By Generation: Generations Legends Bumblebee – Add a Ball Jointed Head

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by Matt Booker, Nov 22, 2013.

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  1. Matt Booker

    Matt Booker Fantasy Adventure Author

    Sep 3, 2008
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    Generations Legends Bumblebee, Targetmaster Bumblebee, Cybertronian IDW Bumblebee, more accurately scaled WFC\FOC Bumblebee, whatever you want to call it, this iteration of the little yellow robot is actually one of the best.

    Sure, the WFC version might have a more accurate alt mode, and a decently game accurate head sculpt, but that one’s got weirdly angled arms and hands, a lot of kibble, and the bot mode is huge compared to WFC Optimus. Really, the proportions in bot mode are just odd anyway, with its gangly limbs and squat, rounded body.

    And Classics Bumblebee? It’s not that it’s bad, but I would have liked it a lot more as a Scout class. As it is, it’s only barely shorter than a lot of the other deluxe class Autobots, and stuff like the arm kibble and the goatee face kind of bug me. I’ve been wanting to replace it for a while, but Scout seems to be the only size class Hasbro or TakaraTomy doesn’t want to make a Bumblebee for.

    But Generations Legends Bumblebee? He fits just right in a Classics collection, especially if you’ve got Toyworld Orion standing in as Classics Optimus Prime.

    Generations Legends Two Pack Targetmaster WFC FOC Bumblebee even has decent articulation… except the head doesn't move. There’s not even a swivel!

    Let’s fix that!


    If I ever do a YouTube show on how to mod these things, you know there’s going to be some kind of stock footage at the start of every guide, right?

    Or maybe just a robot humping something.

    Step 1 – Gather Materials

    For this guide, we’re not just cutting something and only using the stock figure, we’re also going to be adding a ball joint. While you can certainly salvage one from something else, like I did during the Classics Ironhide mod guide, having what I’m about to recommend is much, much easier and more convenient.

    Hobby Base is a Japanese company that makes a line of products called the Premium Parts Collection. Or something like that. Most of the package is in Japanese, but if you search for those English terms you should be able to find the products.

    And one of those products is a pack of ball joints that comes on a sheet of sprues, with each sheet having three different sizes of ball joints. They even come in different colors.

    The ball joint that I’m using today is from the PPC-T01G package of Mecha Gray ball joints. You’ll probably have to import them from Japan, but there are English language sites that deal in hobby supplies like this, so just order a bunch of cool stuff to make the shipping worth it. You might not use these ball joints often, but they’re handy to have!

    So now that you’ve ordered that, waited a few weeks to a month or more for delivery from Japan, and have your package of ball joints in hand, we’ll be using one from the smallest size in the set.

    Those of you that are borrowing a ball joint from something else, feel free to follow along, as the principles will still be the same.

    Step 2 – Examine What to Cut

    Possibly to give reason for there not being something as basic as a swivel joint for Bumblebee, there’s just enough of a mechanical collar on each side of his head to impede not only movement, but cutting in to add that movement.

    Some bots have shoulder rockets. Bumblebee has collar lasers.

    So those collar lasers have to go, as well as a bit of material under them.

    We’re going to cut straight across the red line, giving Bumblebee a flat plate for his head to sit on. That also gives Bumblebee a much better looking head profile, so that he looks less like he’s wearing a turtleneck or doing an impression of Classics Prowl.

    Step 3 – Disassembly

    We’re going to slightly disassemble Bumblebee to make it easier to chop his head off. Don’t worry, he’s been through worse at the hands of GI Joe.

    All you have to do is get him about halfway into alt mode, where you have access to the hinge that attaches his shoulders and body to his back and neck plate.


    I’ve colored the parts to make them easier to differentiate, but what you need to do is slightly pull the shoulder parts outward so the pegs pop out of the back piece.


    Step 4 – Shave One Side First

    For this step we’re going to shave off one of the collar lasers first.

    We don’t want to damage Bumblebee’s head, especially his face, so by shaving one side first we’re going to make it easier to get a blade in under his chin to start sawing away at where the head attaches.


    Just use a sharp blade and go slowly, shaving off thin layers until you get it about even with the base below his chin. You can also use a pair of flush cutters to nip off a bit here and there, just to get it started, but finish off with a blade.

    Remember that you’re not just trimming off the collar lasers, but all the way even with the base below his chin.

    As for how far back you shave, go just a bit further than the back of the head. Maybe a centimeter or so. There’s some neat tech detail back there, and it’s also going to help us figure out where to put Bumblebee’s new neck.

    Step 5 – Shave the Other Side Second

    Yep. Do the same as Step 4, but for the other side.

    Step 6 – Hacksaw is ready!

    Why yes, that is a Spider-Man movie reference.

    For this step you can keep using a sharp blade, but it’s much easier if you use a serrated blade like a small hacksaw. I’m using an Excel saw blade, and X-Acto makes similar products. I like to use it for something like this because it makes sure to get a level cut and it’s quite a bit quicker when cutting straight down into something like this.


    Put the saw blade just below Bumblebee’s chin and it should be about even with how you’ve cut the collar pieces. Because of that, the saw should stay mostly level on its own, but pay attention to it just in case.

    Saw all the way back to just behind the head.


    Those black marks on the side of Bumblebee’s head are black paint smudges. In case you haven’t noticed from Bumblebee’s eyes, the paint on this one was kind of crappy around the head. But it was the only Generations Legends Bumblebee that I could find at retail around here. It should be easy enough to touch up with some paint, at least. :) 

    Step 7 – Shave Off Peg on Ball Joint Cup

    If you’re using the Hobby Baseball joints, there will be a peg on the top of the ball joint cup.


    Yeah, that’s a crappy picture. This part is tiny, so that’s zoomed in pretty far. But it should be pretty obvious what to do based on the description.

    Step 8 – Carve Room for Ball Joint Cup

    Generations Legends Bumblebee’s head already has a hollow section to it that’s just about perfect for the ball joint cup to fit into.

    It does need carved a bit, though, and the first thing to do is to carve off the flat base on the bottom of the head.

    Do this with a sharp blade.


    As you can see in the blurry picture (Hey, it’s really tiny and it’s really yellow.), not only did I carve off the bottom piece but I also carved deeper towards the face.

    How far toward the face? That’s answered in our next step!

    Step 9 – Test Fit Ball Joint

    For this step we’re going to test fit the ball joint in Bumblebee’s head to see how much needs to be carved.

    If you just cut the bottom plate off, the ball joint should fit okay but Bumblebee’s new neck will be at the back of his head. Carving more toward the face will let you be able to position the ball joint cup further toward the face, which eventually will let you get the neck in a natural position.



    Step 10 – Glue Ball Joint Cup

    This step should be pretty self-explanatory. The main thing there here is to use some sort of precision applicator, and be sure not to get any of the glue inside of the ball joint cup.

    I would also suggest leaving the ball joint in the cup during this, as with it pushing the sides of the cup the fit will be even tighter inside of Bumblebee’s head.

    Once the glue has just barely set, you can slightly move the ball joint just to make sure that its not been glued \ break it free if it is, but really try not to get the glue in there in the first place.

    Step 11 – Mark Where to Put Post

    For this step we’re just going to mark where we want the hole for the post to go. We’ve got the position for it in the head natural, but where the post is going to go needs to be natural as well.

    You don’t want Bumblebee’s head to be too far back or two far forward, but even with his shoulders.

    The easiest way to do this is to put the back of Bumblebee’s head close to where you stopped cutting on the back of the base plate, as that’s where the original position of it was.

    To do that, turn Bumblebee’s head on its side and line the back of the head up close to where you stopped cutting on the base plate.


    Once you’ve got a good idea of where to put the mark between the back and the front of Bumblebee’s body, you’ll have to take a guess at where the midpoint between his shoulders is.

    You can do this by measuring and then dividing it half, or just eyeballing it like I did. Looking at the details on the base plate should also help to show you where the center is.

    Once you’ve got a good spot, mark it with a sharpie.

    Step 12 – Drill It

    For this step we’re going to drill a hole to fit the post through. I used a 3/32 bit but it was actually just a tiny amount too big, giving the post a small amount of wiggle room. A size smaller should fit nicely.

    You can use a hand drill for this, or a power drill.

    I just took the bit in my hand and twisted it through the plastic.

    Because I’m a man!

    A man who collects tiny plastic giant robots.

    But a man.

    However you do it, just make sure to keep it steady and try to drill straight down through the plastic.

    At this point you can paint the baseplate black to make up for the paint you scraped off earlier.

    Step 13 – Glue Post

    This step is going to require some more eyeballing, but there should be a lot of wiggle room for how you do it.

    And if there’s wiggle room for the post in the hole, don’t worry about it. Mine glued in just fine, by holding the post against the side of the hole and then building up the rest of the connection with glue. (And even though it’s a tight ball joint, it’s still just fine.)

    So take your favorite kind of glue and coat the post and stick it through the hole. Be careful not to get any of the glue up in the ball joint cup.

    Before the glue sets, you can adjust the post to the height that you want so that the head has enough room to fully use the ball joint.


    Once you’ve got a good height, hold the head in position for a bit until the glue starts to set, then set it aside and leave it alone for a few hours or a day or so.

    After that, you can put your Bumblebee back together. If you didn’t do it earlier you can pop the head off the ball joint and paint the baseplate black.

    Either way, now you should have a Bumblebee that has a lot more personality, being able to look up, look down, turn his head from side to side, and even tilt his head in a quizzical expression.


    I would also very highly recommend you slice the tabs off the back of Bumblebee’s knees, as suggested by Eriku in this post in the feedback thread. It really improves the range of articulation in Bumblebee’s legs!

    If you liked the guide, stop by and let me know! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask here or there and I'll see what I can do.

    ~Matt Booker


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