Hasbro New York Comic-Con 2018 Press Event
Earlier this year, Hasbro revealed many of the Autobots to be released in "Siege", the latest sub-line under the "Generations" imprint. As the months went along, many fans kept wondering "Hey, what about the Decepticons?". This was a valid question as Hasbro's more traditional reveals show off entire waves at once with a mixture of figures in different size classes and affiliations. After many months of waiting, Hasbro finally revealed the "Siege" Decepticons in force at their own press event during New York Comic-Con 2018!
In past years, Hasbro actually held a lavish event the night before NYCC. However, that practice ended in 2016. Since then, Hasbro has chosen to use off-site (read: they do not have a booth at NYCC) location to hold their own mini-event where they invite press to see their products and guide them through it. This year the press event was held in a hotel in Midtown Manhattan utilizing several small meeting rooms to show off different brands.
Instead of a more "Toy Fair" style set up where figures are lined up on shelves going across in tiers with little labels in front of them, Hasbro has been experimenting with more unconventional display the past few years. At SDCC 2018 they used a large diorama to display the Autobots. To reveal the Decepticons they created the "Decepticon side" of the diorama, featuring a dark Cybertronian landscape that has been damaged and torn apart as rivers of Energon flow underneath. It was a very dramatic way to show off their product and it looked fantastic! Keen eyed fans who look at the display will find parts from previous Transformers figures including an Optimus Prime trailer panel and some bits from Metroplex. Also hidden in there is a certain streetlight looking tower that G1 fans will find familiar!
Before I dive into "Siege", please note that some "Cyberverse" and "Bumblebee" movie toys were on display. I covered my impressions of those items here and here so check out those news posts if you want to read my thoughts and see images of those toys.
The "Siege" line really attempts to take the Transformers line into new aesthetic and design directions. First, the basic sculpts now feature a much higher level of line and panel details, echoing some of the designs seen in Japanese Transformers illustrations in the 80's that appeared in various magazines. However, detailing does not do much without a strong deco and the designers have aimed to do just that with this line. On top of regular paint details such as headlights and faces, the designers have also applied a layer of "weathering" detail mostly in the form of silver or gunmetal grey color scrapes and "scratches" on the figures. This gives them a gritty appearance that befits warriors fighting on a war torn Cybertron. Fans who collected "Power of the Primes" figures will also rejoice in hearing that stickers have been eliminated! All deco is now either paint or tampographs once again. In another fun note: the "weathering" effects are sometimes hand brushed details, meaning two of the same figure could have different weathering details. The two Hounds that were on display were both production samples and they had different "weathering" on Hound's chest!
Continuing the general theme of figures interacting with each other across size classes, "Siege" uses each size class as a sort of layer to build upon. Battlemasters can be connected to each other or Micromasters to form larger weapons. Those weapons can then be attached to (or held by) larger scale figures. Some Deluxes such as Cog and Brunt can break apart to form armor and weaponry for larger figures (see the photo below of a heavily loaded up Hound for reference). On top of all that, the "blast effects" included with the Battlemasters can be attached to some parts of larger figures (for instance, Megatron has an attachment point on his shoulder area to look like he is taking a hit).
Fan reaction has varied on these changes, but I admire the desire to try something new that takes Japanese toy line influences and works them into a line that will be released in the United States (among other countries, of course). Personally I am very enthusiastic about this play pattern and look forward to adding these figures to my collection.
Utilizing a new name for "Targetmasters", the "Battlemasters" are small robots that transform into weapons. Each is based on a G1 Targetmaster and thanks to happy trademark luck, both retain the same names as their G1 counterparts: Blowpipe and Aimless! For those curious, these are all new sculpts and not redecos/re-releases of the Targetmaster figures included with the Takara Tomy "Legends" releases. Hasbro did consider using those sculpts for a while, but they had too many parts for the price point. With the release of these figures, fans who have been wanting Targetmaster partners for their "Titans Return" Misfire and Triggerhappy will finally get their wish! Even better, these figures come with "blaster" effects that you can attach to the ends of the weapons or other figures to bring life to the figures in a way that has not been done with Transformers before. This echoes other Japanese toys such as Bandai's Tamashii Nations "effect" accessories.
It was already revealed that "Siege" would have Autobot Micromaster sets, each featuring a two Micro Transformers (instead of the traditional four pack). Now thanks to this display (and posts on the Official Transformers Facebook page) we now know the early waves of "Siege" will feature at least two Decepticon Micromaster sets!
One is the Air Strike Patrol, featuring Whisper and Storm Cloud, two characters who were part of the team of the same name in G1 (with two other aerial warriors). Each is styled to look like an updated version of their G1 counterparts complete with similar color schemes and sculpted details. However, this is not just a two pack of jets. In a clear nod to "Armada", these two jets can combine to form a sword weapon! This fits with the theme of the Micromasters and Battlemasters serving as weapons for larger robots. Like the Battlemasters, you can attach the "weapon effect" accessories to the sword to give it an extra sense of motion. During the press event, Hasbro attached the "slash" effect from Lionizer to the sword to demonstrate the play pattern.
The other Micromaster set revealed was the Soundwave Spy Patrol consisting of Ravage and Laserbeak. Soundwave's "cassette force" has been given many designations over the years (including being called "Deployers" at one point) so this is just another in a long line of "sub-group" names for them. Both figures transform into "cassettes" (or Cybertronian data pads if you prefer) and they can fit into Soundwave's chest. Laserbeak in particular will be of interest to fans as his head is based off of his design from the original G1 episode "More than Meets the Eye" part one featuring what looks more like a cockpit than eyes on the head. For those wondering, Ravage can attach to the back of Hound in vehicle form in a bit of an unintentional nod to the Universe 2.0 Hound figure!
Skytread (aka Flywheels) was the figure I think most fans were anticipating. After the very well received Battletrap was released in early 2018, many fans wanted his fellow "Duocon" Flywheels to see a proper release (and not just a pseudo-homage-release). Now fans have their wish as Hasbro showed off Skytread! Looking like a modern day version of his G1 counterpart, he features a tank and a plane combining into one robot. However, unlike Battletrap, the two separate vehicles cannot transform into separate robots. That said, the vehicles are backwards compatible with Battletrap so you can swap out the vehicles between the two sets to form Skytrap or Battletread (not official names, I'm just playing around with the concept). Skytread was designed to be the same height as Battletrap, so the two should look good next to each other on your shelves.
A surprise (though there had been rumors online for ages now) was a Deluxe Refraktor (aka Reflector) figure! This figure is modeled after the G1 Reflector character and transforms into a blaster-like weapon. Each figure also includes the "lens" to attach to the center of the body, a blaster and part of a camera lens! Why? Because if you buy three of these guys you can combine them to form a camera! Even cooler? The weapons can be combined to form a tripod! Long time fans will remember Reflector was represented by three robots in the G1 cartoon series and they would combine to form a camera and this is a homage to that. The Transformers team said they planned this figure to be a troop builder and will do their best to make sure assortments do not short change anyone looking to get three of these guys.
Perhaps the biggest surprise among the Deluxe Class figures was Brunt! Who, you might ask? Brunt was one of the partners who came with the original Trypticon figure in G1. This time out, Brunt is not just a tank that breaks apart into buildings and a cannon. Instead, like Cog he breaks apart into armor and weaponry for other figures! Even better? He has a robot mode that is a fun Easter Egg. The robot mode design is actually based on the IDW Publishing Centurion Droid! John Warden mentioned during the event that the designers took great pains to match up Brunt's purple color to the Full-Tilt figure included with "Titans Return" Trypticon. Once released this figure will help fans everywhere "complete" their modern day Trypticon!
Scale is a difficult subject with Transformers toys, and with few exceptions (such as the current "Masterpiece" and "Studio Series" lines) fans have mostly given up on scale making much sense with the Transformers toy line. Instead, fans tend to pick a scale they want certain characters at and then pine for a character in that scale. Such has been the case with characters like Soundwave (who last appeared as a Leader Class figure). Now fans get their wish as Hasbro revealed three key Decepticons as Voyager Class figures: Megatron, Soundwave and Starscream!
Megatron was released in "Titans Return" has a Voyager Class figure, but that one was a bit too far removed from his G1 incarnation for some fans (especially since it was a shared set of tools with Blitzwing). This time out we get a very "pure G1" Megatron in robot mode, featuring several design elements from the original G1 animation model. Of course, he turns into a tank instead of a gun, but even that sets up a potential G2 redeco that would be lots of fun. Even better? Megatron does not just include his famous Fusion Cannon but also a sword based on the sword that came with the original G1 Megatron action figure!
Soundwave is back, this time as a Voyager Class figure (which at least two fans I know personally have told me in recent weeks is their preferred scale for the character). His robot mode is very true to his G1 design, even featuring his famous "tape deck" chest window/compartment that flips out at the press of a button. However, being on Cybertron he turns into a ship instead of a cassette player. In an undocumented bonus mode, he can also turn into the "street light" mode seen in the G1 cartoon. For those wondering just what his vehicle mode is I like to think of it as a cargo or troop carrier of some sort. Anyhow, let's be honest, most people will keep him in robot mode.
When the "Seeker" jets appeared in the first Transformers episode in 1984, they transformed into four sided aerial vehicles fans then dubbed as "Tetrajets". Suspension of disbelief was necessary to accept these as the vehicle modes since they would transform into robots that clearly had F-14 parts on them (hey, it was the 80's, we just rolled with it). However Hasbro is now giving the Tetrajets a go with this new Starscream! While his vehicle mode is a four sided, scifi style jet (that bears some resemblance to a Colonial Viper), the robot mode is very G1 in its design, featuring bits that look like they came from an Earth jet. This is one of the pieces that impressed me the most and I am looking forward to playing around with its transformation!
In what is sort of bad news for fans, the Leader Class has been shrunken down slightly to about eight inches in height. Essentially fans are now going to get a sort-of-Voyager Class figure with something attaching to it to make it larger. In the case of Ultra Magnus it is the trailer and cab. In the case of the Decepticons they get Shockwave! The logical and creepy Decepticon will basically be in scale with Voyager Class Megatron and gang, but once you add several armor pieces on he can become an upgraded robot or a spaceship. I personally thought the ship had a touch of SDF-1 in it, but Hasbro said it had no specific influence in the design. This figure is going to be controversial among fans. Some will love it, others have already begun hating on it. Personally I love its G1 aesthetic and I dig the SDF-1-but not-SDF-1 type design elements on it in vehicle form. I'm also looking forward to seeing just how many Battlemasters I can attach to it in vehicle mode!
"War for Cybertron: Siege" will no doubt be a divisive line among fans (then again, is there one that isn't in some way?). However I think the line has a lot to offer both in play value and aesthetics. Honestly most photos (including official renders and my own) do not seem to really capture just how nice these figures look in person. I think fans will be pleasantly surprised by them should they choose to pick these figures up!
Ben's World of Transformers extends its thanks to Hasbro and the kind folks at Rogers & Cowan for setting up this event and inviting BWTF. "Siege" is due for release in 2019, but if history is any indication some figures will probably start to hit the market by late 2018.