Height: 13.5cm to top of head
Articulation: 22 total points - Swivel neck; five points each arm: triple shoulder joint, bicep swivel, elbow hinge; Swivel waist; 5 points each leg: Ball joint hip, thigh swivel, hinge knee, double ankle joint.
Colors: Molded yellow, grey, black, clear light blue; Painted black, "yellow", silver, metallic blue, gunmetal grey, red.
Accessories: Stinger Blaster x2
Release Data: Released in the United States in July of 2013 at a retail price of US$12.99
Rebuilt in to a new, more powerful form, Bumblebee attacks life - and the Decepticons - with a newfound confidence. His enhanced speed, armor and strength all combine to make him the warrior he's always wanted to be, but he remains devoted to his human friends and the Autobot ideal of freedom.
We're actually sort of overdue for this. Whether or not you're inclined to
count War For Cybertron Bumblebee as a Classics version of the character, that
was still about four years ago. For Hasbro's important headline character, it's
a surprisingly long time to go without offering something new in this style.
I'm not sure about you, but for me this toy has a bit to live up to, because I
think 2006's Classics Bumblebee is still among the best toys that line put out,
especially the Reveal The Shield recolor of it.
Starting with the obvious, this figure is a little messy. To get the desired robot appearance, it needs a false car hood chest, and so the real hood has to go somewhere. Well, that's mainly on the back, along with the roof and windshield. Bumblebee has quite the cape happening back there. There's a tab intended to hold everything in place by fitting in a slot just under the base of the neck, but it doesn't really stick. The mass of car panels generally stays better in place from the friction of the hinges than it does by the tab and slot. Two-thirds of the car's length then become part of the figure's shoulders through unconvincing and unimpressive panel folding, leaving the car doors hanging out further in back than the roof/hood cape. Bumblebee must have a heck of a bad time finding a chair that fits him. Worse offenders have existed over the years, but this is still a lot of panels left behind by the robot mode and even leaving aside the visual mess, it just doesn't make me very happy looking at it from the perspective of parts economy either.
When you move away from that, the figure is (kind of surprisingly) not too badly designed. Biggest shock to me is the shoulders having no real impedance from the mass of car junk swimming around them. You can get outward lift, free swivel... because the chest is flat Bumblebee can actually reach over with one hand and touch the opposite shoulder. The elbows and knees are designed with ridges for soft ratcheting joints, though the success rate may vary; My figure has one elbow where the ratcheting is so soft as to move in to the theoretical, but the other elbow and both knees are fine, plus the elbows are tight enough that it click points aren't needed for support. The single hinges in the knees are able to bend very far thanks to doing double duty as transformation joints. I am in fact disappointed the elbows weren't constructed in the same way to increase their range of motion. Speaking of limited motion, the bicep swivel is hindered with a bit of sculpted detail. The way it works out, there's a small block of plastic on the front of the upper arm, and the outside of the forearm (with the infectious discharge paint) is a raised, square surface. You can rotate the arm freely if the arm is straight, but bend the arm at all and you can't turn the forearm in across the body anymore. Alternately, turn the straightened arm inward and you can't bend the elbow. Whichever direction you take it, it still irritates me to have ultimately unnecessary sculpted detail in a place where it works against points of articulation.
The waist swivels, or at least has the capability. In practice the car cape
as well as part of the sliding torso structure work against its movement. The
swivel is pretty stiff too, which might make it seem like the joint isn't even
there to start. The legs, aside from the knees I already mentioned are put
together pretty well. No shocks or facepalmingly bad choices made here. And in
fact the ankles are a bit neat. They're rooted in a ball joint part way up the
lower leg, and hinged at the top of the foot. Part of this accommodates
transformation, but it still gives a fair range of motion in this application,
allowing the feet to turn, point, and get a few degrees of tilt to the side.
The feet are huge blocks as well, giving Bumblebee a stable base to stand on
and utilize the poseability in the legs.
Now, let's talk about paint. Specifically yellow paint. This toy has hideous yellow paint. Like, the forearms are black plastic, but the design calls for yellow panels on one side, so it's painted on. But this is the most terrible yellow paint I've seen on a toy in recent memory. The color value this gives off is not really yellow as such. No, it's more like what you might have if the color yellow became sick and vomited upon itself. That the forearms are the only place on the figure where this paint is present, which is probably the only factor keeping this from being even worse. It's not a situation of an interaction with the underlying plastic color. That may be intensifying the effect slightly, but there are other non-robot bits that have some of this paint and it's not particularly better there either. Very little of the robot specific elements are painted. The chest has the most complex deco work so it can try to match some of the car elements, but most signs of color or contrast in robot mode are carry overs from the vehicle deco.
Details seem to melt away in all the unpainted yellow plastic on the toy. The head looks terrible with the silver painted face and venting within the yellow plastic. There might be a slight translucent quality to it, I'm not sure. But it looks like a few solid elements floating in a poorly defined sea of yellow without any supporting characteristics. They don't blend together at all because this yellow does not show any kind of sculpted detail. Making it worse, you can see the "structural" plastic in the inner torso assembly and at the waist, and there's a huge visual difference between them. The finish is not glossy at all, but the color is vibrant and it shows off the sculpting really well, as compared to the body panel plastic that is smooth and shiny at the cost of everything else. This figure would look far nicer if it could use that kind of plastic everywhere it called for yellow.
This is an undeserved exercise in frustration. There are a number of things
that must tab together, and to do so need to interface at particular angles.
But it feels like these angles are incompatible with other steps in the
transformation, so there's a lot of going in circles tabbing one chunk in then
going back two steps earlier to reattach something else that has since come
loose from the next thing down the line. What makes this further irritating is
the relatively few steps overall the transformation even takes. It's similar in
many ways to Reveal The Shield Windcharger, in fact. The hood is about the only
thing that can't find a real analogue in process. It's not that a Deluxe using
a Scout's engineering model is wrong, mind, it's that it seems like it ought to
work a lot better considering the older Scout managed a fair bit more smoothly.
And thus, frustration.
The comparison to Windcharger remains in play, I think. There's very similar body lines in it being a genericized muscle car. In this case borrowing heavily from Mustang and Camaro. I forget what I decided Windcharger was mixed with besides Mustang way back when, but the effect is very much the same anyway. The movies and then Transformers Prime has worked to condition us to accept a yellow car like this as being Bumblebee, and that may be well and good for those iterations. As much as I like the overall look of this vehicle blending, I still have trouble really recognizing it as Bumblebee in a Classics setting, even if rationally I'm aware that it's what is intended for it. In a certain way it's hard for me to read this as Bumblebee at all, but when it does work, I find that the car is making me expect a movie or movie-inspired version of the character to unfold out of it.
The color matching in vehicle mode is far, far superior to the robot, with all but the tiniest slivers of yellow being represented in plastic. Not all the same type of plastic though. The door hinges are visibly just the tiniest bit different in shade because the material is different from the rest of the body panels. But it doesn't look ill, so I'm pretty well pleased at the degree of success on this side of things. The black stripes flow okay, but there's big gaps between panels because the paint applications don't even begin to wrap past the flat surfaces to the corners. The biggest deco success of the car has to be the tail lights being acceptably painted in red, along with a nice helping of gunmetal across the flap of the trunk and the bit of the exhaust system showing. Actually, I retract that - the biggest success MUST be the hubcaps all being painted. That's usually the first thing to give way for budget. Then again, as sparse looking as the robot was, maybe this is why and the hubcaps really would have been better left blank.
The body does, once you get it all to play along, snap together in to a sturdy unit. My sample here at least has a gap in the rear window that I cannot correct, but there's not anything that feels like it'll buckle under pressure. A side benefit of coming together so solid, the wheels easily sit level and roll smoothly. My OCD just won't tolerate uneven wheels on a vehicle mode. My one real concern is the robot chest that hangs under the car body. There's the tiniest ground clearance for it, and there are painted edges facing downward. Careless handling seems like it might easily see that paint get scraped off, and potentially even get the plastic scuffed.
Bumblebee has a pair of "Stinger Blasters" which don't really look like anything, though I think they might be intended to look like some kind of booster for the vehicle mode. Maybe? The mounting point for vehicle mode is all the way at the rear corners, so pointing them backwards looks really bad, and pointing them forward along the body makes them look ...backward. In robot mode they can individually be handheld, or fit in to 5mm ports on the underside of the forearms.
Combining them is just flipping the handles to the outside and fitting the tabs together. Taking two weird bits of generic techno junk and slapping them together does at least make something weapon-ish. The blue clear plastic ...blades? Energy discharges? The clear plastic parts still make the whole affair look goofy even while it's making a better stab at being a gun. At least the halves tab together strongly. Looking goofy and falling apart at no provocation would have just killed it outright.
But best of all, this is the other place on the toy where that amazing yellow paint appears! Looking just as hideous and disgusting as it did over black plastic here on the light grey just tells me it's really really bad paint to begin with and was never really suited for use on this toy in any way.
Bumblebee does also come with a copy of Spotlight Bumblebee, used as the packaging art. ...provided you're getting a North American release of the toy. Releases in other parts of the world won't include the comic book. But in this case you wouldn't be missing much anyway. You can check out my original review of the shop released Spotlight Bumblebee here.
Bumblebee feels like a case of designers trying to find ways to get the toys back to feeling more like they did in late 2010 to early 2011 while still acting in the constraints of the current budget models. In some respects I think it was successful. The leg construction manages to remind me of earlier times. But what I realized in the course of writing this is that what was achieved was not getting a grip back on building Deluxes. So much of this toy came to remind me of Windcharger, and it finally struck me: This is a giant Scout. They did start to hit a 2010-style note with this toy, but it's from the completely wrong size class. And even using Scout complexity at a Deluxe size, they couldn't get everything quite right.
So here comes one of the strangest figure ratings I can remember having to work out. In a world that does not have color information, I think I could call this Bumblebee Good, because just on the basic merits of the design, it gets enough right that I can be on board. But it looks pretty terrible the way the deco is executed. This is largely to the particular yellow plastic employed, because outside the disgusting yellow paint Bumblebee has some pretty nice paint work going on. But that yellow paint and visually harmful yellow plastic are just murdering things for me. So the final score comes in at Could Have Been Better on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Scale. Decent engineering is great, but it's little help when you hate looking at the toy.
I have managed a couple things in the time I've spent with Bumblebee here. For one, I no longer have any interest in seeing this mold used as Hot Rod ever. And I'm pinning a lot more hopes on the Goldbug recolor to deliver an instance of the toy that is generally nice to look at. ...hm. I may not want Hot Rod anymore, but it has just hit me that if this yellow were shifted a bit more toward orange, this wouldn't be far from making an acceptable Hubcap. Maybe a fan club item down the road.
|Date||August 6th 2013|
|Score||(4 out of 10)|
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