NYCC 2016: The Future of Transformers
While the 1980’s seems a scant 30 years ago, many of us who were children of said decade have grown up and recently experienced a resurgence of nostalgia. Classic movies and TV from the era are now being remade (some good, mostly bad) as well as many toys and collectibles from our childhood.
Transformers is certainly no exception, having had a rather consistent run since it’s inception. From 1984 until today, the concept of giant robots changing into vehicles, animals, and various items, has been engrained in many Transformer fans’ minds. I’m no exception, having been a fan of the franchise since it’s birth. That being said, I was super-hyped when I was graciously invited to chat with the Hasbro Transformers Design Team during New York Comic-Con.
In the grand scheme of things, the Design Team (led by Design Manager, John Warden and Director of Marketing, Ben Montano) have amazing things planned. Despite some plans they have yet to announce and/or reveal, with what they could share, you can bet Transformers will be getting a lot bigger in the near future.
I can definitely go on an extended talk about each line and what each figure does, but if you’re a fan you already know. If not, I’d suggest heading to Transformers Wiki or looking them up on Google…
Generations (a.k.a.: Prime Wars Trilogy)
Their biggest line as of current is the Generations line. Made for more adult and hardcore Transformers fans, it is a saga consisting of three parts, making up what they call the Prime Wars Trilogy:
Combiner Wars, which is made up of the classic combiner (usually either 5 or 6 figures to combine into one larger figure) robots like Devastator, Menasor, Computron, and countless others.
Titans Return (their current line) made up of both the original Headmasters and Targetmasters, as well as the gargantuan robots like Trypticon, Metroplex, and the massively unmatched (save for maybe G1 Scorpinok) Fortress Maximus, again as well as countless other figures.
A third line is in the works… though the team was tight-lipped about it, only to say that it will be announced very soon.
They are committed to the entire Prime Wars Trilogy, having dug deep into the archives of Hasbro, across the spectrum of classic series including such as the Japanese Saga (which included Headmasters and beyond). Their main goal is to not only bring back fans of the classic lines, but to reintroduce Transformers to a whole new generation of fans. The Trilogy’s story is so vast, that Hasbro (in conjunction with Machinima) produced an eight-episode mini-series online for Combiner Wars, featuring Jon Bailey (a.k.a.: Epic Voice Guy, Honest Trailers Guy) as the voice of Optimus Prime.
The team hopes to do even more with Machinima in the future (Spoiler: Combiner Wars ends with a tease for a potential Titans Return series) and in addition (with their strong partnership with Paramount Studios) they can also develop movies based on the Trilogy. Sadly, they had no news to share regarding the upcoming line of toys to correspond with Paramount’s Transformers: The Last Knight, but said that they are very excited for the future of the Transformers Cinematic Universe.
Robots in Disguise
Where Generations is geared more towards adults and the more hardcore Transformers fanatics, RiD is geared more towards kids and young adults as their current TV product. Cartoon Network introduced the Robots in Disguise animated series early last year as the successor (and somewhat sequel) to the successful HUB series, Transformers: Prime. The series has two current seasons, which can be found on CN as well as the first season on Netflix. A third season is slated to be released sometime next year. Much like the Generations line, RiD (as well as their Rescue Bots line, geared towards younger children) will also be beefed up with even more stories, as well as a potential movie.
After my chat with the team, they let me sneak a few peeks at both lines. I’ve seen the Titans Return line in stores and honestly haven’t been too interested… but seeing them out of the box definitely changed my mind. As I mentioned before, the team is looking to bring in new as well as old fans. I was told that they go back and look at the classic figures to see what worked back then: color schemes, alt-modes, original characters, and more. It was mentioned the new lines are cut from the same cloth as their predecessors as well as giving older fans the ability to play with the toys and have the same or similar emotional connection.
Additionally, you can see where the Design Team gets a lot of their inspiration from both the 1980’s era as well as previous incarnations of Transformers. In looking at the newest version of Autobot Sideswipe, I was shown that his vehicle mode transforms when adding a second smaller Transformer (much like the 2000 era Transformers: Armada where figures would include Mini-Cons that activated alt-modes in figures). When the figure was added, Sideswipe’s doors opened much like a gullwing car… think a DeLorean from Back to the Future or Thunder Hawk from another classic 80’s cartoon, M.A.S.K. (P.S.: Since it is also owned by Hasbro, I briefly asked if there were plans, since they own that line as well… there are!)
After Sideswipe, I was treated to see the new Perceptor, which like the original is again a WORKING microscope. I also saw one of the newest incarnation of Duo-Cons, wherein two figures combine into one. One of the new Titans Return figures, named Blackshadow, is a combination of a tank and a jet, which can also combine into a mini-base. Blackshadow’s base mode will ultimately combine with the Autobot City Titan, Metroplex as a super base, along with 2 other “faction leaders,” including the return of 7-in-1 transforming Sixshot.
Besides all of aforementioned toy lines, I also inquired about Transformers Masterpiece (and was told at that point, I was the only person to ask). Masterpiece is a line produced by both Hasbro as well as Transformers’ Japanese creator Takara, and consist of the classic Generation One figures like Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Grimlock, and many others, in larger (almost statuesque) figures, ranging from $60 – $100+. While Hasbro has only put out a select few as Toys R Us exclusives, you can also find a vast array of Takara’s imported figures on eBay (usually for twice or three times the price of a Hasbro one). The Design Team sadly had no new news on new figures, but did say that they have a vested interest in the line and that we fans should expect to see an expanded run in stores within the next 12 – 18 months.
I also asked about the current market of figures at local stores. I was saddened to mention that my local TRU stores in the area only dedicated a small bit of space to all their current TF lines, what seems a result of about 2 aisles worth being dedicated towards Star Wars (which in a way is still kind of good, since most of their toys are made by Hasbro, but still… really TRU?). The good news is, the Design Team IS looking to expand on that with all the upcoming lines, so hopefully the Autobots and Decepticons can team up to take at least half of an aisle back from the treacherous forces of Disney.
All in all, the future certainly looks amazing for Hasbro and Team Transformers. I can’t wait… and know my wallet’s screaming!