Masterpiece MPM-7 Bumblebee

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Skyquake87
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Masterpiece MPM-7 Bumblebee

Post by Skyquake87 » Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:30 am

Name : Bumblebee
Allegiance: Autobot

What an absolute joy Bumblebee's film was. By slimming down the focus of the story to be less about irritating jerks, artifacts and scrabbling around the planet, and more about character, the film gave Transformers what it had been sorely lacking; a bit of heart and soul (to quote T'Pau. And no, I'm not embarrassed by that). Charlie Watson was a much more grounded and likeable lead than the insufferable Sam Witwicky and her relationship with Bumblebee was nicely played out. The film had a nice nostalgic feel to it, but not in the way you might think. This was like Super 8's homage to '80s adventure yarns. Pleasingly, critics loved it and it did decently well at the box office, but it perhaps came too quickly for audiences fatigued by a decade of Bayhem. Which is why Bumblebee, like the Ninja Turtles and Robocop can now be seen flogging insurance for Direct Line these days.

The toys released in support of Bumblebee were not what I was expecting, which is good, its nice to have your expectations confounded. What we did get at retail wasn't for me. Simplistic, gimmick heavy figures were the order of the day, in what felt like a direct appeal to children, rather than an older audience. Hasbro knew who they were going after with this movie cycle, and it wasn't the likes of me who've grown up with Transformers, and that's how it should be. I'd have to wait for the Studio Series to belatedly get around to representations of the Bumblebee cast. Sadly, the Studio Series release of Bumblebee just didn't do it for me. A small, fidgety faff of a figure with the same horrible missteps of the last few Movie Bumblebee toys, I was disappointed with the figure and quickly sold him on. I thought the Masterpiece looked cool, but it was a bit too rich for my wallet. Turns out a bit of distance, coronavirus and the collapse of pretty much every country's economy have turned the secondary market into a bit of a buyer's market, so I've ended up with two Masterpiece Bumblebee figures. Only because the first one I got has had some dry brushing done to it and wasn't sure if I'd ended up with one of those perishing bootlegs that ebay's awash with. No, it's just a bit of a rubbish custom paint job that wasn't clearly advertised as such.

Have to say, for a Masterpiece figure, this doesn't feel terribly prestige – it's just the figure in a tray with a few accessories and some paper instructions. Doesn't really scream 'high end collectible' to me. Are all the Movie Masterpiece figures like this?

Robot Mode: Now, the new Bumblebee design does what Beast Wars did and takes some liberties with hiding away various vehicle parts that the toy just can't get away with. So, the robot mode as the door wings as standard, as well as the by now familiar wheels behind the shoulders look that pretty much every movie Bumblebee toy has had. From the front, the figure's nice and tidy. The back is much better than I was expecting; he has a back pack, but it's mostly the bonnet with the roof and whatnot cleanly tucked away inside his torso. Nice, The figure's nice and stocky too. One thing I've never particularly liked about Bumblebee is how skeletal and made up of shins he is. This design does away with all that, putting some meat on his bones. Puppy fat, if you will. Either way, it helps him look less of a skeleton wearing a car. Even his skull face looks nicer, having been rounded and filled out a bit more. Helps that he has these nice stubbly antennae too. Makes him look more like the kid-friendly face of Transformers he's always pushed as. What isn't kid friendly are the huge clip on blade and blaster Bumblebee wields. These are nifty accessories, with the blade being my favourite (shame he doesn't come with two). Part of his head can be swapped out for his battlemask, which has some neat hexagonal design in the eye pieces because bees and hives. On top of an excellent looking robot mode, I'm also pleased to feel that Bumblebee has some weight to him – he's got a smattering of die-cast in his feet!

Alternate Mode: Bumblebee transforms into a Volkswagon Beetle, which I know will have many rejoicing and pointing out how the design does work (and makes sense of the character's name). Honestly, I can see why a Camaro was chosen back in 2007. For one, there's the toy engineering - that's a lot of robot to pack away into a small space. The other thing was that a Beetle doesn't feel like something you'd pick out for your first second hand car if you're a high school student in America, unless I dunno, you're a counter-culture type. Or have some appreciation of quirky European vehicles. Neither of which were characteristics of Sam. It makes complete sense in the Bumblebee movie, where he's hiding out in a garage, forgotten and damaged, as something unobtrusive. The alt-mode here is quite clean, save from darker shades of orangey yellow around the skirts and mudguards, to show some ageing. This is Bumblebee after a bit of a valet. It's really great. The Beetle is a great looking car, it's design has endured and it looks marvellous here. The blue windows aren't to my tastes (I would have preferred a smoked clear plastic) but they do add a bit of sparkle to his alt-mode. It rolls nicely too, with some decent clearance.

Marks Out Of Ten For The Following:

Transformation Design: I've always liked the live action designs, but there's no denying that they're extremely busy and in some cases, difficult to differentiate. This new Bumblebee designs retain the mechanical detail, but bulks up on the shaping and colour, to give you characters that are way more easy to identify. It translates well into the toys too, giving the designers slightly less of a headache. Well, most of the time. There are some things that clearly weren't possible to replicate in plastic for Bumblebee- hence the faux bonnet chest. Like most Masterpiece toys, he's a three course meal to transform, so be prepared to set some time aside. There's some clever stuff here, he lower legs unfolding to form the back of the car are particularly well done. A bit more troublesome are the bits like lining up the bonnet to nestle in between the headlights and getting that all clipped and secured, plus getting the sides of the vehicle into place. Some of this doesn't like to behave, and I've found going back a few steps to try and get parts aligned just so to allow everything to fit together snugly. It's not impossible, and this is what the Masterpiece line is all about, but it just saps the joy out of things a bit. An incredible piece of work, all the same. 8/10

Durability: Bumblebee feels very stocky and dense in robot mode. Some of his vehicle parts are on thin stalks and axles, which could be prone to damage if you're particularly clumsy. The front bumper is a part to watch over though – it's one of those “some parts are made to detach if excessive force in applied”. 9/10

Articulation: As a smaller figure in the Masterpiece line, Bumblebee isn't mental with articulation but he's got what he needs. Head can look around, but can't look up or down. There's 360 degree movement in the shoulders (restricted by the doors) and elbows, wrist swivels, waist rotation, nice strong ratcheted hips, upper thigh cut, bend at the knee and ankle pivots. 7/10

Fun: I always struggle scoring 'fun' for Masterpiece toys. They're not fun really, are they? You have them as bit of collector cock-waving and to show off about. They're not really going to get played with and spend most of their life as a display piece looking cool. 5/10

Price/Value: I paid £30 plus postage for this figure, and £50 including postage for the one someone's stabbed with a paintbrush, so I've basically bought two second hand figures for less than original asking price. Whilst a good looking figure, and better than the Studio Series version, it's difficult to see what Masterpiece brings to the table these days, given how the main Transformers line is capable of carrying off this kind of thing. The plastics do feel a bit denser and stronger, and the die-cast is nice, but Bumblebee doesn't feel especially prestige the way he's just slammed in a box with instructions. I just don't feel as wowed by this toy as I have other Masterpeice figures. It's a shame, because he is impressive, but I just wanted something more from the sole Masterpiece representative from the Bumblebee movie. This just feels almost like a retail exclusive. For the prices I've paid, I'm more than happy. 7/10

Overall: I'm really pleased to have this version of Bumblebee in a toy format that works for me. The engineering is sound, the figure looks great and the paint and plastics are nice. The use of die-cast to give him some heft is appreciated and I would recommend him, if you can find him for a decent price, as I did. I think the Movie Masterpieces don't feel as great to me personally because the retail lines have generally done an incredible job with these more complex designs, so the wow factor isn't necessarily there. The quality and space to allow the design to breathe and work fluidly definitely is though. 7/10
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Warcry
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Re: Masterpiece MPM-7 Bumblebee

Post by Warcry » Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:47 am

Skyquake87 wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 11:30 am
Have to say, for a Masterpiece figure, this doesn't feel terribly prestige – it's just the figure in a tray with a few accessories and some paper instructions. Doesn't really scream 'high end collectible' to me. Are all the Movie Masterpiece figures like this?
I have to say, this is the impression I get from looking at the pictures, as well. The figure itself seems a lot more...workmanlike than the G1 or BW Masterpieces. If I'd come across these pictures without the review attached, I'd have assumed I was looking at a nice Studio Series toy rather than an MP.

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