Finally, Takara does the right thing and releases a Masterpiece-class fembot, and about time too (no, I'm not counting red-Tracks Road-Rage here, come at me!)
The single female character included in the 1986 Transformers: The Movie, she was inserted on the insistence of screenwriter Ron Friedman, who fought a resistant Hasbra/Takara to get a female lead in for the sake of his daughter. Arcee is a "big sister" type in the film, who has an antagonistic relationship with young Hot Rod, a romantic involvement with Springer (season 3) and Chromedome (the Japanese-only Headmasters cartoon). Sporting a pink, white and grey colour scheme, she's became a firm favourite with fans, appearing as recently as the Netflix: War for Cybertron trilogy of original anime.
Over the last 12 months, we've had two other Arcee toys - the tie-in Earthrise deluxe-class toy, and the Transformers: Cybertron version which is a stylised take on the character. It took over 25 years to get an official Arcee toy, and now you can't move for them all!
What's in the Box?
So what has Takara given us at the top end of their collection? Masterpiece Arcee stands a touch under 8" in height and comes with the following accessories:
- 4 x faces (smiling, open-mouth smiling, marginally different open-mouth smiling, mild concern)
- Gun Holster
- Large rifle, short rife, handgun
- 3 x blast effects
- 1 x car pole for knackering the wheels on other cars, as seen once in the movie
The world's least emotive actress.
The faces are comically similar, as if she's had plastic surgery and can no longer properly emote. Why they bothered with moulding these is beyond me, she has no attacking/angry face, so she'll look completely out of place in any battle scene next to other MP figures that have that option as standard. Guess she never loses her cool! You can change them by lifting the helmet and sliding a face in or out. There are two grooves at each side, and if you want to deploy her shades you'll have to move her face back to the rear grooves. It's very fiddly.
The guns are nice, though if I were being picky I'd say pink is a silly colour for a rifle, and the handgun is tiny, even compared to third party efforts where the figure is shorter. And there's only one, when the scene she actually used them in featured two, so no re-creating that unless you buy two Arcee figures. Two of the weapons have nice paint, the third has to go in the holster and remains unpainted, but that makes sense in practical terms.
She has curves!
As a car, Arcee has lovely curves, easily the best and most accurate version of her alt-mode created to date in any format. The grey doors break things up nicely, the wheel arches are suggestively flared and even the dash gets lashings of paint. Takara has nailed this mode, and all those curves are indicative of what's to come.
Transformation isn't too bad - she's not a complete shell-former, with her backpack twisting and contorting into the shell she ends up carrying, but the windshield (which must be twisted in a very specific way) is a bit nerve-racking. It's the end result that counts though, so let's see how that stacks up...
Well, first off, let's look at those terrific legs. What an absolute work of art, with their soft, unbroken curves, all stemming from an oddly curvaceous hip and waist combo that's nowhere near as squared off as her animated counterpart. There's certainly a touch of the "waifu" going on here, and given how fast this has sold out in Japan, I guess Takara know their audience.
The chest area, which has come in for the most criticism, isn't that bad in-hand, though objectively it doesn't look right. The jagged angle at which her chestplate juts forth just looks like that area has slipped down too far. This is really due to Takara not smoothing down the lines to minimise the near 90-degree "breasts", and no matter how much they insist it's anatomically accurate, it doesn't fall in line with the animation model or look natural. As I say, in-hand it doesn't seem as jarring, but I suspect third party "upgrades" will be rife.
Lastly, there's the backpack. Now this was always going to be a challenge, you're taking a curvy female figure and reconfiguring it into a car, not a process that lends itself well to real-world physics. The answer has always been to store the majority of the alt-mode in a backpack, but where the two biggest third-party competitors (Fanstoys Rouge and MMC's Azalea) separated the pauldrons on her shoulders, Takara have just kept it as a single lump, where everything just feels "mushed" into as small a space as possible to clear the figure of obstruction. In reality it provides greater obstruction because it has no ability to move out of the way.
If there were ever a moment for Takara to introduce that "Masterpiece" moment, where they traditionally introduce a feat of engineering that just drops jaws, this was it. Sadly they opted to make two panels automatically fill some gaps in the legs, a nice touch but not what was required here. Ultimately it looks nothing like the animation model and I'd argue Azalea managed it with far more elan. The backpack alone is one sin you can live with, but coupled with the awkward chest and the figure just doesn't cut it above the waist aesthetically, and that's a damn shame.
The good stuff
So that sounds rather negative overall, but let's rewind a bit and appreciate what works here. She's poseable. I mean, ridiculously, action figure level poseable and that's no mean feat. She can fold her arms and her legs in a way that looks natural. She could belly-dance with all the waist articulation, and the curves on her legs, ankles and feet are outrageously good. Overall it's hard to make her look bad when posing her for the shelf, and because Takara's QC seems to have stopped napping (looking at you, Hound!) you can fiddle with her all day and not worry about breaking her.
And you'll want to play with her - words can't express how fun this toy is to play with. There's always a new pose to find, new ideas and environments to pop her into where she just pops - take her visor, it's adorable and puts me in mind of Princess from Battle of the Planets (or Gatchaman if we're going to be all real-anime about it!) and you can pair her up with Hot Rod, just shades, guns and glory.
They may exhibit almost-sibling levels of snark, but they can blow stuff up real nice when they're together!
So no, she's not the Arcee we always dreamed of, and yes if that's what you want prepare to spend a lot more money on third party "fixes", but she's a lot of fun and her hips don't lie.
This item was purchased from Omegalock.co.uk