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Series: Beast Wars Japan
Allegiance: Destron
Categories: Deluxe
Year: 1997

Moving like a venomous shadow under a midnight moon, Blackarachnia is an evil temptress posing as a Predacon double agent! Capable of converting thermal energy into poisonous cyber-venom, she lures Maximals into her darkened den and then stuns them by firing a poison-tipped missile! After restraining them in her powerful legs, she then sinks her fangs into their armor to suck their life-force dry.
(Profile of the US-version Blackarachnia)

Prelude: Black Widow is the Japanese version of Blackarachnia and both are repaints of Tarantulas (called Tarans in Japan). Seeing as it's been over three years since I've reviewed Tarantulas and given that Blackarachnia is one of the most interesting characters of the Beast Era, she deserves her own review.

Robot Mode: Of all the various Blackarachnia / Black Widow figures there have been over the years, this one here is the first and, unsurprisingly, the least female-looking. One might be tempted to interpret the bumps on her chest as breasts (and they were depicted as such in the TV series), but those are really sculpted detail from the spider mode and Tarantulas had them, too. The resemblance with the TV character is not particularly good, neither with the Japanese nor the US-version (Blackarachnia was black and gold in the series, whle the figure throws a lot of purple into the mix as well). Interestingly enough the secondary "mutant" head of the figure, which is really Tarantulas' head, is pretty much a spot-on match for Tarantulas' TV appearance, much closer than the one sported by the original US-version of Tarantulas.

The figure itself adheres to the Beast Wars' high standard in terms of detailing and posability. Ball joints, very nicely sculpted details on the entire body, there is very little to complain about here. Like most insect-Transformers Black Widow has a bit of a problem with putting away the many legs, but their position on the upper forearms doesn't interfere much with her posability. Four of the eight legs can detach and be used as missiles for her launcher, which is turn stored in her butt. Alternately the launcher can also be loaded with a grapple, which is connected by a piece of string to her butt. This is a gimmick more useful in beast mode, though (see below).

So all in all Black Widow is a bit lacking in terms of character resemblance, but apart from that she's a all-around decent figure in robot mode and offers no grounds for complaint.

Alternate Mode: As both Japanese and American name hint at, Black Widow transforms into a spider. Now I'm not proficient enough in biology to say how close the resemblance to an actual black widow spider is (or to a Tarantula spider, as Tarantulas shares the same beast mode), but the coloring (mostly black) and the red hourglass on her butt make a pretty strong case. The only hint to the robot mode are the feet, which stick a bit out the back, but that's not a big thing.

The string-gimmick can be used here to hang the spider on the ceiling (see 11th picture) and that works pretty well. Overall the spider looks pretty realistic (as far as I can tell at least) and does a better job of hiding the robot bits than many more modern incarnations of the character. Posability is a bit restricted, as only four of the eight spider legs are posable, but at least the legs are strong enough to support the spider's body without problem. So bottom line: A nice spider mode.

Remarks: Black Widow / Blackarachnia was a ground-breaking character in many ways. She was the first female bad guy in Transformer history and part of the most significant Transformer romance of all time (along with her boytoy Silverbolt). She started out as a bad guy, but over the course of the Beast Wars TV series her feelings for Silverbolt propelled her onto the side of good, where she remained until the end of the Beast Era. The Universe comic book series briefly turned her back into a bad guy, but the hinted-at end of that unfinished series saw her back in the arms of Silverbolt.

There have been numerous attempts to make this original Blackarachnia toy more show-accurate. The Japanese version is probably the second-best, topped only by the much more recent Telemocha version. Still, no one has yet gotten it quite right. Apart from the resemblance thing, though, Black Widow / Blackarachnia remains a good Beast Wars figure. The gimmick might be a bit lame all things considered, but the figure has no real flaws and two good modes. Besides, if you want to assemble the complete Beast Wars TV cast, you're gonna need a Blackarachnia of some sort. And this one here's quite good.

Rating: B-
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