"Transformers Universe" Blackarachnia Toy Review

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Deluxe
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: August 2003
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Accessories: None

Transformers Universe gets its second entry from the Beast Machines era in the form of Blackarachnia, the femme fatale from the Beast generation of Transformers. This time however, Blackarachnia goes back to her "evil" roots and is on the side of the Decepticons. It's been a while since I reviewed the Beast Machines version of this toy, so I'm going to write a fresh review for this release.

Beast Mode:
Blackarachnia is a techno-organic spider in beast mode. For a deluxe sized toy (and one designed about four years ago to boot) Blackarachnia has a very nice sculpt. The head has six eyes, each which look like they're staring right through you. This effect is helped by the eyes being painted a bright red. The head itself is molded in translucent orange plastic. Move Blackarachnia's palps outward and you'll her entire "mouth" area moves. This was part of the design concept behind Beast Machines, where the designers tried to give each figure something which distinguished its "personality" from other figures. This also helps give the figure a very life like action and it works very nicely.

The rear section of the beast mode is also nicely sculpted. The piece is a nice, multi-layer section. The top part is molded in orange plastic with metallic blue paint on top along with a silver pattern outlined by purple (indicating the Energon radiation pouring out of her in battle). This pattern goes across the back and onto the head. Under this section however is another layer of green, with fine muscle like details sculpted in. On either side you'll find dark blue translucent ovals. It's a shame such a dark color was chosen for these parts, because they hide the
really nice muscle thread detail underneath. You can however see the Decepticon symbol on the left side, which has been heat stamped on top of a Spark Crystal.

This is the only version of Blackarachnia that easily stands up on its legs in beast mode. Though the others can perform this feat, it usually involves a lot of careful balancing acts. Here, Blackarachnia primarily stands on the middle and front two feet. The rear legs are actually her robot mode arms. Sincethe ends are claw like protrusions, they have been molded in soft plastic. The problem hereis that you can easily bend them out of shape under the right conditions. However, since you don't actually need the two rear feet to keep the beast mode standing, you can elevate them just enough so they just barely touch the ground. Each leg has some nice detail. Of special note are the front and middle legs, which are really just halves of the robot leg. Instead of sacrificing detail, the designers made sure to mold details such as hair fibers into the inner side of each leg.

Appropriately, Blackarachnia has a red hourglass shaped symbol on the underside of the beast mode. This is the same mark that real life black widow spiders have as well, and putting it on her underside (as opposed to the top as the original Blackarachnia had) is more accurate to the real life creature as well.

Blackarachnia has a really nice beast mode. The detail level put into it along with the overall design not only looks great, but it's functional as well.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Connect the middle and front legs on each side.
  2. Pull the rear section of the spider so that it rests on top of the beast mode head.
  3. Rotate the robot legs around at the gray piece which connects the legs to the main body.
  4. Swing each leg down and flip the ends up to form the feet.
  5. Rotate the upper body around and straighten out the robot arms.
  6. Flip the three visors on the robot head up to reveal the robot eyes.

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, Blackarachnia's prmiary colors are dark "metal flake" blue and orange. Her upper arms, hair and the top of her legs are dark gray. Silver paint is used to detail a lot of parts which were not painted in the original release:

  • On her hip area, there is a pattern sculpted in, but on the Beast Machines Blackarachnia, the piece was molded in solid purple. here, the piece is metallic blue, but the sculpted detail is painted silver.
  • On her abdomen/mid body area, the Beast Machines Blackarachnia only had the piece molded a solid green color. Here it's orange but the small oval shaped details on it are now painted silver.
  • On her chest, there are two lines which cross each breast (yes, that's what they are folks) horizontally. These were not painted in on the original, but in this version they are painted silver.
  • Her shoulder armor/collar piece was molded all green in the original, but here it's orange and the spikes and tends of the collar are silver.

None of this is meant to say the original was inferior. Keep in mind, the original had green triangular details that were on the legs and chest, something this version lacks. The two details basically balance each other out from version to version.

The rest of Blackarachnia is striking visually because the bright orange contrasts so heavily with the dark metallic blue. Not only that, but the orange cuts into blue sections (such as the upper legs) creating a nice effect. Blackarachnia's face is also an attention grabber. The original Beast Machines Blackarachnia's face was mostly purple with orange lipstick and details around the eyes. Although the orange was bright, the face was very subdued thanks to the purple. In this case, Blackarachnia's face is silver, so it really stands out. Her lips are painted red, as are her eyes. However, the designers added in one paint app, dark blue pupils! This really adds to the "life" given to the toy in appearance. Instead of one color eyes that could be looking anywhere, these eyes look like they're staring right at you.
A very nice job.

Blackarachnia has eighteen points of articulation in this mode. This includes five points of articulation in each arm and waist articulation. On a related note, each of the two "claws" on Blackarachnia's arms can move, but they may be a bit stuck at first. Once you move them, they will freely move after that, but it may take a bit of strength to get them moving.

Universe Blackarachnia is a pleasant surprise. Hasbro seems to be moving away from the gawdy, purple, bright phase of Universe and to different color scheme styles. The dark colors work in contrast with Blackarachnia's bright orange, and the application of details that did not exist on the original is a great touch. Highly recommended.

Lightbox Gallery