KRE-O Battle Changers Bumblebee Toy Review

in 2015, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, KRE-O, Mini-Bot

KRE-O Transformers

bumblebee General Information:
Release Date: June 2015
Price Point: $7.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: Limited Release (Some parts of Asia, Discount stores such as TJ Maxx & Marshalls)

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon Canada:
Build an awesome KREON figure in 1 of 2 modes with this hardcore Bumblebee set. You can use the 81 pieces in this set to build a Bumblebee KREON figure as a fast-dodging sports or robot warrior. With him in charge of recon and armed with 2 blasters, your KRE-O Transformers adventures are going to rock and roll. Start building your Transformers forces with this Bumblebee set.

The KRE-O toy line launched a few years ago with much fanfare as Hasbro's competitor line to other building block lines like LEGO or Mega Bloks. However, as time went along the line began to shrink in terms of toy store presence and prominence. When it came to Transformers, one of the biggest issues fans had with the line was that the toys did not actually transform. Instead, to achieve either mode, you would have to disassemble all the parts and then reassemble them into the alternate form. Then in 2014 Hasbro announced transforming KREO sets! Called "Battle Changers", these figures were made to be assembled and then transform without having to take the toy apart.

As 2015 rolled along, these sets began to come out in certain parts of Asia, but never saw the light of day in North America. That was until the summer when some appeared online and then a bunch began to appear on the shelves of discount stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Lot-Less. Not every Battle Changer was released. As of the writing of this review in October of 2015, Starscream, Blitzwing and Drift have yet to be seen. However Bumblebee did come out as part of this wave of discount KREO toys. I personally spotted him at both Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, and he was $7.99 in both places suggesting his original retail was probably going to be somewhere between $9-12.99.

Packaging:
The Battle Changers are packaged in an interesting box. The back panel is flat and off to the right is a raised section where the toy, stickers and instructions are sealed inside. The box has a large illustration of the character in the front against a traditional G1 era "grid" background. There are photos of the toy in both modes on the back. The box uses the current "Transformers" logo on the side with a white background, giving it a very bright appearance that jumps out on the shelves. I really like this packaging style and I would've loved to see it on more toy store shelves. The only thing missing is a full blown tech spec at the bottom.

Assembly:
Grimlock is made up of 81 pieces. This was the first Battle Changer I assembled so it took some getting used to but after a while I got into the groove. I worked on him on and off for about 30 minutes to complete him. I'm sure if I had just sat down and focused on the assembly it would have only been 20-25. There are no tricky parts to the assembly, but when you have to connect his (huge) back pack to the rest of the body, parts can separate fairly easily. With these vehicle mode based Battle Changers, the first thing I do is assemble the rims and tires together so you have less parts everywhere from the start.

Robot Mode:
KRE-O has created several Bumblebee figures before, but this is their first that transforms from one mode to the other without being disassembled. The most traditional Bumblebee-esque elements of this figure include the head and torso. The head uses the same "helmet" section that has been used for previous Bumblebee KRE-O toys featuring a round helmet shape, horns on the sides and a crest on top. His face has a cheerful smirk that fits the character well. His chest sticks out slightly then angles downward, akin to the shape of G1 Bumblebee's torso.

The rest of the figure design is unique to this interpretation of the character. Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first. Bumblebee has a huge backpack. For the most part this back pack makes up most of the vehicle form. Fortunately he doesn't have any issues standing thanks to strong heel pieces, but it definitely hurts the aesthetic. The rest of him looks good however, including the arms (which feature claw hands to hold his two blasters) and his legs, which have thick looking armor on the lower legs.

Bumblebee is (not shockingly) cast in yellow, black and silver plastic. His blasters are a flat grey color. Stickers help add details on his torso, giving him racing stripes and an Autobot symbol. As mentioned earlier his face has a smirk tampographed onto it. The lines on his face are black and his eyes are light blue. Overall the colors pop nicely on this figure and the black/yellow/silver colors call back to so many previous incarnations of this character that he's instantly recognizable.

There are fourteen points of articulation on this figure. That doesn't sound like a ton, but keep in mind about eight of these are ball joints, making he has a wide range of articulation. The joints are all nice and tight as well. Bumblebee comes with two blasters (the same one his Microchanger had). Each can fit in one of his claw hands. He's definitely fun to play with, but be careful with his head and waist articulation since those are major points of connection between parts.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the blasters and set them aside.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the heel pieces up and the foot pieces down.
  4. Push the two legs together.
  5. Swing the thin panel from the back pack over the head, lining up the panel with the torso piece (now the cabin section of the vehicle).
  6. Rotate the arms up, bend the forearms so they form the rear bumper.
  7. Swing up the wheels from the back of the vehicle.
  8. Swing the thighs down, then swing the lower legs up to form the front of the vehicle mode.
  9. The C clips from the rear wheel well sections clip into the bars near the knee armor on the lower leg sections (now the front of the car).
  10. Swing the panels above the connection point in the last step back at an angle.
  11. While not a formal part of the transformation, if you want to store his weapons the handles fit into the holes in the back of the vehicle.

Your biggest challenge in this transformation are the parts that form the torso and back pack. On my copy of this figure the head pops off during transformation (repeatedly) making the transform a delicate operation. Be warned.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee is a small car in this form akin to his "Classics" incarnation. The front of the vehicle slopes up to the windshield area, then it leads to a rear window. On the sides are black pieces that look like side windows. The front section has round, translucent yellow pieces that look like headlights and most of all, the vehicle rests (and rolls) on four rubber tires. Thanks to the wheels, the general shape and the sticker details he's clearly a car based on his look in the last decade or so. However, it's a very odd car. The sides have huge gaps between the cabin section and the windows and the wheels seem tad small for a vehicle of this size. Still, I see the effort that was put into this form and while it doesn't look great, it works as a vehicle form - just not a very good looking one.

Final Thoughts:
If you can get this figure for the discount "T.J. Maxx" type price, then I think he's worth it. The assembly is fun, he displays well in robot mode and the vehicle mode is serviceable though not great. I like this figure and it shows the potential "Battle Changers" had if the line was released more widely.