"Generations" Titans Return Bumblebee Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Generations, Legends, Titans Return

Generations

Bumblebee General Information:
Release Date: December 2016
Price Point: $9.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Transformers Generations Titans Return Legends Class figures are 3.75-inch scale figures. When this Legends Class Bumblebee figure is in vehicle mode, Titan Master figures fit inside. Additional figures are each sold separately. Subject to availability. In Titans Return, the Autobots and Decepticons unite with Titan Masters, small bots that carry a power boost. Titan Masters are key to controlling an ancient race of warriors the size of cities: the Titans. What Bumblebee lacks in size he makes up for in bravery. As one of the most courageous and stealth Autobots, he braves missions that most bots dare not -- like staking out in a Decepticon base for 24 hours, alone. Character Specs: Bumblebee: Autobot scout Figure Specs: Legends Class Bumblebee Modes: robot, sports car Converts in 7 Steps Comes with a character card with tech specs Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

In the Generation One era Bumblebee was one of the most prominent characters in the Autobot ranks for the first couple years of the show. Soon however new toys would come out and the character wound up being sidelined. Sure he popped up as a Pretender and later an Action Master in the G1 toy line, but those versions never appeared in an animated series and thus for a long time Bumblebee faded from prominance. Years later however the character would return in a big way as part of the "Classics" toy line which served as the beginnings of the current "Generations" toy line. Then the character was repurposed for the live action movies and from there a floodgate was opened. For a while you could not get away from Bumblebee. By the time the third live action movie "Dark of the Moon" was released you could have found four different Deluxe Class versions of Bumblebee on shelves at the same time!

Hasbro and Takara Tomy realized the character was being overused and throttled back on using him. Indeed, for most of 2015-16 the character primarily appeared in other Transformers toy lines such as "Robots in Disguise" and "Masterpiece" while "Generations" focused on other characters with "Combiner Wars". Now the character has finally returned to 'Generations" as a Legends Class figure.

Packaging:
Bumblebee is packaged in blister card style packaging. The card features the "Transformers" logo in the front against a black background with the "Generations" logo above that. most of the card is taken up by Bumblebee's artwork. This is all new artwork based on the figure in the packaging. The art is colored in a beautifully painted fashion that recalls the artwork from G1 toy packaging. Bumblebee is in robot mode inside the bubble with a collector's card behind him. The insert in front shows a photo of the figure in vehicle mode with the name "Autobot Wheelie" printed next to an Autobot symbol. The back of the packaging features a grey grid with CG renders of the figure on top in both modes. There is a brief blurb talking about Wheelie's survival skills. Overall it's really cool packaging and I'm happy the art features so prominently.

Robot Mode:
When "Classics" Bumblebee was released fans were greeted with a new interpretation of the character that took the spirit of his G1 Volkswagon vehicle form and modernized it into a new (non-licensed) vehicle form. Despite not being a Volkswagon in vehicle form his robot mode still had key features of that design including the cabin section of the vehicle forming most of his torso, the front of the vehicle forming his feet and the sides of the vehicle forming his arms. This design follows that layout very closely. Some of the shapes also call back to G1 Bumblebee including his large, curved feet formed from the font of the vehicle. He also has some smaller details inspired by the G1 figure including distinctive horizontal notches on his legs.

There are some differences from the G1 design of course. First off the head sculpt is heavily based on the look of Bumblebee's G1 animation model including the horns on his head, a thick crest on the helmet section with a face that includes a nose and mouth (instead of a mouthplate as the G1 figure had). The wheels of the vehicle mode are separated between the arms and feet, with the rear wheels on his arms and the front wheels on his feet. Overall Bumblebee's outline and design are nice callbacks to G1 Bumblebee's design with modern influences.

The only part of this design that bugs me a bit are Bumblebee's upper arms. These sections are formed from the rear wheel wells of the vehicle form and part of the side windows, so they stick out a bit too much for my taste.

bumblebee is cast in bright (but not quite neon) yellow and metallic black plastic. Yellow makes up most of the figure including most of the arms, waist, head and feet. Smaller sections such as his legs, forearms and shoulder connection joints are black. The black plastic is interesting because in bright flourescent office lighting the black looks almost like flat black plastic. However if I shine it under a flashlight the metallic flakes are much easier to see. It's a nice little touch that adds to the visual appeal of the figure.

Details on this figure are done in several paint colors including silver, dark grey, red, light blue and yellow. The silver and dark grey are found on his feet, where they make up a lot of the fine details of the vehicle form. The red is found on his shoulders and an Autobot symbol on his torso. The light blue and grey are found on his eyes and face respectively. The only deco point I have an issue with is the yellow. The front torso piece is cast in black plastic, so the designers used yellow paint to fill out the cabin cover top and edges. The problem is the shade of yellow on the black plastic is very different than the yellow plastic on the rest of the figure. Now, in certain lighting this isn't an issue, but if your lighting is bright enough the difference is pretty stark. For some this might be a deal breaker. For me the rest of the figure is cool enough that I'm not too stressed about it.

There are thirteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes three on each arm leg. The arms have two ball joints on each allowing for a wide range of movement. The hip joints are also ball joints. All the joints on my copy of this figure are nice and tight. Bumblebee has 5mm ports in his fists, allowing him to hold weapons with 5mm pegs.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Push the feet together.
  3. Swing the feet down to form the front of the vehicle.
  4. Rotate the forearms in so the yellow panels face outward.
  5. Swing the robot head and the arms (all connected on one series of panels) back.
  6. Swing the torso piece forward and swing out the panels inside of it.
  7. Swing the head/arms section back to where it was.
  8. Swing the arms up and push them in on the sides. There are small tabs on the piece that forms the back of the robot. These should line up with the notches on the forearms.
  9. The piece that forms the back of the vehicle should clip in between the two robot mode shoulder pieces to form the entire rear section of the car mode.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee's new vehicle mode reminds me a lot of his "Classics" vehicle mode. Both vehicles are hatchbacks. Both feature a spoiler in the back and both have a rounded front end that recalls the round shape of the Volkswagon Beetle. There are some differences however. This Bumblebee has a thicker front end that doesn't slope downward. The grille is split into two sections in the middle and his headlights are thin strips instead of teardrop shaped pieces. Still, there is a natural evolution between the two and they both fit the bill for a modern incarnation of Bumblebee.

There are a lot of cool details on this figure. The grille and headlight details are fairly intricate. He has sideview mirrors sculpted near the windows. The spoiler has thick ends on the sides. Meanwhile the rear has rear lights, a trunk handle and even a license plate sculpted into the figure. The license plate has "100 STRA" on it which is a callback to the license plate used on some iterations of Bumblebee from the live action movie series. The "Dark of the Moon" Nitro Bumblebee featured a similar license plate which read "900 STRA". I really love how many small details there are on a figure of this scale. I'm glad the designers did not use a small size as an excuse to skimp on sculpting.

This mode mostly shows off yellow plastic with black on the wheels and windows. The yellow paint on the cabin section is really obvious in this form since it's surrounded by yellow. Fortunately there are black stripes on the sides and the grey and silver details in the front that help distract your eyes from the yellow (well, a tiny bit anyhow). In a move I have to give major kudos for, Bumblebee's rear lights are actually painted red. It is rare for rear lights be painted on Transformers nowadays so this is a treat.

Bumblebee rolls on all four wheels but there's one more feature! Since he is part of the "Titans Return" line, he is designed to interact with Titan Master figures. Open up the cabin section by swinging it forward, and you can seat a Titan Master figure inside! If you happen to have either Spike figure that came with the Masterpiece Optimus Prime or Ultra Magnus figures they can also sit in this seat! I love this little feature. It adds play value and connects this Legends Class figure to the rest of the "Titans Return" line in a meaningful way.

Final Thoughts:
Bumblebee is a fun figure and it's been quite some time since fans have had a figure of him in this scale. The deco is nice despite the "matching yellow" issue and most of all his design suits the character. Recommended!

Pros:

  • Fantastic sculpt in both modes.
  • Pays homage to G1 Bumblebee while still being modern in appearance.
  • Good play value.
  • Good deco in both modes.

Cons:

  • Yellow color mismatch is visually distracting.
  • Upper arm design is somewhat awkward.
  • Wheels could have used some paint.