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Testing the Huggability of TRANSFORMERS Build-A-Bears

Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy.

Michael Bay may want to be many things to many people, but “cute” is not one of them. In fact, one of the key take-aways from my visit to the set of Transformers: The Last Knight was that despite the presence of  tiny Autobot Sqweeks and baby Dinobots, he was determined to dismiss any suggestion that those elements in any way made his movie cuter.

But the director does not control all the merchandising. And if Build-A-Bear decides that they want to partner with Hasbro to cutify Transformers, Mr. Blow-Everything-Up does not get to stop them.


Years ago, when I was single, a particularly belligerent and obtuse uncle told me that (a) it was wise to rule out any potential dates who had photos of their bed covered in plush animals, and (b) I would never make any productive relationships working on horror movies. Lo and behold, I met my teddy-bear collecting wife on the set of a movie where our first interaction was me throwing a meat cleaver at her. We have been together ever since, and respect each other’s collections. So while I know my Transformers, she knows her cute bears, and I knew I needed to get her take on these Build-a-Bear Transformers.

First, I brought in the Optimus Prime bear, looking like this:


Note the way the “wings” on his helmet look not unlike Gremlin ears.


Julia: “He looks mean. He doesn’t look like a nice bear. He looks like a bear that’s going to kick your butt. He’s squishy, I like that. Very squishy. Okay, you know like how they have the build-a-bear Pikachu, that you can put little outfits on? Well, I thought they were gonna do little bears, regular-looking bears or whatever and have them dressed up as Optimus Prime or something. OH! Oh there’s a hoodie! Oh thank you sweet Jesus there’s a hoodie!”

At this moment, she discovered that the Optimus face could be pulled back and turned into a hood.


Julia: “Awwww! Now he cuuuute! Awww. Okay, thank you God. We are saved. Aww, look at his little eyes and his little nose and he’s got a little smile! Look at his little smile! They could have done without the hoodie thing. I get it; they want it to transform and everything, but this would have been cuter. Yeah.”

She did, however, see some advantages: “I guess if we had a son we would be getting him this, you know, because I have a feeling this is something little boys would go nuts about. All in all, good job, Build-A-Bear, on that one.”

When I brought in Bumblebee, he had the bear face already exposed.


Julia: “AWWWWW! Let me guess — the next bear you’re gonna show me is gonna have the same eye coloring and the same smirk, right?”

No, I told her, there were no other bears. Just these two. And then we pulled up the Bumblebee hood to see if that changed anything. Frankly, I thought it made him look like a Freddy Fazbear animatronic with torn-off face. She surprised me.


Julia: “Aw, he’s even cute! Bumblebee’s just cute. He’s even cute with the little mask on.”

She did, however, have an issue with the fact that the arms on these guys can rotate 360 degrees.

Julia: “These joints, if I were a parent, would bother me. Because let’s face it, if you’re giving this to kids that are usually playing with teddy bears are usually 3 to 6 and so this joint would bother me a bit. Because I could rip that off if I really went for it. And kids tend to sometimes have superhuman strength? So that could be a problem, because you see with the legs, the legs are sewn together. I mean, you can rip anything, but you know. ”


There are no print designs on the back. But if your only sense were touch, you might not notice any on the front either. I figured the designs would make them hard, but they are indeed huggable, and yes, squishy.


And they have Autobot logos on their feet.

Julia’s biggest regret? “I would like to see [Bumblebee] in a little sailor suit. Yeah. Bumblebee with the hoodie is cute too, but Optimus with the hoodie looks really freaky.”

As of this writing, she has renamed the Bumblebee bear “Jack.” I’ll have to add that to the birth certificates provided.


And regardless of all misgivings, this was my wife’s final word on the bears: “So…we get to keep these, right? YAAAAY!”

The Transformers bears will run you around $32 at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Want a Megatron bear, or maybe Hound or Mohawk? Sound off in comments below.

Images: Luke Y. Thompson

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