Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Yeah, there is a sense that they've tried everything possible now, the staff mostly have a grasp on what does/doesn't work, and the only things holding designs back are things like re-scales (usually things that seem to have been shrunk since the CAD stage and pieces now seem too small and fiddly), cost-cutting hollowing out that can make supposedly premium figures feel cheap, and stupid decisions like ball joints where real joints would make more sense.
Tantrum wrote:Take the old CHUG Prowl/Streak mold with the integrated shoulder cannons, for example. It was great for when it came out,
I think that's being a bit generous. It was surrounded by releases of much better figures that didn't have those sorts of QC/design issues, and the same general level of design would still be acceptable. Autobot Cars haven't really advanced in fundamentals.

The same goes for the G2 Cyberjets way back in 1995.
Tantrum wrote:Hasbro pretty much does have a lock on transforming robots. Maybe that's part of why they have so many TF lines running concurrently*, so they don't leave any room in the market for anyone else to enter. Most other converting robots I see are simple, cheap figures and, with Authentics, Hasbro's going after that market, too.
Mmm. Saturation is definitely part of the strategy, at least with key trademark characters (Prime, BB, etc) but also other leads in whatever the kid-friendly series of the year is.

I think retailers accept it as a given that they need some TF product to fill that toy category but quibble about the acceptable price points. Some will demand a temporary or outright exclusive in their main geographical market as a sweetener, some will demand right to return unsold stock if they don't have their own discounter relationships, etc.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Apologies in advance for the huge wall of text!
Denyer wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 6:46 pm My view with GS is the train mode's too hard to ignore and the body doesn't use the nosecone so the original toy's only distinctive features aren't there, plus postage is a bit of a rip off, but I do like a space shuttle and the launchpad is a nicer feature with this deco.
I don't know enough about deep-cut Japanese characters to know what Galaxy Shuttle is meant to look like, so I can only judge the toy on how it looks in a vacuum. I think it looks like a neat generic shuttle Autobot that I wouldn't mind having in my collection...but it's exclusive to Walmart here, who don't seem inclined to actually stock Generations toys anymore. Since 2021 their Transformers section has been nothing but reissue Cheetors and Primals, and increasingly dusty old Cyberverse stock. They finally sent the BW reissues to liquidators last fall and now that section of shelf is just empty.
Denyer wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 6:46 pm Game have clearly bought in, they've got the Creatures Collide multipack (which they originally listed cheaper than it is now but apparently honoured) plus Motormaster, Blitzwing, the Megatron/Joes mash-up, Tonkanator, Minerva etc -- most at similarly knock down prices. Can't muster the enthusiasm to go for MM at that price either.
This seems like the inevitable result of pushing half of your year's product as store exclusives. It makes the shrinking number of retail figures harder to find, but there's such a glut of exclusives that random ones wind up on deep, deep clearance because no one knows what to do with them.

Sadly a lot of this stuff winds up at Toys'R'Us here, and they just leave it on the shelf forever with the price jacked up to $10 over MSRP since they seem to have given up on doing any meaningful sales under the new ownership.
Tantrum wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 7:58 pm That's not to say Hasbro's learned nothing in the past 5 years. I've seen fewer toys at discounters. But, there hasn't been a corresponding improvement in regular retail distribution. So even if collectors are less inclined to wait for discounters because that might not happen, it's not any easier for us to buy figures at regular price.
Based on what I see locally, I feel like the lack of toys (regular retail releases, anyway) at discounters is just the result of regular retailers getting less stuff on the shelves. Nothing can wind up at discounters if they never ship enough to satisfy demand to begin with!

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You'd think it would be better for everyone in the chain to sell as much as you can and have a few leftovers that need to go to Marshalls at the end of the line, but Hasbro's strategy seems to be the exact opposite. Like you say, they seem to be operating on a "don't produce enough to meet demand, and let FOMO drive people to pay full price so we can charge more" principle these days.
Tantrum wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 7:58 pmI used to just go to stores randomly and buy figures that happened to be in stock that looked interesting. Then, I learned that figures would be announced online, and some would be store exclusives. So, I started keeping track of upcoming figures that looked good and where to buy them. But, distribution is so bad, especially with exclusives, that knowing a figure should be out doesn't mean I can get it. So, now I'm back to going to stores randomly and seeing what's in stock.
It got to that point here about three or four years ago, but we're past that now. There's not even any point to visiting stores here anymore because the only thing you'll find are empty shelves and five or six copies of the same shelf-warmer that's been there for six-plus months (currently, here, that is Legacy Override and the SS86 Sweeps).
Denyer wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 9:30 pm Mostly, but if you look at sites such as Smyths or Amazon at the moment (probably the main toy retailers in the UK) a lot of Leader class stuff is marked down because they know that the price is unrealistic in the economic climate/crisis and post-Xmas hangover particularly.
I wish I shared that experience! Leader-class toys mostly seem to be marked up on major sites in Canada. Toys'R'Us want to charge $90 for them, which causes Amazon's algorithm to mark their own prices up above MSRP. I think I've bought two Leader-class toys in the last five years because I can almost never find them on sale, where I used to be able to find deals on the (bigger and cheaper!) TR and POTP Leaders all the time.
Denyer wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 9:30 pm So with shipping the price is Voyager-ish, which is what Leaders tend towards in size and without bundled pointless stuff.
In theory I don't mind that they've moved to size classes that are closer together, but the price gradient between the classes definitely don't match up to the perceived value for me anymore. That Galaxy Shuttle or Legacy Blitzwing are a bit more complicated than your average Voyager, sure. But you're definitely not getting 70% more toy for your money, even though that's how they're priced. A Voyager costs 25% more than a Deluxe around here and generally feel "worth it" by comparison. Does the gap between the new-style Leaders and Voyagers feel any wider than the gap between Voyagers and Deluxes? Opinions will vary, but they sure don't to me!
Denyer wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 9:30 pmOnly recent-ish regrets are that the Wreckers Springer and Impactor are nicer than the regular retail ones. Hasbro's really worked quite hard to ensure that customers pass on things because they know another version's likely to be just around the corner. If that's what they were going for...
It's funny, I just bought that Wreckers Springer...but I almost didn't, because I figured they were inevitably going to do an SS86 "clean" version of the Siege toy, and it took eight months for me to decide which one I wanted more. Most of the time, I don't remember and don't buy anything.
Tantrum wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:22 pm You mean like doing a line of "Cybertronian modes" that are very close to Earth modes, covering them in battle damage, then releasing proper, clean Earth modes of the same characters 2 years later?
Don't forget making most of those Earth modes very difficult to find store exclusives, so that most of the people who wanted them to begin with couldn't get them! And put the ones that will be easy to find in multi-packs with non-show Beast Wars character redecos.
Tantrum wrote: Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:22 pmMaybe Hasbro's decided that their poor distribution is a feature, not a bug, and have been running the TF brand on FOMO. Sure, there may be an improved version of this figure coming out soon. Or surplus of this one sent to discounters. But, what if there's not? You might never see this figure again! Better buy it now, while you have the chance!
That does seem to be a part of their new strategy for all of their collector-friendly lines. "You'll never see this at retail, so you'd better immediately commit to buying anything you're even thinking about maybe one day wanting!"

I used to impulse-buy so many Hasbro figures, not just Transformers but Marvel, Power Rangers, G.I. Joe too. None of that was stuff I pre-planned to purchase, I just picked it up because I was toy-shopping and it looked cool. For the last couple years, I've just preordered the handful of figures I was 100% sure I wanted, mostly forgotten about the rest of the line, and spent the difference on vintage stuff when I get bored and want a new toy to fiddle with.
Tantrum wrote: Wed Jan 18, 2023 11:39 pm I hadn't thought about that. Hasbro pretty much does have a lock on transforming robots.
Only in Western markets! The robot/mecha market in Asia is a lot wider and deeper, and Transformers stuff is a small player compared to the overall pool, especially Bandai products.

I think the fact that we don't see any other players in the market here is probably a sign that robots in general just aren't very popular. Transformers mostly gets by on the popularity of the characters and the old media, I think, and that's why they're the only major brand that's survived.
Denyer wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 12:38 pm I think that's being a bit generous. It was surrounded by releases of much better figures that didn't have those sorts of QC/design issues, and the same general level of design would still be acceptable. Autobot Cars haven't really advanced in fundamentals.
I think I have to agree with Tantrum here. Prowl came out in a wave alongside Octane (who was godawful) and Sunstreaker (a mold that I like but which is super fiddly). He was followed up by stuff like Galvatron, Ironhide, Cheetor, Hot Shot...Universe definitely had some good molds in the mix too but Prowl honestly does compare favourably to most of the other figures coming out at the time.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote:This seems like the inevitable result of pushing half of your year's product as store exclusives. It makes the shrinking number of retail figures harder to find, but there's such a glut of exclusives that random ones wind up on deep, deep clearance because no one knows what to do with them.
Mmm, shame that Game haven't somehow acquired Botropolis Rescue Mission stock, I'm actually a bit annoyed at remould releases having failed to be exploited better, and the same with Haslab crowdfund perks including Micromasters. Hasbro's completely fluffed updating Micromaster teams.
Warcry wrote:A Voyager costs 25% more than a Deluxe around here and generally feel "worth it" by comparison. Does the gap between the new-style Leaders and Voyagers feel any wider than the gap between Voyagers and Deluxes? Opinions will vary, but they sure don't to me!
Massively, and comes back to the example I'll keep making that kids aren't asking for or getting Doubledealer -- ditto for most other people. To demonstrate value a Leader or Commander toy really needs to be highly recognisable and not have been done several times recently, plus be a decent product, which is a difficult brief.

Not upset that Hasbro did it anyway and I could get one for under half price, but it's an interesting commercial strategy to say the least. The risk is that brick and mortar retailers won't get the next thing that doesn't sell.
Warcry wrote:Prowl honestly does compare favourably to most of the other figures coming out at the time.
I've sort of muddled two points together there... the actual Prowl transformation and design is still apparently perfectly adequate in direct comparison with Hasbro toys before and after it. Not great, not terrible. With more care in the design and without the problems with the materials it'd hold up well next to the gappy Earthrise one. But the actual engineering isn't wildly different, largely due to there being only so many ways to do car TFs and very little real evolution over the years apart from "the legs shouldn't just be a merged rectangle" etc.

It's sort of the veggie pizza of CHUG releases.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 6:45 pm Mmm, shame that Game haven't somehow acquired Botropolis Rescue Mission stock, I'm actually a bit annoyed at remould releases having failed to be exploited better, and the same with Haslab crowdfund perks including Micromasters. Hasbro's completely fluffed updating Micromaster teams.
I was annoyed by their handling of the Micromasters too, but honestly the updates they put out just weren't good enough to sustain a Micromaster "ecosystem" for very long. They compared poorly, not just to the originals or early-2000s Minicons, but even to the "pocket money"-sized toys we got during the Prime Wars like Sawback or Shuffler.
Denyer wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 6:45 pmMassively, and comes back to the example I'll keep making that kids aren't asking for or getting Doubledealer -- ditto for most other people. To demonstrate value a Leader or Commander toy really needs to be highly recognisable and not have been done several times recently, plus be a decent product, which is a difficult brief.
Doubledealer is a great example because you can stand it right beside the previous, Voyager-class version of the character and wonder where the heck all the extra money went. Astrotrain and Blitzwing too. The new toys are a bit more complicated, maybe a bit nicer...but no larger (sometimes smaller!) and cost two and a half times as much. I feel like I get a whole ton more mileage out of the Commander-sized stuff honestly, I can pick up Sky Lynx or Jetfire and generally feel like, yeah, this is two Overlords' worth of toy that I'm holding. Though I've never paid anything close to retail for any of my Commander toys, so that might be introducing some bias.
Denyer wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 6:45 pmNot upset that Hasbro did it anyway and I could get one for under half price, but it's an interesting commercial strategy to say the least. The risk is that brick and mortar retailers won't get the next thing that doesn't sell.
Yeah, if Leaders routinely dropped to $40something here I'd have happily picked up a few of the ones I skipped over at regular price. Unfortunately Shockwave is the only one I can remember dropping that low, and honestly I felt like I still paid a little bit more than he was worth. The actual Shockwave toy is tiny and basic and the accessories are useless for anything but Doctor Shocktopus meme pictures. And it seems like that one figure shelfwarming was enough to put a lot of my local stores off of routinely stocking $77 MSRP Transformer figures. I don't remember ever seeing an Earthrise or Kingdom leader on the shelf other than at Toys'R'Us. I think I saw one Laser Prime on the shelf at Walmart during Legacy, and maybe a SS86 Starscream?
Denyer wrote: Thu Jan 19, 2023 6:45 pm It's sort of the veggie pizza of CHUG releases.
I think pepperoni might be a more fitting comparison on this side of the pond? But I get what you're saying, the basic Autobot car transformations have been done and done and done again some more to the point where the only material differences at this point should be down to size and budget. They've basically been doing it non-stop since...when were Alternators, 2003ish?

But honestly, looking at some of the stuff that's come out in the last few years I feel like the lessons of yesterday's designs are lost on at least some of today's designers. For every Siege Sideswipe or Earthrise Smokescreen or Cliffjumper (toys that feel very much like they've been ruthlessly distilled and optimized based on two decades of experience making the same basic toy over and over) you have a Kingdom Tracks or an Earthrise Ironhide or SS86 Jazz, where the design choices that went into the toy are just baffling to me when you consider how much better previous toys executed the same basic shapes.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote:I think pepperoni might be a more fitting comparison on this side of the pond?
Depends how competent but not particularly inspiring it usually is. IMO, pepperoni just needs some onion (and chillies if available) added to be a preferred pizza. Simple and well done is good. Load vegetable pizza up with choices more flavourful than salad pepper and sweetcorn and it isn't bad either.

Similarly, a good head sculpt and lack of QC issues such as materials that degrade can really elevate a simple design.

Going back to the Micromasters I don't really have any major issue with the quality of them, they're just a wasted opportunity. Head motion and arguably the ball joints are redundant, and if the original moulds still exist they seem like they'd serve multiple demographics if they were reissued, since Micro Machines are still a thing. And the new bases were okay but the original idea of a simpler base plus including a MM was a better play pattern.

I'm assuming Tracks has QC issues or is overly complex? The sculpt looks alright and a nice enough update. Likewise Ironhide (and the way it can semi-transform into something that looks like the original toy is kind of cool) -- I thought the issue there was the double pack was under-produced, like some of the jets. SS Jazz I got, and with an engineering tweak for the doors and an accessory or two could have been a toy homage without sacrifices -- if the Matrix Workshop upgrade kit had included extra fake doors I'd be totally down for it.

I definitely question how much time designers spend in CAD packages as opposed to actually handling prototypes. There are designs that take long enough to transform they aren't fun, undersized/thin parts, etc that any amount of doing that would have identified problems.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote: Fri Jan 20, 2023 3:21 amYeah, if Leaders routinely dropped to $40something here I'd have happily picked up a few of the ones I skipped over at regular price. Unfortunately Shockwave is the only one I can remember dropping that low, and honestly I felt like I still paid a little bit more than he was worth. The actual Shockwave toy is tiny and basic and the accessories are useless for anything but Doctor Shocktopus meme pictures. And it seems like that one figure shelfwarming was enough to put a lot of my local stores off of routinely stocking $77 MSRP Transformer figures. I don't remember ever seeing an Earthrise or Kingdom leader on the shelf other than at Toys'R'Us. I think I saw one Laser Prime on the shelf at Walmart during Legacy, and maybe a SS86 Starscream?
Or, maybe Leaders should just be $40something and skip the add-on bits they throw in to justify the $50something price point. Except for Doubledealer, the Beast Megs, and Galvatron, most Generations Leaders going back through (and including) Power of the Primes have been Voyagers with accessories. Usually a trailer, sometimes just Hulk hands. I can accept triple changers like Doubledealer and Astrotrain costing more than similarly sized figures with two modes. But, not $53 compared to $33.

The only Leader sized Leaders we've gotten in the past several years have been in SS, like the RotF Constructicons and '86 Dinos. And even there, you've got Coronation Starscream with his throne and cape.

As for where the money went in Doubledealer, he does come with quite a few accessories, which is all it took to bump Red Cog up at least $10 more than original recipe Cog. So, points for consistency, i guess.


Fans have been complaining about distribution for years now. Maybe all the exclusives are Hasbro's way of giving up. I'm assuming when Hasbro agrees to an exclusive, they get a firmer commitment from the retailer to buy at least X number of figures than they do when shopping mainline figures to multiple retailers. If there's only a handful of retailers buying TFs in bulk, and none of them prioritize toy distribution, it might make more sense for Hasbro to get guaranteed sales of exclusives than being stuck with unordered wave 2 figures because every retailer over-ordered wave 1 again.

Was every version of the Earthrise van an exclusive? I think Ratchet was in an Amazon exclusive 2-pack with a medic, Ironhide was in an Amazon 2-pack with Prowl, and the black Diaclone Guard repaint was a stand alone Pulse exclusive.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:19 pm Depends how competent but not particularly inspiring it usually is. IMO, pepperoni just needs some onion (and chillies if available) added to be a preferred pizza.
But then it's not a pepperoni pizza anymore, it's a pepperoni and onion and chili pizza! Which is a great analogy for Autobot cars nowadays, actually. Just making a solid Transformer isn't enough to excite anymore because they do it so often, and they need something extra to really be noteworthy.
Denyer wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:19 pm Going back to the Micromasters I don't really have any major issue with the quality of them, they're just a wasted opportunity. Head motion and arguably the ball joints are redundant, and if the original moulds still exist they seem like they'd serve multiple demographics if they were reissued, since Micro Machines are still a thing. And the new bases were okay but the original idea of a simpler base plus including a MM was a better play pattern.
This might be a YMMV quality control crapshoot, but quite a few of mine just fall to pieces if I try to play with them. The hip ball joints are so tiny that the slightest discrepancy in ball/socket size is enough to have them come apart with minimal force. I tend to agree that none of that was really necessary at such a small size, though admittedly the handful of them that do work as intended (Whisper, Storm Cloud, Stakeout, the Battle Squad) are impressive for the size. And not committing to the play pattern meant that the bases were pretty much DOA since they had to be a million other things and a Micromaster base. Hasbro only making two molds didn't help, obviously.
Denyer wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:19 pmI'm assuming Tracks has QC issues or is overly complex? The sculpt looks alright and a nice enough update.
I'm not a fan of them going the Alternators route with Tracks (the chest is fake and basically the entire care shell is on his back), and there were a lot of copies with incorrectly assembled legs. But really it's the feet that are totally inexplicable. I know ankle tilts are all the rage but there's got to be a better way to implement them on this toy, right?

Same general gripe for Ironhide and Jazz really, there's no excuse at all for the rear ends of both of their alt-modes to have feet sticking out. I know the designers can do better because they have, repeatedly. All three just reek of "good enough, people will buy it anyway". But I'd rather not because they've made better toys of all three that don't have the same glaring flaws.

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Denyer wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:19 pmI definitely question how much time designers spend in CAD packages as opposed to actually handling prototypes. There are designs that take long enough to transform they aren't fun, undersized/thin parts, etc that any amount of doing that would have identified problems.
I think you're right about this, because quite a few modern toys have obvious "this worked in a 3D mesh but not reality" design flaws. I'm thinking of SS86 Hot Rod and those tiny tabs on his exhaust pipes that so many people have snapped off, Kingdom Cheetor's cat-head tab that seems to always break, or the little tab on Kingdom Blackarachnia's bra. Stuff like that might not jump out when you're looking at the design on a laptop screen but it's immediately obvious how problematic they are when you're handling a physical example of the thing.
Tantrum wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 12:15 am Or, maybe Leaders should just be $40something and skip the add-on bits they throw in to justify the $50something price point.
Well, yeah. I'd go farther than that and say that even with the add-on bits, most of them only feel like they've got an extra $10ish of value over a Voyager. Like, the size and complexity difference between Galvatron and Cyclonus is about the same as the difference between Cyclonus and Scourge. In no way does Galvatron pack in 70% more value than Cyclonus, but that's how he's priced. And he's one of the "good" examples. BW Megatron likewise...he's big and heavy, but he also comes with zero accessories and play features. Is he 70% cooler than Dinobot or Tigatron? Not really. And Shockwave or Astrotrain or Blitzwing lose out on these comparisons even worse, in my books.
Tantrum wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 12:15 am Was every version of the Earthrise van an exclusive? I think Ratchet was in an Amazon exclusive 2-pack with a medic, Ironhide was in an Amazon 2-pack with Prowl, and the black Diaclone Guard repaint was a stand alone Pulse exclusive.
I think you're right. They also did SG Ratchet, who was also an exclusive of some flavour I believe. I don't think I ever saw any of the four up for sale, though I also didn't look too hard because I didn't like it very much.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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I think I tend to consider onions/garlic/chilli to be seasoning as much as salt/pepper or the sauce or cheese, and like I say a good head sculpt (and not being obviously riddled with honeycomb) can go a long way. I'm not after cartoon-aping solid panels and negligible kibble but if gaping holes are obvious in robot mode from the front or slightly off to the side then back to the kitchen. There's almost always a simple way around completely hollow lower arms or lower legs.

Now that I think about, not much that I've got out fails on either of those points.
Warcry wrote:Hasbro only making two molds didn't help, obviously.
It was a nice idea / fever dream. It's just that LEGO is a fundamentally different toy to TFs. I can imagine some kids liking the destructibility, but simultaneously being left cold by the fact they turn into blocks. Personally, the appeal of TFs is far more in robots that aren't wearing the alt-mode as a shell but it's obvious just by looking at them what they turn into and how the engineering works.

In terms of MM QC I can live with the ball joints giving the option to basically ignore the fact they're ball joints and pose like the simpler originals, but solid pinned connections would be quicker and more precise transformations. And that's particularly important for small hands.

But half or two thirds of every team being missing and not just sold separately but unobtainable can't exactly have helped the increasingly important nostalgia sales.

I think the arms would bug me more on Tracks than the feet, but that's certainly sloppy as well. They're definitely phoned in designs in IH and Jazz's cases hurt the alt modes, although I'll happily take those feet on Crosshairs because stick big LEGO dune buggy wheels on him and he's one of my favourite Cybertronian modes in years. They just look terrible on an actual van.
Warcry wrote:And Shockwave or Astrotrain or Blitzwing lose out on these comparisons even worse, in my books.
I wonder what kids make of any of these characters or the recent implementations we're talking about. Are the fact the triple changers either have dodgy unconvincing alt modes or increasingly bizarre ones like a steam train, or for no explained reason half of what's the box isn't part of the figure... really things that get a pass?
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:03 pm There's almost always a simple way around completely hollow lower arms or lower legs.
There is, but I honestly feel like hollowness can be a good thing if the designers use it intelligently. ER Smokescreen and TR Skullcruncher come to mind as examples where I've seen lots of fans slating them online for having totally hollow lower legs, but I feel like the hollowness actually makes them better because of the improved range of motion it gives them. Now, something like Siege Impactor or TR Hardhead? Yeah, that's pretty unsightly and I wish they could have done a better job.
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:03 pmIt was a nice idea / fever dream. It's just that LEGO is a fundamentally different toy to TFs. I can imagine some kids liking the destructibility, but simultaneously being left cold by the fact they turn into blocks.
I think the idea of modular, rebuildable robots is sound, it's just that the implementation in Earthrise wasn't very exciting at all. The Weaponizers in Siege were cool because their bodies broke down into a giant pile of guns, and it seems like Kingdom's Fossilizers were a hit for obvious reasons...who doesn't like dinosaur skeletons? But the Micromaster bases are very bland by comparison. Like you say, they just turn into blocks.
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:03 pm But half or two thirds of every team being missing and not just sold separately but unobtainable can't exactly have helped the increasingly important nostalgia sales.
This definitely hurt my interest too. I'm looking at the Wiki page just now and trying to figure out if any of the teams got completed. I think the Decepticon Race Track Patrol is the only one, unless you count the throw-ins with Haslab Deathsaurus as retroactively completing the Rescue Patrol five years after the fact. Even sticking to the two-pack system, they could have put out six full teams instead of twelve half-teams and gotten a far better reception.
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:03 pm...although I'll happily take those feet on Crosshairs because stick big LEGO dune buggy wheels on him and he's one of my favourite Cybertronian modes in years. They just look terrible on an actual van.
Yeah, the feet are maybe a bit unsightly on the Siege alt-mode but at the end of the day it still works fine for me because it's not actually trying to be anything. But they're a total deal-breaker on something that's meant to be an actual Earth van. SS86 Ironhide must have already been in the pipeline when this set was made, too, which makes it feel even more like a half-assed cash-in. The Prowl he was packed with with also seems like a prime candidate for planned obsolescence via SS86, considering it has Bluestreak's head and Smokescreen's proportions. I'd imagine there's a lot of buyer's remorse going around for that set.
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 4:03 pmI wonder what kids make of any of these characters or the recent implementations we're talking about. Are the fact the triple changers either have dodgy unconvincing alt modes or increasingly bizarre ones like a steam train, or for no explained reason half of what's the box isn't part of the figure... really things that get a pass?
I can't imagine too many younger folks are into Generations stuff these days to begin with. How many eight year olds sat through the relentlessly grim WFC Netflix show, and liked it enough to go looking for the toys? Especially since those toys are designed to appeal aesthetically to the kids' dads, not the kids themselves.

But I'd imagine that the small size is a dealbreaker for kids and parents both. You could get a pretty big Lego set or a playset like the new Greyskull for what a Leader-class toy goes for, and the Leaders don't look like they're worth the same. I figure that's probably why Hasbro moved to closed boxes for Leaders...people who aren't familiar with the line are going to assume that the toys in those boxes are way bigger than they actually are.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

Post by Denyer »

I ended up giving the TR original cast Headmasters to a friend's son (although still have a Skullcruncher or two, Hardhead and I think a couple of Kroks). I like that Skullcruncher got a figure, but the updates were bad for honeycombing and felt pretty soulless. (And collection specifically, pointless with the FP ones already having done retro ones at that scale). The only actual plus to TR figures was heads for customs, the mini robots were shockingly small and guaranteed to get lost easily. The mini Pretenders were the strangest sell though, not even heads or engines for bigger robots just cubes that plugged into combiner hands/feet... I think someone might have been staring at Infinity Gauntlet art for too long.
Warcry wrote:unless you count the throw-ins with Haslab Deathsaurus as retroactively completing the Rescue Patrol five years after the fact
The only plus is that the tooling might make a reappearance since it now exists. But making core characters, even minor ones, exclusives and closing off people having a "complete" collection is a shitty thing in general that genuinely does kill sales and interest (see also: Mattel's handling of Grizzlor).
Warcry wrote:I figure that's probably why Hasbro moved to closed boxes for Leaders...people who aren't familiar with the line are going to assume that the toys in those boxes are way bigger than they actually are.
Totally agree that the sizes will limit perceived value, but if that's their plan it's an odd equation to choose one sale under false pretences at a cost of fewer future sales. Customers don't and won't accept number of moving parts as a cost factor in sticker price, particularly when they aren't crying out for over-complexity in the first place.

I think it's more to do with stores insisting that higher ticket items shouldn't be part-open. And predict that the impact on retail sales of buyers spending that amount not being able to check for errors or risking getting a switched return figure will kill or at least dial back the initiative.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:23 pmThe only actual plus to TR figures was heads for customs
If you're painting the entire line with that brush, I can't agree at all. I'm pretty sure I still have more TR toys out on display than any other line, because it produced some of my very favourite figures! The Decepticon Targetmasters, the Jumpstarters, Black Shadow and Overlord, Blitzwing, Takara's Blurr and G2 Megatron, the Monsterbots to a lesser degree...

It was pretty disappointing that the line's entire point was "updated Headmasters" and most of the actual Headmaster characters were middling or worse, though (I'd include Skullcruncher in that pile even though I defended his leg engineering). The only ones of the eight that I like very much after all this time are Brainstorm and Weirdwolf, and even then they'd slot in below most of the dozen-odd toys I named above.
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:23 pmThe mini Pretenders were the strangest sell though, not even heads or engines for bigger robots just cubes that plugged into combiner hands/feet... I think someone might have been staring at Infinity Gauntlet art for too long.
I've always thought that these guys were half way to a good idea!

This...

Image

...plus this...

Image

...could have equalled a pretty fun play pattern! Deluxe-class Headmaster toys based on Pretender inner robots, with tiny shells for the Headmasters to go in. Sadly Metalhawk is the only character you'd be able to pull that off with in real life. What we actually got was way less fun, even before you consider the confusing tie-in to the Thirteen Primes guff that got haphazardly tacked on. Apparently Landmine and Skullgrin were secretly the Liege Maximo and Alpha Trion all along?
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:23 pmThe only plus is that the tooling might make a reappearance since it now exists. But making core characters, even minor ones, exclusives and closing off people having a "complete" collection is a shitty thing in general that genuinely does kill sales and interest (see also: Mattel's handling of Grizzlor).
I'd be shocked if any Haslab-exclusive toolings ever wind up being released at retail, even something as minor as a couple of Micromasters that were included as a barely talked about throw-in. A part of me wishes they would though. It would set off a shitstorm that would make the "BotCon Classics Seekers" fiasco look like a minor thing.

Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:23 pmBut making core characters, even minor ones, exclusives and closing off people having a "complete" collection is a shitty thing in general that genuinely does kill sales and interest (see also: Mattel's handling of Grizzlor).
Can't disagree. Doing it for minor nobodies like Fixit and Seawatch is arguably worse, honestly. Hasbro made a lot of folks angry by making desirable characters like Bluestreak or Ratchet or Bumblebee or most of the main Seekers retailer exclusives (multiple times over, in some cases!) during the WFC era, and that sucks for folks who were excited for those toys and couldn't find them...but most of those guys are going to get multiple new releases or reissues in the next decade, so folks will get another chance. Jackpot, Minerva, Fangry, Ransack, Road Rocket or Leadfoot? Good luck! Even a better-known character like Runabout...the Target exclusive was the first chance most people had to buy the character since 1986!

(That one in particular really ticked me off because I've always had an inexplicable desire to round up Shockwave and Starscream's sad little band of rebels from the late Marvel run and the Battlechargers are the only ones I'm missing.)
Denyer wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 8:23 pmTotally agree that the sizes will limit perceived value, but if that's their plan it's an odd equation to choose one sale under false pretences at a cost of fewer future sales. Customers don't and won't accept number of moving parts as a cost factor in sticker price, particularly when they aren't crying out for over-complexity in the first place.
Customers weren't exactly crying out for four-packs of totally unrelated characters from totally different franchises either, but here we are. After seeing the truly magnificent own-goal that their WOTC division just scored by trying to replace the D&D open gaming license with a predatory "we actually own everything you make" agreement, I have no trouble believing that Hasbro would set their reputation on fire with their consumers just to eke out a few extra sales in the current fiscal quarter.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote:If you're painting the entire line with that brush, I can't agree at all. I'm pretty sure I still have more TR toys out on display than any other line, because it produced some of my very favourite figures! The Decepticon Targetmasters, the Jumpstarters, Black Shadow and Overlord, Blitzwing, Takara's Blurr and G2 Megatron, the Monsterbots to a lesser degree...
Just the separate head aspect, and snap... the surprise hit was Sky Shadow, partly because half of him turns into what's essentially a W40K Predator tank, and despite the size the figure's actually simple and fun. Just a shame it wasn't recycled to make Thunderwing, although Nitro Zeus and that box set Thunderwing TM head do nicely.

Unless someone was looking closely the TR/TM gimmick isn't even apparent on figures like Overlord, Sixshot, Sky Shadow, barely noticeable on PM Prime, Blaster, etc except for looking a bit crap, and adds nothing to Perceptor, the Monsterbots, etc. It wasn't a fully formed play pattern back in the 80s either, some alt modes could have a pilot/driver but the idea of swapping faces on characters unsurprisingly wasn't really followed up in the fiction and (anecdotally) was never a thing as a kid. Removing it would have provided budget for less honeycombing.

Can't remember if I kept Brainstorm, I think I might just have turned over one of each of the six general releases. Did get the thrilling 30 one and the FP one plus extra head, though, so although it was an exclusive that got imported I'm not sure that would've saved it, the same with the KO 3P Legends oversized (i.e. deluxe class size) Sixshot that displayed with them.
Warcry wrote:Apparently Landmine and Skullgrin were secretly the Liege Maximo and Alpha Trion all along?
Tiny versions of the original inner robots done with one joint at the waist would've been cool and played into 'miniature' toy fads. Even non-transforming inner stuff. What we got was amazingly shit, especially as most people wouldn't have WST scale stuff to go with them.
Warcry wrote:I've always had an inexplicable desire to round up Shockwave and Starscream's sad little band of rebels from the late Marvel run and the Battlechargers are the only ones I'm missing.
Mmm, same feeling with the Cobra civil war leaders in Classified. Not sure that's going to happen with Mindbender and Serpentor now unless they get eventual retail releases.
Warcry wrote:Customers weren't exactly crying out for four-packs of totally unrelated characters from totally different franchises either, but here we are.
Stock has now wound up over here at clearance prices.
Warcry wrote:After seeing the truly magnificent own-goal that their WOTC division just scored by trying to replace the D&D open gaming license with a predatory "we actually own everything you make" agreement
The latest attempt at trying to justify being able to censor anything they don't like and get people to waive legal action is even worse, if anything. Hopefully will get tested and decisively thrown out of court, and since OGL 1.0a doesn't define terms under which it might be revoked the case that it can't be de facto revoked by a statement on authorisation seems pretty strong in the opinions of various lawyers.

I'm guessing that purely based on price point retailers are already moving towards saying "no thanks" to future Commander and Titan items or demanding wholesale prices that allow quick discounting, and retailers recently getting big lists of stuff available at clearance prices (whether from Hasbro or elsewhere) shows it's moving downwards to Leader items.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 am Just the separate head aspect, and snap...
I find the heads charming, honestly. Having little drivers for the alt-modes is cute! I wouldn't want them to do it again, a year's worth of toys like that was enough, but I enjoy it on most of the figures I've got. I understand why not everyone does, though.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 amthe surprise hit was Sky Shadow, partly because half of him turns into what's essentially a W40K Predator tank, and despite the size the figure's actually simple and fun. Just a shame it wasn't recycled to make Thunderwing, although Nitro Zeus and that box set Thunderwing TM head do nicely.
It's a much cooler toy than Overlord and I'm really not sure why. I always find myself taking ol' Space Mafia (I know that's a mistranslation, I don't care, it's funny) down from the shelf but I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I touched Overlord other than to dust him.

A Thunderwing retool would have been a very extensive job. Other than the shoulders (one of the biggest visual cues admittedly) Black Shadow doesn't share much with Thunderwing from the waist up. You wouldn't be talking about just a new head, but also chest, arms below the shoulders and probably the upper legs and hips too if they could manage it without messing up the tank transformation. Not as extensive a retool as Overlord or Dai Atlas, but not far off either. I figure they didn't do it because they were considering the character for the POTP "evolution" gimmick instead.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 amPerceptor
This one in particular, I feel like the TR gimmick actively hurt. The Headmaster figure just...stands there while he's in microscope mode, entirely useless. I find that I still like the toy better than the SS86 alternative, though.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 am It wasn't a fully formed play pattern back in the 80s either, some alt modes could have a pilot/driver but the idea of swapping faces on characters unsurprisingly wasn't really followed up in the fiction and (anecdotally) was never a thing as a kid.
I never owned any Headmasters as a kid, but I can't see head-swapping being very appealing with the TR lot because there are basically no figures in the line colour-matched well enough that you could do it and wind up with something that looked good. As a play pattern...I feel like TR didn't do much to create one at all. Hardhead and Black Shadow are good examples of what a play pattern could have looked like. Alt-modes designed to accommodate more than one of the little guys would have been something I think I'd have liked as a kid. But I don't think any other molds did that, aside from the unsightly gunsleds that everyone rightfully just ignores.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 amRemoving it would have provided budget for less honeycombing.
I remember hearing the opposite criticism at the time, people who thought Hasbro did a whole line of Headmasters because it was a money-saver. Fewer moving parts and less engineering on the main robot, since you don't have to incorporate the head into the transformation scheme. I'm not sure which argument makes more sense to me but honestly, if getting rid of the Heamasters saved money on the budget I'd just expect Hasbro to pocket the difference, not use it to make better toys.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 am Mmm, same feeling with the Cobra civil war leaders in Classified. Not sure that's going to happen with Mindbender and Serpentor now unless they get eventual retail releases.
Classified managed to lose me right away, when they cancelled Ninja Force Storm Shadow (one of my very favourite toys from my childhood and the want I had from Classified) preorders on my entire country, and I decided it wasn't worth the trouble of trying to give them my money. Even the first wave was a nightmare to track down. I don't think distribution's improved much, since all I've seen in physical stores for the last two years are Lady Jaye...
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 amThe latest attempt at trying to justify being able to censor anything they don't like and get people to waive legal action is even worse, if anything. Hopefully will get tested and decisively thrown out of court, and since OGL 1.0a doesn't define terms under which it might be revoked the case that it can't be de facto revoked by a statement on authorisation seems pretty strong in the opinions of various lawyers.
My understanding is that the lawyers who wrote it in the first place have publicly said that it's irrevocable and intended to be so, which seems like the closest you can get to a definitive statement short of going to trial. And you'd have to think Hasbro is going to avoid a trial at all costs, because the very last thing they need right now is a court decision officially saying that they gave up control over their IP.

In the meantime, it sound like they've done a pretty good job of torching their relationship with the third-party companies that produce a good bulk of the content that the player base actually uses and convinced a lot of that same player base to cancel their subscriptions to the D&D Beyond site.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 4:31 amI'm guessing that purely based on price point retailers are already moving towards saying "no thanks" to future Commander and Titan items or demanding wholesale prices that allow quick discounting, and retailers recently getting big lists of stuff available at clearance prices (whether from Hasbro or elsewhere) shows it's moving downwards to Leader items.
I could see that happening in the next few years. Based on the numbers I could find in ten minutes' worth of Googling, Titans in Canada have gone from $150 to $200 to $225 to $250 and finally $300 since they started producing them. And they've already produced the most popular characters possible for that price point. At a certain point, it's not worth the risk of stocking the figure as the number of people who can afford them continues to shrink. At a certain point, you'd figure Hasbro will see more money by cancelling the larger retail price points and selling them as Haslab toys.

Star Saber and Deathsaurus seem like a test run for that, honestly...there's really no reason the characters couldn't have been made as retail Leader or Commander-sized toys (albeit less extravagantly), other than Hasbro wanting to test the waters for a new distribution scheme.
Denyer wrote: Mon Jan 23, 2023 5:40 pm Yep, Game are going hard on this;
Definitely a bit jealous, in the short term. Probably a bad sign for the line's future in the UK in the long term, though. Can't deny that I miss the days where I'd find remaindered toys for half-price at places like XS Cargo or London Drugs, though. But it's been forever since that was a reality here.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote:Alt-modes designed to accommodate more than one of the little guys would have been something I think I'd have liked as a kid. But I don't think any other molds did that, aside from the unsightly gunsleds that everyone rightfully just ignores
Yep, yep. And they're just too small, IMO. The thrilling 30 Brainstorm voyager was the smallest size that allowed for stylistic flair.
Warcry wrote:I remember hearing the opposite criticism at the time, people who thought Hasbro did a whole line of Headmasters because it was a money-saver. Fewer moving parts and less engineering on the main robot, since you don't have to incorporate the head into the transformation scheme.
I think that's a bit of a mad take, to be honest. They're, what, seven parts plus a screw and two pins? A lazy win might have been detachable heads on most of the figures where it wasn't an HM nostalgia thing but no little robots and just somewhere to stow the head, maybe make the gimmick that the head can peer out from a slot in the alt mode.
Warcry wrote:you'd have to think Hasbro is going to avoid a trial at all costs,
Suits are obviously still backing using the threat of it and potentially going all in, with the latest garbage. And there's probably internal politics there too... this happened to some extent with 4E.

I think a good outcome would be companies centring around ORC plus OGL 1.0a being upheld in court plus nobody buying in on the current attempted revisions plus D&D Beyond being dead in the water. It's only way they won't try to pull this shit again.
Warcry wrote:there's really no reason the characters couldn't have been made as retail Leader or Commander-sized toys (albeit less extravagantly), other than Hasbro wanting to test the waters for a new distribution scheme.
Absolutely, same with Mattel and the Eternia playset except Mattel are already old hands at the somewhat abusive MattyCollector subscription model.
Warcry wrote:Probably a bad sign for the line's future in the UK in the long term, though.
Probably, but I think it's as much the release model needing adjustment after 2-3 years that've involved more upheaval than most. i.e. Recognising a need for fewer releases being crammed into short periods.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Denyer wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:25 am Yep, yep. And they're just too small, IMO. The thrilling 30 Brainstorm voyager was the smallest size that allowed for stylistic flair.
When we first heard that they were doing a line based on Headmasters, I thought for sure that just meant that the Voyagers and Leaders would be Headmasters and the Deluxes were going to be Targetmasters or something. I think the little heads actually turned out surprisingly good on their own merits, but it really hampered the gimmick as they moved up the size classes. The Leader-class toys are more "Facemaster" than "Headmaster", so it's not like you can plug Gort into Blaster or Dreadnaught into Skullcruncher and not have it look silly.

On the other hand there's no way we'd have gotten all seven of the "main" Headmasters in the line if they'd all had to be made as Voyagers. That probably had a lot to do with the design team's eventual choices. As-is, unless my memory is failing the only 1987 characters bigger than Deluxe in the line were Sixshot and Fort Max.
Denyer wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:25 amI think that's a bit of a mad take, to be honest. They're, what, seven parts plus a screw and two pins?
I can see where the idea comes from. Your average head in those days was three pieces and a screw anyway, plus you'd need at least a couple extra (usually larger, pinned) pieces to allow the head to transform and hide away in alt-mode. But surely the extra clear plastic sprue (for the TM cockpit and nothing else) would eat up any theoretical savings? Maybe there's a bit of truth to it but I think it might have just been a reaction to how simplified the 1987 aesthetic looks.
Denyer wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:25 am I think a good outcome would be companies centring around ORC plus OGL 1.0a being upheld in court plus nobody buying in on the current attempted revisions plus D&D Beyond being dead in the water. It's only way they won't try to pull this shit again.
I honestly feel like they'll try again no matter what the outcome? Maybe not in exactly the same way, but modern Hasbro seems like a company desperate for revenue. I'm not exactly a finance wizard and it's been forever since I took accounting in school, but it seems like their revenues have become totally decoupled from their profitability, probably at least partly because they keep going nuts and buying cable channels, movie studios, etc. and trying to move away from being a "toy company". The stock price has tanked too ($120ish just before the pandemic started, $60ish now), so their big investors are probably none too happy.
Denyer wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 12:25 am Probably, but I think it's as much the release model needing adjustment after 2-3 years that've involved more upheaval than most. i.e. Recognising a need for fewer releases being crammed into short periods.
I feel like they've already reduced the amount of retail product they release pretty severely over the last decade, and that hasn't done much to address what seems like the biggest problem -- not being able to reliably get their product on the shelves. Most of those things hitting deep clearance in the UK right now are things that never even appeared on store shelves here at all.

I never see empty pegs where Lego or DC or MOTU or WWE figures are supposed to be, But Transformers, Marvel, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers...those areas are empty more often than not, and likewise online. Is it a production problem, a distribution problem, a problem with retailers? I don't know, but it seems like it's a Hasbro problem first and foremost because Mattel, McFarlane, Spinmaster, Lego, Playmobil and Mega all have figured it out.

Thinking about it like that, if I owned Hasbro shares I'd have sold them too!
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Warcry wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 3:17 amLike, the size and complexity difference between Galvatron and Cyclonus is about the same as the difference between Cyclonus and Scourge. In no way does Galvatron pack in 70% more value than Cyclonus, but that's how he's priced. And he's one of the "good" examples. BW Megatron likewise...he's big and heavy, but he also comes with zero accessories and play features. Is he 70% cooler than Dinobot or Tigatron? Not really. And Shockwave or Astrotrain or Blitzwing lose out on these comparisons even worse, in my books.
You're right that those Leaders aren't 70% better than Voyagers. But, you could also take the wallet-half-full perspective and think that Voyagers are a bargain. I would say that $53 Galvatron is at least twice the toy of a $25 Deluxe Datsun. But, that Datsun also seems like a bad deal when you can get a bigger and better Voyager for $8 more. I hope I find Tarn before Hasbro realizes this and jacks Voyagers up to $40.

Warcry wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:41 pmI honestly feel like they'll try again no matter what the outcome? Maybe not in exactly the same way, but modern Hasbro seems like a company desperate for revenue. I'm not exactly a finance wizard and it's been forever since I took accounting in school, but it seems like their revenues have become totally decoupled from their profitability, probably at least partly because they keep going nuts and buying cable channels, movie studios, etc. and trying to move away from being a "toy company". The stock price has tanked too ($120ish just before the pandemic started, $60ish now), so their big investors are probably none too happy.
...
I feel like they've already reduced the amount of retail product they release pretty severely over the last decade, and that hasn't done much to address what seems like the biggest problem -- not being able to reliably get their product on the shelves. Most of those things hitting deep clearance in the UK right now are things that never even appeared on store shelves here at all.

I never see empty pegs where Lego or DC or MOTU or WWE figures are supposed to be, But Transformers, Marvel, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers...those areas are empty more often than not, and likewise online. Is it a production problem, a distribution problem, a problem with retailers? I don't know, but it seems like it's a Hasbro problem first and foremost because Mattel, McFarlane, Spinmaster, Lego, Playmobil and Mega all have figured it out.

Thinking about it like that, if I owned Hasbro shares I'd have sold them too!
So, Hasbro's given up on solving the problems in their toy distribution business, and decided to branch out into other business they have even less idea how to run?

The new Micromasters weren't micro enough. Or, maybe the Ironworks/Airwave type figures were too small. Either way, the Micros were oversized relative to their bases. Maybe instead of stand alone Deluxes, the Ironworks types could've been somewhat bigger and sold with their original Micromaster partner as a Voyager.

I liked the little PotP Pretender shell figures. They just needed the inner robots to become the heads of their original robots instead of blobs of nothing that could only interact with other figures by being plugged into combiner kibble. Then, you could, say, make a new Skullgrin bot by plugging his head on Quake's body. Basically, a continuation of the stand-alone Titanmasters like Swoop.

Though, then I wouldn't have been able to do Chromedome + Alchemist Prime as Rorschach. Also, I've got two Prime Masters in TR Overlord's chest to serve as his Powermaster partners.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Tantrum wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 12:13 am You're right that those Leaders aren't 70% better than Voyagers. But, you could also take the wallet-half-full perspective and think that Voyagers are a bargain. I would say that $53 Galvatron is at least twice the toy of a $25 Deluxe Datsun. But, that Datsun also seems like a bad deal when you can get a bigger and better Voyager for $8 more. I hope I find Tarn before Hasbro realizes this and jacks Voyagers up to $40.
That's an interesting observation! In Canada at least, prices have gone up pretty uniformly since the Prime Wars line...Deluxe, Voyager and Leader have all gone up by $15, give or take a buck. And I feel like that's really messed up the value proposition between the three of them. Deluxes are the "flagship" price point of the line, they're the bulk of the toyline and they NEED to feel like you're getting a good deal...but you're right. Compared to a Voyager or even a Leader, your average Deluxe nowadays feels like a bit of a ripoff.
Tantrum wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 12:13 amSo, Hasbro's given up on solving the problems in their toy distribution business, and decided to branch out into other business they have even less idea how to run?
Massive layoffs too. And it seems like they've capitulated (for now) in their battle with the DnD fandom and even released the DnD 5 ruleset under a creative commons license (!) to try and win back their loyalty, so they're not going to be reaping the profits they'd expected from that corner in the short term.
Tantrum wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 12:13 amAlso, I've got two Prime Masters in TR Overlord's chest to serve as his Powermaster partners.
I did that. Then I had to partially disassemble Overlord because they got stuck. :(
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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I just checked my Overlord, and both Prime Masters slid out OK. Maybe ones with different shaped "faces" are more likely to get stuck. I had the grey one with a pink Decepticon logo-ish design, and a teal/purple one with a circular design. Though, I may swap that one out and give one of my Titanmaster Deluxes a cyclops head. Anyway, I decided to transform Overlord and now have the PMs piloting his halves.

The Walmart near me just got in Earthspark Deluxes for US$20, $5 cheaper than Legacy Deluxes. I only got Twitch. There's also the Earthspark Warriors, which I think were $15. So, there are cheaper options for similarly sized figures.

They also got in dozens of derpy plush figures of TFs for $10 each. I think the proportions are similar to Mighty Muggs. One half of the figure is decoed like Evergreen. The other half is decoed like the interior, with circuit diagrams and such. I didn't check how many different characters there were. Even if someone were into these, I don't know how many they'd get.

I'm just annoyed that these things are going to be taking up so much of the space allocated to TFs for the forseeable future. They finally sold off most of their Legacy wave 1 Deluxes, and instead of getting Wave 2 (or 3 or 4, whatever they're up to now), they get these.

We complain about distribution issues, and wonder what stops Hasbro from getting TFs into stores. But, they manage to get these things out? I'd just been there a week and a half prior and neither these nor the Earthrise stuff was there. So, Walmart just got in a bunch of new TF merch, and none of it was Legacy or SS.

Maybe the plushes are high enough margin that they don't need to sell many quickly to justify the shelf space. Or maybe this Walmart thought, "It took a while to sell the dozens of Skids we got. Clearly Legacy doesn't move. Let's stop ordering it", not realizing that Legacy does sell, it's just that there's an upper limit per figure.

I live in RI, am close to MA, and often visit my parents in NH. That's 3 states with I think 13 Walmarts and Targets that I check at least somewhat regularly, and I still have trouble finding what I want. It's gotten much worse with Legacy. I cut way back on shopping trips before I got vaccinated, and still found the figures I wanted, just not as quickly. Now, months go by and I don't see anything new.
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Re: Grumpy old men: armchair brand management

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Guessing that's Walmart rather than Hasbro.
Tantrum wrote:So, Hasbro's given up on solving the problems in their toy distribution business, and decided to branch out into other business they have even less idea how to run?
Yep, all driven by shareholders and being legally required to be evil and drive growth at all costs. Diversification and over-extension has killed other multinationals.
Warcry wrote:Compared to a Voyager or even a Leader, your average Deluxe nowadays feels like a bit of a ripoff.
Been that way over here for a long time. Probably a decade?
Warcry wrote:I did that. Then I had to partially disassemble Overlord because they got stuck.
Maybe unscrew the PM back plates and leave those in the chest rather than the whole mini figure?

edit:
Warcry wrote:And it seems like they've capitulated (for now) in their battle with the DnD fandom and even released the DnD 5 ruleset under a creative commons license (!) to try and win back their loyalty, so they're not going to be reaping the profits they'd expected from that corner in the short term.
As of a few days ago it was an insulting bluff from their PR department. They were still trying to get companies and creators to accept legal language that gives them total control over other people's IP but blaming it on wanting to stop NFTs and "hateful" speech, where hateful is defined as anything they feel like and everyone waives the right to legal action. Also I think much less material is covered by the proposed CC licensing and you'd have to accept the current draft OGL revision.

That was always the real goal -- to try to legitimise "de-authorising" OGL 1.0a, which it's fairly clear was always intended as and has been used in good faith as irrevocable. Quite good summary on that chapter; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddHsAsGBjTU

Having said that, Dungeon Craft posted another update a few hours ago I've just seen whilst looking for that link covering that Hasbro/WotC may have (publicly at least) given up for now. So possibly shareholders, and Paramount, who don't like brands being dragged through the mud, mass cancellations, etc, have stepped on Wizards management -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUBinw9H2DA

Basically, a *lot* of lawyers play D&D. And like that guy says, having Ryan Dancey be still around and vocal has definitely helped.

edit2: It'd still be better if people used the Paizo + community ORC licence, and Hasbro/WotC need to continue to be reminded why attempting to attack fans and competitors isn't acceptable. And I think Vox Machina is more likely to be the future of fantasy RPG media than D&D films.
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