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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's Review: DOTM Deluxe Class Bumblebee

Name: Bumblebee
Function: Hasbro / Takara Movieverse Cashcow
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Mechtech Deluxe Class

Bumblebee has spent decades perfecting his fighting skills. With or without weapons, he is one of the most skilled fighters the Autobots have. He is dedicated to using his skills to defeat the Decepticons, no matter where they appear.

Given the intense marketing, ridiculous number of toys and the fact that he gets more screentime than any other Autobot in the three live action Transformers movies, it’s little wonder Bumblebee has become one of the best known Transformers characters to the general public, second only (perhaps) to Optimus Prime – although they must be close to tied now. Bumblebee is perhaps now as iconic in pop culture as the Transformers faction insignias. It’s funny, then, to consider that as a character, Bumblebee had disappeared from Transformers during the original G1 lines (becoming Goldbug in Season 3 of the TV show). Despite being hugely popular (probably because of his relationship with Spike in the show, cute VW Beetle alternate mode and the fact he had an affordable toy) Bumblebee did not again appear in any Transformers line after G1, until Michael Bay had already selected him as the breakout character the audience should love in his live action films. Prior to the release of Transformers the Movie in 2007 (TFTM), Hasbro released a line of updated G1 characters in 2006 – Classics. This line returned Bumblebee to the toy store shelves for the first time in a mainline since G1. Although no longer a VW Beetle (due to VW not wishing to be associated with war toys), Bumblebee retained much of his G1 look in both modes – indeed, the Classics Bumblebee figure is still a fantastic toy, and the best version of the G1 character (also now available with movie-style black stripes in the Reveal the Shield repaint).

The fact that Classics Bumblebee no longer transformed into a VW Beetle did prepare fans for the fact he would be taking on a new alternate mode for TFTM – initially a 1974 Chevy Camaro. This was perhaps one of the most difficult changes to sell to the fans as, unlike other iconic characters such as Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Ratchet, Megatron and Starscream, Bumblebee had never appeared in another line and so had never had a different alternate mode. The Classics Bumblebee figure bridged the gap between G1 Bumblebee and TFTM Bumblebee nicely. As TFTM progresses, Bumblebee takes on a sleek Concept Camaro alternate mode. The Concept Camaro design is then used in the two sequels (Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) and Dark of the Moon (DOTM)) with minor alterations, ostensibly to make the character look more mature mirroring Sam’s progress towards adulthood, although the cynic in me says it’s equally or more likely these minor changes in design are aimed at selling more toys in reality.

I am a big Bumblebee fan – the G1 Bumblebee Minibot figure was my first ever Transformer (I still have him, rubber tyres and all), and introduced me to the line. I love the fact he’s such a major character in Michael Bay’s films, and very much like the Camaro as an updated alternate mode. I picked up the TFTM Deluxe ’74 Camaro Bumblebee and TFTM Deluxe Concept Camaro Bumblebee figures, but was not tempted by the numerous ROTF minor remoulds of the TFTM Concept Camaro figure. I did pick up the ROTF Human Alliance (HA) Bumblebee (which is fantastic) as well as the huge Hunt for the Decepticons (HFTD) Battle Ops Bumblebee – to date the definitive Movieverse Bumblebee figure for me, and really quite spectacular (but expensive!). There have been Supreme Class Ultimate Bumblebee figures for all of the movies, which are quite horrendous and inevitably end up clogging shelves and don’t shift even during sales... I didn’t expect to be buying any more Bumblebee figures, in all honesty, as no Deluxes had really added anything to the original that warranted additional expenditure, although I was interested in the HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee figure, which was highly recommended by friends and did look great – the trouble is I really didn’t like how the cannon and axe just hung off his forearms, and he seemed inordinately huge compared to other Deluxes.

Roll on DOTM, and a new Deluxe Bumblebee was released (along with a totally unnecessary and poorly proportioned Leader Class figure). This figure was clearly a scaled down retool of HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee, more in scale with other Movieverse Deluxe cars and lacking the forearm weapon kibble. Unfortunately, he was generally accompanied by the new 12.99-14.99 Deluxe pricetag, so I didn’t initially pick him up. However, upon finding him reduced at 8 I really couldn’t resist, and another Bumblebee figure joined my collection (as Hasbro laughs at the gullible fan). Was he worth it, or had Hasbro succeeded in hoodwinking me yet again?

Alternate Mode:

Bumblebee retains his Concept Chevy Camaro alternate mode for his third outing in the Transformers live action film series, although has been the subject of minor design modifications yet again. Measuring 5 ” (13.5cm) in length, DOTM Deluxe Bumblebee is a nice size to display alongside other Movieverse figures and matches the 1/36 scale of previous Bumblebee figures.

The Camaro retains the more aggressive chunky front end introduced in ROTF (I personally prefer the original sleek sexy front end in TFTM, and a rear spoiler has been added. The large engine intake from ROTF has been replaced by two smaller intakes on either side. Rally-style window grills have also been added, although I’m not sure if they were actually in the film. ‘Camaro SS’ is moulded on either side of the vehicle (but unfortunately not picked out with any paint), with a silver Autobot insignia beneath. However, Bumblebee’s Camaro mode is heavily modified from the standard production 2012 Camaro SS, which resembles a cross between the TFTM Concept Camaro and ROTF Camaro. The Chevy insignia is picked out in silver on the front and back, while black is used on radiator grill, rear spoiler and front spoiler details. Silver is used again for the headlights, while the rear lights are painted red. Unfortunately, the rear registration plate is simply painted silver, with no characters. Also, despite the high level of moulded detail, Bumblebee seems to lack anywhere to fuel up!

Of course, Bumblebee remains yellow, and retains the black racing stripes. However, the stripes have been changed, and are now deliberately out of alignment on the bonnet, lack the pinstripe outline and now continue across the roof. The designers have seen fit to paint the allow wheels silver, unlike many Transformers that are condemned to have solid black wheels nowadays – which is ironic, as I believe Bumblebee actually sports black alloys in DOTM! Still, I prefer the silver. The front and rear windows are both tinted blue transparent plastic.

The Camaro mode hides the robot mode very well – as you’d hope given how many versions of Bumblebee Hasbro have put out, giving them the opportunity to hone the design. However, the same could be said of Optimus Prime, who has suffered greatly with poor toy designs for the DOTM line after the perfection of ROTF. The only slight hint of the robot is heals of the feet which ever-so-slightly protrude at the rear. No robot parts are obvious through any windows.

Bumblebee holds together nicely, and rolls well – all you can expect from a car alternate mode!

Bumblebee has a single Mechtech port in Camaro mode, located on the roof. Fortunately the designers saw fit to include a retractable spring-loaded plug which effectively hides this, unlike other figures which are studded with holes ruining their alternate modes. Bumblebee’s Mechtech cannon resembles the massive gun that emerges from his roof in ‘attack mode’ in the film, and so doesn’t look too bad plugged into the Camaro mode if you’re aiming to recreate this look. However, the attack mode is far less complex than the movie version, and falls short for display in my opinion, while admittedly adding fantastic play value for kids. You can also pop up the rear setion of the roof to reveal a couple of cannons (moulded in the transparent blue plastic of the windows).

In summary, DOTM Deluxe Bumblebee’s Camaro mode delivers and does so well.

Robot Mode:

Being a remould of HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee, DOTM Deluxe Bumblebee follows the same transformation design. I had thought that the TFTM Deluxe Concept Camaro Bumblebee was a close to perfection as any Deluxe Class figure could ever get to reproducing the look of the movieverse Bumblebee design, but this figure has proven me wrong. It is a massive improvement on the original Concept Camaro mould, with the wheels separately folding in front of the door wings, just as in the ROTF HA and HFTD Battle Ops Bumblebee figures. The arrangement of the chest and upper legs are also improved, but I actually prefer the Automorph leg design of the original overall. I do like that the whole top of the car (roof and part of the bonnet) all pop up together, just like the transformation in the films - as a bonus, this has also been modified from the HFTD Battle Blade version so as the kibble folds away much better. In fact, in terms of kibble (or, rather, lack of), this figure is second only to HFTD Battle Ops Bumblebee! The figure has been modified from the HFTD Battle Blade version design so as to incorporate the new ‘mature’ chest armour. Also, as the Camaro mode lacks plastic door windows, the designers have added flip-up windows to complete the robot mode look – a very nice touch!

Standing exactly 6” (15cm) tall, DOTM Deluxe Bumblebee is still quite large for a Deluxe, but looks far more at home alongside other Deluxe Autobot cars than HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee.

Bumblebee has plenty of moulded detail, although sadly very little is picked out with paint, leaving him looking a little bland. The silver paint on his face contrasts sharply with the dark dull grey plastic used for most of the robot parts, while the black plastic used for his hands doesn’t make much sense, even if presenting less of an obvious contrast. The lack of any paint for the number plate is also disappointing. Still, the figure does look great in robot mode, and is a massive improvement on the TFTM Concept Camaro figure, and has better / more consistent colours than HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee – although you can’t help thinking what an improvement a bit more paint would make.

The blue light piping for Bumblebee’s eyes does not work as well as other light piping, but does look nice.

Bumblebee is very well articulated, with 15 meaningful points of articulation, as well as positionable door and wheel ‘wings’ plus opening and closing fists. Unfortunately, the hip joints in particular seem to be very loose on my figure, making posing a bit tricky (but achievable).

Bumblebee possesses four Mechtech ports (thankfully well hidden in his arm design) and two points for the Generations / RTS clip weapons. As mentioned in the alternate mode section, DOTM Deluxe Bumblebee comes with a Mechtech weapon modelled on the cannon used in his Camaro ‘attack mode’ in the film. This flips open into a longer gun, but cannot be locked in this mode (only Voyager Class and Leader Class Mechtech weapons can be locked open, it seems). It looks ridiculously huge attached to his arm, and I personally prefer not to display him with it, although it adds fantastic play value for kids.

So, how do I feel about picking up a second Movieverse Deluxe Bumblebee (and my 9th Movieverse Bumblebee overall)? You know what? It was well worth it, and in retrospect I would have happily spent 12.99 on this figure. Although I understand some people will prefer the larger and more weaponised HFTD Battle Blade Bumblebee version of the mould, I like to have the more movie accurate and better scaled DOTM version – this is the perfect Movieverse Deluxe Bumblebee for me.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 10 – The designers have perfected Bumblebee’s transformation for the Deluxe scale with this figure, and have paid attention to detail with the flip out door windows. I can’t see how you could make a more perfect Deluxe Movieverse Bumblebee (although I thought that of the TFTM Deluxe Concept Camaro Bumblebee before so may well be proven wrong in the future!).
Durability: 8 – Bumblebee seems pretty durable, and does not suffer from small parts of armour popping off easily as with the TFTM Concept Camaro Bumblebee. However, the window grills worry me a little (they feel a bit brittle and could snap off) and the loose hip joints are a pain.
Fun: 9 – Bumblebee is great fun – but would be improved by having less loose hip joints.
Aesthetics: 9 – Both modes would benefit from a little more paint (particularly the number plates), while the robot mode would look that bit better if more consistent colours were used for the exposed robot parts. Still, both modes are very nicely moulded and look great on display.
Articulation: 9 – Bumblebee is well articulated for his size, only lacking a waist joint (although this also makes him sturdier). However, his joints are loose – particularly the hips – which limits his poseability.
Value/Price: 9 – Despite the relatively higher prices of DOTM Deluxe Class figures compared to previous lines (12.99 - 14.99) DOTM Bumblebee is a great figure, and I feel he’s worth the shelf price (unlike some other Deluxe Class figures). However, if you can pick him up at a reduced rate, all the better!
Overall: 9 – DOTM Deluxe Class Bumblebee is a massive improvement on the TFTM Deluxe Concept Camaro Bumblebee, and I struggle to see how an improved Deluxe Class Movieverse Bumblebee mould could be produced (although I felt that way about the TFTM one before so may well be proven wrong!). However, loose joints and limited paint mar the figure, preventing it from achieving a ‘10’. If you’re after a Deluxe Class Bumblebee to stand alongside your other Movieverse Deluxe Autobot cars though, I don’t think you can do better than DOTM Deluxe Class Bumblebee.
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