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

Name: Gold Bumblebee (a.k.a. Goldbug)
Allegiance: Autobot

"To know others, you must know yourself first."

So, Goldbug. In 1987, the fourth year of the original Transformers line, the ever-popular kid-appeal Autobot Bumblebee was granted a new toy in the form of the Throttlebot Goldbug. Goldbug shares Bumblebee's Volkswagen alternate mode, but has a different face and a different transformation. Mainly, because he is a Throttlebot he transforms via a pull-back action.

In both the Marvel comics and the cartoon, Bumblebee was destroyed and rebuilt into Goldbug. In the cartoon Goldbug had about only five minutes of showtime total, since he was rebuilt in the final episode of Season Three, renamed and promptly shuffled aside because Optimus Prime's return was more important. And in Season Four the priority was to introduce the expensive Targetmaster and Headmaster toys, so Goldbug became a wallpaper flower.

In the comics, however, well, I didn't exactly read them in chronological order, so I initially missed the set of issues (the GI Joe Crossover, or the Death's Head issue for the UK continuity, which didn't publish the GI Joe Crossover) in which Bumblebee was blown up and rebuilt into Goldbug, by the GI Joe or Wreck-Gar depending on the continuity. So I thought Goldbug was a totally different character, and I immediately fell in love with him. Under uncle Bob, Goldbug was one of the most developed Transformers there are out there, with his maturing. Especially in that Scraplet story. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Goldbug and the iconic Bumblebee are the one and the same! Sadly, a couple of years later the Pretender Bumblebee toy came out and Goldbug was turned back into Bumblebee.

IDW tried to put their own spin on Goldbug by making him not-Bumblebee. The fact that he's 'not-Bumblebee' is also the only noteworthy thing of his character.

Being a guy whose first Transformers fiction was the live action movie (those odd Armada and Beast Machines episodes I watched as a kid don't count!) when you say 'Bumblebee' the image that pops into my head is the lovable mute psychopath from the Movieverse, and then the short VW bug from G1 appears. Let's be honest, what does G1 Bumblebee ever do? He's always there but for all my life, he never does anything particularly memorable other than hang around Spike. Now Goldbug, though, he is a much better and memorable character in my head.

Amusingly, Goldbug was one of the working names for Bumblebee!

Hasbro has realised the power of homages. So all repaints nowadays must be a homage to something else. Hey, it attracts fans and kids instead of just kids. So when the 2010 Transformers line (Hunt for the Decepticons/Generations/Power Core Combiners/Reveal the Shield) was launched, Hasbro began to sift through the more obscure characters for homages. One of them was a redeco of the Universe 2.0 Bumblebee toy in a Goldbug scheme, named 'Gold Bumblebee'. Although I wonder why they didn't use the name 'Goldbug'. Trademark evidently isn't a problem; they recently used it for the Shattered Glass set.

Being a Goldbug fan and not missing this mould in its original incarnation, I picked it up.

Alternate Mode:
Goldbug transforms into a compact car similar to the Deluxe Class Classics Bumblebee. It's definitely not a Volkswagen Beetle, but it's of similar build with a more angled hood, which kinds of brings to mind a compacted sports car of sorts. Stupid Volkswagen and their no-war policies... can't they see free advertisement? Bah.

Anyway, it's a nice vehicle mode. It's a compact car, something that you can actually see driving down the street. I mean, Ferraris and Porsches and monster construction vehicles and tanks and jets and wacky Cybertronian shoe-cars and all are awesome, but I appreciate seeing something that's just an everyday vehicle.

Goldbug is coloured a subdued, darker shade of gold. It's got sparkly paint, but unlike other modern toys it doesn't seem to scrape off that easily. Unlike the original Bumblebee release of the toy Goldbug isn't painted as flashy. Whereas Bumblebee had blue windows and two black blotches of black on the hood where the robot mode legs joins the feet, Goldbug's frame is painted entirely golden, with no annoying bits getting in the way. The windows and wheels are painted all in black, a more realistic colour than Bumblebee's light blue. Let's be honest, windows are either transparent or tinted black. When was the last time you saw a car with blue windows? Goldbug's headlights, angled to resemble eyes of sort, are painted a subdued shade of silver.

Overall his paintjob simply looks good by the virtue of keeping things simple and realistic, unlike the overblown decoes some transformers have. I mean, they are 'robots in disguise', and damned if a proper blue-coloured F15 fighter jet, or a Lamborghini masquerading as a Fire Chief's car doesn't scream 'weird' to you.

A silver-bordered rubsign is attached to the roof. Why? Because, after twenty-five years rubsigns are now the driving gimmick again. Meh, better than bloody Cyber Keys or All-Spark-POWAAAH baby blue random paintjobs, I say.

Goldbug manages to charm in this mode and you can roll him around, but there's not exactly much else. It's a Legends class toy, though, so it's understandable.

Robot Mode:
Now G1 Bumblebee and G1 Goldbug had slightly different transformation schemes. While the parts layout are nearly the same, Bumblebee's head was pulled out from behind the car, while Goldbug's was hidden between the back of the car and the main body, so when he transforms he kind of has a piece of the back of the car above his shoulder like the rest of the Throttlebots and Battlechargers.

This mould, with it's more complex transformation scheme compared to G1 Bumblebee, means that he looks more like Goldbug physically, what with the rear of the car folding backwards like a Throttlebot. While it's intended to hide fully in the back instead of riding slightly up Throttlebot style, since it's Goldbug I leave it that way, at around 60 degrees, to emulate his comic appearances. There's a little side effect of having his shoulders look a bit hunched, though.

Thankfully Goldbug uses his comic paintjob instead of his ugly solid-yellow-block that the toy had. The legs, arms and head are painted a dark blue, the same blue Marvel comics use to substitute for black, while the face is painted silver.

Sadly, his face screams out 'Bumblebee!' instead of Goldbug's recognizable folded radiator grill face. Pity, since other than us freaks who care about parts layout and stuff, the only difference others will see between Goldbug and Bumblebee would be the head.

Goldbug has quite a sorry bunch of articulation for a Legends class toy, especially those released after 2009. He has no knees (unless you count bending the car hood boots as knees) and his shoulders are a bit restricted due to them being not really a thick solid piece. His thighs are on ball joints, but compared to other toys from his line like Beachcomber or Cosmos or Wheelie, he's sorely lacking a bit in the articulations department.

He's around the size of the original Bumblebee toy, but I don't have a Goldbug to compare with. Of course, if someone wants to send me a mint G1 Goldbug for comparison... -hint, hint-

There's not much else to do with him, but being a Minibot I guess he's just a troop builder. He's a charming one, too, although the face ruins the whole 'Goldbug' angle.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 10/10. Works from 1984 until now. It's simple and sweet, you can do it with your eyes closed and has the side effect bonus of making the robot mode look more like Goldbug than Bumblebee.

Durability: 8/10. The shoulder joints feel worryingly loose, but they aren't ball joints that pop out easily so it's fine. You will worry about paint scratching, though.

Articulation: 4/10. Less than standard Legends Class fare nowadays. Only in the shoulders, thighs and ankles.

Aesthetics: 8/10 It looks perfectly like Bumblebee and Goldbug in both modes, and while the lack of new face sculpt does hurt things a little, it is a nice enough representation of Goldbug. Arguably the vehicle mode looks more realistic than the original Bumblebee release. Want my radiator grill head, though.

Price/Value: 6/10. Price inflation, dearies. If it were the same price as how the Movieverse toys were sold before...

Fun: 6/10 I am a Goldbug fan, so I love mucking around with him. There's very little that you can do but transform him, though.

Overall: 7/10 Average tut-tut. If it weren't for my being a fan of Goldbug this would pass for a five or six in scores. There's nothing really wrong with the toy; it's an excellent representation of Goldbug bar the head. It's just that there's not much to be happy about, especially with the way Legends Class toys are having a price increase recently.
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