Ideally, this version of Bumblebee would have been released back around 2009-2010 to coincide with his look in the IDW Transformers self-titled series that preceded More than Meets the Eye and Robots in Disguise. This figure is based on that look and clearly has a strong Bay influence. What we got back then, though, was just the standard Classics Bumblebee adorned with two vertical black stripes on his chest in an effort to mimic the black stripes this Bumblebee sports. As lame as that seemed at the time, getting this guy now really feels like it’s a day late and a buck short, especially since Bumblebee was released in his current look in the legends line a couple months ago. Why this wasn’t the other way around, I have no idea. I also wish being a few years late was the extent of this guy’s problems, but, unfortunately, it’s not.
To be fair, this is the look he sports in the Spotlight issue packed with him. But even though this issue is a fairly recent one, the story takes place back during the previous IDW series when he looked like this, so it is still a bit dated. Since all the figures in this wave are based largely on their appearance in their respective Spotlight issues, I guess there is some logic to getting this version as a deluxe now.
What’s interesting about this version, and as indicated in his bio on his card, this is a sort of “upgraded” version of Bumblebee. Having always been the “weaker” Autobot, it’s a bit of a character shift for him to be a more powerful Autobot warrior. That idea may take some getting used to for some.
The basic ‘bot design isn’t bad at all and it’s not where the troubles start rearing their heads. The proportions look good and the overall design works, and while the body is definitely a departure from what is typically considered “Bumblebee,” the head sculpt is unmistakeably Bumblebee through and through. His signature yellow-based color scheme is definitely on the bright side here, and it really pops on an Autobot shelf.
He looks pretty decent from all sides with minimal kibble, and the kibble he does have flows with the overall design fairly smoothly. You notice it and you’re aware of it, but it really doesn’t get in the way of anything too badly. But — the first eyebrow-raiser is the yellow paint on his forearm. Because it’s yellow painted over black plastic, it ends up having a bit of a green hue. It’s noticeably different. It may have looked better if it were left just plain black, and I have to wonder just how necessary the yellow paint was in the first place since his forearms are completely concealed when he’s transformed.
He can be posed fairly easily, but his arms tend to look a bit gangly from many angles. And his arms can’t be rotated at the shoulder without the entire upper portion (everything that’s yellow, including the “wing”) from moving right along with it, making this a case where he only really looks “good” when in standard vanilla poses. From the waist down his poseability is comparable to most other modern Transformers figures, so it’s really just the upper arms and shoulders that tend to look questionable in action poses.
His two guns can be combined into one larger, more formidable-looking blaster. It’s kinda cool to see Bumblebee with some serious firepower, as odd looking as this particular weapon may be.
He looks like a decent fit in a Masterpiece-heavy collection because he hits that “just a bit smaller than the average Autobot car” size pretty well. He’s substantially larger than the older Classics Bumblebee, and he looks oddly huge when displayed with his wave-mates, even though he’s really not all that much bigger than they are. That could just be my “Bumblebee must be small!” bias speaking with regards to how many of us have been conditioned to view the character, but, regardless, it’s still going to take some getting used to.
His ‘bot mode may have a few awkward qualities to it, but his alt mode really leaves something to be desired. It’s not a bad design, and one can’t help but be reminded of his movie counterpart when looking at it, which is fine, but I’ve never had an Autobot car that pegged together so poorly and so frustratingly. And because of all the bright yellow, this certainly looks more like a “toy” car than the typical Autobot car, deluxe or otherwise. The plastic looks particularly cheap here as well.
The key issues lay in the back portion of the car. At least on mine, nothing seemed to fit together well, and you can see when you look at his rear window that the connector pieces don’t connect. In fact, it’s impossible for them to because of the shape of one of the pieces that houses them. It’s curved, which prevents any interlocking from happening. So we’re left with something that looks like a jigsaw puzzle for the read end of his car mode. There are other parts that don’t fit together well without a lot of force, but that curved piece is definitely the most frustrating and the biggest head-scratcher.
His weapons can be attached to both sides of his alt mode, but they look a bit odd and incongruous with the basic design of the car. They seem to make the car look small too. Needless to say, I prefer him without the guns attached in alt mode.
This wave of IDW deluxes should be hitting most retailers right about now. I picked mine up at Target, but I know Big Bad Toy Store also has them in stock and ready to ship. Of everyone released in the wave, however, Bumblebee here seems to be the least essential of the lot, but if you really NEED to have a Bumblebee based on his look in the previous IDW series, then this is as good as you’re likely to get.