BUMBLEBEE, FRENZY, BUZZSAW, & HOWLBACK
BUMBLEBEE: GREATEST HITS (HASBRO)
What good is a Soundwave without his cassette buddies? Well, not so good, I suppose. Sort of thing you don’t like to see happen, really. So, whenever Hasbro does a new Soundwave, there’s invariably some sort of cassette component included as well. Just to really sell the gimmick. When the Titans Return Soundwave mold was retooled for a Bumblebee tie-in, they could have let people just try to track down the TR cassettes, I suppose, but where’s the fun in that. And, more importantly, where’s the money in that? So, instead, we got a whole companions set, just for that guy. Nice!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
The Bumblebee Cassette Pack was part of the Target-exclusive Bumblebee: Greatest Hits line, which was under the umbrella of Hasbro’a larger Bumblebee movie offerings. It was specifically designed to coincide and go along with Soundwave and Doombox from the same line…for the most part. The set includes three cassette boys, Frenzy, Buzzsaw, and Howlback, who are clearly meant to go with Soundwave. However, it also includes a Bumblebee, who is not at all in scale with the other stuff, and really just exists to put a Bumblebee in the set, since it was tying into his movie and all. It’s still a tad odd, though.
Bumblebee was a re-deco of the Age of Extinction High Octane One-Step Changer Bumblebee. It’s *a* movie Bumblebee, but it’s not the one seen in the movie at all. I mean, I guess it *kinda* works for Bee at the very end of the movie. Ah, I’m overthinking it. In robot mode, he’s about 4 1/2 inches tall and he’s got workable articulation via universal joints at the shoulders. He’s not very mobile, but that’s not what he was designed for. He gets an okay approximation of his later film robot mode, albeit a bit chunkier, and with some notable hollow spots. Again, given that he’s built for play more than accuracy, it’s not bad. His transformation is, as advertised, one step. Essentially, he folds and unfolds much like a butterfly knife, with the top of the car/chest being spring-loaded to flip it into place for each respective mode. It’s admittedly pretty fun. His main change-up is the color scheme, which sticks more closely to classic Bee than the initial release, which was predominantly black.
With Bee out of the way, we get to the real meat of the set: the cassettes! The first of them is Frenzy, in his proper blue color that Frenzy is always supposed to be, because Frenzy is blue. Always. Right? Right. Rumble, the other humanoid cassette, was released on his own during Titans Return, but poor Frenzy was left out in the cold until this release. In robot mode, he’s about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 workable points of articulation. Frenzy’s actually quite posable given the scale and construction, especially when compared to the rest of the set. His mold began as Titans Return Rewind, before getting a new head for its release as Rumble, and then that version got a full re-use here. It’s a pretty decent mold, and honestly one of the best when it comes to the cassette bots. Certainly the most advanced of the TR era molds for the cassettes. His color scheme is very, very blue. I like that a lot. There’s a decent amount of smaller work going on, and I dig the gold accents. Application’s pretty clean, but the paint is prone to a bit of wear, especially on the face. His main alt-mode is a “data tablet”, which is largely an excuse for a rectangle shape that works as a stand-in for a tape. He gets some stickers with actual cassette details on them, which are very cool. Frenzy gets a second alt-mode, which turns him into a tank. Both transformation sequences are rather intuitive and generally pretty fun.
Next up is Buzzsaw, the not-Laserbeak bird cassette, who’s largely notable for being included with Soundwave’s original G1 release. Interestingly, while Frenzy was thus far uncovered in this style, Buzzsaw had already been done during Combiner Wars. His robot/bird mode can sort of move at his neck and wings, but not a ton at either. His bird mode is pretty clunky. It’s always a little clunky, but especially in this instance. The color scheme is duller than the CW version, with more black and actual gold. It’s not bad, and honestly a little closer to the vintage version, I suppose. Buzzsaw’s first alt-mode is the data tablet again; fairly similar to Frenzy, though the actual layout of the pieces is different. He also gets a sort of tank-looking thing as his third mode, which doesn’t work quite as well as Frenzy’s.
The last of the cassettes is Howlback, who’s like Ravage, but…not Ravage? So, you know, there’s that, I guess. Howlback’s robot mode has movement on the legs, but like Buzzsaw, her motion is generally pretty restricted. You can get her standing, but that’s really about it. It’s another rather clunky mold, but I’ve honestly felt that almost every Ravage mold was rather on the clunky side. So, you know, this one just fits with that, I suppose. Howlback gets the data tablet alt-mode, which is again chopped up a little differently than the others, but results in the same general end. Howlback also gets a third mode, which is not a tank, but is instead a plane. The bird doesn’t turn into a plane, but the jaguar does. It’s again pretty clunky, but it’s at least unique and different.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
After getting a really good deal on the Greatest Hits Soundwave, I found myself in the market for some cassettes to go with him, and this was the most economical option at the time, provided you were able to find it at retail. Which I did. Hahaha. Bumblebee is sort of unneeded, but fun enough. Buzzsaw and Howlback are limited by the format a bit, but okay. Frenzy is the real star, like, far and away. He’s just really good, and holds up even after going through several Cassette boi style changes.