quick wit, and coolness under fire make her invaluable to the Autobot cause. The Decepticons constantly underrate her because, since to them she so closely resembles the female humans of Earth which the Decepticons have absolutely no respect for, they believe she is beneath their consideration. It is an attitude that Arcee exploits with deadly efficiency.

As one of the new characters introduced in Transformers: the Movie, Arcee never had a "real" vehicle mode: her design was a guess at what cars would look like in the distant future year of 2005. The guess was wrong. She turned into some kind of sleek pink sports car (pink because she wuz a gurl, bewbslol!!1), but that's not good enough for Alternators: these are robots in disguise, so Hasbro has licensed real designs from real manufacturers, re-creating specific vehicles in the utmost detail.

As such, Arcee is now a Honda S2000, same as Overdrive. Or, technicaly, the same as the unfortunately named Decepticharge, because Overdrive was a standard S2000 convertable, while this is a hardtop "street performance" model. What's the difference? Well, apart from the obvious (the roof), it just seems to be the trunk: Arcee's got a spoiler on her rear end. Isn't that just like a lady? Always gotta have just that little bit of extra ornamentation. There are different wheels, as well, which I suppose would be the Transformer equivalent of fancy new shoes.

Even the interior of the car is detailed. The dashboard has the look of the real vehicle, right down to the vents and the passenger-side airbag. The upholstery is pink and the steering wheel is white, and since this is a Japanese import, the dashboard is reversed: driver sits on the right, not the left. Weird! The hood, trunk and both doors open, and you can choose whether you want the hardtop on or off.

Obviously Arcee never had a "real" transformation, but you can kind of tell from her design how it would have gone. Hood becomes the chest, wheel wells behind the shoulders, that sort of thing. Of course, Binaltech Arcee doesn't even come close to matching any of that, but the process is still good. There was some fan speculation that Arcee would somehow be retooled to make her more feminine, but that hasn't happened - she doesn't even get a new head, which means no Princess Leia hair-buns for her.

This is my first Binaltech toy, so it's interesting to see the differences between those and the Alternators. First of all, BT is made with die-cast metal, rather than 100% plastic, so she's much heavier than Overdrive: four or five times heavier, at least. The system which makes the front wheels turn in unison is magnetic on the US toy, but uses plastic tabs on the Japanese. It's little things like that. And of coure, Arcee has her gun.

Like we mentioned in the Overdrive review, Honda USA didn't want their toy to come with a gun. Honda Japan didn't have the same problems, so this time we get the shaft. Er, the driveshaft, which forms the barrel of the rifle. It was the US toy which gave fans the shaft metaphorically. She even retains the shield, though since the roof of the car is different, the shield is slightly different, too. And just for fun, since the steering wheel is on the wrong side, I've randomly decided to declare Arcee is lefthanded.

As stated in the Alternators Mirage review, I prefer to just get one version of a mold, rather than a bunch of repaints. I made an exception for Arcee, however, and I'm glad I did. Beyond just the plastic/metal divide, there are several cosmetic differences between the two toys, and ultimately they look quite distinct. The Binaltech packaging is much nicer than the Alternators' ever was, with nothing but a clever clamshell enclosing the vehicle, rather than tabs and twist-ties, and her portion of the official Alternators/Binaltech story printed on the box. Ordering an imported Binaltech figure isn't a cheap prospect, but if you've considered it before, Arcee is a fine choice. She'll probably even feel special if she knows it's your first time.

-- 01/06/09


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