The latest Transformers Movie, Bumblebee, takes things back more to the original roots of Transformers. It features G1 versions of a lot of the characters and the main character, Bumblebee, takes the form of a Volkswagen Beetle like he had in the original 80s cartoon. The movie isn’t getting it’s own toyline but is instead being looped in with the Studio Series line. The first figure from the new films is Bumblebee himself though in many cases, Dropkick from the followup wave is also showing up with him.
The new Bee reminds me a lot of Studio Series Jazz in that he is really tiny in both modes. This feels a lot more appropriate given it’s Bumblebee, who was one of the smallest Autobots in the original G1 series. It does make the $20 price point for deluxe Transformers a little hard to swallow but he has a few little parts that help make it feel more worthwhile. The robot is pretty nice, though he has a huge backpack that feels like it should collapse on itself a bit more, but doesn’t really seem to without pushing the plastic beyond what feels comfortable. The legs also are a little funny in that they feel like they should peg together better but don’t seem to.
The design itself is very reminiscent of the old Camero Bumblebee design from the last few Michael Bay Transformers movies. The way the layered chest lays and the panels fall on his legs and the door wings sit on his back, these elements are all very Movie Bumblebee. The Door wings aren’t very accurate to the film though, where the doors seem to do some mass shifting and point downward instead of becoming wings.
I mentioned he comes with some extras to help offset his cost. Specifically, he has an alternative face plate for his “Battle Mask” look and a swap-able arm piece for his arm cannon. There’s also a blade weapon which can attach to the side of any of the three forearm pieces. These sort of swap out parts aren’t a real common things for Transformers. Having them, it’s kind of clear why. The canon arm falls off a lot more easily than the standard hand arm and the Mask face falls off if you look at it funny. These are definitely parts which will become lost over time by some.
The transformation is pretty straightforward in it’s execution, though fairly complex. Its a pain to get everything to massage together properly, partially I think because it’s such a small figure. The legs and back piece are particularly problematic and I can’t see anything obviously out of place like the hidden peg on the underside of Jazz’s roof that just made everything sit right in place once engaged.
The VW Beetle looks alright aside from things not quite sitting together properly. The vehicle does feel a little funny because the G1 Bumblebee, was very much a stylized chibified VW. This Bee feels too long, though I’m sure he’s not for a real Beetle.
Cutting to the chase here, I think that Studio Series Bumblebee is alright, but I kind of wonder what the wider audience is for him. He’s too complex and finicky for kids, and there are plenty of simpler options out there. He doesn’t really mesh well for collectors. I don’t have it but I suspect the pricier Masterpiece Movie Bee does everything slightly better and he probably looks better. I suppose if you’re in the middle like me and don’t really need a super classy Bee but don’t want something overly simplified this version does the job, but if you want a perfect VW Movie Bee, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.