Making toys is expensive, you only have to look at the rising prices of things in toy shops to know that. Inflation, combined with rising oil prices have pushed almost all toys into the realm of Expensive these days.
But toy manufacture has always been a pricey business and any way to reduce that cost has always been embraced by manufacturers. Making a steel mould to form plastic parts from is the most expensive part, so any way to reuse that mould as much as possible will be jumped on by Management. In the case, for example, of Masters of the Universe toys in the 80s, many of the limbs were designed so that they could be used on as many characters as possible. He-Man is basically the same as Man-at-Arms with a new head, etc etc.
Parts-sharing is a bit more difficult with Transformers, where many pieces have to exactly come together to allow transformation from robot to vehicle. With Transformers, Hasbro generally duplicated a figure exactly but gave it a different paint job and biography to form new characters. This worked better than you might imagine and children were very happy to rebuy multiples of essentially exactly the same toy in order to get Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp etc.
Parents, however, were not quite so happy, but their opinions tend not to matter when faced with the Pester Power of children.
The same parts-reuse strategy is still in use today. If a figure can be repainted and rereleased as something else, then Hasbro will do so. Sometimes, like in the 80s, repaints like this are renamed as characters which hearkened back to those from the 80s.
One day a fan hit upon the notion of improving these repaints by making their own heads which made them a lot more closely resemble the characters they were supposed to homage. It's amazing how such a simple alteration will make to the look and appeal of a toy.
Renderform is one of, if not the, leading producer of these head and accessory kits. I've upgraded a number of figures thanks to Renderform kits, the latest of which was Gold Scout, an upgrade for Bumblebee.
This particular Bumblebee was released, if I recall correctly, a number of years ago in the 'Classics' line, a line that updated characters from the 80s. Since then it's been rereleased a number of times (Hasbro love releasing Bumblebees!) with slightly different paint jobs. Takara released a version in shiny gold paint, which obviously leant itself to being turned into Gold Bug.
Gold Bug was, in the original storyline, a rebuilt and upgraded Bumblebee. The reason given in the 80s cartoon for the name change was simply because Optimus thought he looked like a gold bug. Go figure.
The Renderform kit comes with a new head and a bunch of guns. Put simply, it's fantastic. It instantly makes the toy look like Gold Bug and stands it apart from Bumblebee. It's amazing what a simple head-swap can do and you wonder why Hasbro didn't change the head themselves to make the figure more appealing to those people who'd already bought the thing a hundred times over.
On its own, the blue head looks a little out of place since this is the only place on the toy where blue is featured. However, as soon as you put the supplied blue guns in his hands it fits in perfectly. If you didn't know about the head swap, you'd be hard pressed to know it'd occurred. The plastic used for the parts is very high quality and really it's hard to fault any of it.
The Renderform sets often come with 'extras' and Gold Scout comes with a couple of extra guns, to use however you see fit. These bonus items are a nice addition and increase display (and play!) options, although the likelihood is mine will remain holding the blue guns most of the time. But, you know, you want a special super-powered purpley energon gun? You got it!
The only downside to the set is that there's no where for the guns to store while in vehicle-mode. There's absolutely nothing that could be done about this, however. I challenge anyone to design a weapon which could be stored on the car somewhere - there simply isn't anywhere such a thing could clip.
I especially bought the gold repaint of Bumblebee so I could buy this upgrade kit and I'm glad I did. In fact I like it so much I'm now going to try and get hold of the (numerous) other Bumblebee repaints so I can purchase the other Renderform sets available. They really are that good.
The Gold Scout kits are not only available from Captured Prey. Hub Scout and Bump Scout kits are available direct from Renderform. Regular updates on new and upcoming kits are featured on the Renderform Facebook page.