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Building a Life-Size Bumblebee Transformer

James Bruton never does anything small, nor seemingly turns down any engineering challenge, however daunting. The man who made a full-on Iron Man suit, a Boston Dynamics-style openDog robot, a Star Wars BB-8, and an electric Batman skateboard was asked by Paramount Pictures to create a working, life-size VW bug Transformer ahead of the forthcoming Bumblebee movie.

For the build, James enlisted the help of his friend Kyla Hislop, a costume and prop builder. James focused on the rather complex mechanics and electronics of the build while Kyla tackled the beetle car body and Transformer parts (mainly using EVA foam to keep everything as lightweight as possible). Following through the videos, you can tell that it’s a complex and challenging build.

There are three build videos in the series. The big reveal is yet to come, but subscribe and hit the alert bell and you’ll be able to see the working(?) results soon. After following this series and seeing all of the elements come together, I’m a bit nervous for how this is all going to play out. As we all know, Transformer physics and engineering have always been a bit dodgey in real-world terms. It’s quite daunting to imagine trying to create a real-life Transformer that performs in a realistic and satisfying way. Fingers crossed.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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