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Transformers Legacy
by yo go re

We've talked before about who was and wasn't the first female Transformer, but that was all in-story discussion; the real first female Transformer was Minelba.

(Or, properly romanized, "Minerva.")

Minerva is one of the most highly skilled medical officers in the field.

ミネルバ (Mi ne ru ba) was introduced in Super-God Masterforce, the version of Transformers Japan got in 1988. The year before, Japan had gone its own way with the story, ignoring what Hasbro was doing in the US in favor of something vastly different: for instance, while American Headmasters were aliens from the planet Nebulos who partnered with the Autobots and Decepticons, Japanese Headmasters were tiny TFs piloting big, non-sentient bodies. Super-God Masterforce was nearly a clean break with the old continuity, much like Beast Wars would later be; now Earth was protected by "Headmaster Juniors," who were humans who used alien technology to physically become Transformers and pilot those lifeless transtectors themselves. The original Minerva was one of those humans.

The original Minerva also used the same molds as the US character Nightbeat - like, 1988 rolled around, and little Joey and Tristan got the toy molded in blue and yellow, while little Jonouchi and Honda got the same toy molded in red and white. But while there was a modern Nightbeat released in 2014 as part of the Thrilling 30 sub-line, this Minerva uses a different set of molds, a more recent set: Legacy Elita-1! That's why Elita had that kibble sticking up behind her shoulders, when it wasn't anything the character had ever sported before: because the Nightbeat mold had tall shoulders like that, and so Minerva followed suit. That's why the designers gave you the option to either stick them up high on this toy or fold them down, so each bot could do her best to homage the old days.

Obviously the head is different: Elita-1's needed to look like Elita-1's, and Minerva's needs to look like Minerva (remember, in her case, the head was Minerva; everything below the neck might as well have been a Gundam suit). The Nightbeat mold didn't have any feminine features (ie, no metal hairdos), so Minerva ended up with a very blocky head that had two black gun/antenna things on the ears. The ears here are less detatched from the helmet than in the olden days, but it's still more than any recent Nightbeat toy has gotten. The head's not removable, so no Headmastering in this universe - according to designer Mark Maher, she lost that ability when she jumped through the portal from her universe to this one.

The figure moves at the knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and head. You can also use some of the joints in the ankles to flex her feet to the sides. The tab on her kibble that's supposed to fit into her back to keep things from sliding about doesn't stay in place very well, so you'll need to be careful with that. The figure comes with two rifles, molded from clear plastic: the one that matches her G1 toy's gun is then painted black, while the one that belonged to Elita-1 is left clear. Just as neither 1988 Nightbeat nor Minelba were technically "repaints" of the other, both Elita-1 and Minerva were planned from this mold from the beginning.

Maher also suggests giving her the "medic repair welder" that came with the Target-exclusive Red Cog - you know, the thing that no one wanted and cost about 50% too much, and is now no longer available anywhere anyway? Yeah, great idea. We'll get right on that.

To minerv Converta, spin the lower body around, raise the hood and put the shoulder-towers into place, fold the roof out from inside the kibble, rotate the arms and hands, lock the arms into place, fold panels out of the inside of the shins, press the legs together, hinge the shins up sideways, and flip the feet around. She's still got the loose piece of kibble you're supposed to plug in, but it's a light bar this time, so it doesn't look as out of place in robot mode and thus you might as well not remove it at all.

We said, in the Elita-1 review, that we could understand making a swappable piece of kibble in order to differentiate the two uses of this mold, and we stand by that. But the choice to make them separate pieces you treat as an accessory? Not so much. If a toy's head can be redone and assembled with no problem, then so can her mechanical tramp stamp. Of course, that's just us whining: it doesn't hurt us at all to have to put the piece in, especially since you can just leave it there forever and the toy will still work fine.

Super-God Masterforce referred to Minerva's altmode as an ambulance, which was ridiculous: Nightbeat's altmode was a Porsche 959, and so was hers. You can barely fit a passenger in a Porsche, let alone injured patients! Turning her into a Cybertronian buggy today isn't much better, but at least she, like movie Ratchet would be good at getting around to places where injuries might be taking place? She'll come to you and fix you up, but not take you back out anywhere. The reason her guns were molded in clear plastic was that both her windshield and her light bar were going to be translucent, but in different colors: rather than run two batches of plastic, they just used clear, then painted a blue tint on the windows and a red tint on the bar. The other solution would be to just paint them solid colors, which would work equally well.

Minerva has a lot going for her. For one thing, her name is the Roman equivalent of Athena, goddess of wisdom and the arts, and therefore one of our patroness inspirations here. She's a historic character (although a toy released earlier has been retroactively identified as female, there wouldn't be any more female Transformer toys until Beast Wars in the mid-90s) getting her first-ever Hasbro toy. The only drawback is that she's a Walgreens exclusive, and they're not good at stocking those - still waiting for that Siege Ratchet to be released, guys. Fortunately, you can get her from their website with no trouble. They even ship to store for free! It was easy to nitpick Elita-1 because she's had a few recent toys over the years; its also easy to overlook a lot of those complaints when it's a character who might as well never have been released ever before.

-- 05/30/23

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