"Generations" Studio Series Bumblebee Vol. 1 Retro Rock Garage Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Comic-Con Exclusive, Deluxe, Generations, Studio Series

Studio Series

General Information:
Release Date: July 19, 2018 (SDCC release), August 13, 2018 (HasbroToyShop release)
Price Point: $69.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: San Diego Comic-Con and HasbroToyShop exclusive
Accessories: Arm weapon, Dairu weapons x 2, Uruaz weapons x 2

Bumblebee

Official images and text in italics below from HasbroToyShop:
Studio Series presents Vol.1 of a totally awesome convention exclusive series. Packed with retro radness, this installment features a bodaciously Special Edition Bumblebee Gold Camaro figure and 2 dynamite dino-cassette figures, Dairu and Uruaz (the evil twin of Zauru), remixed from an '80s Japan-only release. Retro Rock Garage - Vol. 1 is a celebration of the Bumblebee movie and the awesomeness of cranking up some tunes as you tune up your ride. Especially if that ride is a righteous '77 Camaro with special edition deco that converts from robot mode in 25 steps.

  • "Perfect soundtrack for tuning up my '77 Chevrolet Camaro" -Charlie, Human Ally Magazine
  • "The movie-inspired details really come through, great one for the collection" -The Prime Times
  • "Wouldn't even intercept the transmission" -Soundwave, Rolling Decepticon
  • "Cassettes don't actually play music" -Disclaimer Weekly
  • Includes: Bumblebee figure, 5 accessories, 2 mini-cassette figures, and instructions.
  • Convention Exclusive Studio Series Deluxe Class Bumblebee figure with special edition deco
  • Details, styling, and figure scale inspired by the rockin' world of Transformers: Bumblebee
  • 2 dino-cassette figures based on a classic 1980's release, sold only in Japan
  • Premium packaging inspired by old-school mix tape style
  • Show off the exclusive Bumblebee figure inside a cassette-inspired Retro Rock Garage - Vol 1 display
  • Figure scale: 4.5 inches
  • Ages 8 and up
  • Warning: Choking Hazard -- Small parts may be generated. Not for children under 3 years.

Each year at San Diego Comic-Con Hasbro releases exclusive Transformers toys with a follow up release on HasbroToyShop. 2018 was no different. One of this year's exclusives was a "Studio Series" figure with a surprise: two "dinosaur cassettes" based on sculpts originally released during Generation One in Japan! Throw in some fun packaging and the "Bumblebee Vol. 1 Retro Rock Garage" makes for one unique exclusive set.

Packaging:
Unlike the regular "Studio Series" packaging (such as the one used for Deluxe Bumblebee) this set features a unique box. The outside is a thin, cardboard layer with a vertical drawing of Bumblebee in front with Bumblebee posing in front of an 80's style Boom Box. The familiar "Generations" and vertical Transformers logo are on the right side. The back features a drawing of a garage (most likely Charlie's from the upcoming "Bumblebee" movie) with an "I love 80's" "sticker" drawn on (and an Autobot symbol replacing the heart). "Song titles" listed are "Let the Good Times Roll Out" and "Get Stung", all plays on classic Transformers phrases or Bumblebee himself. Slide the cover off and you reveal some more fun packaging inside.

Inside is the box that actually holds Bumblebee and the "Dino Cassettes". This box is meant to be set horizontally and the print on it resembles an 80's style cassette tape complete with a "Side A" and "Side B". The words "TF-High Def" are printed in a thick 80's style font and the words "Vol. 1 Retro Rock Garage" and "Bumblebee" look handwritten onto the "cassette". There are even small details like screws in the corners! Bumblebee sits inside two clear plastic windows on top, then you can swing out on side (like a glove compartment) to reveal the Dairu and Uruaz with their weapons! This box design is absolutely fantastic. While it does not feature a background like the mass market Studio Series figures, the creativity and retro vibe of the designs more than makes up for that. As a "child of the 80's", this box design really does give me the warm fuzzies.

Bumblebee Review

Robot Mode:
There have been no tooling changes made to this figure for this release. It is still meant to represent Bumblebee as he appeared in the 2007 live action Transformers film. However, most of the yellow and silver parts from the first release of this figure have been replaced with gold plastic. Other parts like the thighs are still black. Still other parts like sections of the chest have been painted metallic gold. The other main paint color is silver which is found all over the figure including the face, hands, arms, waist and legs. Even better, the actual color layout is different than the previous release, emphasizing more colors on parts like the hands and the sides of the arms. I have to say, I really like the look of the gold and silver color scheme. Not only is there something kind of glitzy retro about it, but it also reminds me of G1 Bumblebee's other identity: Goldbug!

All of the joints on my copy of this figure are relatively tight including the ball joints on the arms and hips and much to my delight, the parts that would often go flying off on the first release of this figure actually stay attached when transforming this figure. I know that is not a high bar for a Transformers figure, but given how the quality control on the first release I was very relived by this. You can still pop off the right forearm and replace it with the "weapon arm" included with this set.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Push the headlight sections of the chest down.
  3. Swing each hand in against the forearms.
  4. Pull the robot feet out to the sides a bit, then swing them down and extend the ankle piece.
  5. On the back of each leg are the parts that form the rear of the vehicle and the rear windows, swing the window pieces out.
  6. Swing the robot feet and ankle pieces up over onto the back of the thighs. Connect the tab on the feet to the corresponding slot on the back of the thighs.
  7. Swing the piece with the feet, ankles and rear wheels up against the sides of the lower legs.
  8. Swing the sections that form the rear of the vehicle down.
  9. Push the robot legs (now the halves of the vehicle mode's rear section) together.
  10. Swing the back panel up.
  11. Swing the chest section up.
  12. Swing the robot arms in.
  13. Swing the hood piece forward, fitting the front of it in between the headlight sections. If it doesn't fit, be sure to tilt them outward slightly.
  14. Extend the windshield/cabin cover piece out.
  15. Swing the front wheel wells forward. This will push the doors back. Fit these pieces into place.
  16. Fit the windshield/cabin cover piece into place.

During transformation you may need to flex the headlight pieces outward a bit to allow the hood piece to slide down in between them. When I did not do this the hood piece bent in a slightly worrying way (the plastic is not that thick) and the cabin cover piece went flying from the pressure. Be warned.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee transforms into a second generation Chevrolet Camaro and this figures into some of his new deco pattern. The designers did not go the lazy route and just replace yellow with gold. Instead, this figure features mostly gold paint and plastic in this mode with a single black design running down the center of the hood's air intake. This design is thick towards the windshield and then narrows towards the front of the car. The grills is painted black with the silver letters "Z28" on it, referring to the model of Camaro this figure represents. On top of the air intake is a tiny "bee" symbol and the word/name "Bumblebee" next to it. The "Z28" logo can also be found near the front wheel wells on the sides. The rear lights are painted red. The headlights themselves are a beautiful metallic blue color. Overall I really like this deco. I would dare say I like it more than the original release!

Dairu Review

Dairu is a figure that most fans never thought they would see released by Hasbro. During the latter part of the "Headmasters" era in Japan, a set of Japan-exclusive Autobot "dinosaur cassettes" were released. These never saw a release anywhere else, and they seldom appear on the secondary market leading to after market prices that have gone as high as over $1000 for a pair! Dairu is based on one of these cassettes. Hasbro has not officially stated just how they came to release these figures but there is speculation among fans that these are based on new tooling recreated from existing figures. I do not own the originals, so I do not have a basis to compare. My review of this figure will largely be based on this release with some comparisons to the item based on its TFWiki entry.

Cassette Mode:
Dairu is a cassette in his alt-mode. Unlike some of the earlier G1 "cassette warriors" it is pretty obvious this cassette can transform thanks to the dinosaur eyes peering out from the sides. Still he has plenty of "cassette" details including the spool details in the center. Much of this mode is an aqua green plastic with some smaller black pieces that form bits of the dinosaur mode. A lot of the details for this mode are made up of stickers. These are mostly blue, silver and grey. The top section features the letters "MC 60", referring to "Micro Cassette 60 minutes". This same letter/number combination was used on many of the other G1 cassette figures. The middle section has spools of "tape" on the sticker details and the left side has an "A" on it indicating it is the first side of the tape. The middle section also features the word "Metal" which is another detail used on the original series of G1 "cassette" Transformers.

Transformation to Beast Mode

  1. Swing the section with the "A" sticker on it out to the side and down.
  2. Swing the top of the cassette down to form the tail and swing out the end of the tail.
  3. Swing up the beast mode head and arms.
  4. Attach the weapons to the ports on the sides.

Beast Mode:
The TFWiki identifies this beast mode as a robotic Iguanodon but I could also easily see it being some type of Theropod. Regardless, it is a dinosaur with a roughly oval shaped head, two short arms and two long legs. The arms and feet presumably have sharp claws at the end, but given the flat surfaces that make up most of this mode it is hard to tell. The weapons connected to the sides look very cool. The back sections are thick and I can imagine them as ammunition or energy packs of some sort.

There are some nice mechanical details running along the sides of this figure. This includes line details on the "cheeks" and some vent-like details on the sides of the legs. Each of the arm and leg joints have circles sculpted into them but I believe on the originals the ones at the base were actually pins that held those joints in. In another interesting detail difference from the original G1 figure, the tail does not have the "Ⓒ Takara. '87" copyright stamp on it. Also, the head is held in with a pin with a flat head instead of a screw.

This mode is mostly green with black on the limbs. The weapons are vacuum metallized silver. On the left side is a heat sensitive symbol, but the design of this symbol is different from that of the original G1 symbols. The silver around the edge is much shinier and the shape of the black symbol has a flat "chin" section at the bottom while the original G1 version was much less pronounced. Also, this symbol does not have a clear layer of plastic over it like the G1 versions.

Dairu has a surprising thirteen points of articulation. This is largely based on the various hinges that allow him to transform not only into a cassette/beast but also a torso for his combined form with Zauru (who will be included with a Vol. 2 Bumblebee set).

Uruaz Review

Uruaz is actually a Decepticon and the supposed "evil twin" of the Dairu's partner Zauru (note the backwards name). That means Uruaz uses the same sculpt as Zauru, but with a different color scheme. In case you're wondering about a release for Zauru, he will be included with the Vol 2. Bumblebee set (which of course gives you incentive to buy both sets). Also, Dairu's "evil twin" Uriad will be included in that set as well.

Cassette Mode:
Uruaz is a cassette in his alt-mode. He is mostly made up of translucent orange plastic with some metal black parts. His stickers feature light blue backgrounds with silver printed on them. These details include the letter "A", the number "60" and a series of numbers on a scale (0-10) indicating length. In the middle are faux spools of tape. According to The TFWiki, these colors are the photo negative colors of the original Zauru figure. One interesting construction note. When looking at the side with the stickers, you will see two silver pins at the bottom holding parts in. On the original figure these were screws, not pins.

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Swing the sides of the cassette out and up to form the head/neck and tail.
  2. Swing the black pieces on the sides down to form the legs.
  3. Attach the weapons to the sides.

Beast Mode:
Uruaz is a Sauropod type dinosaur in beast mode. He features a long tail and neck with a small, oval beast mode head. He has wide feet towards the bottom. The translucent orange plastic looks fantastic and all the smaller black parts help break up the brightness of the orange. Interestingly, the eyes are painted blue, which is traditionally an Autobot feature.

There are nine points of articulation in this mode, mostly thanks to the transformation scheme. Technically if you move the weapons out of the way you can even tilt the body in the middle to make it look like he is turning, but you cannot stand the figure in that position.

Combiner Review

Transformation to Combined Mode:

  1. Starting with Uruazu, swing the sides out to form the legs of the Combined mode.
  2. Swing each half of the figure forward so the "feet" are pointed in the same direction.
  3. On Dairu, swing the left side (the beast mode legs) down.
  4. Swing the beast mode head/neck section up.
  5. Swing each beast mode leg out to the sides on the central hinge.
  6. Swing the legs down to form the Combiner arms.
  7. Swing the tail piece forward and down, revealing the Combiner head.
  8. Connect the port on Dairu's beast mode head to the post on Uruaz.
  9. Attach Dairu's weapons to either side of the head.
  10. Attach Uruaz's weapons to either side of the hip area.

In Generation One Dairu and Zauru combined to form a Combiner called "Legout". However, I'm calling this guy "Combined Mode" since technically Dairu and Uruaz are not a previously established team. Of course, since the two figures have the combining functionality I wanted to be sure to review this aspect of the design.

It is highly likely that this set of tools had to be rebuilt from pre-existing figures, so there will be some differences between the original figures and this version. The head is the most obvious change. Here the Combiner face looks like a sharply angled design with thin eyes and a flat mouthplate where the mouth would be located. However, on the original figure there is a much more clearly defined mouth and the eyes are smaller and not just two thin triangles. The rest of the figure looks good however including line details on the chest and shoulders. There have been some reports of the legs being tooled incorrectly so one is longer than the other, but I must confess I have not noticed this on my copy of the figure.

There is not a lot to do with this figure honestly. The arms only swing outward and you can move the legs up and down at the knees but that's about it. Fortunately he's basically just a walking weapons platform with six barrels of weaponry pointed forward so it all works out. Sure by modern standards there is not a lot to look at here, but by G1 standards this was fairly common, especially for smaller figures such as these.

Final Thoughts:
The whole idea behind San Diego Comic-Con exclusives is to create something unique and special and this set does the trick. The gold Bumblebee by itself is nice, but it could have easily have just been a store exclusive. However, throw in the cool packaging and the "Dino Cassettes" and suddenly this set becomes a must have in my book. If you think about what it took to actually get these "Dino Cassettes" recreated, I am very impressed they went this route instead of just repainting another figure. Of course, how much you want this set will largely depend on whether or not you are a G1 collector at all. If not, you might prefer the "Power of the Primes" exclusive instead.

Pros:

  • The packaging is outstanding.
  • The Bumblebee figure/tooling has been fixed up a bit since its original release so parts are not falling off left and right.
  • The gold and silver color scheme on Bumblebee is wonderfully retro and looks great.
  • Reissuing the "Dino Cassettes" was a brilliant idea, helping this set tie into the "retro" theme of both the Transformers toy line and the upcoming "Bumblebee" movie.
  • Uruaz introduces a brand new character into Transformers canon.

Cons:

  • While the parts have been tightened up, this Bumblebee sculpt is still not my favorite from the "Studio Series" as I feel the construction could be better.
  • The G1 cassettes have a very retro appeal, but do not hold up as particularly strong figures nowadays.