Events: Hasbro Fan Media Day Toy Fair 2016

in 2016, Article

Events
2016 Entertainment Brand Preview

On February 13, 2016 Hasbro welcomed fan media to attend their Brand Preview day. Beginning with a brand presentation, we were then broken up into groups for interviews and photo ops. Below are my general impressions of what I saw along with links to my coverage including product descriptions, galleries and videos. This is broken down by the three primary segments of "Transformers": Generations, Rescue Bots & Robots in Disguise.

Hasbro Product Descriptions & Information:

Galleries:

Videos:

Generations

This year "Generations" will be a combination of sub-lines. The year is starting off with "Combiner Wars" finishing its primary run. Among the "Combiner Wars" figures shown were Victorion, the "Fan Voted" Combiner. The colors were notably more muted than the early photos released last year. This was largely done due to fan response to the colors. While the color scheme is not my preferred one I have to admit I prefer the new colors to the old ones quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the figure a lot more than before. From previous events we know there are still other figures like the "Generation 2" Menasor and Bruticus to look forward to. During the interview session Hasbro product designer John Warden stated that once "Titans Return" is released it doesn't mean Combiners may not appear in future assortments.

"Titans Return" was the focus of the "Generations" section. Instead of displaying figures on shelves side by side a large "city scene" was created with Fortress Maximus at the center. That's right, the giant Headmaster (now Titan Master) city is back! Fortress Maximus was there in both city and robot modes. He is an extensive retool of Metroplex featuring many of Fortress Maximus' iconic design elements including the dual cannons on his leg, a jail cell, a central tower in the center of the city mode and a compartment with a translucent cover on his chest. His head transforms into Cerebros heavily based on his animated design from G1. Cerebros' head transforms into Emissary (a nod to Brave Maximus) whose design is based on G1 Spike's. I am a huge fan of base-formers so I'm very excited about this release. I am also very happy at how much of the figure has been changed. From my initial impressions I would say at least 60% of the sculpt (if not more) is different from Metroplex!

Other figures on display included Blurr, Chromedome, Hardhead, Mindwipe, Scourge, Skullcruncher - all characters who featured prominently during the 1987 "Headmaster/Targetmaster" era. I have to say that Chromedome looks really awesome. He looks like a smaller, more articulated version of the G1 toy with modern styling. Mindwipe is amazingly detailed and I'm amazed we're even getting a "beast" in this assortment (no less two). John Warden stated that the designers have been working hard to bump up the level of detail on the "Generations" figures and it really shows. I also have to say, Scourge and Blurr look a lot better in person than they did in the initial, blurry leaked photos which is why you should always wait to see the real deal before judging. Blurr in particular has an amazing metallic blue plastic that I can't wait to get my hands on to review!

With Fortress Maximus stealing the limelight many overlooked Optimus Prime. Optimus is an extensive retool and redeco of Leader Class Ultra Magnus but you have to kind of stare at him to see it. He's easily 60-70% new parts including of course, the Titan Master "Headmaster-style" gimmick featuring Apex (not Ginrai as previously thought) as his head. Optimus looks fantastic in person and it was a fun surprise to see Apex becomes an Orion Pax styled head until you slide the "Optimus helmet" over the Titan Master. This is a fun and inspired touch that helps make this a "must have" for me.

Platinum Edition

Two "Platinum Edition" sets were revealed at Toy Fair, both aimed at celebrating the 30th Anniversary of "Transformers: The Movie". One is the heavily leaked "Junkion" set featuring a redeco of Classics Rodimus, "Reveal the Shield" Wreck-Gar and Scrapheap (formerly a Japanese exclusive retool of Wreck-Gar). The decos looked good, though personally I'm unsure of the $120 price point I've heard for these guys.

The other set focuses on Cyclonus, Scourge and a Sweep. What's interesting is that the Sweep has a new head sculpt. He lacks the "beard/mustache" designs on Scourge's face which makes him look kind of like a "young Scourge". What's cool about this set is that the figures are all partially translucent to mimic Unicron "creating" them. I was also very surprised that the Sweep has a different deco than Scourge himself. While I'm still unsure if I'd pay $120 for the set, I'm more inclined to get this one than the Autobot one.

Rescue Bots

Unlike the previous couple of years "Rescue Bots" had a very strong showing this year. Lots of new toys and characters are being introduced into the line (or reintroduced). Particularly notable is Sideswipe appearing in the line, linking "Rescue Bots" with "Robots in Disguise". While the producers of "Prime" always said "Rescue Bots" was set in the same universe, the two have always seemed to have more of a dotted line between them rather than a bold, solid one. This connection helps enhance that connection. Also on display was the first female Rescue Bot: Quickshadow, adding some good diversity to the cast of characters. Another surprise was the addition of Medix and Hoist to the line up. Previously these two characters were quietly released as new sculpts on Amazon.com and then forgotten about, but now they're back as mass releases.

The other aspect of Rescue Bots that I liked was the introduction of Mini-Cons. Two of these are already out (Drake the dragon and Servo the dog) and more are due out later in the year. Some of these will be included with playsets. I really like the playsets as it gives kids a chance to create a fantasy "world" to have adventures with the Rescue Bots figures.

Robots in Disguise

Mini-Cons were introduced in season one of "Robots in Disguise", but this year they are set to become a core part of the "Robots in Disguise" toy line. Over a dozen Mini-Cons were shown at Toy Fair with very fun names (Major Mayhem, Tricerashot, Lord Doomitron - this is great stuff!). The Mini-Con line up is definitely expanding beyond buzzsaws, torpedoes and cyclones. Now there are Mini-Cons becoming dinosaurs and weapons, axes, swords and more! The single pack Mini-Cons with translucent weapons will continue to come out, but we'll also soon have Mini-Cons included with larger figures!

The "feature" figure was Power Surge Optimus Prime. This figure is roughly a Leader Class figure if I had to classify it by size. However the transformation is only seven steps keeping in spirit with RiD being aimed at a younger crowd. Power Surge Optimus Prime comes with a Mini-Con named Aerobolt. Aerobolt is a bird who can transform into a shield for Optimus. However, the true fun is when you connect him to Optimus Prime's chest (Breastforce style!) and Optimus' action figures kick in. That includes cannons over his shoulders, wings in the back and a mouthplate over his face. It's a really dynamic and cool feature. He also has flying sound effects which adds to the fun. I'm very excited for this piece.

Optimus Prime isn't the only character getting the "Power Surge" treatment however. Bumblebee and Sideswipe are also being released as "Power Surge" figures. These are roughly the size of Three Step Changers and seem to have very simple transformations. Their true fun factor involves Mini-Cons! Each comes with a Mini-Con that transforms into a weapon. When you attach the Mini-Cons they say up to 30 different phrases based on which Mini-Con is attached (an axe weapon versus a sword for instance). I love features like this as they emphasize interaction between different figures and they add a fantasy factor to the play pattern.

Other reveals include new "Battle Packs" featuring a Commander Class type figure with translucent armor paired off against a Mini-Con. Of particular note is that Strongarm is now a part of this assortment, so that means the core of Team Bumblebee is represented in this scale now.

The Warrior Class will continue as well! Quillfire and Thunderhoof were revealed last year, but now we know we also have a new Decepticon coming to join them: Scorponok! This creepy character looks awesome and represents the highly stylized designs I've come to love in RiD. Also joining this class is a brand new Windblade. This is not a retool or redeco of the "Generations" figure, it is a whole new sculpt and design.

Oddly, the figure that has me the most excited is not a Warrior Class or electronic figure. Instead it's a One Step Decepticon: BISK! Bisk is a rather silly character based on a lobster. That's right: a lobster. He transforms into a sleek car, but his robot mode is nothing but visual fun and I was unsure if he would ever get a transforming figure and now he's been announced so I can rest easy knowing that my Steeljaw army will have one more wacky Decepticon to join them!

Til next time
This event is heralded as a "brand preview" and not a "full reveal" so for all lines it is very clear there will be more shown between Botcon and SDCC 2016 so I expect many more reveals in the coming months.