Transformers Animated Activators Bumblebee Review

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: July 2008
Price Point: $7.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: None


*Image from

Text from Hasbrotoyshop:
BUMBLEBEE is the speedster on the AUTOBOT team. He’s always ready for action and revving to go! Together with his best friend, the human girl Sari, he never goes long without getting into some kind of trouble. Luckily he’s smart and fast enough to get himself and Sari out of almost any situation!

Spring into action with this quick conversion vehicle-to-robot hero! With just the press of a button, this AUTOBOT warrior changes from sports car mode to robot mode – and back again!

Activators are a new sub-line of Transformers aimed at providing simpler transformations with a fully functional and posable Transformers figure. Activator transformations are primarily accomplished through the pressing of a switch or tab and manipulation of a few extra parts. Such transformations are much akin to the early "spring loaded transformations" used in many Beast Wars Transformers figures.

Almost anyone who knows me in the Transformers world knows Bumblebee is my favorite character. I've always had an attachment to him since G1 which makes sense since he was written in the TV show to appeal to me directly as a young kid watching the program. For years following Generation 2, the character was virtually ignored even as others such as Prowl appeared in many different expressions. Following the Movie however, the character has undergone a renaissance and there is scarcely a Transformers sub-line created now that doesn't eventually have a Bumblebee in it. Activators brought in Bumblebee early on in wave one and he was often the first one to sell out on toy store shelves in my parts.

Robot Mode:
Bumblebee represents his form after he comes to Earth and scans Captain Fanzone's car. I was slightly surprised by how many design compromises were made with this figure that remove it a bit from being show accurate considering so few were made with other Activators. Still, these compromises by no means make this a bad toy, and in fact as a figure it is quite fun.

Where Bumblebee does carry over aspects of the animation model are mainly the head, main body and legs. The head design is largely based on the G1 toy's head, which featured an oval shaped head with a mouthplate and visor eyes (along with the requisite horns and central crest). Animated Bumblebee does have a mouthplate, but he only brings it up in certain situations. More often, he sports a regular mouth which here is set to the side in a bit of a snarky look. The detail on the head is fantastic, with a small triangle in the center of the crest and four grooves on the sides of the head near the horns. Such G1 element have become the hallmark of G1 inspired character in Animated and it is great to see them so prominant here. The main body is made up of the top section of the car, and while the windshield here is proportionally bigger than it is on the animation model, the intent is the same. His legs feature curved and rounded off sections, with bits of knee armor sticking out at the knees and the front end of the car mode becoming his feet. There is quite a bit of detail on the legs. Between angled lines on the upper legs, grooves at the knee and even vent like details on the inside of his feet, the sculptors were obviously not trying to cut back on sculpted detail here.

Where this figure differs from its animated counterpart are mainly the arms and bits of detail here and there. The arms here are largely flat since they press up right into the main body in vehicle form. The animation model has a set of wheels on the top of his arms, forming shoulders leading to elbows and lower arms. Here the upper arms are self contained pieces connected to the lower arms on a hinge. The wheel sections that would have been shoulder pieces actually are connected to the side of each upper arm, giving a design sensibility closer to his G1 counterpart. It doesn't look like it at first, but Bumblebee does have hands which are sculpted flat palmed against the panels that form the sides of the car. On the chest, the siren is easily seen since it does not retract or fold into anything. Since the siren is the trigger mechanism to convert Bumblebee from vehicle to robot, this comes as no surprise.

Bumblebee is cast in black and yellow plastic, the primary colors of Bumblebee through most of his incarnations in Transformers history. Black, silver, white, red and light blue paint are used for his details. White is used on the headlights seen on his feet. Black is used for details such as the stripe running from the chest down to his feet (seen as a whole in the vehicle mode). Red is used on the siren and light blue is used on for his eyes. Silver is found on his legs, face and is used for the Autobot symbol on his chest. This is very close to the color scheme used on the show, with the biggest difference being the upper legs which have yellow on them in the TV show. Finaly, the windshield and windows are metallic dark grey.

Bumblebee has an impressive seventeen points of articulation in this form. Each arm has four points alone, which partly makes up for how flat they are and the lack of show accuracy on that portion of the figure. He has a lot of double joints such as the arms which can bend forward and back at the elbow and swivel in and out at the shoulder. His legs also can swivel in and out near the knees.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Swing the robot feet forward and press them together in the middle.
  2. Straighten out each arm so the door panels line up.
  3. Swing the vehicle panel on his back up and lock it into place with the door panels.

Vehicle Mode:
Inspired by several of his previous incarnations this vehicle really does project the spirit of G1 Bumblebee's Volkswagon form. While the robot mode did go through some compromise in design in matching the animated model, the vehicle mode has only one significant difference from the TV show model, that being the hinges on the back that are part of the transformation mechanism for the arms in robot mode. Other than that, Bumblebee's form is entirely smooth and sleek with no real "breaks" between vehicle parts.

More of Bumblebee's yellow plastic than black shows in this form. Black paint is used for the stripe that runs from the back to the front. Just as with the robot mode, metallic dark grey is used for all his windows. What completely surprised me was the use of the red and metallic grey on the rear of the vehicle. Most of the time these are neglected either out of cost or design necesity. I also like the way a lot of attention to detail was paid in the front end where the black stripe actually stops right above the headlights and then continues under. Overall, an excellent deco job.

Final Thoughts:
Bumblebee offers a lot of compromise from the original animated model in terms of design, yet the figure is fun and looks great in both forms. Also, with his only other initial release being a deluxe sized figure, this figure gives you the option of having a more "in scale" Bumblebee among your Autobot figures. Add to that a neat way of activating his transformation via the siren and you have one great little figure. Highly recommended!