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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Kamen's review: Blackarachnia

Name: Blackarachnia
Fuction: Trickster
Subgroup: TFAnimated Deluxe Characters


"My sting will be the last thing you feel"

Blackarachnia started out as a promising young recruit at the Autobot academy. Accidentally abandoned on a hostile alien world by her teammates, she did the only thing she could–merged with the organic monsters that swarmed the caves in which she was trapped. Emerging as a technorganic mutant, she vowed revenge on the Autobots that had left her behind, and joined the Decepticons in their war of conquest.


Female transformers are rare, though their existence has been fairly consistent in Transformers since their first appearance in G1. However, the first female transformer to gain a prominent and consistent role in a series was Blackarachnia in Beast Wars, who also has the distinction of being the first female transformer to fight for the side of “evil”, though she later switched sides and became a valuable ally to the Maximals in Beast Machines.

TFAnimated’s Blackarachnia is a completely different character from her Beast Wars incarnation; however, her origin is remarkably similar, though mirrored–going from a valuable Autobot ally to a dangerous enemy. Unfortunately, her attendance in the series is spotty despite being a major factor in Optimus Prime’s fallout with Sentinel Prime and the Elite Guard in general.

Alternate Mode:

Blackarachnia definitely gives off the kind of creepiness one might expect from a beast based on an arachnid. The sharp angles and sweeping curves of the figure add a hint of danger to the mold. Downward curving spines draw the eye to the vicious looking (yet actually rubbery and harmless) pointed limbs. Sparse detail creates an organic smoothness to the mold, while sculpted layers hint at a mechanical origin. A small hourglass on the thorax set above a gold Decepticon symbol warns onlookers about the nature of the beast... as do blatantly obvious robot hands sticking out from the forward legs.

The color scheme is a nice mix of dark purple, black, and gold, with a bit of red for extra details like the eyes and the hourglass. Although simple in application, the paint is well done, without any sloppiness. My only complaint is the decision to make the mandibles solid purple rather than black and gold.

Like a lot of beast formers, Blackarachnia’s articulation in this mode, while much greater than vehicular transformers, remains confined to her legs and her mouth. Unlike most insectoid or arachnoid based beast modes, Blackarachnia’s four legs are quite sturdy and support her a good distance off the floor. The rest of her articulation is confined to her forward claws, which I imagine are supposed to be a surrogate for the legs she’s missing. However, they are far too short and not articulated in such a way as to allow them to be used as legs. It is also unfortunate that only one pair of the claws is really articulate, the other is made of soft, rubbery plastic and movable only by one swivel and hinge joint where it meets the body. The articulate pair is made from hard plastic, and as an additional hinge joint midway down the limb. Although not amazing, Blackarachnia does manage a few more poseablity options than her motorized brethren.

Blackarachnia’s gimmick is an “auto-retracting grappling hook”. The grappling hook is a black plastic base attached to a translucent red claw via a white string. The hook is actually tight enough to grab onto most sufficiently sized surfaces. Pressing the small button on the base once the string is extended pulls the base back to the claw. It works really well and can be attached to Blackarachnia where it, surprisingly, has no trouble pulling her along as well. The only problem with the setup is that the button must remain pressed to keep the line retracting. I think the device would look a lot cooler if it retracted all the way in one go.

Although not perhaps entirely faithful to the her show appearance, Blackarachnia does sport the only organic beast mode currently on the show (when she actually makes an appearance) which I think adds a pinch of interest to an otherwise decent but not fabulous alt mode.

Robot Mode:

Blackarachnia features absolutely no new colors in this mode, and the only new pieces of detail are her waist and robot head. Her robot head looks very close to her Animated counterpart, keeping even the extra set of eyes, and only lacking the more prominent lips. The paint on her head also shows a bit of sloppiness around her lips and nose–very minor, only a few errant speckles of gold.

Sculpting too, aside from the parts mentioned, is equivalent to her beast mode. However, there is an unfortunate clef between her neck and chest. A rather unseemly amount of cleavage which can only be hidden by bending Blackarachia’s head over, giving her a hunchbacked appearance.

Articulation is made largely by way of ball joints, and includes a swiveling waist which is not a part of her transformation scheme. Neither her hands nor her knees swivel, however, cheating her out of some natural looking poses. She also may have trouble balancing due to small feet, though this problem was anticipated and somewhat addressed by giving her and extra hinge on her mid-shin to allow her to widen her stance (a most excellent idea).

The grapple from her beast mode can also be used here. A slot underneath each arm allows it to be used as a weapon, though it looks awkward, and I’ve only been able to anchor it solidly on her left arm. The grapple can be stored on her back when not in use. Although not described on the package, Blackarachnia can also use her forward spider limbs as weapons by simply rotating the point on her elbows forward again. These points can also be used to augment her balance in robot mode for additional posing options.

With the one exception, Blackarachnia’s robot mode is quite solid.

Transformation: Fairly simple. The only trouble spot is rotating the mandibles as they have a tendency to pop off. They are also quite small so, parents, be aware of this choking hazard! Otherwise, it’s smooth sailing. 4/10

Durability: Aside from the mandibles (which are on ball joints) no other parts have looked like trouble spots, though I am concerned with the rubbery plastic used for a pair of the claws. I don’t think it’s the same puddy used for certain (Vector Prime) characters' swords, however. 7/10

Fun: Although there’s not a whole lot to her, being the only beast former and only female transformer on the show makes for some novelty. 6/10

Price: $10 USD. A fair price. 8/10

Overall: At best Blackarachnia is a mediocre figure. She has a solid beast mode and a decent robot mode, but nothing that makes her stand out. I don’t recommend her strongly to anyone who wouldn’t buy her anyway, but she worth getting eventually. 6/10
 
 
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