Capture of Bumblebee
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
A boy’s first car should be a special event in his life. Finding the right girl is also important, and to do that, he needs a special car. But for Sam Witwicky, he is completely unaware of how special his car really is… until it drives away from his house all by itself… and changes into a giant robot! Sam soon finds himself as the key to ending an intergalactic battle between two factions of a race of alien robots which can change shape at will- the peaceful Autobots and dangerous Decepticons- as they fight to find and retake the powerful AllSpark Cube that created their race. But enemies lie in wait on Earth as well. While the Decepticons are already on our planet looking for their long-lost leader Megatron, the United States secret government organization Sector 7 already knows about the alien robots, and will do anything to keep them hidden. It is not until the great & noble Optimus Prime and several other Autobots crash-land on Earth in their search for the god-like Cube that the 10,000 year-old stalemated war begins anew- with the fate of both races in the hands of these intelligent, powerful alien robots in disguise… and a boy and his car.
Bumblebee was finally able to obtain some information regarding the AllSpark- a native of this planet Earth who may have known its location hundreds of stellar cycles ago. He found the descendants of Captain Archibald Witwicky in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Carefully shadowing the Witwicky family, Bumblebee found that the youngest, Sam, was looking for a car. Perfect. Hiding amongst the lifeless vehicles of the used car lot, the disguised Autobot was purchased for a mere $4000. Bumblebee soon grew attached to the small biological life-form that so treasured him for his mobility, and his use in their unusual courting rituals. Even though Sam believed that his brand-new 1976 Chevrolet Camaro was being stolen, Bumblebee was able to escape and keep him from learning about his true origins long enough to transmit a message to Optimus Prime that he had found a lead in their long search for the AllSpark. However, before Bumblebee could explain what was going on, Barricade tried to scare the information out of Sam and try to kill him! Realizing that cover could no longer be maintained, he took Sam and his friend Mikaela Banes away from the city, and then engaged the brutal Decepticon. Explaining who he was through pre-recorded audio clips he had picked up over time (his vocal processor had been damaged earlier), he convinced the two to ride with him to the rendezvous point where other Autobots would soon be landing. En route, the female suggested that Bumblebee’s disguised form may not be adequate. Anticipating that this might somehow affect Sam’s relationship with her, Bumblebee found a vehicle of sufficient dimensions & mass- a next-generation 2008 Chevrolet Camaro- to initiate scanning and replication. This new form was met with approval from both humans. After meeting the other four Autobots, they all made their way to Sam’s house to look for his great-grandfather’s fragile glasses. Before Sam could get them to the Autobots, unmarked government vehicles pulled up out front, and the Witwicky family and Mikaela were captured.
Intercepting the Sector 7 vehicles which held Sam and Mikaela near an isolated river drainage channel, the Autobots soon realized that they were at risk of being discovered. Fleeing the area, Optimus Prime was cornered, with Sam and Mikaela at risk of falling to their deaths! Bravely, Bumblebee caught them as they fell, exposing himself to S7’s massing forces. But as he tried to protect the two humans, it turned out that S7 was after him as well! Helpless and unwilling to harm humans, Bumblebee was unprepared to deal with S7’s primitive but effective measures as they proceeded to disable and then capture him...
(FYI, the music is about one second out of synch with the video.)
Bumblebee’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a real 2008 Chevrolet Camaro™ pony car, designed by General Motors Corporation™ and manufactured by Oshawa Car Assembly. The fifth generation of the popular Camaro series, it is highly anticipated by car enthusiasts. As a pony car (the term originating with an early version of the rival Ford Mustang™ in the mid-1960s), it is designed to be a scaled-down version of a muscle car- smaller, a stylized or sporty shape, two-doors, able to carry four passengers, powerful V6 or V8 engine, and many options for additional features beyond the stock model, in addition to being less expensive. GMC intends to introduce a convertible version of the Camaro for the 2009 line.
By the time production began on "Transformers" in early 2005, the Concept Camaro (as it is currently known) was nothing but prototypes and early designs. The first full production models wouldn’t even begin rolling out of the factory until nearly a year after the film had come out in 2007! In order to deal with a car that no one had made yet, the producers of the film asked GMC to produce molds of the Concept Camaro’s exterior and designs of the interior. Using these, Saleen, Incorporated made heavy modifications to two existing 2006 Pontiac GTOs to change them into mock-up Concept Camaros for the film.
The general body shape of the Concept Camaro seems to more closely resemble and pay tribute to the first-generation Camaro design from the late 1960s- rounded edges all-around, headlights incorporated into the narrow front grille on the flattened incorporated front bumper, shorter roof height from the level of the hood (making for a narrower windshield and windows), the back windshield gradually angles towards the edge of the trunk, and a slight rise in the outer shell just above the back wheels. Though all four wheels show thin black tires with identical five-point hubcaps, the front wheels are slightly smaller in diameter than the back ones. The vehicle mode is molded all in a slightly richer yellow ABS plastic than the second-generation 1976 Camaro version version of Bumblebee. Also, the intentional paint smudges which showed wear-and-tear and battle damage on the ’76 ver. are now absent from the ’08 ver. While the two black racing stripes across the top of the hood and trunk remain, they are now solid on the ’08 ver. as opposed to having an additional thinner black line running around them both. But perhaps the biggest change is that the ’08 ver. uses transparent turquoise ABS plastic for all of its windows as opposed to being just yellow ABS. While Bumblebee has no passenger compartment to speak of in either toy, you can now easily see his unused arms all squashed up inside. (The Japanese market-release ’76 ver. did indeed have transparent front windshields, side windows, and missiles, while American and British releases did not; using solid yellow plastic for all instead. The rear windows across all markets were painted identical metallic blue.) To ensure you know who made the Camaro, a small silver Chevrolet logo is molded on both the front grille (painted gold) and above the license plate in back (which is not painted). The name "Camaro" is painted silver in raises letters just above both front wheels.
‘Automorph Technology’ is a new special feature that is fairly unique to the 2007 movie figures. What Automorph does is when one specific section moves, there is an internal system of gears and levers which moves another part in the same region. (Although, I’m sure a similar function has presented itself in the other lines from the various anime-inspired series. I do know for certain that the huge “Transformers Galaxy Force” Primus figure had such function(s) in his back armor, leg weapon units, and chest/head.) In the Deluxe-class ’08 Concept Camaro Bumblebee, there are two Automorph functions:
- After you release the windshield catch to free up the mechanism, the entire nose section flips forward and down, revealing Bumblebee’s head. At the same time, the hood separates into three parts, two of which are connected to the advanced shoulder and wing/door assembly. While the larger hood part is spring-loaded and automatically collapses down behind his head, the internal torso assembly rotates the wings & arms backwards 90-degrees; realigning the wings perpendicular to vertical, and raising the arms forward. Finally, as the nose section flips downwards, a spring-loaded panel underneath the vehicle mode [and Bumblebee’s head] is pushed out slightly to cover the newly-formed gap between his chest and head. Later, the shoulder joints and chest panels can be manipulated manually to finish their transformation.
- On both legs, the two halves of the back bumper flip upwards 90-degrees. At the same time, the foot and ankle joint flip downward 90-degrees. A second section- the two halves of the back window- are shifted to the inside of his lower leg.
Needless to say, both Automorph features in the ’08 Camaro ver. are pretty much the same ones on the ’76 Camaro ver., just executed differently. Of all the transformable sets that I have seen or reviewed from the “Transformers” film line that have an Automorph feature, Bumblebee’s may be among the most complex, even for a Deluxe-class figure! As that upper body is twisting and turning, you have absolutely nowhere you can grab on except below his waist since something is always on the move, or your fingers might get in the way. With the ’76 ver., the chest flipped over, then you finish up with the shoulders & doors/wings. Done. But here… whew! (In a way, it reminds me of the Automorph on Decepticon Wreckage.) At the same time, since the torso Automorph is so integrated, nothing is designed to snap in place; it all slips around comfortably. So if something has to be forced, stop immediately- you’re missing something and might break it! Some suspects I’ve found in this:
- the windshield hasn’t been moved out of the way before the whole thing starts up
- the center hood panel isn’t out of the way
- the shoulder/wing assemblies are in the way
- the shoulder/wing assemblies aren’t fully extended away from the center of the torso
The legs’ also take inspiration from the ’76 Camaro ver- extending the feet at the same time as flipping the trunk cover & back window parts around, while at the same time filling out the front of the lower leg a bit in the knee region. Again there’s nothing to snap around, so forcing is not needed.
Bumblebee’s robot mode (back), I must confess, is really impressive despite a little awkward- what’s the word, “kibble”?- here and there. He’s certainly a better offering than the other to-scale Deluxe-class figures that appeared in the movie- Autobot Jazz and Decepticon Barricade! Whereas the ’76 ver. was filled with harsh edges, and didn’t really resemble his film counterpart that well, this ’08 ver. is top notch. Even though it is the same character but with a different body, his head doesn’t change in the film (except in battle), a new sculpt was made for the ’08 ver., which now includes the ever-popular eyes that glow when you shine light through them which were painted on the ’76 ver. (Do they light up when a light shines on them? Ehh… not really, no.) As is traditional for most Autobots since the G1 series debuted in 1984, they have the front of their respective vehicle mode appear on their chest or as some part of their torso. Bumblebee’s torso is no different. While raising the chest panels may not be as complex as what appears on the big screen, it is still greatly appreciated! (For whatever strange-ass reason, all of the official photographs I see of this specific toy- even on its own box!- have those two chest panels still in line as the nose of the car. Don’t ask me why they always goof that up...) Though I can’t find an equivalent on the CGI character model, the panel that rests behind Bumblebee’s head features the same five screw head-like shapes that that are on the ’76 ver. in the same spot. (I’ve though of both versions as exposed micro-missiles.) The windshield, instead or raising behind the head, remains at his lower back, with the side doors becoming bee-inspired wings like his namesake. (Real bees are actually distant members of the wasp family.) The lower torso is also quite detailed with panels, pipes, and yes- even the warped license plate (4NZZZ454) right above the infamous lubrication relief valve. The arms are detailed, but whereas the roof and rear windows on the ’76 ver. came to rest on the back of its lower legs, here the roof remains attached behind his lower arms. The front wheels and doors form the back of the shoulders and wings; even though they share the torso-connection joints with the arms, they do not move in robot mode. (The position of the doors and wheels very closely match their film counterpart’s.) Whereas the ’76 ver. used ball-and-socket joints for both the shoulders and elbows, this version uses swiveling joints in the elbows, but moves the ball-and-sockets to the wrists of the open four-fingered hands. The legs depart in three ways from their film counterparts, even though most other details are quite similar: 1) the tail lights (and thus the entire back bumper) remain on the back of his knees, whereas on the CG model they are in his lower back; 2) instead of a three-toed footprint, it’s a long foot with a single poseable front toe; and 3) the back wheels remain outside his ankles as opposed to inside them in the film. Notable details carried over from the CGI character include the gray blocks on the front of his feet, his pointed knees with three vents right below, and the front cowling of the back wheels forming thin armor on his thighs.
Poseability is slightly hampered by all of the excess vehicle parts that Bumblebee has to deal with in robot mode. The head is mounted on both a ball-and-socket joint and a tiny pitching lever, allowing him to actually look down and up quite a ways. (Sweet!) The ball-and-socket joints for his shoulders are tilted slightly forward, so they’ll never hang 100-percent perpendicular to the rest of the body. Same with the elbows- the panels on the back of his lower arms prevent them from hanging straight down, so they have to be tilted slightly outwards. Fortunately the panels are on swivel joints, so you can play around with them that way a bit. Otherwise everything on the arms and shoulders works just fine, and articulation is top notch. I was pleasantly surprised to find a ball-and-socket waist joint; though the way things are positioned, it pivots kinda funny- not horizontally like we’re used to, but diagonally. The waist articulation is hampered perhaps only by the front windshield sitting on his lower back, but fortunately that has its own joint and can give a little ways to allow waist movement. Same with the chest armor- lifting up a hair will allow his upper torso to pitch forward an appropriate amount. While his hips are widely spaced compared to the ’76 ver., the car parts between his legs prevents them from standing perfectly straight, and can interfere with some poses. The knees can bend backwards 90-degrees even with the bumper sections there. Only bad thing I can find with the legs is that when you try to pose the legs, the Automorph feature tends to kick into reverse since it doesn’t lock in place (Grrr...), so you have to hold the bumpers/ankles in place as you pose everything else; same with the yellow thigh armor which tends to flop around. The good news for the legs is that you have those quite-accommodating toe and ankle joints to make up for it! A pair of angular yellow hoops rest on top of his heels- while they serve no purpose in posing but move a little when transforming him, they are yet another detail carried over from the CGI character model.
. . .
During the Mission City battle, after his legs have been crushed beneath some rubble, Bumblebee is carried away on the back end of a tow truck driven by Mikaela. Knowing that the Autobots and humans are loosing the battle, they decide to turn around and engage Brawl. While Mikaela drives the truck backwards at high speed, Bumblebee deploys the pulse cannon built inside his right arm, as well as a pair of cluster missile launchers from his shoulders.
The ’76 version of Bumblebee carried two single spring-powered missile launchers as his weapon. These could be placed on either both shoulders or in both hands; they were stored in vehicle mode as exhaust pipes. While Bumblebee has the wheels located behind his shoulders again (the wheels are the missile launchers in the movie), the ’08 ver. cannot accommodate the spring launchers there, nor in his permanently-opened hands. Also, his arms are way too tiny to accommodate a hidden pulse cannon! So a larger accessory pulse cannon is provided, which can slip into either hand- though it is portrayed only in the right hand. The cannon is fairly detailed in its own right, and closely matches the CGI weapon as well! Now, in “Transformers: The Game” (rated E10 or Teen depending on which platform you buy it for), ’08 Bumblebee can also deploy a stinger weapon not seen in the film. So Hasbro designed the pulse cannon to split apart to reveal an extendable layered transparent-turquoise blade within, which Bumblebee can also grip. (A very cool idea!)
While Hasbro can certainly be credited with the enormous task of transforming the immensely-complex CGI characters used in the 2007 movie (which- on average- contained 10,000 components per robot!), it should be noted that these are not just straight transitions either. While Bumblebee’s head, legs, arms, and chest all hide in roughly the same places in the toy, the process by which he transforms is very different, resulting in a slightly different look from his CGI counterpart. Mostly it has to do with where things end-up, which I’ve already gone over in detail above. While the Ultimate Bumblebee toy release- the largest movie-oriented transformable toy released to date- attempts to capture some of the spirit of this while also including things like motion and sound sensors, LED lights, a speaker, and several movement motors, even it can come no where near to the mind-boggling shifting and sliding seen in the film even though many of its molded details and transformations may be similar. But, again, I have found that the ’08 ver. is among the sets that closest matches their film counterpart in style and function.
Now, everything I have described up to this point matches the regular Deluxe-class Concept Camaro Bumblebee toy. But this is not the regular Deluxe-class figure; it is a part of the Battle Scenes line, which means some things are different…
The biggest difference is that- with the exception of the wheels- all of the black plastic ABS from the regular Deluxe-class figure have been changed to dark gray to more closely match the various shades of gray and silver used in the film. His face, also, has received dark gray paint instead of black paint. The Autobot symbol on his chest has been changed from black to silver, and a new smaller red symbol appears on his forehead. All other paint applications and plastic coloring remains the same. These are the only changes to Bumblebee here which are different from the regular Deluxe-class figure.
The other difference which sets the Battle Scenes line apart from all other transformable toys is the inclusion of to-scale figures. In this case, the Capture of Bumblebee set includes three human Sector 7 figures, each posed standing on top of some broken blacktop concrete. All three figures are made with PVC plastic, cannot be posed, and have no detachable parts.
- an Agent (back) in a business suit with a pistol and [what looks to be] a Geiger counter
- a soldier without a helmet (back) and no backpack, pointing a long rifle that appears to be able to hold large sabot rounds (a known weakness of Cybertronians’ armor in the film)
- a soldier with a helmet (back), carrying a backpack with small tanks, and a handheld device which spays out a freezing liquid (another known weakness that can disable a Cybertronian and put them into stasis lock)
[Oh- I really hope that isn’t supposed to be Agent Simmons (actor John Turturro); he’s my least favorite character in the whole friggin’ film! If it is (*shudder*), I am comforted to know that his eyes were painted slightly crossed, mwa-ha-ha-ha…]
What the Instructions *Don't* Tell You
The Deluxe-class Bumblebee set, fortunately, has only two entries into this frustrating category:
- When changing him into vehicle mode, you have to raise that large panel behind his head in order to make room for the chest to swing up and over.
- In order to get the arms to fit inside the passenger compartment, the upper arm needs to be twisted into a very un-human position. While the instructions tell you to do this, they are not specific as to what you are supposed to do to accomplish this.
But the instructions don’t tell you any of this…
There was one big reason why I picked this Battle Scenes set up as opposed to the regular Deluxe-class Concept Camaro set. And that is because the figure here is a repaint. In the film, the ambitious Autobot is dressed in his trademark yellow and black, but then the internal framework of the CGI character was composed of layers of metal in a wide variety of silver, gray, and copper. Now, the regular ’08 ver. was dressed mostly in yellow and black, with only very tiny amounts of silver paint; the ’76 ver. was the same. But with the Battle Scenes set, it is more movie-accurate in its coloring with the use of the dark gray- it allows you to see the high level of detail in the figure while better preserving the colors of the movie character. Of note, the [upcoming] Premium line version of the ’08 ver. has a similar approach- using a lighter coloring for the framework instead of all-black again like both the ’76 Classic Camaro and regular ’08 Concept Camaro versions. Beyond that, I didn’t care if this set included the in-scale figures, though they certainly are a nice and distinguishing touch that haven’t been seen much of since Mini-Cons, and the far-earlier Headmasters and Powermaster characters of similar nature. But, I don’t think a truly human character has ever been represented in a Transformers set without some kind of augmentation, or as a head on a decal or molded into the inside of a cockpit, in the past 25 years (the recent Japanese-release KissPlayers and Alternators lines aside, of course).
As for the Deluxe-class figure itself, I got it only knowing about the extendable blade inside the blaster (I can’t tell ya enough how cool that is!), and that the Automorph was somehow different from the ’76 version. So, I was very impressed very quickly with it. Being that this character is perhaps the best known in the film next to Optimus Prime as far as print and media are concerned, I was able to compare large pictures of the CGI character against this toy, and I found myself amazed at how close some details were even though such comparisons against thousand-plus-part computer models were pointless. Certainly the spirit of the movie character carries over. (So far as I am concerned, that is a face that only a mother- and Sam- could ever love, ya know...?) The details in vehicle mode are equally, um… “tight”. In fact, my only complaint with the car form is that the separation lines are fairly obvious in back, and unless everything is perfectly aligned there (good luck with that blaster in there!), they’re more and more obvious as he tries to pop himself apart. Aside from that, this is a very well-rounded figure. The Capture of Bumblebee set is a very good deal for what you get. And I also fully extend that enthusiastic support to this Battle Scenes version of the Deluxe-class Concept Camaro Bumblebee alone as well; even if it is just a repaint. I highly recommend getting this Battle Scenes set!
|Posted 17 March, 2008 - 02:02 by EVA_Unit_4A|