Hasbro New York Comic-Con 2018 "Siege" Unboxing Event
"Generations" War for Cybertron: Siege Unboxing Event
Once upon a time Hasbro held an event before New York Comic-Con known as the 'Twas the Night Before event where fan media and others could gather to enjoy some cocktails, see some toys and ask the various brand teams questions. As time has passed Hasbro has experimented with different formats of introducing fan media to new products. This year Hasbro rented some conference space in a hotel to show off their products during New York Comic-Con 2018. Most media saw an amazing diorama featuring the Decepticons from the 2018-19 "Siege" line of toys. However, hours earlier it was a different scene altogether!
Courtesy of Hasbro, Fan Media was brought in a few hours before the general press event to an "unboxing event" where we would get a hands on look at the first wave of "Siege" figures! However, we were asked to respect an embargo on this specific event and that is why you are only reading about it now. With the limited release of "Siege" figures that began in early November 2018, Hasbro was kind enough to change the embargo date so Fan Media sites could publish the content they have been sitting so patiently on!
As many of us sat around a long table, the Hasbro brand team brought out products in order of size classes. First we started with Battlemasters, then came the Micromasters. By the time the event was racing to a close the Voyager Class Optimus Prime and Megatron figures popped out of a mystery cabinet in the room. This was the smartest way to bring out the figures. For the past couple of years the "Generations" lines have relied on a play system where different size classes of figures were designed to interact in some way (ex: Prime Master weapons becoming both a Spark power up and a weapon for larger figures). These systems usually start from the lowest price points to the highest. By starting with the Battlemasters and Micromasters, we could experience this play system from the smallest to larger price points and see how they built upon each other.
You'll want to be sure you've read my initial press event report where I go into my thoughts on each size class. This report will focus more on the "hands on" experience with each class of figure. Also keep in mind we were presented with the first wave of figures from Battlemaster to Voyager Classes to play with. There were some figures revealed during NYCC 2018 such as Brunt and Starscream who appear in later waves that we did not get to play with.
The packaging for "Siege" is absolutely gorgeous. By now photos are all over the web, but this was the first time we saw it in person and it was pretty awe inspiring. The gritty, stylized artwork looks like it could have come out of Generation One with its painted style, but all the backgrounds and patterns were very modern. Two surprises were the Deluxe Class of figures being boxed (taking a cue from "Studio Series") and special Cybertronian characters printed onto the boxes in such a way that you will need a black light to see them! Adding another layer to the design are the background inserts which feature special symbols on them. These symbols represent ranks for each of the characters, so think of them like stripes or medals in the Earth military. We did make it a point to request some type of guide eventually so we knew which symbol meant what. While this does not exist yet, Hasbro seemed open to the idea.
I was very excited to play with the Battlemasters because they have one of the foundational play aspects of the "Siege" line: blast effects. What now? Much like figures released by Bandai in Japan (such as their Count Dooku figure from "Star Wars") these Targetmaster inspired figures come with translucent pieces that can attach to the weapons to make them look like they are "firing"! Each figure came with a different blast pattern and the colors were different, giving each more of an individual identity. I was particularly fond of Lionizer's "sword swipe" which looks like energy moving through the air. Not only does this fit on Lionizer in sword mode, but it also attaches to the Micromaster Air Strike Patrol duo in their sword mode! This cross compatability with smaller price points helps the play pattern cross price points and they look great to boot.
As a bit of a bonus, the Battlemasters have both 5mm pegs and ports, allowing you to combine them into a super weapon (see photo above). This is a pretty good amount of play value for a bunch of mini-robots that transform into weapons!
The Micromasters are among the "Siege" figures I am the most excited for. I loved Micromasters as a teenager and while this line of them may not be as extensive as those released in the late 80's it is great seeing a nod to them in the line. In many respects these figures are more like Mini-Cons than Micromasters. Sure each character is clearly based on a G1 counterpart, but between having good articulation (featuring ball joints and even elbow articulation on a couple!) and the ability to combine into weapons these figures are not just simple "vehicle to robot" Transformers. Looking at these figures up close I was struck by how amazing the detail was on them. The sculpts are fantastic. On top of that the decos look great. They are definitely a notch above many Legion Class figures and I was relieved to see that.
The Micromaster weapon modes range from "very cool" to "odd at best". The most successful is the Air Strike Patrol. Taking a cue from "Armada", Visper (aka Whisper) and Storm Cloud combine to form a sword. This holds together a lot better than the old "Armada" Star Saber and it looks great. Add Lionizer's "sword slash" battle effect and it looks amazing. On the other end of the spectrum, Roadhandler and Swindler's weapon mode is...awkward looking at best (see photo in gallery below). Regardless, you can attach the blast effects from the Battlemasters to the Micromasters in the weapon modes to bring some extra "life" to them and they wind up looking spectacular in the process. At $9.99 MSRP per two pack, I am happy they have so much functionality.
By the time the Deluxe Class figures came out, time was starting to run out so I had the most experience with Hound and Cog. There was only one Sideswipe in the room and he kept changing hands. That's okay. Messing around with Cog and Hound told me what I needed to know, which was that at the new price point of $19.99 MSRP, Hasbro is very aware they need to provide some serious bang for your buck without going crazy with the cost of production. How, you may ask? Well...
- The basic sculpts feature a lot of "greeble" style mechanical detailing. This gives the figures a more complex and distinctive appearance.
- Start with a new style of deco which has a nice deco pattern already but then add silver "battle damage" brush work to each figure by hand. This means you can have three Hounds in front of you and the "battle damage weathering" on each one will vary slightly.
- On top of that the designers added a bunch of connection points (mostly consisting of 5mm ports) for Battlemasters, Weaponizers and Micromasters! This lets you load up your Deluxes like crazy with extra stuff left and right. I did this with Hound (who wound up in the display later that afternoon as well). Piling on all the weapons was pure joy and really demonstrated the potential fun of the line.
- The blast effects from the Battlemasters can be attached to the Deluxe, Voyager and presumably Leader Class figures to make it look like the character is taking a hit in battle. In a very nice touch these connection points are usually part of the "greeble" sculpting mentioned above so they serve a dual purpose!
I will also give a shout out to Hasbro and Takara Tomy for recognizing that there are "gaps" in "Generations" that can be filled in. For instance, the assortment includes Skytread (aka Flywheels), the Duocon partner of Battletrap, who was released as part of "Power of the Primes". "Siege" also includes Cog and Brunt, who are partners of Fortress Maximus and Trypticon respectively. Filling in these gaps is important to fans and I am happy to see them in this line.
Unfortunately time ran out before I could spend any good amount of time with the Voyager Class Optimus Prime and Megatron figures. I managed to snap photos of them very quickly but they vanished from the table fairly quickly. I can say from my initial impressions both seem like solid figures and the weathering on them looks good. I also appreciate finally having a Megatron with a proper Fusion Cannon that can be detached (we've come close in recent years, but we've never quite gotten there). I am really looking forward to seeing what the Voyagers have to offer!
In many respects "Siege" is bringing Transformers back to basics focusing mostly on transformation and weapon play with some new aesthetic directions to boot. I am very excited to eventually get my hands on these figures and review them! Ben's World of Transformers would like to thank Hasbro and Rogers & Cowan for organizing and inviting BWTF to this awesome event.