MEXICAN BUMBLEBEE (WHITE w/ RED FACE)
Just when you really seriously thought you had seen it all, I mean besides a packaged Diaclone Black Tracks, a Joustra Powered Convoy or an original grey Astrotrain hardcopy prototype, another absolutely groundbreaking bombshell comes along! An ORIGINAL Mexican White Bumblebee! In all honesty, my jaw hit the floor when I saw this for the first time and I think I gurgled. My first reaction while trying to adjust to what I was seeing was that I must have been looking at an E-Hobby White Bumblebee ("Bug Bite"), but when everything settled down I realised that this was no E-Hobby recolour, this was an original minibot variation being seen for probably the first time online.
Here is the E-Hobby exclusive Bug Bite:
This E-hobby white Bumblebee is actually brilliant white, and it's a Decepticon with a new anime-style head sculpt. It's really not the same thing at all.
It also wouldn't be the first time that a minibot has surfaced from Mexico which had a completely previously unseen colour scheme anywhere else in the world. A fine example is the grey Cliffjumper with red face (possibly Mexican Hub Cap) seen here:
The copyright for the grey Cliffjumper shows a raised rectangular block over where it should say "JAPAN" and the chest sticker is of slightly lower papery quality as with most Mexican factory stickers. This white Mexican Bumblebee shares many of the same characteristics.
Just looking at the pictures, I still can't believe this item exists and has surfaced in the mainstream for the first time now after so many years, and in such excellent condition. IGA toys are notoriously quick to wear and break. I personally do not have any doubts about the origin of the toy as it was found in Mexico with a bunch of other Mexican minibot variants already known to exist. The white colour is not brilliant white, it's an off-white cream that is supremely common amongst all Mexican Transformers manufactured by IGA.
There is a theory that some of the stranger Mexican minibot variations that have third-series colours on second-series moulds (like Huffer in Pipes colours, Brawn in Outback colours etc), and even the new colours such as blue Bumblebee or grey Cliffjumper, are Mexican store exclusives. The grey Cliffjumper pictured above was actually found in the UK where many Mexican toys were imported, so unless they were imported from a specific store chain, or were strictly store exclusives in Mexico yet exported widely, I can't vouch for that theory entirely. This white Bumblebee should have come carded, and since unlike the grey Cliffjumper and yellow Windcharger he does not have a remould or minibot that was heavily based on him later, it was probably a Bumblebee card just like the blue release. But that is far from certain, and considering that this is the first one I or anyone I know has ever seen, a carded one could be asking for a miracle.
While it's true that this isn't the wildest colour scheme seen on a Bumblebee mould, or possibly even the most attractive, he does still look very good in vehicle mode. The colour scheme in vehicle mode is simple and the white contrasts perfectly with the black sections and red Autobot symbol, all contributing to an effective overall appearance that's far from garish or outlandish, unlike other minibot repaints. Aside from the slightly off-colour plastic and Autobot symbol instead of Decepticon symbol, there's not a great deal to set him apart from the E-Hobby Bug Bite, and that might stop people from getting as excited as they should about a shattering variant discovery such as this.
The robot mode soon puts that right...
A white Bumblebee with a RED face?! A real show-stopper, there is something unbelievably alien about seeing this toy in such a strange colour scheme, and not even as a Microchange or South American "Volks" with strange stickers from some other toyline, this is a Transformers Bumblebee! Paul Vromen's reaction was that he thought it looked "otherworldly", and that is most appropriate.
Obviously everything is not as flush as a reissue or an original US Bumblebee, this being an IGA release, but it does have a good look to it and the paint job on the face is not as sloppy as some other Mexican releases. Very reminiscent of Ratchet in his appearance, and now a completely separate entity to Bug Bite, the excellent visual contrast is carried over to the robot mode. This toy definitely has a very unique identity and just extends the intriguing world of Mexican Transformers.
The joints were surprisingly tight on this specimen, and I think considering how many of these are likely to turn up (if the sole grey Cliffjumper located is anything to go by), to have one in such presentable shape with good chrome and stickers intact is a spectacular stroke of luck. Truly an unexpected twist to find yet another undiscovered minibot in Mexico. In Peru maybe, seeing as how many variants they received per mould, but we had thought that Mexico had had almost all of its secrets exhausted. Evidently, and thankfully, not.
Here is the white Mexican Bumblebee alongside another highly rare Mexican Bumblebee, a blue one:
At least there have been multiple sightings of the blue Mexican Bumblebee, albeit very very few indeed. However, to my knowledge, this white Bumblebee is a first.
When comparing the Mexican Bumblebees to a US Bumblebee, the difference between IGA and Hasbro factory stickers surface again as they do on almost every Mexican Transformer. The above picture shows a very clear difference in the presentation and detail of the headplate sticker that comes with a Transformers-release Bumblebee. The side window moulding on the main chassis sections also show some variation.
Here is a close-up of the stunning red face on this white Bumblebee, followed by a close-up of E-Hobby Bug Bite's anime-style head:
Now one of the things that makes me wonder wheher or not this white Mexican Bumblebee came on a Bumblebee card is this red face. The grey Cliffjumper with the red face was not so readily accepted as just another Cliffjumper variant (alongside the Mexican red, yellow and blue ones on Mexican Cliffjumper cards) simply because he had that red face which placed him very close to a Hub Cap variant. But Hub Cap was yellow right? Yes, however don't forget the yellow Mexican Windcharger that came on a "Tailgate" card. That was a Windcharger mould, on a Tailgate card, but in a completely new manufactured colour. By that logic, the grey Cliffjumper was considered to be a Hub Cap colour variant seeing as how Hub Cap's US mould was so close to Cliffjumper, and IGA have a history for re-using older moulds as opposed to using the re-tooled updates for new characters.
So what on Earth does that make this white Bumblebee with a red face?
Well, the Mexican nature of this toy is beyond doubt. The copyright very clearly has a raised rectangular block over where it should say "JAPAN", as does the blue Mexican Bumblebee. Another very Mexican feature of this mini is the chest sticker. Notice how off-centre the Autobot symbol on the chest is relative to the silver foil background. You might notice in the above comparison pictures that the blue Mexican Bumblebee shows exactly the same print misalignment for the chest sticker.
As for whether or not this is yet another Mexican Bumblebee variant released on a Bumblebee card as opposed to a completely different character such as another Hub Cap variant, that can only be confirmed by a carded sample. There is already a red, yellow and blue Bumblebee in Mexico, so could this be the fourth? Could there be a corresponding white Mexican Cliffjumper with a red face on Cliffjumper cards, or is the grey Cliffjumper with red face the direct corresponding variant to this white Bumblebee, but released on a Hub Cap card? That would make it four apiece for the Bumblebee and Cliffjumper moulds in Mexico.
This fascinating and wonderful 'new' variant creates yet another classic Transformers variation mystery and endless questions that could go unanswered for years...and it's all very welcomed indeed. We should be thankful that the world of G1 Transformers can still throw up such astonishing surprises year after year and keep this niche of collecting relatively fresh. And what a beautiful surprise this has been...
Many kind thanks to Morg for the use of the grey
Mexican Cliffjumper pictures and to Paul Hitchens for some of the picture
All the best