It’s common knowledge that Bumblebee was a Volkswagon Beetle back in the 80’s…but then again, not really. In recent incarnations, Bumblebee has had some decidedly NON-VW alt modes, and the fan requests regularly come in for a return to his roots. A difficult situation, Hasbro reps would tell us. It turns out that Volkswagon has a general rule against licensing their product to anything war related because of … you know … history, and Autobots waging their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons crosses that line.
Hasbro designers wiggled around the lack of permission by designing Bumblebee as a car that resembles a VW Beetle, but is juuuust different enough to legally NOT be a Volkswagon. A proper Bug would never happen, they said. Until now. In a twist of luck, when Hasbro’s Japanese partner in Transformer-making Takara merged with Tomy, Tomy’s pre-existing license for VW products was folded into the mix.
Behold: the first-ever official VW Bumblebee! Pictured here is a prototype, and BB comes with his old pal Spike, decked out in his robotic exo-suit (as seen in 1986’s Transformers: The Movie). While there is no confirmation, I betcha’ the dealie Bumblebee is holding is not a “weapon” but actually a “welding torch,” but we shall see.
Will VW Masterpiece Bumblebee see an official release stateside? I doubt it – I’m not privy to Hasbro’s license with Chevy in regards to Bumblebee, but the lack of a deal with VW for any American product will cause us to have to import, which isn’t so bad a deal.