2015 sees the launch of a new Transformers cartoon and mainstream toy line. Robots In Disguise seems to pick up where Transformers prime left off, with Bumblebee leading a small group of Autobots on Earth against a horde of escaped Decepticon prisoners. The toys appear very reminiscent of Transformers Animated, as does the series, but overall the aesthetic and engineering of the figures appears considerably simplified. I haven't been able to resist picking up Transformers that are actually sold in the UK somewhere other than TRU and the show appeals to me, so here we are. Let's have a look at Warrior class Bumblebee and Autobot Drift, as well as Legion class Bumblebee.
The show itself will begin airing in the UK on 7th March, but the toys are already out. What you see above are the Warrior class figures of Bumblebee (the new Autobot leader) and Autobot Drift. Warrior class appears to be deluxe-sized but with engineering just one step more complex than Legion/Legends. Bumblebee retains his heroic proportions from recent media and the colours are of course signature. Drift has a distinctly Samurai appearance and he's orange, just like the Age Of Extinction Drift was actually meant to be. Bumblebee's muscle car appearance and Drift's Bugatti Veyron-a-like vehicle modes are quite derivative of the movie legacy.
Compared to Transformers Animated, there are far fewer sections of paint application and fewer moving parts. Transformations are typically between 6 and 9 steps, not a whole lot more than Legion class. Looking at them though, you can see how children would be uncontrollably drawn to them like moths to a flame. My daughter is already mad for these figures. They're cartoon accurate though, so no major complaints from me.
I must admit that at first, I was disappointed at paying £14.99 for each of the above - despite being amazed that Argos had Drift in stock - because their simplicity was hard to swallow. They really seemed to be aimed at consumers far younger than myself, and I suddenly felt too old to be doing this any longer. After some playing about with them and repeated transformations, you start to feel the character and soul in them come through as you did with Animated. The transformations are quite intuitive indeed and they pose well. Bumblebee falls over very easily but Drift's solid as a rock, and the double scabbard creates ample opportunity for enjoyable posing. Still, they are not what i call a deluxe and £14.99 is too much. It's a good thing Sainsbury's is currently offering them at 2 for £20, and you'll see my thoughts on Grimlock and Strongarm shortly.
The Autobot symbols are not presented in a fashion we are used to, they are instead able to be scanned by your smartphone to unlock content for the Robots In Disguise app. I can live with that, it gives the line a unique feature and separates it from most of what has gone before. Transformers once again dives headlong into the depths of the Marmite ocean, this will be every bit as divisive as Animated was. I do wonder how people will deal with Drift's facial hair.
I should also add that the Warrior class figures don't come with any pack-in instructions, just what is printed on the back of the card. European releases have no tech specs, mottos, just the tiny cross-sell on the bottom of the blister and some info about the app.
The Legion (or Legends) class Bumblebee, at £6.99, was not such bad value as it's a very fun and stable little Transformer. The conversion has a cool step where the whole centre of the vehicle folds forward to allow the robot head to thread through the roof. It's not quite as impressive as the Animated Legends Starscream or the best Legends class figures in terms of posability, but it's nice, engaging and looks the part in both modes, missing only Bumblebee's wings in robot mode. Looking at what's coming up, the Legion class Drift and Sideswipe could be fantastic additions.
More of my RID thoughts as they develop in Part 2 with Warrior Class Grimlock and Strongarm.
All the best