We have something really nice to share with you. Hasbro Transformers Design Manager Sam Smith have been updating his Instagram account with a series of images which show the development process of the popular Studio Series Bumblebee Movie toys from sketches, concept art, CAD model to the final physical toy.
A great view of all the creative process to bring us the characters from the screen to as transforming figure. We have images of Studio Series Bumblebee Movie Arcee, Wheeljack, Brawn, Soundwave, Ratchet, Ironhide, Starscream, Thrust, and Shockwave as well as comments and trivia about the design process for each of them.
We suggest to take your time to see all images after the jump plus the comments for each character with a lot of trivia and details. Sam Smith is also sharing more images of the Studio Series Bayverse movies now, so stay tuned for more updates. Let us know your impressions on the 2005 Boards.
SS-85 Bumblebee Movie Arcee
“I’ve lost contact with the capital!”
This character was so much fun to work on, and I am so glad that the team was willing to take the risk with introducing characters to the studio series assortment that did not have transformations in the film.
In reviewing the concept art and the character model, we knew that a car form was out of the question given how slender the bot mode was. Knowing that she had hollowed out wheels on her heels (which oddly enough her waist down doesn’t show up in the movie) We began investigating a cycle mode that would allow for a for charging front fork.
With an original cycle design established with the help of the insanely talented Emiliano Santalucia and access to the robot CAD model from the film, we were able to embark on our traditional development process in partnership with Shu Umezu at Takara Tomy.
Throughout these stages you can see the progression of how the model develops, and how closely we are able to maintain the proportions of the original design, while incorporating an an entire transformation form that was never created for the film with out sacrificing the integrity of the character.
SS-81 Bumblebee Movie Wheeljack
“There’s too many of them!”
It was great to get the opportunity to take this character back to his G1 routes. I wanted a Cybertronian vehicle form that would take influence from the Lancia Stratos rally car that he was originally known for. We had, an idea of a windscreen from his robot form, so we investigated how those parts would fall into place once he transformed into a vehicle. We explored wheels and non wheels (like his brief G1 Cybertronian transport alt mode) but in the end felt that there were already established autobot vehicle forms that used wheels, and we wanted it to feel appropriate to something that could have existed in the film. I think Emiliano smashed the vehicle exploration out of the park, and I was thrilled with how much of the vehicle mode Yuya Onishi and the team at TT were able to preserve as we moved this product into production.
I always loved the Alitalia livery on the original Wheeljack, and it was great to see this color pallet being revisited for live action theatrical. While developing the deco for this vehicle, I tried to take the color details that were established on the chest, and infuse the racing livery throughout the alt mode.
We did our best to try and maintain the large two handed weapons, with out deviating from the sculpted details in the CAD. I think some of the deluxe scale figures were able to replicate some of the two handed weapon poses better than others due the variations in the chest detail.
Initially, there were a number of unique weapons that were explored for these characters in the film, but in the end the screen used weapons were replicated across the Autobots (with the exception of Arcee and Optimus Prime) I would love to get an opportunity to use some of those alternate designs elsewhere in the line.
SS-80 Bumblebee Movie Brawn
Alright, let’s talk Brawn! This was such a fun evolution of the G1 design, but we definitely had our work cut out for us in delivering a convincing alt mode. There was a lot of influence in the CAD that aligned from the Cybertronian Bumblebee design, so I think there was some efficiencies used to bring him to life.
Because of his overly round form, it was going to be difficult to deliver a vehicle mode that took inspiration from the Series II Land Rover (at least that’s what it always looked like to me) which was super boxy.
We got to work on an offload vehicle that could pull in some of the shapes that we were seeing across the robot design. We introduced a windshield to the form, to keep it in line with the rest of the BB movie figures, as well as familiar wheel faces wrapped in a more aggressive looking tire. Emiliano did an incredible job of bringing this vehicle form concept to life.
As we developed the Toy in partnership with Hasui Shogo at Takara, we started to pull the bot and vehicle forms together without compromising the onscreen bot mode. Hasui san made the suggestion to include a drill accessory to align with his G1 appearance, and we stylized it to feel appropriate for the live action design.
In order to avoid compromising the front grill of the vehicle with a 5mm port, We made the front surface able to articulate 90 degrees in order to reveal a port, enabling you to display it in either mode.
Loaded up with all of his gear in either his bot or vehicle mode, Brawn always looks ready for battle!
SS-83 Bumblebee Movie Soundwave
Next up is VOYAGER Soundwave. I think this was the benchmark figure that helped to justify a slot for these non transforming character in the studio series line. A fantastic G1 loyal design, voice, and a theatrical chest deployment for Ravage, meant this character needed to be brought to life in toy form. (As backwards as that sounds)
Lets talk the controversy on this vehicle / CD player / flying crab? – I’ve seen plenty of names for it!
As great as it would have been to design a giant tape deck player, there were a number of pre defined aesthetic principles that we needed to uphold and maintain amongst these new characters. What we didn’t want to do was sacrifice the bot forms (the only part that made it into the film) at the cost of alt modes that we were going out on the limb to make up for them. We tried our best to only work with the pieces that were in play, vs adding vehicle kibble on to the backs of the bot modes.
In most cases, I think we were very successful in accomplishing that. With Soundwave, I think we had our work cut out for us, and in the end preservation of the bot mode was given top priority.
We got to work on a hovercraft vehicle design that would allow the parts that we see on the bot to be reassembled. Working with Emiliano was exceptional on a project like this, due to his deep understanding for transformation design and where parts need to end up between modes. We worked on a few silhouettes and decided early on that we wanted to get more angular height out of the “windscreen” which would require an alternate chest window, but still maintain a completely hollow cavity to allow for Ravage to fit inside, a Ravage design that was quite a bit blockier than a traditional tape cassette, so further compromise was made to cater to the bot mode.
Our TT development was handled by the legendary Ittoku Kuwazu, who was a fantastic partner to have work on this character. He was our design counterpart on Ravage as well, as the two figures needed to be developed in tandem.
SS-82 Bumblebee Movie Ratchet
“They’ve broken through the front lines!”
The first Autobot that we get to see on screen during an all out war on Cybertron. Ratchet quickly gave us the first glimpse at what would be a complete nostalgia overload, and just set the tone for the rest of the film.
I remember the excitement of seeing these bot designs for the first time, and getting amped about theatrical Transformers again. Once I rejoined the Transformers team a few years later, I knew that these we the bots that I wanted to bring to the line.
As part of our larger vehicle exploration with Emiliano, we got to work on a vehicle design for Ratchet that would align to some sort of heavy transport / medical deployment vehicle. We knew out the gate that we wanted to redeco him into Ironhide, so we took his traditional vehicle form into consideration as well. The front end was going to be based off of the chest due to the scale, so we stuck with a very hexagonal windscreen.
Some details needed to be modified from the bot mode. For example the legs house the wheels on each side of the calves, so we needed the add faux wheels to the outside of the legs, and add an additional set of functioning wheels which would stow inside of the torso.
Additionally, due to the scale of the figure, we needed to get a lot of rise out of the limbs. Ejima Takio did an amazing job of keeping the onscreen height of this character, while allowing it to collapse into an ultra compact vehicle form, that would let this figure maintain the deluxe scale price point.
Lastly, Damn those knees! One of the biggest struggles with this figure was accounted for the PA parts in the mold. PA is a nylon like material with phenomenal tensile strength but with the unfortunate side effect of not accepting paint well. This material has been standardized for transformation joints to help prevent breakage from being a common rotation point. In most instances when you question, “I wonder why they didn’t paint that” it often means that the part was molded in PA.
SS-84 Bumblebee Movie Ironhide
“…” This guy missed out on any speaking lines
Time to talk Ironhide! Similar to the deception seeker that we saw repurposed throughout the Cybertron battle, Ratchet was utilized to make up the various background autobot soldiers including, Ironhide! This design translated perfectly to this bot, and armed with a new G1 head, it completely transformed the look of the character.
We wanted to take a G1 inspired approach to the vehicle livery and included a yellow accent to the side panels, to mimic his earthbound alt mode. There was no yellow on the bot mode in the film, so we limited the use of the panel accent to the side doors which would be hidden when the vehicle was transformed into the robot. Armed with his massive cannon, Ironhide feels right at home amongst the rest of the Autobots.
There are a handful of color discrepancies in this guy, which are unfortunately due to the existing mold plans that had been established with the initial Ratchet release. That means that any parts that are in the same mold, are molded in the same color. As mentioned on Ratchet, there was a lot of PA used on the various portions of the characters, so that’s where we run into things like red hips, and gray fender flares (though the flares didn’t bother me as much, as they made Irohide’s vehicle feel a bit more aggressive and offload oriented)
What are your thoughts on Ironhide? Was he too tertiary for the film? Or do you want to see more from the rest of the background Autobot and Decepticon soldiers.
SS-72 Bumblebee Movie Starscream
“…” I don’t think Starscream has ever been lost for words, but in the Bumblebee film none of the Cybertronian seekers got any lines.
Alright, lets kick off our Seeeker conversation with Starscream! As one of the few characters that actually had a Cybertronian mode in the film, I think the team was eager to get him out on the coat tails of Cliffjumper and Bumblebee. This figure was already in development when I joined the team, but I was lucky enough to take him over at the block model stage, and work to detail him up. Its amazing how much detail was able to be translated over from the movie CAD, and it was a great benchmark for understanding where this line differed from movie product that we had done in the past.
Prior to moving over to the Transformers team, I had been spoiled by a brand that handled all of the digital sculpts internally in RI, so we always had beautiful orthographic render sheets being shared with the design team for us to generate deco sheets. I set out to establish a new process with the guidance of Paul Bennett that would allow us to convert the toy CAD into a usably file in Zbrush, (i accidentally wrote keyshot on the image) which would then enable us to polygroup the figure into individual parts, so that they could be highlighted for a rapid selection of mold groups across all the views. It was short lived before we migrated into using Keyshot (which the later BB figure decos were created in) which explains the slight visual discrepancy to some of the breakdowns of later figures.
DID YOU KNOW? – The original head for Starscream in the movie used a singular eye lens much like Soundwave. This came as a bit of a surprise when we started the deco process, and the sculpted face differed from the face that we saw in the film. Thankfully we were able to get in touch with ILM to track down the final movie head, and implement it into the product with out any impacts to the schedule. It was a rushed effort on, but everyone pulled out all the stops to make it happen! Somewhere that portrait design still exists, but it is unlikely that it will ever see the light of day.
Which head design do you prefer?
SS-76 Bumblebee Movie Thrust
“ [GRUNT noise] ” Another Seeker, but sadly another bot with no dialogue in the film.
Ok, whose ready to talk Decepticon Seeker THRUST! I love these bot designs from the movie. I think the element that was most notable for me was the care that the design team at ILM put into differentiating the various seeker bots. We got to see some fantastic variations on the design in the film, with some nice nods to the G1 bot forms. We saw reuse of the Blitzwing head on most of the seekers, but the variations in the wing designs, and the awesome use of the “conehead” design helped to set them apart. I also love the variations in the livery treatments that made up the wings, which helped to keep all of the tetra jets looking unique.
Alright, so lets talk about some cool design elements for this guy. Apart from the subtle tooling modification to incorporate the cone head cowl, TT did an awesome job of of maximizing the existing parts to deliver a unique silhouette with the wings, which can be configured in the various orientations that we see across the bot modes.
I have to admit, when I first saw this guy on screen, I was like “Hey, that’s cool, they ever put Acidstorm in the film!” But when I saw the concept art, he was called “Thrust”. This was confusing for me, because I never associated a green color palette with him, it was always the darker reds and black. Thanks to you, the fandom, for pointing out that Thrust was green in the Armada series. It was a cool nod to a version of the character that I wasn’t aware of previously.
What are your thoughts on Thrust? Did he scratch the itch, or would you rather see him clad in his more iconic red colors? And what other seekers do you want to see get released?
SS-CORE Bumblebee Movie Shockwave
“Destroy the launch pad, let none escape.”
Lets shift gears and talk about CORE for a moment. New for 2022 was the debut of the core scale. Paired along side Ravage in the wave, we kept the theming on the Bumblebee film across all of the assortments. Despite being a small figure, this mad scientist still packs plenty of detail, and plenty of info to deep dive into. Lets begin!
As part of the greater vehicle exploration, we got to work with Emiliano on a alt form for Shockwave. Given the massive arm cannon, a Cybetronian tank form felt right at home. The quad tread design was deeply routed in some of the looks we saw between animated and prime (Anyone else get scorpion vibes? If you know, you know) while giving them a more theatrical styling that would compliment the robot. Koki Yamada at TT (our first of many projects together) did a fantastic job of merging the bot form with our vehicle and delivered a pretty uncompromised figure at the core scale.
The colors on this guy were wild (check out the last picture). The purple used on the CGI model was an incredibly bold deep metallic purple with a ton of flake. I never realized how saturated they were in the film, so reviewing the CAD file made me appreciate it a lot more! I kind of want to update a color study using key shot just so that I can play around with some paint layering and get that glossy sheen to the bot mode!
“But why is Shockwave small?” So this was the debut of the core scale in SS. In its inception, much like the Legacy line, the exception was to deliver fan favorite characters at a more affordable price point, in their own universal scale. With Studio Series, this also proved to be a great scale for some of the smaller figures that weren’t ideal for LDR companions and were worthy of articulation and transformation. Shockwave was a great pilot for the segment to prove that it had some legs to stand on. Without core, I don’t think we would have found a slot for him in the line, and based on the response to the character, I hope he’ll see a larger scale Voyager release in the future.