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by Artemis

Back when Transformers: The Movie jumped the robots in disguise to the far-flung future of... 2005... there was one character in the new cast who never got a toy, because she was a girl. Now the tables have turned - there's a new Transformers movie, and even though there aren't any female Transformers in it, they're still getting toys. Take that, gender bias!

As the first of the female Transformers robots, Elita-One gets a lot of attention, and loves every minute of it. It isn't just her incredible handling, or her fast idle that gets the attention either. She's a cunning fighter, and one of the best marksmen among the Autobots, able to blast scraplets off a Decepticon at more than four miles. At short range, she's just as effective, generating an attraction field that can cause unshielded robots to overheat almost instantly.

Back in Generation One, Elita's ultimate weapon was a temporal disharmonizer capable of stopping time. Now she distracts enemies by making them horny. Perhaps that gender bias isn't so extinct after all. At least whoever wrote the text for the packaging - probably while giggling - knew enough Transformers lore to be able to remember "scraplets" when they were casting about for the robot equivalent of shooting ticks off a dog's back.

Elita-One is a repaint of Scout Class Arcee, she'll let you ride who herself was a repaint of Energon Arcee, which goes all the way back to 2004 - alongside the larger movie-derived Transformers, Hasbro's putting out quite the selection of older, smaller Transformers in the Scout Class. No matter - in this case at least it's a passable toy, and doesn't look heinously out of place alongside its larger CGI-derived comrades.

Elita's altmode is a superbike-style racer, and looks good enough for the part - there's no obvious robot parts showing, and what there is in terms of visible joints and oddly-shaped bits is forgiveable on a Transformer this small. Her wheels spin, but that's it - no steering, and no kickstand, though in a pinch you can lower the toe of one of her feet to serve the same purpose. To differentiate her from her twin sister Arcee she's painted in silver and copper, and the front section of the bike's chassis has a silver zig-zag painted on, instead of the paint design Arcee had which followed the sculpted elements. It's nothing wonderful as decoration, but it gets the job done.

Arcee also has an "Ultimate Energon Weapon," which in vehicle mode splits in half to attach to either side of the bike - or, if you've got sense, remains intact and gets dumped in your bits box along with all the other accessories you never use for your toys. Unsurprisingly the addition of two exhaust pipes to the back of the Energon sections does nothing to disguise the fact that the superbike now has two enormous lumps of weapon stuck to it. That goes for the "Energon chip" too, which goes on top of the chassis, just where it'd get right in the way of anyone trying to ride the bike.

Transformation is fairly simple (rated 2 out of 4 on the packaging - 1 must be the ones you just have to hinge open to transform), but elegant and effective in repurposing the parts of the bike to be parts of a humanoid robot - no doubt that's why the same transformation design was used (more or less) for the larger Deluxe Class Arcee. Windshield filps forward against front wheel, legs unfold and swivel forward, front wheel assembly swivels up behind her back, back of bike splits in half and folds down to be arms, head swivels up from behind her chest. There's no automorph, seeing as the design predated that idea, and no stages where anything is difficult or troublesome to accomplish.

As a robot, Elita actually looks a lot more like Arcee than Arcee does, with her light grey/silver and copper colour scheme very reminiscent of Arcee's pink and white. Of course, back in G1 Elita herself favoured pink and white, so this isn't really a problem - and these are "movie continuity" versions of the characters, so it's all up for grabs anyway. Between the different colours and different distribution of colours, she looks sufficiently distinct from Energon Arcee - though it must be said, the placement of colours on Arcee looks better. Sorry Elita. And Elita's paint apps purposefully mimic the G1 Arcee animation model's, so this whole thing is turning into quite the brain-twister. Like Arcee, the biggest complaint is the kibble - the halves of the rear wheel stick out the back of her shoulders, there's a big peg sticking out of her left ankle, and she ends up wearing her windshield like a bustle. Not perfect, but we've seen much worse over the years.

She's quite versatile, too: balljointed hips, double peg knees, and semi-peg ankles (the feet move, but her high heels stay in place) mean she can take a variety of poses, and remain standing with little trouble. She has a swivel neck - which on my Elita was extremely tight - and several points of articulation in her arms, though there's some oddness there. Balljoints, and an underlying transformation swivel joint, give her a lot of mobility in the shoulders, but her elbows are strangely designed to turn inwards only. Her actual hands are mounted on ball joints, but compared to the forearm assembly they're so small as to be nearly pointless. Still, Elita is decently mobile for a Scout Class robot.

Her robot mode can also be augmented (that's code for "ruined") by the addition of Energon parts - the chip goes on her chest, making her look thoroughly ungainly, though if you're one of those strange people who write explicit Transformers fanfic, you'll no doubt love having an Elita-One toy with a removable breastplate (apparently Transformers can remove parts of their bodywork in order to feel each other up - and yes, I do wish I'd never Googled Transformers slashfic in a moment of bored madness, and found this out). The other pieces combine into the world's ugliest and most disproportionate bow. Her forearms contain the bike's exhaust pipes, which in robot mode look quite a lot like built-in blasters, so again my advice is to leave all the Energon junk in your bits box - Elita's quite capable of kicking Decepticon arse without them. If you must, though, the bow fires a plastic missile, though not exactly the four miles mentioned on the packaging, even scaling down for size - more like four inches.

Elita-One used to be Optimus Prime's girlfriend, so it's odd to see her made into a toy that's dwarfed by the various Primes on the market - put her side by side with Leader Class Prime, and you inevitably start to draw Fay Wray/King Kong comparisons. Still, given that she wasn't in the movie at all, and has always been far less famous than Arcee, it's pleasing to see her get some attention in the form of her first-ever toy. She loves attention, remember.


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