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Series: Beast Wars
Allegiance: Predacons
Categories: Action Set
Year: 1997

 

Prelude: Remember Tarantulas from Beast Wars? The mad scientist guy who had a somewhat unhealthy fascination with arachnids? Well, Blackarachnia was not his only attempt to create more spider-based Transformers. There was also Arachnid, the powerful Predacon mobile base. Don’t remember it? Don’t worry, it never appeared anywhere, but there was a toy. This one here, to be exact: Beast Wars Arachnid. So give us your best mad scientist laughter and let’s say go!

Beast Mode: Arachnid does not have a robot mode, so its primary mode is a spider. And unless there is some very serious mass shifting involved here, it’s a really, really big spider. We’re talking the size of that Tarantula from the 1955 horror movie, okay? The spider, colored orange, purple, and black, looks pretty similar to the beast mode of Tarantulas, which is not a surprise given that he is its creator. You can see some of the bright green base/vehicle mode parts underneath the belly and two guns are peeking out underneath the head, but otherwise there are no visible parts of its alternate mode.

Arachnid is mostly immobile in this mode, only the rear pair of legs is on ball joints, which is primarily meant for the base mode and doesn’t really give it much in the way of articulation, to be honest. So bottom line, the spider mode is for looking at, no more than that. The fun begins in the other mode(s).

Vehicle/Base Mode: I am not quite certain whether Arachnid is supposed to transform into a vehicle, a base, or both, so let us start with what I assume to be the vehicle mode. The front part of the spider is turned around, the green webs fold out sideways like wings, a skid folds out from the head, and tank tracks flip out from the rear end. The “cockpit” which was previously underneath the head can now fold upwards, the bright green guns can swivel up and down, and one of the accompanying mini figures (see below) can take a seat inside the cockpit. So now we have a slightly spider-like tracked vehicle with guns and capture webs. Not bad.

But wait, there is more. The rear end of the vehicle flips open, the lower part of it unveiling a kind of command center with a flip-out gunner seat. Inside you find three different attachments, two of which are for the articulated spider legs, a hook and a claw. The mini figures can stand inside the command center and man the consoles or sit down in the gunner seat, too.

But wait, there is still more. The flipped-out upper part of the rear end, which resembles a miniature volcano (it’s supposed to be an ant hill), can open up sideways, revealing twin hangars for two tiny vehicles. One vehicle is yet another spider, the other is some kind of flying insect, possibly a tick, more probably a wasp (because Waspinator, you know?). The mini figures can sit inside these vehicles, too, and the hangars have nicely detailed launching ramps and the third attachment, a crane, can be plugged in here, too. Very nicely done.

So bottom line for the vehicle/base mode: so much fun! Just consider: a spider that turns into a vehicle, opens up into a base with an ant hill attached, which is actually a hangar for assault vehicles. This is pure 90s batshit crazy stuff and I love it. I might have chosen a more subdued shade of green for the various extra parts than that screaming neon green, but again: it was the 90s! I would really have enjoyed seeing this base here at full size for the normal Beast Wars figures, but then we’d probably be talking Titan Class. As things stand, it’s tiny, but I adore it.

Accessories: Arachnid comes with two mini figures to man its various weapons or its assault vehicles. One of them Is Megatron, unsurprisingly. What is surprising, though, is that it’s Crocodile Megatron. Even more surprising because the Maximal playset Orcanoch included an Optimus Primal mini figure based on Gorilla Primal, not Bat Primal. Make of that what you will. The second figure is Razorbeast, but instead of his tusks gleaming in the night, it’s those neon green legs they gave him. Okay, Megatron has them, too, but he is supposed to be green, so it’s not quite as jarring. Overall the two figures are okay for manning Arachnid, but don’t really offer much beyond that. That they don’t transform into beast mode is self-evident, I hope.

Remarks: Just in case you are wondering, no, Arachnid never appeared in the Beast Wars TV series and not in any comic, either. The only in-media appearance on its CV is a mention in the Beast Wars Sourcebook from IDW. Arachnid, together with its Maximal counterpart Orcanoch, was part of Hasbro’s 1996 MicroVerse line (“Micro Play just hit it Big!”), meant to compete with Galoop’s highly successful Micro Machines. A short time later Hasbro purchased Galoop and there was no more competition. Arachnid and Orcanoch remain the only Transformers entrants in the MicroVerse line. Oh, and in Europe the MicroVerse branding was not used (as you can see in the pictures), the playsets simply appeared as a regular part of Beast Wars / Bio Combat.

So what’s my bottom line for this set? I love it! I am probably not entirely objective here, being the huge Beast Wars nut that I am, but the whole idea of this set is so crazy, you just got to love it. The only downsides are that this set isn’t really compatible with anything else except for its Maximal counterpart, seeing as the line has no other Transformers / Beast Wars items in it. Maybe Transart will give this thing an MP-sized attempt once they’re through with the Transmetals? Who knows. Anyway, Arachnid is really cool if you are a Beast Wars fan and I fully intend to get Orcanoch, too.

Rating: A-

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