Sunday, April 6, 2014

ToyWorld 03 Bii (Not Takara Hasbro Autobot Bumblebee) Review

Time for a Guest Review!!

It seems yet another company is giving us what Hasbro has not been allowed to for what seems like forever: Bumblebee as a little classic yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Mind you, it seems the folks at VWAG in their ultimate wisdom (and quest for free publicity) have finally decided to allow a Transformer named Bumblebee to be released with a VW bug alt mode for the masterpiece line, but as of the writing of this, that figure is still in prototype stages and available for preorder only.
Of course the modern version mainstream America has in its consciousness is that of a Camaro whose communication abilities are a cross between Wreck-Gar's and R2D2's. The personality of this monstrosity seems to have come from Hot Shot and design-wise, well....

C-3PO on crystal meth comes to mind...

A lot of folks are just fine and dandy with this being Bumblebee, yet it never sat right with me. To me, the name "Bumblebee" perfectly described his original alt mode: Little yellow bug.

Apparently I am not the only one who thinks so. The internet community has for years argued about how important or unimportant the alt mode is to the name, but alas, Volkswagen Automotive Group (VWAG) officially put a legal stop to Hasbro using this beloved alt mode. Well, at least, it seems, until the success of the first live-action/CGI cinematic blockbuster of 2007 seemed to soften them a little into allowing an Audi to be used in the second flick. Said Audi was destroyed in the opening sequence.

Anyway it seems the third party companies felt the pain and desired the dollars of those of us who wanted our original beloved Bumblebee back in his old clothes. The latest such offering comes to us from a company called ToyWorld, and since they aren't allowed to use Hasbro or Takara copyrighted names, this figure is simply called "Bii." He is not, as I am aware, available anywhere retail but online only. I got mine for 50 bones plus shipping, which is a tad steep for a figure as big as the current deluxe figures, but to a VW aficionado like me, a must- have none the less. Let's take a look at this guy in his packaging first: 

Nothing very fancy, just simple and to the point, easy to open and get at, just how I like it. He's tied in with 2 of those twist ties on steroids so not too difficult to remove. Anyway, here's our guy freed from his prison:

So you want this card, do you? Well the question you should be asking yourself is, do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you?!?

Included is the figure holding his gun, an illustration-based instruction sheet, and a "collectible" card. The card is considerably smaller than the average sports or other trading card so it may not easily fit in with any other cards you may collect. The card is a fairly cool touch anyway I guess, but I've never been much into cards. Anyway, now for a better look at the instruction sheet:

No instructions in English at all, and it is expected that anyone following the instructions should be able to convert him between modes. This would be true, except they don't clarify that the thighs should be bent downward when converting to vehicular mode, which can be extremely frustrating if you're not aware of it. In fact, converting him from robot to VW bug is rather tedious and painful, as there are SEVERAL small moving parts that must be positioned in the process. OK, not quite as painful as classics Galvatron, but pretty darned close!

Who are you comparing to Galvatron, jerk?!?

To give you an idea of the transformation, I am including this handy dandy motion-sickness-inducing animation for your viewing (dis)pleasure:

Bii, transform!

Vehicle Mode
The car mode is definitely patterned after the old cartoon version, hence the proportions are quite far from correct from those of an actual VW bug, albeit not so much that it is unrecognizable.

My, what HUGE windows you have, Bii!

Personally, I'm not as big a fan of this VW bug mode as I am, say, of the ArtFeather version, but for a cartoon representation it's not bad. I just feel that for 50 bucks, a vehicle mode that almost looks like a kid's "rubber ducky" bathtub toy is almost a slap in the face, but that is admittedly only my opinion. The wheels do roll independently which is a plus, and I like that it has side view mirrors and windshield wipers. Also, you may not be able to see them in the pics, but they even put louvers in the rear decklid, suggesting a mid to late 70s body style. Another downside to the vehicle mode is that all of the moving and swiveling parts make for an incredibly tight packing hob that must be applied when transforming either way, so keep that in mind when snapping parts into place. Yes, they do snap as each piece is carefully and (mostly) accurately tabbed.
As for the bot mode, well, NO disappointments here I am happy to say! The head sculpt is quite clearly our guy, and the over exaggerated big feet emphasize the slightly awkward (yet noble) character of the original Bumblebee. They also add beautifully to his posability:

 Why couldn't I have been an Aerialbot?

Ball joints and hinges work together rather nicely to offer a HUGE margin of articulation, but I will warn you that the bendable parts are quite stiff, at least at first anyway, and may require a bit of force to move into the desired position. This may not be a bad thing considering one alternative would be for the figure to be too loose and wobbly to enjoy playing with.


Overall, I have to say the biggest dislikes I have are the 50 dollar price tag on a deluxe scale figure, and the frustrating complexity of what I think should have been a relatively simple transformation. I am undecided on the VW bug mode as I like that he has that mode, but I find the cartoonish nature a bit too exaggerated. The things I like best are that the gun can be stored in his car mode out of sight, and the robot mode is simply incredible both in accurate comic/cartoon design as well as the vast range of articulation. To me the likes do outweigh the dislikes overall and make me not sorry I spent the money on him. To the individual collector, I invite you to consider this review before making that decision for yourself. As I mentioned before, I am a big VW aficionado, which largely influenced my decision, particularly where Bumblebee is concerned. If you are a G1 Bumblebee freak too, then this may very well be worth your money as well. If not, you may wanna wait for the Masterpiece version.

Until next time, this is the Davestator saying, "Damn I like grapes!" No wait, wrong quote....ah, well, you get the idea! Cheers!