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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: G2 Bumblebee

"The least likely can be the most dangerous."

Small, eager, and brave, Bumblebee acts as messenger and spy. He idolizes the bigger Autobots, especially Optimus Prime and Prowl, and strives to be accepted. He is the most energy efficient and has the best vision of all the Autobots. He can go underwater for reconnaissance and salvage missions. Although physically the weakest Autobot, his stealth more than compensates for this inadequacy.

The early 90s were a strange time for Transformers. In Europe and to a lesser extent in Canada, the zombified corpse of the franchise had continued to slowly stumble along in spite of the death of the line in the US market. But Hasbro were unwilling to let the brand die such an ignominious death, an attitude that brought us a relaunch in the form of Generation 2. Someone at Hasbro HQ had finally cottoned on to the fact that it was the characters as much as the toys that had captured the attention of a decade's worth of little boys, so the G2 line saw the rerelease of dozens of original-series toys.

And while that wasn't a bad idea, after that it started to get a little weird. The toyline and the accompanying comic both contracted a serious case of 90s-XTREEEM ATTITOOD. In the comics that took the form of giant guns and ultra-violence, but also led to a very unique, interesting take on the Transformers mythos. In the toyline it manifested with purple and teal jets, Sideswipe writing his name all over his alternate mode and Optimus Prime decorating his trailer with a mural of himself burning down a forest. The silly side of the line does tend to make G2 something of a running gag among the fandom, but it produced more than it's fair share of nice things too.

The Generation 2 Minibots were one of those nice things. Four figures -- chosen seemingly at random from the dozen and a half Minibots from the original line -- were given an eye-catching chrome finish that makes them really stand out from their original counterparts. Bumblebee was among the four, a choice that would be all but guaranteed now but back in the 90s they could have just as easily omitted him and done a silver-chromed Tailgate or something. I'm glad they didn't, though, because G2 Bumblebee's easily the nicest Minibot I own.

Alternate Mode: Bumblebee's vehicle mode is an approximation of a late-70s, early-80s Volkswagen Beetle, deformed and given the proportions of a penny racer toy. His front bumper and the section between his wheels are black, his back plate (where you'd insert the coin in a real penny racer) is silver and the rest of the car is a lovely shade of shiny vacuum-metallized gold. On a larger toy the all-chrome finish would be obnoxious, but Bumblebee is small enough that the effect is cute instead. Unfortunately, as the metal paint ages it tends to lose its shine. In particularly bad cases it can crack, flaking off in large chunks. In less-severe cases, it's just as prone to rubbing off with wear as any other painted figure. My Bumblebee's gold has miraculously dodged both of those bullets, but even then his paint has lost some of its shine.

Like a lot of early molds, Bumblebee features rubber tires. While that adds to the authenticity and adds a certain undefinable "quality" to the figure, it's also another point of wear. Over the years, Bumblebee's tires (especially the thinner front ones) have gotten rather loose and worn. They tend to 'catch' on the fenders as you roll him, and the rubber itself has deteriorated with age so I'm very worried that they'll rip.

Robot Mode: In robot mode, Bumblebee is very striking. The shiny golden chrome is a huge contrast to the bright, cheery plastic of the original, and makes him look very different. In fact, between the golden paintjob and the head (which is very different from the cartoon model) the figure bears a closer resemblance to Bumblebee's alter-ego Goldbug than anything else. As a fan of Goldbug who doesn't think much of the actual Throttlebot toys, I've always liked that a lot.

Bumblebee's tiny in robot mode, approximately the same size as a modern Legends-class figure. Articulation is limited to arms that can swing around in a 360 degree circle, although the design hails from a couple decades before the word "articulation" was ever used in reference to Transformers so it's hard to judge him too harshly on that. His proportions leave something to be desired too, since he's got a gigantic torso and feet to go along with twiggy legs and arms. But again the small size rescues him, and the funny shape only adds to the cuteness factor.

Transformation Design: Bumblebee definitely hails from a different time, when simplicity ruled the day. Transforming him is only a three-step process, but it's three steps that actually make a pretty big difference. He's not in the same league as modern stuff, but he's not an overly simple piece of junk like Goldbug either. 4/10

Durability: The basic design of the figure is sound, unless you plan on stepping on him. But Bumblebee's tires and metallic paint are weak spots. 7/10

Fun: Bumblebee's tiny and cute, which makes him nice to fiddle with while you're watching TV or something. But once you get past that he really doesn't do much. 6/10

Aesthetics: There are so many Minibots with the same layout, but this version of Bumblebee is my favourite. 10/10

Articulation: No, not really. 2/10

Price: They've released so many versions of this toy that none of the mass-retail versions are really all that expensive or hard to get your hands on. This Bumblebee's not quite as common as the original or the new reissues, but he's neither rare nor especially sought after. 10/10

Overall: Between Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Hubcap and all their myriad variations and recolours, there are a lot of very similar toys floating around. Most people who were kids in the 80s have owned at least one version over the years, and anyone who hasn't really should. This version of Bumblebee is my favourite of the bunch, but there are so many flavours to choose from that it's hard to say that this is the Bumblebee you should own. But he's cute and shiny and fun to fool around with, and if you like Minibots you'll like this Bumblebee. 7/10
 
 
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