"Generations" Cybertronian Bumblebee Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: July 2010
Price Point: $12.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster

*Images and text below archived from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
Before he was the silent warrior he is today, BUMBLEBEE was a nonstop chatterbox, charged with carrying the most vital AUTOBOT communications. He was a fearless infiltrator of enemy lines who stuck to the shadows and faded into the background despite his bright yellow armor. His spirit was unbreakable and his friendly humor was invaluable during the first dark days of the war.

Race into action with this fearsome CYBERTRONIAN BUMBLEBEE figure! In robot mode with his deployable blade accessories, this fighter is as tough as they come. When it’s time to chase down his enemies, convert him to Cybertronian Courier vehicle mode so he can “tear up the streets” in hot pursuit!

Heroic robot fighter converts from fierce robot mode to speedy Cybertronian Courier vehicle mode — and back again! Ages 5 and up.

When the "War for Cybertron" video game was announced, one of the first characters fans got to see in a new form was Bumblebee. Bumblebee has been one of the most heavily used characters in the past few years, thanks in part to him being a key character in the live action films. This made the inclusion of the character in the "War for Cybertron" video game a forgone conclusion and it was no surprise that he was picked to be one of the first "War for Cybertron" figures released in the "Generations" toy line.

Robot Mode:
"War for Cybertron" is set in the distant past, long before the Transformers came to Earth. This gave the designers the challenge of creating forms for the characters that would echo the forms they would take later on, but still look distinctive and have that "futuristic" feel that Cybertronian vehicles have been shown to have since the early days of Generation One. Bumblebee manages to marry the two aspects while retaining many aspects of the character from G1. Among those design elements are:

  • The head sculpt is based on the G1 cartoon and comic book series portrayal of Bumblebee. While the original G1 toy had visor eyes and a mouthplate on his face, the cartoon used a regular face that was more expressive. This design however adds a bit more detail including extra indented lines on his cheeks and circles on the back of the head. This is easily one of my favorite Bumblebee head sculpts, right up there with Classics Bumblebee.
  • The G1 Bumblebee figure featured both of his vehicle mode wheels on his arms. Here, two of the vehicle mode wheels wind up making up a large portion of each forearm.
  • Bumblebee's upper body was made up of the cabin section of his vehicle mode in G1, causing it to stick out in front. Bumblebee's chest design here is similar in that it's made up of a significant chunk of the vehicle and sticks out a bit over his waist/hip area.

With just enough nods to the original design to make him instantly recognizable, "War for Cybertron" Bumblebee still cuts a very distinct shape. His upper arms are relatively thin compared to his large forearms, which lends itself to the fiction of having his arms being able to transform into a cannon. The chest piece has a distinctive trapezoid shape in front and slopes upward at an agnle to the head. His legs, like his arms, start out thin at the top, but then widen towards the bottom, leading to somewhat unique looking lower legs that have two of his wheels from vehicle mode in the middle and hook shaped feet at the ends. While I would not call this my favorite "War fo Cybertron" design, it is a very eye catching one and looks excellent on the screen and on my toy shelf.

For anyone who has watched the "War for Cybertron" trailer and/or played the game, you know that the Transformers in the game are highly detailed, not just blocks of squares and circles running around. This figure allows you to get a great look at some of that amazing detail level in plastic form. Some of these details are small and subtle such as a ridge of lines inside a triangle on his forearms while others stand out brilliantly such as the mechanical details sculpted in the section right under his chest. I like this section in particular as it looks vaguely like a section of a car engine and alludes to his alternate mode while giving this mode additional detail. I'm also quite fond of the detail on the upper legs, which are not just rectangular pieces but rather have layers of detail, some set at angles. His hands should also get a mention here. Instead of being sculpted in the more traditional "fist" position, they are partly open, with two fingers in a different position than the rest, as if he were pointing forward. The palms have been sculpted to still allow Bumblebee to hold his weapon as well. I really like it when the designers take such an important detail and try something new with it.

Bumblebee is cast in thee primary plastic colors: metallic yellow, dark grey, black, translucent red and translucent grey. Yellow is of course, the most used color, making up his chest, forearms, head, lower legs, part of the hip area and the vehicle mode "shell" piece on his back. Dark grey makes up the other pieces including his feet, upper arms and the waist area. Black plastic is found on his arms and legs in the form of his wheels, but it is interesting to see that his wheels have translucent red plastic inside of them to give off that "edged lighting" effect so many of the "War for Cybertron" Transformers have. The translucent red is also used for his blade weapons, tucked away inside his forearms. Translucent grey plastic is found on the head where it could accomodate light piping right behind the eyes (however the eyes are painted light blue) to match the game. The translucent grey is also found on the vehicle mode "shell" pieces on his back. I really have to say that I dig this color combination. Dark colors set with red (especially a translucent red) is always visually appealing, but the yellow used on this figure is brilliant. I dig the metallic appearance of the figure and each section contrasts well with the one it is connected to.

Extra detail is provded by a combination of paint applications and tampographed graphics. The most heavily used paint is a bright pink color. You'll find this on the "L" shaped portions of his chest and on the top of the chest where it makes up an Autobot symbol. This color is also found on tampographs on his shoulders, set against black. You may wonder, why pink? I think the idea was to simulate the "glowing" nature of these parts from the game, and a neon pink is far more effective at conveying that than a deep red would be. Silver paint is found on his knees, face and the middle of his hip area. Combined with the light blue eyes, it makes his face look even more like his G1 self (though I grant G1 Bumblebee's face was more white than silver). Other details are painted black including the aforementioned triangles on his forearms and the L shaped sections on the sides of his chest. In what could be a tiny bit of a nod to Bumblebee's "Goldbug" identity, several pieces are painted gold on this figure including the armor on his ankles and the outer parts of the wheels. This color is different than the metallic yellow plastic and stands out accordingly, looking very nice. The designers took a very clean approach to Bumblebee's paint scheme and it works out very well, giving him the look of a robot that just walked off the assembly line.

Bumblebee has twenty two points of articulation in this form. This includes five in each arm and four in each leg. He also has waist articulation, but you do have to lift the vehicle mode "shell" piece off his back a bit to take advantage of it. I was glad to see several ball joints including his shoulders and head. He comes with a small handheld blaster with a rather unique, curved design leading to a wide barrel. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the weapon. It's a rather odd design that looks like it would fit more with an organic Beast Wars style figure instead of a more mechanical "War for Cybertron" design. It also doesn't compare in the least to his arm cannon shown in the game. Now, I do not expect a transforming arm on the figure (though it is doable), but with "War for Cybertron" Optimus Prime, the designers compromised by giving him a rifle that could itself transform, and I was hoping for something similar here. What I do like however is Bumblebee's melee weapons, specifically blades tucked away into each forearm. Each one is made up of translucent red plastic, giving them the feel of energy weapons, and they swing out when you push them manually.

Bumblebee has a very cool robot mode. It's not perfect, but it matches up to the CGI model very well and it looks great both in design and color. The posability is fantastic and I really dig his blade weapons. If you want to store his weapon away, lift up the shell panel on the back and attach the weapon to the thin tab located right behind where a human vehicle's license plate would be.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Stow the blaster away as you would in robot mode.
  2. Push each foot down and around so it faces back.
  3. Swing out each of the gold panels covering the ankles.
  4. Swing the gold panel around so the gold side is now pressed against the inner ankle.
  5. Swing the robot foot up so it is now set against the gold panel.
  6. Extend each of the wheels on his legs out to the sides.
  7. Push the lower legs up.
  8. Swing each leg out to the sides from the hips, then swing the lower legs in to press the robot feet together.
  9. Pull the rear shell piece on the back of the robot back.
  10. Underneath the curved part of the shell piece, there's a curved bit of plastic cast in yellow, painted in black on top, push that down.
  11. Push the front of the panel the robot head rests on to move the robot head into the chest compartment.
  12. Swing the shell back and lift up the larger curved part, forming the top of the vehicle in the process.
  13. Swing the robot arms back.
  14. Rotate the forearms so the wheels are facing out to the sides.
  15. Swing the forearms forward to form the front wheels.
  16. Move the shell piece down.
  17. Swing the robot legs back to form the rear wheels.

Bumblebee is partly what many like to refer to as a "shellformer", a Transformer that relies on a significant chunk of the alternate mode being a big piece of plastic that goes over the rest of the figure. That in itself isn't horrible, but it's always a bit maddening when a Transformer requires everything to be in the exact position down to the milimeter to transform properly. The last step of swinging the robot legs back to form the rear wheels can easily be derailed if something is just slightly out of whack with the previous steps, so be warned. While it may sound simple, the transformation can be quite frustrating and that definitely earns it some negative points.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee's vehicle mode is directly inspired by his Generation One Volkswagon Beetle vehicle mode. Despite the fact that Bumblebee has not transformed into this vehicle in quite some time (either in movies or TV shows) it is often the one people associate with the character. Like the Beetle, the vehicle is very rounded in shape overall with wheel wells that are rather high and rounded as well. Taking more cues from Generation One Bumblebee, the rear section has a rear window with two rear lights sculpted into the rear section.

Using that base, the designers then went in a futuristic direction with the design. The robot chest becomes the front of the vehicle, so the "headlights" are not rounded bulbs but rather severely angled, stylized "L" shapes. The middle is where the pink "L" shapes are found and that looks like extra headlights to guide his way on Cybertron's dark streets. The overall form is also very smooth, with each part leading to the next in a very sleek manner such as the front wheel wells blending right into the sides of the vehicle. Overall, the vehicle looks very much like what we would expect some version of the Beetle on Earth to look like were it relaunched in another ten to twenty years.

In terms of fidelity to the "War for Cybertron" vehicle mode, this sculpt succeeds very well. The sleek, curved form of the vehicle coupled with details such as the angled headlights all come directly from the CGI model. Where the form differs a bit are the wheels. In this figure, the wheels are very prominent. You can easily see the black plastic on it and the outer edge having translucent red plastic. You can see some fantastic detailing on the wheels themselves as well and they look great, however on the CGI model the wheels barely appear. You can see curves on the sides and circular shapes, but they are inset so much that you would think Bumblebee was meant to be a type of hovercar (and indeed, that may have been the intent behind the design on a visual level). Personally I prefer the way the figure looks since the wheels are very nicely done and I like having that detail shine.

This mode covers up most of the grey plastic and focuses on the translucent grey, black and yellow plastic colors. The front end, sides and rear of the vheicle are yellow plastic. The middle section is cast in translucent grey plastic while the wheels are black. Yellow and black paint are used to provide visual continuity between the plastic on the front and back of the vehicle by painting sections of the translucent grey section. The translucent plastic winds up forming the side windows, but it's interesting to note there is no windshield since this predates a time Bumblebee expected to carry any passengers. Pink paint is used on the side windows where thin lines of detail are found going from front to back. You'll also find pink on the rear lights along with some black plastic for line detail. Overall, it's a strong color scheme that is faithful to the CGI model while looking great on its own.

Final Thoughts:
When I first saw Cybertronian Bumblebee, I really hoped that I'd be able to say "Highly Recommended" without question, but that's not going to be the case. I think more could have been done with his weapon (the movie line has done a "transformable arm" for instance) and the frustrating nature of the transformation can really get irritating if you don't get everything exactly right. I will recommend this figure with reservations, mostly because the sculpt and visual appeal are very strong and it is faithful to the CGI model from the "War for Cybertron" video game.


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