Transformers Animated Blackarachnia Review

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Beast Wars, Decepticon, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Grapnel Hook


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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.

Face off against the AUTOBOT armies with this raging robot figure! A retractable grapnel hook and web line helps this evil enemy “climb” up to greet her opponents! Convert this menacing-looking robot to unleash a stealth spider mode that’ll have you geared up to take on the AUTOBOT forces as you stage the ultimate battle of good versus evil!

Figure comes with retractable grapnel hook

"Transformers Animated" is a Transformers show that seeks to pay homage to many elements of Transformers history, not just Generation One. This is most evident in one of the early releases in the line: Blackarachnia. The original Blackarachnia was introduced in the "Beast Wars" series. Originally a Maximal protoform corrupted by the evil Tarantulas, Blackarachnia went on to be one of the most interesting characters in the "Beast Wars" series whose loyalty wavered from the forces of evil and eventually turned to a full fledged Maximal continuing on into the "Beast Machines" series. Now the character has been reinterpreted once again for "Animated" drawing upon her "Beast Wars" appearance for inspiration.

Beast Mode:
Unlike previous incarnations of Blackarachnia, this one's beast mode is not an Earth based spider (or even a mutation thereof) but rather an alien spider. While this gave the designers a lot of latitude in terms of how they could have intepreted the character, they decided to keep her a techno-organic black widow spider.

It is really cool to see how the "Animated" aesthetic can be applied to almost any sort of character and still have them retain aspects of their previous incarnations. This is the first "beast form" for "Animated" and yet just by looking at the style, the hard angles, smooth lines and flat surfaces you can tell it belongs in that world. While she does have a flat look in terms f color and lot of the surface of the beast mode, she is quite intricate in detail. Each leg is slightly different, with different segments and some with "hairs" sculpted onto them (albeit, ones that wind up looking more like sharp plates). The beast mode head is appropriately creepy with four eyes and mandibles that look ready to chew into any prey she comes across. There is of course the requisite hourglass shape sculpted onto the abdomen. On a real life Earth spider such a detail would be on the underbelly, but since this is an alien spider it doesn't have to hold to those rules. Also, it makes for a much better visual device to have the hourglass on top.

Blackarachnia is sculpted in black, purple and translucent red plastic. There are two types of black plastic being used on this figure. One is soft, which allows the sculptors to create sharp points on each leg and not sacrifice the visual integrity of the character. The other is harder, regular plastic that you would expect from a Transformers figure. Paint applications are done in gold and bright orange. The gold color meshes with the black perfectly, paying homage to the colors of Blackarachnia from "Beast Wars". The purple is a bit of a carry over from her Transmetal 2 form and also works thematically as a Decepticon color. Her beast mode eyes and the hourglass symbol are painted orange, which gives them an almost glowing appearance against the darker black and purple colors.

One of the weaknesses almost every spider based Transformers figure suffers from is the ability to stand properly. In the past, many of the legs on spider based Transformers would be ball joints that would flop if not tight enough. In this case, two of the legs are on a single hinge, offering stability. The largest legs in the back are on a ball joint, but they are positioned in the middle and underside of the body, allowing for stability. The result is a figure that stands on its beast mode legs without any flopping around and actually allows proper posability.

Blackarachnia has twenty points of articulation in this form, mostly owing to the spider legs. However, she also has four movable parts that form her mandibles/mouth which is really neat to see. Further action is added in by her weapon, a "grapnel" hook which is attached to the underside of the abdomen. Pull on the translucent claws at the end and a string extends out about three inches. Each claw section is individually articulated, giving you a greater range of motion to attach the claws onto. Press a button on the side of the granel weapon and it draws the figure in rather quickly.

This is easily one of the best Blackarachnia figures out there. While its aesthetic differs quite a bit from the Transmetal 2 or Beast Machines versions, it deserves recognition for having a stable beast mode while looking fantastic and true to the character. My only regret is that you can see the robot hands in this mode on two of the spider legs, but it is a small concession to make considering how strong the rest of the figure is.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the grapnel weapon and set it aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the rear legs and rotate around the sections with the gold point on them.
  3. Flip up the ends of the rear legs to form the robot feet.
  4. Swing up the panel on the abdomen with the hourglass design on it.
  5. Rotate the purple fangs so they slant out to either side.
  6. Swing the beast mode head back and the robot head up to form the robot's upper body.
  7. Slide the beast mode head piece up to form the chest.
  8. Swing the smaller spider legs back and rotate them around so they point up.
  9. Rotate around the spider leg piece on the robot arms.
  10. The grapnel hook can be attached to her back.

Robot Mode:
It is not easy to nail down the female form as a Transformer. It has been tried many times in the past few years with some successes and some misses. Animated Blackarachnia represents a success, especially when compared to her predecessors. Her form is lithe, slim but still feminine thanks to sculpted curves on the abdominal area and legs. Her shoulders and upper arms are slight leading to larger, more powerful looking forearms. Her fingers are long and slender (unlike "Beast Machines" Blackarachnia where they were a bit more creepy than feminine looking). The beast mode head manages to form a chest that looks feminine, but not outrageous in the way many people interpreted the first or Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia toys. It seems Hasbro has finally found a way to make the perfect synthesis of elements from various toy incarnations of the character and make a really nice looking robot mode.

A lot of the finer details in this figure are simple, yet elegant. On her waist is another hourglass symbol flanked by four lines that are reminscent of both the hourglass in beast mode and her beast mode eyes. Her head sculpt is very intricate, using the "face within a helmet" design from "Beast Wars". Her forehead has a large crest with a tiny hourglass symbol in the center while her eyes are slanted upwards, giving her an exotic appearance. The "helmet" look is punctuated by her small chin/mouth section being inset pretty severely into the helmet section.

Blackarachnia's beast mode colors carry over into this form, with more gold showing thanks to her face and feet. The robot eyes are cast in the same translucent red plastic as the claws on the grapnel hook. Bright orange is used to paint the hourglass design wherever it appears, offering consistancy with the beast mode eyes and hourglass on the abdomen in beast mode. A hold and white Decepticon symbol is tamographed onto the chest section right under her neck. There is a great balance between the black, gold and purple colors giving her a much darker look than the original Blackarachnia in "Beast Wars".

Blackarachnia has thirteen points of articulation in this form, but it should be moted most of them are ball joints, so her range of motion is very nice. In the television show, she can use the sharp pincers on her back to stab at enemies, and this figure can do the same, albeit in a limited manner since the legs can't stretch too far over her shoulders.

If you attach the grapnel hook to her back, you can use it like a climbing line for the figure, but it does tend to move very fast and I have had the figure actually get separated from the grapnel unless you squeeze it tight against her back.

Final Thoughts:
This is a fantastic update of the Blackarachnia design. She shows a lot of lessons were learned from previous Blackarachnia figures and were applied here. Highly recommended!