I'm an old-school Transformers fan, raised on the brand since '84, it was my go to Christmas/Birthday present and the comic from Marvel would be in my eager mitts every week (or fortnight) for almost the entire run. True, the US stories were largely crap after the first hundred issues, but the UK originated stories were pure gold. When the comics ended in the early 90's, I moved my interests to anime, but always kept an eye on Transformers. My interest was reignited when Binaltech was introduced, old favourites modernised and immortalised in die-cast for a new era. Exciting times.
When we got the first Bay movie, it seemed impossible. The story and characters I'd loved as a kid were now on the big screen, though now they didn't look like they used to - the iconic silhouettes gone, twisty monster forms with occasional car parts hanging about were the new aesthetic, and honestly I thought it was utter bobbins. I liked the first movie fine, bought none of the toys nor followed any anciliary media, this was the brand in name and concept only, and it wasn't for me. Three more awful films didn't help the case, and then something extraordinary happened. Travis Knight directed the Bumblebee movie.
And it was bloody great.
Part of what made it so good, aside from the simplified story that allowed the characters room to breathe, was the late addition of a battle scene on Cybertron to lead into the film. Featuring a ton of G1-esque character designs, these were actually recognisable as the characters they represented, updated with a more modern aesthetic. Many looked amazing, none more so than Arcee, with he distinctive pink & white deco standing out against the barren metal wasteland. While her appearance was only brief, it was much appreciated by fans. Threezero has taken the baton and created another in their line of high-end action-figures, and I'm so glad they did.
Oof, just look at those curves and all the mechanical detail!
The first thing you notice out of the box, aside from the stunning colours, is the heft. There's a full die-cast skeleton to hang the design from, with the joint tolerances absolutely perfect and articulation everywhere you want it. There are limitations to this articulation, with elbows and knees only moving a smidge over ninety degrees which is a shame for a non-transforming figure. However, she meets one of my primary tests for a female figure, and that's articulation in the hips, waist and abdomen to give her a nice natural feminine stance. This she pulls off absolutely flawlessly and it adds a ton of character to the figure.
The sculpt is very faithful to the source material, which means she gets a fairly slender form with some stylistic flourishes, most notably the wing style flares of her boots, making her look athletic and slightly beastly (helped no end by the two metal toes on each foot, peeking out from under the plate armour). There's a panel split on the legs that show her internal workings which is a nice design flourish, and she has a wonderful balance of curved outer-armour and oiled war machine. The essence of the character remains while adding a modern and more cyberpunk edge to her. It's a good look.
Those metal innards are a real work of art too, with the gunmetal core accented by a wonderful wash and bronze parts that breathe life into this mechanical wonder. It's not quite up there with, say, the Bandai Chogokin RX-78 Yokohama Gundam, where the legal panels glide up and down the skeletal structure as you move things around, but it's very close. One little touch that I like is the way in which the forearm armour rotates so that you can bend her elbows. This allows her to retain a seamless armoured look no matter how you have the arms, and while some have complained that it's fiddly, I can't think of a better way to do it.
The figure comes with two faces; a movie accurate face and a slightly less abrasive one which is my favourite. The eyes will light up if you add some watch batteries, but to do this you have to remove the helmet to access the power switch. Given that their Prime from the same series incorporated the button into the crest, this is really disappointing as it's very fiddly to open up and you have the added risk of breaking her antenna.
Speaking of Optimus Prime, Arcee is, as expected, a perfect companion piece to the Threezero Prime. Being quite a lot smaller than the Autobot leader, it both elevates the feel of heft inherent with that character, while simultaneously making Arcee look lighter and more agile. I'm now looking for a shelf to clear so I can just have these two on display together.
So the substance is there, how about the finish? Materials are top notch and the paint is well applied. There's a nice juxtaposition between the mechanical detail and armour, with the former having a lovely wash and lots of little pieces of different colours to add some texture and complexity. Her armour is lightly scuffed, just areas of paint worn down to the silver beneath across the edges and jutting points like her kneepads. I like this lightly-worn look as opposed to being full-on battle scarred as I want to appreciate the design in its best light.
There are some niggles, mostly down to the electronics. I found that her eyes would be switched off when I closed the helmet, which was incredibly annoying the four or five times it happened in a row. With the dainty antenna located on that top panel, it's a very worrying part of the toy to be messing with. I also found one shoulder pad liked to fall off when being manipulated, but a spot of glue fixed that right up. Neither issue is welcome, but they don't ruin the experience.
Minor niggles aside, there's no doubt in my mind that Threezero have absolutely mastered their Transformers movie line, Arcee only the latest in a long line of accurate sculpts with a premium finish. If you have the slightest interest in this figure, pick one up before she sells out, you really won't regret it.