And now for something completely different. This next pick has nothing whatsoever to do with 1986, but it does have a lot to do with 1996 and shared this anniversary year.
It began with this image. Transformers Kingdom was an exceptionally leaky line and these leaks are already continuing into Transformers Legacy, and it all started with this image which surfaced on 4chan, fittingly titled “kingdom leak 1.jpg” This is how we learned what Kingdom would be offering us, and it was immediately mind-blowing. A Blackarachnia this good looking?
Blackarachnia must be a difficult design. There’s plenty of Beast Wars cartoon designs that share little between their two modes. But while, say, Dinobot at least has a large torso in which today’s toy designers can cram as much dinosaur as possible, Blackarachnia does not. There is seemingly nowhere to cram the spider’s mass. The original toy offers no clues, as the cartoon design bears no resemblance whatsoever to it. Takara’s Masterpiece did an admirable job, but that spider mode was less than ideal, and for a retail price that was even less so.
So what a shock it was when Kingdom Blackarachnia’s spider mode turned out to be kinda better. On one hand it makes no attempt to capture the cartoon model’s details, favoring greater resemblance to an actual animal, which turned out to be Kingdom’s modus operandi. The “face” is wrong and the spider legs are black. On the other hand, the robot limbs are much more elegantly hidden, to the extent they can be hidden. And all this for a retail Deluxe price.
So naturally the first thing I did with this image was digibash it into colors like the original 1996 toy. This is where I and the toy I’m here to talk about finally enter this story. For whatever reason, I adore the early weird side of Beast Wars. Bat Optimus Primal. Crocodile Megatron (It’s not an alligator). Polar Claw’s early Grizzly-1 identity. Silver heads. Everyone’s orange. It’s weird and I love it. However, many of these early color schemes were changed before release, and the show worked with the finished toys, maybe adding or dropping a color. Blackarachnia stands out as a weird one, a released toy in a color scheme the show model completely disregarded in favor of something entirely made up. I had that toy, and I resolved that I would buy the Kingdom toy in these colors if Hasbro were crazy enough to do that.
They were crazy enough to do that. I’m a man of my word and so here she is. This is the toy I’m really here to talk about. This is Buzzworthy Bumblebee Blackarachnia, which was released this year as part of a “Worlds Collide” four-pack along with Nemesis Primal, Fangry, and, fittingly given the line’s name, a Bumblebee. I’m flat broke and didn’t care for the rest of the set anyway so I found a Blackarachnia sold individually for a price I found reasonable. I was immediately shocked by how small and delicate the thing looked in hand. This was my first and only taste of Kingdom, and I was caught off guard after so many years of nothing but chunky G1 based designs. This toy looks thin, almost dainty, yet dangerous.
Finally seeing this spider mode in-hand really reinforced in my mind just how much better it is than the Masterpiece attempt. It makes much better use of the robot thighs to fill out the abdomen while the shins try much harder to hide, and while chunks of the robot arms are still visible they at least pretend to be pedipalps. Perhaps most impressively, the thing can actually stand on its spider legs properly. I lived through Beast Wars and I can tell you I never imagined beast modes could be this good. However, being that this is the 1996 toy based redeco, I still felt there was something missing, something I really needed to see.
Yes! It actually kinda works. The toy doesn’t appear to be meant to do this, as the only thing barely holding it together is the tightness of the joints, but the toy can be displayed in a configuration that better resembles the original toy. This is how I prefer to display mine, and I’m happy with it. I gotta be me.
I have to thank Hasbro for taking a chance and making this unlikely thing, in an era when cartoon accuracy has been a dominant priority. Beast Wars is primarily remembered for its outstanding cartoon, which is still the best written Transformers show ever made. No one could blame them for dismissing the toy-only stuff as a weird sideshow and leaning into the cartoon as hard as possible. They instead surprised me with something I wanted but thought I’d never see. I’ll follow them wherever they go with this. Give me Terrorsaur with a purple helmet. Give me the orange Scorponok I always wanted. Orange Tarantulas. I want them all.
This has been my pick for Best Toys of 2021. Be sure to tell us your picks in our forum thread! You can also chat with us in our Facebook Group, @AllsparkNews on twitter, or our Discord server! You can tell us your choices, critique our choices, or tell me I’m weird. We’d love to have you.