The flight of Bumblebee

One of the smallest Transformers, Bumblebee has had the biggest impact on the world more then any of his robotic peers. But before we go into his toy and character we must look at the history of his alternate from the Volkswagen Beetle. In 1933 Adolf Hitler demanded a the production of a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). He wanted his German citizens to have the same access to a car as the Americans. The “People’s Car” would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings plan. it soon became apparent that private industry could not turn out a car for this and Hitler chose to sponsor an all-new, state-owned factory. However, the entire project was financially unsound, and only the corruption and lack of accountability of the Nazi regime made it possible. What is funny here is the beetle nicknamed the “Lovebug” along with the VW Type 2 known by nicknames “Microbus” or “Hippyvan” became the vehicles to have during the counter culture of the 1960’s were created by Adolf Hitler who started a world war and skipping way into the 2000 Volkswagen said no to allowing the beetle to be used as a Transformers due to their not wanting to get involved with something so violent. (and so this is the source of my amusement, an entity that owes it’s life to the Nazi regime is now scared to be involved in a violent franchise. This did not stop the creators of the live action movie from inserting a “bug” into a car lot beside the now Chevrolet Camaro Bumbebee who became a star of a multi-billion-dollar film franchise.) Alright enough history lessons let us get into what brought us here, Bumblebee (or BB).

  • 1983 Takara MC-04 Mini Car Robo 03 Volkswagen Beetle.
  • 1984 Hasbro licensed the right to the above car and named him Bumblebee part of the intial Transformer line “G1″, one of the smallest transformers with the biggest heart. (being very close in shape and size to not only to the red Cliffjumper Hasbro used *01 Porsche Turbo 924* but also the Hasbro unused 02 Familia 1500 XG, at first people thought production messed up a bit and confused the three, since all three came in three different colors red, yellow, and blue. Examples of Red Bumblebees, Yellow Cliffjumpers and Red and Yellow 02 *now fan named Bumblejumper or Bumper and became a character on his own much later* have been released by Hasbro in 1984, but Hasbro admitted to using the alternate colors to make the line look bigger. around the world all three were made in many different colors). I own a “G1” BB but with age he is better in car mode, he has a hard time standing up. (In cartoon he was voiced by Dan Gilvezan and I met him at a convention and he signed my drawing of Bumblebee) 
  • 1987 saw a name change, he was promoted to “Gold Bug” and a new toy form. along with 5 other toys, he became a throttlebot (a car that raced forward under it’s own power after being pulled back) explained in the Marvel comics BB body was destroyed by G.I.Joes in the cross over mini series. He was placed into a toy race car until a new body was built.
  • 1989 he was returned to his Bumblebee form but became a “Classic Pretender” the gimmick was simple bumblebee was a bit bigger now and fit into a human shell that was armored in yellow, white and red. Explained in the Marvel comics Autobot Medic Ratchet was forced to repair Starscream in an advanced Pretender shell by Megatron. He also repaired three Autobots he brought with him behind Megatron’s back in unused prototype shells that Megatron had rejected (this toy was also released without the shells as a K-Mart exclusive and in Japan in a boxed set of the four autobots)
  • 1993 G2 Bumblebee was returned to his “G1” mold but this time in chromed gold, Oddly enough he retained his BB name and not Goldbug as you would think he was now a gold bug. (I own this one, he is still in his blister card and in good shape. I got it at my local store for a good deal.)
  • 1995 G2 “gobot” Bumblebee was changed from his VW form for the first time into a gold concept race car with exposed rear engine (this subline was called Gobots, not to be confused with the Tonka Gobots, these cars were more compatible with matchbox and hotwheel cars and fit on the race tracks, they moved pretty quickly as well)
  • 2001 Hasbro re-released G1 Bumblebee on his G1 blister card but he was given one minor change, his rear bumper has been reformed with a hole in it for a keychain.
  • 2006 Hasbro Classics reformed BB once more as a hugely modified Honda Civic with a jet ski on a trailer that becomes his jet pack. The reason for the switch at the time was never revealed but the VW not wanting to go with violent products is the thought of product.
  • 2007 Hasbro Classics “Legends”  a redeco of another toy Hot Shot, transforming into a modified Chrysler ME Four Twelve concept car. In either mode he has flip-out “wings”.
  • 2007 The live action movie gave Hasbro the excuse to do a massive run on BB, he is now to date the most made transformer. He was made into first a yellow 1976 Chevrolet Camaro with black stripes and then secondly into a  concept 2009 Chevrolet Camaro, both have been issued in different color schemes mostly in yellow with black and some in black with yellow. instead of being a small guy he now has a wide range of toys. He could not speak in the movie thanks to Megatron ripping out his voice chips in the prequel comic
  • 2007 also seen the launch of TF Animated and this time BB was largely cartoony looking. This guy also saw a lot of figures, one is from the Japanese United line and is gold metallic colored (I have this one and I like him a lot.) and yes he could talk. (I met at a convention the art director, lead character designer, and color stylist Derrick J Wyatt and he sketched a BB head in my Sketch book and signed it.)  
  • 2008 Hasbro and Takara both put out the Encore series and Bumblebee came in a 5 pack with reissues of other mini-spies from the G1 line. All reuse the original mold with one minor exception BB’s face is not the original toy’s face but one modeled after the cartoon Bumblebee with an actual mouth and eyes compared to the goggles and mouth cover look he used to have.
  • 2009 Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee is based upon a different Camaro Concept car but basically looks similar.
  • 2010 A new cartoon called TF Prime came out and again lots of BB toys, again in yellow and black. But this BB was very similar to the movie version, he once again could not speak
  • 2010 also seen a lot of  film BB toys including a Crash Landing Attack BB (Target exclusive 2-pack, 2010 with Decepticon Thrust) I have this one along with a few other movie BB’s and he is alright.
  • 2011 Dark of the Moon BB saw more toys, not much to report.
  • 2014 Age of Extinction BB saw him return to a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro but the reverse colors, mainly Black with some yellow and then turned into the normal yellow with some black 2014 Camaro Concept car. A weird concept for toys are the dino riders and a non transforming BB rides a dinobot.
  • 2015 Robots in Disguise cartoon, basically intended as a continuation of the Prime cartoon but the animation is way different, Bumblebee is basically a beat cop on Cybertron. He follows the ghost of Optimus Prime to earth along side SideSwipe and Strongarm (a female bot) where they are just in time to round up some escaped Decpticons. BB becomes the defacto commander of the earth based Autobots.
  • 2015 Takara Masterpiece Bumblebee is amazing looking (sadly I do not have him yet) He is now fully Licensed VW beetle and comes with a Daniel Witwicky in an exosuit from the orginal animated Movie. He also comes with a second face that has a smile.

Alright we are through quite a bit of history, Bumblebee is and will always be Transformers golden child. He may not be my favorite but he does take up quite a lot of shelf space, the bumblebee / goldbug count is 18, I want a couple more like the pretender version and the masterpiece version, but in time I will get them. thank you for reading and tune in next time

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