Sunday, 17 May 2015

Transformers MP-21 Masterpiece Bumblebee Review

Takara MP 21 masterpiece Bumblebee

I started writing this review in the week before Christmas and New Year, and never got round to actually finishing it.
There have been so many other toys, especially with Combiner Wars ploughing ever onwards, that it kinda just got pushed further and further backwards.

It has always been in the back of my mind to finish, especially each time I login in and see "DRAFT!" screaming at me (it's not the only one), so I thought what the heck, lets get it done....5 months later.

Some time ago Takara released Masterpiece Bumble, or as we better know him - Bumblebee. This is his story (review).

Hit the button below to see the Masterpiece Bumblebee review.


transformers masterpiece exosuit

This is something I am still getting the fact it exists - it is Spikes Exosuit from the 1986 animated movie!!!!! Most 80's kids dreamt of having one of these of their own, becoming a Transformer.

Nowadays I'd quite fancy one just to get me from my house, round the corner to the chippy.
I wonder if you put on weight, whether you'd have to go to robo-Primark to buy a larger one?

Back on track, Spikes ExoSuit (or Daniels) does transform into that little car, that Daniel used to whizz away from a giant robot Insect who called him a germ.
"Human germmmmmmmmm"

It is cool in its way, has rolling wheels and Spikes (lets stick with Spike) head is on a hinge so he look up and keep his eyes on the road.

Far from the small statues we have seen with the very limited amount of toys we have seen based on the Exosuit, this guy is fully transformable and mildly poseable.

The transformation is surprisingly complex the first time through, especially with the way the wheels rotate and flip.

masterpiece bumble bee and spike

The robot you end up with is very accurate to the original design, and is sort of poseable. That is probably the best way to describe it.
You have a good degree of movement out of the legs, and forward ankle tilt due to the transformation, so that aspect it fine.
What isn't, is the arms because they are largely rubbish.The chief culprit is the elbows, as in spite of the ball joint they don't have much range of movement.

That is if they even stay on, as one of them on mine likes to fall off if I breathe near it.

Maybe my breath is that bad it can displace an elbow?

transformers masterpiece exosuit

Keeping with the theme of the tiny figures that came with MP 10 Optimus Prime and MP 22 Ultra Magnus, the Spike figure has a Robocop melty face thing going on. It is just a head, there is not a whole little figure in there, just his head and teeny tiny shoulders.
Don't worry, the sill sculpted that awesome 80's jump suit collar, they are not fashion heathens.

Oddly, the head is a lot bigger than on the mini figures, so it is out of scale unless this isn't Daniel or Spike (you would have no way of knowing with that face), but is in fact the Elephant man. Comically the hinge to lift is head up runs through his neck, so he looks a little like Frankenstein.

It is not a great figure in its own right, but it is great to finally scratch the itch of having an alright Exosuit figure. Fun is not something that applies, but it clever for its scale and looks spot on in bot modes.
Except that face, or the visage of Nightmares.

It would make a good advert to stop kids using Fireworks on Bonfire Night.

Bumblebee Alt mode

masterpiece Bumblebee volkswagen

It is odd to think now, that there was a long period of time when we could not get a Bumblebee figure for love nor (student loan for most people) money. Hasbro seemed wary to use the little fella post G1, right up until the first live action movie - when everything went hideously wrong.

Now apparently the City of Bristol is submerged under billions of Camaro Bumblebee figures, and they refer to pre 2007 as "the before times".

Finally though, for the first time since G1 we get an actual Volkswagen Beetle Bumblebee, which is how most of us will remember him.

masterpiece bumblebee beetle

Something that threw me upon seeing it was the dimensions. This toy is officially licensed, so has real world proportions and stylings whereas the original toy and animation model was chibified to a large degree, and despite having seen many Beetle cars during my never ending life - it never clicked how different they looked from Bumblebee.
Takaras boffins have been designing the Masterpiece line with real world alt modes, and cartoon accurate robot modes in mind, and this works really well for Bumblebee.
If you want a G1 accurate alt mode, the folks at 3rd party company Toyworld have got you covered.

The real world Beetle alt mode has a very soft, sympathetic look, that fits Bumblebees personality.

So much detail has been added, that it does look like a replica model of a Beetle (which I guess it is), and the Autobot badge being on the front really sets it off.
Not so sure about the single side mirror, but hey that is accurate it just confuses me in robot mode - I need symmetry bro!

transformers masterpiece bumblebee g2 sideswipe

The Yellow used is very deep, pushing towards Orange and does make me want a glass of OJ. There is minimal use of other colours, so the Black bumper and Red Autobot badge nicely stand out.

As you can see above, Bee is also pretty small in car mode and is easily the smallest MP car so far. He scales okay though, as he is always the smallest in fiction, and generally in toy form (G1 Bumblebee, not squawking movie R2B2).

I never had a problem with the G1 toys varying sizes, or the animation models being all over the place, so I think it is because here they are licensed, real world accurate looking cars, that the difference in scale is far more obvious.

He also is quite a light toy, but non of the car MP's are especially weighty so it is nothing to grumble about.

masterpiece bumblebee back

Bumblebee comes with a spare wheel holder, that plugs into the licence plate. If you don't like that, you can detach it and replace the licence plate, and put the wheel under the car with the pistol.

That is a really nice touch, it gives you options but does not leave you with a pile of stuff to the side. It adds to what is already a really nice car mode.

Robot Mode

Masterpiece transformers bumblebee G1

Would it be too hyperbolic to say Masterpiece Bumblebee has the best transformation so far? Would I be going overboard?
Nah, it is great.

There is complexity but it is paired off with an intuitive approach where everything you move feels like it guides you to the next step.

A high point is part of the bonnet folding up and into the chest, and the panel on the roof rotating to reveal the Autobot badge.
Mine sticks a bit though, and does not like to flip round. It mocks me.

I love the way his front wheels flip under his feet, there is something super satisfying about it.

transformers masterpiece bumblebee

Bee's robot mode is stunning, as it hits every single note that makes G1 Bumblebee who he is. Lot's of Yellow and Black, car hood slippers and he even looks like a small chubby bloke - which was a hallmark of G1 Bee.

transformers masterpiece bumblebee back

The accuracy extends to the figures back, and that spare tyre comes back into play. You can transform the toy with it attached, and then it forms that iconic (using that word a lot lately) disc that Bumblebee had on his back. It sticks out a lot further, so it may not be to your tastes, but then you don't have to have it there.

Aside from that, there is not much in the way of kibble and Bee is a very smooth looking bot. The only criticism I can level is that the forearms are hollow from where they store the hands, and there is not the opening flap you would associate with a Takara Masterpiece product.
Even that does not draw your attention too much though, because his Yellow will blind you.

The single wing mirror, which you have to attach yourself, is a bit distracting to me, but only because I need symmetry. I would have loved if they have incorporated a hinge to allow it to fold up and out of the way.

transformers masterpiece bumblebee articulation

Bumblebee also is highly articulated and great to pose. His gigantic feet offer great balance, and the amount of ball and swivel joints give him access to most dramatic anime robot poses.

You can even make him look like he's running and he will hold the pose fine.

transformers Masterpiece bumblebee faces

If you want to switch up his looks a bit, he comes with an alternate face which is not wildly different. orders came with a Battle Mask which was a reproduction of his G1 toy face, and I am sad they didn't include it with all the figures.

Bees head sculpt is cool, but it would have been nice if they could have sharpened the horns and just got a bit more definition out of the face. As it stands, he looks like he has been at the Cheetos.

The head is not on a ball joint, but can look up, and rotate, but sadly wonky angled head poses are out.

masterpiece bumblebee gun

Bumblebee comes with a Blue pistol which looks great, but the Blue seems odd. I don't remember him using the gun in the show, but I just expected it to be Grey. The Blue is nice, and is almost metallic, but it does like a toy is holding a toy gun.

Which it is, so it's all gone meta.

masterpiece bumblebee transformers

Bee is much smaller than the other Autobot cars, and scales brilliantly. Whereas the car mode scale looks weird purely because they are licensed cars, the Bot mode is spot on and looks like a small cheery fat bloke having a fun time with his other Masterpiece pals.

That is probably the most apt manner to sum up this figure, it is very fun, and feels a lot lighter (not just in weight) than the previous releases. 
Transformation is complex, but almost completely guides you through it, and each move elicits a convivial feeling as if this figure was designed as a toy, and not a collectors piece.

It is what propels Bumblebee from a figure I have little interest in due to sheer over saturation of Bumblebee toys and merchandise, to one of my favourite Masterpiece figures and probably the most fun to transform.

Very highly recommended.

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  1. Hi! a good detailed post about Bumblebee which is, along with Optimus Prime, my fav Autobot! The pics you have taken are awesome! I would like to know if this action figure is only plastic or it has some metal parts.


  2. Bumblebee looks incredible here! A little too big though in comparison to Spike. In the original he wasn't much taller. But this one looks so much better then the one from the original toy line.