“Bumblebee,” directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld, is the best live-action “Transformers” movie, so it is only right that the movie was accompanied by the best toy based on the live-action Bumblebee. There has never been a better time to be a Transformers collector, as the continuous waves of modern toys, across different lines, offer something for every collector. This is also true for the multiple Bumblebees we’ve gotten in different scales and complexity from Hasbro and Takara Tomy since the first “Transformers” came out in 2007.
There are more detailed and movie-accurate Bumblebees out there (the Masterpiece Movie Series MPM-7 and the non-transforming 3A DLX Collectible Figure Series Bumblebee come to mind), but they come at a hefty price.
It is perfect that the best Bumblebee, in terms of bang for your buck, comes from the best modern Transformers line—the Studio Series, which is badged by both Hasbro and Takara Tomy. The Transformers Studio Series No. 18 Bumblebee movie Deluxe class Bumblebee is everything you’d want for an affordable, well-engineered toy to mark the movie’s release.
The toy comes in your usual Studio Series window box packaging, with art on the side of Bumblebee with his 1980s boom box. The toy also has a fold-out cardboard diorama of Charlie’s (Steinfeld) garage so you can reenact scenes from the film if you want to.
Bumblebee comes packaged in robot mode, and the transformation to Beetle mode is just complicated enough. Bumblebee has a false chest piece that resembles the car hood, but the two headlights are actually the headlights in alt mode. The toy is amazingly articulated, perhaps a little too much so. The legs attach to the body with ball joints and the hands attach to the arm through friction—and these all have a tendency to pop off. But the articulation means Bumblebee can be put into a good variety of poses. The door wings closely resemble the wings from the movie Bumblebee.
This toy is a bit of a shell former, so the backpack unfolds to become the car’s main shell. The backpack also has a kind of scary but perfectly strong set of hinges. The over-engineered legs, which allows for the aforementioned articulation, require a lot of manipulation, with its extra hinged knees. This is the most finicky part of the transformation, as you have to set the legs just right to form the back end of the car.
That being said, the alt mode is fantastic, very solid once you complete the transformation. It is a licensed Volkswagen Beetle, with clear plastic windows, color separated hubcaps and very good details, down to the VW logo on the hood. It also rolls very well for a modern car mode (not always a given).
Bumblebee comes with three accessories: his battlemask (which replaces the normal Bumblebee face), his handcannon (which replaces his right forearm) and armblade (which pegs over the left forearm). These are great action accessories and, as a bonus, all three peg onto the vehicle’s bottom for weapon and parts storage.
All that being said, this particular Bumblebee suffers from two qualities which are true for the Studio Series line. The first is it is tiny, particularly for a Deluxe class toy. The robot mode, standing up, is barely four inches tall. Scale issues plague the Studio Series line (the Deluxe class helicopter Dropkick, for example) but the toy’s skinny nature makes it feel somewhat fragile—but it isn’t. If anything, it’s impressive they got this much engineering into such a little toy.
The other issue is trickier: all that unpainted plastic. To be fair, most of Bumblebee comes in a movie-accurate bright yellow, but the large parts of the toy being cast in that plastic result in the amazing detail being lost. In particular, the Beetle’s hood and rear end has a ton of little details that are overwhelmed by the yellow plastic. The head and the battlemask have a similar issue. It is a cost issue, but it seems like such a waste that so much was lost when a simple black wash could have fixed it.
But these are minor issues when one considers the complexity, cost and quality of this toy. If you wanted to get just one toy to represent the toy and the movie—lots of character on a budget—then the Studio Series No. 18 Deluxe class Bumblebee is the must-get toy.
The Takara Tomy Hasbro Transformers Studio Series No. 18 Deluxe class Bumblebee is available from Toy Kingdom for P1,399.75.