Energon Toy Reviews: Arcee

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Energon, Omnicon, Superlink

Energon

General Information:
Release Year: March 2004 (online), most likely April 2004 in stores
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $6.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2
Accessories: Missile x 1, Missile launcher x 1, Scope/Weapon half, Exhaust pipes x 2

Images:

Screen Captures from G1 Cartoons showing design influences:

As a Generation One fan, there's an odd sense of excitement one gets when you finally obtain a Transformers toy that you've been waiting well over a decade for. Back in the Generation One cartoon, the episode "The Search for Alpha Trion" introduced a new concept to Transformers fans: female Autobots. Now, thorny questions about whether there needed to be "female" Autobots aside, this was a fascinating development, and in some circles, we fans thought we'd be getting toys of female Autobots. So we waited. And it never happened.

When Transformers: The Movie was released, we were introduced to a new female Autobot: Arcee. She was part of the main cast of the movie, and would go on to be a major player in the third season of the Transformers show. Yet still, we waited for a toy. Fan made customs fueled rumors that Arcee was being made. But again, fans waited in vain.

Over ten years after Transformers: The Movie debuted, fans finally got their wish - in a manner of speaking. The Botcon 2001 exclusive figure was Arcee, a redeco of Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia from Beast Wars. The figure worked primarily because of the very "feminine" features of Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia. With the white and pink deco, the toy was a passable Arcee. Later, fans would get an Arcee PVC figure and Armada Sureshock's name in Japan was Arcee which eventually led to a redeco of pink and white, seen in this picture.

Still, at the end of the day, there was no original mold, transformable Arcee toy mass produced for a Transformers line out there - until now. In 2004, Hasbro released the first Arcee toy that was a completely new sculpt in the Energon line. Energon is a line full of homages, and Arcee is a strong one like Rodimus is to G1 Hot Rod. Finally, fans have gotten their wish.

Vehicle Mode:
In a departure from the car form we saw her as in G1, this Arcee is a Ninja motorcycle. The form is appropriate. It's sleek and formidable, two design aspects that one should rightfully keep in mind when creating an Arcee toy. It's generally not easy to make a motorcycle Transformer without things bulging out all over the place, but Takara and Hasbro have succeeded in the past, so it's nice to see the pattern repeated here.

Arcee has all the trademark sculpt designs of a Ninja bike. The small windshield in the front, a seat and handlebars that the driver practically has to lie down to use and the familiar oval pieces on the sides towards the front. Other nice details include a speedometer towards the front, sculpted tailpipes in the back and differing details on either side of the piece which connects the rear wheel to the main body of the bike. On the left side of the bike is a Mini-Con peg that can also double as a kick stand to lean the bike on.

Color-wise, Arcee is what one would expect: white and pink. However, she's more than just those two colors. Black, metallic red and metallic blue also make up parts of her design, giving her a much nicer appearance than two plain colors would. The black is focused towards the front, on the very front headlight/windshield piece and on the side oval pieces mentioned before. The oval pieces also have a nice metallic blue streak painted on them. The metallic red paint can be seen in front of the seat. There you'll also see a tampographed Autobot symbol and the Autobot "Spark Crystal". I really like the use of translucent pink plastic for the windshield as well.

So she looks great, but what good is a motorcycle on the field of battle? Plenty if you're armed like Arcee is! Arcee comes with two Energon weapons. One is a missile launcher, the other a scope for the missile launcher, which for the purposes of this mode, you can imagine as a cannon. The missile launcher has one regular peg at the bottom, a Mini-Con peg on the left and two holes on the right, one of which is a Powerlinx port you can use to activate Mini-Con features on Armada figures or use to attach to other Energon weapons. The scope has a regular peg on the bottom, two holes on the left (one of which is a Powerlinx port) and one hole on the right. Having two weapons with a variety of ports allows for a lot of Energon weapon addition and even attaching Mini-Cons. Also, since Arcee has three slots and a Mini-Con peg to attach weaponry to, you can load her up with extra weapons too. Pieces that also deserve mention are exhaust pipes, which attach to the back of each weapon. This is a lot of play value crammed into one Omnicon.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the Energon weapons.
  2. Attach the missile launcher to the scope.
  3. Attach the tailpipes to the sides of the combined weapon.
  4. At the rear of the bike, there is a small oval piece above the tailpipes, swing those out and rotate them to reveal the robot hands.
  5. Swing the windshield forward.
  6. Move the oval pieces towards the front of the bike out to the sides, then move them forward.
  7. By now, you can see the robot legs in the piece you just moved forward. Straighten these pieces out and swing the feet up.
  8. Split the back of the bike and fold the pieces to the sides.
  9. Swivel the tire halves up.
  10. Move the robot head up and forward.
  11. Swing the front tire all the way into the back, the windshield piece should move back as well.
  12. Move the robot legs down and straighten them out.
  13. The crossbow can be attached to either of the holes in the arms.

Robot Mode:
There are fine lines the designers of any transforming toy have to pay attention to. Where does detail get in the way of functionality? Will this toy be safe when it does this or that action feature? With Arcee, they had an added concern: how to make a robot look feminine without going overboard and exaggerate her features too much? Fortunately, Hasbro and Takara pulled this one off nicely.

There's no mistaking Arcee for a "male" Autobot, this one is female all the way. Her head sculpt is wonderfully done, combining features of the classic Arcee's face with some new design features. From the front view, she has the same crest at the center of her head as G1 Arcee, and the "helmet" around her face expands outward with vent lines on either side of her face. However, if you look at the heads from the side, instead of the circular "bun like" pieces on her head, all the lines from the forward view just continue to the back. The central crest gets a bit of a flourish at the back where it slopes down then levels off. The robot face has soft features with a very oval face that comes to a point at the chin, but the designers resisted the urge to give her big, puffy, pink lips. The mouth is subdued, allowing the facial features to be the primary details here.

The body is sculpted nicely as well. The chest comes out a bit, an anthromorphic design indulgence, but one that the G1 female Autobots were drawn with, including Arcee. Near the neck area is a slightly raised detail which resembles a collar. Under the chest is the Autobot "Spark Crystal". The arms are formed from the back halves of the motorcycle, so the outer parts are rectangular, but the parts connected to the shoulder joints and the hands are much more rounded. The hands are open palmed, with each digit etched in. On each arm are the tailpipes which look like wrist mounted weapons, a nice touch.

The legs are also very much "female". The thighs and lower legs are very curved, not rectangular and blocky like most "male" Transformers. Arcee's feet are high heeled, which really just tops off the whole "female" aspect. To quote one fan I know: "She's so girlie!"

Arcee's color scheme remains the same here, with much more white showing thanks to her legs and arms. The helmet on her head, collar and elbows are all painted pink. Her robot face is silver with blue eyes (a nice touch). Her chest starts with a black design (with the tampographed Autobot symbol) which then stops and gives way to metallic red. This same color can be found on triangular details at her ankles.

Arcee has thirteen points of articulation, including four in each leg and elbow articulation. However, because of the way her arms are designed, her elbows only allow her lower arms to swing in and out, not forward and back.

Arcee's weapon is positively huge compared to her. When she holds it, she looks a tiny bit silly (depending on the pose). In fact, her package art actually shrinks down the weapon quite a bit to get it to look more like a hand held crossbow. Still, it does connect with her, utilizing the pegs on the weapon and the holes under her hands. Due to the weapons's size and the way her arms are designed, Arcee can't really hold the weapon pointing forward, so the optimal pose is having her hold it out to the side and aiming, almost like an archer would (and perhaps, that was part of the point). The choice of having the parts come together into a crossbow type weapon echoes the use of such a weapon by the G1 female Autobot Beta, which is probably a coincidence, but a happy one.

The design of the weapon is nice. If you look carefully in the scope, there are crosshairs in there. The tailpiples look like the wide parts of a crossbow. It's also worth noting that despite being a bit awkward with Arcee due to the figure's size, the weapon is a great size for larger Transformers to use. It also has some nice pegs and holes to allow it to connect to other weapons, forming "super weapons" to fight nasty Terrorcons.

The 2003/04 time frame has been an incredible one for Transformers. Stuff like Binaltech, Masterpiece Convoy and Unicron are all items that fans only dreamt about having a few years ago. Now they can tack on another item to that list: Arcee. Highly recommended.