Events: Toy Fair 2015 Hasbro Interview (Part Two)

in 2015, Interviews, Robots in Disguise (2015)

Interviews
Hasbro Interview from Toy Fair 2015 (Part Two)

Robots in Disguise

Finishing up the interview with Hasbro's Jerry Jivoin, we turned our focus to the upcoming "Robots in Disguise" series. If you haven't read Part One of this interview yet (which focuses on "Combiner Wars", check it out!

Switching to "Robots in Disguise", can you talk about the unique challenges of developing an "in between" line that sits between "Generations" and "Rescue Bots"? Especially regards to creating classes like the "Warrior Class" which is meant to appeal to older fans wherever possible.
What's unique about Transformers is one, we have a wide range of consumers where we have our preschool product line and our younger product line for our junior consumers with Rescue Bots. They've got a great show, season three started in November. That product line and storytelling's continuing. We also have our fans and older boys, boys that want to be in the brand and fans that go back to us 1984.

The other layer...there's two things there's one the type of story you can tell: The Autobots versus Decepticons in the original story is a very...it's about a war on Cybertron that came to Earth and you've got these two huge factions that battle each other. It's a great depth of story but it's also a war. When you think about our younger consumers you want rescue themes, you want adventure themes. So there's the storytelling piece. There's also the physical play of the toys themselves, the other added layer is the puzzle of Transformers, the "More than meets the eye". So we have to take into account what a child can actually do as far as their ability to transform a product. One of the challenges we had with Transformers over the last five years, six years is the product line was getting more and more challenging. We had one product line for everybody and the feedback we were getting back from parents and kids is that it was too difficult.

So that's when we went to this "three pillar" strategy where we have both a story and product that is appropriate for the three age groups. When we looked at kids 5-9, 5-10, sort of that core age range, we looked at one: what types of toys they would want to play with. You look at a five year old, how many steps of transformation can actually they do and it's a fun toy to play with? That's key. You don't want them to get home and it's got 15 steps of transformation and it's not a fun toy. We were seeing a lot of that. We had to make sure the puzzle and amount of steps was appropriate for the age group.

The other piece of it was the storytelling, making sure that competitively what boys age 5, 6 years old to 9 or 10 years old, what they're actually watching in the marketplace. So we looked competitively at what type of show, the level of humor, the level of action, we did a lot of research with kids and parents. They wanted a show that was more light hearted, humorous. They wanted action and adventure, not war. There is a difference there. It's more about "I want a chase down, I want to beat the bad guy but I don't need to kill the bad guy." you know what I mean? It's having that level of adventure and you see this with kids and both parents is that the new show is more light hearted, fun show that but it's about chase, capture and adventure versus the Autobot/Decepticon war. You have the conflict but it's in a more light hearted way. But it's still a great way to tell a story. Now we feel like we've got three great devices for storytelling and for the play experience for the kids.

Will we be seeing more Decepticons as Warrior Class figures (because so far everything we've been shown are Autobots)?
What we want to make sure is that some of the older boys that like more articulation and complex transformations and detail...that we had a SKU that represented that and the Warriors does that. What we want to do is continue to roll out more characters, both Autobots and Decepticons will be in that line.

What was the thought process behind making the "Robots in Disguise" Decepticons "animal-robots" that turn into vehicles as opposed to the Autobots who are just straight up robots to vehicles?
Honestly it was testing with kids. We tested some different versions of what the Decepticons could be. We liked the Autobots staying with the vehicle forms. We felt that was important. We wanted Bumblebee to stay a car. We wanted to see Sideswipe, he's go the red race car and Strongarm is a police vehicle. Grimlock was brought in because Grimlock was introduced in the movie, we wanted to bring him into the core team so obviously he's a dinosaur, a T-Rex.

But when we looked at the Decepticons we said "Okay, we've got an opportunity here. We can change it up a little bit." so we actually showed kids different vehicle forms, animal forms, like what if this guy could go into a wolf, then a robot, then a car - ok that's cool and so a lot of it just came down to what kids liked. We thought it was a cool way to introduce..we did a little bit with "Beast Hunters". "Beast Hunters" introduced Predaking with the dragon and we got some great feedback on that and some of the characters in there so we thought...we wanted to go a little more down the route of introducing some beast forms just to give the Decepticons a different edge to them that they hadn't had in the past. Plus over the years we've done a lot of vehicles, you know, whether it was an Autobot or Decepticon that the robot goes to a vehicle. We thought it was a level of newness and the kids responded really well to it so we thought this would be a great way to tell that story.

Unfortunately our allotted time was up at this point and the venue was getting ready to close up for the night, so further questions were not possible. I want to thank Hasbro and Hunter PR once again for their generosity and time. I hope you have enjoyed these interviews!