Events: Hasbro Fan Media Day Toy Fair 2017

in 2017, Event Report

Events

2017 Entertainment Brand Preview

On February 18, 2017 fan media was invited to visit Hasbro's showroom in New York City for its 2017 Entertainment Brand Preview. This year was organized in a more traditional manner. After checking in we sat threw several presentations from the brand teams. After that we were broken up into groups for photos and the last half hour of the day was dedicated to interviews with the various teams. 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:

Robots in Disguise Cartoon Information:

GENERATIONS

As "Generations" grows in prominence, so does its place in the Hasbro Transformers section of the Toy Fair show room. Last year Fortress Maximus was the focus with a table set up featuring a huge battle scene. This year Titan Class Trypticon had that honor. Laid out in the center of a large table was Trypticon in city mode connected to Sky Shadow in base mode. All around them were Titan Masters battling it out. Voyager Class Optimus Prime was charging up Trypticon's central ramp. Gnaw was eating a Titan Master. Breakaway was getting slammed to the ground. It was total plastic space robot carnage and it was awesome Having so many figures in one place really brought home how all the figures can come together to form a fantasy world of Transformers right in your own house. With another Trypticon in dino mode standing nearby (at about 20 inches tall!) and some vehicles hanging off the ceiling, this display was quite the sight to behold!

Display table featuring Titans Return

Trypticon
Trypticon looked amazing in person. I know many fans had issues with his tail but it reached almost all the way down to the table so I don't think fans have anything to fear. This figure is choc full of details and he had a lot of Titan Master pegs for the little guys to stand on. In many ways this figure is G1 Trypticon reborn, but with more detail and different features. No, this figure does not feature lights, sounds or a walking gimmick. He does however have a Titan Master activated "Hypno-beam" that pops out of his head. He can also "eat" Titan Masters. Just pop them in his mouth and they wind up in his belly! Pop open the torso panel and the Titan Masters come tumbling out. Much of the center of the body has translucent plastic. This helps create the illusion of a large city/base where you can see into the inner workings of the city. Trypticon includes Full-tilt, who is basically a simplified Deluxe who himself has a Titan Master head named Necro. Necro's design is based on Wipe-Out, the Tailgate lookalike who appeared in the G1 Marvel Comics series assisting Trypticon. Another nice G1 nod involves the mechanism that you use to "launch" Full-Tilt down Trypticon's ramp. The piece you pull to do this is based on the laser cannon from G1 Trypticon that became part of "Brunt", the tank/weaponry drone included with G1 Trypticon. No telling if Brunt may appear in another form just yet.

Titan Masters & Legends Class
The newest Titan Master to be revealed is Ramhorn, whose "mini-beast" transforms from a rhino to a tank-like vehicle. Taking their design cues from G1 Ramhorn the mini-beast features tri-rocket launchers on each side. Ramhorn was one of the first Autobot cassettes I ever owned so I'm excited to get this guy. Repugnus was also features next to Ramhorn. Next to the Titan Masters were Roadburn and Seaspray! Roadburn is a retool and redeco of Titans Return Bumblebee with a new head. His red and black colors seem to point to him being the new incarnation of the Throttlebot Chase. Seaspray is an all new sculpt and he looks great. He is chunky, bulky and even has a searchlight accessory! It's great that the designers are now diving into using "mini-bots" that have not yet been done in the Legends Class. In addition to these guys, it was revealed that Hasbro will be giving the Legends Class Cosmos figure a new deco and putting it out again. During the Hasbro presentation they mentioned it was hard to find for some so they felt this was a good way for fans to get their hands on it. From what I saw on the large city display, the green on this version is much darker than the original release.

Alternate view of Titans Return table

Deluxe
The shelf near the Legends and Titan Master figures had several of the Deluxe figures already revealed (or hitting shelves). This included Kup, Krok and Topspin. However fans were given a pleasant surprise and confirmation of the Windblade and Twin Twist rumors! Windblade is a new sculpt borrows much of the aesthetic of her previous incarnations but this time out she's teamed up with Titan Master, Scorchfire who forms her head. Twin Twist is indeed a redeco/retool of Topspin which is more than appropriate given how the two characters have been connected since the G1 era. Twin Twist is paired with a Titan Master named Flameout.

Voyager Class
To the surprise of no one it was revealed that Octane (now named Octone for trademark purposes) and Blitzwing will soon be joining the ranks of the Voyager Class "Generations" figures! With these two you can now have the traditional G1 trio of Triple Changers: Astrotrain, Blitzwing and Octane all together on your collection shelf. These two are of course retool/redecos of the Voyager Class Optimus Prime and Megatron currently hitting shelves. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much was changed for Octone and Blitzwing. Neither looked like they were just Optimus Prime and Megatron with new heads slapped on. This is due in part to more than just the heads being swapped out. Octane features a modified chest panel and shoulders and even a different weapon than Optimus. Blitzwing also sports some modified parts and details such as the G1 based 'curve' on the center of his chest. These two (along with many other figures in the line) really show how well the "pretooling" of sculpts helps pay homage to the original characters while managing costs of developing new tooling. Blitzwing is paired with Titan Master Hazard, Octone comes with Murk.

Twin Twist

Leader Class
The Leader Class was very "Decepticon-heavy", represented by Sky Shadow, Overlord and Six Shot all on one shelf! These "Phase Sixers" represent some of the deadliest Decepticons out there and it was very impressive to see all three of them on shelf. It was also great to see Overlord and Sky Shadow side by side which brought out the differences between the sculpts brilliantly. The designers really did a great job of bringing out G1 details in both even though both share the same basic engineering. I'm personally very excited about their base modes as it will allow them to attach to Trypticon to form a Decepticon city! Overlord is paired with Titan Master Dreadnaut. Sky Shadow's partner is Ominus and Six Shot comes with Revolver.

Boxed Sets
Two boxed sets of "Titans Return" figures were announced at Toy Fair. Here's a breakdown of the sets and who is included:

Chaos on Velocitron

  • Quickswitch (the Autobot Sixchanger, a retool/redeco of Six Shot)
  • Laser Optimus Prime (a redeco of Voyager Class Optimus Prime)
  • Nautica (a retool/redeco of Blurr)
  • Fastlane (based on the G1 Autobot Clone, roughly the size of a Commander Class figure)
  • Titan Master head (Rodimus Prime, new sculpt with die-cast metal)

Siege on Cybertron

  • Magnus Prime (a redeco of the Japanese "Legends" Ginrai figure which itself is a redeco/retool of Powermaster Optimus Prime)
  • Tidal Wave (a redeco/retool of Broadside)
  • Metalhawk (a redeco/retool of Triggerhappy)
  • Pounce (based on the G1 Decepticon Clone, roughly the size of a Commander Class figure)
  • Titan Master head (Thunderwing, new sculpt with die-cast metal)

These boxed sets will be retailer exclusives. Some suggestion has been made that they will be exclusive to Bigbadtoystore however this was not stated officially during the Hasbro presentation so I am taking a "to be determined" attitude on that. Interestingly they were not spoken of as "Platinum Edition" releases as previous boxed sets would have been. In some ways these remind me of what Botcon would have given us once upon a time. Five to six characters based on existing sculpts that may or may not do well in the "main line" on shelves, but make for fun, collector oriented exclusives. Each set is said to retail for approximately $100 USD which is a very fair price if you consider you are getting each major Class of figure represented plus a "bonus" figure (i.e. Fastlane & Pounce).

Nautica

There was no mention of whether or not we would see Wingspan and Cloudraker in the future, but I can imagine two other boxed sets being created with those two characters, especially since they are both the "air" based members of those pairs. My only disappointment was seeing that neither Clone appears to have weapons. Overall however I am excited about these sets and I can't wait to have them in hand.

THE LAST KNIGHT

The Last Knight table

For many fans "Generations" was the star of the Hasbro Transformers section but of course "The Last Knight" had to take center stage. When you first came down the stairs "The Last Knight" logo was featured prominently complete with a wall panel showing the main cast of the movie. Right next to that? The actual Sqweeks prop from the movie! Fans were able to take photos of (or with) Sqweeks. I am a big fan of "behind the scenes" looks at movies and seeing this prop in person was an absolute treat!

"The Last Knight" area was divided into several sections, making up most of the "Transformers" section. Each section represented a different sub-category of "The Last Knight" toy line. Here are some general thoughts:

Premier Edition
The "Premier Edition" action figures were primarily redecos of existing figures from "Age of Extinction" with some new sculpts tossed in for good measure. It is this line where the Deluxe, Voyager and Leader Class figures of the line will be focused. The "Premier Edition" branding is very smart. It does two things. First it replaces the "Generations" branding that was used for "Age of Extinction" which confused some people on shelves. Also the word premier suggests both a high quality aspect to the figures, placing them above other sub-lines (such as the One Step Changers) in complexity and deco. I have to say this sub-line of figures is very impressive. Much to my surprise many of the "Age of Extinction" redecos look fantastic. Among my favorites was Strafe, who has a light blue metallic finish that shined beautifully. Two of the standout new sculpts include a Voyager Class Scorn, bringing the character much more in line size-wise to how he should be and Leader Class Megatron, who has some incredible sculpting and design including "horns" on his head that also serve as a battle mask.

Allspark Tech
Also featured were the Allspark Tech figures. These figures have sounds and lights including phrases from the movies. Optimus Prime does have Peter Cullen's voice, which is always a fun touch. These features are activated by inserting an "Allspark Cube" into the chest. The aesthetic for these is somewhere between a "Premier Edition" figure and Japanese "super deformed" style figures.

One Step Changers
Another fun action figure was the "Mega 1-Step Turbo Changer" Dragonstorm figure. This is a new character to the live action movie series. While his three headed dragon mode and black/red color scheme might make it seem like he is a Decepticon, this character is actually advertised as an Autobot! According to the official product description: "As colossal powers threaten the universe, an even greater force protecting freedom soars through the sky – the mighty DRAGONSTORM.". Sounds pretty heroic to me! Using a similar gimmick as "Stomp & Chomp" Grimlock this figure is primarily activated by a lever that you pull to transform him and activate lights and sounds. In an interesting new feature he projects a light that you can shine on other One Step Changer figures to reveal glyphs! You can see this figure demonstrated below:

Legion Class
Something I had not expected to see were Legion Class figures for "The Last Knight", but there they were tucked away in a corner! Once upon a time the Legion Class was a major segment of the live action movie toy lines. However during "Age of Extinction" it largely just became a series of redecos. This time out it is a combination of redecos and new sculpts. Hasbro pulled from a couple different sources for these figures, not just previous movie lines. One of the Terrorcon sculpts from "Beast Hunters" and even the Prowl from "Prime" as Barricade. Despite having redecos there were some really nice new sculpts including Megatron, Drift, Dragonstorm and Crosshairs.

Other neat products include the previously revealed RC Sqweeks and battle masks with sounds and even a Megatron mask that "transforms" by having the horns form a battle mask. Even better? The Megatron mask features the voice of Frank Welker himself!

ROBOTS IN DISGUISE

Robots in Disguise table

"Robots in Disguise" had a smaller presence this year than in previous years, taking up a table and a couple shelves. Still what they had to show was significant, focusing on the "Combiner Force" segment of the line. The main table had both upcoming Combiner figures (Ultrabee in box, Menasor loose). The boxed sets will allow fans to get the entire Combiner in one shot at a $29.99 USD price point. A prototype of Menasor was on the table to show off. When I asked the demonstrator to take the entire figure apart he told me it was not fully functional so I did not want to push the point. You can see the demo in the video below:

The nearby shelves featured upcoming Legion and Warrior Class figures. Among the highlights of the Legion Class shelf were Blurr and Cyclonus. The two Warrior Class figures shown were a redeco/retool of the current Windblade figure and a retool/redeco of Bisk as Thermidor! The Legion Class figures looked really good, continuing to offer pocket-sized play for fans. I have to admit I was most excited by Thermidor who actually features a new head sculpt. I had expected him to just be a straight up redeco of Bisk but there we was in all his blue colored glory!

RESCUE BOTS

Rescue Bots table

"Rescue Bots" was nestled in with a bunch of other Playskool toys including Star Wars. This year's focus appears to be on the "Flip Racers". Much like the "Gravity Bots" from the "Dark of the Moon" era, these tiny figures are able to transform from vehicle to robot mode just by tilting them up. The giant Optimus Prime truck featured in the booth had long tracks that allowed you to launch two Flip Racers who would go from robot mode to fast moving vehicles. It looks super fun. The other featured item was "Knight Watch Bumblebee", a large Bumblebee figure (roughly Leader Class sized but chunkier) who transforms from a dragon into a robot. He comes with two Mini-Cons, also dragons who can combine into a spear weapon. This is of course meant to tie in thematically with products from "The Last Knight". It was a fun looking and impressive piece.

Final Thoughts:
This year's brand media event was absolutely spectacular. I also want to give a huge shout out to the folks at Litzky PR, Rogers & Cowan and Hasbro for taking a lot of the feedback last year and creating a much more comfortable, well lit and organized environment for the fan media to take their photos. For the most part this area felt a lot less "tense" and "crowded" than previous years and I was very impressed. We are truly in a Golden Age of Transformers toys and I can't wait to see what we weren't shown down the line!