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Bumblebee

Transformers Movie Masterpiece
by yo go re

In 2010, Takara released a pair of "Masterpiece" movie figures: Starscream and Bumblebee. We put that in quotes because, rather than being new, fancy molds, they were both just tarted-up repaints of existing toys. Now, in honor of an entire decade of Bayverse movies, we're actually getting some real Masterpiece figures - and of course, Bumblebee is one of them again.

Although coming hot on the heels of Planet of the Earth and its toyline's outstanding failure, this toy is based on the first movie. Since there have been dozens of Bumblebee toys by now, from all five movies, you have a pretty good idea of who he is and what he's all about. So since the packaging doesn't have any informative text on it, let's just do that thing where you feed a bunch of text (in this case, the bios from the back of every previous Movie Bumblebee toy) into a computer and let the neural network algorithm do the writing for you:

Bumblebee is going to gather he's hidden invaders. They knows a good guy when he arrive. Before he can remember in the person of Sam Witwicky. At Sam's urging, he was content. After traveling a little more about his appearance. Now, whether AUTOBOTS, BUMBLEBEE is alien. His vehicle most awesome surprise. The mostly new Decepticons welcome for centuries to remain hidden invaders in the first AUTOBOT he could find. Now, those he cared about his armor plating through space to feel or some a hand. Now, when it complete. He has best; gather information, find they first on Earth, he's still ready to learn a mission as one of the mode, acting as a cunning through he just another, than a mission as one of defense against him hidden, and protecting skill, Sam until the other fight to Earth by OPTIMUS PRIME ahead of a few minutes all have cared less cosmeticulous about one another, this tough he decided to stomp some. Rough, tough action grew deeper. Now, wheel or standing side by side without question in robot another, that has become a harm, but Sam and him permanently. He's still ready for some DECEPTICONS! Whether he's even disabled he's consistently mute. Now, on Earth, he has found friendship and the Decepticons, but he came to fight.

Yep, still more cogent than anything in Age of Extinction.

Since this toy is based on the first movie, the altmode is the 2008 concept Camaro, something we've seen before. If Hasbro really wanted to impress us, they'd come up with a toy that could not only change between a car and a robot, but one that could change into both the 1976 and 2008 Camaro versions. How would they possibly do that? I have no idea, I'm not a genius toy designer, they are; I'm just an entitled fan demanding the moon.

At any rate, BB's altmode has changed slightly for every film, as the various modern Camaros go in and out of production, but this is the original. Built in 30 days by Saleen (because the '08 Camaro wasn't in production yet) using 2006 concept car panels on a borrowed chassis, the car is wide and boxy, suggesting a blend between power and speed, rather than favoring one over the other. It's a two-door, though the way the toy converts means you can't really open them realistically here. Ditto the trunk and the hood, which already has a little trouble sitting properly anyway: the outside panels of the hood don't slope down the way they should, so the center panel looks out of place.

The yellow chosen for this release is a paler shade than the near-orange seen on most movie Bumblebees, making him closer to the real vehicle - when GM sold "Transformers Special Edition" versions of the car, the color was identified as "Rally Yellow." The glass is translucent plastic, and the big black stripes have thin pinstripes outlining them. The Chevy badges on the grill and trunk are gold, the rims are grey, and there are paint apps for the turn signals, door handles, windshield wipers, and tail lights. They even have the California license plate on the back.

Converting Bumblebee is slightly complex - this is a Masterpiece figure, after all. It's not confusing or hard to do, it just involves a lot of steps and a lot of small pieces shifting into place. However, the end result is totally worth it! This is easily the most screen-accurate Bumblebee I own, from the (articulated!) flaps around his neck to the big pistons in his ankles. The yellow plates on his arms and legs are remarkably close to the CGI renders, but even the small sculpted details in the dark sections of his body are impressive when you get in there and look at them. There isn't a lot of unintentional kibble, either - the way the roof and windshield fold completely out of the way is pretty impressive, and definitely beats cheating by just leaving them hanging off the toy's back and hoping we'll ignore them.

There's a ton of detail on the face, as well. Considering 'bee is meant to be the friendly, kid-appeal character, he certainly looks creepy! The eyes are light-piped, but they've been painted over, so there really isn't much glow. The way the cheeks and nose sink into the surface of the face honestly makes him look vaguely skeletal.

Masterpiece quality means Bumblebee doesn't skimp on the articulation. His head is hinged, allowing him to look up, and the neck swivel lets it turn side-to-side. There are swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, two hinges each in the thumbs, forefingers, and two remaining fingers, a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, hinged and rocker ankles, and hinged toes! That's a lot of fun poseability. 'bee stands more than 6¾" tall at the top of his head, though the door-wings on his back come up a bit higher than that.

There's a play feature that lets you prepare Bumblebee for battle. Fold away one of his hands (the right, usually), and you can clip a version of his plasma blaster over the end. The piece unfolds to store under the car in vehicle mode, or can plug into the small of the robot's back for storage in this mode.

But just having a weapon isn't all he needs for a fight - he also needs to be protected from return fire. To that end, this becomes one of the rare toys to feature a flip-down version of his battle mask: lift his scalp, and the mask can hinge down over his face. It's not as smooth a transition as the Human Alliance version was, but it works.

Masterpiece Bumblebee is a Toys Я Us exclusive, and will run you about $80. And yes, that's expensive for a toy of this size (the car measures 6½" x 2⅝" x 2", sized, like other Masterpiece cars, to fit inside Optimus Prime's trailer), but this is easily the best movie Bumblebee released to date.

-- 11/07/17


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