Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I figured it was time to get back to the bread and butter of what I set out to do with this blog, namely, embarrassingly in-depth reviews of action figures. So, what better way to do that than with the action figure I've been waiting for my entire life:

Really, if they had just made this 30 years
ago, I would be normal. 

This is the Autobot, Arcee. She is pink. She is curvy. She is every Transformers fan's ideal female, err, fembot.

Arcee made her appearance in the 1986 animated feature film Transformers: The Movie (more on that earth-shattering event in a future post). In the movie, she was touted as a "forceful female warrior," but, save a couple of moments of bad-assery, was mostly relegated to being torn between the affections of Springer and Hot Rod (more on that in a future post as well, the name implications alone could fuel a dissertation). Arcee seemed to fill in the token girl element of the movie story.  Cartoon designer Floro Dery is quoted as saying she was in fact "the naked mechanical equivalent of Princess Leia of Star Wars" complete with bilateral hair buns.


While this wasn't the first time we had a seen a Transformer in a female configuration, she would become the most fleshed out of that variety. The very presence of a female race in the Transformers universe is compelling, as the canon states that Transformers are normally built or forged, not conceived.  I'll spare going into this any further, as I've listened to Transformers fans debate robots and procreation before, and well, it's not a pretty thing to listen to. That being said, a few writers have taken a crack at this.  My personal favorite was Simon Furman's recent take on Arcee.  In this retelling, her gender was a cruel joke by the Decepticon mad scientist Jiaxhus, who disassembled a (gender neutral) robot and reconfigured her in a female form, making her the only one of her kind. I thought this added a great deal of weight to her story, as well as a better explanation for genders among robots.  But alas, fanboys revolted, and that history has since been jettisoned.

This one's for all the ladies out there!

Arcee has made other appearences, some in name only, but nearly always keeping her characteristic pink and white deco.  She landed an action figure in Beast Wars, a bit part in Transformers: Energon, a central player in the storyline of Transformers: Animated, and finally a principle role in the recent Transformers: Prime series, where she traded in her Barbie coup for a blue street bike. She has proven herself an indespensible character in the mythos, I dare say to the likes of Prime and Megatron.

She can also be emotional. 

That is why it is remarkable that it took nearly thirty years for her to finally receive an action figure version of her original 1986 incarnation. It hasn't been for lack of wanting. Nearly every Hasbro press panel has featured a cry from fans to include their favorite fembot in the next year's toy lineup.  And really, for all of the talk of pink aisle/blue aisle in recent years, you would think that a toy company would have jumped at the chance to diversify their lineup, and their potential customers. But "boys don't play with girl action figures" was always the conventional wisdom. Hooey, I say. Do they not know the pain of having a complete cast from your favorite movie on a shelf for decades, but absent one of the central characters?! Cue nerd tears.

So it should come as no surprise really, that with this latest release, Arcee is sold out nearly everywhere. Like, nowhere to be found. She is, to be plain, action figure gold. And it's not just the pent up demand. This is an absolutely perfect figure.

Perfectly captured in package. 

Arcee features a pitch-perfect representation of her sporty convertible coup.  The lines are all correct, right down to the trunk mounted antenna.  The pink color is right on, with delightful blue highlights on the grill and headlights. The details are all there, right down to the two white seats.

Eat your heart out, Ken.

Her robot mode is, in a word, beautiful.  The designers made a robot that captured all of the best in this character. Even better, they did so in a way that was honest to real female proportions, and in no way gratuitous (said, the man).

Like this.  I hate this kind of shit. 

Arcee features two blasters that harken back to the 86 movie, each able to clip on to her legs (Hell. Yes.).  The colors are spot-on, and the face sculpt presents a neutral, yet pleasant smile with lightpiping that makes her eyes come alive.

She also comes with two energon swords that are more befitting her current comic appearance of a slightly homicidal, and ultimately vicious warrior. She is highly posable (stop it), with no balance issues.

I find this figure looks great next to either newer figures or the classic Generation 1 crew from which she has been missing for 28 years.  This is a great move for Hasbro.  The last year has seen an amazing degree of love on the part of the designers to revisit these core characters, and bring them to life with faithfulness to their original designs, with enough upgrades to highlight their timelessness. I've said it before, but there is something special about what started as a toy commercial.  Even in what may have been a cynical bid to insert a generic female character, the amount of attention Arcee has gotten over the decades speaks to something special about (her).

We can all breathe now. Welcome home, friend.

*I found all but the action figure pictures on the internet, and claim no rights to them.

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