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Transformers War for Cybertron: Kingdom
by yo go re

It's a new year, and that means a new Transformers Generations rebranding: 2019 saw "Siege," 2020 was "Earthrise," and now 2021 gets "Kingdom." And after years of focussing on Generation 1 re-dos, the time has finally come for Beast Wars to get some love.

There is no informative text either on the packaging or Hasbro's website, but the advantage of doing existing characters is we already know who they are: Blackarachnia is a sultry femme-fatale-type, more on the look-out for her own interests than the Predacons', and sly enough to get the best of Megatron from time to time. In the original cartoon she was reformatted from a Maximal protoform the Predacons found, so deep within her programming she retained a sense of goodness that it took a lot of work for anyone to reach. Is the same true for this toy? It's entirely up to you. Maybe she's a wild, bloodthirsty maniac. Maybe becoming part-organic was a mistake, and she hates her life. Maybe she's a giggling airhead who's obsessed with boys. Do not, my friends, become addicted to official fiction; it will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!

Say what you will about Hasbro, they certainly know how to make new toys look like old toys should have. Kingdom Blackarachnia has a very '90s-styled head, with the thin face peeking out from inside a black-and-gold helmet. In fact, the part that would be "skin" (around the mouth, specifically) is a paler shade of yellow than the helmet around it.

Her proportions are very '90s, too - which is to say, very janky. Big round shoulders, straight narrow limbs, lots of blatant kibble, all that. She doesn't have hands, just big claws, and there are spikes on her knees. Her altmode's eyes (spoiler: she turns into a spider) are not found on her crotch. But the old toy and the animation model specifically did have the eyes there, so in order to be accurate, this toy has faux-kibble in the form of nine raised yellow dots on her front-butt, faking the crotch-eyes that are today found elsewhere. And speaking of secondary sexual characteristics, her boobs are for some reason articulated: there's a tab on the back that's meant to plug into the torso and hold them in place, but the fit is tight enough that the peg will break after a single use. Wonderful design.

The boobs aren't the only articulated part, thank goodness. That would be weird. She's got a balljointed head, hinged neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and hinged/rocker ankles. And, of course, hinged boobs. Plus there are the kibble-tastic spider legs just sticking off her arms, because why would you try to work around those at all, mid-90s designers?

She's armed with what is apparently a "poison anchor," a combo of the original toy's missile and grappling hook. It's not actually a firing piece on this toy, but the body of the cannon and the projectile part are different colors, so that's neat.

Blackarachnia's conversion process is a simplified version of that from the 2019 Masterpiece figure - would you rather pay $20 for this, or seven times more for basically the same thing with just a little more refinement? To change her, lower the butt-backpack, turn the head around, hinge the torso back so you can flip over the chest and arms, tuck the shoulders in, turn the hands to the outside, pull the piece with the arms on it out so you can rotate the entire thing 180°, fold up the feet and legs, rotate them up behind her back, unfold the bug booty and tuck the legs into the side, and clip the hands into the underside.

The spider mode does look really good - better than any Blackarachnia before her, for sure. The robot could have been more show-accurate if the legs had been yellow instead of black, but that wouldn't have suited the spider as well. We do get some major kibble in the form of the robot's shoulders being visible under the spider, but it could be worse. The gun can plug in under the body, but it's a poor fit and will fall out if you're not careful.

While the Siege and Earthrise packaging was nearly identical, meaning you couldn't tell when new figures showed up, Kingdom's is completely distinct in every way. It's warm colors, yellow and light green and brown, rather than cool blues and purples. It's also been redesigned to vastly reduce plastic waste, shrinking the window on the front of the box to a small panel (leaving room for bigger, cooler character art) and completely ditching the familiar tray inside in favor of tying the toy to a stiff cardboard insert instead. If they dropped these stupid "T-bar" ties and brought back the old paper twist-ties we got a decade ago (around the Revenge of the Fallen era), it'd be perfect! It does suffer from the same weird sloping side the new Star Wars Black Series boxes have, though on the left instead of the right - does Hasbro have a promotional sponsorship deal with The International 45° Angle Council or something? Did the same person design both lines' new boxes, and does their pony have a second trick? If they were by different people, did they attend the same industrial design seminar/class, or did Ideas Monthly publish an article about how unstackable boxes full of unused dead space are the hot new trend?

As far as Blackarachnias (Blackarachniae?) go, this is "my" version - I never watched any Beast Wars or follow-ups until years and years later, so other than that toy (which I bought only because it was female), I had no exposure to her. I've got more of a connection to Animated Blackarachnia. Heck, I've got more of a connection to Prime Blackarachnia (aka Airachnid) than I do to Beast Wars! But this is a decent toy, and now Rhinox, Rattrap, Dinobot and Waspinator all have somebody new to hang out with.

-- 03/09/21

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