The Transformers may have been around for more than three decades, but Zhang Yuchen, general manager of Hasbro China, the parent company of the brand, believes that the popularity of the iconic toy figures are just about to hit its peak, especially with four Transformers films set to hit the silver screens by 2025.
Zhang is optimistic that with the surge in nostalgia for the toys and the growing profitability of selling peripheral products from a movie in China, 2017 could very well be “the year of Transformers”.
“It’s been very exciting because over the last decade, the movie universe has given old fans something new and brought in a whole new generation of Transformers fans. That is probably one of the biggest forces driving Transformers in China,” said Zhang.
“We now expect to see explosive growth in the sale of Transformers products in China with the upcoming series of movies,” he added.
The second installment of the movie franchise, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen broke the 12-year box office record set by Titanic to become the most-watched foreign movie in China.
In 2014, the fourth movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, generated 300 million yuan ($45 million) in China, contributing to almost one-third of the global revenue. The upcoming one in the franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight, is scheduled to be released in 2017.
Set on Cybertron and the political in-fighting between Starscream and Windblade to craft a new era for Transformers on Cybertron and beyond, the series has a broader scope than any Transformers series before. Picking up thematically from her last series, Transformers: Windblade, Scott and artist Alex Milne (nope --Va'al) are looking to delve deeper into the heart of being a Transformer.
Newsarama: "Till All Are One" is a very hallowed phrase in the Transformers mythos. What does it mean here for this new series?
Mairghread Scott: “Till All Are One” is a double-edged sword in our series. Our characters' main challenge right now is integration: Autobots and Decepticons, colonists and Cybertronians, various religious and political factions. These people know they need help to survive, but getting that help from former enemies is a hard pill to swallow. On the other hand, the threat of empire is always there. If Cybertron falls back under a totalitarian government and 'all' are forced to become 'one' it can be just as damaging. So everyone is working toward this single phrase, but in very different ways.
Nrama: How did this series come about? Is it something you pitched to do, or something IDW asked you to work on specifically?
Scott: We weren't sure when Windblade ended if we'd be able to do any more so we crammed as much plot in as we could. So when John Barber asked what I'd do with an ongoing, it took me a minute to figure out which of the many toys I'd grabbed I'd like to play with first. I'm glad I took the time to find it.
Till All Are One is going to explore and spotlight a variety of characters from across the spectrum of Transformers works, but in a single cohesive story. My goal isn't to hit everyone at once, but to bounce back and forth, to touch on the people that are rebuilding this world so that we're less of a classic 'team' book and more the story of a people and their struggles. Of course, some characters will always be at the heart of things, Windblade and Starscream in particular. But I've always been a character-focused writer and I want it to feel like Cybertron as a planet is changing and growing, not just a single character or a handful of them.
We are happy to welcome the voice of Generation 1 Grimlock Gregg Berger to TFcon Chicago 2016. He also voiced Skyfire (Jetfire), Long Haul and Outback in the same series. He thenreturned to the character of Grimlock for the Fall of Cybertron video game as well as Transformers: Devastation.
Gregg will be taking part in Q&A panels and autograph sessions with the attendees of the world’s largest fan-run Transformers convention all weekend long.
IDW looks to be setting up a major change to the status quo of its Transformers line, as longtime series writer John Barber and artist Andrew Griffith begins the "All Hail Optimus" arc.
But the battle lines are more than just Autobots vs. Decepticons, as different factions emerge against Optimus, Galvatron and Starscream... and that's not even including the humans of Earth, which as you can imagine might have issues with Optimus Prime annexing Earth.
Barber: At the start of the series, Galvatron is poised to wreak havoc on the Earth with an army of disaffected Decepticons. This isn’t the first time the Earth’s been in this dangerous position—among other things, Earth’s useful to the Transformers because it has this substance called Ore-13 which can be converted to energon, their lifeblood. Optimus has tried battling on Earth to defend it; he’s tried leaving Earth behind to keep it out of the Cybertronian’s war. Neither of those really worked. So now, he’s looking at Earth and seeing the Decepticons striking again, and he’s seeing there are people starving on Earth and people being disenfranchised in many ways.
"Transformers #50" preview
[Pin It] CREDIT: IDW Publishing
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And Optimus’ motto has always been, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” It’s pointed out to him that he could act to make the people of Earth more free… and free from this eons-long Cybertronian war, that—while it’s technically over—is still endangering the planet.
So he decides to annex Earth into Cybertron’s council of worlds. Whether Earth wants to come or not; and whether the council wants Earth or not. He’s going to pull Earth into the cosmic community and try to improve life on the planet.
So, yeah—a lot of his friends see this as… not a good move. I think all of his enemies see this as bad. But Optimus has loyal allies, plus followers who view him as a messianic figure for being a Prime, and carrying (what’s left of) the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus has been unwilling to use that good will to his advantage… until now.
Nrama: Last question -- Transformers #50 looks to be extra-sized. Overall, what should fans expect?
Barber: There’s a 30-page story by me and Andrew, then Casey W. Coller drew a 10-pager that deals with the fallout. Plus some rambling reminisces by me. And some nice special guest covers, by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi and our regular gang of Transformers superstars like Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, and Alex Milne.
We are happy to welcome the voice of Generation 1 Grimlock Gregg Berger to TFcon Charlotte. He also voiced Skyfire (Jetfire), Long Haul and Outback in the same series. He returned to the character of Grimlock for the Fall of Cybertron video game as well as the upcoming Transformers: Devastation.
Gregg will be taking part in Q&A panels and autograph sessions with the attendees of the world’s largest fan-run Transformers convention all weekend long.
Already well respected for his nearly Quixotic attempts to bring sanity to the Transformers movie continuity, John Barber’s tenure over IDW’s mainline Transformers comics has been viewed as something of a renaissance period for the brand.
Besides writing a tense sci-fi political thriller in the form of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Barber has also served as the editor of the award-winning Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye as well as the Transformers: Windblade mini-series. Since then he’s added even more to his plate by writing Angry Birds Transformers and co-writing the latest Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series.
As the man behind one of my favorite shared universes in comics, I’ve been eager to meet Mr. Barber for some time. Little did I know how deep we’d get into the current Transformers line-up.
Mr. Barber was incredibly gracious with his time and considerable knowledge so please enjoy and, if so inclined, check out the newly renamed The Transformers #35, on sale today!
N: One thing that I was definitely curious about is that one of the weird figures for IDW in Transformers has been Galvatron, in that you couldn’t fall back on a G1 interpretation.
N: But so he was kind of Nova Prime’s Starscream for a while and then he kind of had this very ‘glorious leader against D-Void’ period. What made you settle on ‘Galvatron the Barbarian’ for your take?
B: I was kind of intrigued by the story that Simon [Furman] had set up of these characters being of a different age, y’know? These people that were there, that took off on the original Ark? I just kind of latched onto this idea of, ‘what was society like before they had the Golden Age?’ For me, it went back to doing the Robots in Disguise Annual and I had this idea of like Game of Thrones with Transformers, of this idea of these different tribes. And I played with that actually a bit in the movie universe stuff, but it was different in the main line stuff.
And Galvatron was one of those characters, kind of like Soundwave, where even within the IDW universe different writers had radically different takes on where he was. So, thinking about how you can sort of unify those, what kind of person would do all that stuff? And I came to the idea of ‘what if Galvatron’s kind of Conan’ and you had this guy who’s kind of really a rough guy, really a barbarian, but who becomes king?
“Galvatron was one of those characters where different writers had radically different takes. So, thinking about how you can sort of unify those, what kind of person would do all that stuff?”
I mean the story of Conan isn’t just Conan the Barbarian. There’s all these eras of Conan as he goes on; he eventually is King Conan. And the idea that Galvatron kind of went through all that, so he’s been different places in his life, appealed to me. And, in [issue #34] we’ll get kind of a larger grasp of how those early days with him and Nova functioned. We’ll be seeing some stuff, that I think may be surprising to some people, that we sort of hinted at. There’re definitely some hints that have been going on, but some of the ancient Cybertronian lore and history is gonna come up.
But, in short, it’s kind of the idea of this guy who, in his own mind, he’s noble, but it isn’t the usual nobility you get from a villain because he’s really, really brutal and he’s- he’s- like he’s genuinely not a nice guy, y’know, where, Soundwave, to me, he’s the good guy Decepticon.
B: Like he’s the guy that genuinely believes in the Decepticon cause and everything they had to do that was bad was a compromise that he had to make to a greater end goal, where Galvatron isn’t like that. He’s less compromising, but much more brutal and, like, the underlying…like-
N: He doesn’t feel like a guy who’s like thinking very much into the future.
B: Yeah. Like he does in his way. So, there are moments where you’re going to see him kind of doing stuff toward a larger goal, but it’s a very distinct, direct barbarian way of doing it. He’s not doing the Machiavellian playing guys off of each other the way Starscream does. Even when he does like straight up lie, his duplicity is a little more honest.
Just taking a step aside from Robots in Disguise for a second, I was just curious. You are not only a writer, but you’re an editor for IDW.
N: As someone with that very unique experience, what do you think that -whether it be professionals, aspiring, anywhere in the process – what do you think that writers need to know about editors and editors need to know about writers? You have seen both sides.
B: That’s a good question. Ideally, everybody’s out to make a good comic. And there are good fits with writers and editors, y’know?
It’s funny because I have friends on both sides of the table. So, every once in a while you’ll sort of hear somebody, a friend of mine, complaining about, y’know, that editor didn’t work out. Then there’ll be people who are having a great relationship with that editor. So it’s like any other relationship in life. There are fits and there are non-fits.
When you’re putting a creative team together for a comic, it’s sort of like putting a band together, y’know? Like everybody has to get along. You have to know what parts everybody’s playing and what everybody’s doing. On the Transformers books we’re really lucky, everybody gets along really well, I think, between James, me, Mairghread, Chris Metzen, Flint Dille, plus like Alex Milne, Andrew, Livio, Sarah, everybody; we all interact really well.
Trasformers Robots in Disguise – John Barber writing, Andrew Griffith main artist. Searching on Earth for 'mysterious object' - everyone loves Thundercracker and Buster.
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye – James Roberts writing, teases return of old favourites, more horror, sci-fi and personal drama.
Transformers Windblade – Mairghread Scott writing. Sarah Stone art. Recently concluded first solo adventure, will return. Response has been impressive and amazing.
Transformers Primacy – Writers Chris Metzen and Flint Dille, artist Livio Ramondelli. Final part of Cybertron Wars (Autocracy, Monstrosity), Ramondelli co-plotted volume this time.
Transformers Punishment – Barber written, Livio Ramondelli drawn digital comic - read the Seibertron.com review here! Shortly arriving on other OS, and possibly other formats too.
Drift: Empire of Stone. Writer Shane McCarthy, artist Guido Guidi.
The cross-franchise Combiner Wars event, announced yesterday, will take place in the comics too, with John Barber and Mairghread Scott on writing duties, across 2015. We've already seen some seeding of the event in the comics so far.
Hasbro's Michael Kelly explains the previously reported Transformers Humble Bundle, and its charity purpose.
Angry Birds Transformers crossover comic! Written by John Barber and art by Marcelo Ferreira. Covers by Livio Ramondelli, and Casey W. Coller & John-Paul Bove. Premise: All-Spark falls to Piggy Island, Transformers personalities merge with inhabitants. Very funny comic, panel says.
Transformers vs G.I. Joe - Tom Scioli and John Barber writing, Trypticon will show up in issue 2! Read the Seibertron.com review of issue #1 here - sold out at distributor level, Liefeld convention cover exclusive sold out.
Sarah Stone also doing covers for D&D comic series. 40th anniversary and coinciding with launch of 5th edition of the game.
The Fall of GI Joe. Karen Traviss writing, artist Steven Kurth. More realistic, hardcore take, Scarlett currently leading. Larry Hama still on Real American Hero.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic - Power Ponies new series in fall, current run going really well, both readership and creators having fun.
Q: MLP comics follow the show?
Collaborating with the stories, nothing fixed.
Q: Transformers vs Ponies?
No plans - Tom Scioli imagine multi-franchise multiverse multi everything crossover.
Q: Plans for Grimlock in the current ongoings?
Definitely, and he's already in Primacy - was going to be in TF vs Joe.
Q: Are Shockwave and Bumblebee really dead?
We'll see the aftermath of Dark Cybertron/Crystal City in RID #33.
Q: Does Hasbro dictate characters in the comics?
There may be some guidance, but all stories come from creative teams, not top-down.
DAVID WHITTAKER: Ok, so starting at the beginning how did the concept of More Than Meets The Eye come about? Had you had any plans for what became More Than Meets The Eye as you were working on cooperative projects such as Last Stand of The Wreckers or Chaos Theory? I ask this because you have seemingly innocuous characters, such as Rung or Whirl appearing in those tales, who go on to become major players. So to speak.
JAMES ROBERTS: Well, the series’ core concept – Rodimus heads off in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron – was decided back in 2010 by either Andy Schmidt (John Barber’s predecessor as editor of IDW’s Transformers titles) or Mike Costa (who wrote IDW’s first ongoing Transformers title from 2009 to 2011) – maybe both of them. I think Mike came up with the idea of the Knights, although I was never given more than the name when I was asked to write More Than Meets The Eye. Anyway, back in 2010 IDW decided that from January 2012 Mike’s ongoing series would split into two titles, More Than Meets The Eye and Robots In Disguise. One title would follow Rodimus and Drift on their quest, the other would focus on Bumblebee trying to make a go of things on a devastated Cybertron. The Autobots would have fallen out – there would have been some kind of schism – and some characters would side with Rodimus, some with Bumblebee. At the time this game-plan was decided, no one knew what it was that would precipitate the schism, or which characters (beyond Drift) would side with the two Autobot figureheads. It was all really up in the air.
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