Deluxe-class Autobot Bumblebee
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Optimus was a young and optimistic recruit in the Autobot Academy, wanting to face off against real Decepticons in a battle as part of the Elite Guard. Unfortunately, he missed the war by a few million years, and eventually failed to pass the Academy. His ambitions and dreams crushed, Optimus was instead assigned command of a small maintenance crew for the tedious and boring duty of repairing and cleaning-up the Space Bridge network. But when the Autobot crew accidentally comes across the very powerful, life-giving All Spark which was lost at the end of the war, they are suddenly ambushed by the greatly-feared leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, and his own broken army of experienced soldiers in their search for the legendary artifact. The Autobots get away from the Decepticon warship, and Megatron is destroyed in a fluke explosion, but damage causes their ship to crash on an unknown planet. Optimus Prime and his crew go into emergency stasis lock for 50 years, and reactivate in the future underneath Lake Erie near Detroit, Michigan. The Autobots reformat their alternative forms to match those of Earth vehicles so as to blend in. As they begin to explore Detroit, they come across a human girl named Sari Sumdac, whose father owns the largest robot manufacturer on the planet. When she sneaks aboard their ship to see more of the transforming alien robots, Sari encounters the All Spark, and it rebuilds her electronic key card to carry many of its own powers. With Sari’s help in understanding Earth’s unusual cultures and customs, Ratchet, Prowl, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Optimus Prime swear to protect the All Spark from rogue Decepticons until Elite Guard reinforcements arrive.
Bumblebee has quite the ego, and the speed to back it up, but he makes for an excellent counterbalance to Bulkhead’s clumsiness and uncertainness, which makes them a great team and best friends. Driven by a need for speed and the urge to prove himself despite his small stature, Bumblebee is frequently bored when it comes to others’ need for thinking out a situation; he is a bot of action and will charge forward regardless of the danger. But despite being the self-proclaimed “fasting thing on wheels”, he still cares if his friends are in trouble or hurt, even if he may not know why. And now, this human girl, Sari, has become a rather poor influence for Bumblebee. Both love action, are fearless, and enjoy testing each other to achieve the next level of… whatever they can come up with. Rarely nowadays will you not find one without the other close behind. In fact, it was Sari who found a pair of used rocket thrusters and encouraged Bumblebee to upgrade himself with them, much to the concern & irritation of medic Ratchet.
. . .
The voice of Autobot Bumblebee is performed by voice and TV actor Bumper Robinson, who also covers several other characters in “Transformers Animated”, including the triple-changing Decepticon Blitzwing and the aggressive human businessman Porter C. Powell.
Bumblebee’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a small yellow 2-door coupe with an off-center black racing stripe. This is something that irked Detroit police Captain Fanzone- who rather detests technology at his old age- quite a bit because Teletraan-1 chose his small yellow 2-door coupe for Bumblebee’s alternate form! Though his vehicle mode is designed in the style from “…Animated”, the distortion isn’t all that noticeable- perhaps in the slightly forward-slanted roof & hood, making him a little pointed from a side view, and the trunk raised up quite a bit, but not as much as in the series. But honestly, I could easily see this car becoming the shape of a real mini-van in the not-too-distant future (such as a smaller 2-door version of the Ford C-Max)! But, Bumblebee is not a minivan in the series, he is a compact car. Though they’re hard to see on the nose (even for me!), his narrow pentagon headlights are painted gold. All of his windows are a dark transparent ABS, but they’re blocked in front and back by internal yellow plastic. The side windows, however, offer glimpses at the compacted robot parts inside- clearly showing that there are no seats or steering wheel inside. Because the parts for his windows are rather large, there’s a good share of yellow paint added to cover up the excess areas of the roof and door frames. Running from the front bumper to the small spoiler on the back is an off-center black racing stripe. The stripe is broken, however, by the little red strobe light atop the roof; this too is painted, and is not transparent. (The plastic beneath the red paint is transparent, but it would be the wrong color.) And printed onto the left side of Bumblebee’s back bumper is a small silver Autobot symbol.
For features, Bumblebee can, well, roll about. No more, no less. However, the set comes with the same paired booster rockets which Sari gave to Bumblebee early on. So that they look cool in toy form, they are molded in transparent-blue ABS, and then partially painted silver. The boosters can be slipped into holes in the back windows, recreating where they areare in the series. When not in use, the boosters just need to be set aside separately.
Unlike most of the toys from “Transformers Animated”, Bumblebee does not have an Automorph feature of any kind; you have to move everything yourself. The only thing that might classify would be the black spring attachment levers on the back of his lower legs, which keep the roof panels tight against them.
Also notable- and something that I’ve heard several people complain about- is that Bumblebee’s transformation is not completely authentic to his on-screen counterpart. Just like his G1 predecessor from the original 1986 cartoon, and his 2007 Classics remake, Bumblebee’s roof in “…Animated” becomes his chest. However for this toy, the roof becomes the back of his lower legs. So in order to give him a more proportionate chest, a false chest was designed to compensate, also eliminating the strobe light which would stick out otherwise. The false chest can been seen when you turn him over, and it is under the back bumper where a spare tire might be kept.
Bumblebee’s robot mode (back), for a smallish bot, isn’t quite as compact or efficiently solid as fellow Autobot Prowl. Attacking this kinda backwards, his legs & feet- though shaped like they are in the show from a side view (small at the knees & upper legs, and growing wider at the feet & ankles)- have the roof of the car mode sticking out at weird angles on the back side of them. Same with the toe parts, which hang off of small black shafts for the ankle joints. (The placement of two of the screws on his lower legs do match some techy-looking circles appearing there on the series.) Also, the car’s doors, minus the windows, look like small shields on his arms, which they don’t in the series. His hands are open-palm. The upper legs, upper arms, torso and head, however, are in correct proportion. He even has a confident lopsided little smirk on his face; though there is no movable face shield like in the series. Because his chest is a false part (as explained above), both the front and back windows from the car mode are smaller; while the back one beneath his chin is painted, the front one on his belly is a transparent-blue band that wraps around the yellow plastic beneath. (For the latter, it can pop-off, so you can easily re-attach it with no problems. Discreetly adding modeler’s glue would make it stay on permanently.) The back upper windows are repositioned on his back. Though red in the series, a new printed gold Autobot symbol sits on his chest; the silver one from his back bumper can still be easily seen on the back of his left shoulder.
For features, Bumblebee still has the boosters, which can remain attached throughout transformation, and they now appear on his back. (Like Prowl now, he can use these for rocket-powered high jumping, though neither can still achieve true sustained flight.) While Bumblebee’s paired Energy Stinger weapons are featured here, they don’t change or look the same way as they do in the series; the hands flip down here into the upper arms to make room for them. However, the transparent-blue points can still touch each other. When not in use, they are retracted along the insides of his lower arms. His eyes are transparent-blue, and use light-piping so that when light shines on the back of his head, his eyes glow. Does it work this time? ...Yes! And very well too! Aside from the stingers not remaining flush, his range of motion is still good, with ball-&-socket joints in his neck, shoulders, hips, and ankles, and free-turning joints in his neck, both arm joints, waist, and both knees joints. Because of the dual joints in his shoulder, his arms can be brought closer together to make the combined Energy Stinger. He can even look straight up, though this is mostly because of how he transforms. However, the elbows cannot twist side-to-side. And oddly, though his knees can swivel side-to-side, the joints are hampered by the tabs on the back of his knees, so posing them is limited to simple pitching up-and-down motion.
(Online blogs & forums are offering up suggestions as to how to make the stingers more flush with the forearms when retracted so that they don’t bump into anything. There are a pair of very tiny yellow tabs inside each arm at the stinger’s joint that can be cut away. You couldn’t unscrew the arms to do this because the stinger’s joint covers one of the screws, so a small X-acto/modeler's knife would be needed. They are really tiny, but they’re also really hard to get to. Kids- your parents really should do this if you want it changed that badly; don’t go and be idiots and try to do it yourself.)
Many people and longtime Trans-fans were once more greatly disturbed by the newest incarnation of those famous shape-shifting alien robots in disguise; for example, turning the famous Optimus Prime into a measly wannabe with no ambitions and trust issues, or the overall design style of merging & graceful lines/curves matching that of other recent cartoons such as Disney’s hugely-popular “Kim Possible” (2002-2007). And yet after a rocky start in trying to win back the minds of the fans, the show has become a hit on its own as much as it is a tribute to the original G1 series from 1984. Plus, “Transformers: Animated” is an original American series like “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1996-99) and “Beast Machines: Transformers” (1999-2001) before it, rather than being a dubbed anime production from Japan. The same can be said of the toys thus far in their initial releases. But as word has spread across the Internet, the toys have come to shine on their own- not just for their functionality, but for their absolute and striking similarities to their on-screen counterparts, which has never been as fully successful before- where proportions were usually off, colors were wrong, and functions were off or not mentioned. In other words, after 23 years, we are finally getting in our hands what we see on the screen in a way never seen before in Transformers history.
Though he’s shaped the same way, how he transforms is slightly different, and there’s some noticeable kibble on the lower arms and back of the lower legs. It’s done well here, but it’s an obvious change from the series’ version. Plus, the Energy Stingers don’t look or transform quite the same way. I was a little let down by the lack of side-to-side motion in his elbows, but it’s okay, and I can see how that may have been hard to pull off here. There are a few tributes in the design. Becoming a small car is the same as the G1 Bumblebee’s vehicle mode being a Volkswagen Beetle (which cannot be done anymore due to recent trademark laws), but there are too many differences between the two cars to make any comparisons beyond just their size. And the character’s trademark tiny antennae on his head return as well, though only very small cones. (With that grin, those little horns make him positively devilish, huh?) The other tribute is from the life-action film “Transformers” (2007) which came out the preceding year- in that incarnation of Bumblebee, his vehicle mode (a fifth-generation 2008 Chevrolet Camaro) had two black racing stripes, but here he just has the one set off-center. Actually, if you compare with the series’ version, the stripe is actually along the left side of his chest & leg, not the right as on the toy; and there is no stripe on his toe, but rather on his lower leg. Also, to add to the detail, painted panel lines were added on how lower torso and upper legs to match that in the series. (A nice idea, but I thought molded lines would’ve been equally sufficient.) I have no complaints about the vehicle mode; it looks just fine. Including the boosters (which he secretly kept, against Optimus’ orders, BTW) was a great touch, and I really appreciated it. They may seem like just another accessory, but since they appear in the series it makes them more connected to the character than just another random special feature. Transforming him is one of those things where everything has to be in perfect alignment or things hang up on edges and other parts, so take it slow the first few times and really learn how to do it right. Aside from those few small objections, this is still a great toy. So I highly recommend getting Autobot Bumblebee! He is the smallest, roundest... and yellowest thing around on wheels.
--Renewing the Charge--
[DISCLAIMER: This last section is not supported, advertised, or endorsed by either Hasbro, DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, or Warner Brothers Records. It is a fan-supported effort completely independent from all companies affiliates with the 2007 film "Transformers".]
Not even a week after "Transformers" entered theaters on July 3rd and became a blockbuster, scores of fans were clamoring for a copy of the original musical score by Steve Jablonsky. However, WB Records said in an official statement that the score would not be released for the foreseeable future. In protest, a fan-supported online petition was set-up to persuade the record company to reconsider. By the end of two months, over 5500 signatures had been recorded (your's truly at #1112).
Victory for the signers was claimed when “Transformers: The Score” was released in October that same year, containing just-shy of one hour of the original score. Jablonsky also personally wrote to the creators of the petition thanking them for their efforts. The CD would go on to become the 32nd best-selling soundtrack on Amazon.com at the time of its release.
However, victory was short lived. Because the CD was so popular, it disappeared from shelves rapidly, and was not restocked. By the end of 2007- a mere two-and-a-half months later- new CDs were no longer being produced, but were still being sought after. Reports of online price scalping were not uncommon when stores ran out, easily selling for double the original prices. (Don't worry- I got my own copy in October, and loved every minute of it!)
. . .
Well, the folks at The Knight Shift who brought you the first petition have come back, and they are saying "Give the people what they want". I recently learned that a new Petition 2.0 is now up, and is accepting signatures once more. This new effort is directed at Warner Brothers Records, and is asking for an extended reissue of "Transformers: The Score", with the potential for additional original tracks to be added.
(Yours truly is petition signer #563.)
If you signed the original petition, I both thank you and ask you to put forth your effort on this new petition as well. If you did not sign the original petition, but got the CD, please sign this new petition. If you are a fan of Steve Jablonsky, please sign this new petition. If you are long-time Trans-fan, or you simply enjoyed the film the movie, then please sign this new petition. I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed the original CD release, and I want others to share in it as well.
|Posted 30 June, 2008 - 02:12 by EVA_Unit_4A|