I’d hate to be the guys at Habro.
A few weeks ago The Institute for Global Labour and Human rights tagged with one of their reports that alleged inhumane conditions of workers at their Transformers factory in China. According to the report, the employees of the factories are working insane hours for slave wages. Hasbro responded with a press release that they’d already looked into these allegations and the factory was, in fact, up to standard and that the NGO’s claims were not substantiated by the inspection.
It’s funny since in my experience, the Transformers line has been Hasbro’s most consistent in terms of quality control. I rarely find a Transformer toy with problems that aren’t the result of some tool mishandling it in the store. The Dark of the Moon line is no exception. Even if I largely skipped this series, it wasn’t because of paint issues (I mostly just thought that the movie, characters, and toys sucked).
I didn’t pick up a few of the figures once they hit the bargain bin, though. At 50% off is hard to ignore, and that old adage about sex applies to Transformers, too (well, it does if you’re a Transformers dork anyway): even a bad one is still pretty good.
One of the figures I got at Php 500.00 (they dropped to Php 350.00 about a week later – fuuu…), which is about $11.00 US or so, was “Cyberfire Bumblebee”.
According to the blurb on the back, old ‘Bee is a master strategist and the author of his own Cybertronian Wiki on battle maneuvers. Whodathunk? The back of his card says absolutely nothing about the bad-ass paint job the Bee’s got going this time around. Instead of his standard solid yellow with black stripes, he’s decked out in black with crackling fire racing up his hood and door and evilly orange tinted windows.
This is Bumblebee’s evil twin. The one who used to pants the real Bumblebee in the school yard and take his lunch money.
The car really is a nice little model. It feels a little boxier than any of the previous movie versions of the character, but in a good way. Meaner. The door windows are covered with a lattice, as if this car’s been pimped out for stock car racing. That’s a cool idea, but the flash paint doesn’t jibe with the idea. I was hoping they’d repaint this one with sponsor labels, but I think that retail exclusive stock car ‘Bee that came out last year was a re-color of one of the figures from the previous movies. One of the problems with the toy though, is that the grill on the door means that you can’t have the orange windows up. If you want the figure in the vehicle mode, you need to fold it down into the door.
The detailing on the figure is pretty nice, with lights, a license plate (there’s nothing written on it though), exhaust pipes, tail fin, and a very nice front end. Sadly, the front end does have problems. The figure is cast in the darker color, black, and then painted, but only on one side. As a result, the gaps between panels are emphasized since the black unpainted plastic shows between the yellow coated parts.
On the plus side, the wheels are all free rolling and there’s enough clearance underneath to allow them to do so. I kind of wish they made those Hot Wheels tracks at this scale so I could race these babies around the room.
The Dark of the Moon line comes with its own action gimmick, the “MechTech” weapons, which are spring-loaded monstrosities that plug into standard 5mm holes on Transformer toys. Most of them are ugly anyway. The one that comes with Cyberfire Bumblebee is one of the ones that look decent in either mode.
In its compressed form, the gun is a blocky pistol thing, with a short barrel that sticks out the end and a hammer that sticks out the back. Looks like most any futuristic handgun with exaggerated proportions.
When you push the hammer down, the front half of the weapon extends, and a second barrel folds out to form a hand-held cannon with a scope. It is the perfect weapon for this guy. It looks like it can blow holes in starships.
Most of the Deluxe toys in the line also feature hidden, spring-loaded holes where you can plug the Mechtech guns. This one has one on his roof.
Most of early movie Bumblebees were too complicated for their own good. The intricate design meant there was a lot of sacrifices, both in show accuracy and in articulation. For the Hunt for the Decepticons line, Hasbro simplified a bit with their Battle Blades Bumblebee. The toy was easier to transform, and it had space for some fun action features. Cyberfire Bumblebee doesn’t have those action features, but the extra space from the simpler transformation means a lot more articulation on the robot.
We also don’t have to deal with those ridiculous looking feet that the original movie Bee had, or the odd chicken legs that the movie continuity seems to love. Well sort of anyway. There’s still a hint of it in the figure, but it’s easily ignored since there’s a traditional knee above it.
You basically have excellent range at head, shoulders, elbows, waist, hip, and knees, as well as some ankle articulation. There’s no real useful wrist movement, though. There are times when I wish he had some swivels there, but for the most part, the joint count is supremely satisfying.
Another really rocking feature of the toy is that he’s got the evil orange light-piping. Most of the time, the good guy Autobots feature blue or green eyes, much like the Jedi in Star Wars choose their lightsaber colors. Decepticons are usually the ones that sport the hotter colors like reds and darker ones like purple. This shade of orange pushes him way over the edge into “bad guy” territory. His head is even sculpted to look meaner than the previous versions. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but this guy doesn’t look like he’s giving away candy to kids on Halloween. He’s living it up with Pedobear in some hovel, snorting coke and watching porn on the Internet.
It doesn’t help that his light-piping is almost as good as Transformers: Prime Bumblebee’s either. It’s got a life of its own and lights up with the least amount of effort. He's also got a few c-clip bars in addition to his 5mm holes, so you can attach rockets to him (sold separately) to augment his weaponry.
To be honest, I had this on my buy list since I first started reading reviews of the figure. I wasn’t interested in another plain yellow Bee, since I’ve got several already, but the fact that this one is a brand new mold and not a re-color, and the fact that his paint job is such a turnaround on the charcter, really floored me. The only reason I hadn’t gotten it was because there were always other priorities and P700.00 retail is still a lot of money.
When they began marking them down though, I didn’t wait too long since I knew that these would eventually sell out just as the previous Transformers toys did at discount.