Friday, 17 April 2015

Revenge of the Fallen Chromia

(Femme-Bot Friday #14)
And here we have the second of the three 'wheelsnakes' from Revenge of the Fallen. These odd creatures were divisive among the fans, due (not even ironically) to their rather inhuman appearance (particularly versus the proposed original live action Arcee), but were all pretty cool in their own way.

While it wasn't clear in the movie whether Chromia and Elita-1 were separate characters or merely extensions of the reimagined Arcee, Hasbro saw fit to grant them individuality as toys, and even coloured the Deluxes as vague G1 homages... Though, curiously, this one almost works as a homage to TF Prime Arcee.

Things get confusing with the three RotF femme-bots...

Vehicle Mode:
One thing that has to be said about the more recent motorcycle TransFormers is that their motorcycle alternate modes are pretty awesome. Certainly none are flawless, and a lot of how good they are hinges of how effectively the paint budget got used and how clever Hasbro were with the plastic colours.

On the surface, Hasbro did very well with this model - much of it is molded in black plastic, but blue paint - a good match to the few pieces of blue plastic - is used strategically on the wheel rims, front mudguard, petrol tank and the section behind the seat. Silver paint turns up to highlight the break pads, chain section and exhaust pipes, as well as adding a couple of interesting 'ancient Cybertronian' glyphs around the body. There are a couple of points - notably the black plastic panels on either side if the mid section - which could have used a bit of extra blue and silver paint, to better fit with the rest of the bike, but the overall effect is pretty good. Even the appearance of a couple of small pieces of the robot mode - molded in pale grey, right at the front of the body - has little impact on the overall look. There is a strange gap between the rear mudguard and the body of the bike, but it's built in such a way that it looks intentional.

While it cannot be used in vehicle mode, Chromia's spring-loaded missile launcher is pretty obvious at the back of the bike. Without the clear, colourless plastic missile, it looks like a gaping hole between the exhaust pipes... With the missile in place, it almost just looks like a large brake light. Also at the rear is a large numberplate panel which hangs quite a way down from the back of the body. It's completely unpainted, and so seems rather pointless... but I guess its presence makes it that little bit more authentic.

Chromia has an excellent kickstand which, depending on how well the wheels are positioned, can keep her virtually upright, despite its relatively small footprint. Unlike RotF Arcee, her addidtional weapon/stand doesn't attach to vehicle mode for additional stability - instead it attaches upside down over the rear of the bike to give her a pair of forward-facing Gatling guns. The attachment also features four sets of treads - which are above the guns - and a cross-bar at the front which sits exactly where a rider would be. Both features would tend to make the attachment seem rather pointless in this mode...

Naturally, this being a Deluxe toy, her vehicle mode is hopelessly out of scale with the rest of the line, but I don't believe there was a unique Legends class toy of Chromia.
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Robot Mode:
OK, I will freely admit that, much as I like weirdly-shaped and asymmetrical transforming robots, Chromia is pretty damned freaky in robot mode. Whereas RotF Arcee was a torso connected to a pair of wheels by an extended, snake-like spine, this one is two almost entirely separate halves connected by a pair of (sort of) mobile arms. It's as if Chromia got blown in half and her torso was simply plugged into a new, unicycular mobility unit.

Her look is sort-of close to the concept artwork (except in colour), but it's difficult to say how close the toy is to the movie CGI because Arcee, Chromia and Elita-1 were seen so rarely and so briefly in any detail. Even in stills from the movie, which can be found online, her whole body is never visible. The overall impression is there, certainly, but some of the details seem either wrong or missing. The toy's shoulder pads, for example, are evident in neither the concept art nor the movie, though they do kind of work on the toy. The wheels are in the right place, but the front wheel, stuck behind her head, isn't quite right, while the lower half of the body just isn't as flexible as the artwork and CGI seemed to imply - Arcee, awkward as she was, did a better job of this.

The chest seems less 'curvy' than the CGI suggested... which is odd considering it's just a shell in which the head is concealed, and the whole thing gets concealed within the bike in vehicle mode - more accurate and details molding should have been possible.

While blue could be said to be the primary colour in vehicle mode, in robot mode, it's all broken up and seems much reduced, so she almost looks black with a few blue and silver highlights. Other than that, more of the pale grey plastic becomes visible, but it's hard to understand why they bothered with a third colour of plastic, given the places it turns up.

That gun on her left arm is basically just an untransformed mass of bike parts. Both of Chromia's gimmicks are housed here - one, the Mech Alive feature, seems to be a sort of cartridge ejection/reloading action, accomplished by grasping the arm and pushing it back via one of its two weird 'elbow' joints. Unfortunately, the forearm/gun is so large and unwieldy that her entire body tends to get in the way, and so the torso pops apart whenever the arm moves. The second gimmick - another part of the reason the gun arm is so huge and without any real transformation - is that old favourite, the spring-loaded missile launcher.

One thing that's quite clever about this model is that it uses exactly the same head sculpt as Arcee, just with a different layout of paint applications... and it's surprising how effective that is in making her look unique - it took me a while to realise they were the same simply because of the change in highlights.

Like Arcee, she has the flip-out combining port which was intended to join the three 'wheelsnakes' into a gestalt mode hinted at in the concept art, but cut from the final movie.
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In terms of transformation, Chromia is very simplistic - basically the entire midsection of the bike unfolds,  disentangles itself from the bike frame and then connects back up outside the frame. The fact that her entire torso splits in half to accomplish this does the model no favours as it really doesn't like staying together in the first place. The fact that her bottom half is virtually one big solid piece is hugely disappointing, not least because it still doesn't look anything like the CGI. The left arm is another part that's virtually one big solid piece, though that's to accommodate the toy's two gimmicks. I can't help but think that, had these gimmicks been left out, a more complex and accurate transformation could have been achieved. The end result as it stands isn't terrible... but it's certainly not one of the best molds from the Revenge of the Fallen line

It's difficult to adequately explain Chromia's articulation - things move, but only the upper half is anything like the usual style of TransFormers toy. The arms are well articulated for what they are, but any attempt to move them invariably separates the two halves of her torso. The gun arm has all the necessary joints, but they don't quite move the way they need to. The bottom half is basically useless though, with a little patience and fiddling, it is possible to pose the upper body in positions that are not entirely parallel to the lower body.

My main issue with Chromia is that she's not as accurate to the CGI as she could have been, particularly compared to RotF Arcee. Aside from that, the rather poor construction does reduce her play value. Chromia had a miniscule role in the movie and a very interesting, unique design, so it's a shame the toy is such a let-down... But, of course, that isn't the biggest letdown about the RotF 'wheelsnakes'. I'll get to that when I write up Elita-1.

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