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Transformers in 2016 and Beyond:
A Conversation with Hasbro's Marketing & Design Teams

By Anthony Brucale


At their annual 'Twas the night before event, Hasbro unveiled a slew of new Transformers heading into New York Comic Con 2016 weekend. The Hasbro Marketing & Design teams were, once again, gracious enough to sit down with me (as they did in 2015 as well) to answer questions about the current and upcoming Transformers lines. Our Twitter account was a flurry of images that night, so be sure to swing by and check out more if you like what you see below.

On hand were:

And here's what happened:

TFU.INFO: Let's start with Generations, the inspirations for the current Titans Retruns line... there seems to be a lot of drawn from the Japanese series... Sky Shadow, Shuffler, Lione... I just wanted to know what your inspiration was to go that route?

John Warden: I think it's clear at this point, by not just how successful the toys are but also the positive online buzz that we're attracting not only a generation of current fans but actually, a generation of newer fans. So when we look through the Transformers catalog, there's a lot of really great Transformers in the Japanese series, between their cool alt forms and their robots are really interesting, the color theory is really cool, and fans worldwide really haven't had a chance to play with a lot of these toys. So when we were crafting the Titans Return line we wanted to make sure that we had a good mix of vehicle forms, alt forms, colors, and when we look at the broad spectrum of the Transformers Universe some of these things are just great toys. In addition to that, we know that there is a collector out there that really does... appreciates the value and IP that's in some of these Japanese-type toys. I think it's actually serving a lot of good, not just to the fan community, but also to this new generation that just likes tiny elephants transformers.

TFU: (Laughs) Now also with  Sky Shadow, the big question is... a lot of people feel its a pre-mold for something hinted at from Botcon. Is there any more information you can share?

JW: Well, as fans out there know, we've got a team in the Transformers Universe called the Phase Sixers. We've got Sixshot, Sky Shadow/Black Shadow, and Overlord is also a member of the Phase Sixers. So, we definitely have 2 great toys that are part of the Phase Sixers, unfortunately I can't comment on that third guy.

TFU: Does Sky Shadow have a sixth mode? I saw 4 last night, I was wondering if there were two more.

JW: Oh, no no no. The Phase Sixers, it's just a name. It's what they're called. Sky Shadow specifically is a triple changer. I guess technically a Duocon Triple Changer.

TFU: Does he come with 1 Titan Master or 2?

JW: He does come with one. Last night on display we had an extra one floating around. (Laughs) Y'know, in the spirit of Titans Return it's about that Universe building and hopefully collectors and kids at this point have so many of those little guys that they're having fun with them and building little cities.

TFU: Also, will there be more characters from Lost Light?

JW: I mean, just like your question for the Japanese line, I think that we draw inspiration from all different pieces of the Transformers franchise and certainly there's some great characters out there... Nautica comes to mind as a cool character, great alt form, great personality, great color way... and when look at the broad spectrum of the Transformers Universe we definitely want to pull from all pieces. I can't answer that question directly but certainly IDW is an influence. They're a great partner to us.

TFU: Moving on to a couple of quick things from the rest of Titans Return, is Perceptor a working microscope?

JW: He certainly is! In fact, the mold for the lensing on the inside is actually the same as the G1 toy. When we started the design process on this guy, the lensing plastic is... it's an optical grade plastic... it's a different type of material and the molding conditions are really... becuase you have to get those lenses high polish and stuff, so, when we started off that project we actually used the lensing and technology from previously done classic 80's Perceptor. So, he's definitely got a working microscope. Just like back in the day, it reverses the image like a normal microscope does.

TFU: I'm going to move to RID for a little bit... Is there a Season 3? Is Season 3 coming? It's on in Canada?

Ben Montano: Season 3, as it's often called, where you see Starscream in kind of a 6 episode finale arc. You should expect to be able to see that in the US very soon.

TFU: So, Combiner Force... I noticed some inspiration there from the early 2000's from Armada and Energon, just wondering if you guys can speak to that?

Sean Carmine Isabella: Yeah, when we were looking at creating combiners for our line, we were looking back at the original G1 combiners because I am a big fan of Aerialbots. That was like, my first inspiration, but wanted to add some action play to it. So, I tried to think about creating that moment where kids can take two characters in and mash them together to create a combiner very quick and kind of having a fun action play with combining.

TFU: And for the larger combiner force figures... those are called?

SCI: Those are called Activator Combiners

TFU: Activator Combiners. And so, was the inspiration for that straight out of Armada, the clicking right in?

SCI: Yeah, and I also wanted to really play up their vehicle modes, which we don't do a lot of, so, how do we power up and kind of put some emphasis on those vehicle modes? So it's kind of a fun way to look at reinventing transformation of those vehicle modes and different parts that can happen there.

TFU: And noticed from the stuff revealed last night a lot of Autobots and not many Decepticons. Will we see more Decepticon figures in the line?

SCI: Yeah, we should be looking at showcasing new waves later on. We like Decepticons, so...

BM: Obviously the last couple of waves have been pretty heavy with Decepticons as well. Our intention last night was to show just the good guys but, you should definitely expect... fans should expect Decepticons more.

TFU: And will they be in the early waves as well or will they be in just later waves?

SCI: Uh........ yes. A couple in the early waves.

TFU: I noticed last night from scanning one of the figures into the game, a character called Cryotase?

SCI: Yeah. So that's the name of the game there's a little Gotcha Machine, where each time you scan a combiner you get a power-up piece and that's the name of that little stasis scanning character. So, you can see there's an actual character named in the show...

TFU: Is he a stasis pod? He looks kinda like an ice maker...


SCI: The inspiration was a mixture of the Gotcha Machines, the old claw toy machines, and then the stasis pod from the show. So that's where kind of the name came from.

TFU: I will tell you now people are already asking for a toy of him.

(Big Laughs)

BM: That's the last place I thought we would have inspiration for a toy. A gotcha machine in an app! That's awesome!

JW: That's what makes Transformers so awesome, stuff like that.

(More laughs)

SCI: I'm going to go to a claw machine now in a movie theater and be like, "Awwww, that should have been a toy!"

JW: Or a gotcha machine. What kid doesn't want a gotcha machine?

(More laughs)

JW: It's so random.

TFU: Going back to Combiner Force; the combined modes, do they have names?

SCI: They do. Right now we have Beeside, which is Bumblebee and Sideswipe. You have Strong Prime, which is Optimus Prime and Strongarm and then you have Skyhammer which is Storm Hammer and Sky Sledge. I'm pretty sure those are the final names.

Luis De Armas: You killed it!


TFU: Speaking of combiners and kind of jumping back to Generations a little bit; have we seen the last of Combiner Wars? I know some people are asking about some of the other teams, is that still an option that's open in the near future?

JW: Well, the best way I can answer that question is, Transformers Universe and the character Universe that we have to play in is super broad. Combiner Wars as a segment is indeed over. Titans Return now is our current ecosystem and the universe that we are playing in, also the storytelling piece of the universe is part of the Prime Wars Trilogy. What's coming next in chapter 3... can't talk about it yet... but we know the fans have a lot of passion for characters like Abominus and Predaking and other characters within the universe, within the franchise that... y'know, I think everybody's got their own favorites. And I guess people are just going to have to stay tuned and see what's next.

TFU: Are there hints to chapter 3 in Earth Wars at all?

JW: No, I don't think so.

BM: Not intentionally. As we've worked with the backfill team on that we went definitely broader in the characters and not necessarily connected at all to story, so there's a lot of things... and I think Louie's favorite, why am I blanking on him, character...

LD: Oh, Seaspray?

BM: Seaspray will be introduced shortly

LD: He is?

BM: Yes, he is. See?

(Cheers from Louie)

BM: Louis hasn't played that game in a couple of weeks.

LD: Now I'm getting back into it.

BM: He's one of the event special characters coming up.

LD (as Seaspray): Welcome back, Seaspray!

BM: It's not a story driven game. It's more of a character driven game. So, I wouldn't use that as a tip off...

SCI: Louie is very clearly upset by this news.


BM: No, he's obsessed with the game... or the character, he hasn't played the game.

(PR Rep informs us we have 2 minutes left)

LD: Two more minutes of Seaspray talk!


TFU: So, let's talk to Louie, since he is the new guy here... tell me what you're most excited about what you have coming?

LD: So, yeah, I work with John on the Generations line. That's my focus on the marketing side, also with Ashley who's not here unfortunately. But think when I look at what we're doing in '17 and what we've done in '16, the really exciting thing for me is not only are we able to kind of scratch that itch when it comes to those characters you've been waiting for and doing really cool stuff like that, but when we look a little broader at people who just walk in to the shelf, whether they're 11 years old or 30 years old, there's a two-headed, sort of, dragon dinosaur and right now there's a big crocodile; and these really cool alt modes that are just kind of wacky but, y'know, they're robots that turn into really awesome stuff. I think it's something really awesome that we've gone into over the past year, especially with Titans Return from the Combiner Wars series, where we are providing a lot of unique alt modes that are just very derpy and cool at the same time. And it's just exciting, I think. It's an exciting time to be a Transformers fan.

TFU: A couple of real quick Lightning Round kind of things here... Do we have an update on Trypticon?

JW: Well, Trypticon is coming along. He's a big cake to bake, so to speak.

BM: Tune in to the live stream today.

TFU: Any tie-ins to Revolution? Either in Transformers or in other lines?

BM: Yes, nothing we can speak to right now.

TFU: Looking at the Monsterbots, Repugnus is Titan Master sized, Twinferno is Deluxe sized. What went into making them different sizes and where does that leave an eventual Grotusque?

JW: To speak to Repugnus, this character, because of the fact that his alt mode is pretty signature, he's got this kaiju kind of bug monster kind of thing... when we go to build the line, Louis and I work together to try to figure out what are the best choices for alt modes as we expand across the line, but also kind of color theory and stuff, and that character we kind of wanted to make sure that he was in the line, but, our slots were kind of full with different types of beast characters in Deluxe Class. So, we wanted to put him in small scale, so we thought it would be a nice homage to that character. I guess for Grotusque, we understand the popularity of this character and fans are just going to have to stay tuned.

Want to hear the entire interview? Check out the return of Destroy, Erase, Improve on Radio Free Cybertron to hear the audio!

If you would like more photos from New York Comic Con 2016, just swing on by our Twitter feed and scroll through our coverage!

Until next time!


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