Sunday, 28 November 2010

War for Cybertron Bumblebee

Considering he's basically the focal point of the live action movie franchise, it's inevitable that Bumblebee has now appeared as an early release in just about every TransFormers line from 2007 onward... And War for Cybertron's little slice of the Generations market is no exception. It makes sense, also, because he was one of the first characters to speak in the old G1 series pilot, when he and Wheeljack were ripping off a bunch of conductor rods for their limited supply of Energon (not enough to last a quartex, apparently). Back then, Bumblebee turned into a cross between a manta ray and a flying saucer... a fact that was set to be referenced in Animated before the toy line was halted in the US/UK... but things are very different for War for Cybertron...


Vehicle Mode:
For a Cybertronian vehicle mode, there's not an awful lot here that couldn't just as easily be Smart's new concept car. It's basically an egg with wheels, and looks neither sufficiently alien nor sufficiently high-tech to pass as a 'Cybertronian courier'. It's certainly stylish, though, and I can imagine it being quite a popular road car if anyone actually started manufacturing something like this.

No surprise that it's predominantly yellow... though it's a much warmer yellow than most of these photos would suggest. He's also detailed with the same non-glowing coral pink as Optimus Prime picking out certain key lines, the front grille and the rear signal lights. There's even two flavours of translucent plastic - red-ish for the wheels and grey for the windows and headlights. The reason for this is revealed in robot mode, here it just looks like a bit more thought and effort has gone into the product.

Essentially, just like Generations Optimus Prime, there's lots here that says 'Bumblebee', but not an awful lot that says 'Cybertron'.
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Robot Mode:
Here's where it turns into a really mixed bag: It's recognisably Bumblebee (the head is astonishingly similar to the Classics Bumblebee mold, just with a few extra details), but it's very awkward. Due to the angle of the chest and the enormous 'back of the car' backpack, The Bee looks very hunch-backed... Reminiscent of his Classics mold it may be, it just doesn't work as well on this Cybertronian form. His appearance isn't helped by the raised shoulders which, while on ball joints, don't have a great range of motion. It's also rather weird that he has such a bulky upper body, and yet quite spindly legs, at least until you reach the ankles.

The wrists conceal 'battle blades', which have not appeared in any of the game footage I've seen thusfar, and he comes with a hand-held pistol but, due to the way the wrists and hands are molded, he can't even hold it straight. Again, just like Optimus Prime, the gun should have just been something that attached to the wrist, since WfC took its lead on the robots' weapons from the live action movie - they just transform out of the arms.

I actually quite like that the head mold is so similar to the Classics version, as it provides a sense of continuity... though that sense would have been stronger had the head molds for Prime and Megatron contained any echoes of the Classics aesthetic.

Strangely, the paintwork is less apparent in robot mode, though a touch of gold is introduced - quite incongruously - for his outer ankles.
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Transformation seems horribly complicated the first time, but it does get far easier after a few attempts. Like Prime, some parts seem to need to pass through others... but, with this model, it's slightly harder to judge which part needs to move first, and how far. One of my favourite features is the way the rear wheels are handled: in vehicle mode, the leg is collapsed, and the wheel is held on the outside of its mounting. During transformation, when the legs are extended, the wheel can slip back in on its mounting, enabling the inner parts of the rear of the car to fold around the lower leg and become the outside of his ankles. Shame the front wheels aren't handled as well - they barely peg into place on his wrists.

Despite the flaws in the shoulder ball joints and the frankly downright weird way the feet have been designed, Bumblebee manages to be a fairly poseable model. The only real disappointments are the neck, which only rotates, despite appearing to be on a ball joint, and the wrists which are just crap.

I can't help thinking that this mold would have been better suited to another character... but I can't think who (certainly not Cliffjumper, though that is the inevitable Hasbro repaint, albeit with a new head this time). This model also shows how daft it was of Hasbro to make Generations a Deluxe-only line - Bumblebee is actually bigger than Optimus Prime and Megatron!

Still, it's a decent enough representation of the character model from the game, and a fun figure all round.

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