Saturday, April 1, 2017

A to Z Challenge: Arcee vs Astrotrain

So to kick this thing off, two Transformers with names starting with A. We’ll start with the heroic Autobots because they’re the good guys—or good girl in this case.

Arcee was not the first female Transformer shown, but she was the first to be a recurring character. Her first appearance came in the movie from 1986 where she was kind of the Princess Leia to Hot Rod’s Luke Skywalker, Springer’s Han Solo, and Optimus Prime’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. She was pink but she wasn’t a wimp, saving the boys a few times. She turned into a futuristic car, though in the second movie and Transformers Prime she was a motorcycle.

Sadly there wasn’t an Arcee toy until the 21st Century. There weren’t any female Transformer toys until about 1996 with BlackArachnia and she was just a recolor of Tarantulus, so even that was kind of lame. I suppose someone decided that boys wouldn’t want to play with a female Transformer because girls are icky or whatever. And yet we had Princess Leia figures; there were several female GI JOE figures; He-Man had female figures that eventually became a whole separate line; and there were female superhero toys like Wonder Woman but I guess transforming robots was where the line was drawn. Go figure.

In the third season episode "Only Human" Arcee, Rodimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, and Springer's consciousnesses were extracted from their bodies and turned human.  This is a sort of GI JOE-type figure of how Arcee looked in that episode:

In the “Rebirth” miniseries that comprised the aborted fourth season of the TV show in the 80s, Arcee becomes a “Headmaster” with young Daniel Witwicky becoming her head. How creepy is it that a boy like 10 years old is becoming the head for a giant female robot? I guess better the head than something else, right?

As I mentioned, Arcee is in the second live action movie though I don't think she really gets any lines.  Like most characters she had a wheel for feet.  In Transformers Prime she has actual legs and is a tough warrior who laments that her previous two partners have been killed.  She becomes the guardian to a 16-year-old boy named Jack.  The only other female in the series is Airachnid, a spider who is Arcee's mortal enemy for killing her partner Tailpipe.  Robot cat fight, y'all!

Astrotrain became one of the most useful Decepticons mostly because he turned into a space shuttle. As a “triple changer” he actually turned into a space shuttle and train in addition to a robot, but the train had far less use for obvious reasons. As far as fighting Astrotrain didn’t really have lots of firepower or strength or anything; mostly he was just useful for his cargo hauling ability.
Weapons provided by Blitzwing

The weird thing is that while Astrotrain the toy is only about mid-size like the original Decepticon jets, and on the show he’s not any taller than most other Decepticons, somehow when he turned into a shuttle he could haul the entire Decepticon army. In the movie there’s even enough room for the Constructicons to form the giant Devastator. I guess he uses the same principles as Dr. Who’s TARDIS.

A fun fact about the toys is that when they reissued Astrotrain a year or so ago based on the IDW comics, they made a recolored version that is the former Autobot leader Sentinel Prime. Hasbro has always been cheap that way.


  1. 2 good choices, although I prefer the Prime series Arcee to the G1 version. Transformers have always had those scaling issues, both on tv and the toys, but forming Devastator inside Astrotrain was pretty much the most ridiculous thing lol

  2. I have to admit I know very little about the Transformers, so it might be difficult for me to comment on these posts. It would be great if toys weren't so gendered, though.



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