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Elite Guard Bumblebee

Transformers Animated
by yo go re

A Transformers toy getting a black repaint? This is unheard of!

After getting up close to members of the Autobot Elite Guard, Bumblebee wants more than ever to be one of them. It is his personal opinion that the one thing the Elite Guard needs to be perfect is to lighten up a little bit, and he's just the guy to put the "lite" back in "Elite." His first step to fitting in with the Elite Guard is to look the part, so he had Sari borrow some of her dad's auto-painting robots to help him achieve his new look.

Animated Bumblebee was a small yellow coupe, based on the car police captain Fanzone drove. This one takes a cue from movie Stealth Bumblebee and reverses the colors.

(For the record, that's just a phrase, not an accurate description of the process: The original 'bee was yellow with an off-center black stripe; this one is solid black on top, with a golden area down near the ground; so he "reverses the colors" in that he's black with yellow accents rather than yellow with black accents - the paint masks are entirely different. He has yellow hubcaps, translucent blue windows, and a white Elite Guard logo tampographed on both doors.)

The car mode is approximately 4¼" long, 2" tall, and 2½" wide. All four wheels roll freely, and due to a quirk of engineering, you can flip his rear bumper up revealing a small hollow within the toy - pretend it's a functional trunk! He has two rocket boosters that can mount on the rear of the car. They're also translucent blue, with gold painted on the tips.

Bumblebee was designed really nicely. I mean, I hadn't touched this figure in a few years before getting it out for this review, but I was able to convert him back and forth between car and robot without having to go back to the instructions. Imagine trying that with some of the movie toys - you'd have thrown them against the wall before even getting halfway through. But not Bumblebee!

'bee is the youngster on the Autobot's team, the hot-headed kid who still has a lot to learn. You can tell Transformers Animated was in development at the same time as the movie, because while Bumblebee is the focus character (or at least spends all his time hanging out with the focus character), he can still talk - it wasn't until TF Prime that cartoon Bumblebees became silent.

The packaging for Elite Guard Bumblebee showed the figure with the usual yellow head. He also appeared that way in a Season 2 Sneak Peek on the DVD release, and in the Japanese release, so really, this toy is the only place anywhere that Bumblebee actually gets a black head. His smiling face is silver, and he's got that traditional TFA chin.

There is yellow in this mode, though - it's evident on his arms and legs, as well as a spot on his chest. In his normal colors, the robot's chest is a piece of faux-kibble, meant to represent the hood and windshield of the car; while the piece is still there on this version, the paint changes are sufficient (the car's windshield is blue, not yellow and gold) to suggest that here it's just a bodypart, not meant to be anything specific from the car.

Bumblebee has a balljointed head, shoulders, hips and toes; hinged biceps, elbows and knees; and swivel waist and shins. There's also a hinge in the neck, though that seems to be more for conversion than posing. The way the back end of the car unfolds means that the rocket boosters can become a jetpack of sorts (even without needing to be removed while changing modes). Also, since the TFA Autobots could change their hands into weapons, Bumblebee has flip-out "stingers" that are yellow and translucent blue, and can be slapped together to form a bigger, more powerful weapon. Those are based on a weapon that was planned for the first movie, but dropped.

There's something funny about the notion that Bumblebee was so impressed by the Elite Guard that he decided to take the initiative and paint himself to fit in with them. These are all traditional Bumblebee (and Goldbug) colors, even if they're not usually in this proportion, so he still feels right. Really, this may even be better than the normal release.

-- 05/10/16

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