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Transformers ROTF
by yo go re

Bear with us, folks, we're doing something weird today.

Though she is a sister to Arcee, Elita-1 has more in common with Sideswipe. She and the swordsman team up whenever possible - especially if it means they can get away somewhere nice to do a little Decepticon hunting. This time, the two Autobots have found themselves up against Axor, who should present just enough of a challenge to make things interesting. Turn the tables on enemy forces when you throw this warrior into the fight!

In case you're wondering, yes, this figure is exactly the same mold as the previously released Chromia - and since Artemis already reviewed Chromia, we won't repeat everything from that review in this one. You can go read that review for the nitty-gritty, while this one hits the high points. High points such as "be glad they chose Chromia as the basis for this repaint and not Arcee."

Of the two available molds, Chromia is the far superior choice - there's a damn good reason Arcee was nominated for 2009's Worst Toy of the Year, and that reason is that she's a horrible mess, one of the worst-designed Transformers seen in years. Chromia's not a ton better, but better she is, and so Elita-1 is better as well. And if you want to get right down to it, we'd say that Elita-1 is better than Chromia: her dusty rose paint scheme is more appealing than Chromia's toyish blue, and she has fewer of the Cybertronian hieroglyphics scattered around. The bike's license plate is even decorated, reading "3L 174" - or "Elita" if you're a dork.

One correction we have to make from that last review: the Chromia/Elita-1 head is not the same mold as the Arcee head. The differences are minor, like comparing any two given Optimus Primes: meant to look alike, but sculpted separately based on the same original design. Why? Who knows? It's like Hasbro assigned the bikes to two separate sculptors, without any thought of pieces that could be used between them.

In the film, the third Bike sister had a distinctive form - it had some similarities to both Arcee and Chromia, but it was still unique. It would have had a blade weapon on its right arm, and the bike's front wheel in the left hand. Sadly, we don't get a toy of that, and we probably never will. Even if the third body had turned out to be as confusing and muddled as Arcee, isn't it still preferable to get a bonafide new Transformer than a repainted one?

When this figure was first shown at Botcon, Hasbro said her name was going to be "Flareup," but that didn't make the cut, either. So why did they revert to a name that had already been used for the first movie? Maybe for the same reason they used her coppery colors rather than the purple seen in the film: in other words, who knows? It's not like Hasbro bothers to tell fans about these decisions (nor should they - it's hard for some fans to admit, but we really don't need to know every tiny detail about every stage of getting a toy from idea to reality). The final thing missing is any kind of instructions on how to combine Hannah Elita and her sisters.

See, the original idea for the movie was that the three bikes were all "Arcee," and that she could combine her three bodies into one big one. Hasbro promised the toys would be able to do the same, and in theory they can, but we are lacking any official instructions on how to do so. It seemed like Hasbro was going to put the instructions online, but they haven't, so we're left devising our own. Like we said, we're doing something weird today: the rest of this review is going to be dedicated to showing you how to reproduce what we came up with.

To start with, we used this image as inspiration. Now, obviously the idea behind that one was that Arcee (red) would be the "leg," Chromia (blue) would be the right arm and Flareup (purple) would be the left. Since Chromia and Elita are twins, a lot of fans seem to be trying to make them both arms, but that ignores the weapon layout seen on the concept art. We'll be using Chromia as the right arm, for her blaster, and Arcee as the left, for her blade.

Begin with Elita-1's robot mode. Tuck her arms down by her sides, to keep the body from looking hollow, and fold down the shoulder pads to make her chest bulkier. Unfortunately, there's nothing much to be done about her giant gun-arm: no matter what you do with it, it's always going to be at least somewhat in the way. The best we've been able to do is leave it hanging at her side; another decent option is to put it behind her back pointing straight up; that gets it out of sight, but will also make her look stumpier in combined mode.

Next is Chromia, the right arm. With her, we'll be starting in bike mode. Split out the engine like you were going to turn it into arms, but then put the head and shoulders down into the space where the gun-arm used to be. Fold up the rear wheel, as you would for robot mode, but leave the seat up. Swing the front wheel up over the top, so it's near the back wheel, and turn the headlight 180°. The big blaster is now set to be the arm of the combined robot - in fact, you can even fake a giant hand, using the license plate as "fingers" and the point on the rotating engine panel as the thumb.

And finally, Arcee. Turning Arcee into an arm is just like turning Arcee into a robot or turning Arcee into a bike: an ungodly mess. We're basically going to be working from robot mode, so good luck with that. The best we've been able to come up with for her is little more than "mash her against the other two and see how she'll fit," so it's rather difficult to describe - hell, it's hard enough to explain how to convert her in the first place, with all those swivels, hinges and balljoints in her spine. All we can really say is that her hand becomes the arm's fingers, the bike's seat becomes the thumb, and the bike wheels end up way in the back. Sorry we can't do better for you. Oh! For increased stability, there's a small peg on the back of the front wheel's disc brake that will fit into a conveniently placed hole on the spine (it's right by the top swivel joint).

Even if you can follow our half-assed indication of how to turn Arcee into an arm, getting the three bots connected is still tough. They connect via three tongue-and-groove arms, which is easy enough to understand, but they're so crowded in there that actually getting access to line them up and slide them in unison is really hard. In fact, we've had better luck with connecting two of them, then just pushing the third one in there roughly.

Combined, the mega Arcee (who we'll call MegArcee) is 7" tall, or 8⅛" if you put the cannon behind the torso. Articulation is limited, obviously, but you can actually pose the jury-rigged arms surprisingly well. If you get everything together right, she'll actually be fairly stable; balanced enough to remain upright using nothing but the same stand Elita-1 uses, and sturdy enough that she won't fall apart if you look at her funny.

There's no "real" version of MegArcee yet, and now that Hasbro has decided to release a repainted Chromia instead of an actual version of the third bike, there probably won't be. If you've already bought in with Chromia and Arcee, then you might as well get Elita-1, too: she's the best of the three, and the combined mode isn't terrible.

-- 01/04/11

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