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Bumblebee thrills Transformers fans

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Wyatt Joyner, 4, bottom, talks to the 8-foot-tall Bumblebee mascot about his Bumblebee toy on Thursday during the Transformers Bumblebee movie tour at Walmart in Rocky Mount.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Friday, January 11, 2019

Younger children, fun-loving adults and school-age kids with cool parents got to meet Transformers movie star Bumblebee on Thursday morning in Rocky Mount.

To publicize the Autobot's self-titled movie now in theaters, Walmart teamed up with Hasbro to bring the larger-than-life robot to life, said Store Manager Jim Cronkhite

“It's great for kids,” Cronkhite said. “The look on their faces is priceless.”

Lisa Brennan brought her two sons, Conner, 5, and Henry, 7, to see Bumblebee. The family planned to see the movie later in the day.

“This is sweet,” Henry said. His younger brother just stared in amazement at the towering robot.

Bailey said the whole family is big Transformer fans.

“I love this,” Bailey said. “This is awesome of Walmart to do this.”

Bumblebee spent two hours posing for photographs with a few minutes to pause for an oil change — a bathroom break for the actor in the heavy plastic and metal suit. The most common question asked of Desmond Chambliss, the Hasbro employee with the fantastic job of being Bumblebee's handler, is how tall is the man in the 8-foot suit.

His answer? It depends on the man in the suit. Some media outlets in other areas are reporting Bumblebee to be 9 feet tall. He really is more than meets the eye.

Hasbro has three teams of Bumblebees criss-crossing the country with a plan to visit 1,000 Walmarts. Rocky Mount was stop number 185 for Chambliss' crew.

The actor in the suit Thursday is 6 foot 3 inches. It take around 30 minutes for an actor to suit up. When disassembled, the heavy outfit takes up four suitcase trunks.

For anyone who wants to hang out with Bumblebee but couldn't make it Thursday; there's several other appearances scheduled in the Raleigh area this weekend.

Bumblebee will make an appearance 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Clayton Walmart and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Wake Forest Walmart. Other times and cities include: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Raleigh; 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Cary; 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday in Fuquay Varina; 2 to 4 p.m. in Sanford; and 6 to 8 p.m. in Cameron.

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