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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Blackjack's Review: Battle Blade Bumblebee

Name: Battle Blade Bumblebee
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Warrior, Scout, Movie Poster Boy

"Check out the rep, yep, second to none."

Recently Bumblebee has gotten a massive boost in popularity due to the virtue of being the poster boy for the summer blockbuster Transformers movie. In the Deluxe class price range alone, he already has at least seven mass-release toys, not counting two-packs or exclusives or whatnot. Plus, he has more toys at different price ranges as well — Human Alliance, Ultimate, Legends Class... But most of the toys have one or two problems of their own, some places where they're just lacking. The Deluxe class toys are mostly fine, but far form perfect.

Basically, I make a point of ignoring every single Bumblebee that Hasbro's throwing at us. Premium Bumblebee, Stealth Bumblebee, Cannon Bumblebee, Battlefield Bumblebee, Alliance Bumblebee, Human Alliance Bumblebee, Battle Ops Bumblebee... it's an entire hive of Bumblebees gone mad. I mean, I love Bumblebee the character, but seeing so many toys of a single guy just pisses people off, you know what I mean?

Then at one point Clay PM-ed me and simply told me that Battle Blade Bumblebee is basically the best Deluxe class toy ever, and I quickly ran out to get him based on that sole recommendation alone.

Shouldn't have to be so enthusiastic, because several hours later Clay, being the great guy he was, actually offered to send one to me. What a guy.

In the original Transformers series, Bumblebee was among the very first characters that we are introduced to, both in the cartoon and the comic. In the cartoon he's just another bland good guy, always with Spike, but I don't think he has done anything significant. In the comic he was awesome, being rebuilt into Goldbug and going off with Blaster as rogue Autobots that are unhappy with Grimlock's leadership. He got his share of toys in the G1 run — his original toy, Goldbug, Pretender Bumblebee and Action Master Bumblebee. Plus the G2 repaint toy. Then Hasbro lost the trademark to Bumblebee, so we had to say bye-bye to him for a bit, until Hasbro regained it back just in time for Bumblebee to get a Classics toy.

The 2007 movie then had Bumblebee as the poster boy, as a mute guy with a quirky sense of humour, and could kill Decepticons when needed to. None of that 'littlest Autobot' crap anymore. Animated then followed suit in the popularity thing, and had their own version of Bumblebee. The upcoming Prime TV show also has their own version of Bumblebee.

But let's ignore all the other Bumblebees for now, and focus on this one toy — Battle Blade Bumblebee.

ROBOT MODE
Unlike most toys in the 2010 goldbox Transformers line, Bumblebee is packaged in robot mode instead of his vehicle mode. Maybe they thought displaying Bumblebee in robot mode would set him apart from all the other Bumblebees that had came before? Maybe. After all, Battle Blade Bumblebee is an all-new mold, unlike the slew of repaints and retools of the first-movie toy that we had. Regardless, Bumblebee's robot mode is a gem. The yellow plastic used for him is bright, and makes Bumblebee stand out in a display, but not so bright as to make him neon.

Bumblebee stands easily a head taller than most Deluxe class toys, including his toys from the first movie. He certainly looks tall displayed alongside same-wave compatriot Ironhide. Bumblebee stands about as high as the average Deluxe, perhaps looking a little taller due to the kibble. His main colour is, of course, yellow, with the robot parts being coloured in two shades of metallic gray. Black colour the racing stripes, wheels, some car parts and hands, while additional shades of gray colour details like his head details. Light clear blue is used for the windows, the eyes and the battle axe. Additional applications of silver paint is evident, as is the red used for the Chevrolet logo on Bee's chest. They certainly pulled no punches in trying to make Battle Blade Bumblebee as detailed as ever. I daresay Battle Blade Bumblebee has more paint applications than any other Deluxe class Bumblebees. His transformation design is evidently based off the wholly excellent Human Alliance mold, which involved moving pieces of the vehicle mode hood. While this might look odd in the beginning, once you get used to the idea Bumblebee looks much better. Instead of angling the entire hood piece downwards like, say, the Bumblebee toy from the first movie, the hood piece is angled downwards, but the distinctive lamp pieces and whatnot are on a separate hinge that folds up and clips onto its distinctive place on Bumblebee's chest. It's an intuitive design, simple yet efficient.

The designers certainly outdid themselves in terms of detail. Every single little thing that you could remember seeing in the movie... the little detailings on Bumblebee's head, the little license plate on Bumblebee's crotch, the positioning of every single kibble... comparing him with something larger, say, Ultimate Bumblebee, this Bumblebee matches him in detailing. He simply looks wonderful, simply brilliant with the detailings and shades of gray on his body. He is excellently proportionated, and where the door 'wings' and frontal wings go are exactle perfect. Ditto for how the legs and hands look. Bumblebee even has actual fingers, instead of just a fist with a hole in it. However, his entire hands are black, instead of having his upper fingers yellow and his lower fingers silver like in the movie design. However, it's minor at best, and it's about the only part that I have complaints on.

Some toys look simply brilliant, but have lousy articulation, the aforementioned Deluxe Class Ironhide being one of those toys. Not so for Bumblebee. He has enough joints to put toys in the Voyager and Ultra class ranges to shame. His head is on a ball joint, naturally. His elbows, shoulders, thighs and knees are articulated as expected of a Deluxe class toy. His ankle is articulated as well. His hips can rotate, though, a joint that's proven elusive among recent toys. His wrists are articulated, and his thumb can move as well. It's a rarity and a novelty to have something like this. He could even wiggle his toes if you feel like it.

And if it isn't enough? Toys like Cannon Bumblebee had his battlemask on, while some others leave if off, sticking with the iconic face. So you had to choose between two faces. Even the so-called Ultimate Bumblebee, a expensive chunk of plastic bigger than Metroplex, had no working battle-mask. Battle Blade Bumblebee's head, in addition to having a brilliant headsculpt, can flip down a piece of his helmet down to become a battlemask, just like the movie. However, the tabs holding the mask onto the head is very, very tight so exercise extreme caution when flipping down his mask. Especially if you give this toy to a kid. The mask is understandably not that detailed, only with the eyepiece holes painted in black stripes, but actually having a working faceplate is something fantastic. It's a gimmick usually only reserved for Masterpiece class toys. Even Optimus Prime doesn't have one, and he's a glorified Leader class. The mask doesn't actually improve Bumblebee's looks (looks weird, honestly, and negates the light-piping effect), but it's a great feature.

And weapons! So many toys had to go without a decent gun or two. Now Bumblebee's toys have always tried to choose between either using his favourite arm cannon, or those shoulder launchers that he used in the memorable takedown of Brawl/Devastator. Or that wacky crossbow thing that the original Deluxe class toy had. This Bumblebee opted for the former, the arm cannon. But most the toys that chose this weapon had to sacrifice an arm just to accomodate the accessory. Not so for Battle Blade Bumblebee! You fold the right hand in, and after a bit of fiddling, the gun-barrel slides out and voila! You have a transforming hand! It's a shame that the barrel of the gun is cast in yellow plastic instead of gray, but it's acceptable considering the amount of effort put into it. While there's no firing missile, the fact that a Deluxe class toy has a transforming hand... well, it speaks volumes on how much work Hasbro puts into this toy. Or how little Hasbro puts into all the others, if you're more cynical.

Also, the titular weapon, the 'Battle Blade' is a transcluscent blue battleaxe. It's based on Bumblebee's melee weapon in the video games, which appears for all of two seconds everytime you punch somebody in a three-hit-melee-combo. It can be folded behind his left wrist, and with a push of a button it snaps out, ready for action. It's looks sort of like Optimus Prime's energon axe from G1, although this one is more 'techno' and looks more modern than Optimus Prime's lumberjack axe. It fits Bumblebee's look nicely. And best of all? The weapons don't stand out much when in storage.

It's a shame that the battleaxe seems to be assembled backwards. While it looks weird, it's probably to do with better folding into Bumblebee's wrist. Fictionally, of course, it could only work effectively if Bumblebee wants to uppercut his enemy and the axe flips up mid-punch to hack out a piece of the luckless Decepticon. When you look at it closely in the stock photography, there seems to be more rigged mechanic stuff that's presumably dropped due to fragility. Won't be the first time Hasbro did this.

All in all, an excellent representation of Bumblebee's on-screen CG model. Probably the perfect Bumblebee toy, if you don't consider Human Alliance Bumblebee. Every single piece, every single detail, have been thought out of. And when the only problems in a toy is the colour of the cannon barrel and the fingers... well, Hasbro outdid themselves this time.

ALTERNATE MODE
Bumblebee transforms, of course. His alternate mode is based off the concept 2009 Chevrolet Camaro (or the 2011 model used in ROTF? Can't exactly see a difference, but then I'm not a car person.). The alternate mode that Battle Blade Bumblebee transforms into is a decent representation of the on-screen Camaro. It's very realistic and heavily detailed, like the standard set for the Movieverse characters. It's a nice enough alternate mode, although in my opinion it looks a wee bit too chunky.

It's a sleek vehicle. Certainly it's no G1 Bumblebee's Volkswagen alternate mode, which would really be an anachronism. The racing stripes, while not exactly something you'll see on the cars in the streets, is realistic and very distinct, which gives Bumblebee a sense of identity. Personally, I like this car, even though I won't be caught driving it. He looks great displayed in vehicle mode beside all the other Movieverse Autobots.

Kibble-wise, Bumblebee's pretty clean. His back toes poke out from the back, but they could be passed as exhaust vents or something. It's negligible. Not an entire head or hands trying not to be seen. The doors open and close due to the transformation design, but they reveal the kibble inside, so it's best to close them. Bumblebee rolls on the floor rather nicely as well, if you're the sort that care about such things.

Bumblebee's transformation usually involves his head popping off, one of the faults of this mold. The hands are also a pain to get into position if you don't follow the instructions, but otherwise it's an excellent transformation scheme. And it's not horribly complicated, so once you get used to it, you can do it whilst watching TV or reading e-mails. Also, Bumblebee has an Automorph feature, a carry-over from his original first-movie transformation. When you fold his rear bumper into position, the mechanism pulls the lower legs into a folded position in Bumblebee's alternate mode as well. It's a nice touch to an already intuitive transformation.

All in all? An excellent alternate mode to supplement a perfect robot mode. What more could you ask for?

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability: 7/10 Bumblebee's pretty solid, as far as toys go. The joints might get a little loose, and some of the thinner tabs or the battle-mask might snap off with rougher play, but other than that he's fine.

Transformation Design: 9/10 Brilliantly designed to incorporate both the great robot and vehicle modes. The 'automorph' on his leg is well-done as well, and it's refreshing to see such an intuitive transformation again.

Price/Value: 10/10 Oh, believe me, this is what a Deluxe class toy should have been. I get every penny I pay for him.

Aesthetics: 10/10 He's the best movie Bumblebee toy you could ever get out of the seven or so released. Other than the fingers, he looks fantastic, and just like his movieverse counterpart in both modes. And the yellow plastic that is used for his construction is just gorgeous. He's simply perfect in the aesthetics department.

Articulation: 10/10 The neck, shoulder and thighs are on ball joints. The elbows, knees, ankles, waist, wrists and even thumbs are articulated. The thumb is articulated! He actually has hands that can move! Gives him a one up from the other Deluxes, definitely.

Fun: 10/10 Fun transformation? Check. Show-accuracy? Check. Articulation? Check. Unobstructive gimmick? Check. Cool flip-down battle mask? Check. Weapons? Check.

Overall: 10/10 He's probably the best Deluxe class toy that I've ever bought. I don't think I've been blown away like this by a toy for some time. Clay's recommendation was true to form... Battle Blade Bumblebee looks great, and does put many of the other Deluxe class toys to shame. Kudos to Hasbro... it's a shame the good toys only come once in a while. If you're only going to get a single Bumblebee, this is it. If you're only going to get one toy this year, this is it.
 
 
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