Cliffbee.com: Ultimate Bumblebee Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Bumblebee
Series: Live Action Movie
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: 2008 Camaro Sports Car

Thanks to Morkus for loaning me Bumblebee, making this review possible.



CAMARO MODE
Height: 10cm Length: 33.5cm Width: 15.5cm

   A large, heavy, rich yellow Camaro with grey (non-transparent) windows, black rubberised tyres, silver painted hubcaps, black racing stripes on the hood and spoiler. Bumblebee has a gold Autobot logo on the hood, a black grille with silver Chevrolet badge (without the actual word) on both the grille and boot. The colourless headlights and red taillights are both transparent while there's a California license plate on the back with the letters "4NZZ454". There's silver paint over some sculpted details like wipers, a fuel cap and doorhandles. Overall the paint job is pretty good in terms of detail, and the car is unmistakably Bumblebee. I'm not that impressed overall, however. For the size and price, I would have expected transparent windows on this toy - the deluxe has managed this feat. To be honest, for the price of this toy, I would actually hope to see some chrome on the toy - which is not the case here. It's still a good paint job, I'm just not impressed that it's a cheap one.

   Much of the focus of this toy is on electronics, and as such that's where the plat value of this toy lies. Both doors open, although the running boards under the doors swing out with the doors - and considering that there are distinct seams down there to define the boards, this doesn't work as well as it should. Behind the left door we have a sliding switch on the buried electronics block, with "ON", "OFF" and "TRYME" (the latter for display in box). The wheels roll, although not so freely since they're linked to electronics - you can't really push Bumblebee off, there's just too much resistance.

   The Autobot logo on his hood is actually a button - if you press it there's the sound of an engine starting followed by revving and then engine idling for about ten seconds. Accompanying this, the headlights shine blue and the taillights red - the latter isn't so spectacular because the plastic of the rear shell is too thin and red shines through. After the idling ceases we hear the sounds of an alarm arming itself, some horn beeps, the alarm again and then Bumblebee will play music while flashing his lights for around a minute before switching off.

   If you press the button while the engine is on, Bumblebee will beep the horn, whilst rolling him along will cause the engine to rev and the taillights to turn off while the wheels spin. I understand that the taillights turning off is a brakelight thing... but why are they off and the headlights on? If you roll his rapidly, Bumblebee will make a screeching sound once he stops. He will also make a crashing sound if you crash him into something head first, Bumblebee will generate a crashing sound (thanks to Demonac for this info). The electronics are a level above those we usually see on Transformers - and I will credit the designers for that. Regular readers of my reviews will know I'm generally not a fan of electronic gimmicks, but I have to say that the complexity here is impressive.

   A big car that's blatantly out of proportion with the other movie toys, and this does count against Bumblebee - I would have preferred Optimus Prime being chosen for this scale. Of more concern to me is the fact that the windows are painted rather than transparent - for the price this guy was sold for I expect more. The electronics don't interest me personally, but they are worthwhile in this mode. The level of detail is fairly good, and while there are large areas of bare plastic, that's to be expected on a sports car. I do like the fact that his tyres are rubberised, but wish the hubcaps were chromed (and the tyres are only rubberised so the wheels have the traction to trigger the electronics). Despite the cheapening out on some materials, this is Bumblebee's better mode, and a good car mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Essentially similar to the deluxe, but nowhere near as elegant. There's a lot of panel rearranging since he essentially morphs around an electronics block (which is bigger than many Transformers). The doors _detach_ which is pretty poor for such a large toy, although the way the rear wheels fold away as the soles of his feet is fairly clever. The mechanism which extends his legs requires excessive force - I have given up - I'm going to break either my fingers or the hips. So he stays unextended.

ROBOT MODE
Height: cm Width: 27cm

   A big yellow robot, Bumblebee's forearms, groin, feet and face are grey while his eyes are a colourless plastic and he sports both the gold Autobot logo on his chest and a smaller red one on his forehead (as in the film). There's a nice wash of black back on the recesses on his facial sculpt and on his collar. While the colour scheme is okay, I don't really like the look of this robot - it has a "cute" feel like some of the FABs, with very stocky proportions. There's also a bright red missile where his right hand should be, which is reminiscent of the lesser aspects of Generation 2.

   There are both good and bad aspects here, from a visual point of view - but the bad outweighs the good. That red missile looks awful, there are some panels which sit awkwardly - including the rear fenders which hover in front of what would otherwise be well sculpted thighs. The panels behind his legs (the back of the car) are very visible kibble - something solved by the inward folding windows on the deluxe. The chest doesn't clip in as such, so the broken up front of the car tends to float around rather than settling into a well defined position. The face looks really good, mind you, and the left hand is quite detailed. The wings sit in the right positions - although given the fact that they detach and plug in, this is the minimum I'd expect of them. The end result is a rather inelegant robot, and it's obvious the designer was more worried about building the robot around the electronics block rather than using the size of this toy to create a detailed, well engineered, robot.

   This time around the electronics aren't as focused, although they're certainly spectacular in their own way. I pressed the button on his chest about three minutes ago, and since that point he has been waving his arms around, reciting random lines from the film and trying to lift the wings (which are too heavy for the mechanism trying to lift them - the gears keep slipping). He has been playing music, the headlights light up a little while the eyes are glowing a bright blue. It's all very noisy and I can see why there's such a huge electronics box supporting it, but I'd have preferred a robot that doesn't look so cutesy. While I was generally impressed by the electronics of the car mode, the eyes are the only part that I am impressed with here. Yes, the gimmick is complex, but it's silly rather than focused. There's a second button, on the right side of his electronics block (behind his right thigh), which causes him to lift his right arm, fire the missile and make a firing sound... and them we have to sit through the noisy stuff for several minutes.

   The poseability here is pretty bad for such a large toy. The hips swing and lift out to the sides, but there's not much movement in the knees and ankles. The shoulders swing, but only through the motorised aspects of his gimmicks. You can bend the elbows and the digits of his left hand open and close independently - which is the only aspect I am happy with for a toy this size. The heads turns as part of the motorised gimmick while the waist is fixed with that huge block behind it.

   This is a disappointing robot mode. Considering the size and the price, it's an unposeable block which puts too much effort into the electronics gimmicks and not enough into making the robot mode actually work. I don't say that because I dislike electronics, I say that because this robot mode really fails to use its size effectively. The poseability is very underwhelming, the panels floating on his chest and thighs are awkward at best, the red missile is just cheesy and while the light up eyes are pleasing, the rest of the electronics are cheesy. Without wanting to be critical of the electronics, the stuff surrounding the electronics fails to justify basing this robot mode on the electronics.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of.

OVERALL

   Big and out of scale with the rest of the movie toys, Bumblebee has a pretty good car mode aside from a glaring lack of transparent plastic on his windows. The transformation is disappointing for such a large toy - it's not clever and some aspects are just plain bad (such as the doors). The robot mode's poseability is poor and it doesn't display well. The car mode electronics are actually quite impressive but the robot mode stuff is cheesy - and while it's complex as Transformers electronics go, I'm not sure that the trade off in visual shortcomings & poseability is worth it. Unless you really crave electronics or are a _huge_ fan of the character, I can't recommend this toy - certainly not at a price above that of the leader toys - 3.5/10

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