Revenge of the Fallen Human Alliance Bumblebee Toy Review
Release Date: May 2009
Price Point: $29.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Sam Witwicky action figure, Missiles x 2
Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
BUMBLEBEE and Sam were best friends almost from the moment they first met face to face. As they learned more about one another, that connection grew deeper and deeper. Now, whether Sam is behind the wheel, or standing side by side with his friend, they work together as a team. Against BUMBLEBEE and his human friend, no DECEPTICON stands a chance.
Gear up for battle excitement with this dynamic duo! Sam Witwicky figure and BUMBLEBEE robot-to-vehicle figure make a perfect pair, even interacting with each other! Convert BUMBLEBEE buddy from robot with flip-out cannon to Camaro concept car in vehicle mode – and you can even fit two human ally figures inside (additional figures sold separately)! Team up with this fearless twosome and take on the DECEPTICON enemies. Recreate exciting movie scenes or create your own! Who will win the battle? You decide!
I remember being a kid and always wanting a Spike Witwicky figure to go with my Bumblebee toy so I could replicate some of the adventures I saw in the cartoon series. In time, Hasbro and Takara did recognize the value of having "partners" with Transformers figures and we got toys like Headmasters and Targetmasters, and later Micromasters that came with larger figures. This concept of having a "little buddy" not only adds play value, but it also adds an additional character to each individual toy purchase, giving it a bit more weight in terms of value. The "Human Alliance" sub-line of Transformers figures brings back this concept in the Transformers universe, this time with a human partner that can fit inside an Alternators style vehicle. While not quite the exact same scale as Alternators, these figures straddle the line between deluxe and voyager class size figures, making them more akin to the old "Mega" scale. This allows for nicer detailing as well as the ability for the figure to interact with the vehicle.
Human characters have long been a staple of the Transformers franchise. Since the days of Generation One, writers have tried to emphasize that despite being a story about sentient robots, humans can also play a role in the war between Autobots and Decepticons. G1 had Sam and Spike Witwicky (among others) while the movie universe introduced a character inspired by Spike named Sam Witwicky (and his parents). Human Alliance Bumblebee comes with a figure representing Sam as he appeared in "Revenge of the Fallen". The last time we had an official "Witwicky" figure was a PVC figure of G1 Spike, and before than the Headmaster of Fortress Maximus' head component, Cerebros. Specifically, this represents Sam in the outfit we see him in when he meets with Optimus Prime briefly and then for most of the middle portion of the movie.
Sam is a little under 2.5 inches tall, which is just about the right size to allow for good sculpted detail, but not so large that he cannot fit inside the Bumblebee figure he comes with in vehicle mode, and join him in battle in robot mode (more on that in the Bumblebee review). The likeness to actor Shia LaBeouf is pretty well done. The face on the figure has his signature tightly cropped haircut. The sculpting is impressive, bringing in tiny details like his eyebrows, nose and eyes in very sharp detail. The upper body is sculpted with a black long sleeved shirt that is slightly pulled up at the forearms, replicating how he wore the shirt for a portion of the movie. The shirt itself is sculpted nicely with wrinkles on the sleeves where it is pulled up on his forearms and wrinkles near his stomach where the shirt bunches up a bit. The lower body has jeans and sneakers sculpted on. The jeans have seams running up and down the sides and even pockets in the back. I was happy to see that the Sam figure was not treated like a "throwaway" piece or just as a simple accessory but rather as an action figure much like their larger G.I. Joe figures.
I was somewhat surprised to see more than one plastic color used for Sam. The head and forearms/hands are cast in a flesh color. The upper body and arms are black while the lower body is blue and grey, all the basic colors matching his clothing or skin. Paint decos are done in brown, black, red and white. The head has brown paint on the head, eyebrows and eyes. Red is used for his mouth and white is used on the eyes. His shoes are painted black in a pattern that gives stripes on the side at an angle, much like popular sneaker brands do in real life. Overall there's no mistaking who this figure is meant to represent.
Sam has twelve points of articulation, and they're all placed in strategic places allowing him a wide range of movement. For instance, his shoulder joints allow the arms to move around in a circle, but they also have hinges on them that allow the arms to swing in and out. His legs have ball articulation at the hips, but are also designed to allow the legs to swivel out and inwards. If you look on the back of the figure, you'll find a hole. This is meant for the pegs on Bumblebee, allowing Sam to securely fit into key slots on the Transformer including the driver's seat in vehicle mode.
Few Transformers in the past ten years or so have made quite a come back from Generation One as Bumblebee. This character was once relegated to obscurity after being a feature character in G1, but since his rise in 2007's "Transformers" film as a main character, there's been no going back for the brave Autobot. This made him a natural choice as the first of the Human Alliance figures.
In "Revenge of the Fallen", Bumblebee takes on the vehicle form of an upgraded Chevrolet Camaro Concept sports car, a new version of the mode he took on towards the middle of the first movie. The higher price point and larger size of this vehicle mode allows for most of the details from the real life vehicle to be carried over into the design of this figure. Key design elements from the real life vehicle are represented here including:
- A raised air intake in the center of the hood.
- The wide "V" shaped point at the front of the vehicle, with a Chevrolet logo right in the center of the grille.
- Front lights embedded into vertical sections under the main headlights.
- The word "Camaro" is sculpted into the side of the figure right behind the front wheels.
- The doors on the car are not set evenly to flow with the car from front to back, rather, they angle inward a bit towards the back, creating a thin triangle shape on the lower portion of the doors.
- A gas tank cover can be found sculpted onto the left side, towards the back.
- The back is slightly curved, resulting in what looks like a tiny spoiler sticking out the back.
- The rear section has four rear lights with a Chevrolet logo in th emiddle between them.
- Two exhaust pipes stick out on the back on the left and right sides.
- Bumblebee's license plate reads "4NZZZ454", which winds up having one more Z than the license plate used in the movie, whoops.
Bumblebee is primarily cast in five plastic colors: yellow, metallic yellow, black, gunmetal and translucent light blue-green. The regular yellow is the primary color, keeping in line with the real life vehicle. Translucent blue-green is used for his windows, windshield and back window. The metallic yellow plastic and gunmetal are mostly concentrated in the interior of the vehicle, with the seats cast in metallic yellow and the parts surrounding it cast in gunmetal. Black is found on the wheels. Finishing off the colors are black, silver, red and white paint. On the front end, the grille sections are painted black, with the headlights painted silver. He has dual racing stripes running from the front of the vehicle to the back. Silver is also found on the sides of the wheels, the door handles, the exhaust pipes, the gas cap and the Chevrolet logo on the back of the vehicle. Red is used for smaller details including the outline of the Chevrolet logo on the front of the car as well as the rear lights and a line at the top of the license plate. White is used as the background color for the license plate, making the letters stand out sharply. The paint job looks fantastic, though I do get the feeling had this been a "true" Alternators figure, the front and rear lights may have been done in translucent plastic, and the interior of the car may have been more accurate to the real life vehicle. Still, it carries enough of the "Alternators spirit" to be a truly cool representation of the real life Camaro.
Bumblebee can roll on all four wheels, and while they are plastic, they are detailed enough to look almost like they are rubber instead. His doors can swing open, allowing you to seat Sam in either the passenger or driver's seat. Each of the two seats has a peg on the back that holds the Human Alliance figure in place. You can even position Sam's arms right onto the steering wheel, making it look as if he is "driving" the car. It's a cool feature that embodies the whole idea of the "Human Alliance" in this form and it works very well.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- If Sam is inside the vehicle, take him out and set the figure aside for now.
- Flip the car over and detach both missiles from the sides.
- Swing each car door open.
- Pull the back of the vehicle until the legs are straight.
- Rotate the rear panels with the halves of the license plates on it around.
- Splay the toes on the robot feet out.
- Swing the yellow panels on the upper legs forward.
- Flip up the panels with the halves of the license plate to form the knee armor.
- Rotate the lower legs around so the feet point forward.
- Swing each of the front wheels out to the sides.
- Swing each robot arm up from the underside of the vehicle, then turn the lower arms and swing them out to the sides.
- Under the grille piece in the front of the car, swing out the panel that forms Bumblebee's mid-section.
- Swing the front section of the car down and clip the mid-section panel against the main body.
- Pull each half of the chest panels out and turn them at angles, letting them rest against the chest.
- Straighten out each robot arm. On the right arm swing out the cannon/missile launcher, on the left straighten out the hand.
- Swing the rear window from the vehicle mode up onto the back panel.
- Swing down the entire back panel, allowing you to flip down the weapon behind Bumblebee's head and swing up the small gunmetal grey platform.
- Attach the missiles to his right arm launcher or the clips on his forearms.
Bumblebee has been represented in a ton of different sizes thanks to his popularity. From Legends Class to Supreme, it's not hard to find a Bumblebee figure that fits somewhere into your collection. This size class is unique however. Larger than a deluxe, but smaller than his Supreme counterpart, Human Alliance Bumblebee stands at almost seven inches tall. The figure is an interesting exercise in compromise. His design incorporates most of the primary design elements of the CGI model, but it also has to feature elements that allow him to interact with the Sam Witwicky figure in this mode as well. As a result, certain pats are not as streamlined as they could be while other bits are there out of necessity.
The basic shape of the figure is based on the CGI model, complete with the front of the car on his chest, car doors forming wing-like structures on his back and legs that are proportional to the rest of his body, set in a straight position as opposed to the "chicken walker" position many other movie characters use. Among the smaller details carried over from the CGI model are:
- The design of the robot head matches the one from the movie, complete with his small antennae on the top of his head, round eyes and his "gas mask" type mouth. The top of his head has a panel on it with grille structures on them. This is his "battle mask" which can be slid down in front of his face in this mode.
- On the sides of his shoulders are Y shaped armor pieces that also feature prominantly on the CGI model.
- The front end of the car that forms his chest has raised armor sections that are angled slightly, showing that there is more going on mechanically than the chest just flipping down and sitting there. This is a key feature not only of Bumblebee, but of many Transformers in the movies that show vehicle mode parts in robot mode.
- His right arm is set as the cannon arm here and the design is based on the movie model with a large barrel at the end, a smaller barrel on top of it and what appears to be a targeting scope under it.
- Bumblebee's waist has a circular design on it that resembles a headlight. Above that is his license plate, but stretched out into a V shape.
- The thighs are covered by a piece of armor from the outer shell of the vehicle mode, and this piece has several angles and curves, replicating the way Transformer armor seems to bend and warp during transformations in the movie.
- Bumblebee's left hand has three fingers and a thumb instead of four fingers and a thumb.
- The robot feet are Y shaped, with the point at the end forming the front of the foot.
While the above bullets show what Human Alliance Bumblebee has in common with his on-screen counterpart, there are some key differences as well:
- His doors don't angle upwards to form larger "wings" with smaller parts protruding on the lower part of his body.
- There are holders for his missiles on each forearm, something the CGI model lacks.
- The car seats wind up being seats for Sam, with the left arm one having a dual barreled cannon mounted on it.
- The lower legs have obvious parts from the vehicle mode sticking out in front, including the exhaust pipes and rear lights. The CGI model only has yellow and silver patches of armor in the same spot.
Despite these differences however, there's no mistaking just who this character is, and the details that they did carry over from the movie model look fantastic. "Screen accurate" or not, there is a lot of detail on this guy. Among my favorites are those on his arms and legs, which show lots of layers of armor, machinery, tubes, hinges and gears. It's a really impressive sculpt that illustrates how much can be done when a sculptor/artist has a larger canvas to work with, in this case larger surface area on the plastic and more complex parts.
Like the vehicle mode, yellow, metallic yellow, gunmetal and translucent blue are the primary plastic colors in this form. Yellow dominates (as is standard for Bumblebee) while gunmetal is used on smaller sections such as his feet and thighs. The metallic yellow is primarily found on his arms, where they form the aforementioned seats. In terms of paint deco, silver is added into the mix on top of the black and red colors from the vehicle mode. Silver is used to great effect on his arms, alternating between the gunmetal, silver and yellow colors as you move up the arm. You'll find gunmetal colored paint on his "battle mask" on the ridges protecting his eyes. A bit of yellow paint is used for the sides and back of the robot head, blending nicely with the rest of the toy. You'll find a tiny bit of white and red on the license plaste on his waist, with the license palte numbers painted in black. Like the CGI model, Bumblebee has an Autobot symbol on the front of his crest, a tiny but important detail.
Bumblebee has twenty six points of articulation in this form, something I was not anticipating. There are times where a superior sculpt or even larger size wind up meaning something gets cut, and articulation points can be among those items chosen to be taken out. In this case however, the figure has a great range of motion including the arms moving up and down as well as side to side and waist articulation. I also love the way his hand has the ability to turn at the wrist as well as having his fingers and thumb hinged so they can move. In addition to articulation, Bumblebee has several other play features:
- From the dashboard section on his back, you can swing out a eight barreled weapon that goes over his left shoulder.
- On the back of the figure, there is a small platform with pegs. These connect to the holes on Sam's feet, making it look like he is manning Bumblebee's shoulder weapon.
- The section connected to the windshield can swing up to reveal a dual barreled weapon that would "fire" over his head.
- Bumblebee's head has his "battle mask" which can slide down over his face (and rather smoothly to boot!).
- The right arm has a missile launcher, but if you rotate it around, you can also have Sam sit in the seat as if he were helping Bumblebee target the weapon. The peg on the seat connects to the hole on Sam's back.
- The left arm has a double barreled blaster on it. Sam can sit in the seat as if he were manning the cannons.
- Bumblebee's left hand has a peg sculpted into the fingers that allow Sam to stand on his palm.
I really like the pile of weaponry Bumblebee possesses in this mode. He was shown as being armed to the teeth in the films, so it's cool to see some of that here. I do regret we don't have the ultra huge multi-missile launchers on both shoulders, but one will do. I do think this would have been a stronger figure if the dual launchers on his shoulders were there, as well as the ability for his right hand to "transform" from the hand into the cannon. Still, it's fun and looks really cool at the same time.
This is a great start to the Human Alliance line, and by the time I write this several other Human Alliance figures will be out, so I look forward to reviewing the other figures in the line. The addition of the human interaction part of the movie into toy form is very cool as it touches on a strong point of the movie (humans and Autobots working together) while it provides a larger price point than the deluxe scale and additional fun for adventures! Highly recommended!