Imagine you come online; you’re your own ‘bot.
You are a unique mold toy and an actual fleshed-out (well, metaphorically at least) character in the cartoon.
Your name is reused a couple times on a minicon in Armada and an Autobot in Energon but things are all still well and good because you remain you. Next thing you know, you’re getting called up for an upgrade in the Classics line.
That’s when it starts. Suddenly you aren’t just Cliffjumper any more, you have become a recurring theme, namely “that red repaint of Bumblebee”.
Basically, you don’t get to play second banana to just any other ‘bot, you are now intrinsically tied to the one-‘bot-franchise that is Bumblebee.
There’s a term for guys like Bumblebee: “Kid Appeal Characters“. However, Bumblebee was the first.
Though he moved aside to give guys like Cheetor and Hot Shot a chance, he is back in full force. Since the 2007 movie, Bumblebee has been the primary buddy of the humans in each fiction. This has put him back on the top of the merchandising options.
Not-too-coincidentally, this is about the same time the Classics Cliffjumper, the first of the “Red Bumblebee” toys, showed up. Things are looking up for Cliffjumper though. Beginning with his appearance in Animated, Cliffjumper became not just a repaint but a remold of Bumblebee, garnering a unique headsculpt. This continued through his recent release in their Cybertronian bodies as part of the War for Cybertron sub-section of the Generations line.
Granted, a new headsculpt doesn’t do much for alt-modes.
There was a 3rd party that made a custom head for the Classics Cliffjumper mold. The kit, along with the head, had some ground effects and a new spoiler for Cliffjumper’s alt-mode (all of which make CJ look absolutely hideous in my opinion) as well as weaponry for his robot mode. Unfortunately it was back before 3rd party merchandise was in full swing and therefore was made in very small quantities. It now fetches upwards of $300 on ebay. I truly don’t understand why. I don’t really think the head is all that good of a replacement, I personally think it has a very… “herpderp” ¹ quality to it. You be the judge. With the release of the new War for Cybertron Cliffjumper, some have used this as a low(er) cost solution.
Now, with the advent of Transformers: Prime, Cliffjumper stepped fully out of the shadow of his erstwhile brother. Not only was he back to being a unique design, his design was awesome and he appeared in a bunch of the promotional material for the new show. [NOTE: I am about to address the show Transformers: Prime, so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled, turn back now.]
A muscle car alt-mode with bull horns and a robot mode that looks like it could seriously lay the smackdown. Now, they haven’t released any info about toys for Transformers: Prime yet but if we don’t get a toy of that, it’ll be a crime. Yep, things are looking great for our plucky not-so-little-anymore hero. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Oh… wait. This is Transformers. Things can always go wrong.
One episode in and they kill him.² Two episodes in and they make him undead. Cliffjumper Zombie.
Then they blow him up.
You know what, CJ? Maybe it would have been better if you have just remained an unnoticed red repaint.
¹ No, I’m not providing a link for “herpderp”. If you don’t know that one, you’ll have to educate yourself. Try Google. Just don’t blame me.
² What’s with all these posts ending in death these days?³
³ What’s with all these posts ending in footnotes these days?