"Transformers United" Bumblebee Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: December 2010
Price Point: $30-40 (depending on import retailer)
Retailer: Japanese Market (Limited Release)
Accessories: "Wave Crusher" Jetski/back pack

*Tech Specs (translated by Doug Dlin):
Bumblebee doesn't challenge with strength and firepower, but fights his enemies by making the most of attacks that utliize his small, light frame and the speed he gained on Earth, on which he prides himself. Bright and cheerful, he can befriend not only Autobots, but Earthlings and even people from other worlds. Now that he is newly equipped with flight unit, he has become able to play a major active role in aerial battles as well.

Transforms completely from robot to vehicle!

Comes with Jet Ski carrier (which can be towed).

Carrier transforms into flight wings and combines with him!

Many of the figures introduced for the opening waves of "Transformers United" were redecos of figures released in the "Classics" series. One of these was Bumblebee, who was brought back in that line as a Deluxe Class figure. In the same line the sculpt would go on to be repainted as Cliffjumper. Later the sculpt would pop up again as Bug Bite at Botcon 2007. As part of the "Legacy of Bumblebee" three pack, the sculpt popped up again in a different deco. More recently, Bumblebee came out again as part of the Reveal the Shield line.

Check out any of the reviews above to get a look at the figure's various incarnations and reviews about them. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. Since this version was packaged in robot mode, this review will differ from the others in that I will provide step by step instructions on transforming Bumblebee from robot to vehicle mode. Otherwise, this review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Robot Mode:
Taking a cue from some of the figures released in the United States for "Dark of the Moon" and "Generations", many "United" figures were packaged in robot mode, making it the first one you get to play with as you undo the six or so twist ties holding him down. This also gives you a good look at his new colors in his more "open" form. And what new colors they are!

This version of Bumblebee seems to take some design cues from his alter ego, known as Goldbug. For those not in the know, in Generation One there were a couple different stories where Bumblebee was almost destroyed and wound up getting rebuilt in a new body and he would go on to take the name "Goldbug" as a sign of respect, recognizing the character's growth. However, Goldbug never really became popular and promptly disappeared after the Headmasters era of Transformers. He's appeared here and there snce, most notably in the IDW series, but he doesn't seem to have any connecttion to Bumblebee other than some superficial details.

Bumblebee's plastic colors are yellow, dark grey, black and translucent blue. The yellow plastic makes up most of the robot mode, though you can't see much of it (more to that point in a moment). The grey color is found on smaller parts like his fists and shoulders while the black is found on sections like the thighs and the back of the lower legs. The translucent blue is an extremely light shade of that color and is used on his windshield. His eyes are not light piped however. Instead, they are painted blue to match the animated series.

Where the Goldbug influence comes in are his colors. Bumblebee is painted mostly in gold, with silver and black rounding out the colors. I was absolutely amazed how much gold was used on this figure. The result is a really, really shiny looking Bumblebee. The paint is found on almost every section of his body including his chest, robot head and panels found on his arms and legs. I'm really surprised by this, not just because at first glance he's almost entirely gold, but also because it's rare to see either Takara or Hasbro use so much paint for one figure. If you want to know which parts are painted gold, just look on the edges which have not been painted. Giving some additional detail to the figure is silver. That color is used more sparingly. You'll find it on his face and feet. On his chest is a tampographed Autobot symbol right in the center were other versions of this figure had heat sensitive rub symbols. Overall I think Bumblebee looks really stunning with this deco, and that's saying quite a bit considering I have this sculpt several times over already!

All of Bumblebee's joints are tight in this mode and he can hold standard 5mm peg weapons without a problem. The only slight problem I found was with his left side forearm piece. There you'll find a peg that can accomodate Energon weapons or even Mini-Cons. It's also meant to attach to his vehicle mode door in this form, but the peg on the door panel doesn't fit in snug. On the other hand (literally), the right arm is fine and there are no issues seating the piece. I'd count this as a (very) slight ding against the figure (especially given import prices).

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Push the robot head back.
  2. Swing up the chest plate to form the cabin section of the vehicle mode.
  3. Point both feet down and connect them together.
  4. Swing up the armor panels on each thigh to form the vehicle mode seats.
  5. Swing the center section of the vehicle up.
  6. Swing in each arm at the shoulder joint, then turn the forearms so the pegs are facing out to the sides.
  7. Rotate the door panels on the wrist piece and then spin them around.
  8. Push the door pieces in and connect them to the tab and peg holes on the sides of the vehicle.

*Note: It may take some slight twisting and turning to get the door panels to sit properly. Be careful. Excessive force really isn't necessary.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Bumblebee really does wind up looking like a new incarnation of Goldbug. Aside from his translucent blue windows, almost every primary panel on his car mode is colored gold. His headlights are translucent plastic while the rear lights are translucent red plastic. The wheels and the hitch on the back are cast in black. In a nice touch the sides of his wheels are painted silver. This practice was once common, but has fallen by the wayside in recent time.

The "Flight Unit" that hitches on to the back is cast in yellow plastic but it has a lot of paint apps here including silver on the edges and white and black on the actual "ski" unit itself. Overall it looks fantastic and I'm still impressed by the sheer amount of paint and paint applications used on this figure.

One word of warning: when transforming the figure, the two panels that make up the hood can develop lines where the gold paint gets "cut" away a bit if you press it too tightly against the feet. It's really for this reason I'm not giving it a "highly recommended" rating.

Final Thoughts:
This is a really nice redeco of Bumblebee that pays homage to his "Goldbug" persona as well. A couple of weaknesses in the sculpt/mold and paint job are noted in this review, but I admit it's not enough to make me not recommend the figure. Just be warned, this guy was released a while ago and isn't cheap (I got mine for $50 and that is considered a good price nowadays!). Recommended but with caveats.

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