Monday 12 December 2022

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Studio Series 86 Arcee

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Release Date: July 2022
RRP: $24.99/£25.99

The Studio Series 86 line is rapidly running out of characters that prominently appeared in Transformers: The Movie, particularly when you take the ones that have recently appeared in the War for Cybertron trilogy lines into account as well. However that clearly isn't going to stop Hasbro from celebrating this landmark piece of Transformers media, as Studio Series 86 Arcee has arrived while the Earthrise (also re-released as part of Kingdom) version is still in recent memory. However contrary to what you might think, this Studio Series version is not just a cartoon-accurate repaint of the Earthrise version – instead looking even further back in Arcee's toy history alongside some brand-new tooling.

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"When the DECEPTICONS launch their attack, ARCEE converts AUTOBOT CITY."

Arcee is among the first of the deluxe class Studio Series 86 releases to appear in Hasbro's new "plastic free" packaging, which takes away the transparent window of the older boxes so the figure itself is unprotected. Many have (correctly) argued that this could cause all kinds of issues when it comes to buying figures physically in store, but for those who mostly have to buy online (such as myself) it doesn't really present any real change. Other than that the design of the packaging remains exactly the same, with new artwork of Arcee adorning the front and sides of the box while the back features images of the figure (in both modes) alongside a very short character bio. Inside the moulded plastic trays the figures have previously been housed on have also been dropped – replaced with a cardboard backing card that the figure has been tied down to.

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Like all Studio Series figures Arcee also comes with a backing card that doubles as a display diorama, and even though it's one we've previously seen before there is one little difference this time around. Due to Hasbro's new plastic-free packaging, Arcee technically comes with two "Battle of Autobot City" backgrounds – one that acts at the backing card the figure is attached to and then the real one behind it. This diorama was previously included (at this size no less) with Studio Series 86 Blurr but it does make sense for it to show up again here – after all this is the scene where we're first introduced to Arcee in the movie.

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Rather than a completely new figure, Studio Series 86 Arcee is in fact a reworking of the Generations/Thrilling 30 figure from 2014. "Extensive retool" would be putting it lightly though, with the figure sporting an all-new lower body, forearms and back half of the car in service of becoming a better representation of the G1 animation model. Granted it still has a lot more car hanging off the back of it than Arcee did in the movie, but it's unlikely that a figure of this size and price point would ever fully overcome that. Overall it's a very good looking figure that on first glance might not seem like it's doing too much differently from the Earthrise figure, but the slight differences in sculpt and proportions come together to make a much sleeker-looking figure. But great as she may look, there are some minor issues when it comes to stability. One step of her transformation requires folding out the torso, but when compressing it back down into robot mode the parts don't lock together – leading them to frequently (and frustratingly) stretching out when handling the figure. It isn't a deal breaker, but I can't imagine it would have taken much to get these pieces to lock together and make a solid torso.

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Side by side with the Earthrise figure and we can see that there is a fair bit of difference between the two. Admittedly both are wearing quite a lot of car parts on their back, but while the Studio Series' hangs a little more down the body it's nowhere near as obtrusive or bulky as the Earthrise's backpack. That said, you can remove half of the Earthrise's one to make the hoverboard so your mileage may vary there. The Studio Series figure adopts a far more muted shade of pink compared to the Earthrise's loud colour scheme, while the head sculpt strives for more cartoon accurate with its coloured face and painted lips. Most other deco differences purely come in the name of cartoon accuracy, but thankfully the Studio Series has much better feet than the Earthrise's godawful clown shoes. While it would perhaps be a little unfair to say the Studio Series does EVERYTHING better (the Earthrise head sculpt is a little more generic and a lot less creepy so might be more appealing to some), it definitely does most things better – all while fitting the Studio Series mantra of being as close to the cartoon design as possible.

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This version of Arcee changes quite a bit up when it comes to articulation, fixing one of the most glaring issues of the Earthrise figure while at the same time taking a bit of a step back elsewhere. Altogether the Studio Series 86 version features; 
- Ball jointed head and shoulders 
- Hinged elbows, knees, ankles and feet 
- Swivel hinge hips 
- Waist, bicep and thigh swivels 
While at first this might seem largely the same as the Earthrise figure the addition of ankle tilts makes a HUGE difference to the overall poseability of the figure, allowing Arcee to properly take on action poses without her feet leaning on their sides awkwardly. Combine that with that much-needed waist joint as well as ball jointed shoulders and you've got quite a bit of mobility on that sleek humanoid body. This Arcee does fall slightly short when it comes to her hands though, lacking the hinged wrists of her Earthrise counterpart. Interestingly the Studio Series figure also has single hinged knees as opposed to the Earthrise's double, which does lessen the bend a fair bit.

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Arcee's sole accessory is her blaster pistol, retained from the original Generations/Thrilling 30 release. This time around though it has been moulded in grey plastic, and like before can either be gripped in the hands or clipped to the holes on either thigh in a holstered fashion. The hands' grip isn't especially tight, but nevertheless it does the job. The gun itself has plenty of moulded detail, and is a reasonable enough approximation of the weapon she used in the cartoon even with its one colour and the additional plug moulding.

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However the main thing makes the Studio Series 86 Arcee stand out from its predecessor is that it actually has a proper transformation. This is where the Generations/Thrilling 30 retooling comes in, as while the figure may contain a multitude of new parts the transformation scheme remains largely the same. Admittedly it's still very much a case of hiding the robot body inside of the car, but unlike the Earthrise version this figure has considerably more steps – contorting the body in various ways to actually hide it rather than just be peeking out underneath. Arcee's alt mode is a futuristic pink sports car and a very close match to the onscreen mode, so much as it even has the grey stripes on either side. Everything clicks together really well on this release to make the alt mode feel nice and solid, while the weapon clips onto the underside of the vehicle to be completely hidden whilst in vehicle form.

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In addition to the more muted colour scheme the Studio Series figure sports a slightly sleeker and curvier alt mode to its Earthrise counterpart, which feels much more like a solid block of car in comparison. Little touches like the wheels being more visible also do a great deal in making it appear far more screen accurate, a fact which feels all the more impressive given that the Studio Series figure has an actual transformation as opposed to just shoving a humanoid robot into the underside of a car and then clipping it all together.

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With the weapon storage being located inside for once and not just clipped on like some weird drive-by shooter, there's not a whole lot to say about Arcee's alt mode in terms of functionality. It's a car, it has four free-rolling wheels to roll along surfaces – that's about it really. It doesn't do much, but it does what it can do well – looking great alongside the other '86 Autobots in their "futuristic" alt modes from the far-off year of 2005.

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Studio Series 86 Arcee isn't perfect, but given the complexities in getting a screen-accurate version of the character to feasibly transform it's unlikely one at this size and price point ever will be. What it is though is a considerable step up from the woeful Earthrise version, and a worthy addition to the growing collection of Studio Series 86 figures. Sporting a closer look to the onscreen model, better articulation and (most importantly of all) an actual transformation, this is one time you definitely shouldn't hesitate about upgrading even if this is technically a retool rather than an all-new figure.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good review. I was really surprised at how much fun she is as an actual transformer (sorry ER arcee).the articulation level is great and make her very expressive.

I was a bit surprised you didn't mention that she has an awesome AB CRUNCH ! I'm so used to deluxe class articulations that i forgot how rigid our dear cybertronians generally are.
She can even pull off poses on par with the masterpiece.