- Motto: "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."
- Weapon: Sniper Rifle
The purpose of this news blurb is to make awareness that locking brick Transformers is a popular idea, and a missed opportunity for the Transformers property.
There is a plethora of high quality fan made LEGO Transformers out there. The most recent version was shown yesterday (Movie Blackout), and today with this video of a transforming Movie Concept Camaro LEGO Bumblebee and others.
I believe that a large part of the collectible, and toy market is being missed because apparently there is no love for the merging of what seems like a match made in heaven...Transformers and LEGO blocks.
As a child I loved my LEGO sets almost as much as my GI Joes, Transformers, Star Wars, etc. Not true, I think I loved them more. They were a huge part of my childhood play. I used them in conjunction with and separately from all my other beloved toys. They are as much a part of my memory as those other beloved properties.
Fast forward to today, where we see a gap in the Transformers armor. Sure the movie has spawned so much TF merchandise, one would wonder just how there are any gaps at all. After all, there are bed sheets, lunchboxes, wrapping paper, toy lap tops, and so many versions of the characters in toy form that there should be no wanting for anything by any Transformers collector at all right? Wrong.
Why has the locking building blocks market been forsaken? Why are they skipping this style of play that was and is popular with children of many ages? I wish I knew. After all, you can see that many of the most popular movie franchises of late have made sure that they have their foot in that market: Spider-man and Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.
Perhaps because they are not sure how to go about doing it, especially with their first U.S. venture a few years back, Built To Rule Transformers. I can remember threads in the toy forum where all we did was come up with negative names that either rhymed with, or used the acronym, to create whatever negatives we could (many were quite vulgar). Doomed from the start some might say, because it was representing robots from the "as well loved" ARMADA television show, and not doing a very good job of it.
These Built To Rule configurations seemed like a great idea to try to get into the locking blocks market. Instead, they failed miserably. However, it was not the idea of tranforming block made robots that was bad, it was the design and execution of these robots that made people say, "Uggg..." The robots were flat, lacking in articulation, fairly fragile. And oh yeah, you had to take them apart to turn them into the more superior alternate modes. Oh and the blocks were not able to be used with LEGO bricks, so one could not modify the robots, and improve on them, unless they used another BTR set, which there were not many of at the time.
The popularity of Transformers at the time was also very low. The T.V. show was bouncing around time slots, the aisles were clogged with toys, which were actually pretty decent, but that lacked in comparison to previous lines due to the new gimmick, minicons. The BTR line was quickly cancelled after a handful of releases, although a small portion of the next round based on some Energon designs did make it into a very small number of retail stores, creating an interesting collector rarity. It could not compete in a market where LEGO was creating Star Wars based sets, highly popular, and able to fit with many other brick sets for modification, and increased play value.
One could argue that there is no better time than now for the HASBRO Transformers creative team to try this again. I don't have to tell you how hot Transformers Movie toys are, and just how popular the brand is at this time. Dia Block, a block company in Japan, released a "G1 Transforming Convoy" that met with mixed results here. Not because it was poorly designed, on the contrary it is very cool, very large, very detailed, and has the "perfect" transformation (for you Macross folks), meaning you do not have to disassemble any pieces to get it into an alternate mode. The box is G1 in design, making it a great collector's toy. The main problem, it was way too expensive for most to import. The money could easily be justified to be spent elsewhere, thus many folks do not own a very cool toy that should be available here, if marketing were thinking.
The japanese have seen the importance of locking building blocks since all the way back in Generation One when they included some smaller Transformers with environments created from locking blocks.
So why forsake this creative niche? Are the powers that be assuming that another such venture would fail miserably? Do they feel that the transforming gimmick alone is going to sell toys (Armada, Energon, and Cybertron are proof that they obviously do not)? Have they tested the market recently and found that children would rather play video games, and have other creative outlets, and that this line of toys would tank as badly as BTR Armada?
I can't argue with what I don't know. All I do know is that there are a lot of creative children and adults out there that feel that Transformers should delve back into this medium. Take time to generate 'good' quality, representative, and detailed designs. Make sure they have the "perfect" transformation, and don't be afraid to share some profits with LEGO, so that customization and creativity can occur.
Just some thoughts based on a fan's desire. Comments welcome.