Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Me and Bumble McBee

Incoming message from Autobot City!Or, "Freedom's just another word for the right of all sentient beings."

Every cartoon, especially the '80s cartoons, seems to have that one goofy comic relief character, usually short and pudgy and clumsy or accident prone, who tended to act as the heart and sense of humor of the main cast. He-Man had Orko, She-Ra had Madame Razz, Thundercats had Snarf, Bravestarr had Deputy Fuzz, and Transformers had Bumblebee. If there were two characters in a series with whom I identified, two characters I'd roleplay in the backyard, it was the heroic leader and the comic relief sidekick. So naturally, when I wasn't blasting invisible bad guys with Optimus Prime's laser rifle, I was saving Spike and Sparkplug as Bumblebee.

So, I've had something of a 20-year love affair with a yellow Volkswagen bug. Aside from perhaps Optimus Prime, there's no Transformer (and few fictional characters besides) that I've felt quite so protective of. I was pissed when they turned him into Goldbug, and not just because the Goldbug figure freaking sucked. I mean, he didn't even have arms. I couldn't have been more thrilled when they came out with the Pretender Bumblebee; not only was it my first non-Goldbug Bumblebee figure (I missed out on the original), but it was more or less show-accurate to boot!

Some time after that, Generation 2 rolled along, and with it, a gold-chrome-styled redeco of the original Bumblebee figure. This remains one of my favorite Transformers, despite being pretty lax in terms of detail and articulation. I even managed to get the "GoBots" G2 Bumblebee figure, who turned into a gold sports car.

Full of win!And since then...silence. While this might be sad, it would make it fairly easy to be a Bumblebee completist. Right up until the Transformers Classics line gave us the best Bumblebee ever. "Tom," you're saying, "how can you call him the best Bumblebee ever? He doesn't even turn into a VW Bug!" And you're right, he doesn't. That's sad; sadder still is that the Alternators Bumblebee got nixed before it ever came to light. Volkswagen has made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that they don't want their distinctive cars associated with war and violence any longer. Given that their product was initially popularized by the Nazis, I can't say I find much fault with their decision. So, accepting the reality of the situation, Classics Bumblebee is the bee's knees. He even has a rubsign! My only beef is that he doesn't have a gun of his own; thankfully, he looks great with Optimus Prime's honkin' smokestack pistol.

And then there's movie Bumblebee. A Camaro? Really? Surely that's more of a disappointment than a futuristic mini cooper, right? I guess you'll just have to wait 'til my Movie review to find out.

Nah, come on. It'd take more than a Camaro to end my love for the mighty minispy. I plan on picking up both of the Movie Bumblebee figures (as soon as the second one comes out). I just hope the '09 Camaro version has Bumblebee's insectoid battle-visor for a head, to change things up. He's a departure to be sure, but no moreso than the sportscar version of Bumblebee we got in Generation 2. I was definitely skeptical to begin with, but given the limitations imposed by VW and the character's portrayal in the film, Camarobee won me over. Not that he really had to try all that hard.


Unknown said...

Rubsigns were one of the coolest things about Transformers.


joncormier said...

You do realise the original four mini autobots are available again as keychains? Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn and Windcharger.

I just picked up Brawn to relive my childhood a bit more. He was the first one I had as a kid.