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Old 2013-03-03, 03:18 AM   #1
Warcry
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Default First Edition Bumblebee [uploaded]

A lot of characters have changed since the success of the live-action movies, some for the worse and some for the better. No one has been changed so fundamentally as Bumblebee, though. Before the movies, he was a small, mouthy, spunky kid-identification character who (in spite of his prominence in the early years of the franchise) had really faded into obscurity before the 2006 movie brought him back into the spotlight. But the movie Bumblebee is so different that he's practically a different character -- a badass mute who can hold his own against any Decepticon and urinates freely on federal agents.

When Transformers: Prime rolled around and we first saw the character designs, I was a bit disappointed because he was so very clearly based on the Movie design. But when the show itself rolled around, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Bumblebee looks like a cartoony version of the Movie incarnation his personality is a mix of the best bits of both. Translating that cute design to toy form, though, has proven to be quite a challenge. Two different Deluxe-sized molds of Prime Bumblebee have been made, both with their own assets and drawbacks. The version I'll be reviewing comes from the First Edition line, which was exclusive to Toys'R'Us in late 2011 before coming to online retailer Big Bad Toystore in late 2012.

Alternate Mode: Bumblebee's alternate mode is an Urbana 500, a fictional muscle car in the Transformers universe. It's fairly generic, to be honest. Following the same general style as modern Cameros, Mustangs and Chargers, Bumblebee looks like exactly what he is -- a low-detail toy car designed to evoke a more popular design without actually coming close enough to create lisencing issues. Combined with a very bright, flat yellow plastic, that leaves Bumblebee looking pretty plain next to other recent car Autobots like FE Cliffjumper and RiD Wheeljack. With the original version of the character that would work pretty well, but the sporty Prime Bumblebee really deserves to be a bit flashier in alt-mode.

Aside from that, Bumblebee is very basic for a Deluxe car. He rolls on his wheels and not much else -- no opening doors, no weapons hardpoints, no MechTech...he's pretty sparse, honestly. But the lack of play features is offset a little bit by some pretty expansive paint applications. Bumblebee features quite a bit of black piping, as well as a painted grille, taillights, front turn signals, fog lamps and headlights. His headlights and windows are cast in a transparent blue plastic, which is an odd choice that winds up looking pretty strange contrasted with his yellow bodywork. The detailed paint apps are certainly welcome and do help make the vehicle mode look a little less bland, but all in all he's pretty generic. He can't hold a candle to past Bumblebees, either G1 or movie.

Robot Mode: In his humanoid form, Bumblebee is more of the same. He's mostly yellow, with a few grey bits revealed by the transformation. A few of the black paint apps are visible from the front, but not many. Meanwhile, there are very few new painted details revealed during transformation. His face is painted dark grey, he has silver on his ankles and gut and black stripes on his hips -- and that's it. Molded details on his shoulders, legs and feet stand out as spots that really could have used a bit of colour, but they're all left bare yellow. The end result is a toy that's pretty barren all things considered and doesn't do justice to a character model that has a lot more shading and colour variance.

When you move past appearances and start evaluating Bumblebee as a toy, a few more warts become apparent. Bumblebee's chest is made up of four different chunks of hood and undercarriage, rearranged into an approximation of his show model. The parts don't lock together very securely though, and trying to move his arms is a sure recipe to pull one of his chest pieces out of place. For maximum show-accuracy the lower half of his bumper should split off on an angle from the upper half, but although the toy is designed to do that it seems to be physically impossible on my figure. Whether this is a common issue or not, I can't say.

His door-wings also have issues, sticking out at an awkward angle that doesn't look very good. Since he can't speak, Bumblebee has much more expressive body language than other characters on the show. His doors are actually a significant part of that -- they perk up when he's happy and droop when he's sad, angle themselves aggressively when he's angry and generally do a great job of conveying his emotional state with a unique bit of expressiveness. That feature is entirely absent in this toy, but it easily could have been achieved by attaching the doors on a set of ball joints instead of rigid hinges.

The messy upper body arrangement continues to cause problems when we move onto articulation. Bumblebee's shoulder has three joints moving on different axes, with a range of motion between them that comes close to a traditional ball joint. The movements seem unnatural, though, and unless Bee's upper arms are completely vertical it looks like his shoulders are trying to float away from his body. The rest of his joints a bit sloppy, too. He's got ball-jointed elbows and forearm swivels, but the swivels are so tight on mine that turning them tends to drag the shoulders along for the ride. His wrists don't swivel, but they can curl inward as part of his transformation. His ball-jointed hips have a very limited range of motion if you're trying to open his legs up wider than the standing-at-attention pose -- the movement can be forced, but his crotch assembly's hip guards are too low to allow it naturally. He's also got knee and ankle hinges as well as thigh swivels, but yet another problem arises there: his knees can bend less than 90 degrees backwards because of the collection of kibble that makes up his boots.

He does have a ball-jointed neck and the waist swivel that's so often missing in Transformers these days though, so it's not all doom and gloom. And his head, while undersized, is quite cute so that's a good point too.

Bumblebee also comes with an accessory -- one of the wrist-mounted blasters that the character uses on the TV show. The problem, of course, is that he uses two of these blasters on the TV show. He's got mounting points for them on either arm so the odds are good that he was meant to come with both until one was cut as a cost-saving measure. If so, that's a really chintzy move considering how many other corners were cut in the paint and design departments. Compared to his counterparts in the First Edition line, Bumblebee just feels cheap.

Transformation Design: Over-engineered in the worst way. Bumblebee's probably the simplest of the Prime character designs, and I'm really not sure how he became such a mess in the plastic. 2/10

Durability: Bumblebee's doors and roof are made from pretty thin plastics, and transforming him to vehicle mode can put lots of stress on them if it's not done right. Other than that he seems fairly sturdy. 8/10

Fun: As the lineup's kid-friendly character Bumblebee should have the most fun toy of the bunch, but this figure is more frustrating than anything else. 3/10

Aesthetics: Very, very plain in both modes. This is one toy that definitely would be improved with a few more touches of paint. 4/10

Articulation: Awkward joints, restricted movement, parts that move when you don't really want them to...Bumblebee is a loser in this category as well. 3/10

Price: In spite of it's exclusive nature the fact that it was a Bumblebee produced between 2008 and 2012 means that hives and hives of him were easily available for well over a year after release. Some ridiculous people are trying to sell the thing for $50+ on eBay right now. Don't pay that. There were so many of him available, in fact, that you really shouldn't have to pay much more than retail for the guy. 7/10

Overall: Blah. There are so many Bumblebee toys available that there's really no reason to waste your time with a mediocre one. He's not utterly dreadful but I'd recommend you give him a pass. 4/10
 
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Last edited by Blackjack; 2013-03-12 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 2013-03-03, 09:54 AM   #2
Skyquake87
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Wow. From the pictures, he looks much better than the RID version. Surprising that he's equally as bad.
 
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Old 2013-03-03, 11:30 AM   #3
Knightdramon
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He's not as bad as you make him out to be.

In fact, he's mistransformed
The chest can be fiddled around a lot more to sit closer together like the show, and his front bumper can slide downwards to create a more angular look on either side. It doesn't mean much but it definitely makes him look a lot less W shaped.

As for paint apps, he's as accurate to the show as he can be. If he looks plain it's sadly the fault of the show and not the toy, as Bumblebee's orangey-yellow with black stripes as well. Robot mode doesn't need that much paint [he has a lot, though] because he's colour coded by parts rather than paint.

He has one gun because it can fit on the underside of the vehicle. If he had two one of them would be left out. In this regard he's like FE Vehicon; has all the ports for two guns, only comes with one, can only store one in vehicle mode

The main flaw of this figure is the way the shoulders are made. Since the majority of the joints up there are pin joints and he's already loose, there's little way of stiffening it. Doing the old glue trick on the joint only partially works because it's on the same axis as the front wheel. Shoulder stiffens up, wheel freezes in car mode.
 

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Old 2013-03-03, 03:25 PM   #4
Warcry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
Wow. From the pictures, he looks much better than the RID version. Surprising that he's equally as bad.
Comparing the pics I'd have to say it's about a wash. FE Bee looks nicer but RiD Bee looks like he'd work a little better as a toy. I don't own the RiD one to say for sure, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
The chest can be fiddled around a lot more to sit closer together like the show, and his front bumper can slide downwards to create a more angular look on either side. It doesn't mean much but it definitely makes him look a lot less W shaped.
I mentioned this in the review -- he's mistransformed because the tolerances on the bumper parts are screwed up and they won't move even a little bit. I don't think I'm the only one with that issue because a lot of the pics you see of him online are the same way.

And positioning the chest pieces closer together means you're partially obscuring the Autobrand, which just looks bad. It's probably the way he was initially intended to work, I'll grant you, but tampographing the Autobot symbol there created a bit of a no-win scenario.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
As for paint apps, he's as accurate to the show as he can be. If he looks plain it's sadly the fault of the show and not the toy, as Bumblebee's orangey-yellow with black stripes as well. Robot mode doesn't need that much paint [he has a lot, though] because he's colour coded by parts rather than paint.
That's just it, though. If you take a look at screenshots of Prime Bumblebee, you'll see that he's got a lot of painted details that the toy doesn't even try to replicate. The half-circles just above his knee joint should be black, as should the details at the bottom of his knee spikes and the molded details on his wrists. He should also have dark orange details on his forearms, on the rises in his armour that run from top to bottom. He's also supposed to have silver detailing on the inside of his legs. All of these parts are molded onto the toy and were probably meant to be painted initially, but left out of the final product.

You can see all of that here.

This toy would look a lot better with all those details.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
He has one gun because it can fit on the underside of the vehicle. If he had two one of them would be left out. In this regard he's like FE Vehicon; has all the ports for two guns, only comes with one, can only store one in vehicle mode
That's a terrible rationale, but now that you mention it I wouldn't be surprised at all if that was a factor. Hasbro's bizarre insistence on placing alt-mode storage above accessories' appearance or quality has led to a lot of really bad accessories over the last half-decade. I'm glad that it's something they've moved away from recently.

Though that brings up another point, which is that the weapon doesn't store properly in alt-mode anyway. It barely hangs on at the best of times and falls off most of the time if I roll Bumblebee around on his wheels while it's attached.
 
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Old 2013-03-03, 05:11 PM   #5
Blackjack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
The chest can be fiddled around a lot more to sit closer together like the show, and his front bumper can slide downwards to create a more angular look on either side. It doesn't mean much but it definitely makes him look a lot less W shaped.
My FE Bumblebee (the orange repaint of it that came with Starscream and Silas, anyway) can't even do this, the bumper system is so messy and fiddly that something snapped the one time I tried to make him look 'proper', so I never touched that thing again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon
He has one gun because it can fit on the underside of the vehicle. If he had two one of them would be left out. In this regard he's like FE Vehicon; has all the ports for two guns, only comes with one, can only store one in vehicle mode
Quote:
Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
That's a terrible rationale, but now that you mention it I wouldn't be surprised at all if that was a factor. Hasbro's bizarre insistence on placing alt-mode storage above accessories' appearance or quality has led to a lot of really bad accessories over the last half-decade. I'm glad that it's something they've moved away from recently.

Though that brings up another point, which is that the weapon doesn't store properly in alt-mode anyway. It barely hangs on at the best of times and falls off most of the time if I roll Bumblebee around on his wheels while it's attached.
It's silly how they have all these giant blocks of weapons that can't even begin to be stored in the alternate mode for the entire Dark of the Moon line as well as the Voyager assortment for the Prime RID line, yet only give FE Bumblebee a single wrist gun because they can't store two.

For Vehicon, it's kind of acceptable because most of the time they only turn one of their hands into a gun, whereas Bumblebee usually has both wrist blasters out, doesn't he?

Still, the little bugger does look quite cute, even if mine is too orange for my liking.
 
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Old 2013-03-03, 06:55 PM   #6
Knightdramon
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The bumper angling is absent from most pics because I think it wasn't included in the instructions [can't bother to dig up mine at the moment], and lots of people missed it. It's quite easy to miss, admittedly. The first few times the joint was absurdly tight on mine as well. You just put a fingernail onto the outer side of the bumper and pull down. Pulling down from any other point might even snap the pin...

I've been lucky with tolerances, peg holes, joints and paint on all my FE figures, so I can understand why others would have a problem with less fortunate copies, but Bumblebee in particular just needs a good snap together in car mode for the gun to fit in properly. The taxi version had a problem, yes, but I believe tolerances were fixed for the rest.

FE figures were initially developed for the Generations line, in which most releases stored their accessories away in vehicle mode to avoid extra parts laying around.

I believe that barring the stupid bluish fade into black, the 2pack Bumblebee is the most accurate in terms of colour to the show. Hasbro's regular is too yellow, Takara's regular is a tad more orange than that, 2pack is very close.
 

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Old 2013-03-12, 12:53 PM   #7
Blackjack
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
I've been lucky with tolerances, peg holes, joints and paint on all my FE figures, so I can understand why others would have a problem with less fortunate copies, but Bumblebee in particular just needs a good snap together in car mode for the gun to fit in properly. The taxi version had a problem, yes, but I believe tolerances were fixed for the rest.
The rest of my FE figures (both Starscreams, Cliffjumper and Vehicon) are all great, Bumblebee's probably the only one that scared me with the sudden crack in his chest ensemble, which led me to leave the car chest things untransformed in robot mode.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon
I believe that barring the stupid bluish fade into black, the 2pack Bumblebee is the most accurate in terms of colour to the show. Hasbro's regular is too yellow, Takara's regular is a tad more orange than that, 2pack is very close.
Comparing my 2-pack Bumblebee to the screen pictures of Bumblebee... personally I think it's a shade too orange than what it should be, but I do agree it's probably the closest to the TV show, after seeing how yellow the FE deco is.

And here I thought 2-pack Bumbles is way too orange...
 
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Old 2013-04-10, 12:50 PM   #8
numbat
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I have FE Deluxe Bumblebee and RID Deluxe Hotshot, so do own both moulds. Undoubtedly, FE Bumblebee is more show accurate while the RID mould is infinitelty better as a toy.

I too have issues with those bumper pieces - doing just as Knightdrammon says, I managed to get one moving, but the otherone remains locked in place to this day (I've tried taking a fine electrical screwdriver to it to try and prise it loose, but this just bends the plastic and I'm worried it will snap).

I actually do really like FE Bumblebee as a display piece, and he is also fun to transform once you get the hang of him. The width of his shoulders is my greatest gripe - he does look rather ridiculous in that respect!

If you want a display piece, get FE Bumblebee.

If you want a toy you'll actually play with, get RID Bumblebee.

(That said, it may be the case that you feel you have more than enough Bumblebees by now anyway!)
 


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