"Buzzworthy Bumblebee" Origin Bumblebee Toy Review

07/28/21

General Information
Release Date: July 2021
Price Point: $19.99 or $28.99 (depending on location)
Retailer: Target Exclusive
Accessories: Blasters, "Energy Conductors" x 5, Rocket Pack

Late last year Target launched an unannounced exclusive line of figures called Buzzworthy Bumblebee. The line was very Bumblebee-centric, featuring many re-releases of figures of Bumblebee himself or from the Bumblebee live action movie. It also featured the brand new Core Class Bumblebee with Spike. At first it appeared this was a weird one time blip on the Transformers brand radar, but 2021 has proved that wrong. In July 2021 a whole new wave of Buzzworthy Bumblebee toys has appeared on shelves! Once again there was no previous press release or official Hasbro announcement about these figures. They just started popping up out of nowhere!

Among the figures released in this wave is Origin Bumblebee. This figure is a new sculpt inspired by the character's appearance in the G1 cartoon. In the first episode of the series, Bumblebee is introduced looking like he has Earth vehicle parts in robot mode, but when he transformed he became a flying saucer type vehicle. Sure it didn't make since but at the time the show was so fresh and new I don't know any fans at the time who cared. However, it has long been maintained by fans that this mode would likely never get an official action figure, but thanks to the Buzzworthy line we now have one!

Packaging:
The look of the Buzzworthy Bumblebee line largely revolves around the colors black and yellow on the boxes. Artwork showing Bumblebee in various incarnations also features on the box. This box is styled much like the War for Cybertron boxes with an angle on the left side and an opening to show off the figure in the front. The Transformers logo runs along the right side in front along with the Buzzworthy logo and the name of the figure. The back features the figure in both modes and accessories. It also calls out a 23 step transformation for the figure.

This packaging represents Hasbro's shift towards removing plastic from its packaging. The window on the figure is significantly smaller than windows on packaging even two years ago. This is also true for Kingdom Deluxe Class figures but in this case the plastic window has been removed entirely. Yes, the figure is exposed but it is tied down very tight to a cardboard insert inside the box. You would have to destroy the packaging in order to remove the figure, and even then it would take a bit of effort as the figure is held down by paper ties. There is still one significant piece of plastic on the box: the hook on top. Personally I would prefer that it too be cardboard, but I can imagine it tearing easily over time hanging on pegs. Perhaps at some point in the future they will start using a more solid cardboard that can hold onto pegs and not tear easily.

Accessories:
Origin Bumblebee is not a very big figure (more commentary on that below), so Hasbro tried to compensate by including several accessories.

  • Blaster: The blaster included with the figure is a very simple design, mostly consisting of tube shapes. This is based on Bumblebee's G1 weapon as seen in "More than Meets the Eye" Part One. Unlike its animated counterpart, this piece is cast in black plastic. The blaster has a 5mm peg on the bottom and you can attach Blast Effects parts to the barrel.
  • Rocket Pack: In the G1 episode "Dinobot Island" Part One, Bumblebee uses a rocket pack to get to the titular island. This rocket pack featured a boxy center section with two thrusters at the bottom. This uses that basic design, but it is a bit wider than the one shown in the cartoon. It has a 5mm peg to attach to any figure with 5mm ports. In the cartoon the pack was grey, and it is shown as grey on the back of the box but the actual accessory is black plastic like the blaster.
  • Energy Conductors: In "More than Meets the Eye" Part One, we first meet Bumblebee and Wheeljack as they recover some "Energy Conductor" rods. Origin Bumblebee includes five of these rods. Each is made of an amber/orange colored translucent plastic. Like the ones shown in the cartoon, each has what look like "caps" at the end with a thinner section in the middle. These look great but they are too thick for characters to hold in their hands, which is a shame. It would have been nice if the "caps" at the ends were 5mm so they could fit in Bumblebee's hands. Still, I never thought I'd see these rods made into official accessories so this is a treat!

Robot Mode:
Before we dig into the nitty gritty of this figure, let's get this out of the way: this is a small Deluxe Class figure. Like Earthrise Cliffjumper before him, this figure is shorter and not quite as wide as your typical Deluxe Class figure. The figure stands under 4 inches (about 10.16 centimeters) tall, about the same as Cliffjumper. However, if you weigh the figure with all the accessories, it comes out to about 2.4 ounces, about .4 ounces more than Cliffjumper with his cannon! Add to that the exclusive nature of this figure at the $23 USD price tag becomes more understandable.

That said, some Targets have been reported to be asking $27, which is way too much (in the United States at least). I would recommend seeing if any Target asking that is willing to price match other Targets who are selling it for less (there are plenty of photos of the price tag online including here). Sadly there is no online listing at this time to price match against. Hopefully that changes as the figure sees a wider release.

When designing this figure, the folks at Hasbro and Takara Tomy essentially had an impossible task. Turn a robot with a bunch of Volkswagon parts forming bits of his body but turn him into a circular flying saucer type vehicle mode - at a $23 USD price point. This of course means that there would be some panel-forming happening, where parts of the vehicle mode would essentially fold out of the way in robot mode and then come together to form a "shell" around the robot bits in vehicle mode. This figure does just that, and yet to me at least it works. You'll notice most of the "panel-forming" parts on his back and on the sides of his legs. Some fans will be bothered by them, but given the realities of the aspirations behind this design, I'm fine with them.

The rest of the sculpt shows off classic Bumblebee design elements. His head has a crest and horns with a wide face. His arms are blocky with "tubes" for the elbow sections. The front of the torso looks like a VW-esque vehicle cabin section and the feet look like the front of a VW Beetle. It is a bit hard to see because of the collapsed set of panels on his lower legs, but the legs also have a very G1 cartoon-esque design, featuring thighs that lead to thicker lower legs. Overall I dig this sculpt a lot.

Bumblebee is mostly made up of yellow and black plastic - classic Bumblebee colors. The yellow is really weird. Depending on lighting it can look like a light yellow or almost a canary yellow. I actually took my photos for this review with two different cameras because the lighting kept changing how the yellow looked. Paint colors on the figure include silver, light blue and black with most of the paint concentrated on the front of the torso section and the head. The finishing touch is a red Autobot symbol on his torso.

There are twenty two points of articulation on this figure including four in each arm and six in each leg. I suspect this design may have been a carry over from the Siege era because his right shoulder and leg each have pegs on them to attach Blast Effects. Later series like Kingdom largely abandoned this design element. He also has nine 5mm ports: the fists, the shoulders, the lower legs, the feet and one on his back. He also has the small port on the back of the waist/hip area to attach him to a Bandai stand. The rocket pack attaches nicely to his back and adds some bulk to the figure. In many ways this figure feels more like a Siege figure and that is a cool thing in my book.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the accessories and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  4. Swing the back panel out, then fold out the part with the windshield on it up.
  5. Swing the torso panel up over the head, then swing it back above the head.
  6. Pull the robot feet down, extending them.
  7. Rotate the lower body around.
  8. Swing both arms in at the shoulder hinges, connecting them via the tab/slot on the forearms.
  9. Swing the panels on the sides of the legs forward, then swing the inner panel on this piece out.
  10. Swing the panels on the back of the legs (connected by ball joints) out.
  11. Straighten out the robot feet, and connect the small tabs on the back of the feet to the lower legs.
  12. Connect the tab on the curved panel next to the feet to the slots on the feet.
  13. Rotate the thighs so the yellow panels you just assembled on the legs face up.
  14. Swing the lower leg sections forward, forming the sides of the vehicle.*
  15. Swing the back panel back, pushing it down to complete the vehicle form.

*Note: The panels that are attached to the ball joints have a tendency to pop off, so be careful with them. They pop back on easily, but they'll go flying given enough pressure.

Vehicle Mode:
Bumblebee's vehicle mode is based on but differs from the G1 "hover saucer" mode seen in the cartoon. That mode was almost circular in shape with panels that extended out to the sides. This vehicle mode is similar, but the round parts on the sides and back do not extend out that far and the front section extends out further than it did in the cartoon. Still, the influences of the animation model are clear here especially with the shape of the windshield and the front of the vehicle which features two "prongs" flanking a grille in the middle. While the vehicle may not match the animation model 100%, it certainly has the "spirit" of that vehicle and I am happy with that.

This mode mostly shows off yellow plastic with a translucent blue windshield. Yellow paint is used on the middle panels and it matches up pretty well with the yellow plastic around it. It's not an exact match, but it's close enough for me. The Autobot symbol from the torso winds up in the front and the grille's silver section points forward.

Bumblebee has three 5mm ports in this mode. One in the middle and two more on the sides. This allows you to attach his rocket pack and blaster or you can attach other accessories like Battle Masters and Micromasters from Siege and Earthrise.

Final Thoughts:
Origin Bumblebee is a fantastic figure. He is not perfect. There is the panel that pops off easily, some people will not be fond of the "panel-forming" and some folks will not be crazy about his (relatively) small size. To me however he represents a wonderful G1 callback and a fun figure to boot. Recommended!

Pros:

  • Good sculpt.
  • Satisfying and intuitive transformation.
  • Vehicle mode looks good (and represents a mode I never thought I'd see in toy form).
  • Good articulation.
  • Good amount of compatability with Weaponizers, Battle Masters, Modulators etc.

Cons:

  • There is a good amount of panel-forming on this figure, which can't be helped but some fans may not be fond of it.
  • The relatively small size may turn some fans off.
  • The panels attached to the ball joints on the legs pop off too easily.