Monday, September 22, 2014

Transformers Feature - Wal-Mart Exclusive Bumblebee and Strafe

For several years now, I've tried to include packaging art with features of Transformers toys. In the case of Generation One toys, this hits a certain "nostalgia factor" for me, while in the case of later generations of Transformers, this is intended to help supply a source of such artwork where no archive has been known to have been created. While I certainly do not have the resources to create such an archive, myself, I hope that I'm making the job that much easier for someone else. That said, Transformers packaging artwork doesn't always match the toy that it's created to help promote especially well. This set is a particularly egregious example.

With the release of the most recent live-action Transformers movie, Age of Extinction, several of the main retailers have exclusive product on the shelves, and Walmart is certainly no exception. This Bumblebee and Strafe two-pack (for those who don't know, Strafe is on the left, and Bumblebee is on the right) is just one of several Walmart exclusive sets that were recently made available, and like most of these sets, it uses old molds that have been repainted to (more or less) resemble characters from the movie. The artwork in this case, however, doesn't even bother trying to emulate these particular molds. The picture at the top of this entry, which spans the top of the package, simply represents characters from the movie, but although the robot on the left is indeed a Bumblebee (if not quite this Bumblebee) the other robot depicted is a red robot, which isn't in keeping with any version of the Strafe character I've seen thus far. As it happens, this isn't even Strafe at all, but rather is a character named Stinger instead. The intent was apparently to do a generic "battle" image, and this image does indeed show up on most (if not all) of the current batch of Walmart multi-pack exclusive sets. But given the inclusion of a Bumblebee, I think it's definitely a bit misleading.

Of course, this isn't the only artwork on this package. The right-hand side of the box has this bit of artwork (the version on the box is partially obscured by an explosion with the Age of Extinction logo. This version is a clean variant), which does indeed represent Strafe as seen in the movie, but again, it's not remotely relevant to the toy actually in the package, which turns into a single-headed pteranodon, as opposed to this two-headed, two-tailed monstrosity from the film.

As I indicated earlier, this two-pack features old molds. Molds that were originally created to represent other characters entirely. This really isn't a big deal in the case of Bumblebee, as the character looks more or less the same despite a number of cosmetic changes. While the art doesn't really depict this Bumblebee very accurately, he's more or less identifiable, so I've chosen not to spend much time talking about him. The mold used for Strafe, on the other hand, was created for Beast Wars Terrorsaur, which was originally available in 1996, nearly two decades ago! (Indeed, this may be the oldest mold to be used for something other than an actual reissue, if one accepts oddities like "Diaclone colors Ultra Magnus" or "Shining Magnus" in that category, and even that mold wasn't as old at the time of those toys' release as the Terrorsaur mold!) While the blue color is certainly in keeping with Strafe's other toy portrayals (if, again, not as he appears in the movie or in that artwork), there's no getting around the fact that this one-headed, more or less organic-looking, beast simply isn't the same guy as the shrapnel-monster from the movie.

That's okay. I wouldn't have picked the toy up if it was. I wanted a blue Terrorsaur, not a hideous movie-beast.

Still, I'd have wished to have packaging art that was actually relevant.

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