Transformers Animated Bumblebee Review

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

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Rocket thrusters x 2


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The youngest robot on the crew, BUMBLEBEE is what some – especially AUTOBOT RATCHET -- would call over-eager. It’s not his fault he prefers action over talk. Talk is just, you know, boring. Especially when you could be racing at top speed into a fight, or boosting into the air to launch a few well-placed energy stingers at an enemy. Nothing scares BUMBLEBEE, not even MEGATRON.

Check out this awesome AUTOBOT warrior in sports car mode or robot mode! Either way, this BUMBLEBEE figure means business. Flip-out stingers help this hefty hero deliver a sharp blow to the enemy while snap-on rocket thrusters give the striped sportster a boost in vehicle mode!

Figure comes with snap-on rocket thrusters.

For some time the character of Bumblebee fell into obscurity. While he had popped up here and there in G1 and in G2 a couple of time, he never really held the place he did during G1's glory days until 2007's "Transformers" live action movie was released. Suddenly, Bumblebee was one of the hardest Transformers to find with parents paying amazing amounts of money last year to get the character for their kids. His inclusion in "Animated" was a foregone conclusion and for this Bumblebee fan, that's a whole load of happy.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee's vehicle mode is a modern day riff on the G1 Bumblebee's VW Beetle mode. Since Hasbro cannot use a licensed vehicle without paying through the nose, this Bumblebee seems to take inspiration from vehicles such as the Toyota Yaris and the VW Rabbit. His vehicle mode is a two door, compact car that gets a bit of a sporty edge with a spoiler in the rear and oversized tires in the back. The car certainly looks very streamlined, with its entire profile sloping downwards towards the hood and the aforementioned spoiler angling upwards a bit. Elements such as the rounded covers over each wheel harken back to the VW Beetle while not replicating it.

The tough part about making a detailed looking toy out of something that is primarily bright colors is that detail gets lost easily. Bumblebee only suffers from this slightly. You sort of have to look rathe closely to see some of the finer line details etched into the front of the vehicle mode in between the headlights as well as the lines that make up the outline of his car doors. Other details are easier to see such as his raised door handles and the small siren on the top of the car. The most intricate details are found on the wheels where the grooves of the tires are sculpted carefully along with the spokes on his wheels.

Bumblebee is cast primarily in yellow and blue translucent plastic. Dark grey plastic is used for the wheels. Several of the panels that make up the vehicle mode (particularly the top portion of the vehicle) are translucent blue, the color of his windshield and windows, so they had to be painted yellow to match the rest of the car. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with such a paint job, the yellow on the translucent plastic is slightly lighter than the yellow plastic on the rest of the vehicle, giving him an unintentional two toned appearance. A black stripe runs from the front of the car to the back, a carry over detail intentionally borrowed from the live action movie's Bumblebee vehicle design. The siren on top is painted red, and the sides of the wheels are painted with a light gunmetal color. His rear lights are also painted red, which is great to see since rear lights are sometimes neglected in Transformers deco.

Two accessories are included with Bumblebee: dual rocket thrusters that were given to him in episode 8 of the television show "Nanosec". These boosters are cast in translucent blue plastic and match the ones on the show very well in design. They look as one might expect with a blump shaped body, fins on the rear with booster details sculpted at the back. The outer sections such as the fins are painted silver. Unfortunately, while pre-release photos showed more show-accurate red decos around the nosecones, the final product lacks these details. These rockets attach to two holes on either side of Bumblebee towards the rear (right near the spoiler). They look great and really give him a playful and adventurous look even in vehicle form.

Overall the vehicle mode looks great, but the most distracting elements for me are the brighter yellow paint on the translucent parts and the lack of red deco on the rockets. While they do detract from the figure, they're hardly deal breakers.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the rocket thrusters.
  2. Hold on to the front and rear sections of the car, and swing down the section with the doors and rear wheels.
  3. Swing the rear section all the way up so you can see the robot arms and head.
  4. Swing the panels that form the rear windows back and connect them together. You can reattach to thrusters to these sections if you wish.
  5. Swing out the robot arms. You can either leave the "stinger" weapons out or swing them in and fold out the robot hands.
  6. Rotate the robot head around to face front.
  7. Rotate the robot arms down.
  8. Split the front section of the vehicle in the middle.
  9. Rotate the lower body section around so you can see the waist section facing front.
  10. Swing the front sections of the vehicle mode forward to form the robot feet.
  11. Rotate the panels on the back of the legs around to provide support for the robot legs.

Robot Mode:
The part that surprised me most about the robot mode for Bumblebee was how much the designers had managed to get his proportions from the animated show correct in plastic form. As featured in the series, Bumblebee's chest is fairly small (using the traditional "car top on my chest" design), which helps to exaggerate how large parts like his shoulders, head and feet are in comparison to the main body. By actually having most of the top part of the car break apart and leaving only the center to form the chest, this provides the illusion that is necessary to make him look like his animated counterpart.

While the vehicle mode had a very simple set of details, there are plenty to behold in robot mode. His head is the best place to start. Animated Bumblebee's head is a stylized version of the G1 Bumblebee's toy head, with horns, lines on the side of the head and a V shaped face area. The crest on his head even has a small triangle in it, just like G1 Bumblebee did. Indeed, in the animated program, when Bumblebee was shown with a "mask" forming over his face, his face became the G1 Bumblebee toy's head, which brought much joy to this fan boy. The expression on the face is priceless, with his mouth crooked to the side in a knowing, confident smirk - perfectly fitting the character on the show.

Other details include lines etched into the arms, waist and legs as well as another G1 Bumblebee design homage on the legs. Look to the sides of the sections under his knees and you will find small notches on either side of his legs. These are direct design elements carried over from G1 Bumblebee's legs into this version. Further show accurate details can be found on the sides of his feet, where grooves that look like the soles of boots can be found. He's also one of the few Transformers to have open palmed hands instead of the more traditional fist. Among my favorite details are raised circles representing bolts and piston like details on the inner parts of his shoulders. It's always cool to see details in places where your eyes may not necesarily go. It shows a level of care and craftsmanship in the figure that is most appreciated.

In terms of deco, Bumblebee has most of the details of the animated model. Black and silver are his main colors, found everywhere in particular on his head, waist and legs. His face is painted silver with a black outline, just like the television show. The head is cast in yellow plastic, but his eyes are translucent blue. Due to the way he transforms, the black stripe on his chest winds up on the right side of his body instead of the left as it does on the TV show. His waist and upper legs have black line designs on them, just like the television show model. The mid-section of his legs are black, also matching the show. Two primary details from the TV show model are missing however. If you look at his lower arms, there are grooves near the elbow. In the TV show model as well as the prototype images for this toy, these were painted black but this was left out of the production version. The TV show model also has the "boot sole" details on his feet and the lines on the sides of his head colored black, but these were not done for either the prototype or production version. I think it's fair to say Bumblebee is 90% accurate to his television show model.

Bumblebee has seventeen points of articulation in this form. Among the more interesting ones are his head, which sits on a neck piece (rather than the neck and head being one solid piece), giving the neck the ability to go forward and back while the head can move up, down and side to side on a ball joint. His legs have four points of articulation each, partly due to his transformation scheme, but it really helps in posing him.

On the television show, Bumblebee uses "stinger" weapons that convert from his hands. The same weapons are found on this figure. Swing back the hands and swing out the halves of his stingers and connect them together to give him his stinger weapons. The stingers are cast in translucent blue plastic and have silver paint accents on the edges.

Final Thoughts:
Bumblebee is a fantastic representation of the character on the show and a fun figure that takes a very classic looking Transformer and gives him a makeover that pays respect to what came before. His size scale may throw some people off since he winds up being quite large in comparison to say, Prowl when he should be small. However, as a stand alone toy he is highly recommended!