#2695: Blackarachnia



Okay, it’s a new month, and it feels like a good time to knock out some Transformers reviews, doesn’t it?  I happen to have this whole stack of them here, so I can just make a whole week out of it, can’t I?  Oh, yes I can!  We’re kicking things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion, and looking at one of this year’s big focusses for the line: Beast Wars.  I looked at Cheetor last month, and I’m finally getting the opportunity to follow that one up with another figure, this time from the opposing team (well, some of the time, anyway).  It’s Blackarachnia!


Blackarachnia is part of Transformers War For Cybertron: Kingdom’s first Deluxe Class assortment.  She and Cheetor make up the Beast Wars-half of this particular assortment.  Like Cheetor, Blackarachnia has multiple designs over the course of the show, but this figure goes for her original look, meaning she matches everyone else so far.  In robot mode, she stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and she has 23 practical points of articulation.  Movement wise, Blackarachnia is a little bit better than Cheetor, but still ends up feeling a touch restricted compared to other recent figures from the line.  At least her elbows and knees have a fuller range of motion.  At least the sculpt does a respectable job of replicating her design from the show, with notably less transformation induced compromises than we saw with Cheetor.  There’s certainly less really obnoxious kibble this time around, and she doesn’t feel quite as slapdash as that release.  She does still feel a little bit more…I don’t know exactly how to phrase it, but she’s just not quite as fun to mess with as some of the more G1-inspired bots.  Blackarachnia includes her crossbow-looking weapon thing, which is actually kind of cool, and I do like how they implemented the hands to be 5mm compatible without looking it.  That’s admittedly one of the better elements here.

Blackarachnia’s alt-mode is a black widow spider, which isn’t too surprising with the name and all.  I’m not big on spiders myself, so I’m just gonna have that one single photo there to illustrate.  I changed her once for the photo and then changed her back, because, again, not big on spiders.  Her transformation’s a little fiddly for my taste, and I don’t feel super satisfied with the end result and how it all clicks together, but it’s an okay alt-mode overall.  It maintains a good deal of posability on the legs, and does stay pretty well balanced, so those are all plusses.  Not a plus?  Remember how Cheetor had that issue with that one breaking peg?  Well, I was able to avoid breaking that one on mine, but I was not so lucky on the recurring issue with Blackarachnia.  There’s a peg on her chest, which is another pretty much guaranteed break.  Unfortunately, unlike Cheetor, there’s nothing else to really hold this piece secure in the robot mode once it breaks, and it just swings up and down now, which is more than a little bit annoying.


Blackarachnia’s more of a pre-emptive addition to my collection than anything else.  I’m a huge fan of Silverbolt, and in the event of us getting an updated Silverbolt (hopefully soon), I’ll definitely want her to go with him.  So, I went ahead and picked her up.  After being kind of disappointed by Cheetor, I held off on opening her up for a while, which is rarely a good sign with my figures.  Ultimately, I opened her for this review, and she’s okay at best.  Her robot mode isn’t bad overall, and is certainly an improvement on older versions of the character, but the fact that her transformation is pretty much guaranteed to break the figure is a major point against it, and the fact that that’s the second instance of such an issue in the line’s not a great track record.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2671: Cheetor



Hey, did you guys know that there’s, like, Transformers that’s not G1 or G1 inspired?  I know, I thought it was a weird concept myself.  Like, are they allowed to do that?  In checking it out, apparently the answer is “Yes.”  Typical “Ethan’s being sarcastic, isn’t he oh so clever” opening aside, Beast Wars, which launched in 1996 was the third major incarnation of the franchise, and was also my first real introduction to Transformers, by virtue of me, you know, not really having been around for the prior two.  It’s actually the first Transformers for a good number of people, and has, over the years, picked up quite a following, even as the franchise keeps shifting its focus back to G1.  But, Beast Wars fans are getting thrown a deceased animal’s bone this year, as Hasbro celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Kingdom, the third part of the War For Cybertron Trilogy, which is heavily centered around the Beast Wars cast.  Heading off the charge is one of the show’s most prominent characters, Cheetor, who I’m taking a look at today.


Cheetor is part of the first Deluxe Class assortment for Kingdom, and alongside Blackarachnia, makes it half-Beast Wars, which is the set-up for all of the starting line-ups.  At least this assortment doesn’t have anyone being repackaged from Earthrise, I guess.  Cheetor had a few different appearances over the course of the original Beast Wars, but this one is based on his original appearance.  In his robot mode, Cheetor stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 workable points of articulation.  In contrast to some more recent efforts, the articulation on Cheetor is rather on the restricted side of things.  His movement just generally feels pretty stiff, and a lot of the joints get okay movement one direction, but not another.  Additionally, the movement on his elbows and knees in particular is rather restricted, making him just generally harder to pose than a lot of compatriots.  The figure’s sculpt does an alright job of capturing the animation model for the character, but there are definitely some compromises made for the sake of transformation.  He also winds up with a bit more kibble than he should in a few spots, notably the backs of his hands and the tops of his lower legs.  This ultimately makes him feel a little bit less refined, I think, then he maybe should.  He just generally feels a little bit more slapdash.  Cheetor is accessorized with one weapon, a whip made from his alt-mode’s tail.  It’s an okay looking piece, but notably not a weapon that was used by this incarnation of his design; the whip came with his Transmetals release.  This one should technically get the “gut gun”, but it isn’t present.

With a name like Cheetor, his alt-mode probably isn’t too hard to figure out.  He turns into, that’s right, a Cheetah.  The transformation sequence is a little stubborn in a few spots, and there’s a tab on the back of the cheetah head’s neck that is pretty much guaranteed to break.  It’s fortunately not super necessary for either mode, and I was able to avoid breaking mine (the stress marks are certainly there, though), but breaking during the first transformation’s not the kind of recurring issue you want to run into with a Transformers figure.  At the very least, the cheetah mode does end up looking pretty good.  It’s certainly an improvement over most of his older toys, I can say that much.


Beast Wars was my first interaction with Transformers, and if I’m being entirely honest, it’s probably a contributing factor as to why it took my so long to get into Transformers.  There are parts of it I enjoyed as a kid, and am still nostalgic about, though, and I do like Cheetor alright as a character.  So, I’m sort of trying some stuff out with Kingdom, and Cheetor was the first one of them I had the chance to pick up.  Honestly, I don’t know that he’s a great place to start with the line.  He’s not terrible, but he’s also not super great, at least by my metrics.  I’m hoping that others prove to be a little bit better, especially considering the prior two entries in the trilogy had little trouble getting me to care about other characters in the franchise I previously had little attachment to.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

Guest Review #0015: Manta Ray




I’m sure most people remember being a kid and asking their parents to go to McDonald’s, not for the food, but because that month there was a cool toy that came with a Happy Meal. When I was just a wee babby Tim, Beast Wars (an offshoot of the Transformers brand) was my jam, so you can imagine the incessant begging that went on when I found out it was that month’s theme. Today I’ll be looking at one of my favorite McDonald’s toys I ever had, Manta Ray. Let’s dive right in, shall we?


First off, let me apologize for that pun, I’ve been informed that it was, in fact, terrible. Moving on, Manta Ray was released as part of McDonald’s 1996 Beast Wars promotion. She is based on, well, nothing really since she was effectively created to be a McDonald’s toy primarily. Despite her name, in Beast Mode, she is actually a mobula ray, those damn imposters. She stands about 3 inches tall fully transformed as a robot, although you can make her a little taller by leaving the beast head up. She has 6 points of articulation which is a little low for a Transformer, but it’s a McDonald’s toy, the bar can only be set so high. The sculpt is, again, what you’d expect from this kind of toy and nothing more. The legs look like legs, the arms look like arms. The head and torso are basically just blocks with some detailing, which is fine except that this is supposed to be a female character and the body does nothing to even suggest that maybe perhaps Manta Ray is not a dude. Although this may have something to do with how, in Japan, she is actually a he. Her face also looks like the front of a truck, but I guess she’s a robot so I’ll overlook that. The paint is sparse but acceptable with just a bit of bleed over on the gloves. Manta Ray comes with no accessories. It’s not a great figure by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to remember where it came from, and as a McDonald’s toy, it’s not bad at all.


As you’ve probably guessed, I got Manta Ray at a McDonald’s right alongside my chicken nuggets. I do recall being a little disappointed that I didn’t get the Rhinox toy, but retrospectively, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. Manta rays are clearly way cooler that rhinos. Besides, for a Beast Wars junkie kid, this figure easily met its fun quota which is all that really matters anyway.