Blackjack's Review: Airachnid
RID Deluxe Class
'Electro-Stinger' (2x), Rotor Blade/Spider Claws
As with the live-action Bay movies, Transformers: Prime features highly complex CG models to represent the Transformers, what with the larger budgets and Transformers being known to the mainstream audience as 'that show with the giant awesomely-complicated CG robots'. Of course, TF: Prime's designs are less complicated and much more streamlined, which makes it look like a hybrid of the Movieverse and Animated visual styles. And does it work? By golly, it does.
But as with the Bay movies, the Transformer designs are designed independent from the toys. And there are some that you just know would be a big challenge to turn into toys. Transformers Prime had already surprised me by giving us toys of Starscream and Soundwave, both of whom had very unorthodox designs that would be problematic to fit in toy form, with toys that not only work, but are actually good
And then, there's Airachnid.
Airachnid, while initially seemed would be a counterpart to Blackarachnia, albeit with an all-original name, soon made herself apparent to be much, much more creepier and sadistic than the usually more anti-hero portrayals of Blackarachnia. Blackarachnia isn't the nicest villain out there -- she's a manipulator, a traitor, a tragic vengeance-ridden freak... but Airachnid is all that and more, without a softer side or a tragic backstory like Blackarachnia did. She's a sadist who simply enjoys causing pain, both physical and mental, evidenced by her constantly reminding Arcee of her loss of partners (one of whom, Tailgate, died at his hands).
Airachnid enjoys playing games as well, although these games usually involves trying to kill off Jack Darby (Arcee's human partner and little brother figure), setting him off to run before hunting him down, just for the sheer fear she will cause the human. Won't go into too much detail for the sake of anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled, but suffice it to say that Airachnid is an original character who's rather enjoyable to watch.
Of course, her character model is a very complex, insectile thing. Airachnid has a normal, humanoid robot mode where her spider legs are splayed on her back, but most of the time she assumes a mode where everything under her waist is bunched up like an insect's abdomen, while her spider legs move her along, making some sort of quasi-beast mode... which looks damn awesome. On top of all that, she also transforms into a stealth helicopter.
Try and fit it all into a deluxe class toy, and you just can't hope much. And when pictures of Airachnid hit the web, I knew that this was one toy to avoid.
I had no intention of buying Airachnid, but a friend of mine got her for me... and I now own an Airachnid.
Long story short for those who don't want to scroll down? She's as bad as her photos make her out to be. Save your money.
Airachnid's alternate mode is a futuristic stealth helicopter. I'm not a vehicle geek, so I can't specifically tell you what make it is, but it exudes realism and futuristic at the same time. Airachnid's copter mode is, at least, all smooth angles, which makes her look quite good...
Of course, until you see the defining bit of a helicopter. Yes, her rotor blades. They are cast in a chunk of solid pale lavender, with the claw protrusions that mark Airachnid's spider-mode claws being all too evident... except that Airachnid's spider claws are black and dark purple, which means that this is just sheer laziness on the part of the designers. The ugly and unnaturally coloured rotor blades rob the helicopter of any semblance of realism.
Yes, the blades rotate just fine. They also looks like crap.
Looking below, you see that Airachnid's transluscent cockpit windows are cast in an admittedly fitting shade of dark pink, and the cockpit opens to reveal a pilot's chair cast in the same clear pink plastic as the windows. This, apparently, is the back of Airachnid's robot mode head. There are some molded details to form a cockpit, but that's it.
Once you take a good look at the helicopter, you see that things aren't as smooth as things may have led you to believe. It may be hidden by the fact that the entire toy sans rotor and windows seems to be cast in black, but with close inspection you can see Airachnid's obvious knee protrusions and feet in the helicopter's tail, and her chest protrudes in the undercarriage, visible even from the side. Looking from the bottom, of course, reveals all of Airachnid's torso and abdomen.
And that's about it. You can spin the ugly rotor blades, you can open the cockpit (but not at the same time, because the cockpit blocks the rotors) and you can attach the two 'Electro Stinger' weapons she comes with. Now the weapons aren't anything she ever used in the show -- Airachnid shoots webs and laser blasts out of her palms, if I recall correctly -- and these look like giant, flat crab claws with a golden needle in between.
You can attach them onto the sides of Airachnid's helicopter mode in two configurations (horizontal or vertical), but the fact that the weapons are painted means that they are very attention grabbing, and their disproportionate size only makes Airachnid look like some sort of weird lobster monster thing if you do attach the weapons. Nautilator would be pleased.
Her alternate mode isn't very appealing, but her robot mode's worse.
Airachnid's show model is a very lean, skinny figure, due to the whole 'spider' vibe. Of course, the toy is nothing like that. The entire upper half of the helicopter simply sticks onto Airachnid's back, doing nothing but detract attention from Airachnid's head. Her headsculpt, at least, is something I have to praise -- it's spot on for her show model, which seems to draw inspiration from Maleficient. Her horned helmet is black... which means it is lost against the backdrop of black helicopter kibble jutting above her head. Her face is silver, eyes are light-piped purple, and her eyebrows are golden.
She's got slightly more colour, with a darkish shade of lavender picking out details in her abdomen and inner thigh (inexplicably) and her hands are cast in bright lavender. Mind you, her hands are molded in a static karate chop pose with a massive gaping hole to plug the weapons in. Goody.
The aformentioned bright lavender rotors turn into spider claws. Now, the spider mode is unworkable with a Deluxe toy and they didn't acknowledge it at all, so they placed the claws (three out of six that the show model has, anyway) in the robot mode configuration... which means leaning awkwardly against a tab that holds one of the blades. It would be an effort if the spider legs were coloured correctly, at least, but the bright lavender means that they stick out like a sore thumb.
The rotor blades rotate, mind you, so if the central blade drops off the tab the entire assembly swings down. This is removable and the packaging tells us to use it as an awkward sword weapon, but, again, it rotates freely, so it's more likely to point downwards if you plug it into Airachnid's arm... that is, if she can stand holding the rotors at all.
Airachnid's got serious balance issues too, in addition to looking like a lump of black plastic. Her legs are solid stumps with hard knee and thigh joints, but the feet are molded in high heels, and Airachnid's extreme top-heaviness, and general poor weight distribution, means that anything other than a static standing pose instantly topples.
She's got rubbish articulation as well. It's not that she doesn't have joints -- she does, it's just that poor design means that none of them actually does anything significant.
Her knees work fine, but the ball joints in her thighs simply can't move much because the helicopter kibble behind the leg blocks the movement (and moving it would, again, make Airachnid fall flat on her face). Her head cannot move despite having a ball joint... because the back of her head is the chair piece, and it's held in place by the cockpit. Oy.
Her arms? She's got shoulder joints, two elbow joints, and the karate arms are on a pin joint, but the pieces of her upper and lower arms are so bulky and they overlap, so they can't move much either. The kibble means that she can't hold her arms straight down, because they overlap. She can do a little shrugging movement, or bend her arms at the elbow... but the weight of the lower arm means that she'll return to her static 'half-bent' pose sooner or later.
Her spider claws each have a ball and a hinge joint, but as said above the central claw has to be held in place by a peg or they will flop uselessly, so chalk another useless articulation point.
What about the guns, you say? Well, good luck. Attaching the massive things to the hands means that you'll upset the balance, and anyway she can't aim the weapons, so what's the use?
To her credit, if you ignore the backpack and the shit spider legs, she does look like robot mode Airachnid, with the arms in the right shape, and the torso, and the face... albeit with a little more detailing, more gold and purple paint. Hasbro was being very, very stingy with the amount of paint Airachnid got. Mind you, the guns get roughly more than half of the paint application given to Airachnid, probably the ones slated to go to her spider claws. Doubt an additional splash of paint would fix the toy, but at least that would make her look slightly better.
So, in case you miss it -- Looks? Terrible. Articulation? Close to none. Show accuracy? Pass. Playability? Zip. Balance? Nope. A good toy? Not a chance.
Marks out of ten for the following:
2/10 Practically every part will interfere with Airachnid's articulation, and while I realize there's not much they could have done, it's still inexcusable that the entire upper half of the helicopter mode just sticks to her like a backpack.
5/10 Her arms seem quite flimsy, although other than that she's a pretty sturdy for a skinny figure.
1/10 Any useful point of articulation is hampered by other chunks of overlapping kibble, and she doesn't have many to begin with. And trying to pose her in anything but a static standing pose will cause her to topple away due to balance problems.
3/10 Her face and torso looks like Airachnid, but everything else just looks shitty. The solid lavender spider arms look crap, the open palms look crap, the kibbly backpack and arms look crap, the legs are solid black masses... the alternate mode is better, but is completely ruined when you see the rotor blades.
1/10 Eh, she can't do anything. Her transformation is boring, articulation is crap, and she doesn't have a spider mode.
1/10 I didn't pay a single cent for her and I still feel robbed. How bad do you think that is?
1/10 Airachnid is one of toys that are so bad, that people put up signs like 'avoid like the plague'. While to be fair, Hasbro's designers couldn't do anything with the size constraints of a deluxe class toy, the fact that they wasted what small grace they could have salvaged by botching up simple articulation and giving all the paint application to the weapons... well, those are just final nails to the coffin. Unless you really, really like Airachnid, don't buy her. And even then, don't.