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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Knightdramon's Review: Alternity Bumble/Cliff

Name: Bumble(bee)\Cliffjumper
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Wannabe leader, spy\Warrior

It's been no secret that in the past 3 years, Bumblebee has been promoted from the kid friendly idiot he was back in '84 to probably the most easily recognizable icon in the franchise. Whilst his iconic status wasn't as prevailing back in 2003-2005 when Binaltechs reigned supreme, it's more than strong enough at the moment to warrant him a place in their successor line, Alternity.

What is Alternity, really? How does it stack up next to a Binaltech offering? No longer having to share moulds and general releases with Hasbro, Takara-Tomy moulded the line in their own standards, which are small-scale cars with die-cast metal material. The universal scale of the line is 1:32, ending up at about half the size of Binaltechs, roughly in scale with deluxe movie and universe cars.

Other than that, probably due to toy-technology having advanced from the movie offerings, Alternity figures are much more sophisticated than your average Binaltech or mainline figure. There's an insane amount of detail into each offering, two fantastic modes bridged by a fantastic transformation that's more than often aided by an automorph-esque feature.

The downside is that as a collector's offering, while the figures themselves are top-notch, the overall representation is piss-poor. Gone are the high-end packaging, the cardboard display stand customized for each Binaltech and the colourful instruction booklet. Instead, Alternity figures are presented in an all plastic prison, encased in another plastic shell [at least there's no twist ties] and an instruction sheet that's more like Cybertron's cyber keys maps from 2005.

Let's see how Bumble\Cliffumper fare in this era of over-saturation from movie toys.

Vehicle Mode

Freed from the plastic prison inside the plastic packaging, Bumble\Cliff measures roughly 12 centimetres from one end to another and around 5 centimetres from his tires to the roof. He ain't exactly the biggest car around, but that has to do with the Suzuki Swift's size.

While the logical successor to Bumble's G1 vehicle would be a new VW bug, those vehicles tend to look to rounded up and egg-like. The Suzuki Swift has all the curves and angles you'd expect from a small-sized city car. Unless we have different models of the car here in Athens, it looks to me as if the car is a tad too elongated [i.e. bigger than it should be] around the bonnet and passenger area. Sculpted detail is present where applicable, with the front grill and headlights being cast perfectly, and the Suzuki logo etched below the hood. Besides those nice touches, the rest of the car body is pretty much solid cast plastic\metal with little to no sculpting on it.

Bumblebee is cast and painted in yellow that borders on lime green under certain lighting conditions. It's not the yellow that was used on Henkei Sunstreaker and definitely not the yellow of movie Bumblebee. Black paint is used on all the "grill" details [the parts are moulded in yellow by default], with silver and gunmetal gray used for headlights\bumpers\door frames. Clear plastic is used for all the windows and both taillights and headlights. Of note is the fact that there's a piece of orange plastic on the inside of the headlights to simulate the flash lights of the vehicle. Much of the interior is cast in black plastic [more on that later]. The tires are, of course, rubber. There's no immediate difference in the tones of painted die-cast metal versus moulded plastic on my sample. The top parts of all four doors, the trunk door on the back and pieces on the roof all look different, but it's not easily noticeable.

When it comes to playability, Bumblebee\Cliffjumper are what you'd expect from the successors of Binaltech. All four doors open to reveal a detailed interior, the tires are rubber as mentioned before, the bonnet opens to reveal a detailed engine block and the trunk door\cover opens up. Of note is that the spoiler can and will detach\break off if you use that to pry open the trunk door. It's better to pry it open with your fingernail at the seams on the bottom.

All in all, a superb vehicle offering. The die-cast content is not bad, but I find it hard to distinguish it from the plastic parts. Most of the parts that end up on the robot's chest are die-cast, I can at least say that.

Robot Mode

Bumblebee\Cliffjumper feature a very satisfying transformation scheme. Nothing feels forced or defective [cough, Alternity black Megatron, cough] and most of the joints are tight enough as to not get stressed over multiple transformations. Of note is the automorph feature, which is basically pressing a panel up to the spine of the robot [vehicle mode bottom], which unlocks and presses the legs forward. It might take you a while to figure out it's actually automatic because the very next step requires you to pull the legs forward, but the automorph simply releases them.

The figure stands at about 15/16 centimetres, standing almost in-scale with various other Universe Autobots. It's noteworthy to say that whilst close in scale, he doesn't really fit the aesthetic of that line.

Bumblebee's details make the earlier Binaltech attempts to look almost like knock-offs. He's chalk-full of panel lines and ridges all over his legs, on the inner side, and his arms feature sculpted details rivaling high-end Gundam kits. The chest\pectoral area has a small panel with an Autobot symbol on it and the surrounding area featuring the bulk of his upper body transformation joints manages to look incredibly busy and, well, mechanical. His head is a perfect, I mean perfect stylized representation of Bumblebee. He doesn't have that kid-friendly, somewhat fatty face the classics car has, he looks more serious and determined. Unlike CL Bumblebee, he also has a chin-strap on his helmet. His horns, which extend [manually] when transformed, do not feel brittle or ready to snap at all and are somewhat pointy. Of note is that like almost all other yellow parts, the head is painted yellow, which tends to make his panel lines on the helmet somewhat less defined. He keeps in trend with the movie aesthetic in that he has wings on his back [formed by the rear doors], but they are more subtle and not as defined because of his bulky shoulder pieces.

A myriad of articulation points accompanies each limb. There's about 8 points of articulation on each leg alone, with the upper thigh swivel and the leg to body connection being hard ratchets. Seriously, that last joint is EXTREMELY tight. All the important joints [and more] are there, with a swiveling ankle joint [side to side], strange feet joints, knee bending at a bit over 90 degrees and the swivels I mentioned earlier. Sadly there's no waist joint, but I don't see how they could work one into the design. The arms have 7 points of articulation each, with the shoulders capable of near 360 degrees rotation [only bumping the wings as stopping points], some backwards movement thanks to the transformation joint, tight swivels to the side and around itself at the bicep area, and elbow joint, and adjustable hands to the sides and up and down. The head is on a ball joint with a lot freedom in moving around.

Bumblebee\Cliffjumper also feature two small handguns, which apparently can shoot math beams at their opponents and deduct their weak points. Yes, they went crazy on the tech specs of these guys, but both figures can pose fine with the handguns and when not in use, they can be stored on the inner side of his lower knee.

One thing to note: Many people mis-transform this figure's legs. It has to do with how vague the instructions are at that point and how tight the figure's joints are. By actually extending the complicated foot joints [there's about 3-4 joints for the transformation alone], the figure gains height and better looking proportions, with long and slender legs instead of stumpy limbs. It also helps with the ankle side to side articulation, enabling clearance from the front wheels.

Lastly, my Bumblebee fits together quite better than the Cliffjumper I own. Both have very tight joints, but Cliffjumper's front doors and generally the front part of the car do not get aligned all that well when compared to Bumblebee. Once again, just for fun's sake, I can't stress how tight the ratchet joints on the hips are.

Overall, this is a great figure that's overlooked by many due to how bulky the chest area looks. Up close it's not as noticeable, really. The figure has lots of articulation points and can actually stand up as a Gohkin offering to Aoshima and Bandai. It's interesting to see which other characters they opt for to upgrade to these high-quality and highly detailed bodies.

Transformation: 7. Actually fun to transform. One of the few modern TF figures, in my opinion, that doesn't feel like a chore to switch back and forth. Clever, non obstructive use of automorph as well.
Durability: 6. I wouldn't want to drop him down as there's lots of parts that could go flying around. His wings and general backpack area is one of the more fragile areas, as are his horns on the head. Since there's no ball joints besides the head, what breaks off stays broken.
Fun: 9. Unlike Buster Prime from ROTF, I have fun when transforming this little guy, he has a very nice presence on the shelf and can pull of many poses despite his die-cast metal nature.
Price: 4. Realistically, he's around deluxe size, comes in a crappy packaging as a collector's offering, and everybody thinks that a box that small costs around 30 USD to ship around. The actual figure is worth it, but as a total representation, it fails to live up to the price.
Overall: 7. He's not for everyone, that's true. Especially at a time when collectors moan about expensive ultras at 25-30 USD, not everyone will see the appeal for a much smaller figure priced at twice that price. Quite a stellar offering if you care about die-cast, high quality offerings. If you're just a casual transformers fan, you're better off with one of the ROTF deluxes.
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