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Transformers: Prime
by yo go re

Remember when all the Transfans were going gaga for Straxus, and we told you the toy was crap? Here's the flipside of that coin.

Conditioned to battle and hardship by her years spent hunting rare creatures across the depths of space, Airachnid is a primed and powerful warrior. All of her voyaging has been in preparation for the day she will once again face Arcee in combat. Now, she has come to Earth in search of her revenge, and more. She has also returned to the service of Megatron after her long absence, determined to prove herself as a leader - no matter who she has to destroy to do it.

Our vehicle today is a military stealth helicopter. Which is slightly weird, since the helicopter she scanned upon getting to Earth was just a normal one, not stealth, so apparently Transformers aren't above a little customization when it comes time to blend into a new world. The vehicle is 5⅞" long, 1½" wide and 1½" tall - not counting the propellor, which naturally makes things slightly taller and a whole bunch wider. Each of the three blades on the propellor are 3½" long, and it spins freely. There's a small Decepticon symbol sculpted on the nose, and all the lines of the body are straight and angular, perfect for deflecting radar.

Election season always brings out the conspiracy theorists, which means it's the perfect time for us to review a black helicopter! The entire fuselage is solid black, with no decorations or embellishments to break it up. The only colors come in with the canopy (translucent purple) and the rotors (also purple, but not translucent). There are 5mm ports on the sides of the cockpit that allow weapons to be plugged in, but the ones she comes with don't really look appropriate.

Airachnid's conversion is easy to get the hang of. Start by removing the rotors and any weapons you might have attached to her. Open the cockpit and fold the nose away. Pull out the sides of the helicopter, raise some panels in the back so you can separate the legs,slide the entire rear panel upward to reveal the head, then straighten out the arms and reattach the rotors. You've got yourself a robot, mister!

There has been so much complaining about this figure among the fandom! So much. You'd think this figure directed Revenge of the Fallen, the way fans have been hating on it. We're going to start with what's good about her, though.

For one thing, her head is awesome! It actually looks a lot like Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent - the black portions around her face seem to match the Disney animation model perfectly. Was this a conscious choice? Subconscious? Either way, it makes her look evil! Her face is silver and has translucent purple eyes, but we hesitate to call them light-piped, because they're pretty well blocked off.

The name "Airachnid" should tell you that she's got a spider thing going on, and sure enough, she ends up with spider legs hanging off her back. Weirdly, it's five legs, which is an unusual number: if we were supposed to count her robot limbs, that brings her up to nine; if not, why only five? They have decent articulation - balljoints on the bottom two, a hinge on the top one, and both balljoints and hinges on the middle two. They reach around her spookily, and are very intimidating.

The rest of the articulation doesn't fare as well. Her head is on a balljoint, but the range is limited by the kibble behind her head; same thing goes for the hips, which barely turn at all. Her knees are hinged, so no complaints there. The shoulders are good, but the design of her arms messes things up all over again. In order to keep the helicopter svelte, she's got super-spindly arms and truly ghastly elbows. Technically they're double-hinged, but it's just executed poorly. Plus, the hands are held perfectly flat, and only move with a hinge. So basically, there's no way to straighten her arms out - it's not impossible to find a decent pose for her, but it requires work.

Plus, since the hands are so flat, she can't hold weapons: instead, she has holes in her palm that the things plug into. The weapons she comes with, called "electro-stingers" on the packaging, have pegs on both the bottom and the side, so she can hold them two different ways. The model of them appeared on an episode of the cartoon, when Knock-Out offered them to Starscream as "null rays." The weapons get purple and gold paint apps, but similar colors seen on the stock photography of the robot have been cut from the final product, so she's still mostly black in this mode.

Since the rotors are so short, you can't really get her into a proper "spider" mode - Airachnid may have the ability to turn into a bipedal robot, but on the cartoon she usually walks on her spider legs. You can get the body into a decent approximation of that mode (it's just a question of pushing her legs together), but the rotors just can't cooperate. If you buy the Takara version, there are extra 5mm ports near the cockpit, so you can plug the "legs" into the sides there and they'll have an easier time reaching the ground - you'll just need to buy a second to donate her rotors so you can have a set on both sides.

From everything I'd heard about Airachnid, I expected to buy this figure, review it quickly, and then return it. But honestly, I like her. Yeah, she's got some serious design issues, but she's easy to transform and looks okay in both modes. Hasbro could absolutely have done a better job on this, but Airachnid's not nearly as terrible as everyone would have you believe. This isn't a case like "G2" Optimus Prime, where the people complaining were flat-out wrong, but we'll take a bad figure like this over one like Straxus any day.

-- 10/02/12

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