MP-21 Masterpiece Bumblebee

P1170083The Autobot’s most iconic little yellow scout finally received the Masterpiece treatment, and while I think a lot of us have come to expect big things (literally, looking at you Ultra Magnus) from this line-up, Bee was for sure underwhelming for many.

P1170062P1170063I’ll mention now that this photo set may be a bit off – I’m not sure why (maybe Bee’s bright yellow paint job) – but my camera was acting just a bit funky when going through this guy’s photoshoot. A lot of the shots came out strangely bluish in hue, and while I adjusted them as much as I could in post-processing, many of the pictures still look off. I got too lazy to go back and re-shoot though, do forgive.

P1170064Anyway, Bee transforms into his classic VW Beetle form – complete with every little detail like painted door handles and VW badges on the hood and wheels.

P1170106Takara includes an option to swap out the black license plate block on the rear for a plug’n’play spare tire cover. I didn’t really understand the inclusion of this accessory, since I don’t remember Bee carrying anything like this on his back often, but it’s there.

P1170030In keeping with scale with the other Autobots of course, Bee is tiny as he should be – about three-fourths the size of one of the regular cars.

P1170065The vehicle mode is incredibly detailed for something so small (the matte black bumpers are an especially nice touch) but the thin plastic wheels and numerous obvious panel breaks still make Bee look more like a toy car than any more realistic model. I think Prowl wins the least-conspicuous panel-breaks contest for now – Sideswipe was pretty bad what with his clip-together spoiler, but Bumblebee’s lines are even more obvious than that.

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That plastic wheel shine. I’ll give Takara credit for keeping the accuracy of the old VW Beetle’s paper-thin wheels though. Bee’s pistol can be stored under the front-end of his vehicle form as shown – too bad it doesn’t double as an exhaust…even the knockoff Toyworld Bii got that right!

P1170067P1170069P1170073P1170074P1170076P1170077P1170078Bee’s transformation is surprisingly complex. Maybe because it’s because I’m so used to his piss-easy G1 transformation, but I wasn’t expecting stuff like the hood section near the windshield to totally fold away into a slot in the torso (you can see this happening between frames 2 and 3).

P1170086For all that complexity though, it still feels scarily fragile at times. Turning the rear section of the car all the way around on a single thin joint is fairly terrifying, especially if you forget to turn other certain pieces out of the way to make clearance for that piece’s movement.

P1170082Bee’s biped mode looks pretty good though – like many others, I was a bit put off when I first saw the prototype pictures. His chest looked too damn big and his limbs too small and thin.

P1170098While the torso is still unnaturally bulky though, it’s a bit better offset by the large and clunky VW feet and Bumblebee’s classic look as a ‘bot.

P1170081The spare tire can still be carried in biped form, but it adds even more bulk to the torso, something I don’t think this ‘bot really needs…

P1170084The articulation is fair here – you can pretty much tell how everything moves from checking out the photos, but one point of contention I have is the lack of wrist movement and the hand designs in general.

While I understand a figure this small wouldn’t practically make good use of the standard articulated Masterpiece hands/fingers, it looks a little too cheap to have a single swing-out hinge for the wrists, no articulation at the wrists after said swing-out, and a giant gaping hole in the forearms where the hands used to be stored.

All told though, Bee moves well, and really doesn’t have any trouble swinging his tiny little stun gun around.

P1170089Takara also includes the option of an extra face – a feature I don’t think we’ve seen since Masterpiece Starscream (not counting Ultra Magnus who released after Bumblebee here).

Included is a standard stoic face and one that depicts Bumblebee’s wry smile. Both are well sculpted, but can be tough to see without any lines filled in. I personally prefer the grin face more – gives the character we all know and love the personality we remember him having.

P1170100Bit of a height comparison with fellow Autobot and release buddy, Wheeljack. He doesn’t look too out of place here, right?

P1170103But then with the Big O himself, we’ve got the whole father-son thing going on strong.

P1170114P1170115
The fun of course, doesn’t just end with Bee. It’d be pretty painful to pay the usual Masterpiece price for a Transformer only three-fourths as large as the norm. Enter Spike/Daniel in their Exo-Suit – the Masterpiece add-on figure you never asked for and never thought you’d need.

P1170117I faintly recall some official source saying this was supposed to be Spike in his Exo-Suit, but because I’m more connected with Transformers: The Movie, I’ll just assume it’s Daniel. His first transformation into this…vehicle-thing on the junk planet was as memorable in the film as it was silly.

P1170119
It kind of breaks my brain thinking about a human bending in all those unhealthy ways to transform into this space-board with wheels. I personally think this whole thing is pretty silly and ridiculous, but hey it’s there.

P1170116The Exo-Suit is slightly smaller than Bee in vehicle form – for what it’s worth it does at least feature rolling plastic wheels.

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The transformation is simple, but jarring when you’re trying to turn him from Exo-Suit to Exo-car, mostly because I’m so unfamiliar with the Exo-car design that I have no idea what I’m supposed to be folding the figure into. I think part of the ease and fun of Transformers is knowing that the ‘bot you hold is supposed to turn into a VW Beetle, or a Lamborghini Countach.

spikeThe suit design certainly looks fitting for the era it hails from. Definitely screams corny 80’s.

I wouldn’t prepare to be blown away by Daniel’s range of movement here. The blocky design of the suit as a whole kind of prevents any meaningful posing; he really kinda just stands there.

The arms are especially funky in the way they’re designed in that the elbows will forever be doomed to stay at 90 degrees; he can’t actually hold out a straight arm. The ball joint there also pops off a little too often, even if it can be popped right back in.

P1170109And of course, the little clear dome pops off to show off Daniel’s hollow, blank, and soulless visage. He’s got a nice head of hair though, I’ll give him that.

P1170105As a smaller Autobot and thus a much smaller figure than the norm, Masterpiece Bumblebee can be hard to justify the purchase for. I would hardly count Spike/Daniel/Exo-Suit as a meaningful enough bonus to make up for the value dissonance, but I think that’s more of a personal matter since some may enjoy the extra figure more than I have.

I don’t think there’s anything in this set that blows me away – rather, everything here just fits perfectly into the already well-established Masterpiece line-up. It meets all the standards we’ve come to expect but doesn’t do anything new that’s particularly nice or noteworthy, despite Bumblebee being a new size from the previous ‘bots.

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