Oh, my dear Sweet Bee, I am so sorry I did ya wrong…
It is not often that I have to start one of these things with a full-blown mea culpa, but when I make a mistake, I am not afraid to own it. With this October-shipping Club Etheria figure, I treated her wrong, and now I have to ask for a bit of forgiveness. See, if you read my MOTUC SDCC Reactions article, you will know that I placed Sweet Bee dead last on my list of exciting reveals. I am not sure what it was about seeing her at the Con — maybe it was the way she was posed, maybe it was the way the case was lit, it could have been all of the other reveals, or even the fact that we just knew she was already coming due to her teaser at Toy Fair, but she just did not impress me much back in July. Well, fast forward to early August and I have come to confess: Sweet Bee turned out to be a great figure.
By comparison to some of the other females we have gotten/are getting this year, from a character standpoint, she is not quite as dynamic as ,say, Mermista to me, but taking the figure on its own merits, she came through production a lot better than I originally thought. Maybe it was being a few fractions of an inch away from her at the show, but her face sculpt and paint just did not look good in San Diego. Now that she has joined her pals in the Great Rebellion on my shelf, though, she certainly holds her own, and her design, color scheme, and reference points all came together to make for a figure that looks dynamic, even in the company of the ever-expanding rainbow coalition of Etheria.
We finally have yellow in our Rebellion! For the longest time, it seemed like we had She-Ra and then a wall of blue making up the occupants of the Whispering Woods, but this year Glimmer, Double Trouble, Flutterina, and now Sweet Bee have afforded us much more variety. Castaspella and Starla need all the yellow assistance they can get and she makes the combination of yellow, black, orange, and pink actually work. Plus, now that we have Flutterina, Madame Razz, and Sweet Bee, the Bright Moon Air Force is looking good.
So, like all of the Rebels added to the Classics line thus far, Sweet Bee takes most of her design cues from the style guide/Filmation art. A lot of the characters, especially the more recent releases have benefitted from the addition of some of the vintage toy embellishments, but aside from her boots, some subtle wing patterning and the small addition of yellow to her belt, the Classics Sweet Bee is all Filmation. To me, this is a good thing because I have to admit, out of all of the Princess of Power dolls from the 1980s, I always found Sweet Bee to be the most gaudy and unappealing. Maybe it was the hair (which was a drastically different puff of curly mess) combined with her colors, but I was never a fan of the design. Then she had to come in on the cartoon and catch He-Man’s eye away from my girl Frosta. This poor girl had a lot going against her coming into this release.
However, like so many characters before her, the Four Horsemen and, by virtue, Classics have afforded me a newfound appreciation for Sweet Bee, a character that has always been at the bottom of my Rebel wish list. She adds a great bit of color and shape to the display, and the way she has been characterized is a nice plus. Sweet Bee is an alien to Etheria and a space traveler/fighter. Sure, she wears a yellow skirt and has pink wings, but I would be shaking in my boots to go against a bee lady with a stinger gun like she is packing, but more on that in a moment.
Strangely enough, I think he face/head sculpt is my favorite thing about her, and as I left San Diego, I thought that would be the weakest part. Her face is, of course, nicely sculpted and it retains a 3D version of the cartoon shape. Her green eye makeup is also reminiscent of the Filmation show, but it is not overstated or outrageous like the kind Catra and Scorpia sport. The best part is that her hair is taken from the Princess of Power cartoon as well, and that was a very good decision. She is a ginger (nice!), but the curly bird’s nest of the vintage doll line has been replaced by a more attractive and natural look. Her hair is long so I really like the way it is sculpted in the back to allow space for her bee wings. Enough room is given so that the wings can move fairly easily, and the sculpt makes the hair look as though it naturally draping over them. Flutterina and Sweet Bee are two for two in regards to having good design decisions being made for characters with wings.
As I said, the costume is eye-catching with all of the bright yellow and black, which, of course, is perfect for a bee-themed character. Her bright colors fit in with the fairytale feel of Etheria, and she makes Buzz-Off look like a muted prude. Now, you would think that pairing yellow and black with orange and pink would be a 1960s high fashion train wreck in the making, but since she has orange hair, the complimentary boots actually work. Furthermore, the bit of pink added in the form of her headband and antennae match up with her wings nicely. I do want to say that one thing that is strange about the design of Sweet Bee is that her antennae actually come out of her head with the figure, which is a first for any official design of Sweet Bee as those have always been a part of the head band.
Speaking of the wings, like Flutterina, they are pretty much a 1:1 translation from vintage to Classics. The shape remains the same and they are cast in an opaque pink plastic that feels very strong to the touch. Again, like Flutterina, the wings attach to her back via pins that lead to partial ball joint. This allows a good range of back and forth movement, as well as some up and down and rotational options. The wings don’t look completely natural in all of the poses you can accomplish, but it is nice to have options. The wings are finished with some swirled design patterns in a relief from the wings themselves. While they are not glaringly obvious to the eye, it is another level of detail to two giant pieces of plastic that could be considered quite plain otherwise.
As for her construction, she has Double Trouble’s boots (just like the vintage line), She-Ra’s bracers, the legs with the thigh twist and the standard female upper arms. Her dress and bodice are new and I am happy when we get figures of females who wear skirts, it takes all of the worry out of the “dumpy” leotard concerns. Sweet Bee’s skirt is nice and made of a pliable plastic that does not inhibit her leg movement. All of her joints are nice and tight and I don’t have any soft spots or loose hinges to speak of with this particular figure.
Finally, Sweet Bee comes with three accessories in addition to her wings: her standard-issue Great Rebellion shield, as well as an all-new “bee stinger” gun, and, finally, the space helmet she sported in the Filmation cartoon. You know the shield well as we have gotten it before with several of the PoP figures, but this time it is appropriately adorned in two-toned yellow to match the motif of the figure. The helmet is also familiar as it was what was used to tease this figure all the way back in February at Toy Fair. It is a spitting image of the cartoon design and it can be attached to the figure via a quick head swap. That is to say, the helmet does not fit over her head or anything; it is simply a second “head” and thus can be used on any female figure in the line.
The new accessory, her stinger gun, is pretty cool, but kind of weird all at the same time. I really like that Sweet Bee was given an offensive weapon because so many of the vintage dolls only had defensive weapons, like the shield. It is definitely the most overt bee reference as the gun looks the like the backside of a morbidly obese bumble bee. So, whatever comes out of the tip of that stinger, Sweety’s opposition shall be taken out by a blast from a bee’s ass. The handle is recessed so that the gun comes down over her arm a bit (see the pictures), so for someone with the word “Sweet” in their name, I would not mess with this girl.
Well folks, prepare for your He-Man to be more and more distracted and less concerned with that whole Power of Grayskull thing because his crush has arrived in Classics. Poor Frosta! After treating Sweet Bee badly before, I am very happy to have her hovering above my collection, and she turned out a lot better than I would have imagined seeing her just a few short weeks ago. Club Etheria has shaped up to be a heck of subscription and we still have NA She-Ra and Spinnerella to look forward to before the end of the year. 2014 is certainly the year of PoP and Sweet Bee makes a great addition, but you had better be a subscriber, she will have no day-of-sale availability in October. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, go get that 2015 Club Eternia sub so we can finish off the PoP line!
*Thanks for reading and thanks to Mattel for sending along Sweet Bee for a preview. Don’t worry though, we still have more for you before we come to the LIGHT at the end of the tunnel. So keep up the HOPE.