Wednesday, 7 December 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Bumblebee (Camaro Concept)

It is, perhaps, no surprise that Movie Bumblebee has had multiple incarnations, not just across the three movie toylines, but within each one as well. A 'Camaro Concept' version was inevitable simply because that's the disguise he adopted shortly after being 'discovered' by Sam. However, despite being a significant upgrade on the '76 Camaro version, the first upgraded movie Bumblebee still exhibits many of the flaws of the first movie's toyline... but is that really so bad?

Vehicle Mode:
There's no doubting that Chevrolet's design for the updated Camara is a muscle car of its time. Far sleeker and smoother than the '76 model, but clearly still a muscle car. This model is quite a faithful representation of the concept car, has comparatively few seams, and those it has are fairly sensibly placed, to minimise their impact on the vehicle. The most obvious oddity is the set of four rectangular holes in the bonnet, which don't seem necessary, and are probably just a strange byproduct of one small element of the transformation

Comparatively speaking, there doesn't appear to be a great deal of paintwork to Bumblebee. The racing stripes are plain black strips down the bonnet and boot, bypassing the roof, the head- and tail-lights are painted, as are front grilles (including, naturally, the Chevrolet logo), hubcaps and even the exhaust pipes, then yellow paint is present on the transparent blue plastic where appropriate, most obviously on the doors.

Not much more to say, really... it's a decent representation of the car's appearance in the movie...
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Robot Mode:
I can remember when I first bought this, and thought it was a fantastic interpretation of the movie CGI (that I'd seen, up to that point), given the size of the model. It was far more complicated than any of the Classics/Universe figures from around the same time and, as Deluxe figures go, it's very poseable. How many people, I wonder, bought movie figures and immediately tried to pose them similarly to the CGI publicity images?

Of course, it's not perfectly accurate and, in many ways, is actually quite seriously flawed. Most obviously, the head sculpt is absolutely terrible, like most of the original movie's toyline. Later iterations corrected this, but all the first movie's Bumblebees had similarly inaccurate sculpts, with or without the battle mask. The huge chunks of car roof on the forearms don't help. The movie character has sleek, shapely armour on his forearms, not large, flat panels. The feet are a massive improvement on the '76 Camaro version and, from the front, are a pretty accurate take on the movie CGI, piston things and all. The heels are massively simplified, and yellow piece that folds up is just plain weird.

Bumblebee's weapon, cleverly stowed between his legs in vehicle mode (steady on!) is an interesting addition to the toy. On the one hand, it's inaccurate on at least three levels: it's presented as hand-held, rather than something that attaches over the hand to better represent the way it transforms out of his wrist in the movie, it's far too big and, most curiously, it transforms from a hand cannon into a short energy blade. This last feature is cool and all, but it's something that just doesn't happen in the movie, so I've no idea why it was created for the toy.

Straight out of the packaging, the paintjob on this toy was terribly bland. Yellow touches on the arms and waist, a tampographed numberplate, and metallic blue on the groin were pretty much it for the body, and the face was more black than silver - something of a recurring motif in the movie toys. I broke out my paints and gave him a rough 'drybrushing' with silver, added a bit more to the face, and picked out odd other details elsewhere.
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For me, the highlight of the first movie toy line was the Automorph gimmick. When it worked, it was awesome... when it didn't it was no great shakes because these are still transforming robots, and their baseline level of cool is pretty darned high. Camaro Concept Bumblebee is one of the models on which Automorph worked very well, which probably explains why the model went essentially unchanged until the latter part of the Revenge of the Fallen line.

Articulation is pretty much spot on for the first run of Deluxes. The legs are a slight improvement on the '76 Bumblebee (mostly, I suspect, because of the less bulky groin), and having proper feet certainly helps on the posing front, particularly in that the poseable toe offers enough of a footprint to balance on. The arms are a bit limited, partly due to car bits getting in the way of the shoulders, partly due to the elbows just not having much range, and partly because of those large roof panels on the forearms.

Something very much like this model has been reused many times in the movie toylines, which would normally be a sign of laziness - especially when you consider that this exact model was recoloured into red and black and called 'Cliffjumper' - but in the case of this model, it's reuse was well-deserved - it's a truly excellent first attempt, and was only properly superseded by the complete overhaul known as 'Battle Blade Bumblebee', released at the tail end of the Revenge of the Fallen line.

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