Bumblebee gets superior figure in Masterpiece line
Bumblebee was one of those oddities for 80s kids. Although smaller than most of his fellow Autobots, he wasn’t that annoying nuisance character that constantly created trouble for the rest of his teammates. Instead, Bumblebee was pretty cool. The fact that Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends voice actor Dan Gilvezan voiced him only gave him added credibility in my eyes.
While I wasn’t an early adapter to Takara Tomy’s Transformers Masterpiece line, I quickly got on board upon realizing this was the style of Transformers action figure I always wanted growing up. Bumblebee was on the short list (no pun intended) for most demanded figures in the line as he’s always been one of the most iconic characters in the franchise. We’d seen Takara Tomy work their magic with larger scale figures like Optimus Prime and Thundercracker, but could Bumblebee provide enough bang for our buck?
Oh yes. Let’s take a look at everyone’s second favorite audience in a non-Michael Bay version.
Packaging: The Transformers Masterpiece line definitely doesn’t have the flashiest packaging, but I tend to appreciate its simplicity more than say Marvel Legends or Star Wars Black. Although in Japanese, it conveys the important aspects of the figure from accessories, scale and transformation.
The only downfall naturally is not being able to actually see the figure until you open it. For some lines that would be a scary proposition to see if there were severe paint chips or worse, broken joints, but Takara has earned the benefit of the doubt and hasn’t given me cause to regret my blind faith yet.
Likeness: Takara Tomy understands most fans’ love of this license sprang from the 80s cartoon series. The show didn’t have to play by any rules regarding the random transforming parts, which is harder to translate to a figure.
Understanding that, it’s hard to find much to complain about here. This is about as streamlined a transforming Bumblebee we could get in this scale. His torso is thick he’s got somewhat of a barrel chest, but it works in this instance. The panel indentions on the face could be a tad more distinct to fall more in line with the cartoon appearance, but that’s about all I could find to nitpick.
In car mode, Bumblebee looks fine. I’m hardly a car aficionado. It passes my eye test of looking like the same kind of bug Bumblebee was on the show and fits in well with the other cars. But if you freaked out like me, the one side mirror is true to the VW Bug. There’s not a missing part. Takara even included a second one in case you lose/break the first one.
Scale: As a Minibot, Bumblebee was noticeably smaller than his peers. Car to robot physics still baffle me, but I’m perfectly fine going with it. That said, Bumblebee definitely looks up at Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots. Part of Bumblebee’s appeal was not letting his height or lack thereof, prevent him from carrying out his missions or being just as heroic as the next Bot so his shorter stature was important.
Takara Tomy has been smart in scaling the line against Prime. Using him as the measuring stick helps keep everyone else in line. Prime towers over Bumblebee, but he is also significantly smaller than his fellow Autobots. But he’s taller than Rumble and Frenzy so the TF correct scaling is alive and well.
Paint: Takara used a very strong deep yellow for the main exterior. It’s more orange than I’d like, but you’re not going to miss Bumblebee on your shelf.
The smaller details like the Autobots insignia, headlights and taillights all are sharply done. I’ve gotten about 10 Takara figures and the paint hasn’t been an issue on any of them. Bumblebee continues that streak. It’s nice to see a company where paint problems are a non-factor.
Articulation: One of the biggest problems with the original toy line was very limited articulation. It’s nice to see that in the decades that’s followed the Transformers articulation model has greatly improved.
There’s really not a lot of poses I was unable to accomplish. I’m super impressed with how Takara has made a Transformers line work as action figures as well as transforming robots. I was able to get him in crouch positions, leaning, kneeling and crawling poses.
- Shoulders (ball-jointed)
- Hips (ball-jointed)
The articulation is smartly engineered too as he moves better than you might expect. I’ve opened a lot of figures lately and Bumblebee was the one I haven’t been able to put up as I’ve had too much fun posing him.
Ease of Transformation: For some of the Takara Tomy Transformers, I’ve had to diligently pore over the instructions 5-6 times before dutifully watching YouTube videos on the transformation. No one wants to break their $80 toy trying to maneuver a part that wasn’t meant to be moved.
Bumblebee was one of the smoother, more intuitive Transformers I’ve handled. There’s an ease to his joints and logical transformation scheme that made him a breeze, which I really appreciate.
Accessories: Bumblebee has a nice assortment especially depending on how generous you are with the accessory label. For starters, he comes with his blaster. That fits snugly in the undercarriage while he’s in his car mode. The spare tire plugs easily into the back and it holds the removable rear license plate. I like having a place for all the accessories.
In a really nice touch Bumblebee has swappable face plates. One features a more pleasant side while he’s exploring Earth culture with Spike. The other is a more focused battle ready face.
And if you want to count him as such, Spike is also included in this set based on his look from Transformers: The Movie. The official labeling says ‘Spike,’ but the younger head sculpt more accurately reflects his son Daniel. For accuracy’s sake, I’ll go along with Spike here. Spike is in his exo-suit to handle any harsh environments. It’s not just a display piece and transformers as well. This is a terrific bonus and while Takara hasn’t gone too extensive in the TF: The Movie characters, this is a good start.
Worth it? Bumblebee doesn’t have a lot of mass and necessary accessories to warrant a $75 price tag, but Takara Tomy was smart in adding Spike to justify charging the same amount as a larger Masterpiece figure. You don’t always see companies recognizing a figure’s value deficiencies and tossing in enough extras. Getting a second figure was a customer-friendly move and Takara Tomy should be commended for it.
Where to find it? You’re not going to find these at Toys R Us or Target, which is another factor in the cost, but you can order Bumblebee and most of the Masterpiece line from Amazon.com.
Rating: 9 out of 10
I’m not sure where Takara could improve this figure. It’s appropriately scaled, the transformation makes sense and he’s well articulated for Decepticon battling action. This is a very well done figure. For those on the fence with the line, this is the other one along with Optimus Prime that should make any old school Transformers fans get fully into starting a Masterpiece collection.