What if you could have Alternators versions of your favourite movie designs? And what if those Alternators also came with a figure of that robot’s human buddy to ride inside? Say, Sam with Bumblebee or Lennox with Ironhide?
What if your movie was also so successful that it’s toy line was still filling shelves two years after it came out? And if you could be sure that even if you double the number of toy designs and duplicate characters across different size classes, you could still sell them all?
Then you could get away with a whole extra line of toys that at first glance don’t differ so much from the cheaper Deluxe and Voyager lines, but give something really special to collectors and the most enthusiastic new fans who dream of having their own robot car.
So Human Alliance Bumblebee is the first of a new line to take advantage of this opportunity, and a great excuse for an entirely new attempt at creating a definitive Bumblebee toy without being constrained by the existing, and very good, Deluxe design.
In car mode, Bumblebee reflect the new final Camaro design used in the ROTF movie, like the updated deluxe preview figure, and fits right in alongside your Alternators figures in scale and detail. Unfortunately no rubber tyres though. But apart from that, it definitely looks and feels like an Alternator, except perhaps for the quality of the plastic which suffers from the fact that Bumblebee has to be yellow, always the hardest colour to replicate in paint or dye. Remember that in Alternators, the only yellow car was Binaltech Tracks, as the yellow could not be adequately reproduced in the plastic version as the thin plastic required for Alternators designs would have been too translucent in yellow. Hence the car parts here tend to be thick and chunky, and there are some variations in tone between plastics used and yellow painted areas. The translucent windows are a nice shade of turquoise.
Transformation is less automatic than the deluxe figure with its automorph gearwork. As complicated as any Alternator, but ultimately a little dissatisfying as the resulting robot has more kibble on the back than the deluxe, and other aspects of the robot too, notably the legs are less accurate than the deluxe to the CGI model. It is however stronger in the chest area, where the hood bends forward and inward. The distinctive forearm armour plates are reproduced here in the form of the vehicle chairs, and while some effort is made to detail them like the cgi model, being chairs they are ultimately oversized and a little ugly. Robot mode Bumblebee is however suitably ‘chunky’ to look like he could stand his own in a giant robot deathmatch, carrying the weight of a stocky brawler or indeed boxer. Poseability in the neck, shoulders, elbows, waist and knees is sufficient for a variety of poses although the range of motion and location of joints is not always as much as we would have liked, especially in the knees. The robots wide three toed feet make balancing easy
Like the remolded preview Bumblebee, the right hand is molded into Bumblebee’s pulse cannon. Unfortunately the designers did not see fit to use the larger size to include a dual mode arm with both hand and cannon configurations. Once again a missile launcher gimmick gets in the way of making the perfect toy. The missiles provided (two, although there’s only one launcher) stow away when not in use, clipping to the wrists, which leaves them unnoticeably under the chassis in car mode.
The headmold is probably the most accurate of any Bumblebee toy so far, and includes large blue light piped eyes.
Pegholes in Sam’s feet and back allow him to be securely attached to Bumblebee’s hand, chairs/forearms or the footplate hiding in the back. They’re slightly too small but the plastic is soft enough to force it. As well as riding in either front seat in car mode, Sam can be ‘held’ in Bumblebee’s left hand, or ride in his forearm/seats, one of which has a weapon of some kind to hoist over Sam’s shoulders or use the footplate to ride on Bumblebee’s back. To represent attack mode Bumblebee has a rectangular shoulder mounted grenade launcher (not really matching it’s more rounded appearance) and an overhead firing cannon. Completing this is the battle mask that slides forward.
The Sam figure is by the way far more posable than anyone would expect at this size. Ball jointed hips, chest and shoulders, and neck and knee joints. The likeness is pretty good too, although the angle his eyebrows are painted on it makes him appear to be in a constant state of shock and awe. The scale is not quite right in vehicle mode but passable, and noticeably smaller compared to robot mode, where the figure is closer to being the right size for a deluxe robot.
If you enjoyed Alternators you’ll appreciate this line even despite the small steps backwards in accuracy. Confirmed to come in future waves are Epps with Sideswipe and Mikaela with both Skids and an Arcee figure, which sounds like tremendous value. It’s not yet announced who, if anyone, else we might get. Would it be fair to have Skids without Mudflap at this scale?
One limitation of the Human Alliance concept is that only Autobots have human alliances right? Here’s a concept to consider though, instead of human alliances, use the larger toy size and price point to enable more sophisticated versions of the symbiotic Decepticons – Barricade with Frenzy, Blackout with Skorponok, Soundwave with Ravage, and maybe Sideways with Pretender Alice?
This toy is still somehow not quite the perfect definitive Bumblebee, but it will certainly do until the inevitable third movie, and the line concept is great, including the high quality of the human figure, so deserves much support. It’s in scale with Alternators, and does not look out of place alongside Leader class figures at least, such as Prime and the forthcoming Leader Starscream. Alternators + Movie designs + Human figures is a big win and more than enough to outweigh the small limitations in this figure’s design. The packaging states that additional figures are sold separately, one wonders if this means that we might see a legends or scouts class multipack with some other figures such as John Turturro’s Simmons?
Updated: Hasbro confirmed today at Botcon that there will indeed be a Human Alliance series Barricade with Frenzy figure! We called it first!