Deluxe-class Autobot Chromia
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
The origins of the character Chromia in the fan-termed ‘Bayformers’ universe is conflicting. Toy maker Hasbro says that Chromia developed a great friendship with Ironhide on Cybertron, and they became separated after the AllSpark Cube was lost in space, only to meet up again later on Earth (along with her sisters, Arcee and Flareup) after Optimus Prime transmitted the welcome message.
However, in the continuity of the film itself, Chromia is established as one of three parts of the character, Arcee. Each of the three female Autobots actually share the same mind and personality, with them all being considered “Arcee” and not having individual names or unique actions, but neither are two of them drones which are under the command of the ‘main’ pink fembot, Arcee. (Their holographic riders in vehicle mode look the same as well.) For the sake of the toys, they go by individual names, but in the film’s pre-production artwork, they were called the “Arcee triplets” or the “Bike Group”. (Granted, this can be confusing in the film by the fact that the Autobot brothers Mudflap and Skids are indeed twins, but have differing minds and personalities, and it isn’t made entirely clear that the three females do indeed have the same mind despite having different bodies.)
…or is that the other way around? I don’t know- I’m confused! Regardless, for the sake of preserving my own sanity (and not, specifically, in protest of how she is portrayed in the film), I shall treat Chromia as a unique individual while writing this review.
As a smaller-sized Autobot, Chromia is frequently deployed as a scout or decoy- her speed and smaller profile allowing her to sneak past Decepticon sensors with little notice. And since she is not expected to engage the enemy directly, the single rapid-fire machine gun in her left arm isn’t as strong as larger Autobots’, but her agility and deftness on her unicycle leg- in coordination with her sisters, Arcee and Flareup- can easily overwhelm similar- or even larger-sized Decepticons.
In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, Chromia does not speak. However, her holographic rider (and, thus, those of all three Autobot sisters) is portrayed by model and actress Erin Nass- this is her feature film debut, though [the only other significant reference I can find is that] she served as one of the suitcase-carrying models on the American game show “Deal Or No Deal” (2007-08 season-only).
Chromia’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a real 2007 Suzuki_B-King naked sport motorcycle, designed and built by the Suzuki Motor Company. The term “naked” means that this sub-class points out the sport bike driver’s more-comfortable seated position and ease-of-access to the mechanics, with less emphasis on aerodynamics and speed like those of ‘regular’ sport bikes with streamlined covers (aka fairings). I must claim ignorance & lack of information in pointing out the unique and/or noteworthy highlights of the B-King; no doubt part of its appeal is in performance. My apologies. While the front and back wheels and their associated suspension/drive systems appear accurate, the headlight is divided in two as opposed to being a single piece. The two handles and brake bars are molded separate from the handlebar, and are made of soft black rubber. The fuel tank in front of the driver appears slightly wider and less curvy than the real version, with minor modifications to the seat and flaring directly behind it. The exhaust pipes are cylinders rather than long triangles in profile, and the brake & turn signal lights have been replaced with the warhead of a transparent missile. While the back mudguard remains, the blank license plate on it is left the plain black of the ABS rather than being painted up. Comparing the toy’s obviously-non-functional engine to the real thing reveals the only real inconsistency; some details are moved to different locations and/or changed in size.
This set in vehicle mode has no real poseability other than spinning wheels (no steering in front) and deploying the small black kickstand to keep it upright on display. Though the toy comes with one missile, it cannot be fired in vehicle mode, but can be replaced back while in this mode if desired.
. . .
Though the kick stand is small, it will hold up the motorcycle on its own. However, a multi-purpose display stand is included. The motorcycle can be clipped on to suspend it above the ground, or it can be latched onto the exhaust pipes to form a non-moving machine gun and grenade launcher weapon pack. (Judging by how the exhaust pipes were redesigned for this toy, I suspect Hasbro is trying to get us to think those guns come from the pipes themselves.)
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually this applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely-more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
Since this is a brand new toy which was not released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Deluxe-class Autobot Chromia has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Chromia’s robot mode (back) is a striking contrast to anything that has been seen in Transformers since before 2009. While having wheels on the feet to skate around on are nothing new, having the leg-- no. Having no legs at all, and rolling about on a single wheel like a unicycle is a completely new and original trait from the fan-termed ‘Bayformers’ universe! (The only previous on-screen example of a unicycle design that I can think of is one of the Vehicon generals, Thrust, from the all-CGI TV series “Beast Machines: Transformers” in 1999-2001.) Because of this significant handicap as far as balancing, the display stand can be hooked onto her lower wheel to keep the toy upright. While it is possible to use her left arm to balance her, it’s very tricky to do so. Her head, oddly, has light piping, but her eyes have been painted light blue anyways, rendering this feature useless. There are two discrepancies in Chromia’s appearance: she doesn’t have pronounced shoulder armor in the movie, and the lower half-loop of her… um- leg?- is more complex in appearance, and not simply the fuel tank and seat from vehicle mode. Her upper torso is thin and hollow from behind, with the front wheel [correctly] raised above her head, and two narrow bars forming her ‘waist’ like they are in the film. While the upper halves of her arms are similar, below the elbow is where they differ greatly; the side panels of her engine in robot mode form common armored segments (which also don’t appear specifically there in the movie), but that’s it. The right arm features a three-fingered hand, but the left arm is made up of the upper back-half of the motorcycle, forming her machine gun… well, missile launcher here.
. . .
Unless you have that display stand on-hand, you’re gonna have one heck of a time keeping Chromia upright. Beyond that, there isn’t really any posing you can do with her from the waist down. Though those two light gray bars at her waist are on ball-and-socket joints, they can only swivel during transformation, but they can extend upwards if you wish to give her a little more height. She has ball-and-socket joints in her neck & shoulders, and free-turning joints in the others. Posing her left arm is also a chore because the gun is inside of the elbow, so it always rubs up against her and will never hang straight down. Also, the Mech Alive gimmick in her left elbow restricts poseability a bit. When you get Chromia factory-fresh, her left shoulder joint should have sufficient friction to allow her to point her left arm upwards and have it hold there on its own, but I have no doubt it will wear out quickly. But even with the display stand, she is quite left side-heavy, though she won’t topple over even with it extended outwards as far as possible. (Just… don’t put her on carpet… or bump her, period.) Her right arm and head pose just fine, though her ABS hand does not move.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figure’s body can be animated beyond simply posing it- panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
For the Deluxe-class Autobot Chromia toy, it has one Mech Alive feature:
- At her left elbow is a light gray lever, which is attached to a blue panel behind her missile launcher. When the elbow extends or contracts, the lever will shift accordingly, and with drag or push the panel around.
What the Instructions Don’t Tell You
The Deluxe-class Autobot Chromia set, fortunately, only has two marks in this frustrating category:
- The seat and fuel tank cover remain facing forward. However, they are supposed to be turned back inwards so that the lower wheel can envelop it. It is supposed to be turned inwards to better match the loop in her- um, leg- that is seen in the film, even though it appear far more complex on-screen.
- There is a curious black lever running along the back of her leg which is not described in the instructions. It has no function whatsoever in her transformation, or either mode. I suspect it may be involved with another set that is yet to come out…
...but the instructions don't tell you any of this.
Why alien robots should have genders which mimic the stereotypes of human females is not known at this time, and most past TV series leave this unaddressed. (Indeed, Arcee was written into the first film, but her final size in robot mode compared to the larger robots around her, and introducing the gender issue too early in the franchise, ended up having her replaced with Ironhide.) So, there must be markers to distinguish her from her fellow ‘male’ robots, meh, which would be identifiable as such to our eyes. Does Chromia do this? Yes and no. While the unicycle leg completely throws her appearance off, only her torso comes anywhere near being identifiably ‘female’. The width of her shoulders- for a Deluxe-class figure, that is- is certainly part of it, and I suppose that her ‘waist’ could be considered thin enough as well. Two blue panels on her chest only vaguely suggest a bust, but you have to look hard to make an analogy there. Her face, though, is too angular and small in toy form to suggest she’s female either.
(This is the concept artwork for Autobot Chromia, not the final CGI model seen in the film!)
I almost want to call her a mechanical version of a lamia, but the ‘loop’ in her leg and the wheel spoils that image. (Perhaps this is the closest a Cybertronian could get to a serpentine female without having an extended tail that could be easily grabbed onto?) Or, maybe a motorized mermaid instead…? Whatever. The point is, I can’t call her anything except a unicycle robot which is attempting to impersonate the appearance, and possibly personality, of a human female and failing miserably at it. While the shooting missile is nice, that left arm is friggin’ bigger than the one she has in the film! That she has a unicycle leg and how that severely complicates posing here, I won’t get into because that’s the design she got from the movie. But, the cute display stand Hasbro made for her isn’t too bad, and that it also forms a little weapon pod in vehicle mode is a simple but nice touch. Aside from the posing difficulties with her leg and cannon arm, mine has a small flaw- whereas the two blue halves of her torso won’t stay stuck together in robot mode for long, and I constantly have to squeeze them back together every few minutes (but that’s a simple manufacturing flaw, I’m sure). Getting those two halves past the handlebars is tricky but do-able. I can see that giving her light piping in her eyes would have been futile (as I’m sure Hasbro also noticed, thankfully!), so I’m actually glad that they painted her eyes instead. And, yes, her front wheel is supposed to hang over her head like that rather than be stored inside her hollow torso. Oh, and thank you for the small-profile, spring-powered missile! This figure didn’t turn out as badly as I thought it would, despite the balancing issue. But I do wonder how they’re gonna utilize that black bar behind her leg… (I wonder if her sisters, Arcee and Elita-One have similar unused parts…?) So, the Deluxe-class Autobot Chromia set is good enough for just a generally-positive recommendation from me.
|Posted 29 August, 2009 - 01:59 by EVA_Unit_4A|