Events: Age of Extinction Google Hangout Notes

in 2014, Age of Extinction, Article

Events

On Monday May 5th, Hasbro and Hunter PR held a Google Hangout to discuss the "Age of Extinction" toy line. The chat involved folks from several venues including TFW2005, Unicron.com, TFU.info and of course, Ben's World of Transformers!

In attendance were members of the "Transformers" Hasbro team including Jerry Jivoin (Marketing Director), John Warden (Designer) and Joshua Lamb (Lead Designer). It was moderated by Joe Moscone from Hunter PR who took questions roundtable style. Below are notes I took on the questions by topic.

Product Launch
Hasbro plans to officially launch the "Age of Extinction" toy line via online retailers on May 12th on "Cyber Monday", an event to be promoted via a landing site at www.cybertronmonday.com. The products will then hit brick and mortar stores on May 17th (though some stores have been putting toys out ahead of the launch).

Note: As part of Cybertron Monday, U.S. fans sign up to receive a voicemail message from Optimus Prime reminding them when toys are available on May 12th. Fans can text TRANSFORMERS to 38470 to sign up.

Specialized Materials
Chrome is being saved for specialty items such as the Leader Class. It gives the figure a special feeling. Chrome is considered a legacy material that pays homage to toys going back to the original series. From a manufacturing standpoint, such materials can be more expensive and challenging to work with, but it makes it more appealing for fans.

What happened to Cyberverse?
The price points originally hit by Cyberverse are being met by other toys being released. There are figures of those scales coming out (minus Commander Class). Also, without repeating characters in Cyberverse, they could be used in other lines such as Construct-Bots. This allows for new ways to play with the same characters.

Any plans to produce "Age of Extinction" Optimus Prime as a Voyager Class figure?
There will be a Voyager Class Optimus Prime to be revealed later.

Are there any other price points that have not yet been revealed?
All mass retail price points have been revealed, but exclusives have not all been revealed.

How come some instructions included with figures don't match the modes they are packaged in?
Last minute manufacturing changes (sometimes due to size) need to be made to boxes. Instructions couldn't be switched in time. Also, the way figures look in the packaging window plays a factor into which mode it's packaged in.

Can you discuss the challenge in creating new segments of the line from younger audiences to older collectors who have been with the line for 30 years?
Everyone on the team grew up with Transformers. They've tried to go back to the magic of the original series while also ramping up complexity for older fans. The two segments were separated out to satisfy different segments. It wsa discovered that "broad" products intended for collectors and kids were not being played with by younger fans. Today's younger fans are tomorrow's collectors, so figures are designed for the intended consumer.

Creating Transformers that convert with a "surprise effect" like Twin Twist and Runabout inspired some of the new "quick change" toys. John talked about finding a Twin Twist, cleaning it up and seeing its transformation still work. This rush of childhood nostalgia is something they wanted to instill in a whole new generation.

ABS plastic and PVC material
Hasbro has explored the use of PVC material to allow for greater flexibility (no pun intended) in creating Transformers. This was partly inspired by a drawing of Crosshairs from Michael Bay's designers. It showed the flowing "overcoat" look, inspiring the use of PVC plastic to express more "humanistic" qualities in Transformers. It's also good for sharp parts such as horns on the Dinobots.

Rubber wheels offer a "great feel" to the product. It's difficult to develop around it sometimes. Parts have to be designed around the rubber parts.

Why were rubber tires used on Leader Class Optimus Prime? Will this be done on future figures?
Rubber tires and vac metal were both elements to set the "Generations" collector line apart from the simpler figures aimed at kids. They are trying to incorporate these into the higher end items such as Leader Class. They have an eye on articulation, scale, materials etc. when designing figures. It contributes to authenticity of the figures.

Rubber wheels offer a "great feel" to the product. It's difficult to develop around sometimes since parts have to be designed around them.

Why were tech specs shortened and numbers removed on "Age of Extinction" packaging?
Tech Specs are shorter on packaging since expanded bios can be published online. This also allows for greater flexibility when it comes to multi-lingual packaging. Tech Spec numbers may return in the future.

Will there be "One Step/Quickswitch" type toys after "Age of Extinction", perhaps based on G1 or Beast Wars?
There is focus on kids going forward. There is a huge fan following. Core audience is 5-6 year old kid. Making products that connects to that audience will always happen.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • The "code names" used for the "Age of Extinction" characters were used so much that the Hasbro crew still thinks of them with those names. The names were chosen because a lot of folks on the team are "Rocky" fans.
  • By Botcon most of the remaining figures for htis year should be revealed.
  • There are no plans to release "Lost Age" figures such as Dispensor outside Japan at this time.
  • The giant Grimlock figure was shown in a meeting with Brian Goldner and received a very positive reaction.
  • The Hasbro team is very happy that the 30th Anniversary line is running alongside a "big entertainment" line like "Age of Extinction"

Ben's World of Transformers offers its thanks to Hasbro and Hunter PR for including BWTF in this chat.