Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alhan Farhanah Mohd Ridzwan (at 7 months)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My first Transformer

I bought my first Transformer recently: a RM49.90 Bumblebee based on the character from the movie.

I was lucky -- very lucky -- to have had the opportunity to buy the Bumblebee before the movie came out. Becos these past few days I went around town to see how the Transformers are selling and guess what? Couldn't find a single Bumblebee or for that matter Optimus Prime. I heard these two are so popular, they're sold out and people now would have to wait for two weeks for the new batch to come.

The guy who sold me the Bumblebee said he wasn't supposed to be selling that particular version of the Bumblebee yet (there are two versions of Bumblebee in the movie). He could only sell it after the movie. But since I was pestering him about it and nobody was around anyway, he quietly pulled out a unit that he had stashed somewhere in the shop. Even gave me a little discount. Maybe becos I told him I might want to write about his shop one day. ;)

I am not a big fan of Transformers. No seriously. I won't spend hundreds of ringgit on a toy just because it can change forms. No sir, that's not good enough. I am however a big fan of well thought-out designs and this Bumblebee here is a good example of that.

To begin with, whoever worked on character design for the movie IMHO have done an excellent job of it. At least in the cases of Bumblebee, Prime, Megatron and a few other characters not including Scorponok (what's the deal with that?) becos now these Transformers have become more elaborate, more organic and more Gundam-ish. They have certainly come a long way from the chunky, boxy characters of the Generation 1 Transformers.

At the same time, the designers did not attempt to humanise these robots too much. Bumblebee, for example, has joints on his legs that do not conform to the human anatomy but they work well for a robot. 10 out of 10 for design philosophy!

The next good point about the toy is articulation. I can spend hours with my Bumblebee experimenting with different poses as you see in this Comic Life piece here. That thing has ball joints everywhere, even for his neck. And it's fairly sturdy, unlike the Meister that I reviewed the other day.

Lastly, the designers have built into Bumblee and the other new Transformers this feature called Automorph Technology which I imagine must've been a painstaking process. At first blush, Automorph might seem like just another marketing gimmick, but no. It really does aid in the transformation. What Automorph is about is a set of tiny gears and springs put together in such a way that when you move one part of the robot, another part moves into place all by itself. Slick!

And all these for just RM50? That's what most people pay each time they fill up their cars nowadays. This is seriously one of the best purchases I've made in recent times after Agnetha.

And here's a video showing how Bumblebee transforms from car to robot, plus a little fun with stop-motion animation.