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Bumblebee

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

Buzz buzz!

Okay, I've been seeing these Netflix Transformers at Walmart for a while now, and apparently the words have just been sliding right off my brain, because: there's a Transformers show on Netflix? The packaging has been making this clear for months now - the figures began showing up last summer - but my dumb ass somehow never parsed it before now. Presumably if it were any good (or particularly bad) people would have been talking about it at any point ever, but at least it's a handy excuse to release more toys. Some of which aren't just boring repaints!

There are no bios printed on these releases, but fortunately, everybody knows who Bumblebee is: a "young" bot who uses his small size to spy on the Decepticons, he looks up to Optimus Prime and the other Autobots, but doesn't realize how valuable Optimus considers him in return.

In a startling turn of events, Bumblebee is a retool of the existing Cliffjumper toy - that's not the direction this river usually flows! The design of the toy is very similar to the Masterpiece Bumblebee, with the car's roof being the robot's chest and the front hood being his feet. This is all a distantly removed reference to the 1983 Micro Change "penny racer" toy, of course, but the inclusion of the back end of the car as a shell behind the robot's back is very Masterpiece-y. The non-kibble parts of his body are very blocky, with the only parts that are round being the tubular upper arms.

One of the new parts not shared with the Cliffjumper release is the head. Though their heads are very similar - round helmets with a pair of short horns poking out the top - there are differences, like the angle of the cheeks or even the shape of the horns. The yellow used for the head (and forearms) is different fromn the rest of body, which isn't a great look. And aren't his eyes meant to be a different color than the rest of his silver face?

This is a very small bot, only about 4" tall - though sold as a Deluxe Class toy, it's more like a very large Legends Class. It does have better articulation than Legends figures usually do: a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, a swivel waist, swivel/​hinge hips, hinged knees, and rocker ankles. The head balljoint is itself mounted on a hinged piece of plastic, which is veryy difficult to pull up, and really doesn't add any significant range of motion, so what was the point? Don't worry about that one if you can't get it moving, you're not missing much.

Because this mold originated as Cliffjumper, his accessories are all Cliffjumper-y things. You know how CJ used a big cannon in one single scene and it's since been turned into his signature go-to weapon? Guess what Bumblebee is armed with! The cannon is made from five pieces, and can be broken down into its components, with the barrel becoming two silver blasters, the stock used as a melee weapon, and the bipod legs used as ammo clips for the small guns. The backpack shell can be removed and held as a shield, too.

Converting 'bee is a little more complex than the average Legends Class Transformer. Remove the backpack if you have it on, fold down the chest, raise the revealed flap over the face, replace the chest, bend the elbows back and raise the arms, fold the sides down, turn the entire lower body 180°, bend the torso over, fold the sides the rest of the way, open the heels, point the feet down, fold out the tires, push the front end of the car together, and put the rear window shell back on.

Here's where the Cliffjumper retooling really comes in; while the internal robot (and thus the engineering) is the same, the exterior shell of car parts has been completely redone. Bumblebee is a Volkswagen Beetle, apparently a fully licensed one judging by their logo on the back of the box. It measures about 4" long, 1½" wide, and 1½" tall. The yellows in this mode match a lot better, because all these pieces are painted instead of just being molded in color.

The accessories can be used in this mode, as well. If you mis-transform the back end of the car, you can plug the cannon in and have it aim forward over the body. Alternately, you can turn the bipod into water skis (something that also happened only one time to Cliffjumper), plug the two silver blasters in by the rear wheels, and unfold the black bit to fit under the car. It still would have been better if they'd designed him some new things of his own, or even left out all this stuff entirely and dropped the price, but neither of those things were going to happen.

This is a good Bumblebee, with the only real drawback being that he's a store exclusive and insanely popular, which make him hard to find. I lucked into this one, the solitary sample of him I've seen at like a half dozen stores.

-- 03/23/21


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