Deluxe-class Autobot Arcee
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
The origins of the character Arcee in the fan-termed ‘Bayformers’ universe is conflicting. Toy maker Hasbro says that Arcee is a proficient hunter in finding and deactivating Decepticons, and was given a “strike team” of similar-shaped/-thinking fembots.
However, in the continuity of the film itself, Arcee is established as the leader of three parts of three different characters. Each of the three female Autobots actually share the same mind and personality, with them all being considered “Arcee” and not having individual names or unique actions, but neither are two of them drones which are under the command of the ‘main’ pink fembot, Arcee. (Their holographic riders in vehicle mode look the same as well.) For the sake of the toys, they go by individual names, but in the film’s pre-production artwork, they were called the “Arcee triplets” or the “Bike Group”. (Granted, this can be confusing in the film by the fact that the Autobot brothers Mudflap and Skids are indeed twins, but have differing minds and personalities, and it isn’t made entirely clear that the three females do indeed have the same mind despite having different bodies.)
…or is that the other way around? I don’t know- I’m confused! Regardless, for the sake of preserving my own sanity (and not, specifically, in protest of how she is portrayed in the film), I shall treat Arcee as a unique individual while writing this review.
As a smaller-sized Autobot, Arcee is frequently deployed as a scout or decoy- her speed and smaller profile allowing her to sneak past Decepticon sensors with little notice. And since she is not expected to engage the enemy directly, the single rapid-fire machine gun in her right arm isn’t as strong as larger Autobots’, but her agility and deftness on her unicycle leg- in coordination with her sisters, Chromia and Flareup- can easily overwhelm similar- or even larger-sized Decepticons, cutting away at their armor with her retractable knife.
In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, Arcee is performed by voice-actress Grey DeLisle who has worked in numerous cartoons, video games, and dubbing for anime. However, her holographic rider (and thus, those of all three Autobot sisters) is portrayed by model and actress Erin Nass- this is her feature film debut, though [the only other significant reference I can find is that] she served as one of the suitcase-carrying models on the American game show “Deal Or No Deal” (2007-08 season-only).
Arcee’s Vehicle Mode is based on the real 2008 Ducati 848 sport motorcycle.
Though really present for use in her Robot Mode (see below), Arcee can have a flattened sidecar to the left side of her back wheel. It is completely hollow, and features two non-moving machine guns.
But, if desired, Arcee has her own functional kickstand which can hold her up without the sidecar.
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
Since this is a brand new toy which was not released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Deluxe-class Autobot Arcee has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Since Arcee has a unicycle design and cannot possibly hold herself upright as a toy, the sidecar from Vehicle Mode is actually used as a display stand, comfortably fitting under her wheels and keeping her standing vertically.
Arcee has functional light piping in her blue eyes. (Oddly, the windscreen in Vehicle Mode- which should obviously be!- is the only part aside from the eyes and headlights that isn’t transparent.)
She has a light blue knife which springs-out lightly from inside the blaster barrel on her right arm. It cannot be removed from the barrel.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figure’s body can be animated beyond simply posing it- panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
For the Deluxe-class Autobot Arcee toy, it has one Mech Alive feature:
- Between the pinks armor sections on her chest, her neck is tied into a small black cylindrical gear. While her head is mounted on an independently-functional ball-and-socket joint, her neck can be tilted forward a good deal, and the cylinder in her chest will twist in the opposite direction accordingly.
Why alien robots should have genders which mimic the stereotypes of human females is not known at this time, and most past TV series leave this unaddressed. (Indeed, Arcee was written into the first film, but her final size in robot mode compared to the larger robots around her, and introducing the gender issue too early in the franchise, ended up having her replaced with Ironhide.) So, there must be markers to distinguish her from her fellow ‘male’ robots, meh, which would be identifiable as such to our eyes. Does Arcee do this? Yes and no. While the S-bend unicycle leg completely throws her appearance off, only her torso comes anywhere near being identifiably ‘female’. The width of her shoulders- for a Deluxe-class figure, that is- is certainly part of it, and I suppose that her ‘waist’ could be considered thin enough as well. The rounded fuel tank in Vehicle Mode becomes the front of her torso, and so makes her perhaps the most-curvy of the three very-oddly-shaped toy sisters! I laugh at the idea that we have to look into her obscenely-plunging neckline in order to see her Mech Alive. (Ulterior motives by the toy maker, or just a coincidence…? I don’t see where else a movable-armor feature could have gone on the toy otherwise.) Her face, though, is too angular and small in toy form to suggest she’s female either.
Actually, now that I compare her with her drone/sister Chromia, I found that- aside from coloring- her head is of the exact same design! While the lamia parallel is now undeniable, that “S”-bend is really not easy to work with, and you spend a lot of time in Robot Mode trying to compromise with yourself on how far off-center you want her torso to be. The official artwork above shows her torso twisted to one side which the toy can easily recreate, but we have never encountered a Transformer with such an asymmetrical design, and so it’s difficult to accept that she is not 100% upright. But, again, this is a feature of how the character appears in the movie, so I won’t blame TakaraTomy and Hasbro for that. I will say, though, that just about all surface details are very well designed and executed, with a lot of screen-accuracy involved. Also like the toy of Chromia, she has a similar un-used bar on her back which is not utilized in either mode or during the transformation. Additionally, there’s an extra hole on the bottom of the sidecar that isn’t use either. And, the nose of the motorcycle can open up further beyond being a simple arm. Perhaps the release of the final purple sister/drone, Elita-One, will give us some answers at last…? The biggest inconsistencies in Robot Mode is the large panels enveloping her left arm (which cover her non-functional hand), and how the exhaust pipes & rider’s seat become just this huge lower right arm. While for the right arm it would have been difficult to collapse down further even though that’s how it is in the movie, the left arm could have has one-or-two more joints in it to fold up that pink plastic a bit more. (Man- the trigger on that forearm cannon is annoyingly sensitive!) The Robot Mode feels a little limited in paint apps, particularly on the S-bend, and it would have been nice to see some more silver paint than just on her face.
Despite the highly-awkward & -unorthodox design of the character, and somewhat-questionable posing, the Deluxe-class Autobot Arcee set is still awesome to look at and gives us a good representation of what we see on-screen. Recommended for those who can laugh at alien robot cleavage.
|Posted 24 January, 2010 - 04:02 by EVA_Unit_4A|