REVIEW: Hasbro Transformers - Human Alliance BUMBLEBEE

An amazing well-engineered toy...

Critics never expected Transformers 2 to become such a humongous hit, but for toy fans, it was nothing short of expected. Transformers, after all, speaks to us on an entirely different level than most other franchises and thatís the beauty of the concept. It doesnít matter if I think the movie was absolutely horrible Ė because in a strange primitive way, I still liked it.

Hasbro did quite well a few years back with the first Transformers movie toy line and theyíre back again with a few more tricks up their sleeves. One such trick is Human Alliance; a larger scale line of Transformers that include a human character to interact with. Itís a novel concept, especially since the movies do feature the humans a little too much. Having a human counterpoint though makes for a more interesting toy.

The first entry to the line is the most obvious: Bumblebee and Sam, the guardian and the boy. Because of the new scale and human figure, there's a little sticker shock at $30. With many more Human Alliance already announced, you can call it quits before you begin, or eat Instant Noodles for the rest of the year...

PACKAGING: So not to confuse the folks buying the regular Transformers movie product, the packaging for Human Alliance is much flashier with a lot more graphics from the film and a nice large window display.

The usual stats and bio are included on the back with colorful photography showing you the many reasons why you should be buying this.

Removing the toys was quite easy, a shocker even for me. Just cut the tape and the bubble/window comes right out. Bee is held down with only two twist ties so this is definitely pretty manageable.

SCULPT: A larger scale allows for designers to create a more filmĖaccurate toy, which is always a plus for me. Bumblebee's scale is about on par with Alternators and the old M.A.S.K. toys. Sam is actually exactly the same height as Scott Tracker. Heís a tad on the short side next to the Camaro, but I can see that it was definitely a hard decision to come down to.

Sam is awkward looking, as if he just woke up and realized that he didnít study for his calculus final. After seeing a lot of Shia figures in the Indiana Jones line, you would think that Hasbro would be able to make a more accurate looking sculpt. Honestly though, Iím being incredibly harsh in this category. For the small size of Sam, itís pretty good. Photos are less forgiving though.

Bumblebee stands pretty close in robot mode with the other Alternators and is one of the better looking molds weíve seen of this character. While Bee may not be 100% accurate, the toy stars more than a reasonable likeness of the digital creation. Bumblebee's head sculpt goes a long way in accomplishing that, featuring both his regular head and his slide down battle mask. In car mode, he looks exactly as he should: A Chevrolet Concept Camaro.

Getting back to robot form for a moment, thereís elements that are less charming than others. For starters, the seats to his car mode are part of his arms. They arenít a huge annoyance but due to their shape and size, it does stick out a touch. Itís too bad the chairs themselves didnít feature more transformation to collapse into his arms. I think kids would rather do that then have Sam be able to sit on his arm in a very unnatural way.

Another thing that bothers me is that Bumblebee does not have a normal right hand. It is forever formed as his blaster canon. It looks great for fighting poses but it's not exactly accurate (or appropriate) most of the time. One small thing to note is that there are pegs all over Beeís body in select locations. Sam, likewise, has peg holes on his feet and back making it much easier for Sam to be held or placed in battle position than simply placing him randomly.

PAINT: Because itís Hasbro, there is minimal paint and Bumblebee mostly looks like a large pile of yellow plastic. But at least itís a massive improvement over previous Bumblebee toys. Underneath his shells of yellow are both light gray and dark gray robot parts and they are painted decent enough. Clean lines for the most part. If you know how to customize your Transformers with added paint, this would be a great test.

ARTICULATION: If you want a Transformer that can really move around, this Bumblebee has you completely covered. If thereís one thing that really impressed me with him is just how easy it is to achieve so many great poses. Bee has neck, ball-jointed shoulders, cut bicep swivel, elbows, left wrist, left thumb, left fingers (all part of one joint), waist, ball hips, double knees, heel, and an adjustable rear toe for even greater stability!

Then if you throw in the countless smaller poseable arsenal and face plate, you have one incredible toy. The one thing that would have made him even more amazing would be more range for his head: He can only go left and right, not up and down.

Sam is also packed full of articulation Ė way more than I was even close to expecting. Being a pack-in figure, I was going to assume he had as many joints as the most basic of Star Wars figures, but he has them beat. Sam can move at the neck, shoulders (ball joints), mid torso, hips (ball), and knees (ball). Thatís quite a lot of poses for such a small figure. Great job in that department, Hasbro.

ACCESSORIES & ACTION GIMMICKS: Of course being a Transformer, you canít escape the action gimmick that is sometimes forced upon an otherwise great toy. Bumblebee's action feature at least can be ignored: his right arm canon missile launcher. Bee thus comes with two rockets that can be stored on either arm.


TRANSFORMATION: Bee is a level 3 conversion (out of four) and even I had some trouble figuring out how to turn him from car to robot... and thatís actually the easy part. I have yet been able to transform him back into the car mode but Iím sure with enough noodling and practice, Iíll figure it out. Transformations have definitely become more difficult and tricky, but at least the toys can take the beating too. Unfortunately, the instructions really donít help much as deciphering the manualís graphics is hard.

VALUE: Since Alternators were $20, you can imagine that youíre paying $10 more for the human figure and the fancy packaging. Is it worth it? After opening him up and posing him in every which way possible, Iíd say so. Heís definitely a better looking toy than the Deluxe Class Bumblebee, but are you ready to pay triple for it?

OVERALL: When I first opened Bumblebee and Sam up, I wasnít exactly impressed. I immediately saw the goofy expression on Samís face and also a big hunk of yellow plastic. I still remember vividly how appealing the old Generation 1 Transformers were with die-cast parts and decals. But Bumblebee is a different beast. What he lacks in paint, detail, and realism, he makes up for in an amazing well-engineered toy.

If youíve been on the fence about collecting Transformers movie toys, certainly make the jump and go with Human Alliance Bumblebee. Coming up is a triple treat that includes Skids, Arcee, and Megan Fox. How else am I going to create the final scene from Transformers 1 without that set?

Human Alliance? Iím all in.

For even more images of the Human Alliance Bumblebee, click the link below!

Review and Photos by David Yeh

Human Alliance Bumblebee Photo Gallery
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