"Robots in Disguise" (2015) Activator Combiner Bumblebee & Stuntwing Toy Review

in 2017, Action Figure Review, Activator Combiner, Autobot, Combiner Force, Prime, Robots in Disguise (2015)

Robots in Disguise (2015)

Bumblebee General Information:
Release Date: January 2017
Price Point: $19.99 (Varies by retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, K-Mart, Target etc.)
Accessories: Stuntwing Mini-Con

Official images and text in italics below from BigBadToyStore:
Imagine joining the action and combining forces with Transformers: Robots in Disguise Combiner Force Activator Combiner 2-packs. Sets come with 2 figures that combine to activate awesome pop-out battle modes! Experience the power of Combiner Force with this Activator Combiner 2-pack featuring one Bumblebee figure and one Stuntwing figure. Combine and attach the Bumblebee figure to the Stuntwing figure to activate flight mode.

The theme for "Robots in Disguise" in 2017 is "Combiner Force" where combination in various ways informs the gimmicks built into the toys. One segment features "Activator Combiners". Riffing off of the "Armada" series these two packs feature a larger figure with a Mini-Con. The Mini-Con can be attached to the larger figure to activate a feature. Each larger figure measures larger than the Warrior Class figures, but not as large as the larger 3-Step Changers. They are in a size class all their own. The first wave of these figures featured two Autobots: Bumblebee and Strongarm, each with a different Mini-Con partner.

Packaging:
The Activator Combiner figures are packaged in a window box. The border primarily uses white and red colors with the "Transformers" logo set vertically on the right side (if you are facing the box). Above that is the "Robots in Disguise" logo along with an Autobot symbol inside a circle. Towards the bottom of the packaging is the "Combiner Force" logo. Above that are the names "Bumblebee" and "Stuntwing" inside arrows that come together in the middle, symbolizing their ability to "combine" (yeah, we're using the term pretty loosely here). The artwork on the packaging features Stuntwing running in robot mode and transforming to connect to Bumblebee in vehicle mode. Both figures are in robot mode in a plastic tray inside the box. The back of the packaging shows CG renders of the figure in all its various modes. This includes Bumblebee both connected and not connected to Stuntwing. It also mentions that the Mini-Con feature can work across figures including Strongarm and Trickout (pictured in vehicle mode off to one side). Below all that is legal information in various languages.

Stuntwing

Stuntwing is a new Mini-Con introduced for "Robots in Disguise". Borrowing the aesthetic of other Mini-Cons in the line he has a bit of a squat and wide appearance for his size. The design is pretty intricate with lots of armor layers, especially on the legs where the knee armor is over the lower legs. The wings from the vehicle mode wind up on the forearms and look like blade weapons. His head design has a huge crest on top with a face set in a rather serious expression (almost grumpy). I really like the aesthetic of this figure. He looks like he could really hold his own in a fight despite his small size.

Stuntwing is cast in metalic blue and black plastic. The blue makes up most of the figure with black used on the arms. He does have some deco on this form. The waist section has black on it while the face is painted silver. The chest is largely covered with a large, scannable Autobot symbol that unlocks the character in the official "Robots in Disguise" app.

There is no posability to speak of in this mode. His only real "action feature" is transforming, which you accomplish by swinging the front of the vehicle behind his head over the head. This auto-transforms the figure into vehicle mode. His arms swing in and his legs push in together.

The vehicle mode looks like some type of Cybertronian aerial vehicle. It has a pretty large front end, so there's not really a nosecone to speak of. However he does have wings on the sides and small vertical fins in the back. He even has a thruster that sticks out in the back. However if you tried to convince me he was some type of high speed boat or hovercraft I'd believe you. I say leave it to your imagination and roll with it.

This mode shows off the same colors as the robot mode (since very few new parts are revealed). The front of the vehicle and the thruster in the back are both metallic blue and that's really it.

Stuntwing has wheels on the bottom, allowing you to roll the vehicle across a smooth surface. You'll also find a handle on the bottom of the vehicle that you can swing out for Bumblebee to hold him as a weapon! Point the thruster forward and Stuntwing essentially becomes a blaster. Would I have preferred a more complex transformation between the vehicle mode and weapon mode? Sure. However it works out in the end. I think both modes look fine.

Bumblebee

Robot Mode:
Bumblebee's design is largely based on his design from the animated series. Several of the key features are found in this figure including his large, armored shoulders, the "V" shape faux windshield on his chest, the knee armor that comes up over his thighs slightly and of course, his head design featuring a high crest and face (sans nose, for whatever reason). The designers definitely worked hard to get a sense of layered detail on this figure. You can find this on his torso where the chest has three distinct layers of armor while there are some bits of armor sticking out from the sides of the waist.

Where the design of the figure is a bit odd is the way the joints are laid out and articulated. For instance, his shoulders connect to the main body by ball joints but the armor on the sides of the shoulders block the arms from being able to do anything but swing up and down. Now, this was likely done so the vehicle mode "Activator Combiner" gimmick would work properly but I think the panels on the sides could have swing outward or up without risking the mechanism not working and allowing the arm to have more of a range of motion. The legs also suffer from an equally limited design choice. The legs are on hinges that swing in and out, but they can't move forward. This is largely to keep them locked in place so the "Activator Combiner" mechanism in vehicle mode will work. However I think it would have been easy to just have the instructions tell people to push the legs all the way back and connect them together and the mechanism still would have worked. I would have much preferred an additional joint or a ball joint here to give more range of motion.

Bumblebee is cast mostly in a metallic yellow plastic with some black parts. Paint applications are mostly done in silver and black. The silver is found on his arms, mid-body, thighs and face. Black is used on his chest, waist and knees. A teal color is used for his crest, eyes and some details on the parts that flank his waist. The finishing touch is a scannable Autobot symbol on his chest which unlocks the character in the official "Robots in Disguise" mobile app.

This mode has four points of articulation (addressed above). His fists have 5mm ports that allow him to hold 5mm peg weapons and of course Mini-Cons in weapon mode. I do wish the figure had more articulation and/or attachment points for Mini-Cons. As it stands the larger figure barely has more functionality than the typical One Step Changer.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Push the robot feet back.
  3. Push the robot head down.
  4. Push the arms in until they lock in place.
  5. Push the legs in until they lock in place.

Vehicle Mode:
The vehicle mode is largely based on the same car form Bumblebee has had since the first season of "Robots in Disguise". It has many of the key features including a long front end, sleek cabin section and parts that come to points in the back. There's a bit of design embelishment on the sides where he seems to have small wing-like pieces sticking out (not very far). The sculpting is good down to the vents on the hood and the lines on the back that look like part of the Autobot symbol itself. The bummer are the wheels. It's bad enough that "clip on" wheels are the norm now, but these are mostly smooth in design with no tire treads or other such details worked in. The result are very cheap looking wheels that really do a disservice to the figure overall.

The deco in this mode is teal which is used on the headlights, windshield and the side windows. Unfortunately that leaves a lot uncolored and due to how long the vehicle mode is it looks somehow more plain than it should.

Stuntwing (or any Mini-Con with a 5mm peg) can attach to the port on the top of the vehicle to activate the "Activator Combiner" form. This means the sides of the vehicle expand out to the sides. There are no new weapons or anything revealed. What you do get are some more mechanical details, especially towards the back. If you stretch your imagination a bit, you could imagine these being wing-like structures that give Bumblebee the ability to fly in this form. I mean, it's a toy guys, let your imagination roam! The parts that extend out in the back feature some additional teal line details but that's it for deco.

Final Thoughts:
I think I like the idea of this set more than the final product. I almost feel like it would have been better if the Bumblebee figure was more of a Warrior Class size or One Step Changer sized figure with more articulation and deco but with the same "Activator Combiner" feature. Only recommended if you can find this on sale for a few bucks off (ideally around the $15 range). That said, I do think kids will get a kick out of it and have fun with it. Older collectors may not feel the same.

Pros:

  • Stuntwing is a cool Mini-Con with neat alt mode(s).
  • Nice use of metallic plastic for both figures.
  • Fun feature with dramatic effect in vehicle mode.
  • Good sculpting on both figures.

Cons:

  • Relative lack of deco makes Bumblebee look very plain.
  • Lack of articulation on Bumblebee.
  • "Activator Combiner" feature on vehicle mode does not add a whole lot other than some additional "tech" detail.