Blackjack's review: Chromia
In Revenge of the Fallen, we were introduced (well, not introduced. More shown) to three Autobot bike girls that zip around in their unicycle-like robot modes. Or they might be only one Autobot, Arcee, whose mind is split into three bodies. Or they may be both, depending on who you ask. IDW certainly has gone with both theories depending on the writer, with a very awkward handling of the transitions. Really, either way works fine – as far as the movie is concerned, the Arcee/Arcees are minor and she/they die in a split-second scene anyway. Personally I’m a bigger fan of the one mind split in three bodies theory, for no good reason than it sounds like another awesome concept to be tacked onto the already bloated movie.
But the toyline certainly would find it difficult to market all three bikes as ‘Blue Arcee’, ‘Red Arcee’ and ‘Purple Arcee’, so they decided to slap two female Autobot names from G1 onto the blue and purple bikes and pretend that they are real characters. The blue bike got the name ‘Chromia’, after Ironhide’s girlfriend in a G1 episode. If Ironhide is rather bland, Chromia is even more so. I can’t remember a single thing about the original Chromia except that she’s got a silly-looking head, and this Chromia (or Blue Arcee, whatever) certainly does nothing important, so at least they share the same role.
Now, as anyone who’s read my reviews would attest, I’m a big fan of the movie series, and that includes Revenge of the Fallen. I like the Arcee bikes for being so crazy-looking, with a very palpable hint of Beast Machines Thrust thrown in, what with the unicycle bodies… and I quite liked the very non-conventional design that the Arcees have. Of course, all they did was harass Sideways and do some spinning stunts for a while before basically showing up and disappearing from backgrounds as much as they please, until they got blown up by a Bonecrusher clone and a bunch of Protoforms. The blue bike was the only one who didn’t get killed on-screen, but we can assume either the Decepticons got her, or the air strike did.
But the bikes did get toys, and Chromia was at the forefront of the Revenge of the Fallen deluxe toys. I got her, I liked her… for all of ten or twenty minutes.
Chromia transforms into a blue Suzuki B-King motorcycle. Out of the three Arcee bikes, I’ve always liked Chromia’s the least. Her strange-looking… headlights section, where the handlebars meet the body of the motorbike, looked quite bulbous and strange, but that’s a carry-on from the actual bike, so can’t complain much. Chromia the toy, however, adds much more mass to the motorcycle. From what pictures I could find in the internet, while the Suzuki B-King is rather muscular, the Chromia toy twists this out of proportion, making the side bulges a bit fatter than they should, and squashing the length a bit. Otherwise, though, it’s a serviceable facsimile of the Suzuki B-King, replicating most of the major silhouette exhaustively... or at least, to my untrained eyes, it is. Chromia is fairly detailed, as is the common for the movie lines, with many moulded details on the sides… although not quite as much as other toys.
Chromia is mainly black and a rather fetching shade of metallic blue, with silver picking out the twin exhaust vents and some mechanical details on the wheels, clear plastic for the headlights, silver paint for the Autobot insignia on the seat, a bunch of grey plastic on some random parts, and white for the Cybertronian glyph tattoos found on Chromia’s sides, the blue bit on her body and on the side of her rear.
However, Chromia isn’t that good a motorcycle toy. Her wheels spin, yes, but they aren’t articulated. Meaning she can’t lean her wheels to one side. Her handlebar section is on a ball joint, which is something. She has a kickstand, but this is too long and is more likely to topple Chromia the other way if you extend it fully. So other than rolling her forwards and backwards, the only thing you can do with her is to precariously balance her with the kickstand half-extended. I suppose smaller characters could ride her, but I haven’t found any one that works.
The flat arm sections of Chromia have pegs that should attach to the bulging blue bits, but the pegs have nowhere to attach to, and the arm guards simply hang loosely and pop open at the slightest provocation. This is a major annoyance, as it ruins the already flawed motorcycle mode even more.
Chromia comes with a massive gun-stand to help her stand in robot mode. To Hasbro’s credit, they at least made the thing look better than a simple stand, and molded two different cannons onto it, as well as tank treads. In vehicle mode, the assembly can attach to the silver exhaust vents to act as Chromia’s weapon mode or something. This looks a little silly, although not as much as Arcee’s not-sidecar is. Be aware, though, that the silver paint would chip over time, so if you’re a philistine with your toys, I don’t recommend doing this too often.
All three Arcee bikes’ robot modes are basically glorified unicycles, basically Beast Machines Thrust done in the movie aesthetic, plus lipstick. Basically all the designers need to do is to turn them into spindly things, but Chromia can’t even manage that. The main body of the bicycle, a giant black piece, is curled like a giant C which kind of ruin the whole spine-like unicycle bit. It doesn’t help that the instructions and stock photographers have no idea how to transform her properly. Her motorcycle seat is supposed to fold in and peg onto the base of the motorcycle, to create a better impression of a spine-like unicycle, while the top wheel is supposed to go over the shoulders and not stick up above the head… not that those two are major improvements, mind you, but Chromia looks so aborted that any improvement helps.
She is still mainly blue and black here, albeit more black because more parts have folded out. Her headsculpt is fairly detailed and close enough to the model in the movie, and she does have a big giand gonzo gun for her left hand. As part of the ‘Mech Alive’ gimmick, which means some mechanical parts move when you move the robot, if you move Chromia’s left elbow a dark blue (a different shade of blue than the rest of her) piston moves in and out of the large gun.
Chromia has to be fitted with the gun stand to even stand, obviously, since she’s a unicycle. Some people reported using the gun stand backwards so that she looks like her show model from the front, but whenever I tried that Chromia never lasted more than a minute or so before losing her balance. Might be just me, might be just people making stuff up. As a whole, Chromia doesn’t really look at all like her show model, head and giant gun arm aside. There’s a big empty gap in her stomach, and her lower body juts too far forwards and backwards.
Articulation? Well, if you count some transforming bits as articulation, she’s got a lot. In a more conventional way, however, obviously she’s only articulated in the head and arms. Head’s on a ball joint, shoulders are on ball joints, elbows are on hinge joints. Charitably you can say that the hinges for transformation are chest or waist joints, but really, you won’t be moving them. Or even the actual joints. Why? Well, the two halves of the chest are held together by pegs that don’t click together, they just hang on to each other with the strong power of friction. In theory. The slightest nudge on the arms, and the chest splits into two.
So all you can do with her is just… display her. And figure out how to get her into a mode that looks most like her show model. Her gun shoots out a clear missile, but by the time you position the gun and press the button, the chest would’ve fallen apart again.
Supposedly she’s got this black bar that slides out and clicks onto place onto a similar chunk on Arcee. Supposedly this is supposed to allow her to combine with Arcee and the third bike into a super robot mode. But the third bike turned out to be a Chromia repaint, and there is no word on the super robot mode. I could have sort of forgiven her if she’s crap because she’s an unworkable design and
needed to combine, but, no, she’s just crap because she’s crap.
TL;DR = she’s a crap toy.
Marks out of ten for the following:
1/10 Very poorly thought out. The fact that her design had been done better by the smaller Human Alliance toy means that this Deluxe class toy has no excuse at all. The chest doesn’t hold on well together, the bike mode doesn’t hold on well together, there’s a massive solid block of unmovable lower spine piece that ruins the whole unicycle angle…
7/10 She certainly feels quite durable, although I’ve never dropped her or played with her enough to know. The silver paint on her rear barrels chip off something fierce, though.
3/10 Bike mode looks a bit fat, and the robot mode is only fine from the chest up Everything down is a massive mess.
1/10 Chromia’s got arm articulation, and lots of parts can move… none that doesn’t cause the chest halves to separate from each other at the simplest movement. In the bike mode? None that doesn’t cause the robot mode arms to pop out and waddle around. Terrible design.
2/10 I did have quite some fun rolling her around as a unicycle and pretending that she’s shooting at Sideways or something, but her terrible design and loose chest pieces meant that she didn’t stay in my attention for long.
2/10 I feel robbed, I think. She’s a nice motorbike, which is something, but the robot mode is so messy and the entire design looks about three revisions short of becoming a proper toy.
1/10 Not recommended. The Arcee mould has some good bits, at least, but the Chromia mould is so messy and awkward and poorly designed. It’s a big, spindly mess that doesn’t work as a toy, and barely works as an action figure. Elita-One was the only member of the movieverse Autobot cast who I don’t own a toy of, because the only Elita-One toy was a repaint of the horrible Chromia mould, and damned if I’m going to shell out more money for this shit. If you really have to have Arcee bikes, get the Legends or Human Alliance ones. Hell, get the Arcee mould. Stay far far away from Chromia and her repaints.