Friday, 27 February 2015

Galaxy Force Chromia

(Femme-Bot Friday #7)
I've noted in my write up of BotCon 2009 Elita-1 that this mold was essentially a bit rubbish - pretty much the worst kind of shellformer - yet it ended up being quite compelling in-hand as it was so cute. Considering I didn't want that figure at the time (she came 'free' with BotCon 2009 Razorclaw to complete a couple of previous BotCon sets), I ended up quite liking her, and so my quest to find her progenitor, either GF Chromia or Cybertron Thunderblast, began.

The secondary market being what it is, a crappy figure from an old toyline became rare and expensive, so it's basically taken five years to track one down at a price I'm comfortable paying and without the rather pointless addition of Cybertron Sideways and Brimstone as 'purchase incentives (or was it the other way round?).

But why all this hassle to pick up a figure that isn't even that good?

Vehicle Mode:
In-hand, Chromia's vehicle mode is completely gorgeous. The boat's hull is molded in a deep, rich Decepticon purple, there's a generous coating of silver over most of her deck, the windscreen and outrigger torpedo mounts are molded in a surprisingly strong translucent orange, with the latter receiving a splash of silver to highlight their framework. Her prow has a warm, orangey-gold point and the turbines are dark grey against a pale grey aft.

Her cockpit is surprisingly detailed given its size and the fact that it's just molded surface detail. The seats are painted the same dark grey as her turbines, but the control panel was left as unpainted purple plastic.

The other main feature of this boat is the honking great missile rack mounted on the rear of the deck. It rotates a full 360° and tilts up and down a little way, as well as housing one of Galaxy Force's most bizarre key-activated gimmicks. Plug in her key and the 4-missile frontage drops down to reveal a single spring-loaded missile launcher which fires her translucent orange torpedoes. Quite how that's an upgrade, I don't understand, and it really just makes the weapon even more unwieldy on such a small boat. Curiously, while this weapon rotates quite freely on BotCon Elita-1, Chromia's is rather stiff, and I have to hold it at the base to turn it, or it feels like it might break. The key somehow doesn't seem quite long enough, as it sometimes fails to deploy the feature in mine but, going by the BotCon repaint, I suspect I've just been unlucky. The trigger works perfectly when hit with anything else, though the spring-loaded launcher sometimes doesn't want to fold back.

She has one other weapon, in the form of a small, foredeck-mounted machine gun which is far easier to rotate and better scaled to the vehicle.

Weirdly, whenever I pick up this model, I have the urge to try to float it in a tub of water... but since it has so many seams, that would only ever end in disaster...

Robot Mode:
Yeah, certainly not Takara's finest hour. As I noted in the Elita-1 write-up, it's a reduced-articulation Microman figure with an unfolded boat hanging off it's back. Even so, it manages to look pretty cool in its own way.

The action figure within the boat shell is probably more colourful than the boat in terms of comparative volumes of colour. The torso is pale grey plastic, painted with silver, dark grey, the warm orangey-gold and purple, the arms are molded in dark and pale grey plastic, and the thighs are coated with more of the orangey-gold paint while the 'boots' are the same amazing purple plastic as the main part of the boat shell, with a silver line running from knee to shin and more orangey-gold on the rims of her feet. Even the insides of the wings have some paintwork - large panels of orangey-gold in a couple of the recessed areas. She really is a very well-decorated figure, but the overall impression is of a humanoid (or humanoid robot) cosplaying as a TransFormer. The CGI in the TV series went even further with this impression, giving her (sometimes very apparent) breasts underneath her chest armour. I'm still not certain why the design of her chest looks so much like the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, but I guess it's not really important at this stage...

If Chromia's main weapon seemed disproportionately large in vehicle mode, it seems ridiculously massive in robot mode, so much so that she can barely lift it unsupported. With tighter shoulder joints, it could have been better, but it would still look comically large. With the key plugged in and the spring-loaded missile launcher deployed, one has to wonder how she could ever aim the missile, but I guess it could be radar-guided or something like that. The vehicle mode's machine gun is fixed in its vehicle mode position, but that would have made a far more suitably-sized handgun. The odd thing is that it's pinned in place... when they could easily have used the 5mm peg system to make it removable.

The head sculpt isn't necessarily feminine and, this being the Takara version, features the lopsided eyes. I'm not sure why her eyes were molded as slits considering one of the defining physical characteristics of the character CGI from the TV series was her big round eyes. Then again, the silver of the CGI seemed to have a slightly pink component throughout, while the toy uses a fairly plain, albeit bright and clean silver. Given how small the head is, how tiny the eyes are and how much junk is sticking up out of Chromia's back, it's surprising how effective her light-piping is, and that really adds to the look of the figure.

Transformation is insultingly simple - Chromia pops off her backpack to let it swing up past her head, folds her arms up against her sides, brings her thighs up then rotates them back via an angled, mid-thigh joint. Once her legs are plugged into the underside of the boat's deck, the three hull panels simply close around her. It's not interesting, it's not satisfying... but it does the job. I can't see how else they could have accomplished a robot like Chromia turning into a boat.

With ball-jointed shoulders, bicep swivel and double-jointed elbows, Chromia's arms have great range, limited only by the enormous backpack and the floppiness of the shoulders (and, since Elita-1 exhibits the same flaw, it seems safe to say it was a general defect of this mold). The head's rotation is seriously hindered by her raised collar and protrusions from the base of her helmet. The legs feature ball-jointed hips and a mid-thigh swivel but the latter is really only for transformation, and leads to a very odd look if used for posing. Chromia also has waist articulation, but it doesn't go far without clashing with her backpack. On the upside, with clever positioning, the backpack can be used to assist in balancing on some of the more extreme poses she can achieve.

I liked BotCon Elita-1 far more than I'd expected, and this original version of the mold is just as much fun. Now that I have this one, however, I'm sorely tempted to pick up another, just so I can repaint it in the style of one of my little cartoons. I'm also very keen to lay my hands on one of the limited edition Japanese DVD releases of Galaxy Force, which comes with 'Chromia White Version', a homage to G1 Minerva.

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