Transformers Block Toys -- It Is Time!
Sunday, September 2nd, 2007 8:25AM CDTCategories: Collectables, Editorials, Site Articles, Toy News
Posted by: Tigertrack Views: 47,944
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.
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Posted by tyler1451 on September 2nd, 2007 @ 8:34am CDT
Posted by Insurgent on September 2nd, 2007 @ 8:58am CDT
Posted by City Commander on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:00am CDT
Hasbro really is missing out on a massive profit by not making these beasts.
Posted by Tenkyoen [AKA: WheelBar!] on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:13am CDT
Posted by Scaleface on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:27am CDT
Hasbro, if you are listening, go hire some brickmasters, make a license with the Lego people, and make me some block minibots! Just to see how they sell.
Posted by 1337W422102 on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:43am CDT
And I hate to sound like a broken record, but as an AFoL/ALE [Adult Fan of LEGO/Adult LEGO Enthusiast], I'll repeat myself as I take this seriously: the plural of LEGO is LEGO! The term 'LEGO' is like the term 'rice.'
Posted by Jaw Crusher on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:47am CDT
1337W422102 wrote:Remember that Block Convoy that came out recently? It didn't look so hot.
Eh, I just slapped BTR Optimus' head on it and that took care of that problem for me.
Posted by GetterDragun on September 2nd, 2007 @ 10:16am CDT
Posted by Tigertrack on September 2nd, 2007 @ 10:38am CDT
Read the whole thing before passing judgements on issues covered in the piece. Please...
EDIT: GD did you just edit your post, or did I need read it clearly, because now it seems totally different than what I replied to.
Expense to make them good is not the issue. The Dia Block convoy is very good, but too expensive because it must be imported.
You're telling me that you would not like to see something in the line of TECHNICs Transformers? They could do lots with what is out there if they only wanted to.
Posted by GetterDragun on September 2nd, 2007 @ 10:47am CDT
Posted by Lapse Of Reason on September 2nd, 2007 @ 10:53am CDT
Posted by Liege Evilmus on September 2nd, 2007 @ 12:44pm CDT
The idea is good, but the practicality of it isn't there. Collector wise, these would only stay in the box because who wants to run the risk of lossing so many pieces, it's bad enought when 1 rocket turns mia, let alone the hinge for a foot section.
As for kids, well especialy LEGO sets are a small fortune! They'd get by passed with all the StarWars and BatMobiles ships I'd believe.
Now, take basic playability, you can't tell me these would stay together if handled, and even in that (very cool) BB video, the guy had all sorts of a hard time changing it around, and I don't think proper engenering would help.
Now on this note, if a fan could make something that cool with the LEGOs he had from various sets, why not just make your own instead of waiting for a set? Are you more intrested in the figure or the package? As for hard to find parts, they have LEGO stores in the malls now where you can actualy buy individual bricks.
I for one would take that route, it seems cheaper and more of a challenge. This idea is good, but not real feezable. I would rather see them invest the quality plastic into better figures, and what not.
Now, all this isn't to say that I don't think building sets don't belong in my collection. When I was younger, I had some LEGOS, but what I had more of where CONSTRUX!
I didn't have many TFs as a kid, but I always loved robots, and those where perfect for making them! Last year I went to Ebay and boght a 40lb bag of them for like $20. In my old apartment I had bridges beteen shelves, work areas, even turning bases for Metroplex and Fort Max!
So do I have a point to this, yes I do, Instead of investing in making bots out of building sets, I think it would be more constructive to make buildings for the bots out of the building sets.
Think about it, if RamJet smashes a hole into the side of Metroplex, you can't fix that! But if RamJet smashes a hole into an outer perimiter, not only can you fix it, but you have something for the bots to do after the battle!
Posted by Talous on September 2nd, 2007 @ 4:08pm CDT
Posted by AbsumZer0 on September 2nd, 2007 @ 5:23pm CDT
Posted by i_amtrunks on September 2nd, 2007 @ 7:27pm CDT
One problem that I can think of if there were to be Lego transformers made concerns cost. Many of the Branded Lego sets are far more expensive than similar sized /piece sets of generic Lego. That has to hurt a bit.
Posted by Phorpus on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:41pm CDT
It'd be cool but I don't feel nearly as strong about as you do. And I love Legos.
But even a tiny set it about $10, imagine all of the joints and pieces required for something as simple as even a deluxe-sized figure.
It'd be sort of cool for a few seconds but it probably wouldn't last...but then again if somebody told me fifty years ago that putting body parts on a potato would be a huge hit I would have slapped them.
Posted by blank on September 3rd, 2007 @ 3:13am CDT
Posted by shockticus on September 4th, 2007 @ 3:21pm CDT
Posted by Hairball178 on September 6th, 2007 @ 8:19pm CDT