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War For Cybertron Bumblebee

Transformers Generations
by yo go re

In our recent review of Hearts of Steel Optimus Prime, we said Hasbro didn't really have time to make toys for random one-off characters. Well, here's the evidence that proves that wrong!

Before he was the silent warrior he is today, Bumblebee was a nonstop chatterbox, charged with carrying the most vital Autobot communications. He was a fearless infiltrator of enemy lines who stuck to the shadows and faded into the background despite his bright yellow armor. His spirit was unbreakable and his friendly humor was invaluable during the first dark days of the war.

He's stealthy but bright, and constantly cracking jokes? Who knew Bumblebee was the inspiration for Naruto!? It's interesting that they mention him being silent, since that's a trait that applies only to the movie version; Hasbro is adopting the story of War For Cybertron as the new canon for the series - TF Wiki apparently takes that to mean G1, but reading the actual quotes, it sounds like it's a new continuity, ground zero for the future. Like the Binaltech story, it draws a little bit from everywhere, so calling these the G1 characters is just plain wrong.

WFC Bumblebee is one of the first four figures released in the new "Transformers Generations" line. It's the newest interation of the Classics/Universe 2.0 idea, offering completely updated figures based on multiple TF franchises. Does that mean fans will start refering to this as C/U/G, the way the Unicron Trilogy is A/E/C? If so, you heard it here first. Bee's packaged in robot mode, a bit unusual for a Deluxe class figure, and he stands 5¾" tall.

We've seen a few designs for Cybertronian Bumblebee before, but this is none of them. That's fine, though, because the design we do get is pretty nifty. It's definitely a blend of the movie and G1 looks, with nods toward each - his upper body is rounded, like the '80s version, but he's got skinny, angular legs with wheels in the shins like the movie 'verse. It does create a bit of a visual disconnect between the two halves, however. And for a bot with such a supposedly "small stature," the long legs give him a definite impression of height. Plus, the thighs are so scrawny that they look like they'd snap under the weight of his bulbous torso. Plus, the joints in his upper thighs are a bit loose, so the legs flop around a little - no so much that he can't stand, but enough that it's noticeable.

The head is pure G1, with zero movie influence. Fortunately, the paint is plain silver; why's that a good thing? Because the screenshots of WFC 'bee had more glowing lights coming from inside him, and he ended up looking like a 12-year-old girl who was allowed to put on her own makeup for the first time. Skipping the "blush" paint apps? Big win for the design team.

Bumblebee comes with his Ion blaster pistol, and has two translucent red Energon blades that flip out of his forearms. Deadly! The gun's handle is the same size as Minicon Powerlinx ports, which means lots of figures have hands sized to hold it - including, appropriately enough, Classics Bumblebee! About time that poor little dude got a weapon to go with his jetpack. The gun can be stored in Bee's back when not in use (both modes).

Converting Bumblebee is apparently a Level 4 process - "Advanced" - which, considering how tough it is to get his shoulders properly aligned as you tuck them away, isn't too hard to believe. Pushing the legs up into the back of the vehicle is no picnic, either!

Every time we've seen Bumblebee on Cybertron before, he turned into a low-riding winged thing. That's been dropped, and his "Cybertronian Courier Mode" is much more like a traditional car. Why the change? Because the game designers didn't want any confusion over what anyone was turning into, so the vehicles are all very obviously planes or cars or what have you. That's kind of a shame, since half the fun was seeing outlandish hybrids like Prowl.

Looking at Bumblebee's jellybean altmode, you can defiitely see why he'd choose a Volkswagen Beetle on Earth. The car is only 4" long, but 2¾" wide and 2⅛" tall. It's a perfectly smooth design, save for the rounded fenders over the front wheels. As one reader put it, he looks like a Ped Egg. There's lots of black "glass," which would allow for a very nice view of the road if you were actually driving inside this thing, and thin red lines help spice up the visuals. The wheels have yellow and translucent red hudcaps. The yellow they chose for him isn't very vibrant, too close to the green end of the spectrum, but it does make him look both aged and like someone that's been in a war.

This past weekend at Botcon, the Hasbro designers revealed that it normally takes a year for a Transformer to go from idea to reality, but in the case of Bumblebee (and his fellow War For Cybertron release, Optimus Prime), they did it in half the time. That rush job may account for the difficultly in his convesrion, but there have been normal releases that were worse than this, so maybe we're just making excuses. There's allegedly a Cliffjumper repaint of this mold coming, so you'll have to decide whether you like red or yellow, but don't let a few issues with the transformation scare you away from a fun new representation of a classic character.

-- 06/29/10

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