"Robots in Disguise" (2015) 3-Step Changer Bumblebee Toy Review
Release Date: April 2015
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Official images and text in italics below from Amazon.com:
Decepticons beware, because this 3-Step Changers Bumblebee figure converts in a heartbeat from robot mode to sports car mode, and he's not messing around! Convert him in 3 easy steps to either mode, and keep converting him back and forth so his Decepticon enemies can't keep up! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
Three Step Changers were introduced early in the "Robots in Disguise" toy line as a way for younger kids to enjoy simple figures on a larger scale. Previously in "Transformers Prime" most larger Transformers figures aimed at young kids didn't really transform at all like the "Titan" figures (not to be confused with the Titan Class). Bumblebee was one of the first Three Step Changers released in the toy line.
The Three Step Changers are packaged in a cardboard box with an open window. There is no clear plastic blocking you from poking at the figure at the store, though it won't do a whole heck of a lot. The front and side features artwork of Bumblebee as he appears in the television show in his new body. The back shows the figure in its various modes with transformation instructions, but there are no tech specs. Instead there's a boatload of safety information in different languages. It also features instructions on scanning the Autobot symbol on the figure to interact with the mobile Transformers app.
If you consider that this figure is meant to represent a simplified version of Bumblebee, it is actually quite impressive how much of his sculpt matches the model from the animated program. His basic body shape is the same as the show with a wide upper body, a narrow waist/hip area and then legs that widen towards the bottom. A lot of his detailing from the show also carries over. This includes the curved, layered look of his shoulder armor and the panels on his chest that look like they are formed from parts of the vehicle mode (a nod to traditional Transformers whose car hoods/front ends become their chests). His head sculpt is spot on to the TV show as well featuring a high crest, a narrow face with thin eyes and small "vent" like sections on the sides (if you look at it from a certain POV, it's partly based on elements of the Autobot symbol). From a sculpting perspective I have to say the designers did a great job.
Bumblebee is cast in yellow, silver and black plastic - no surprises there. Yellow makes up most of the figure with black appearing on the wheels (which are obvious in this form), part of his arms and his hip area. Silver is used for his thighs. This matches the basic color layout of the animated model. Black, blue and silver paint are used for detailing. Black is the most heavily used color. You'll find it on his crest, his shoulders, chest and legs. Silver is used to paint the mid-body area and face. His eyes and the headlights on his feet are light blue. All things considered he would only need a few more paint details to be a perfect representation of the TV show model (for example, red on the shoulder armor and blue on the "headlights" on his chest) but for a simplified figure he looks good. The center of his chest has a scannable Autobot symbol that can be used to unlock the character in the official "Robots in Disguise" mobile app.
When it comes to simplified Transformers figures, something has to get sacrificed to accommodate the design and one of the first things to go is articulation. Such is the case with this figure. The only points of articulation are the elbows, allowing the arms to move up slightly. The arms cannot move up all the way which is a tad infuriating. As a bit of a consolation, the fists in the arms have 5mm ports in them allowing him to hold weapons from Warrior Class figures in the same line.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Holding on to the legs and the chest, pull the upper part of the body up while holding the lower part. This moves the arms in and the head down.
- Rotate the lower body around.
- Push the legs together and up against the top of the body. This will cause the feet to swing forward and form the headlights.
One cool sculpting note, when you pull the upper body up, it exposes a central rod which serves as the center of the figure. This rod has several mechanical details sculpted onto it that can only be seen during transformation.
Bumblebee's vehicle form is pretty much spot on in design to the TV show model he features a long front end, a low profile and a back area with points angling upward. The hood section has vent designs on it and the back of the vehicle has three angled notches on each side that are reminiscent of both the Autobot symbol and Bumblebee's head design. From a sculpting perspective, he looks great.
Color wise this mode mostly shows of yellow plastic with black plastic on the wheels. There is a huge amount of black paint used to paint the front and side windows but not the back, which is unfortunate because it's a such a large section of the vehicle's back section. It's also used on the doors and the hood. Light blue is found on the headlights and there is a red trip on the vertical lines next to the headlights. The red trim was a nice surprise and it really helps add some color contrast to the yellow plastic.
If I were to make one aesthetic criticism it would be the wheels. Partly for cost savings, recent Transformers have less wheels pinned in and more "snap on" wheels, which is fine. If done right, snap on wheels can look just fine. Here the front wheels have a cover over the part where they snap on so it's not obvious and they look like regular rims. The back wheels however clearly show the clips where the wheels snap in, which just gives it a cheap looking effect. This isn't a bad figure and I find it odd that they would knock it down a notch by not having all four wheels set up like the front wheels.
Three Step Bumblebee is a good figure for younger fans. It's big and imposing looking with a cool looking vehicle mode with a quick and easy transformation. I wouldn't pay more than the $19.99 retail price but I think the designers did a good job with this figure.