Events: Toy Fair 2015 Report

in 2015, Article

Events
Hasbro Fan Media Day Toy Fair 2015

The annual Fan Media day is an event held by Hasbro during Toy Fair to give fans and sites such as Ben's World of Transformers an advance look at some of the offerings coming in the new year. A lot of information was given out before the event, so if you need detailed product descriptions and price points, check out the following links:

Also check out Part One of my interview with Hasbro which focuses on "Combiner Wars". Then read Part Two where we talk about "Robots in Disguise"!

During the event, several brand teams including Marvel, Transformers and Star Wars give presentations focusing on product for the year. You can check out my live Tweets from this session on Twitter. Of course, no coverage of this event would be complete without photos! Check out this list which includes individual galleries for each segment of "Transformers" including "Generations" and "Rescue Bots".

This write up will give some general impressions and offer tid bits here and there on what I saw in the Hasbro showroom.

General
The Hasbro event traditionally takes place in The Times Center, a wonderful venue in midtown Manhattan. Media first checks in, then we get to check in our bags, coats etc. before being taken to an auditorium where the presentations take place. Afterward we go downstairs to the main showroom to check out the products. Photography and video is strictly limited to the downstairs area, but most images shown during the presentations are provided to media outlets after the event on the same day (I have already put up these official images in the "Generations" and "Robots in Disguise" photo albums on the "Ben's World of Transformers" Facebook page).

Generations
This is the most anticipated section perhaps in the entire Hasbro showroom. If you go by how long the same people seem to spend at the booth, disappearing, then reappearing just to take one (read: ten) more photos, "Transformers" has an enduring popularity that is reflected in the fact that the "Transformers" group actually went last this year to maintain crowd control. No joke, when we got into the showroom, I spent most of my initial forty to fifty minutes taking photos of other toys such as "Robots in Disguise" and meeting members of the Hasbro "Transformers" team while others were practically piled on top of each other like hamsters in a cage sleeping.

Hot Spot

The Protectobots / Defensor
The Protectobots were one of the "big" reveals of the show. It's been ages since this team had a proper representation in a "Transformers" toy line, so I was super stoked to see them. It is important to keep in mind that three out of five of the Protectobots are retools/redecos of other figures (First Aid to Offroad, Streetwise to Dead End and Blades to Alpha Bravo). However, the entire team feels "fresh" thanks to how well the retooling has been done. The head sculpts are spot on and the decos on these figures make them instantly recognizable as the rescue team. The new member Rook looks badass and even has an amusing head design that represents a Football helmet! The combined robot looks thick and chunky - which I like. If Defensor is going to rescue people, he can't be a delicate flower. He's going to have to likely battle and rescue, so conveying that strength visually makes sense to me.

Cyclonus
When I first heard the idea of taking Silverbolt and retooling him into Cyclonus, I had my reservations, but upon seeing the prototype in person I'm sold. Is it perfect? No. The "ears" on his head could be longer and his legs are a tad bulkier than I'd like on a Cyclonus, but given that he has to form a torso for "Galvatronus" the design makes perfect sense. I'm also very impressed that about 40% (if not more) have been replaced, making it a very significant retool. I am secretly hoping to see Sweeps as his "limbs" but time will tell!

Ultra Magnus
"IDW comic book fanboys and girls will freak out over this figure." I thought to myself and judging by online reaction I've seen it's true. Ultra Magnus is a fantastic piece of work. The key is that his design is based on the IDW comic books and he comes with a tiny Minimus Ambus figure, reflecting the current storylines in the comic books. I think it's fantastic that as a fandom, we now live in an age where you can have the ideal representation of G1 Ultra Magnus in toy form via the "Masterpiece" line while also having a "modern" alternative within the same year. I am also super happy that this new Magnus' trailer can hold Legends Class vehicles (and perhaps some of the tinier Deluxes from "Fall of Cybertron"). This is a "must have" for sure.

Bonecrusher

DEVASTATOR
Yeah see, you have to use ALL CAPS when DEVASTATOR is your header text! This figure is one of the most impressive pieces to come out of Hasbro in years, rivaling (perhaps even exceeding) the Titan Class Metroplex. The first thing I noticed is that the head is nowhere near as tiny in person as it appears in photos. Also, that "tiny" Mixmaster foot everyone was so worried about? Don't sweat it. It is smaller than Scrapper's "shovel foot" but that's kind of a given isn't it? It looks great as a composed piece. Devastator is full of detail, he's articulated and he's huge, standing at 18 inches tall (which in itself is an achievement).

That's just the beginning however. Each of the Constructicons is a Voyager Class figure. That means each of the Constructicons stands at roughly 6 inches tall. Each has awesome detail like vents, armor panel lines and machinery. In fact, some of these details were originally just going to be tampographs or stickers, but the designers decided to kick things up a notch and make them sculpted, painted details instead. The figures pay a ton of homage to the G1 cartoon/comic book models. Guys like Scrapper, Bonecrusher and Scavenger look like they jumped out of a G1 cartoon episode and turned into plastic toys. It's absolutely amazing what Hasbro has pulled off here. Are they perfect? No. Long Haul is chunky (which he has to be given he is the core of the figure) and Scrapper lacks elbow joints (again, a necesity due to him supporting so much weight in leg mode). At an estimated retail price of $150, this is a must buy for me and I think it represents an amazing engineering effort on Hasbro's part.

An honorable mention goes to Legends Class "viper", who is a redeco of Powerglide as a Cobra Rattler, complete with Cobra symbol! This makes him one of the first "official" transforming, main-line G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover figures!

Jazz

Robots in Disguise
While "Generations" centers around complex detail and combining, "Robots in Disguise" is almost more like G1 in spirit in the sense that it focuses on play patterns across the line. Whether it's "One Step Changers", "Warrior Class" figures or the fun launching action of the Mini-Cons "Robots in Disguise" is like the brighter, younger and more fun loving little brother of "Generations". Highlights included the awesome Warrior Class Sideswipe and Jazz figures, both of which could almost pass as "Generations" characters with upgraded decos. I have to say, some of the One Step Changers also looked great. The Thunderhoof one in particular looked pretty sweet and nicely detailed. For me, my favorite reveal were the Mini-Cons. In general, the Autobot Mini-Cons become "buzzsaw disks" and the Decepticons become torpedoes. Each comes with an assortment of weaponry and armor that can be attached to the Mini-Con. The use of translucent pieces gives them the appearance of energy which is super cool. A bonus feature involves the armor pieces themselves. Collect enough of them and you can piece them together into another Mini-Con figure (non transforming of course)! This line looks very fun, which is exactly what it should be. These are not display pieces, these are play pieces.

Blurr

Rescue Bots
"Rescue Bots" continues with new characters being introduced to the mix. This is significant as the show has focused on the main group of Blades, Heatwave, Chase and Boulder for most of its run. Sure Bumblebee and Optimus have made guest appearances and other robotic characters have popped in but adding to the regular cast hasn't happened until now. Salvage (the garbage truck), Blurr (a race car) and High Tide (a large salvage boat) join the group. The High Tide playset is very cool, but I wish it transformed into a giant version of the character since he has some design influences from Omega Supreme. Thank goodness the "small" High Tide figure transforms. The way the playset works, it implies in a way that High Tide is a pseudo-Brainmaster - which made the G1 fan in me squee a little. I like the look of the new characters and I'm happy to see this segment of the line continue.

KREO
KREO was launched with much fanfare years ago, but I think it's taken until now for the line to really come into its own. Finally we have figures that can be built and then transform from one mode to another without having to be completely disassembled. The line is still playing fast and loose with inspiration, taking a bit from "Age of Extinction", some from "Robots in Disguise" and other elements from G1. Among the more unexpected items were oddball "Combiners" made up of the same character. Basically imagine an Optimus Prime KREON with arms and legs made up of tinier Optimus Prime KREONs. It's bizarre but I confess it made me laugh pretty hard. The "battle scene" the designers set up was awesome and I wish I had gotten more pictures of it.

Hero Mashers
Call my cynical (which most folks know I'm not) but I didn't expect "Transformers" or this line in general to continue into 2015, but both Marvel and Transformers are continuing with it and Star Wars is joining this line of toys! Unfortunately, every figure on display was "mashed up" already so it was hard to get a sense of how the figures looked individually. Still, I was very happy to see hints of everyone from Strongarm to Bumblebee to BISK! I'm looking forward to seeing how these look so at the very least I may have chunky and larger versions of the Decepticons to go up against my Autobots!

I was very surprised that there was no representation of "Angry Birds Transformers" at the show. From what I can tell the line has been selling very well and the game just launched its first expansion not that long ago. I was looking forward to seeing more figures.

You know, I've seen so much negativity online about this line and I cannot understand it. I think this year's offerings blow last year's out of the water. Hasbro has seen the challenge thrown to them by third party developers and fans alike and I think they've met that challenge head on. The level of design and attention to fandom is so evident in this line that it amazes me anyone can say otherwise (sorry friends, your "Citizen Stack" does not have a Minimus Ambus figure). 2015 is an amazing year to be a "Transformers" fan of any age and what I saw yesterday fills me with enthusiasm for the coming year!