In any given robust toyline, repaints are pretty much a given. To save on production and/or animation costs, single molds and designs are often repainted or recolored and made into different characters. For many Transformer fans, repaints are pretty much the norm and are widely accepted. Even if they look exactly the same, there is no confusion between the seekers Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp…their colors (and well defined personalities) pretty much tell us who is who. Then there’s the case of Decepticons Rumble and Frenzy, where things get a little…messy.
Rumble and his ‘twin’ brother Frenzy were both part of the first wave of Transformers released in the US in 1984. They along with Ravage, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw made up the original group of cassette warriors that loyally served their master Soundwave, the evil Decepticon Walkman.
Unlike their fellow “casseticons” who transformed into animals, Rumble & Frenzy transformed into identical looking robots, differing only in, you guessed it, color. Now to be fair to Hasbro, I don’t think they had any intention of confusing us collectors. It was pretty cut and dried from the start. Rumble was RED and Frenzy was BLUE. Then a few months later they released the official cartoon and that’s when the confusion started.
It’s not really known how it happened, let’s just say someone basically F’d up somewhere down the animation production line, but in the very first episode Rumble made his official debut and he wasn’t colored red like his toy, instead, he was colored blue…OK if you want to be really nitpicky about it, he was more on the purplish side…or periwinkle….but he was definitely NOT red.
A few more episodes down the line, his cassette brother Frenzy eventually made his first appearance and he was most definitely RED. And with that, the entire Transformers fandom has been split down the middle with toy purists proclaiming Rumble is Red, Frenzy is Blue (RIRFIB) and cartoon loyalists insisting that Rumble is Blue, Frenzy is Red (RIBFIR). I know to the outsider, such a debate can be considered quite…stupid, but to Transformers fans and collectors, this has remained a hotly discussed debate up to today.
Each side has pretty strong arguments. I mean the toy is THE toy so it should be the defining factor on determining Rumble’s true color. But for many, like myself, it was in the cartoon where we were first introduced to the character Rumble so while the brain says Rumble is red, the heart tells me he’s blue.
Now, I don’t think this would have been much of an issue if Rumble’s presence in the cartoon was that of a background character….then they could have just blamed the color switch to an animation error (believe me there were quite a lot). But despite being one of literally the smallest Decepticons on the show, Rumble made quite the impression and played a big role in the first story arc.
In one of their first battles on Earth, Rumble utilizes his trademark piledrivers to cause a tidal wave to push the power output of the hydroelectric plant at Sherman Dam to its maximum capacity. He also manages to fight off of a larger Autobot, Hound, who tries to stop him (to be fair to Hound, he gets the better of Rumble in their next encounter). Rumble using his piledriver arms also brings home the point that this guy in the cartoon WAS definitely meant to be Rumble.
On a side note, an interesting fact worth mentioning was that Rumble (and later on Frenzy) were voiced in the cartoon by the almost legendary voice actor Frank Welker who was not only the voice of Megatron & Soundwave but other iconic cartoon characters such as Scooby Doo, Fred Jones & Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget.
Anyway, for most fans & collectors, the cartoon was our first real introduction to the Transformers, so for many, BLUE Rumble is the official canon, despite the fact that majority of the Rumble toys released since the original G1 version have been red….and it ain’t even close. Even in my own collection where I have 4 versions of Rumble, Red wins out.
The first is an updated version of Rumble from the Alternators line released in 2006. Since by that time cassette players were pretty much obsolete, he transformed instead into an officially licensed Honda Civic Si. A RED Honda Civic to be exact. Interestingly enough, his fellow cassetticon Ravage who was a jaguar was also updated transforming appropriately enough to a Jaguar XK.
Next we have the Transformers Prime version of Rumble who still transforms into a car but this time around colored BLUE. Interestingly enough, Japanese Transformer manufacturer Takara released the same toy but colored RED, and which I conveniently dubbed MY Frenzy.
On another side note, between the 2 Transformers manufacturing companies, Takara (Japan) & Hasbro (US), Takara seems more hell-bent on following the original toy color thus releasing almost all their versions of Rumble in red. Hasbro on the other hand is less consistent and willing to throw in a blue Rumble into the mix every now and then to continually fuel the debate I guess. Case in point with the War for Cybertron Rumble, who transformed into a data disc, and the almost released, but ultimately cancelled Reveal the Shield Demolition Rumble who transformed into a tank, both of which were blue.
Ok technically my third version of Rumble shouldn’t really count cuz it was made by a Third Party company Perfect Effect, so it’s not an officially licensed Transformer, but these guys ARE meant to be Rumble and Frenzy. The red dude is called Warrior Type – R and the Blue one is Warrior Type – F….so I guess we know what color the guys in Perfect Effect think Rumble is.
Finally we have the Masterpiece version of Rumble, which is the ultimate updated version that still transforms into a cassette. Mine is the Takara version so is unsurprisingly RED, but even Hasbro’s version this time around is red.
So where do I myself stand in this classic Transformers debate? To be honest, despite the fact that I have 3 Red Rumbles vs 1 Blue in my collection, for me, my Rumble will always be the one I saw first which was the version in the cartoon. So ultimately, If you ask me, I’d have to say that Frenzy is most definitely Red…and Rumble is Periwinkle.