Thursday, March 21, 2013

Artfire Bumblebee G1 Animation Version

Hey folks I had my Computer Tower die on me recently and my Great Friend and brother from another Mother Davestator decided to step in and do a few reviews until I can get my junk together. Thanks again Bro!! So enjoy!!!
Heeeeerrrrrreee's Dave...........

Artfire Bumblebee G1 Animation Version
A figure in review

Having been a fan of Transformers since the beginning in 1984, I must say that a very huge element that drew me in to the whole franchise as a fan, was the G1 figure of Bumblebee. Bumblebee's vehicle mode was what is to this day still my favorite car: an original Volkswagen Beetle.

Though posability wasn't even a considering factor in what made the original figures cool, I was a bit dismayed that many early figures were limited to kind of just standing there and maybe being fortunate enough to move their arms up and down. Still, this figure was on a level of cool all its own, and would even eventually be retooled and re-released as Goldbug a few years later. It may be debatable as to just how influential this character was in drawing in early fans, But if the comic and cartoon were any indicator, I would think it's fairly obvious that he had a big draw as a character that could be easily identified and related to. Even when the whole series was relaunched in 1992, he retained his original design albeit now flanked with shiny gold paint.
Sadly, sometime between Beast Wars and the return of the machine based transformers, the Volkswagen Group (VWAG) took issue with the idea of their car design being used to depict violence and war. Ironic for 3 reasons:
  1. By 1984 they had not been producing the original beetle for around 5 model years.
  2. Despite the VW's notorious history of having been a design of the Nazi party during WWII, Bumblebee was the very antithesis of all things Nazi or Fascist.
  3. In 2009's Revenge of the Fallen, VWAG had allowed the placement of one of their other cars, an Audi, to be used as the car mode for a Decepticon!
This begs the question, did VWAG ever relent their militant stand against Hasbro and Takara/Tomy? Was Bumblebee now being given other alt modes out of spite? Either way, to this day, the only Bumblebee toys we have gotten with the beloved VW beetle alt mode have been produced by 3rd party companies. While they were a noble effort, the first VW Attempt of them by Igeartoys fell sadly short, even if they were a refreshing look at an old favorite:

"We would LOVE a Mountain Dew, if only we could bend our arms and drink them!"

With the ever-growing popularity of the Masterpiece line of Transformers, I became worried. What would become of our beloved VW hero? All other G1 characters were being released as Masterpiece figures in their original alt modes. Luckily for collectors like me, a group calling themselves ArtFeather decided to take the classics Bumblebee figure and give him back his old clothes. Although this figure is more to scale with the classics version, this is, to me, MY masterpiece Bumblebee!

(NOTE: This version of Bumblebee was produced using the Facebook game app "Car Town." Fun game!)
For a third party release, I have to say this is a rather bold move, as they use trademarks from Hasbro/Takara such as the name Bumblebee and the Autobot insignia. To my knowledge, no other 3rd party toy manufacturer has dared this. The packaging itself is rather appealing, too. Here's a better look at that:

Notice on the inside of the front flap, they typed him up a nice bio and even made a modern translation of his tech specs. While it is a nice touch, upon looking closer at the bio I couldn't help but notice they could have used a proofreader before finalizing the text to be printed on each box. The main reason being that whomever they had typing apparently didn't have the best functioning space bar as there are several instances of words being noticeably mashed together. However, I sort of cast that aside as the overall presentation is quite appealing to the eye. Still, for the money I spent on this guy, I'm hoping they can get their text writer a better working keyboard!

It also features a nice sheet of stickers to be applied. Some of them are rather pointless, however, specifically the triangular ones that are supposed to go on his hands. I had gotten 3 of them applied but the 4th one split from the adhesive backing and since I don't recall the cartoon or comic version even having these markings, I just scrapped them.

He also comes with a pretty cool collector's coin and character card that also seems to have been exclusive to this figure:

"Redeemable at any arcade in Iacon. Void where prohibited by Cybertronian law."

As for the figure itself, it is a retooling of the 2006 classics version, which turned into a Peugeot 206. Gone is the trailer with jet-ski that turned into a shoulder-mounted wing assembly, which I don't honestly miss as that was a part that was easily lost or broken. In its place, however, are a few different extras. These include a mini-statue of Spike Witwicky from the old cartoon, with what appears to be a lunchbox or toolbox; I suppose which it is depends on what you want it to be. It also includes 2 variant hand molds, one hand opened and the other giving a thumbs- up, as well as a gun. Not sure why he was given a gun this time around since originally he never had one, but I digress.

THIS is what the classics version of 2006 should have been more like!

"Hi, Mom! Thanks for making my lunch! Too bad my hands don't close and my knees and waist don't bend or I would pick it up and take it with me!"

Glad you're so fond of New York, Bee! Too bad the original story takes place in Washington State!

Initially I thought this mold may have been taken directly from an existing mold used on previous die-cast versions, but upon closer inspection it doesn't seem to. Indeed it does seem they whipped up a new mold for this guy! The seat backs unfortunately do not fold into place on this version as they did with the classics version, but the wheels come complete with real rubber tires that freely roll independently of each other, which I feel is a plus. The side-view mirrors do seem a bit obnoxiously big, however they have a reflective surface on them that actually reflects. The mirrors among other things do make it hard to determine what year exactly this bug is supposed to be, as the front end and mirrors look to be more of a mid to late 70s style, while the rear decklid, lacking the engine louvers, plus the large rectangular rear window, seem to suggest a 1965-67 body style.
What Year did the Transformers come out again?

(Author's note: comparison to the vehicle mode of the previous 3rd party release)

They did an awesome job keeping the cartoon/comic look of the face and overall head sculpt. I actually feel the omission of the shoulder-mounted wing assembly was a wise move as the classics version always looked too weighed down by them.

(Again comparing this version with the previous 3rd party release)

"Anybody going to Washington State?"
While the extra hands are a nice touch, it can be very cumbersome to switch them out. Keep in mind his transformation process is identical to the classics version, yet the swiveling door assembly does not sit very tightly in its pegged-in position. This is not only inconvenient when trying to pose him, but also makes changing out the hand molds VERY tedious. But hey, it can be handy if you wanna, you know, pretend Bumblebee has engine problems or for whatever reason can't drive himself so he needs to hitchhike back home.

Still, despite the issues with the swiveling door I do have to say this is one fantastic bot mode! To look at it you might almost think he's metal but it's really just metallic paint on very sturdy plastic. Is he worth the $60+ price tag? Yes, he is for me as this form of Bumblebee is a must-have, and I will say he would make a great addition to your masterpiece line-up. Keep in mind the stickers can be obnoxious to apply so you may want to do that when you've had plenty of rest and enough free time.
One final thought: BUMBLEBEE IS NOT A CAMARO! The very name "Bumblebee" would seem to mean "little yellow bug" to just about anyone I would think! Anyway, If you're looking for just the right masterpiece Bumblebee, then Artfire is definitely the way to go!