Transformers Movie (2007) Bumblebee Review

in 2007, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Movie (2007)

Transformers Live Action<br />

General Information:
Release Year: May 2007
Retailer: General release (Wal-Mart, Target, Toys 'R' Us etc.)
Price: $10.99 (Depending on retailer)
Accessories: Missile launchers x 2, Missiles x 2


Tech Specs:
Sent to Earth by OPTIMUS PRIME ahead of the other AUTOBOTS, this tough robot's job is to do what he does best: gather information, find the keeper of the secrets of the AllSpark and remain hidden. BUMBLEBEE works best in silence and solitude, acting as an unseen guardian over his assigned target. Don't let the fact that he likes to remain hidden fool you though - when it comes to a fight, he rushes in, both plasma cannons blazing!

Strength: 6  Intelligence:Speed:Endurance: 5
Rank: 5  Courage: 10  Firepower: 3  Skill: 9

Bumblebee is packaged in a bubble on a card. The top and bottom of the bubble is sealed to the card but the sides fold over to the back, allowing for a limited type of repackaging. This type of packaging was recently used on the Star Wars Transformers figures, albeit with a different shape. Along the top of the bubble is a curves cardboard insert with tech details printed on it. Along that curve is the text "Automorph Technology". The lower right hand corner has Bumlbebee's box art, a picture of his head. On the back, his cosells are Jazz, Wreckage, Brawl, Scorponok and Barricade - basically the entire first wave of deluxe figures. The GM logo is on the back as well and his alternate mode is listed specifically as his "Pontiac Solstice Mode". Such branding is to be expected since like the Alternators this is a licensed toy.

Any long time reader of BWTF (or any fan who knows me personally) knows that Bumblebee is my favorite Transformers characters. He's often the subject of jokes and so on because of his happy-go-lucky persona in the Generation One cartoon series, but I've always admired the little guy for his bravery in the face of danger and adversity. The character was largely ignored for the past ten years or so with few if any homages. However with the release of last year's Classics Bumblebee the character began to emerge again as a central character in the Transformers mythos. The movie takes this one step higher by introducing Bumblebee as a main player in the battle for the Allspark and I couldn't be more excited for the little guy.

Vehicle Mode:
For various reasons (some legal, some perhaps political on the part of Volkswagon) Bumblebee could not take on the vehicle mode of a VW beetle. Instead, he has been given the form of a Chevrolet Camaro. This figure represents Bumblebee as we first see him in the movie, disguised as a beat up old second generation Camaro from the 70's. Sold through the 70's, the second generation of Camaro was built to compete with the Ford Mustang. While the design carried over into the early 80's, a couple of sources (including the IDW prequel comic book) have described Bumblebee's alternate form as a 70's Camaro. The design sheet leaked on the web states he is a 1974 Camaro.

The 70's Camaro sported a pointed front end grille section with characteristic headlights embedded inside a tube like section in the front of the car. It featured a sleek design with two doors and a rear section that sloped downward at a fairly steep angle and then comes back up at the back spoiler. Bumblebee has all these features and more. Right under the front end of the car Camaros had a guard over the front tires, and this figure has those as well. It seems Bumblebee has a bit of a torqued up engine underneath his hood as the hood has a section raised in the center where the engine would be. The requisite sculpted detail is all here including a slot for a license plate, sideview mirrors, door handles and the front grille grid. This sounds simple, but actually it emulates the real life vehicle quite well since the Camaro did not have a whole lot of extra details.

While some believed that making Bumblebee a Camaro was uncharacteristic, his colors (and deco scheme in this form) show that there was clearly an intent to pay homage to his G1 namesake. The figure is cast primarily in yellow and black plastic. Black, silver and metallic blue are used for his paint applications. Black is used for his front grille and the stripes running along the hood and on the back of the car. It is also used for scorch marks found on the top, left side and front of the vehicle. Since the sculpt itself is smooth and undented by design, these scorch marks give the vehicle a slightly worn look like the car used in the movie. Silver is mainly used for the headlights, the wheels and trim along edges on the fender and rear bumper. Bright red is used on the rear lights. The color scheme is simple, but it works perfectly for the character as yellow, black and silver were all colors that made up the original Bumblebee figure.

Bumblee includes two missile launchers and two missiles to go with them. The launchers are cast in black plastic and the missiles are yellow. They are translucent on the back of the packaging, and I really wish that color had been kept intact. These launchers can attach to the holes on the wheels but it's sort of funny because you can't actually roll him along with those attached, it just looks nice displayed.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Press the button on the raised section of the hood which swings the front end of the car down.
  2. Flip the car over and swing the robot arms out.
  3. Swing the robot head up.
  4. Swing the car doors out and swing the windshield up against the back of the figure.
  5. Split the rear section of the vehicle.
  6. Swing down the rear end and fold it up to form the robot feet.
  7. The weapons can be attached to Bumblebee's fists or the tires on his shoulders.

Robot Mode:
The robot designs from the movie are fairly complicated, with a lot of small parts that I can imagine are a minor nightmare to conceptualize into a functional figure. With Bumblebee, he really is an example of a design with tons of panels and parts overlaid on a complex skeletal structure underneath. The Bumblebee figure takes many of the elements of the movie design but finds a middle ground to approach the complexity of the design but it does not fully replicate it.

Bumblebee's basic shape takes a page from the first generation of Transformers Autobot design. The front of the car becomes his chest, his doors wind up on the back, fanned out like wings and the rear of the vehicle becomes his legs and feet.
His "Automorph" features are found on his chest and legs. When you push the button on the car hood the panels shift a bit, with the headlight sections moving forward and in, overlapping the central grille a bit. This mirrors the design of the movie where his chest seems to be made up of a series of armor panels. On the lower body, the panels that form the rear windows slide up as you slide the robot feet down.

In an attempt to replicate some of the look of the movie figure, Bumblebee's arm and leg sections under the car armor panels are highly detailed with a mix of lines, overlapping shapes and sculpted panels. Unfortunately since these parts are completely cast in black, some of the parts that should be panels (and painted yellow on the CGI model) are not as obvious here, but if you look closely you'll see them. The waist section shows an interesting carry over from the movie design in the use of the license plate above a headlight looking detail. In the movie it appears his license plate bends at the center and forms up on his waist, a detail added in here. His leg armor also retains the same basic shape as the CGI model including stretched out U shaped armor on his knees and armor sections with vent lines on the upper legs.

The head design is very accurate to the movie model. It seems rather odd, but if you really look at it the head design is simply a robotic, stylized bee head with a round shape, "bug" like oval eyes, antennae like pieces swept back on the top of the head and a mouth in the center with sections surrounding it that look almost like mandibles.

Where this sculpt differs from its onscreen counterpart is the sheer amount of extra armor plates and angled pieces to be found. The movie CGI model has tons of smaller details that don't appear here such as two triangular armor pieces sticking up from his chest. Also the feet are shaped quite differently. On the CGI model there is a clear front foot and heel piece, forming a rough V shape. However here the rear section of the car becomes the foot, but some of that V shaped styling was sculpted into the side of the feet.

Color-wise yellow and black take center stage here. I understand how costs played a factor in the deco (especially keeping in mind this is a licensed vehicle product similar to the Alternators. However with most of his arms, waist and legs all cast in black, a lot of detail is visually obscured. Some nice silver or grey trim deco might have helped accentuate these parts more. I do appreciate the use of yellow around his waist area, and the aforementioned license plate is actually printed with a license plate number matching the one used in the film "4NZ Z454".

Another feature of the movie model that was fudged for the toy are the wheels on his shoulders. On the CGI model they fold back, but here they become the top part of the shoulder joint on the chest, allowing you to connect his missile launchers there. Early leaked pictures of Bumblebee in his 'battle mode' show that he can deploy missile launchers from his shoulders that are round in shape, no doubt the designers tried to emulate this here. Behind his head is a panel with circles inside that look like missiles of some sort. I have not seen this design element on any leaked photos of the movie model, so it may or may not be an embelishment for the figure.

Bumblebee features seventeen points of articulation. Two of the joints on his arms are ball joints, so he has a good wide range of movement. I am beginning to miss waist articulation on these movie figures, but it remains to be seen if other figures lack that point as well.

Final Thoughts:
Without making this figure a really expensive deluxe or a Voyager class figure, it would not be cost effective to product something more accurate to the movie model than this. That said it would have been nice to see a few more paint applications on the figure to accentuate what details the figure does have. A nice figure that is fun and recommended, but a better paint application could have made it highly recommended.