Last year, while in Hong Kong, I picked up the Transformers United Bumblebee while I was shopping in North Point. The gold-plated recolor of the earlier-released Classics Bumblebee looked great, but it wasn’t until I popped open and added the Growing Pains Custom Kit (available at TFSource) to the toy that it really took on a new life and became something special.
The small telescoping box is cheaply-constructed, but the box does its part and protects the pieces nicely with custom-cut foam holding the new head and two weapons tightly in place. And the box artwork looks fantastic, showing the United Bumblebee as he will look once transformed into the Throttlebot Goldbug by simply swapping the factory-made head with the custom head and adding the two blasters. The box isn’t the greatest, but the art looks good and the pieces arrived in good shape so arguably the box did its part.
The photo above shows the Transformers United Bumblebee as he comes from the factory while the shot below shows the toy with the new head dropped in place . . . and I think these two simple photos do an amazing job of demonstrating just how much the new head changes the look of the toy. And the new head sculpt is incredible and captures Goldbug’s look perfectly. Clean lines, a definite Generation One-style, and the addition of the lightpipe all make this head sculpt look perfect on the Transformers United Bumblebee body. And leaving the flight accessory off of the body changes up the look of the toy even more.
The other accessories in the box, the two blasters, are two instances of the same sculpt. But it’s a pretty nice sculpt, neatly machined with tight, sharp lines and just enough details to work. The weapons look great in now-Goldbug’s hands, but there’s a slight problem with the Takara United Bumblebee that I didn’t even notice until I slotted the guns into his hands: the left hand’s fist hole is slightly larger than the hole in the right fist. This means that the weapon held in the right hand stays in place while the left rattles and rotates and falls out. And it is absolutely a flaw with the base toy and not this kit; I tried both weapons in each hand and both work perfectly in the right hand while both easily fall out of the left hand.
Excellent, if simple, paintwork is part of what makes the Growing Pains Custom Kit transform Bumblebee into Goldbug. The two blasters seem to be painted, but it could just be that they used a semi-metallic plastic. Either way, the guns look good; the photos here really don’t do as good of a job of showing off the semi-speckled, semi-metallic look of the guns as I would have liked.
The head is another piece that may not have any paint at all. (I supposed I should technically have labeled this section “colors,” but I think you all understand what I mean.) The dark blue of the head and the silver mouthguard are great, while the bright blue plastic of the lightpiping contrasts perfectly with the other two colors . . . especially when the light illuminates the plastic of the visored eyes. Seriously, the colors on the accessory pieces are fantastic.
Once you get the new head in place — which requires removing one screw, pulling Bumblebee’s head, and then fitting the new head on and screwing it in place — the toy functions and plays exactly like the basic Transformers United Bumblebee. The new head has the same swivel/ball functionality of the old one and there are no problems with transforming the toy with the new head on. The weapons, though, will need to be stored separately when now-Goldbug is in vehicle mode; there’s just no place to store the guns on the toy in vehicle mode.
Fantastic! Just as with the Transformers Generations Kup head kit (available at TFSource, reviewed at battlegrip.com) this Growing Pains Custom Kit is a great add-on package for an official Transformers toy. And unlike the Kup kit this time around we’re actually adding another character — Throttlebot Goldbug — to our collections by simply changing the head and adding two guns.
This one is highly recommended to anyone who has a Transformers United Bumblebee and wants to make the toy look quite different from any other version of this mold.
Philip Reed spends his days working away in the game industry and whatever spare time he can steal goes to the toy website, battlegrip.com, where he writes about a lot more than just Transformers.