I didn’t get him in time for last week’s report, but I have him now. This is the Bumblebee for the younger kids, age 3-6. And he will be getting screen time. The cartoon for Transformers: Rescue Bots will air on the Hub on December 17th, 2011. I’m not as familiar with the storyline, since it obviously hasn’t aired yet. Some of the larger figures come with a storybook, but I haven’t gotten those.

From what I’ve heard, there won’t be any Decepticon opponents. Instead, the Autobots will team with humans to perform rescue missions. This is odd because the other two series of the “Playskool Heroes” line feature Star Wars and Marvel Universe characters, and both of them have bad guys for the heroes to fight, and they target the same age group.

This one isn’t as collectible as the Prime version for adults so we can’t torture the MISP guys as much. Still, let’s get this thing open.

I just wanted to show you the back of the package first. Again, no tech specs although I guess kids that age wouldn’t care as much. Still, one of the things that made Transformers so interesting for me as a kid were the personality profiles, so I think taking those off is a step backwards. (Yes, I know, international packaging and whatever, but this whole box is in English only.)  On the bottom you have two other figures for this release, Optimus Prime and Heatwave, listed. What really makes me chuckle, however, is the fact that Playskool felt inclined to include a piece of text next to the action scene.

Because our kids are too stupid to know that giant, shapeshifting robots aren't real.

I highlighted it for you, but if you can’t read it:

Products shown in fantasy situation

This is a legal thing, because apparently there were lawsuits or something when toys didn’t walk or talk on their own I guess. I wasn’t paying that close attention around the time this nonsense started. The “fun” part is that kids old enough to read this will have moved on to more complex Transformers like last week’s Prime Bumblebee. Kind of makes this pointless.

That's one happy robot. {click for full size}

Since Rescue Bumblebee is packaged in robot mode we’ll star there. I still have some work to do on my lighting but you get an idea of what he looks like. He has the usual Bumblebee color scheme (including the black that the Movieverse BB has forced into the mix). His face has a lot of personality, if that personality is very happy. It’s not creepy-looking, but it does give an idea as to what his character is like. So I’m curious to see if he’s the “little brother” type in this show as he is usually known for or something completely different.

This is a Playskool toy, meant for very young kids. I’m not expecting the level of complexity of Prime Bumblebee here. I don’t expect joints in the knees, neck, elbow, waist, or anywhere else. However, being able to rotate his arms forward and back might have been a good idea. How is Bumblebee supposed to rescue anyone if his arms can’t move? The human partner, Axel (sold separately), comes with a rescue mini-copter that turns into some kind of tool for Bumblebee to use, but he can’t really do much with it. Based on the target audience, this is the only disappointment I have with the robot mode.

(A different version of Axel also comes with the Bumblebee garage playset. The Bumblebee there is just a toy car that Axel can ride in. It doesn’t transform, you just stand it up. The garage itself goes into some kind of action mode and I’m curious to see how they utilize that on the show.)

Isn't he the cutest little thing?

Rescue Bumblebee’s vehicle mode is like a cutesy (or “chibi” to borrow from the anime/manga community) version of his Movieverse counterpart, which has sadly become the standard for Bumblebee. I’m sorry, maybe I’m old but when I think Bumblebee I think Volkswagen Beetle or compact car, not a Camero. Getting past that, it’s a well done vehicle. There are design elements that I didn’t expect I’d see, like a molded gas tank or rear view mirrors. However there are some surprising additions, like a painted grill, air vents for the engine, exhaust pipes (the underside of which they actually included even though you only see them from the underside or in robot mode), painted headlights and tail lights, and a molded-in Autobot symbol for the license plate. It’s a step up from the Go-Go-Go-Bots I mentioned in the intro.

There’s not much to say otherwise. The toy rolls very well; I can push it to roll and it goes almost to the other side of my in-progress studio. The Axel figure won’t be able to ride inside Bumblebee but he has his own vehicle to keep up.

For some reason it comes with a little cardboard Axel.

Final Analysis: I probably wouldn’t have gotten this at all if it wasn’t a new version of Bumblebee and I’m not sure I’m going to get the Axel figure after all. I was going to get it for the accessory mostly, but it’s not going to help the display at all. I’m not the target audience, nor should I be. This is strictly a Transformer for kids too young to transform the more difficult figures, a Transformers gateway “drug”, if you will. On that end, with a very simple transformation, it succeeds and if you have real young kids (3-6 is the target), it’s worth picking up for them so they can have a Transformer like the big kids.

I’ll review the show itself on my other site after it airs. I like the fact that at least somebody is thinking about the younger/next generation of a potential fanbase (Hollywood/comics/video games industry, take note) and even if I don’t get into it (child at heart that I am) I hope it’s good enough to give today’s kiddies something to enjoy and remember fondly when they’re my age.