When it comes to the Transformers I’ve always had a soft spot for the little guys. Maybe it’s because their figures were the cheapest so I had most of them as opposed to only having a few of the bigger more expensive figures. Or maybe it’s because some of them just had so much personality when they showed up in the cartoons like Bumblebee, Warpath and Seaspray. Or maybe it was because their transformations were so simple to do that they could alternate between robot and vehicle mode in just a few quick moves. As I mentioned in a previous post 2 out of the 3 Transformers that I kept from my childhood were of the little “penny-racer” variety instead of the larger more impressive bots. Cliffjumper was one of the first Transformers toys I had and I wish I had held onto him. It was a little weird but my Cliffjumper toy was a yellow porsche while my brother Doug’s Bumblebee toy was red Volkswagen Beetle. In the cartoons and comics the colors were reversed-everyone knows Bumblebee is yellow- but when the Japanese toys first came over to America there was a mix-up and the toys got released in reverse colors. That error resulted in the only Cliffjumper figure to date not released in bright sports-car red. They did release a color corrected version soon afterwards but Cliffjumper has gotten the shaft in the toy world ever since. Bumblebee has gone on to become the second most recognizable Transformer there is behind Optimus Prime starring in the live-action movies and being made into Halloween costumes. Bumblebee has had a slew of figures made of him since that first mis-colored one back in the early 80s. Cliffjumper on the other hand who is practically identical to Bumblebee never shows up in any promotional and peripheral merchandise and the only toys of him made since his yellow 80s original have all been red re-paints of Bumblebee toys. Cliffjumper has always lived in Bumblebee’s shadow and has never had a distinct toy of his own, until now.
After the release of the second Transformers live action movie a new computer animated series was spun out of it called Transformers Prime. This featured some sleek and stylized new character designs for some well known characters. This show combined the classic boxy designs with the busy movie designs and found a happy medium. The character that benefitted the most from this re-branding was Cliffjumper. He and Bumblebee can stand side by side now and for the first time ever not look like identical twin brothers. Cliffjumper has been repurposed as a Dodge challenger with a distinct set of bull horns on the front. When he transforms into his robot mode the horns are on his head. While I usually don’t like character make-overs this extreme as it tends to no longer feel like “my” version of the character, I actually like it in Cliffjumper’s case. This new look gives what has always been a unique and well developed character in the comic books a chance to shine in other forms of media. I hope more of the redesigns from the Prime series result in toys this cool. 8 out of 10.