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View Full Version : Grumpy old men: armchair brand management


Clay
2014-08-10, 05:50 PM
So, Mr. Warcry and myself got completely off track in private messages trying to arrange a trade and ended up just agreeing with each other on how much the brand has been miss-managed lately. Then I figured that we should just make a thread so that other people can chime in, so here we are.

RE: PCC Dinobots
You'll probably like them more than I do, if you enjoy the other PCC sets. If nothing else they look pretty cool compared to the others I've seen because of their uniform Dinobot colours. I just get so frustrated by the whole PCC line, because the drones just don't work well as arms or individual toys. Being an animal set probably made the Dinobots seem worse, too, compared to the cars or tanks or jets.

I think they're an interesting subset in relation to the smaller stuff. Considering them as deluxe figures, they're below average, yeah. But if I think of them as the larger Legends/Legion figures (which came a year later, I think), I like them more. It makes more sense that way, especially considering the drones are the same size as the smaller Legends and can carry around a Minicon.

Actually, that's an irony... the Legend class has overcome most of its initial shortcomings by sheer weight of numbers, which is exactly why the PCC figures failed. The critical mass of quantity and variety wasn't reached before they gave up on the things.

I think that might be part of the problem with the Dinodrones...they're way bigger than your average Legends/Legion figure. The Dimetrodon is a bit smaller than the other three, but they're not far off from the core robot's size in beast mode. They do work nicely as big, massive threats for Cyberverse-style figs, I agree, though the BH Terrorcons kind of put them to shame in that regard.

The first comparables that come to mind for me when I think of PCCs, though, are the DOTM Human Alliance Basics and the modern Legend two-packs. Those are a more apt contrast to the Targetmaster two-packs than the full-fledged combiners sets, admittedly, but I think all three are meant to fill the same niche. Ironically, while the big guy in the sets have gotten better with each iteration, the smaller partners have decayed from cool (albeit overly busy) Minicons to boring human minifigs to unarticulated bricks in the latest set.

I do think the line produced a few really cool Scoutish figures and Minicons, I just think the core gimmick needed another design revision or two. Drone limbs weren't a bad idea for combiners at that scale, but they really needed to have good limb configurations to make up for the lack of robot modes and that didn't happen.

[Clay nods his head "yes"]

I'd also add that in most of these cases, if they'd simply carry on and keep building on a concept, they'd get more traction over time. I think that's the big reason the Generations toys now move so quickly. They've essentially built upon the premise of "Classics" off and on for eight years now. Things like the PCC figures are just sort of errant off-shots and oddities.

/armchair brand manager

Actually, I'd say the perfect example of that goes all the way back to the genesis of TF combiners, the Scramble City teams. By launching with four teams at once, kids had a choice to collect a whole team, or cherry-pick the toys they liked and Frankenstein a gestalt. And by adding new teams in later years, they gave kids a chance to build up their numbers even more. You could say the same thing about the tapes too, which were an even older gimmick. They kept releasing those for, what, five years?

I'd agree that it's a shame that things seem to come and go so quickly these days. Kids who fell in love with, say, Human Alliance or Activator toys or data discs were totally out of luck six months later when they stopped selling them, and if that's all they're into then Hasbro looses them as a customer. And unlike when we were kids, stuff doesn't hang around long enough for a kid to collect a whole subgroup when they come out at once, unless they get them all for birthday/Christmas gifts.

I mean, it took me the better part of two years to get all the G2 Aerialbots. There's no way I could do that nowadays. I'm an adult actively hunting the stuff, and even I struggle to find stuff if I want to buy multiple figures per wave and can't get them all at once (case in point: I saw Waspinator twice and Skids once). For kids? No way. It makes me wonder how the whole Generations combiner stuff is going to go over with people who can't just order cases off the internet.

And they also had the sense to release them as gift sets as well, skipping over the maddening hunt for figures that aren't released together because they're in different size classes. Of course, that's an extension of the wave system. I don't really understand why they do it. Hasbro and retailers seem perfectly happy to keep the static assortment of, say, Nerf guns on shelves year-round aside from a six-month reset. But they don't even do what would be the simplest fix for the wave system: shipping one figure per case of eight, making each box contain eight different figures instead of doubling up on everything.

The AOE line is the perfect example of shooting themselves in the foot: it's only got three waves anyway, so the first wave should have been one of each of the figures from waves one and two. Better variety and less clogging that way. Instead, wave one is overstocked everywhere meaning that two-thirds of the deluxe figures are going to be difficult to find. It's daft!

The other thing about the Scramble combiners is that they made them cross-compatible and continued to do so after the initial groups. They added three more sets (Computron, Abominus, Piranacon) in the years after, and used some of them again in G2. But instead of an interchangeable part system like that, the connectors for the Energon group are different from the FOC Combaticons, and are different from next year's batch, which are (understandably) different from the PCC stuff, which are different from anything else I'm forgetting...

Wow, I'm ranting a bit. Sorry about that...


Are you me? Because you think exactly like me.

The idea that toys need to have constantly-new stock like fashion is a silly one. The best way to sell toys has always been "kid goes into store to buy Toy A, sees Toy B, comes back to buy Toy B next month and sees Toy C, etc...". And the wacky modern wave system has utterly strangled that. A kid walking into the toy section nowadays will only see a small handful of other toys in the line, and may never see those toys again depending on the vagarities of distribution. Cross-sells are similarly useless now, for the same reasons.

The Lego model makes way more sense to me. It's basically what G1 did anyway, and it was hugely successful at the time. Two waves per year, one for Christmas and one for summer vacation time, with a lot more items per wave.

Using Generations as an example, you'd be releasing all of Cosmos, Swerve, Tailgate, Shrapnel, Waspinator, Skids, Dreadwing, Goldfire, Armada Starscream, Skywarp, the Mini-Con Assault Team, Scoop, Rhinox, Whirl and Doubledealer all at once as your big 2013 Christmas push. Then around summertime, Acid Storm, Gears, Nemesis Prime, Cliffjumper, Tankor, Rattrap, Crosscut, Nightbeat, Jhiaxus, Windblade, Arcee, Chromia, Sky-Byte, Roadbuster and Brainstorm slowly take their place. And then for this Christmas, have two whole combiner teams on the shelves!

In general, I think Hasbro and retailers don't factor in repeat sales when they decide how this stuff works. Fill a case with eight Bumblebees and you have to find eight people to buy them. Fill a case with eight different guys, and you could sell them all to one person. And a kid in scenario #2 is way more valuable than the eight kids in scenario #1. He's well on his way to having a big collection and becoming a lifetime fan, but others are just eight of the millions of kids with one Transformer who'll forget about it as soon as something new comes along.


The other thing about the Scramble combiners is that they made them cross-compatible and continued to do so after the initial groups. They added three more sets (Computron, Abominus, Piranacon) in the years after, and used some of them again in G2. But instead of an interchangeable part system like that, the connectors for the Energon group are different from the FOC Combaticons, and are different from next year's batch, which are (understandably) different from the PCC stuff, which are different from anything else I'm forgetting...
I've never thought of it like that, but you're 100% right.

(You also caused me to transform FoC Brawl into leg mode and have him stand around like that, silently mourning the absence of the rest of his team and his inability to combine with the upcoming toys. So much limb potential, never to be used! :()

I can understand them not reusing the Energon combiner ports, because they were designed to hold limbs one size class smaller than the FoC Combaticons onto a body and probably wouldn't hold up to the extra weight. But why not reuse the Combaticon technology for the new guys? It seems fairly robust.

Of course, the answer probably is "this way we can force fans to buy an entirely new set of Combaticons in 2016, mwa-ha-ha-ha!"

Wow, I'm ranting a bit. Sorry about that...
Yeah, and you've got me started too! I've been known to go off on this same tangent more than once. I suspect we could fill an entire thread with nothing but complaints over how Hasbro handles its distribution and strategy nowadays.


We should do exactly that.

Tantrum
2014-08-10, 10:22 PM
Just yesterday I was in Providence and happened to walk by the Hasbro building. I thought of the third pic here (http://thefwoosh.com/2013/04/peg-warmers-the-toys-they-couldnt-give-away) (which shows a rack of TF pegs filled with various incarnations of Bumblebee) and wanted to attach it to their door Martin Luther style.

Do later waves even make it to regular retail that often? I first saw RTS Perceptor and Prime Rumble at TJ Maxx for $8 each.

I agree that putting one of each figure in a wave instead of duplicating figures and having multiple waves sounds good. But, that assumes they plan to make roughly equal numbers of each figure. Maybe the later waves are for figures they don't plan to sell much of. AoE Gen Deluxe wave 3 is another yellow Bumblebee, a dinobot who's not in the film, and a repaint of Crosshairs.

If they think the popular figures will outsell the less popular figures by two-to-one, they could put two Crosshairs in a case for every Snarl. But, if the ratio is higher, I don't think there's enough figures in a case for the math to work out. They way they do it now, they can make 10 of every wave 1 figure to every 1 wave 3 figure.

Clay
2014-08-10, 10:47 PM
Yeah, but they can control for a figure being more popular by doubling up within the wave, say two Bumblebees and six different unique figures in a case of eight. This is mostly a comment on the lack of variety in a given wave... if sales are slow (as they seem to be with AOE stuff), all of the new molds held back for waves two and three (seven overall?) run the risk of being completely skipped in a given geographic area. And of course sales are also hurt by only having the same four figures available everywhere.

As far as later waves produced in lower numbers, I don't think that was the plan with AOE. Revenge of the Fallen (a far more popular line) had something like ten or eleven waves of deluxe figures, and the last two or three were mostly repaints and were very hard to find. AOE seems to be stalling before even getting through all of the new molds, which would seem to be abnormal. If it's only supposed to be three waves with mostly new molds each time, I don't think that wave three was meant to be a "loss" wave. It would have all been repaints like the later waves of the ROTF line.

Skyquake87
2014-08-11, 08:27 AM
Whats interesting to me about this thread is that these problems of case assortments and ubiquity of characters etc are now becoming a big deal for you you guys in America. In Europe, this problem of too much of Waves 1 & 2 and little of anything else has been noticeable since Beast Machines.

If this kind of hemorraging is now impacting a vast territory like America - which traditionally has been able to absorb the vast swathes of product and is where the Waves system actually works - then its clear that there's a problem with the current model.

It also seems to indicate a cooling in consumer interest in Transformers toys. That's not surprising for the movie lines, which have basically repeated the same characters over and over since 2007 - of course there's going to come a saturation point - but the likes of Animated and Prime have also compounded this by offering more of these same characters , just in slightly tweaked forms.

I just feel like its too much of the same old same old and without some variety, there's nothing to get interested and excited about. The new Transformers cartoon is going to give us an other set of the same core characters and it just doesn't feel very refreshing or invigorating.

With the action figure market slowly dying out, its a wonder toy companies aren't doing anything to try and buck this trend. Of course, Hasbro's success developing its own Studios may mean that it is no longer thinking about toys as part of its future, so perhaps they are thinking of ways to get out of toys altogether, perhaps realising that they have had their time.

Aside: There wasn't much variety between the various vendors at Auto Assembly this year. Everyone had Generations - piles of Jetfires, Roadbusters, Springers and Sky-Bytes. There was just one dealer selling Masterpiece figures. The biggest draws seemed to be the Third Party stuff which seemed to be the stuff most people were holding out for.

Warcry
2014-08-11, 09:18 PM
Just yesterday I was in Providence and happened to walk by the Hasbro building. I thought of the third pic here (http://thefwoosh.com/2013/04/peg-warmers-the-toys-they-couldnt-give-away) (which shows a rack of TF pegs filled with various incarnations of Bumblebee) and wanted to attach it to their door Martin Luther style.
:lol:

The biggest problem with Beehives like that, IMO, isn't that the Bumblebees weren't selling (because they were, albeit slower than Hasbro expected) but that they eventually choked out every other toy in the line. If a kid's local toystores looks like that, he can't buy other Transformers even if he wants to. Most kids are only going to buy one Bumblebee, after all.

The same thing plagues most kid-oriented superhero lines nowadays. When was the last time you saw anything other than Batman on the Batman pegs? And it basically killed He-Man as a retail line when they tried to relaunch it in the 2000s, since the only thing anyone could find were a dozen variants of He-Man and Skeletor. It seems like Hasbro have learned their lesson and backed off on their Bumblebee push enough that he's no longer piling up, though.

Do later waves even make it to regular retail that often? I first saw RTS Perceptor and Prime Rumble at TJ Maxx for $8 each.
I know that feeling. With the first batch of Generations toys (the ones between ROTF and DOTM) I had to buy the figures I wanted from last four or five waves online en masse because they never showed up at all, and I got most of my RTS toys at places like XS Cargo or in trades with other Archivers. Then DOTM never made it past the second wave in most stores. More recently, the last two or three Beast Hunters waves showed up at Toys'R'Us and were immediately clearanced to make room for AoE.

The main problem is that the turnaround cycle for waves is so short now that if one wave sells just a tiny fraction too slow, it pushes the wave behind it back far enough that it doesn't come out until the third wave was supposed to, which pushes that one back, etc, etc...and by the time wave 5 or 6 are actually reaching stores, it's time for the next line to come out.

I agree that putting one of each figure in a wave instead of duplicating figures and having multiple waves sounds good. But, that assumes they plan to make roughly equal numbers of each figure.

Yeah, but they can control for a figure being more popular by doubling up within the wave, say two Bumblebees and six different unique figures in a case of eight.
They can also repack a figure in the next wave as well, getting as many figures out as they otherwise would have but spacing them over a longer period of time. That would let them sell just as many Bumblebees while avoiding the "glut" of product that sometimes occurs when a line is front-loaded with three or four Bees per case. It would also have the benefit of making the popular guys seem scarce (without being unattainable) which could spur on higher sales to the adult demographic.

They could also try to get into the variant game. Instead of packing two or three of the same Bumblebee per case, they could have a Bumblebee and a Goldbug, or a Bumblebee and whatever it is they've taken to calling the black-redecoed version of him. That way they're increasing the availability of the character while still getting two distinct products out there so consumers have more to choose from.

As far as later waves produced in lower numbers, I don't think that was the plan with AOE. Revenge of the Fallen (a far more popular line) had something like ten or eleven waves of deluxe figures, and the last two or three were mostly repaints and were very hard to find. AOE seems to be stalling before even getting through all of the new molds, which would seem to be abnormal. If it's only supposed to be three waves with mostly new molds each time, I don't think that wave three was meant to be a "loss" wave. It would have all been repaints like the later waves of the ROTF line.
The same thing happened with DOTM -- low sales killed the line while a bunch of new molds were still sitting around unreleased, while off-screen characters and new toys of the twins (who were quite unpopular toy-wise in ROTF) and Jolt hit along with the first wave. AoE isn't doing so badly with it, sticking more closely to the movie cast and just the movie cast for the first two waves, and IMO they actually seem to be doing better because of it.

Well, in a fashion anyway. I can't even find a Deluxe AoE toy anywhere right now, because they've sold through. Of course, all the stores have a glut of the kid-aimed lines, so they've given over the Deluxe pegs to them instead of ordering new stuff. That's another conversation entirely, though, since Hasbro seem to have actively shot themselves in the foot by deciding that "kids want simpler toys" meant that they should make three different, mutually exclusive lines for the same demographic, each with toys of the same characters (and made the packaging so confusing that even collectors can't tell what's what).

If this kind of hemorraging is now impacting a vast territory like America - which traditionally has been able to absorb the vast swathes of product and is where the Waves system actually works - then its clear that there's a problem with the current model.
I'll be honest and say that I don't think the wave system ever really worked even in the US all that well. As a whole the nation usually got everything, but on a micro level there were always waves that whole chunks of the country didn't get, or things that barely showed up at all. Looking back, there's always been shitstorms over popular things that the US couldn't get, like Generations Skids and Waspinator, RTS Windcharger or the final wave of Classics. Heck, you can even go all the way back to stuff like Energon Ultra Magnus! It hasn't been as bad in the US but it's never really been that good for them either.

Toys simply aren't a product that should see such a quick turnover, and honestly I think the wave system has contributed as much as video games to hurting the toy industry. How often as children did we see a toy in stores that we couldn't afford, only to save up and go back for it a month or three or six later? If a kid sees Generations Armada Starscream in stores now, falls in love but can't afford him, what do you suppose the odds are that he'll still be able to get one in November?

If toys are unattainable kids will spend their money on the stuff they can get, and (aside from the often-overstocked first wave of new lines) toys have only gotten more and more unattainable over the last decade. But since Walmart and the other big retailers are terrified by the thought of having "old" product on the shelves, they've killed the industry by trying to force entirely new stock to market every two months.

I just feel like its too much of the same old same old and without some variety, there's nothing to get interested and excited about. The new Transformers cartoon is going to give us an other set of the same core characters and it just doesn't feel very refreshing or invigorating.
That's fair enough as far as adult fans go. How many Starscreams or Soundwaves or Grimlocks does a man actually need, anyway? For the kids, though? They definitely like to be able to get the "important" characters.

I think the Generations line has done a good job of bringing a lot of old, obscure or under-appreciated characters out of the shadows. But Hasbro hedge their bets a lot, sneaking in a lot of Optimuses and Bumblebees into the line even though collectors don't really want them and kids won't really recognize them. I think they can afford to step back from that a bit, but on the whole they're running one of the best adult-friendly mass-retail toylines out there (and their primary competition is other Hasbro stuff -- Star Wars Black and Marvel Legends). It'll never compete with 100% fan-oriented stuff like MPs or third-party toys, but as a retail line? I think they've done great.

The main-line stuff, though, has grown less and less appealing to me as time goes on. Most of it is because of exactly what you've said -- I see way too many of the same guys over and over again, and it's really hard to keep interested. The fact that fairly major characters don't even get toys hurts it from a collector perspective, too. I considered putting together a complete Prime cast, but Hasbro wasn't about to let me and once I realized that I gave up the idea. The same thing happened with AoE (though at least Stinger is a fairly minor face), DOTM (Soundwave, Que, Dino, the fact that the Wreckers weren't all in the same size class) and ROTF (though I'm at a loss currently as to who was missing...some of the Constructicons? I remember an infuriated Cliffjumper tearing into Hasbro over it though), and I remember Animated fans pining over figures that never came out too.

Clay
2014-08-11, 10:46 PM
I considered putting together a complete Prime cast, but Hasbro wasn't about to let me and once I realized that I gave up the idea.

Oooh, don't even get me started on the Prime line... well, never mind. You just did. :o

So new molds cost lots of money, yeah? So what's the best plan of action to launch a new line? A "first edition" line of exclusive, not-to-be reused molds of characters that will be getting other, identical-at-a-glance toys in a month's time? That no one can find? And then pad out the remaining line with non-show characters? And make molds (and remolds like the Air Vehicon) of characters that appear in the show and then not release them? And then spend lots more money on remolds of almost everything to fit into the theme of the line refresh to make the toys available look even more inaccurate to their appearances in fiction? And then blame the slow sales of the line on external factors? lolwat

Tantrum
2014-08-11, 11:18 PM
Clay - I wasn't trying to say that Hasbro plans to sell next to 0 of the wave 3 toys, just that they don't expect to sell vary many compared to the wave 1 figures. Double packing works if they think there's twice as much demand for Bumblebee as there is for Snarl. But, what they think they'll sell 5 times as many Bees as Snarls? If they put 5 Bees and 1 Snarl in a case, the case is almost full. Maybe they could combine double-packing with what Warcry said about putting the figure in multiple waves. A wave 1 case has two Bees and 6 unique figures, wave 2 has 2 Bees and 6 other unique figures, wave 3 has 1 Bee and 7 other figures.

I wonder if it would be possible to release waves cyclicly instead of sequentially. Right now, it looks like they send out all the wave 1 figures they make, then ship wave 2 once those sell out. Could they ship some wave 1, then some wave 2, then wave 3, then some more wave 1? If there's a popularity difference, they could go 1 2 1 3, then repeat.
Whats interesting to me about this thread is that these problems of case assortments and ubiquity of characters etc are now becoming a big deal for you you guys in America. In Europe, this problem of too much of Waves 1 & 2 and little of anything else has been noticeable since Beast Machines.So rather than fix the problems in Europe, they're importing those problems to America? Hasbro is slowly unlearning how to run their business.

One problem with releasing new versions of the same characters over and over is that the cost-cutting measures make the newer versions less appealing. I look at the Transformers shelves, and not only do I already own most of the characters there, the figures I have are bigger and better painted.

Thunderwave
2014-08-12, 02:12 AM
One of the things I noticed, and loved, is that the current Generations Deluxes wave's are comprised of 4 figures, two of each per case. I'm seeing a lot less clogging of one figure on pegs then I am for the other lines (the worst I think I saw was 3 Mini-con assault teams and a smattering of the other guys). The downside is that they are not running Voyagers that way, with some cases being 3 of one figure and 1 of another.

Another problem is the retailers. For a release like AoE they want to stuff their shelves and endcaps with product. So they order everything they get their hands on (which is where Hasbro could, say, offer Wave 1+2 out the gate)...which then leads to legions of Bumblebees and Crosshairs clogging the shelves as retailers try to clear the massive overbuy of Wave 1 toys.

Also this time of year sucks for toys because of seasonal changes to stores. If you haven't worked retail you might not know how this is handled. Usually they'll get a buttload of product in but hold it in the back. They'll stock the shelves with -just- enough product to not make a section look bare, and then when they do the seasonal "Move everything around dance" they'll put the rest of the product out after the line has been moved to it's new home. Usually it happens in spring, sometimes mid summer, and in the fall right before Christmas. It makes people spend more time looking for what they want, hopefully increasing sales. The reason they keep the stock on the floor low is then it's less for people to move about when the change comes. Our local Targets just did this (it's how I managed to find a Deluxe Lockdown) and the local Toys R Us is starting their dance. At least that's how it's done in America.

That said, what the heck Hasbro? Takara charging you too much to bring Prime Breakdown and Air Vehicon to the states? Was the First Edition line really necessary? And what's with the really gimmicky weapons?

Skyquake87
2014-08-12, 08:10 AM
So rather than fix the problems in Europe, they're importing those problems to America? Hasbro is slowly unlearning how to run their business.

As I understand it, the American retail model has just been exported en masse globally. During the 1990s, Hasbro started to do away with smaller regional offices that catered to their markets abroad and turned them all into pretty much distribution hubs, just importing and distributing whatever stock the US parent tells them to. This probably makes huge business sense to Hasbro and other global companies, but such globalisation has the end result of a) assuming foreign markets to behave in the same way as your own b) making everyone's high street look the same.

Blackjack
2014-08-13, 12:44 AM
Do later waves even make it to regular retail that often? I first saw RTS Perceptor and Prime Rumble at TJ Maxx for $8 each.

I never find any of the later waves. While it was just the last waves of Animated, DOTM and the first Generations line, the second FOC/Thrilling 30 Generations subline basically died here after ****ing Impactor... their big boy Metroplex never even made it into retail. While Prime was a little better none of the third-wave Beast Hunters toys or First Edition toys made it into retail, and we missed the entire 'Predacons Rising' sub-subset of the line as well.

But then Singapore, who's like an hour flight away, gets all the toys that America does, sometimes getting them faster than them. So it's probably a problem here where the retailers aren't interested in getting new waves until they've cleared the overloaded wave 1/2 toys, making getting later wave toys an absolute nightmare.

Maybe the later waves are for figures they don't plan to sell much of. AoE Gen Deluxe wave 3 is another yellow Bumblebee, a dinobot who's not in the film, and a repaint of Crosshairs.

AOE is a bit of an exception, though, with them learning and putting all the show characters (except Lockdown) in the first two waves or so... comparing it with, well, practically anything that came before: Prime, Animated, Generations, the other three movie lines, most of the waves are made up of original moulds and show characters.

Yeah, but they can control for a figure being more popular by doubling up within the wave, say two Bumblebees and six different unique figures in a case of eight. This is mostly a comment on the lack of variety in a given wave... if sales are slow (as they seem to be with AOE stuff), all of the new molds held back for waves two and three (seven overall?) run the risk of being completely skipped in a given geographic area. And of course sales are also hurt by only having the same four figures available everywhere.

With AOE one of the main problems is that they have so many variations of the same six or seven characters in the toyline. With, say, a B-lister like Scorn alone you have the Generations-Deluxe figure, you have the kiddie-Deluxe RID figure, you've got Kre-O, you've got Construct-Bots and that's just Scorn... major characters like Optimus, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Lockdown and Drift get a bunch of other merchandise after that.

See, kids only want one of them. By duplicating what is essentially the same toy across various sublines and selling them at the same time you're going to ensure that three out of the four toys will shelfwarm. What kid is going to buy, say, RID Drift and Generations Drift and then another random Drift? No, they'd rather buy Drift, and then a Hound toy, and then a Strafe toy or whatever.

Even with only two lines I remember the Kiddie version of the line for ROTF and 2007 Movie refused to budge from my local stores. And back then they were outnumbered with the normal line three to one. Here they're in mostly equal quantities.

It also seems to indicate a cooling in consumer interest in Transformers toys. That's not surprising for the movie lines, which have basically repeated the same characters over and over since 2007 - of course there's going to come a saturation point - but the likes of Animated and Prime have also compounded this by offering more of these same characters , just in slightly tweaked forms.

This is mostly it, really. And while there's the odd gem (character-wise, toy-wise) in most of the new lines, stuff like Knock Out, Breakdown, Dreadwing, Lockdown, Bulkhead etc, which keep the franchise refreshing, the main core characters will always invariably include some form of Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Starscream and Soundwave, all of which will be released in the first few waves.

I mean, I know the reasoning behind that. Kids will want to buy the main characters, but kids aren't stupid either... once they already have a Starscream toy I highly doubt they'll be excited for the Starscream in the next line.

Speaking as a kid who grew up buying toys in retail from the 2007 Movie and Animated, I skimped on Starscream, Optimus and Bumblebee in Animated... not because their designs are bad or the toys are unattractive, but because I already have them from the first movie toyline and, well, why waste my money on a different-looking version of a character I already own when I can get, say, Snarl or Swoop or Sentinel or Blackarachnia or Lockdown or Lugnut or Blitzwing or any of the other different dudes?

The Movie lines are even worse because the characters are basically identical to toys that most kids probably already have right now.

Aside: There wasn't much variety between the various vendors at Auto Assembly this year. Everyone had Generations - piles of Jetfires, Roadbusters, Springers and Sky-Bytes. There was just one dealer selling Masterpiece figures. The biggest draws seemed to be the Third Party stuff which seemed to be the stuff most people were holding out for.

Online retailers and third-party stuff are probably what contributes to the lower retail sales as well since a good majority of the fans import waves from the internet months before they are out on retail, or buy the Takara versions. It's not really their fault, though -- there's no guarantee I'll be able to find Roadbuster or Whirl or Sky-Byte in retail, and I understand the logic: why bother with a futile toy hunt when you can save all that trouble for a few extra bucks and get your toy two months early to boot?

It seems like Hasbro have learned their lesson and backed off on their Bumblebee push enough that he's no longer piling up, though.

Another reason is that, really, Animated's more G1-based take, all the recent Bumblebees are basically the same toy. 2007 Movie, ROTF, Prime, DOTM, AOE and the upcoming RID cartoon all have what's basically the same Bumblebee design. Oh, sure, tweaked to their own aesthetic and with different moulds and alternate modes from every version, but they're still the same Bumblebee and as much as he may appeal if they continue on packaging more of him in proportion to other dudes it's not going to sell.

Though in AOE there really isn't a lot of Bumblebees out there, no? The black, old-Camaro Bumblebee is among the first wave and he's everywhere, but that holds true for his wavemates Crosshairs, Slug and Scorn. I don't think I've seen the Buzzsaw-Shoulders Bumblebee more than once, and that was part of a two-pack thing.

The main problem is that the turnaround cycle for waves is so short now that if one wave sells just a tiny fraction too slow, it pushes the wave behind it back far enough that it doesn't come out until the third wave was supposed to, which pushes that one back, etc, etc...and by the time wave 5 or 6 are actually reaching stores, it's time for the next line to come out.

This.

And for the system around here they flat-out don't order later waves unless there is a massive demand like during the 2007-2009 period.

I mean, there is always the smaller hobby shops that order a couple of cases of the toys but it's still a crap shoot hunting toys I want down.

They could also try to get into the variant game. Instead of packing two or three of the same Bumblebee per case, they could have a Bumblebee and a Goldbug, or a Bumblebee and whatever it is they've taken to calling the black-redecoed version of him. That way they're increasing the availability of the character while still getting two distinct products out there so consumers have more to choose from.

They seem to be working on this formula for the AOE line, releasing the black-deco'd Bumblebee in the first wave and saving the more conventional yellow one for later. It's not really a Bumblebee problem at the moment, really.

The same thing happened with DOTM -- low sales killed the line while a bunch of new molds were still sitting around unreleased, while off-screen characters and new toys of the twins (who were quite unpopular toy-wise in ROTF) and Jolt hit along with the first wave. AoE isn't doing so badly with it, sticking more closely to the movie cast and just the movie cast for the first two waves, and IMO they actually seem to be doing better because of it.

True, but AOE has multiple toys of the same characters as I mentioned above, which is probably going to affect sales in a different manner.

Not to say that DOTM's approach is better -- it isn't -- but AOE probably will have a fair amount of toys left over in the months to follow. DOTM's approach is pretty stupid too in my opinion... who wants a new deluxe class Ratchet/Starscream/Bumblebee to replace the near-identical ones you already have? Oh, kids like the Twins and Jolt, who aren't in the movie and are coloured wrongly to boot! Here, have all these dudes in waves 1 and 2! Also Barricade, who is hardly in the movie but got a brand new mould anyway!

What, you somehow get wave 3? Congratulations, you get a different-coloured Bumblebee, a Mudflap, and ****ing Thundercracker, who's a repaint. (There's Laserbeak in wave 3, though, so there's that) Wave 4? You get different-coloured Bumblebee and different-coloured Ratchet, WOW! Wave 5, who I never saw in retail? A duo of repaints, plus a brand-new mould... of a non-show character!

This while deluxe class moulds of Soundwave, Que and Leadfoot languish in limbo. While Soundwave and Que may have the excuse of getting proper licensing from Mercedes, Leadfoot's no excuse -- kids growing up on Dark of the Moon will remember Leadfoot as the Wrecker they can never find.

Also Dino isn't in the toyline either because Ferrari.

Toys simply aren't a product that should see such a quick turnover, and honestly I think the wave system has contributed as much as video games to hurting the toy industry. How often as children did we see a toy in stores that we couldn't afford, only to save up and go back for it a month or three or six later? If a kid sees Generations Armada Starscream in stores now, falls in love but can't afford him, what do you suppose the odds are that he'll still be able to get one in November?

Granted the logic might be 'get your parents to buy it quick because it'll be gone soon, and you can buy a second different toy in November!'

But that is stupid logic.

They'll probably blow it on video games... and who can blame them? For a lesser price that I pay for a bullshit toy like Blitzwing who I have to spend three hours sandpapering and still not getting him to work properly I can get a 3DS cartridge, which offers literally hours of entertainment, and there's no need to hunt them down -- the things have a long shelf life.

The fact that fairly major characters don't even get toys hurts it from a collector perspective, too.

The same thing happened with AoE (though at least Stinger is a fairly minor face), DOTM (Soundwave, Que, Dino, the fact that the Wreckers weren't all in the same size class) and ROTF (though I'm at a loss currently as to who was missing...some of the Constructicons? I remember an infuriated Cliffjumper tearing into Hasbro over it though), and I remember Animated fans pining over figures that never came out too.

This.

And when they do? They get shit toys. Lockdown and Grimlock are the ones that spring directly to mind, but from the recent Prime line Unicron, Knock Out and Airachnid aren't exactly stellar either.

ROTF... the purple Arcee bike ended up being a repaint of Chromia instead of a new mould, and showed up in the 2010 line. We never got a proper deluxe/voyager class Scrapper, which I think is fair if disappointing, since we get versions of the other four Constructicons with robot modes (Demolishor, Mixmaster, Rampage and Long Haul).

Animated... Rodimus Prime, Ironhide and Arcee are basically impossible to find unless you were expecting them and are actively hunting down Toys'R'Us in the United States. In theory Waspinator and Samurai Prowl were mass retail, but damned if you can find them anywhere.

Blackout? Wingblade Optimus Prime? Practically all the non-Skywarp, non-Starscream Seekers? Well, good luck finding them, because they're all Japan exclusive now.

I considered putting together a complete Prime cast, but Hasbro wasn't about to let me and once I realized that I gave up the idea.

Oooh, don't even get me started on the Prime line... well, never mind. You just did. :o

So new molds cost lots of money, yeah? So what's the best plan of action to launch a new line? A "first edition" line of exclusive, not-to-be reused molds of characters that will be getting other, identical-at-a-glance toys in a month's time? That no one can find? And then pad out the remaining line with non-show characters? And make molds (and remolds like the Air Vehicon) of characters that appear in the show and then not release them? And then spend lots more money on remolds of almost everything to fit into the theme of the line refresh to make the toys available look even more inaccurate to their appearances in fiction? And then blame the slow sales of the line on external factors? lolwat

This, really. I don't see the point of the vanishingly-rare First Edition toys (though I got Starscream out of it, who is brilliant), and then proceed to release inferior versions of the toys in the mainline RID toys. Only Vehicon and maybe Arcee actually improves on the First Edition mould, IMO... plus why would they release a minor character like Cliffumper twice instead of, oh, I don't know, shuffling characters like Soundwave or Knock Out forwards?

Also the moulds made but never released... Air Vehicon and Breakdown are Takara-exclusive. And what do Hasbro get? Hasbro gets ****ing random all-new moulds like Thundertron who no one gives a shit about, and a crap version of Ultra Magnus... who will show up in the show in an entirely different body in a couple of months anyway! Insecticon didn't get a toy! But mother****ing Thundertron does! Would it kill them to sneak in the Insecticon instead of a dozen different dragons that transform exactly the same?

Smokescreen didn't even get a toy until Beast Hunters, and apparently not even Takara was in on this because they did that stupid Knock Out redeco... and if you somehow import the toys like Breakdown and Air Vehicon from Takara, well whoop de doo, you have to deal with Arms Microns and the mother****ing stickers, because the one time Takara gets to be actually cool it drops the ball hard.

Add idiocies like, oh, 'hey, this mould is designed as Ironhide and fans will probably recognize the combination of aesthetics NOPE KUP **** YOU IRONHIDE FANS'

Meanwhile Hasbro waves its metaphorical hands and go 'Breakdown can't fit in our toyline because reasons'. The only real reason I can see Breakdown not fitting into the Hasbro line is because he doesn't exactly have one of those crappy-looking weapons that fold up and look like hairdryers if you don't force them to lock into place with duct tape... and really? You have time for ****ing Thundertron but not Breakdown or Skyquake? Some crappy playset like Optimus Maximus gets to take up space in stores but we can't get Unicron?

Beast Hunters as well. They could've sneaked in Breakdown or Air Vehicon or Skyquake or Unicron (who's even spiky!) into the toyline, or promoted the random dragons in the show, but no. Half the line is spiky versions of the show characters, and the other half is made up of randoms who never appear in the show. And when non-Predaking Predacons do show up, it's guys that are part of a ****ing Walmart-exclusive toyline that no store will pick up because Beast Hunters is a dead line. They could've gone and advertised their toys by having the Autobots adapt the spiky stuff, as much as I don't like them, but no.

Well done, Hasbro. Well ****ing done.

(That said, barring Skyquake, Nemesis Prime and Unicron I do have the full Prime cast standing proudly at the center of my display. :glance:)

That said, what the heck Hasbro? Takara charging you too much to bring Prime Breakdown and Air Vehicon to the states? Was the First Edition line really necessary? And what's with the really gimmicky weapons?

The gimmicky weapons! Don't get me started on them. I've jammed the gears in Dreadwing, the only PRID Voyager I own with the stupid 'weapon that folds up into a cheese-colored hairdryer if you don't hold it in place'. Thankfully for Bulkhead I managed to get my hands on a First Edition toy, and Megatron's cannon isn't bad -- just inaccurate.

But seriously. And also, what the hell is up with First Edition toys? Hard to find toys, but you'll release different versions of them in like a couple months away when the hype for the show has died down?

And Beast Hunters! A couple of the toys -- Bumblebee, Wheeljack -- ended up looking good, and I do love Ripclaw and Lazerback that I own... but do we really need all the old toys re-released as eye-searing versions of themselves with spikified weapons? And do we really need twenty dozen dragons clogging up the shelves when only one shows up in the cartoon?

This while Breakdown, Air Vehicon and Unicron -- moulds already made by Takara are languishing in limbo. But no, we get Grimwing and a second Predaking toy. We could've gotten easy redecoes like Nemesis Prime and Skyquake and Makeshift, who are relevant to the show, but nope, random clear-coloured 'Dark Energon' exclusives that make no sense.

**** the Prime line. And **** me for obsessing and hunting down the best version of each character. And **** I forgot what we were talking about in the first place. Toy distribution and waves and stuff, no?

Warcry
2014-08-13, 08:25 PM
So new molds cost lots of money, yeah? So what's the best plan of action to launch a new line? A "first edition" line of exclusive, not-to-be reused molds of characters that will be getting other, identical-at-a-glance toys in a month's time? That no one can find? And then pad out the remaining line with non-show characters? And make molds (and remolds like the Air Vehicon) of characters that appear in the show and then not release them? And then spend lots more money on remolds of almost everything to fit into the theme of the line refresh to make the toys available look even more inaccurate to their appearances in fiction? And then blame the slow sales of the line on external factors? lolwat
Not to excuse them, but the "First Edition" fiasco wasn't entirely Hasbro's fault. If you remember back then, retailer listings for later (post-Warpath) Generations waves leaked before DOTM that included Starscream, Arcee, Bumblebee, etc. It was confusing at the time until fans realized they were probably Prime toys, and nothing ever came of it as the line died in the product crunch that sent so many Generations and RTS figures straight to clearance in the run up to the movie. Then almost a year later the First Edition line hit, now a separate thing that was TRU exclusive. But the molds had been sitting around gathering dust for a long time by then, and Hasbro probably figured they'd better get some cash back on them somehow.

You can definitely argue that it was a bad idea to make new RID versions of all those characters right away, and I'd agree with you. I suspect, though, that the plans for the early RID waves were already in the can with molds already being made by the time it became clear that the FE toys weren't going to get out before DOTM. If things had gone as planned there'd have been over a year between the two releases, and the retailers' intransigence is what really caused the problem.

What I would hold Hasbro to task for, though, was not having a dedicated Prime toyline until a year after the show started. They rushed the series out in a movie year because they needed a shiny anchor for their ill-conceived in-house TV network, without thinking about how (or if) they could get the toys out. I'd imagine a lot of kids who saw the first season tried to buy toys right away, couldn't find any, figured there'd never be any and wandered off to buy Lego or something instead.

None of this, however, excuses not releasing full-sized toys of Breakdown or Air Vehicon or the Insecticons, or putting out random stuff like Dead End when the show had an actual, on-screen Evil Wheeljack that they could put out.

And then spend lots more money on remolds of almost everything to fit into the theme of the line refresh to make the toys available look even more inaccurate to their appearances in fiction? And then blame the slow sales of the line on external factors? lolwat
The Beast Hunters line was a complete fiasco, it must be said. Who thought that was a good idea? If the TV show had carried over any of the design changes beyond Optimus, fine, but almost none of the toys look like the characters they're supposed to represent.

Of course, we're both assuming that kids were watching the show, which they probably weren't because it was on Hasbro's ridiculous vanity project channel in the US instead of Cartoon Network or something else most households actually get (it was on Teletoon here in Canada, which was slightly better but still far and away a secondary-tier channel).

I wonder if it would be possible to release waves cyclicly instead of sequentially. Right now, it looks like they send out all the wave 1 figures they make, then ship wave 2 once those sell out. Could they ship some wave 1, then some wave 2, then wave 3, then some more wave 1?
They try to do this, but it usually comes in the form of repacking first-wave toys in later waves, when those same wave 1 toys are still warming shelves the world over because they were overstocked to begin with. The lines rarely last long enough for the actually-rare third, fourth or fifth waves to get restocked, because by the time those waves come around they're transitioning over to something new.

(They seem to be averting this lately with Generations, somewhat, which I'm happy about.)

One problem with releasing new versions of the same characters over and over is that the cost-cutting measures make the newer versions less appealing. I look at the Transformers shelves, and not only do I already own most of the characters there, the figures I have are bigger and better painted.
For sure! It's especially noticeable with Movie stuff, where the same characters come out in exactly the same style over and over again. ROTF was a noticeable improvement over the first movie on looks alone, and the movie design style probably peaked with the "2010" stuff that followed. But compare Battle Blade Bumblebee to any of the DOTM or AOE versions of the character and they look like hot garbage. The same goes for ROTF Leader Prime (or 2010 Battle Blades Prime in the Voyager category) or Leader Starscream, or HA Barricade. They just make the stuff that comes after look cheap.

The Prime line had the same problem, but compressed down to the point where the figures were often on the shelves alongside each other. Who in their right mind would buy RID Bulkhead or Cliffjumper with the FE toy standing right beside it? And the ghastly BH versions of a lot of characters were even worse, making the older RID figures look like must haves all of a sudden.

Generations is able to dodge that particular bullet because they don't need to stick to a single version of the character, so while WFC Megatron is pretty hard to top they can keep the character available via IDW Bomber Megatron or G1 Leader Megatron without inviting direct comparisons to what came before.

One of the things I noticed, and loved, is that the current Generations Deluxes wave's are comprised of 4 figures, two of each per case. I'm seeing a lot less clogging of one figure on pegs then I am for the other lines (the worst I think I saw was 3 Mini-con assault teams and a smattering of the other guys). The downside is that they are not running Voyagers that way, with some cases being 3 of one figure and 1 of another.
That's not consistently true though, even though it's fallen out that way for a few of the cases. They're doing way better now than with the FoC stuff though.


Three Optimus Prime, three Jazz, two Shockwave
One each of five Combaticons, plus wave one
Kickback/Starscream/Sideswipe/Ultra Magnus/Air Raid, not sure of assortment but I think Kickback (a new toy!) was shortpacked in favour of the redecos
One each of five Wreckers, not sure who was packed with them
Vs.

Two each of Trailcutter/Orion Pax/Megatron/Bumblebee
Hoist and Thundercracker, IIRC two each plus one each of wave 1
Two each of Dreadwing, Waspinator, Skids and Goldbug
Two each of Armada Starscream, Skywarp, the Minicons nobody wants and Scoop
At least here, the FoC stuff lagged like crazy with tonnes of Prime and Jazz warming pegs (and Shockwave to a lesser extent) while the later bunch have moved along at a pretty good clip, sometimes too fast.

But upcoming...
Tankor and Rattrap, packed with some old stuff
Crosscut, Jhiaxus, Windblade and Nightbeat. Presumably two per case each, but with Windblade being the only new sculpt she might be hard to find.
Arcee and Chromia, hopefully with old stuff in the case because a solid case of girl-bots sounds risky.
I could see a bottleneck forming, with so many repacks and redecos sprinkled in with stuff that may not have the greatest appeal.

Another problem is the retailers. For a release like AoE they want to stuff their shelves and endcaps with product. So they order everything they get their hands on (which is where Hasbro could, say, offer Wave 1+2 out the gate)...which then leads to legions of Bumblebees and Crosshairs clogging the shelves as retailers try to clear the massive overbuy of Wave 1 toys.
Is that really a problem this time around? It's not here, at least -- all the Generations AoE stuff flew off the shelves and then just wasn't restocked because the other sublines stole their shelf space.

Also this time of year sucks for toys because of seasonal changes to stores.
I actually can't agree with this. Winter seems to be the dead time for toys here. Christmas waves never seem to show up in decent quantity, and are sold out as soon as they hit the shelves. Meanwhile nobody but TRU bothers to restock until spring because why try to sell toys in February, apparently? Summer seems to be the only time when stuff will reliably show up here in big enough numbers that I don't have to worry about never seeing something again if I can't buy it right away.

As I understand it, the American retail model has just been exported en masse globally. During the 1990s, Hasbro started to do away with smaller regional offices that catered to their markets abroad and turned them all into pretty much distribution hubs, just importing and distributing whatever stock the US parent tells them to. This probably makes huge business sense to Hasbro and other global companies, but such globalisation has the end result of a) assuming foreign markets to behave in the same way as your own b) making everyone's high street look the same.
On the other hand...I've heard many a fan in the UK complain about how Hasbro UK didn't import Swoop or Omega Supreme or whoever, and many fans from continental Europe make similar complaints. If you'd told people in 1990 "you're getting the US distribution model" they'd probably have thought it was a great idea! It hasn't worked out like that at all, though.

With AOE one of the main problems is that they have so many variations of the same six or seven characters in the toyline. With, say, a B-lister like Scorn alone you have the Generations-Deluxe figure, you have the kiddie-Deluxe RID figure, you've got Kre-O, you've got Construct-Bots and that's just Scorn... major characters like Optimus, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Lockdown and Drift get a bunch of other merchandise after that.

See, kids only want one of them. By duplicating what is essentially the same toy across various sublines and selling them at the same time you're going to ensure that three out of the four toys will shelfwarm. What kid is going to buy, say, RID Drift and Generations Drift and then another random Drift? No, they'd rather buy Drift, and then a Hound toy, and then a Strafe toy or whatever.
This strikes to the heart of why AoE is having problems, I agree. Kids only want one of them...and kids being kids, they want the fancy "big kid" versions, not the "baby toys", even when they're too young to actually enjoy them. I know that's how I was when I was little...always trying to prove I was older than I really was. Which usually results in them not buying any more Transformers because they couldn't figure out the one they got.

So if Hasbro wants to market the movies as primarily a kids' thing (which is pants-on-head stupid considering the tone of them, but whatever) then they need to make toys that are age-appropriate. And that means all of them. Keep the Generations line going separately, with no AoE-related branding, for the older fans and make the entire AoE line a bunch of Armada/Animated Activator-tier fun, simple figures. It would suck for collectors, who (aside from maybe one or two toys snuck into the regular Generations line) won't have any movie toys to buy, but judging by how AoE went, if you want to appeal to kids you need to go all-in.

Alternately, you accept the fact that the movies are aimed at teens/adults, produce toys designed to target mainly that demographic, label them as such and have a different, non-movie-related line designed to appeal to the younger crowd (accepting that the sales will be lower than if it was movie-branded). But you don't try to have your cake and eat it too.

Another reason is that, really, Animated's more G1-based take, all the recent Bumblebees are basically the same toy. 2007 Movie, ROTF, Prime, DOTM, AOE and the upcoming RID cartoon all have what's basically the same Bumblebee design. Oh, sure, tweaked to their own aesthetic and with different moulds and alternate modes from every version, but they're still the same Bumblebee and as much as he may appeal if they continue on packaging more of him in proportion to other dudes it's not going to sell.
That's also a big factor. Again kids are only going to want one, generally, and collectors tend to turn their noses up at the sheer glut of Bumblebees. It's probably quite a challenge to balance the demand for new Bees from young fans who are just getting into the brand against the apathy that longer-term fans have for new toys of the guy.

Question for those a bit older than I -- was it impossible to find a Bumblebee in 1984/85? He was the "flagship" character for the cartoon in a lot of ways, and I imagine he would have sold a lot faster than many of the other minibots. I'd guess Starscream outsold his case-mates pretty solidly, too.

Skyquake87
2014-08-13, 08:59 PM
On the other hand...I've heard many a fan in the UK complain about how Hasbro UK didn't import Swoop or Omega Supreme or whoever, and many fans from continental Europe make similar complaints. If you'd told people in 1990 "you're getting the US distribution model" they'd probably have thought it was a great idea! It hasn't worked out like that at all, though.

Question for those a bit older than I -- was it impossible to find a Bumblebee in 1984/85? He was the "flagship" character for the cartoon in a lot of ways, and I imagine he would have sold a lot faster than many of the other minibots. I'd guess Starscream outsold his case-mates pretty solidly, too.


On the first point, yes, there were a fair few G1 toys that didn't make it to market over here.

Omega Supreme didn't show up here in all likelihood because the mould was licensed by Takara/Hasbro and Grandstand had nabbed it for their Convertors line where he showed up as Omegatron in a nifty black/white/grey/red palette. I'm sure there were other non-Takara moulds that had been snapped up by other toy firms that were the reason behind us not getting say, Shockwave.

As for the Takara stuff that didn't show up, that'll be Perceptor, Swoop, Reflector (a mailaway we hadn't a hope of getting), Gnaw, The Predacons, Trypticon, Fortress Maximus, The Monsterbots, Punch/Counterpunch, Slugfest, Overkill, Grandslam & Raindance, Squalktalk & Beastbox, Blaster, Rewind, Eject, Steeljaw, Ramhorn... I'm guessing this will be a combination of similar toys already being available in the line and being good enough (Soundwave is a better toy than Blaster...!) and the others being fairly minor nobodies and /or large expensive toys, it may have been felt that they weren't worth the risk (fair enough when one considers how much Fort Max must have cost to import and what projected sales were likely to be).

The Constructicons are interesting, as they did show up in 1991, swiftly followed by the non-combining Euro versions the following year. I can't recall the G2 versions making it over here (but that's not to say that they didn't...!).

I don't think it caused any major tantrums ...at least not amongst my friends... :) As we were all quite level headed and sensible about these things, obviously...

Bumblebee as I recall, was pretty common (I can recall seeing the Minibots being pretty plentiful - including the 'wrong coloured' red version of 'Bee and the yellow Cliffjumper), but I can't honestly recall a sort of clamour to have a particular character amongst my friends at the time. I think as Cliffjumper mentioned previously, most of us were happy with ANY Transformer character - and it was more about finding out what toys everyone had and how they transformed they were such a novelty - that in turn lead to role play and the usual toy based play patterns. Lacking disposable income, it was difficult to have much choice in the matter. I can remember Optimus Prime being a big deal - there was only one kid at my school had him ( I got mine a few years after in about '86).

I think the UK experience was slightly skewed by the cartoon - the major media in the US - being such a fleeting thing. The comic was the big deal over here and that had less of an obvious focus on one or two characters which -in my eyes - lead to more of a democratic choice of favourites. For myself, my favourites were the ones I had in my collection I liked the bestest. I'm struggling to put this into words, but its a bit like I have a limited cast of toys from a pretty massive toyline - out of the ones I have, there are some I like better than others. Does that make sense?

Skyquake87
2014-08-13, 09:15 PM
This has just got me thinking, whilst the '80s toyline was huge, there was a lot of choice and I liked that. We haven't had a good level of choice since what, the Beast and Unicron Trilogy eras? (Just remembered Animated was quite a big line...shut up me)

Since the movies, its all become about the same core characters. That's likely due to the budgetry constraints of the films but its interesting how that has impacted on whatever originated concepts Hasbro come up with between films and has seemingly informed how Hasbro develop toys.

What this doesn't explain, as touched on with Prime, is why if the idea is to continue with the TV = toy translation, key members of the cast are just forgotten about or released in mis-matched Size Classes?

I would be seriously be interested in Hasbro's reasoning not to release Voyager Breakdown to western markets. He doesn't seem anymore bulky or complex or bigger than Bulkhead.

Personally, I would be happier with a more even Waves system as discussed above. The world doesn't need a solid case of one or two characters (America might, but America is not the rest of the world...!), but a nice mix of characters to keep interest up and sales going.

Tantrum
2014-08-13, 09:41 PM
MechTech would have been worthwhile if they'd used it to give any of the Lockdown toys a face cannon. They finally have a character whose gun has a reason to spend most of its time folded into a non-descript column of chunks, but don't do it. C'mon, Hasbro, how hard would it have been to mount Prime Dreadwing's cannon in Flip-and-Change Lockdown's head and chest? Actually: kitbashers, how hard would it be to mount Prime Dreadwing's cannon in Flip-and-Change Lockdown's head and chest?

Maybe the multiple kiddie lines with the main cast is part of a long term strategy. A kid young enough for One-Step toys when AoE comes out would be old enough for Power Battlers when TF5 comes out, and Generations toys when TF6 comes out. They don't expect anyone to buy multiple versions of the same chracter at once, but over time.

There's a couple problems with this. First, as Warcry said, kids don't want kiddie toys, they want big kids toys. Maybe this is why the packaging looks similar? Little kids will just see the same packaging and think they're getting the big kid toy, while parents check the recomended ages and get the appropriate one?

Second, it requires a pretty thorough understanding of the market to ship the correct ratios of big kid to little kid toys. Too few of one age range, and it'll sell out while customers are still willing to spend money. But, as we may be seeing with AoE, retailers won't restock TF toys if they still have shelves of them, regardless of age levels. Maybe retailers could learn to adapt to multiple age ranges of TFs; it's not like they won't restock Legos because their Duplos haven't sold out.

Heinrad
2014-08-13, 10:15 PM
I don't remember Bumblebee being that hard to find back in '84. My first Transformer was a Bumblebee. A red one. The packaging was all correct, but he was red.

Vin Ghostal
2014-08-14, 05:11 PM
I've visited most stores in the DC area, and I'm amazed by how much of the TF shelf space is dedicated to the extremely kiddy versions of the characters (smash & change, flip & change, 1-step, those gigantic non-transforming pieces of crap, et cetera). In many stores, the deluxes are relegated to only a peg or two.

Warcry
2014-08-15, 08:17 PM
On the first point, yes, there were a fair few G1 toys that didn't make it to market over here.

<snip>

I don't think it caused any major tantrums ...at least not amongst my friends... :) As we were all quite level headed and sensible about these things, obviously...
I know it was mentioned in some of the UK letters columns by kids who weren't as level-headed as you, but even with that much stuff left out I think it's safe to say you had lots to choose from. I've seen a lot of adult fans complain about it after the fact though, especially when it comes to Swoop and the Predacons. Why in the world Furman made characters like that so important to UK-only books, I can't imagine.

I think the UK experience was slightly skewed by the cartoon - the major media in the US - being such a fleeting thing. The comic was the big deal over here and that had less of an obvious focus on one or two characters which -in my eyes - lead to more of a democratic choice of favourites.
I guess that makes sense. In my experience (as someone who was too young to get any of the first few years of toys firsthand) we definitely loved any TF we could get our hands on but the most popular were the big names...PM Prime, Pretender Bumblebee and Grimlock,, TM Hot Rod and Kup, my cousins' Galvatron and the second-hand Constructicons and Minibots that we'd gotten from older relatives. We even got into Action Masters, briefly, because they had "important" characters in the line.

I would be seriously be interested in Hasbro's reasoning not to release Voyager Breakdown to western markets. He doesn't seem anymore bulky or complex or bigger than Bulkhead.
Apparently "he didn't fit the budget for Voyager toys". Which really isn't an answer, because all that means is that, when Hasbro didn't bother to do him, Takara made a mold on their own and ignored Hasbro's usual constraints. What it comes down to is that they decided for some reason that he wasn't important enough to make a mold for in the first place, but that stupid lion from the books nobody's read totally was.

That's an inexcusable failure when you're making a toyline based on a TV show.

There's a couple problems with this. First, as Warcry said, kids don't want kiddie toys, they want big kids toys. Maybe this is why the packaging looks similar? Little kids will just see the same packaging and think they're getting the big kid toy, while parents check the recomended ages and get the appropriate one?
If that's the plan it's come nowhere close to working, since the Generations toys sold out anyway and nobody is buying the alternatives. And honestly, relying on your consumers to not be able to tell what they're buying is a horrible business strategy.

I wouldn't put it past them, though.

I've visited most stores in the DC area, and I'm amazed by how much of the TF shelf space is dedicated to the extremely kiddy versions of the characters (smash & change, flip & change, 1-step, those gigantic non-transforming pieces of crap, et cetera). In many stores, the deluxes are relegated to only a peg or two.
To be fair, if they're like any of the stores in my area they probably had the more advanced versions of the toys, sold them all and filled the pegs with the kiddie ones because that's all they had left.

Blackjack
2014-08-16, 07:17 AM
Apparently "he didn't fit the budget for Voyager toys". Which really isn't an answer, because all that means is that, when Hasbro didn't bother to do him, Takara made a mold on their own and ignored Hasbro's usual constraints. What it comes down to is that they decided for some reason that he wasn't important enough to make a mold for in the first place, but that stupid lion from the books nobody's read totally was.

That's an inexcusable failure when you're making a toyline based on a TV show.

The thing is, while Jet Vehicon does have more mass than Car Vehicon (and even then Takara still sells him under the same price point as the deluxe class toys) Breakdown is inescusable -- he's nowhere more complex than the other voyager class toys I own, and if Hasbro doesn't think Breakdown is major enough a character to warrant a voyager toy, couldn't they make him a deluxe? Sure, out of scale, but that's certainly better than having no Breakdown toy.

The production cost is in 'no man's land', as TFWiki quotes Aaron Archer (http://tformers.com/transformers-sdcc-2012-hasbro-has-no/17901/news.html), and while the mould is available for them to use they're not planning to do so. Not made to their standards? Bitch, Breakdown is way better than the PRID voyager class toys I own. Which is stupid -- either Takara developed the mould on their own, or Hasbro allowed Takara to do their own thing. Either way, wouldn't you think making a show character (who isn't even a one-episode wonder either!) we instead get two non-show, brand-new voyager class moulds?

Thundertron came from like two paragraphs of a novel and did jack shit there, and despite the buildup for him seemingly going to be a tertiary villain in the Prime line/novels he proceeds to make no appearances at all and the space pirates angle was kind of ignored until this year's Botcon and even then... no Thundertron. Ultra Magnus? Well, Ultra Magnus is ugly as sin and made out of discarded concept art. And the toy isn't a particularly good rendition of the concept art either! Oh, and in a couple months that brand-new mould is rendered obsolete with Ultra Magnus actually appearing in the show in a completely different body.

You couldn't engineer a brand new deluxe mould for him, you say? Well, then **** off, because you engineered a brand new mould for Rumble and Ironhide-who-you-release-as-Kup. And later on went to engineer like a half-dozen non-show Predacons who proceeded not to appear anywhere. And then retooled every single PRID mould with spikes. Because those, apparently, cost less than Breakdown.

I even took Breakdown out to see if he has more mass or more complexity. And, uh, no, he's got around the same amount of moving parts as Bulkhead, Megatron and Optimus Prime. Why they couldn't have released Breakdown as a store exclusive or in Beast Hunters, I wouldn't know.

Skyquake87
2014-08-16, 07:53 PM
I secretly get right angry about Breakdown like what Blackjack does there. I like the character and would love to own a decent version of him (the Legends toy isn't good enough!) and it makes me sad all we get is corporate bumwash about him.


Of course, he is just a toy and I wont die, but he's still a horrible gap in my Prime collection :(

Ebay's put me right off, as he seems to be 200 in his original blue form, which is just silly.

Knightdramon
2014-08-17, 12:50 AM
Ebay's put me right off, as he seems to be 200 in his original blue form, which is just silly.

Had I known earlier, I would have told you about the one I saw at AA last Saturday [loose] at some table for like 30 pounds...:lol:

Tantrum
2014-08-17, 02:57 AM
If that's the plan it's come nowhere close to working, since the Generations toys sold out anyway and nobody is buying the alternatives. And honestly, relying on your consumers to not be able to tell what they're buying is a horrible business strategy.

I wouldn't put it past them, though.I may not have explained my idea well. I wasn't suggesting an intent to confuse purchasers about which toy is which, but to confuse young children who would ask for toys above their skill level. This way, when little kids in the store ask their parents to buy them a big kid toy, the parent could find the appropriate age level without the little kid knowing he's getting a little kid toy. The kid wouldn't whine in the store about getting a little kid toy, or whine later at home when he can't figure his new toy out.

I have both the First Edition and mainline Prime toys of Cliffjumper and Arcee. The FE toys are noticably bigger. In fact, I think the mainline Prime toys were the first ones I noticed being smaller than previous Deluxes. Maybe the cost of making new molds was justified because the alternatives were: make all the Prime toys FE size (which would cost too much), or have a line of toys out of scale with each other.

One thing that bugs me about all the Bumblebee toys is that in the movies and Prime cartoon, Bee has a unique take on the standard door-wing silhouette. His meet in the back instead of being attached to the shoulders. But, most of the toys I've seen have them on the shoulders. I only found one that has them get about half-way to each other. I might pick up another Bee if they did a better job of matching one of the more distinctive elements of his character model.

I find the way Hasbro's doing things now especially frustrating, because it wasn't that long ago they were giving me exactly what I wanted. When I'd got back into collecting TFs, I wondered if there was any reason they couldn't just put out the 80's toys again. I pick up a Free Comic Book Day Armada book, and there's an ad for the Commemorative series.

Those were pricey, small, and poorly articulated. So, then I thought it'd be nice if they made more advanced toys of the original cast with current technology; skip the die cast if it'd keep costs down. They made Alternators. I got a bunch of those and liked them, but thought they were a bit too complicated to be fun toys. Then they made Classics/Generations/etc.

Skyquake87
2014-08-17, 07:33 AM
Had I known earlier, I would have told you about the one I saw at AA last Saturday [loose] at some table for like 30 pounds...:lol:

:lol:

Ah well, nevermind...

numbat
2014-08-17, 08:57 AM
The G2 Constructicons were released in the UK, packaged without their combining parts (these were the versions I had as a kid - I asked Hasbro if they could send me the combining parts in a hand-written letter and the said they were unaware that any such parts ever existed - even as a kid without the internet yet I knew that was bollocks!).

Bumblebee and Starscream were available in fine numbers I believe - I certainly had both as a kid (my first Transformer was Bumblebee, while Starscream was my first Decepticon). I do remember my parents having a nightmare time getting a Megatron for me for Christmas - it was mispackaged with Spanish instructions and promptly broke during the first transformation.

Moving on to the more modern lines - things have gone way worse in the UK since the Generations line became a store exclusive for Toys R Us. I've not been able to find Generations toys at retail since RTS. I enjoyed Prime, as I could collect them from actual shops, which was neat (although I ordered in the First Editions when they were re-released, but only doubled up on Starscream, and I actually think the PRID Voyager is a better toy, but I've also never seen the show).

There are still multiple DOTM Bumblebees available on shelves in various stores near me, alongside stacks of two versions of Beast Hunters Bumblebee, incidentally...

With AoE, the Generations Leaders are exclusive to Argos, while the rest of Generations are exclusive to TRU again. In what passes as my almost local TRU all the first wave of Generations are now gone, with the exception of a wall of the exclusive 'Then and Now' Slug set. There are so many of the various simple lines and non-transforming toys though, it's unreal.

In other retailers, there are loads of non-transforming AoE toys clogging the shelf space now, with the three or four transforming lines (can't remember what they're called and can't really tell them apart) gone from shelves (even the crappy Legends that have no connection to the film yet are packaged as AoE).

I am 100% certain I will never see Generations Voyager Roadbuster at retail.

I've given up and have just ordered the figures I want in bulk. But I would far prefer to be able to buy them in stores - but I don't tend to make 80 mile detours to visit a TRU. Keeping the standard Transformers (Generations) line as a store exclusive (and a minority store in Scotland at that, which most people don't have access to) - or worse splitting different size classes between two stores - will kill the brand in the UK, I'm sure.

I like a lot of the Prime First Edition moulds (I have Voyager Prime, Voyager Bulkhead, Deluxe Bumblebee, Deluxe Starscream, Deluxe Arcee, Deluxe Vehicon, Deluxe Terrorcon Cliffjumper). However, I actually think PRID did Vehicon betterm and based on the Hot Shot toy I think the Bumblebee is probably a lot more kid friendly as the FE version is extremely fiddly. I was irked by the lack of Breakdown in particular (I was luck enough to find a Skyquake in a discount store), and would have picked up Unicron and Nemesis Prime, plus a Frenzy, if Hasbro had released them, but don't fancy the sticker nonsense (don't get me wrong, I love stickers, but I understand these ones are pretty rubbish). Deluxe Ironhide in red or black would have been great too. Prime remains my fave line - the designs and engineering just hit a sweet spot for me.

The First Edition and Platinum nonsense with AoE is infuriating though - and just how many versions of the Dinobots will there be in the end (let along how many different ones)? It annoys me that AoE is clogged with Dinobots, while lacking villains - there are only two villains in the Generations line at all!!!! Stinger should be in there easily (given they clearly designed Bumblebee to reshell) and there is an army of Decepticons that could be easily done. Other lines have given us many non-movie Decepticons, yet AoE is failing to deliver ones in the film.

Cyberstrike nTo
2014-09-08, 12:39 PM
I remember reading somewhere (and FTR I don't know if it true or not) that in some cases it's not that Hasbro doesn't want to send more Generations toys to the stores it's the stores don't want to carry them. This was aimed at giant retail stores like Wal-Mart and Target.

Another thing I think is problem is having multiple lines and sublines going on which can get confusing and every store I go to seems to have a lot of Constructibots and AOE leftovers with only a few Generation deluxes and voyagers on pegs and shelves.

Generations Legend class all I have seen is Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, and Bumblebee. Swerve, Tailgate, and the rest I haven't seen them anywhere.

Skyquake87
2014-09-08, 09:08 PM
TBH, I've always found having multiple concurrent lines is just going to be a ballache for buyers in any retail chain - what are you going pick, the stuff that's backed up by a huge film and / or cartoon show that's likely to reach the target market or some unfamiliar (to modern consumers) toys based on 30 year old designs?

Its quite sad to see Transformers succumbing to the increasing Lego-isation of the toy market. Sign of the times, I suppose. Lego survives all!!!

@Numbat - those Constructicons you are referring to are the yellow / grey G1.5 'New Constructicons' released to European markets in 1992 as part of the first full on European line (the one with the Turbomasters , Predators and all that. They came on a 'circuit board' designed card with group artwork of all six Constructicons and pictorial instructions for all six team members on the back and were not individually identified. There were also changes made to the moulds that would have prevented them combining too (Hook and Scavenger).

The original G1 Constructicons did come out in the UK in 1991 - I picked up Mixmaster from Boots in Portsmouth at the time.

The G2 releases followed in 1993 - 4 in orange and yellow, but I can't recall these showing up in the UK. The yellow G2 versions are easily identified vs the earlier European G1.5 ones as they have no grey plastic parts, have the G2 logo tampographed on them and the yellow plastic is slightly more opaque and feels slightly waxy in comparison to the Euro G1.5 ones.

To add to all this yellowy confusion, in France, the original G1 Constructicons were made available in Yellow and could combine!

I really should get out more!

numbat
2014-09-08, 10:01 PM
Wow! That is confusing! Eye opening too. And the fact I think that probably means I need to get out more too - shall we go for a beer sometime?

;)

Paul053
2014-09-09, 06:12 PM
My son threatened me to buy a TF for him right away when we were at Target because if I don't, they will be gone and I'll have to get it from internet. That's what he said (kids nowadays). But son, first wave will stay there forever. The later waves are the ones that are hard to get.

Knightdramon
2014-09-09, 07:44 PM
Ha! Sure! Actually, I was up in Scotlandcestershire just yesterday, in the fine city of Glasgow (love all the murals!) - thought I'd best go before I need a passport to get in...!

:lol::lol::lol::lol:

Funny and sad comment as well!