The remold you've been waiting for
Transformers Generations War for Cybertron Trilogy Walmart Exclusive Netflix Deluxe
Item No.: Asst. E9489 No. F0702
Includes: 5-part bazooka, kibble shield
Action Feature: Transforms from Robot to Volkswagen Beetle
Availability: December 2020
Other: Battle damage deco, C.O.M.B.A.T. effects sold separately
It's not every day you can say "fans have been waiting years for this," and have it also be true. If you're an average American collector, a Volkswagen car alt mode of Bumblebee may have been on your short list for years if you missed the Masterpiece toy, or of course the G1 originals and reissues. Since the dawn of Classics, we've been teased with some really cool car modes that are not the original Bug. That first Classics mold had a nice little jetski, then the War for Cybertron one made a nifty space mode in Generations' very first wave in 2010. Then for Thrilling 30 we got the weird sporty car. There was also a much smaller Legends class toy in early 2009, another mini Cybertronianish Legends-class in 2013 - plus a lot of stuff in Japan. And Authentics, and Cyber Battalion, and I could go on - but none of them were that original German car.
The core of this mold was already used for several different toys, each with a unique color or head sculpt. So far we've had Cliffjumper in red, Bug Bite in white (with Bumblebee's head), and Hubcap in a much more lemony yellow. Each had a big bazooka, and all of them shared some parts with Bumblebee - but not the body panels. Those are unique here.
Like the similarly best-in-class Earthrise Optimus Prime [FOTD #2,190], this is going to be the go-to for newer fans. It combines elements of numerous Bumblebee designs, taking a bit from the toy, a bit from the cartoons of old, a bit from the newer cartoons, and the end result is a pretty good pastiche that can be read as some flavor of your old Bumblebee. Except the gun. You'll need to supply your own, less giant gun. It's possible the Masterpiece toys will do it better for you... but this is significantly cheaper.
Let me go as far as to say that this toy is so excellent that I believe Hasbro will struggle - or perhaps not bother - to try to do a classic Volkswagen Bumblebee mold inspired by the 1984 design. There may be opportunities for recolors or alternate heads, but I assume we may be reaching some sort of peak before the old-school fans of the class of 1984 - themselves nearing middle-age - say "OK, this is amazing, I never need to buy another one because this is so good."
When you ask fans "what's Bumblebee?" the only two things they'll probably all agree on is "yellow" and "one of the good guys." The shade of yellow changes from toy to toy - he's even gold in Japan at times - and he has had a number of alternate modes. This one has a licensed Volkswagen car mode, whicih means his feet look right. In robot mode, the rest of the car elements are largely shoved aside and not really a concern - the doors and body wrap around the feet, the trunk is now an optional, removable backpack. The car's roof certainly looks right, but it lacks an Autobot sigil - which is true to the War for Cybertron cartoon on Netflix. Bumblebee's head sculpt has some similarities to the 2020 animation, but it's a lot closer to the 1984 cartoon in many respects, mostly the lack of weird silver face extensions with the lines that look like whiskers. It's silver and clean, with seemingly smaller horns and a slightly thicker helmet with more face coverage. The new shade of yellow plastic on the robot forearms and head match the yellow paint used on the car mode, giving him a consistent look everywhere but his lower waist piece, which seems a tad dark. This is what happens when light paint goes on dark plastic.
Articulation is identical to his mold brothers, giving you about 20 points of articulation. The joints on my sample are nice and tight - unlike the somewhat floppy waist on my Bug Bite. I think that it must be the paint around the moving parts of Bumblebee adding to the tension.
The transformation is the same as Cliffjumper and friends. I found it to be a little less frustrating, but I did have to massage a couple of panels in place.
Since it's a licensed car, I expected nothing less than near-perfection. We get silver headlights, a silver VW logo, silver wipers. They even painted the door handles! There are black bumpers. (There's a blank spot for the license plate - you can't have everything.) The blue windows are great, and you also get silver VP hubcaps. The panel seams are obvious, but that's not a huge problem. Also there are no places to put your gummy fire blasts on the car mode, but that ensures a nice clean car mode. It takes no risks, and looks appropriate. The only thing I don't like about the car mode is that the wheels on mine don't roll particularly well. They can move, but it's by no means impressive and that's been typical since we've seen a gradual shift away from metal pins to plastic mushroom pegs.
I would expect (and indeed hope) for Hasbro to milk this mold - if we don't see a red Bumblebee as a Target exclusive, I'll be surprised. I wouldn't be surprised to see "toy deco" Bumblebee (possibly with a face plate head) either, or this very same toy in a brighter yellow with bluer eyes. It's too good to waste on a one-time Walmart exclusive - I hope (and indeed expect) them to keep this tooling in production. Even though he's short, it's a very good take on a toy that used to take about 5 seconds to transform back in 1984. This is probably the best-in-class for the Netflix-themed line, and the one you're going to regret skipping. Get it on sight - you can change your mind and sell it later.
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