Last week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Hasbro was gracious enough to give us here at TFviews.com an official interview with the Transformers brand management team shortly after what could arguably be called their best panel presentation ever – thanks largely to a angrily-passionate crowd, a responsive panel, and technical difficulties with the slideshow (you wouldn’t think that’d be a recipe for success, but it was more fun and more informative than any this reporter has ever seen before). TFv got to sit down with Aaron Archer and Jerry Jivoin (alliteration at Comic-Con is a must!) and ask them the following questions culled from our readers.
Hasbro’s time was limited, so we jumped right into the questions…
TFviews.com: So, as you know, Masterforce was recently released on DVD. My guys would love to know, especially with some of those characters being in IDW, if we’ll be seeing some more of those characters coming out in Generations or something like that. Something like Bomb Burst, Metalhawk, Waverider, Overlord, Joyride.
Hasbro (AA): Some of them we’re doing… I would say Masterforce coming out isn’t activating any Japanese products in our market. So not likely. Doesn’t mean it won’t some day, but we didn’t put Masterforce out to promote products.
TFviews.com: Sure, I understand. Speaking of things that come out and then you release them, IDW and Marvel, a rich library of characters that people are starting to respond to in a more mainstream way like Drift and Straxus, will we be seeing more like that?
Hasbro (AA): Well my role creatively is to make use of all of it. It doesn’t do us any good to have one off guy over here; they’re assets to the company. So if they’re a big deal in some of these comics, or in a video game, or a movie, or whatever, we’d love to find a way to use them when the time is right.
TFviews.com: Is that mostly looking-forward stuff, like new comics, new games, or Marvel as well?
Hasbro (AA): Well Marvel’s a little bit of a different deal, there are characters that are Marvel characters that are in the Transformer comics back in the day, but they belong to them: Matrix, characters like that…
TFviews.com: Circuit Breaker?
Hasbro (AA): Yeah. So we’re not actively trying to get those to put in the line either.
TFviews.com: Onslaught (the latest one, from Fall of Cybertron Bruticus) was developed before Generations had a Voyager line so he had to be a deluxe. Is there any chance of seeing him done again as a Voyager for the core of Bruticus?
Hasbro (JJ): No plans as of right now. I admit the decision there was to do them all on the deluxe scale because the Voyager scale wasn’t going to be out at the same time.
Hasbro (AA): Because of those price differences you can’t expect that the numbers would all match up. Deluxe moves faster than Voyager, so we’d have another problem where we’d be talking about “well why can’t I find the center guy? I have all four legs and arms.”
TFviews.com: Well you have done a little better at making these standalone toys than in the past. So I’m just trying to do anything I can to make that happen because you know, bigger Onslaught means bigger Bruticus.
Hasbro (JJ): We definitely recognize that the center piece is generating on, you’d say a Voyager scale. It definitely opens up that opportunity.
TFviews.com: So you’ve done Bruticus, your first really big combiner in quite a while. What about some of the more unorthodox combiners like Rail Racer, Magnaboss, DuoCons? We’ve seen a real decrease since the Unicon trilogy in combiners and has that been a conscious decision to just get away from that except for Power Core, or is it something that just naturally happened and now is coming back?
Hasbro (AA): It’s been a lot to communicate with a combiner, and those toys, at times, you have to make adjustments for the third mode that you wouldn’t on another one that didn’t have a third mode. They present different challenges so they’re not always top-of-mind, plus then Jerry has to communicate how they go together and all that. I will say for the creative side, for the publishing or anything else, I’m really intrigued that some of these guys are coming back, and whether it’s Kre-O line or whatever. I’ve been part of G1 guys being reinvented, we haven’t done Superion, we haven’t done the monster guys, Protectobots, on and on. I’m excited to bring more light to those other combiner teams.
TFviews.com: So you want to go back to the original first, not do the Rail Racer and the…
Hasbro (AA): Probably not, I wouldn’t do fringe first, I would see the Rail Racer as a fringe combiner – although it’s cool and has its fans.
TFviews.com: Oh yeah, big time. Especially because it was hard to get when it came out.
Hasbro (AA): Yeah. But certainly Superion and some of the other guys.
Hasbro (JJ): If you look at the last five years, if you look at the movies, there was only one combiner: Devastator.
TFviews.com: And it wasn’t even like the classic concept, because they were individuals.
Hasbro (JJ): Right. Prime currently… there are no combiners in Prime, so I think when you look at some of the major entertainment out there for Transformers, there hasn’t been that. However, now you get to where Fall of Cybertron has Bruticus in it, now the comic books are having combiners. It gives us a way bring some of these characters back.
TFviews.com: With cancelled products, although I know you guys have worked really hard to get some of these canceled products back out in our hands, some stuff like the Animated, some of that stuff just isn’t coming back right now, as you said (in the panel). Those are tools that your money just is not coming back on obviously because you’re not running them. Would there be a way to bring something like that back in a collector-focused way, perhaps internet exclusive, perhaps even beyond Hasbro Toy Shop.
Hasbro (AA): We look at those things all the time, and the reality is that they were made a few years ago, so the standards have changed, the mix has changed, and the focus has changed. It just started airing again on the Hub, Animated, so if we had put it out a year ago no one would even know what they were looking at, except…
TFviews.com: Well I mean collector focused, not on the mainstream, not on pegs.
Hasbro (AA): It comes up, but we find other things are probably more in tune with what we’re moving more of.
Hasbro (JJ): We definitely recognize that there were unreleased Animated figures, so much like the last wave of movie product out there, or Prime First Edition….
TFviews.com: Reveal the Shield…
Hasbro (JJ): Right, there’s a lot of those things, and if we see an opportunity we’ll definitely re-release them.
Hasbro (AA): What I’d like to say just so people know, and I’ve brought this up a couple different times, there have always been products that have dropped off and last waves canceled, and things. Just today, people know about it in a way that they never did before. It’s hard to navigate that when you’re talking business plans, it’s tough to make everybody happy. We certainly don’t work hard to make these things to not put them out, so clearly something has changed when we don’t.
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And that’s it for our interview with Hasbro’s Transformers brand at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International. We’d like to thank Mr. Archer, Mr. Jivoin, and everybody at Team Hasbro who made this possible.
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