The Transformers are certainly more than meets the eye. Hasbro first brought the robots in disguise in the 1980s with a successful animated series and toy line that launched what has since become one of the highest grossing live-action movie franchises in history. While Optimus Prime has constantly been viewed as the face of Transformers, there is another Autobot who has been building up his own popularity in pop culture.
Bumblebee has always been viewed as somewhat of a second-in-command under Optimus Prime. While his vehicle form has changed several times in the last 30-plus years, he’s always been the loyal black and yellow Autobot who fights valiantly against the Decepticons. The version seen in on the silver screen since the first Transformers film in 2007 has become a lovable hero in the eyes of many fans.
Bumblebee is also expected to get his own spinoff film in 2018, which will likely lead to filled up theaters across the country. It’s interesting to see how Bumblebee has grown in popularity in the last decade. But he also has a long history in the entire franchise with different versions seen across a variety of universes seen in video games, cartoons, and comic books.
The following is a list of things that you may not have known about the Transformers’ Bumblebee. From the different types of vehicles he’s used as a disguise over the last three decades to the things that he’s done and had done to him at the hands of both the Decepticons, the G.I. Joes, and even his creators at Hasbro.
15. Bumblebee Is A Hall Of Famer
To be honest, this is probably more of a surprise for people who were not aware of a Transformers Hall of Fame. Hasbro created this honor in 2010 with the first class of inductees. It’s considered a good way for Hasbro to honor the people who have been responsible for creating the phenomenon that is the Transformers franchise; including authors like Bob Budiansky who helped with comics and Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime.
So if there’s going to be a Transformers Hall of Fame, it really shouldn’t be too much of a shock that Bumblebee is one of the first inducted. He was one of the original Autobots who came to Earth in the 1984 animated series. Even with all of the changes seen in his voice, look, and overall demeanor, Bumblebee is still one of the most popular characters in franchise history.
14. Bumblebee Helped Introduce A New Camaro Model
There are some who feel that the Chevrolet Camaro was a blatant rip-off of the extremely popular Ford Mustang. It was Chevy’s response to the muscle car that first debuted in 1967. It’s certainly one that is collected over the decades for its look and style. Over the years, it was one of the most popular muscle car models until its production ended in 2002 after declining sales. But Chevrolet has the Transformers film in 2007 to partially thank for the Camaro’s resurgence.
The Camaro was used for Bumblebee’s alternate mode in the 2007 film, which turned out to be a major hit with car enthusiasts and fans of the movie. In the years since then, there have been more Camaro models coming out in what is viewed as the model’s fifth generation. Chevrolet has also continued to build a new Camaro design for each of the Transformers films.
13. Bumblebee Has Been Voiced By (A) Batman
Bumblebee has been voiced by a number of different voice actors over the years, at least when he was able to talk on his own. Fans of Michael Bay’s films know that Bumblebee’s voice box was destroyed. But when he’s been able to speak beyond the audio clips on the radio, the people behind his voice includes someone who also did the voice of Batman. Will Friedle did the voice of Bumblebee in the television series Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015-2016).
However, Friedle didn’t voice the version of Batman who’s identity is Bruce Wayne. Friedle voiced Terry McGinnis in the critically acclaimed Batman Beyond television series. It was Terry would take over for Wayne in a future where Wayne retired from being the Caped Crusader. Regardless of which Batman voiced Bumblebee, none of the other Transformers can say they’ve been voiced by a comic book legend.
12. His First Alternate Form Was A Volkswagen Beetle
Most of the younger fans of Transformers view Bumblebee as a Chevrolet Camaro. However, his first vehicle model in the 1980s was not as flashy. Bumblebee’s first alternative model was a Volkswagen Beetle. It was certainly a lot more modest than a Camaro. However, it does fit the kind of character Bumblebee has been through the years. While having developed popularity over the years, he’s sort of an underdog character.
The Beetle wouldn’t be the kind of car you would pick to win a race. But Bumblebee has been a vital part of the team over the years. Even when Bumblebee got an upgrade in the series as Goldbug, he still maintained that same Beetle body that reminded some fans of Herbie the Love Bug.
11. Why Was Bumblebee Not A Volkswagen Beetle?
Many traditional fans of the Transformers who have bought action figures, comic books and watched the cartoon know Bumblebee as a yellow Volkswagen Beetle. It has just been synonymous. However, fans who have followed the franchise since 1984 did not like the news that Bumblebee was going to taking the form of a Chevrolet Camaro in the current film franchise. Part of that is because Volkswagen didn’t want to be associated with a violent film.
Also, director Michael Bay also didn’t want there to be any comparisons of his Bumblebee to another movie-star Beetle, Herbie the Love Bug. There are a few people for the traditional fans to blame. However, a Beetle does make an appearance in the first film in 2007. There’s a used Beetle sitting next to the Camaro that gets purchased by Sam Witwicky’s dad at the used auto lot.
10. The Many Models of Bumblebee
By now, fans are aware that Bumblebee first debuted in toys, comics, and the original cartoon as a Volkswagen Beetle. Recently, he’s been under the form of the revitalized Chevrolet Camaro for the live-action series directed by Michael Bay. But between the 1984 release and the current film series, Bumblebee has also used several other car models for his alternate mode to disguise himself in the public eye.
For one, Bumblebee took on the form of an AMC Pacer during his time travel in the G.I. Joe vs. The Transformers comic book series with Marvel Comics. There were other vehicle models used for Bumblebee in several toy lines across the world. Timelines Deluxe created a special Goldbug that used the form of a Chrysler ME 412. For the most part, recent versions of Bumblebee have seen him taken on muscle cars as his alternate mode – much different from the subtle bug he was in 1984.
9. Michael Bay’s Bumblebee Camaro Sold For $167,200
In 2014, two Transformers vehicles were sold in a Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of them was a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS that was actually owned by the film director Michael Bay. It was also used in the fourth installment of the Transformers film series that Bay has directed. According to a report from Motor Authority, Bumblebee sold for about $167,200.
What might be a surprising fact is that in the same auction, Bumblebee was sold for more than an Optimus Prime truck used in the first three films. The 1992 Peterbilt 379 that resembled the leader of the Autobots sold for only $121,000. While neither of the vehicles are going to transform, the owners will more likely use some imagination while running errands.
8. Megatron Is The One Who Destroys Bumblebee’s Voice
Many fans who have watched the live-action Transformers films may not know the truth behind Bumblebee losing his ability to speak. For the most part of his existence in other universes involving the Transformers, he’s been able to voice his thoughts as a member of the Autobots. This dates back to the original animated series back in the 1980s. However, the loss of Bumblebee’s voice was at the hands of Megatron.
Alex Irvine helped fill the gap with a story about Bumblebee at Tyger Pax in events that happened before the live-action movie and the more recent cartoon series. After losing out on getting the AllSpark, Bumblebee was beaten up by the Decepticons as he was face-to-face with Megatron. Still talking a little bit of trash, Bumblebee quickly found himself held by the throat as Megatron crushed his neck to the point of shattering his voice box. It does get fixed in the Transformers Prime animated series.
7. Bumblebee Gets Revenge On Megatron In Transformers Prime
Transformers Prime was an animated series that had a lot of brutal moments with different characters dying. At one point, it looked like Bumblebee would be a casualty after being shot in mid-air by Megatron. This led to the continued battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron continuing, the Autobots leader losing focus in seeking revenge that gave Megatron a chance to win.
But Bumblebee wasn’t killed as he came flying in to drive his sword into Megatron’s chest. Bumblebee then said “You took my voice. You will never rob anyone of anything ever again.” Megatron would drop his sword as his energy drained before falling out of the ship and entering the Earth’s atmosphere. That certainly makes up for the abuse Bumblebee suffered that led to the loss of his voice in the first place.
6. Bumblebee Has Been The Leader Of The Autobots
At the end of the Transformers Prime animated series, Optimus Prime sacrifices himself in an attempt to make sure Unicron is sealed away from destroying Primus. In 2015, another animated series Transformers: Robots in Disguise would continue with the same story as the Autobots return to Earth after a Decepticon prison ship crashes onto the planet and lets loose several villains.
Bumblebee was then called upon to lead a team as a ghostly figure of Optimus Prime. After decades of being a second-in-command at best within the Autobot Army, it was a change of pace to see Bumblebee in a leadership role. In the early episodes of the series, it was noticeable how Bumblebee had to adapt to being a leader of the team; but he grew into it as the show continued.
5. A Human Version Of Bumblebee?
Transformers are known for being robots that can go into the disguise of a vehicle, plane, tank and other things that move around. There was also the entire series where they took the form of animals and dinosaurs. However, there is a third, lesser-known shell that the Transformers also had. Bumblebee was one of the original characters to have what is called a Pretender suit as part of his disguise.
In the late 1990s in Marvel Comics’ Transformers series, the Pretender suits were considered a bit of a boost for the Autobots. Bumblebee’s Pretender shell would also be a bit of a hit in the toy aisles as he was part of a launch that also featured Grimlock, Jazz, and Starscream. The Pretender shell phase has never made an appearance in the recent animated series and the live-action films, which is probably for the best.
4. Bumblebee Is The Only Original Autobot Not Killed In The Movies, Yet
The “yet” is because there’s always a chance we could see Bumblebee’s demise in the upcoming film Transformers: The Last Knight. The trailer shows Optimus Prime fighting Bumblebee with a shot that looks like he impales him after saying “I’m sorry.” But we’ll have to assume the subhead didn’t jinx the trend that Bumblebee is the only original Autobot not to die at some point in the current film series.
Jazz dies in the 2007 film when Megatron ripped him in half. In Dark of the Moon, Ironhide is shot by Sentinel’s rust cannon that slowly kills Ironhide. In Age of Extinction, Ratchet was gunned down before being executed by Lockdown. Optimus Prime has actually died more than once in the movies both in Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction – both times he was revived.
3. But He Has Been Killed A Few Times In Other Storylines
Through the different Transformer universes since 1984, fans have seen the different characters on both sides of the battle die. Some of them are by the traditional gunfire expected in war and some deaths are a little more brutal – including decapitation, melting and even consumption. In the Generation One storyline through IDW Publishing in the mid-2000s, Bumblebee was killed after Shockwave shot a hole through him.
In the crossover comic series with the G.I. Joes by Marvel Comics called G.I. Joe and the Transformers, the military force actually think Bumblebee is an enemy that must be taken care of. Poor Bumblebee was shot to pieces by the Joes’ missiles. It was after the shooting when they saw the Autobot symbol and realized their mistake. But the Joes would help Ratchet in rebuilding him into Goldbug.
2. Bumblebee Is Rebuilt Into Goldbug
In many of the Transformers universes, Bumblebee has to be rebuilt after a grueling battle. Sort of like how Col. Steve Austin is transformed in The Six Million Dollar Man. They could rebuild him. They had the technology. While it’s uncertain if the value of the remodel was worth about six million dollars, Bumblebee would see a change in personality with his new version, a Throttlebot called Goldbug.
As Goldbug, he still maintained most of his pros and cons from before. The biggest change fans would notice in the 1987 cartoon was that Goldbug didn’t have Bumblebee’s need to receive approval. That sort of thing would normally come from becoming more mature. Goldbug has reappeared in other 2008 Transformers: Shattered Glass series.
1. Hasbro Lost Rights To Bumblebee’s Name In The 1990s
When creating one of the most popular characters in cartoons and action figures, one would assume all names would be kept under up-to-date trademarks. Even when Bumblebee was not used during the Transformers’ shift with the Beast Wars storyline, there’s no reason to think they didn’t keep the trademark on Bumblebee’s name current. Unfortunately, that happened in the 1990s.
The trademark to the name lapsed and it wasn’t an issue until the Transformers’ Unicorn Trilogy where the character Hot Shot was scheduled to be named Bumblebee. But with no trademark at the time, a name change was needed. But it’s easy to point out how similar Bumblebee and Hot Shot are in terms of personalities and the fact that they were both yellow. Obviously, Hasbro has gotten the Bumblebee trademark back.