Transformers Classics (Bumblebee Review)

in 2006, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Classics, Generation One

General Information:
Release Year: September 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $9.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: "Wave Crusher" jetski/backpack

Images:

*Image from the official Transformers web site.

Tech Specs:*
Motto: "Data is power."
Small compared to most other TRANSFORMERS, BUMBLEBEE more than makes up for through his incredible bravery and willingness to go places larger robots won't. Capable of aerial and underwater missions, he is more versatile than many other AUTOBOTS. His eagerness to do his part leads him to above and beyond the call of duty, often placing him in grave danger. It is a testament to his skill that he has never been captured.

Strength: 3 Intelligence: 9 Speed: 6 Endurance: 4 Rank: 7 Courage: 10 Firepower: 4 Skill: 9

The Classics Transformers line seeks to return Transformers to basics. The idea was simple: take iconic Transformers characters from Generation One and update them as faithfully as possible using today's design aesthetics and engineering knowledge. Perhaps one of the most fondly remembered G1 Autobots is Bumblebee, who has received quite a bit of attention in the comic book universe the past couple of years. Now he returns in toy form thanks to Hasbro securing the rights to his name again and the Classics line.

Vehicle Mode:
Some time ago it was revealed that an updated Bumblebee had been proposed for the Binaltech line, but due to car manufacturer objects, the VW Bug could not be reproduced for any line that involved war (however I did sneak the BT Bumblebee into 2005's "Descent into Evil" comic book. Still, the designers wanted to give Bumblebee a form that evoked the rounded, VW form. The result was a vehicle that is part Subaru, part Honda hatchback and part VW.

The overall shape of the vehicle borrows from the Subaru Hatchback, starting with a sloped front end leading to a high cabin section that then slopes down to a fairly angled rear section. The front end has points on it near the fenders that are similar in design to the front end of a Honda Civic hatchback. The VW influence is most easily seen on the sections around the wheels where they are curved, especially around the rear wheels.

Smaller details come in the form of parts such as a raised vent on the front hood, a spoiler on the rear (with wide notches on the edge), vent lines on the front grille and five spokes on each wheel with small circle details representing the tire rivets. He also has two sideview mirrors and two sculpted seats inside the car.

Appropriately Bumblebee is mostly yellow in color. His hubcaps and spoiler are silver while his tires and rear hitch are black. The car seats are black with silver paint on the edges. Details are provided by pearl white paint. The front section and the hood have two racing stripes painted on them. On the top section are two "L" shaped details and the rear section has a white angled line in front of the pearl white paint that makes up the entire rear section.

Bumblebee includes an accessory: a jetski resting on top of a trailer. This connects to him via the hitch on his back. The jetski is named Wave Crusher, but it does not separate from the trailer. The hitch can swing up when not connected to the trailer. Wave Crusher is a really sleek looking vehicle. The trailer is silver with black wheels. Wave Crusher is mostly painted pearl white with a light blue windshield. Orange is used for a stripe in the front and spray ops on the back. The seat is black. The addition of Wave Crusher really helps complete the image of Bumblebee's vehicle mode as a sporty vehicle aimed at a younger crowd. This fits the youthful image of the character and was a brilliant touch.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the trailer from the vehicle.
  2. Pull the doors out slightly and swing them down onto the underside of the vehicle.
  3. Swing the front section of the vehicle down.
  4. Fold the seats down.
  5. Split the front end of the vehicle in half.
  6. Swing front sections up to form the robot feet.
  7. Swing the robot arms out.
  8. Swing the windshield section down.
  9. Swing the robot head down.
  10. Rotate the lower robot arms around and then rotate the door around so it is out of the way of the fists.
  11. Push the doors in so the pegs on them connect to the holes on his lower arms.
  12. Swing the sides of the trailer out.
  13. Rotate Wave Crusher so it points up.
  14. Rotate the trailer halves around so the tires point down.
  15. The Wave Crusher backpack attaches to the section with the rear window behind Bumblebee's head.

Robot Mode:
Bumblebee's robot mode is heavily based on his animated appearance in the G1 cartoon. Unlike the G1 figure, his animation model did not have wheels on the arms and its head had a regular face rather than a mouthplate. It would be fair to say that 1990's Action Master Bumblebee was probably the most "cartoon-accurate" version of Bumblebee- but then again he couldn't transform. Plus, this isn't meant to be the G1 cartoon Bumblebee, but rather a figure inspired by it. In that sense, it does an awesome job.

The general body shape resembles G1 Bumblebee, but it also shares features with the Throttlebot Goldbug, who fans will know as the alternate incarnation of Bumblebee. This primarily comes from the rear section of the vehicle winding up behind his head. The head sculpt is excellent, with its central crest and horns it looks like a good modern day take on a classic face. The newly revealed arm and leg pieces have a variety of detail including layered lines on the arms and pistons on the legs. When you attach Wave Crusher to his back as a jet pack it gives him an aerodynamic appearance not normally associated with the character. The wings really do look neat over his shoulders and the curves sections that connect his chest piece to the back now look like straps connected to the jet pack. In a way, I can't help but think that this also pays a tiny bit of homage to Action Master Bumblebee who also had a backpack (but that one was a Heli-Pack).

Bumblebee has thirteen points of articulation in this mode. This doesn't sound like a lot, but for this mode it's fine. Both his arm joints are ball joints, so the range of movement is rather wide. His upper legs connect to the waist by ball joints as well, so again the legs can move in a variety of ways. His knees can bend and the lower legs can turn in/outwards. His head is also on a ball joint, so not only can he look side to side but he can also look up.

Bumblebee's colors remain consistant with his G1 appearance. His head's "helmet" section is yellow with the middle of the crest painted blue. His face is painted silver and the eyes are blue (like all Autobot eyes in the G1 cartoon were). His chest and lower legs/feet are yellow, with the details carried over from the vehicle mode. The arms are cast in black and silver plastic, with silver making up the lower arms. His upper legs wind up with silver on the top thanks to the back of the seats being painted. The lower legs are black, but the hood halves from the vehicle mode serve as armor over them. On Bumblebee's chest is another link to his G1 heritage: an Autobot rub symbol. I did notice these new rub symbols are a bit more sensitive than their G1 predecessors. You don't have to rub that hard, just a quick swipe generally gets the Autobot symbol to appear.

Like his G1 counterpart, Bumblebee does not include any weapons. However, the jetpack makes up for this in some ways as an accessory. Still, if you really want Bumblebee to be armed and dangerous, his fist holes are sized to accomodate Energon weapons.

Final Thoughts:
Long time visitors to this site know Bumblebee is my favorite Transformer from G1. Getting an updated version of the character is a complete treat, no less in the form of such an impressive figure. If he had a gun I'd say he was perfect, but he is still an amazing update of the character and I give Hasbro kudos for reclaiming the Bumblebee trademark. Highly recommended!