On first glance the box art template is pretty much the same as the original AT; it's still the same smarmy looking kid holding the blaster, however the wonders of Illustrator/Photoshop have a few changes to reflect the new blaster. It's now called the Alpha Trooper CS-12, not CS-18 so the artwork has been edited to show a 12 round Elite clip rather than the original 18 round drum. Logos are now "N-Strike Elite" and they blaster now sports the new Elite colour scheme and is firing an Elite dart rather than an orange streamline.
There are quite a lot of inconsistencies and interesting decisions Nerf have made on "Elite-ifying" their blaster range. Whereas the Barrel Break IX-2 and Jolt just got a repaint and came with Elite darts, they were still using the same shell mould, and in turn still under the "N-Strike"banner which contradicts official sources that said "N-Strike" would be phased out. Blasters like the Retaliator and Rampage were actually repainted Recons and Raiders respectively but their change in internals from reverse plunger to direct plunger seemed to entitle them to gain a whole new name. The Rayven CS-18 kept its name in its entirety when it made the Elite switch.. but was called an Elite blaster and coloured accordingly.
The Alpha Trooper has had its name changed slightly, from the Alpha Trooper CS-18 to now CS-12. And although the blaster's mould is more or less the same as the original, they've still made the effort to change the mould to reflect the new name. The name plate isn't just painted on, it's raised plastic, as is the N-Strike Elite badge in the grip:
It's called a CS-12 because they've replaced the original 18 round drum with a 12 round clip. I don't know whether some will see this as a step DOWN, but it doesn't bother me too much; I think it's fine and I always liked the look of the AT with flat clips over the drums anyway.
Otherwise, everything else, bar the colour from the shell is identical to the original AT. Which is fine, because I loved it the way it was and personally like the Elite blue over the original yellow anyway.
Performance-wise- it's good and everything you'd expect from an AT that'd been given the Elite treatment. It's no worse off than the Rampage (the only other blaster I can compare it to as I left one here in LA at my cousin's place last time I was here) and its ranges and accuracy are just as I'd want them to be. Obviously clips are interchangeable so I loaded it with the Rampage drum and it had no problems with it.
If you loved the original AT, and it's starting to get a lil tired (as mine did with overuse), its worth getting this. Of course in Australia the detuned state of the Elite series is annoying, and in stock state it's not much of a difference if at all from the yellow original ATs, but if you're willing to replace the springs out, you'll probably be pretty happy with it- it was so many fans' blaster of choice for a reason. With the announcement of a Elite series spectre (and in turn a blue foldable stock) I'm definitely looking forward to kitting my AT out with my load out of choice and having it all match again. The Elite AT CS-12 is a subtle upgrade, and probably worth it eventually.