"Generations" Arcee Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: October 2014
Price Point: $15.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Swords x 2, Large blaster, Small blaster

*Images above with asterisks and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Arcee is one of the most dangerous Autobots, despite her comparatively small size. She believes the Decepticons must be stopped at all costs. That belief, combined with her combat training, makes her a pure warrior, a hunter who mixes speed and sudden action to strike Decepticon targets whenever she can. Convert, arm and attack with all the Transformers action you can handle! This Arcee figure is a hardcore warrior in robot mode, and she carries a sword in one hand and a blaster in the other for battle against Decepticon foes. When she needs to chase down the foe, she can convert to Cybertronian Cruiser mode! Whatever mode your Arcee figure is in, her enemies will think twice before taking her on! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

In 1986 "Transformers: The Movie" debuted and introduced "Transformers" fans to a new character: Arcee. This "female" Autobot became a fan favorite. While she was very stereotypical "female" in appearance (white and pink in color with curves not seen on most other Transformers) the character made an impression on fans that lasts to this day. For years fans wanted an Arcee action figure, and in some ways they got their wish. The Botcon 2001 exclusive was a redeco of Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia from "Beast Wars" representing a future version of Arcee. Then in 2004 Hasbro and Takara released an original sculpt representing Arcee in the "Energon" series. This opened up the floodgates for other Arcee figures. This includes:

Other toys that have come out that I didn't get to review yet include a KRE-O Arcee, a Robot Hero figure, a "Hero of Cybertron" figure and the Armada Micron named Arcee in Japan. It's safe to say the character was not forgotten and yet, none of these figures gave fans what they wanted, at least not completely. What did fans want? Generation One Arcee, the way she appeared in the animated series and movie. Sure plenty of other figures paid homage to her and the "Animated" version was based on that design, but it was very much designed with "Animated" in mind and doesn't realy blend in with other lines.

So it is that twenty eight years after the character's introduction Arcee finally has a transformable action figure based on her G1 animated appearance! Fans have been waiting for this figure for what feels like forever, and there was no small amount of enthusiasm when she was announced by Hasbro! Now part of the "Generations" line of figures, Arcee is a Deluxe Class figure who sold out within hours of being posted online. Even as she was spotted at retail she vanished off toy store shelves. I think it's safe to say that fan enthusiasm for this figure easily translated into sales! I was personally thrilled to finally get my hands on this figure after hearing about sightings for a couple months.

Before I begin this review it should be noted that there are two versions of this Arcee figure. The version I have has "open" hands, meaning there is a gap between the pointer finger and the thumb on both hands. There is also a small bit of plastic on the edge of the palm which keeps weapons from sliding all the way in. The other version has "closed" hands, where the fingers are all linked so it looks more like a fist (or that Arcee is making the letter "O" with her hands). This version also lacks the small bit of plastic on the edge of the palm, so the weapons slide all the way into the fist. As of this writing, I am unsure which of these came first, though I speculate the one with the closed fist came first but that's mostly a guess. It would make sense that the "closed hand" variant was made first to hold the weapon, but for whatever reason the small plastic piece was added later otherwise the weapons should/would've been designed with shorter handles. Again this is just a guess on my part.

Robot Mode:
For anyone who has ever seen the original "Transformers" cartoon series, you'll instantly recognize Arcee's robot mode. Her overall shape matches that design complete with a "back pack" that rises over her shoulders, round shoulders, thin arms, a chest panel that sticks out in the front (resembling human breasts), a thin waist with wide hips and curved legs. Some may argue that this form is unrealistic, makes no sense and seems silly for a transforming robot and you know, you'd be right. My advice? Don't think too hard about it. Just keep in mind Arcee was designed back in the mid-80's. It was a different time with different standards of what made sense in a show and what didn't. If you spend all your time in "Transformers" fandom trying to make sense of things you're going to drive yourself crazy pretty quickly.

There are several smaller features that carry over from the G1 animation model. These include:

  • The head design has distinct round, "buns" on the sides of the head (some speculate this was influenced by Princess Leia) and a crest in the center. Her face is very human looking as well.
  • The upper arms have a line detail that wraps around and comes up in a rectangular shape on the outside.
  • The middle of the torso has a curved pattern that comes to a point in the center. Under that is a series of vertical lines.
  • The mid-body/abdominal area has a small panel on it with what appear to be buttons. Right under that is a trapezoid.
  • The outside of Arcee's elbows have distinct, raised circle.
  • Arcee's thighs have distinct line details that wrap around horizontally. Her lower legs have one line that curves around and downward.
  • Arcee's knees have a distinct strip of rectangular armor on the front.
  • The ankle area has an armor piece over the ankles.
  • The hip area has a distinct set of armor panels that angle downward and then up over the hips, the Transformers equivalent of a bikini bottom.

There are some differences in the design of this figure and its G1 source. First, the "back pack" is a good chunk of the car mode (making Arcee a shellformer). This includes the front of the car and the rear section tucked in. The other change is on the sides of the thighs. an extra oval shaped layer has been added most likely to give extra thickness to accommodate the weapon attachment/storage built into the legs. Even with these differences however, the figure is instantly recognizable as G1 Arcee. The design compromises are understandable and don't detract from how good the figure looks at all.

Arcee is cast in pink, white, black and translucent blue plastic. The pink and white are the main colors, with the black used on smaller parts like her hip joints and the blue used on her head for light piping eyes. Paint details are done in pink, black, blue and white. Most of the white paint is used for contrasting details such as those on her arms. Pink is used on parts like her waist, hips and knees. A lighter shade of pink is used for her face (with a red line for her mouth). Black and blue are used for smaller bits such as the row of vertical lines on her torso and her feet. Arcee's colors were not always 100% consistent in the G1 cartoon, so in one scene she would have white parts and in another they'd be light grey. Interestingly light grey wasn't used at all on this figure. Instead the designers seemed to want to use black as a heavy contrast color. It does help level out the figure a bit so it's not all light, bright colors. It's also a bit of a callback to "Energon" Arcee who used black along with pink and white in her color scheme. The deco looks great, but I am surprised one major detail was left out: an Autobot symbol on her chest. This was one key detail on the animated model and it's odd not to see one there.

There are seventeen points of articulation on this figure. This includes three on each arm and five on each leg. That doesn't sound like a lot, but the range of motion is actually pretty great. The shoulders are ball joints, so you can move them around into various poses. The hip joints allow a wide range of motion out to the side and forward/back. The joints range from tight to "just right" so the figure can stand and pose just fine (though some poses require support of course). There are ports on each thigh that allow you to attach weapons to them. Attach her blasters and she looks like an old fashioned gunslinger. The swords can attach there too. The sections behind her shoulders also have similar ports, allowing you to store weapons back there though I could not get the swords to stay since the blades extend down and get moved at an angle. The blasters fit there much better and can be set in a position where the barrels are pointed up or forward as "over the shoulder" cannons.

Arcee includes four weapons: two swords, a large blaster and smaller blaster. The swords are a callback to her "Animated" counterpart and the IDW Publishing version of the character. They have a blade with smaller, serrated sections at the bottom and a hand guard. Each sword has a tab on it that allows you to attach the swords to her forarms or storage slots on the thighs. The large blaster has a handle and then two tabs on the sides with one in the back. This gives the weapon four potential connection points to the figure. The handle is pretty long but doesn't slide all the way into her hand because of the aforementioned tab at the bottom of the hand. It holds well and won't fall out easily so no worries there, it just looks a little strange. The smaller blaster is based on the design of the weapon Arcee was shown using in "Transformers: The Movie". It too has three tabs on it in addition to the handle. This allows you to attach it to her thighs, hands or the storage slots behind her shoulders. Interestingly enough, both blasters have painted details on them - something rather uncommon nowadays. The larger blaster is cast in pink plastic with black and grey detailing. The smaller blaster is cast in black with light grey detailing. It was really cool to see so much attention paid to the accessories and they serve a huge part of the toy's play value.

Interestingly enough, the smaller blaster here was shown in the stock photography for Arcee's "case mate" Chromia. The packaging on Chromia had to have a sticker added on indicating she didn't come with that blaster. My guess is the photographer mixed up weapons for the two figures causing this confusion.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach all the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Point each foot down.
  4. Pull the front panel that goes from the chest down to the waist out and up.
  5. Swing the panel on the back up.
  6. Swing the robot head back.
  7. Push the chest section up in between the two sections that were behind the shoulders, this forms the front of the car mode.
  8. Swing the waist panel in, covering up the robot head.
  9. Swing each robot arm up at the shoulders, bringing them together on the bottom of the vehicle.
  10. Swing each of the legs at the hip out.
  11. Swing eac leg up, tucking the robot feet right next to the front wheels of the car mode.
  12. Swing the rear most panel of the vehicle mode out.
  13. Swing the rear panel down and push it into place.
  14. The small blaster attaches to the port where the robot hands wind up. You can then slide each hand into the tabs on the sides of the weapon, giving the overall form more stability.
  15. On the rear section of the vehicle, there is an angled, rectangular port that allows you to attach the larger blaster using one of its side tabs.

The swords can be attached to the ports on the side or back of the vehicle.

Vehicle Mode:
Many of the characters introduced in the 1986 "Transformers: The Movie" film had "futuristic" vehicle modes. In Arcee's case she's described as a "Cybertronian Cruiser" in the toy description, and that's about as good as any. It's a (relatively) long vehicle that is sleek, curved and seats two passengers. Depending on what episode you watch (and in some cases, which scene in the same episode) the proportions of this vehicle mode vary from being a wide looking car to a narrow one. For this release the designers chose the more elegant looking option. The overall shape is wide in the front but then curves to a more narrow section in the middle before widening out in the back again. This is very similar to the overall shape of her robot mode so it is quite appropriate.

Like the robot mode, this vehicle form features several elements that were found in the G1 cartoon design. These include:

  • The front end has angled headlights with a section in the front featuring a row of vertical lines and a design that comes to a point in the middle right above it.
  • The top of the hood section has a thin air intake.
  • The rear section is curved with a raised section in the back.
  • The raised section on the back has a pointed piece on the back in the middle.
  • The wheels are located on the inside of the vehicle, with panels on the outside covering up half of each one. There are bulges that extend out indicating where the wheel well is.

There have been some design changes. First, the curves on the vehicle are a bit more pronounced than those on the original animation model, which generally used a flat front end. Also the G1 animation model had doors on the sides. Here Arcee's legs form part of the vehicle's side but there are no "door" details such as a handle or anything.

Now here's an interesting design note: this vehicle mode features an open cabin section, with just a windshield in the front and two (nicely detailed) seats inside. If you watch "Transformers: The Movie" you'll see Arcee is drawn with a closed cabin section including a top and side windows. I think it would be difficult to say either one of these is "right". In the original model sheets for the character (featured in the Marvel "Transformers Universe" profile book) Arcee is clearly shown with an open cabin section with no top and a windshield in front. I think the "real life" answer is simply the animators drew what worked for them at the time. If you need an "in story" explanation I think it would be fair to think that Arcee was probably a convertible.

In this form Arcee is mostly pink and white plastic. Translucent blue is used for the windshield and the wheels are black. Arcee's vehicle mode was generally pink with some white details here and there on the TV show, but here the white at the rear section helps balance out the pink in the front. Pink, black and white paint help fill out some details such as a black stripe going down the back of the vehicle and white painted on the hood's air intake. The headlights and the section between them are painted blue, offering some darker contrast to the pink and white colors. A large Autobot symbol is tampographed right in front of the air intake on the hood. The symbol is red on a white background. While this color scheme is not 100% "cartoon accurate", I think it looks great and does a nice job of conveying the spirit of Arcee's look in vehicle mode.

Arcee has four connection points for her weapons. The ports from her thighs wind up on the rear section at the sides of the vehicle. The rear panel on the vehicle also has two ports on top. This allows you to attach all the weapons on the topside of this vehicle. You aren't necesarily forced to store the blasters under the vehicle. The wheels roll fine, though there is not a lot of clearance between the ground and the figure so I'd be very careful if you're rolling this along a rough surface.

Final Thoughts:
After waiting almost three decades for this figure, it's hard not to be ecstatic to have a true "G1 style" Arcee figure at long last. I also appreciate the light nods to other Arcee figures as well. The design is very true to the G1 character and clearly does its best to bring together the various animation models into one cohesive figure. Even better? The weapons and posability offer some fun play value and she looks good all at the same time. Owning this figure is not just adding another Autobot to your collection, it's getting a piece of "Transformers" history that has been twenty eight years in the making!

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