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Cherno Alpha

Pacific Rim
by yo go re

It's certainly possible that NECA was always planning to make Cherno Alpha in Series 3 of their Pacific Rim toys, but it definitely feels like her inclusion is a result of fan requests. Everybody loves this goofy пизда старая.

Cherno Alpha Designation: Cherno Alpha
Classification: Mark-1
OS: Pozhar Protyev 6.4
Weight: 6,912 tons
Energy Core: Stun Core 88 digital plasma reactor

Cherno Alpha was the oldest still-operating Jaeger, having been launched in 2015. She was deployed to protect the Siberian portion of the Anti-​Kaiju Wall, and during her watch, the wall was unbreached for six years. She killed four kaiju on her own, and two more as part of a team. Plus, she's piloted by Sasha and Aleksis Kaidanovsky, who are just about the awesomest couple ever (and are survivors, no matter what the movie says).

Cherno is one of the most visually distinct Jaegers, because instead of a head, she has what looks like a nuclear reactor's cooling tower plopped on her shoulders. That's not intentional, by the way: her head, an MGS112/Recharging Energy Cell that serves as fuel storage for prolonged operation, is actually based on the Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future. Unlike the other Jaegers, Cherno's head is not a removable escape pod - the pilots work in the center of the chest, so there's no running away when things get rough. They win or they die.

Since the Jaeger designs needed to "read" very quickly, the art teams engaged in a bit of national stereotyping (but not as much as G Gundam). Production Designer Andrew Neskoromny pointed out that they took cues from the US and Soviet space programs: while the Americans' vehicles were based on aeronautical designs, the Russians used their expertise in submarines to basically send diving bells into orbit; so you've got Gipsy Danger, the US Jaeger, based on a sleek fighter plane, and Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, with a thicker, blockier hull. They also added some elements borrowed from Russian tanks - that's what Stacker Pentecost was referring to when he called her "the last of the T-90s."

Cherno Alpha's weapon of choice is a matched set of Z14 Tesla fists, nicknamed the "roll of nickels" by the production designers. It's a cylinder gripped in the fist to increase punching power, and it also delivers a massive electric shock. Cool! The design sketches suggest that the coil was meant to be able to retract into the arm, but here it's a permanent part of the sculpt. The fingers do curl around it nicely, though.

One of the cool little features to be found in the design is on Cherno's heels: her feet have weird arches, but then there are spikes coming up off the heels. Yes, up. For times when extra stability is required, the spikes can be explosively fired down into the ground (the seabed, most likely), effectvely anchoring Cherno in place. Of course, that would make more sense in conjunction with a ranged weapon, not melee, but so it goes.

prisyadka According to the art book, Cherno Alpha stands 280' tall, but the toy tops out at just over 8". It has a swivel neck (though not a lot of range, thanks to the shape of the head/neck armor), double-balljoined shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel forearms, hinged fingers, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, hinged knees, hinged ankles, and balljointed feet. Additionally, the hands slide forward on pistons, just like in the film. Judging by the animation model, the proportions are a bit off - the chest should be wider and the legs narrower - but the toy still looks really good.

Despite what you might think, Cherno Alpha is not named after Chernobyl - at least, not directly. The complete working name was Chernobog Alpha, after the Slavic god. Chernobog and Chernobyl obviously share the same root word (which means "black"), but that's all. For as much as she has a goofy design and very little screentime, Cherno Alpha is definitely a fan favorite, and it's nice that NECA wasted no time in turning her into a toy.

-- 03/16/14

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