New York Comic Con 2012 Preview Party
In lieu of having a gigantic set up at New York Comic Con 2012, Hasbro opted to hold their own event the night before Comic-Con on October 10, 2012. It was a relatively small event, but many of the normal fan press venues were there including yours truly. Compared to other events such as February's Toy Fair event, this one was more of a cocktail party than a sit down presentation. In many respects, the space set up on West 31 Street in Manhattan was a lot like a lounge or club. There were bright, colored lights, a sparse, modern design to the space on top of old painted brick. The center of the space had a large bar set up while waiters brought around trays of small bites including mini-sliders, egg rolls, cheese and vegetables. What made this different than your typical pop up party club was the sheer amount of toys surrounding everyone. Each corner of the bar had a gigantic Heli-Carrier from "The Avengers" on it while Transformers figures dominated an area set up to resemble couches around a winter fireplace. Spread at a comfortable distance throughout the room were displays for some of the key toy lines being released by Hasbro including Angry Birds Star Wars, G.I. Joe KRE-O, My Little Pony and of course: Transformers!
Relatively speaking, new Transformers product was rather sparse at this event, mostly because the Transformers team was saving much of what they were going to present for the next day's New York Comic Con Transformers panel (which will involve a Powerpoint deck with at least 40 slides). The one Transformer that was shown was from the much anticipated "Beast Hunters" line, the newest iteration of the "Transformers Prime" line. Bringing beasts into the mix, a new faction will be shaking things up in the "Prime" universe. The only figure shown was a biggie. At a scale that I would call an "Ultra" (but Hasbro would not quite confirm that til tomorrow), this figure was a black and orange dragon named Predaking! He remained in dragon mode all night, but he was an impressive sight with a huge wingspan, big missile launchers on the wings and fangs and claws worthy of Transmetal 2 Megatron! The bit of animation on the screen showed claws and a tail of some beast in the "Prime" universe, but it was only a tantalizaing hint of what would be revealed tomorrow at Comic-Con.
I'll let other sites report on the other toy lines at this event. My focus was squarely on Transformers, and I spoke to the Transformers team at length about various issues facing the line including the lack of inventory in some stores, the recent price increases and the ever popular topic of case assortment numbers. Anyone who has ever attended a Botcon panel will not be surprised by some of what I heard. In terms of inventory, it's a bit of a mystery. I was told there were no production issues at the factory level, so it is unknown what caused the recent "drought" of Transformers toys that has only been relieved in some areas in recent weeks. The price increases frankly have nothing to do with Hasbro, as it's retailers who decide those prices. I know many fans have begun to vote with their wallets, and I can only hope the retailers get that in many cases they have stretched or broken the limit of what some fans are willing or able to shell out for toys at certain price points.
On the topic of case assortments, the infamous "Bumblebee discussion" came up where the ubiquity of the character has become the stuff of parody among fans, but case assortments is not an exact science, and they are decided months before we ever even know the toy is being made, making it difficult sometimes to gauge who should be in an assortment and in what quantity. There is sometimes a chance (as has happened in the past) that if a particular figure warrants being put back into circulation it can see the light of day again. It should also be noted that the team is very much in favor of new characters and redecos that utilize new heads, making them distinctive from the original figure (think Hot Shot). I believe the team was very sincere in everything they said and I do not envy the job they have on their hands!
Not wanting to be just a guy who pelts a team member with questions, I also made it a point to compliment some of what Hasbro has done. I think credit needs to be given where it's due. Among the examples I pointed out were making the Asian market exclusive figures available in the U.S. (and evenly packed in cases no less), re-releasing the "First Edition" Transformers Prime figures and continuing the release of the "Masterpiece" figures. The Transformers team may not get every single thing right, but nor can one say they haven't had some great successes.
Towards the end of the night, I noticed several people beginning to grab some of the current product (not the stuff on display) right off the shelves and stalking off. I didn't realize that a cue had been given for people to take items (again, not anything on display that hadn't been released yet) as part of a mass "clean up" effort. I managed to snag a Bot Shots "Battle for the Matrix" set (yay, I had been holding off on it) and a KRE-O "Street Showdown" set, whoo! On the way out there was more fun news including a swag bag that had some cool items including an exclusive KREON of Bumblebee in translucent blue called "Energon Bumblebee", a "Fall of Cybertron" Optimus Prime and even a copy of the "Fall of Cybertron" game for XBox 360! This was a very cool and generous bag and oh yes, I managed to snag a Pinkie Pie for my girlfriend, whoo!
I really enjoyed the format of this event and while I will miss Hasbro's presence at NYCC 2012, this was a nice way to see items while having a good time in a semi-informal environment. On behalf of myself and all BWTF fans, I would like to thank Hasbro and Hunter PR for their consideration in providing me entry into this event!