Event: Hasbro Google Hangout - November 18, 2015
Hasbro Google Hangout (November 18, 2015)
On November 18, 2015, the Hasbro Transformers team held a special online session for several fan venues to tease some of the products that will be coming in 2016. This was a great idea as some of the fervor generated at the 2015 pre-NYCC event has since simmered down a bit, and Toy Fair is still a few months away. This was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a "lull" and present some exciting new news!
The presentation was mostly a Powerpoint presentation, similar to what Hasbro has used in past events such as Botcon. In between slides production samples and prototypes of product were shown off in addition to the official photography. At the end there was a round robin Q&A session. This report will focus on what was shown in the slides with embedded imagery showing off the new product. Due to the sheer volume of "Robots in Disguise" photos, they are all attached to the gallery at the bottom of this report. The end will focus on key points that came out of the Q&A.
The focus on the Spring 2016 "Robots in Disguise" line will be introducing new play patterns into the line. The most extensive addition to the line will be new Mini-Cons including "Cyclones" which transform into cannon balls instead of torpedoes or buzzsaws. A new Decepticon named Overload will be introduced as a Deployer for these Cyclone Mini-Cons. The waves break down as follows:
- Wave 1: Blizzard Strike Slipstream, Swelter (robot), Decepticon Back (spider) and Decepticon Hammer (dragon)
- Wave 1 4 Pack: Blizzard Strike Backtrack, Blizzard Strike Swelter, Scorch Strike Undertone and Scorch Strike Beastbox
- Wave 2: Scorch Strike Jetstorm, Glacius (robot), Ransack (drone)
- Deployer Wave 1: Overload with Backtrack, Blizzard Strike Drift with Jetstorm
- Deployer Wave 2: Crazybolt with Decepticon Hammer
The Mini-Cons are a mixture of redecos of previous figures (such as Slipstream and Beastbox) and new sculpts such as Glacius and Decepticon Hammer. In particular I was very happy to see the name "Crazybolt" used. For those curious, that is a name used in the Japanese exclusive "Beast Wars Neo" series. Overload also looks really cool and it's always fun to have a new character in the mix.
Mini-Con Battle Packs
The other extension of the "Robots in Disguise" line will be Mini-Con "Battle Packs". Each of these will include a figure that is roughly Commander Class in scale (think the old Scout Class). Their articulation is roughly that of a Warrior Class figure (with perhaps one or two points of articulation lost). These figures will come with several armor pieces that can be combined into a large weapon. Some of the armor act as homages of sorts. Optimus Prime's armor becomes a giant axe (his signature melee weapon) and Grimlock's armor forms "T-Rex head halves" on his shoulders akin to "Age of Extinction" Grimlock. These figures will be paired with enemy Mini-Cons to "battle".
- Wave 1: Optimus Prime with Lord Doomitron and Sideswipe with Decepticon Anvil
- Wave 2: Bumblebee with Major Mayhem and Grimlock with Decepticon Back
Combiner Wars G2 Bruticus
Ever since it was revealed at SDCC 2015 that Hasbro was releasing Generation 2 themed redecos of Superion and Menasor, fans have wondered "What about that awesome Dudicus named Bruticus?!" and Hasbro has finally answered that question with the reveal of a "Generation 2" Combaticon boxed set! Even better? The set will include Legends Class Shockwave with a color scheme based on his G1 Action Master color scheme! For fans of classic homages, this is one exciting set.
Inspired by cute figures from other brands seen in Japan, the "Generations" Alt-Modes are super deformed Transformers figures with a transformation element. Each figure is inspired by a G1 character featuring a large head and a tiny body that transforms in one step. These figures will be blind packed and appeared to be about the size of a Legends Class figure. For those curious the symbol tab on the top of the head can fold down.
As revealed at the 2015 pre-NYCC event, one of the main play patterns this year is the ability of Leader Class figures to be able to transform into interconnecting bases. Smaller characters like the "Titanmasters" (aka Headmasters) will inhabit these bases along with small vehicles.
The artwork for Blaster was shown on one slide which led to a figure reveal that I was hoping for but wasn't sure would actually happen: Powermaster Optimus Prime! This figure is a heavy retool and redeco of Ultra Magnus. When I say heavy I mean heavy. At first glance the two appear to be almost completely different toys, but a look at his feet and handheld weapons gives it away. Optimus Prime will be able to transform into a base, vehicle and robot. His partner is Apex who becomes his head. Hasbro hasn't had the name "Hi-Q" in quite some time so it doesn't surprise me they used a different name. "Apex" of course is a reference to the "Apex Armor", which is what Powermaster Optimus Prime's "Godbomber" armor was called in the U.S. This is perhaps the piece I was most excited at seeing (given that we only saw artwork for Fort Max and not the figure itself).
The rumors have circulated for weeks when a fuzzy photo was leaked online. Before that artwork for Fortress Maximus was revealed at New York Comic-Con 2015 and now we have our final confirmation: 2016's Titan Class figure will be Fortress Maximus! As many fans expected, the figure will be an extensive retooling and redeco of the Titan Class Metroplex figure. Based on this artwork, it is a very extensive rework of the base mold. The figure of course will feature the "Headmaster" gimmick and transform into a base that other bases in the line can connect to (such as Blaster). Only the artwork below was shown with a full reveal being "saved" for Toy Fair 2016. It was also mentioned that 2017's Titan Class figure will be put up to a vote!
Questions & Answers
At the end of the session there was a round robin Q&A session. Here are some of the highlights of the information that came out of that session:
- There are plans to bring in other generations into the 2016 line (including homages to the 1986 movie and Beast Wars).
- The "Year of the Monkey" Optimus Primal is meant to celebrate the anniversary of "Beast Wars"
- The Q&A confirmed Powermaster Optimus Prime is an extensive retool retaining only some of the joints, connection points and a couple parts. Even the cab has some differences.
- The Battle Packs were a challenge to design due to having to turn the armor into weapons.
- Fortress Maximus was very challenging to work on due to its size, costing, weight and the fact that it has to work with other bases in the "Titans Return" line. It is a retool of Metroplex, but an extensive one.
- One of the hardest parts of designing the "Titans Return" line was the interaction of the "Master" figures across the line. The scales of robot heads in particular was an issue (which the "helmet sections" helped solve).
- When asked why the more traditional "engine to humanoid" form wasn't used, Hasbro emphasized they wanted to keep the play pattern consistent (head to robot) instead of having too many types of "Masters" mixed up in the line.
- No comment when asked about Masterpiece Decepticons.
- Don't read into Decepticon Hammer have two different trees (one Autobot, one Decepticon) in the two pictures. It was a photo error.
- The "Cybertron Con" trademark was positioned as a successful convention in Asia and they wanted to protect the trademark as much as possible. Botcon 2016 is happening as planned. No further information was provided.
- Hasbro knows fans outside of Japan want the Deluxe Groove, but nothing specific was said other than "We love Groove".
- Hasbro did not rule out more G1 reissues in 2016.
- The "Stars City Neon" deal (the parent company of Victory Hill exhibitions) aims towards installments like an exhibition and not fan conventions.
- Jerry Jivoin will be leaving the brand team at the end of the year for a position in marketing at Hasbro Italy.