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Transformers: Beast Machines
by yo go re

Spider 'bot, spider 'bot, does whatever a spider ought.

Despite her Predacon past, Blackarachnia detests Megatron and fights with the Maximals. Blackarachnia The definitive femme fatale, she despises life's pleasantries, though sometimes can't help but feel an affinity toward certain Cybertronians. Her history of treachery and double-dealing make her fellow Maximals distrustful. She spins metal-deteriorating webs that deflect energy pulses, and has two stinger legs that can disrupt or overload any electronic system. She can ground herself with legs and use her stingers to send electronic pulses through the ground toward enemies.

As a child of the 80s, I of course was aware of Transformers while growing up. They were those cool robots in disguise, hiding their true selves behind the facade of cars, trucks, planes, cassette players (heh. Tell me that doesn't seem dated, today), and just about anything else you could think of. The Transformers saw their North American heyday with the theatrical release of their first feature film, but faded from view a few years afterward. The series - both televised and plasticized - continued apace in Japan, however.

In the mid 90s, the Transformers once again found their way to the shores of America, but this time, instead of disguising themselves as autos, they came as animals. Once again finding the same young demographic that the original show had captured years before, femmebot Transformers had returned with power. Despite my fond memories of the original toys, I had until recently never even considered purchasing any of the new crop; it was my discovery of Blackarachnia that finally got me to shell out the cash for a new Transformer.

For the most part, I've been displeased with the new Transformers: the construction is generally poor, with many joints pulling apart easily; their transformations seem uninspired, and leave a lot of kibble (that's a Transfan term for leftover bits and pieces in one form that obviously belong to the other form - such as a dinosaur head for a hand, or rocket launchers under a bat's wings). However, Blackarachnia is the first figure I've seen that defies these conventions. She is remarkably sturdy, and despite many repeated transformations over the last few days, none of her joints have pulled apart. She looks spectacular in both beast and robot mode, as I'll discuss below.

The first thing everyone notices is that Blackarachnia appears to have only six legs. Upon closer inspection, the "missing" legs are revealed to simply be extremely short, and blend in with her fangs; when you pull on these short front legs, the fangs move and allow her to snarl or strike. The six legs that do touch the ground, eek! a spider! however, are easily posed to allow the figure to stand tall and climb above obstacles, or splay upon the ground to slink beneath them.

Lots of translucent plastic was used to create the spider-mode, which really gives her a creepy look when the light comes shining through her - and as an added bonus, check out how those same clear parts react under a blacklight. The color scheme is a bit odd, since on the cartoon she's fairly pink in tone, but the figure is gold and purple with green flecks (well, that's still better than the odd versions of Batman Hasbro has released over the years). All the legs are articulated at both the "hip" and "knee," with the rear legs having a few more points. Since she's so poseable, Blackarachnia's dimensions are somewhat mutable, but here's a general idea: 7½" long, 7½" wide, and 3½" tall. Give or take.

The information on the card lists this as an Intermediate level transformation, and I did indeed find it quite easy. Tuck in the legs, slide the thorax down, twist the waist, combine the legs, and you're done! Really, it's just that easy.

The design of this figure is great in the robot mode, as well. With the only apparent piece of kibble being the spider's thorax hanging around behind Blackarachnia's hips, it just looks like she's got a big ol' booty. Nothing wrong with that. The figure is very feminine from head to toe, with a sleek and human-like appearance: fairly muscular build, extremely slim waist, long straight hair (with a red hourglass that also appears on the spider's belly), and long legs. Okay, so human-like by comicbook standards. Rumor has it that the design crew wanted Blackarachnia to be as sexy as possible, so they sent the model designer in charge of BA to a strip club before setting him to work. Is it true? Hell if I know, but it makes a good story.

The robot's hands are the spider's rear legs, six eyes and so have a long, distorted claw flanked by two smaller individually articulated claws. Her feet are quite large, but don't look out of place, and give her awesome support - she can definitely strike some dramatic poses without falling over. She also has a movable visor that can slide up to reveal her six eyes, which can be illuminated by use of the translucent pieces in the back of her head. Blackarachnia stands just over 6½" tall, and has 14 points of articulation.

One of the major contributing factors to my purchase of this figure was the fact that it was, above all else, a female Transformer figure; in fact, the first American-made female Transformer, which injects a nice (if minimal and long overdue) bit of equality into the world of robots in disguise.


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