Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017

Transformers News: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 2:40PM CDT

Categories: Toy News, Event News, Interviews
Posted by: william-james88   Views: 19,664

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Seibertron.com was able to speak with Ben Montano (Head of the Transformers Brand) and John Warden (Transformers Design Manager) from Hasbro's Transformers brand team at HASCON. Below is a transcript of the interview. The interview was done by our very own Megatronus and it includes Hasbro staff using "CHUG" as an actual term and them speaking of Machinima as a source of inspiration for their continued stories within the brand, among other neat tidbits. A video of this same interview can be found below for the full experiences and line dissection, enjoy!



Megatronus: A few years ago you guys released news of a design bible, or the brand bible I should say, that kind of guides the entire Transformers Universe. And I know you guys have a very long road map, so can you tell us about any changes that have been made in this brand bible recently or any other content in that repository that you are thinking of using for the road map 3 to 5 years out?

Ben: There's things, there's characters designs, there's stories, continuity that we have mapped out in this bible, but it is an ever living document. There are certain constants that will be there; like certain characters, what they stand for and their roles they play as they get introduced into content. But 100%, as we look into the Bumblebee film, there's new additions to that, and twists to that, that will have a ripple effect on the brand and we are fortunate enough to be part of those and those ripples in our continuity. Some of the fun is we give creative license to Machinima and the great writers there and on the new and upcoming Cyberverse series that we want to bring freshness to the story so we want to bring freshness to the story so we create the canon but the canon flexes and constricts when it's needed but the constants are there and John is one of the stewards as we go forward.

John: Yah, trying to align the continuity as much as we can in a natural feeling way has always been a challenge on Transformers going way back even before my tenure on the brand. It's kind of a rolling stone and as new toys come out and as the spotlight shifts, we adjust accordingly. And honestly, the brand does too as it's affected by pop-culture and things in the world.

Ben: And the fans are helping us write this book too, like with the fan polls.

Megatronus: When can we expect the next fan vote and can we expect anything to happen with the runner-ups to those fan-votes like Omega Supreme, Scorponok, Deathsaurus, etc?

John: Oh, absolutely. I mean, as you guys have witnessed with a lot of the previous fan-votes, I think it's an opportunity for us to kind of just get a consensus from the fan community. Honestly, it's too early at this time to speak in any kind of definites, but we reach out to the fan community, it's a great opportunity to gauge the excitement level. Also kind of test out, you know, is Beast Wars becoming more popular? Like when we put Deathsaurus and Star Saber in a fan-poll, for example, it was actually an opportunity for us to understand the depth of exposure that people had to the Japanese Headmaster series. Like, is that too deep or as it turns out a lot of people know about Deathsaurus and are asking about it. So a lot of times I say "stay tuned", but in this case really we've got some things on the horizon that will make fans happy.

Megatronus: So you're saying we can definitely expect another one in the future sometime soon?

John: Yah, I think we can safely say that.

Ben: For sure. When? To be seen. But yah.

John: Can't say which one or ones.

Megatronus: We can't probe too deeply here, we can just give crumbs and hope for more. After you exhaust the nostalgic G1 type gimmicks, I mean we're getting to Pretenders even, how do you see the brand moving forward? Do you think that we will be looking at brand new concepts and new characters, adding them to the fold in the vein of Windblade, or do you think that you might integrate other Transformers continuities like Unicron Trilogy, Animated or RID, into the Generations line?

Ben: Can we say all of the above?

John: No absolutely, all of the above. And, you know, one of the things is too if you think of the CHUG characters and things like that, its possible to go back and do figures of again and again and again. Once you get removed from Combiner Wars, you could hypothetically do Combiners again in a couple of years. It's about how do you bring that innovation and freshness back while not corrupting the original intent or awesomeness of the character in the first place. I think we've really tried our best to take the essence of the what made the characters cool in the first place and add detail, add articulation, and take the spirit of somebody like Skullcruncher or Highbrow, and do the ultimate version of it. I think as we look to the future, there's a lot more that we haven't even thought about, a lot of awesome anniversaries on the horizon and things like that, so I think fans can rest assure that even though the Prime Wars Trilogy is coming to an end, there's lots of awesome stuff on the horizon.

Megatronus: That's good to hear. Speaking of Prime Wars and Power of the Primes, you mentioned Combiners, can you tell us what inspired you guys to come back to the Combiners concept after Titans Return?

John: Honestly, it's you guys, it's fans. It's coming to events like this, we talk to fans, we listen, we read online, and we just have to kind of always be cognizant of what people are talking about and thinking about. We heard loud and clear that fans wanted the Dinobots, and we wanted to take it to the next level and make it a Combiner. We've heard loud and clear that fans want Terrorcons and things like that and there's lots of things that we're listening to and even Pretenders, we heard, Pretends are on the horizon. There's things out there that fans want. We're always listening and kind of being aware of it, and what the future holds we can't really say but know that there's always excitement to kind of bring back things so if fans of Titans Return are like "Oh man, I didn't get my Apeface or somebody that I really wanted" don't feel like it's the end-all-be-all at the end because as stewards of the toy franchise we are able to weave these things in where they make sense.

Megatronus: So I know there are a couple of people very high up at Seibertron.com that are quite obsessed with Pretenders, so I'm glad to see that some of them are here.

John: Oh, really? [Laughs]

Megatronus: In Power of the Primes, you have both combiners and Titan Masters present so those are both very independent stand-alone concepts. So what kind of play patterns are you looking to inspire by having them included in a single line?

John: [Laughs] Well, Ben and I, early on, when we were talking about this thing, it's kind of like the last act at a really awesome rock-and-roll show so you've got like the first band comes on stage they do an awesome job and the second band, maybe a different music style ...

Ben: Maybe acoustic.

John: Yah, and then in that final act, it's both of those guys with an encore, they come on stage together. In Power of the Primes, we've got Primes Masters which are the physical embodiment of the Power of the Primes, some of them deceased, some of them missing in action, but it's the power and essence that they carry. So in a sense, those guys still fit backwards compatible with Titans Return. We also wanted to bring to life all of those great things or tidbits with Combiners. There's lots of cool things that we can still do, that we can still explore, so if you combine those two things together, I think it's a great final act and it's a great final act in our rock show which is the Prime Wars Trilogy.

Ben: Right, I think a lot of what inspired and motivated us too, to be honest with you, was Machinima and their writers there in the storytelling too, when we really started Combiner Wars, it was totally rooted in G1 and G2 kind of lore, it was character first. But as we progressed with this toy line and the stories, we started to introduce new spins, new twists, bring new characters together and stories that hadn't been told and a lot of it for us was "Hey, wait a second, we didn't see this character and that character back in the 80s but there's a story that wasn't told" so we're gonna show that to them in Titans Return or the Power of the Primes series with Machinima. And that for us, it was a creative license and we can do something that didn't happen exactly as it did in 84 through 87. We have a new story universe, we have a new fan community that are going to be engaged in this new idea. So I think that part of it, I don't want to say that the shackles are off, but if we did we looked at it and said we're creating new continuity and extension of continuity. Let's have some fun with it and not be as precious with exactly what may have been celebrated back in the 80s. So that was kind of the fun we had.

John: Absolutely.

Ben: So having writers in the new series expanded our minds and hopefully will blow yours.

John: And honestly, the same can be said with our great partners at Space Ape and all of our other aligned partners across the franchise. And I'll be speaking to this at the Prime Wars Trilogy panel on Sunday. We actually feed off each other when you think about all of the different stories that are happening at the games and the animation and it gives us, like Ben said, a license to try awesome new stuff.

Megatronus: That's great! I am very excited for Power of the Primes. It sounds like you are really excited about Power of the Primes as a highlights reel of kind of the last couple of years, which is awesome to think about in that way, so we've seen two Autobots leaders. Are we gonna see some Decepticon leaders soon in the Powers of the Primes line?

John: Uh ... hmm ... [Rubs chin] Leader class right? unfortunately I can't comment at this time, I don't want to break any hearts or anything.

Megatronus: So, that's fine, we'll ask about a different product. Since we are at HASCON, what's the potential for future crossover products? Because we are in the Transformers booth right now, Marvel's over there, Star Wars is just a skip away, and there's a huge Nerf play center over there. Do you see a lot of potential future crossover products like a new Transformers Nerf gun, a Transformers My Little Pony, something like that?

Ben: We are always looking at that and the Comic-Con Revolution is one step in that direction. There is a really awesome Rubik's Cube mash up we just did which is super cool which I have not ...

Megatronus: Rubik's Cube!?

Ben: Yah, it's like an 8 piece Optimus' head, and I have not yet solved it. It's absolutely insane. So, that one might be obscure, but that's kind of the fun we're having. As long as it's brand right, brand relevant, then we're open to those types of plays. But I would say we have a lot of great stories that we're telling on our own right now, so we'll be pumping out a lot of toys to support those.

Megatronus: That sounds great. Well, I think I have one last question. One of the big reveals of recent days has been Predaking, Titan Class, so ...

John: Sort of. I'm not sure what was that silhouette? I have no idea what that was.

Ben: Well, there was a really cool silhouette.

Megatronus: I've seen some interesting art that would indicate that there might be a large Predaking on the way.

Seibertron: You meant that's not Elita-One?

Ben: It could have been a winged Optimus Prime.

John: Yah, I think it's Winged Optimus Prime.

Megatronus: So that's all we're going to say about that. For now. Okay, so I'll let you guys off the hook. Well, I really appreciate you guys talking to us over at Seibertron.com. We're big fans of the work you do, we look forward to seeing more at the panels this weekend. And HASCON has been amazing!

John: Thank you. I can say one thing about that crazy silhouette. It's big. It's bad. And it's the most awesome thing Hasui and I have worked on since Devastator.

Megatronus: So, since Devastator, so ... so that silhouette is Titan Class, no?

John: No, I can't say that. I'm just saying he's big, he's bad, and uh ...

Ben: Except for those who made it to the Villains panel, any Villain is big and bad, right, especially in the Transformers universe.

[Banter continues ...]

John: Honestly, it's been an honor to have a chance to meet you guys, to talk to you again, and honestly I hope you have fun here at HASCON. We're having a lot of fun. It's crazy!

Ben: Yah, we're psyched and we've seen you guys and a lot of your fans and a lot of past events, whether it's Botcon, and this is special for us, a chance to share this. What I think is really great is that we're having a lot of fun in this conversation and that we can joke about things and what excites me the most is that we can talk about or not talk about things in the future. The fact that we're able to do that is because you guys share the love for our brand, what we're doing, and people keep asking for more. So we want to do this at the next convention and the next HASCON, and so the more everyone can support our brand and property and have fun like this the more we can share in news.

Megatronus: That's amazing. You know. the last BotCon was my first BotCon. So I got to go to the last BotCon, which was great, it was a cool honor to be there. It's an even more interesting journey to see how that's transitioned to this HASCON.

Seibertron: [directed at Hasbro] Are you accidentally inadvertently confirming a HASCON 2018?

Ben: No, I think, like I said, there's a lot of conventions we'll be part of. You'll see us at New York, hopefully I'll be able to drag this fine gentleman there as well.

Megatronus: Coming to my home turf!

John: It's just a train ride away!

Ben: Plenty of conventions to get to hang with you guys at.

Megatronus: We're very much looking forward to it.

John: Awesome.

Megatronus: Thanks so much guys, really appreciate it.

John: Thanks a lot.

Megatronus: John, Ben [shakes hands] Be good, enjoy the rest of HASCON!

John: Same to you.

Megatronus: See you at the panels! Thanks guys! Thanks everyone at Seibertron.com. We'll catch you later!
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Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910952)
Posted by WeatherManNX01 on September 14th, 2017 @ 2:56pm CDT
I think the thing I like about the current Transformers team is that they're not afraid to try new things. Five to 10 years ago, Transformers had to be obviously real vehicles, and you were not likely to see characters or concepts beyond the core of Transformers - robot to vehicle and back, Optimius, Bumblebee, and the more-recognizable characters.

Now, we've got combiners, headmasters, and pretenders; we've got characters from the Japanese shows and the comics; and the alt-modes are not as "earth-y" or even vehicle-based anymore (seriously, remember when it seemed like we were never going to get Blaster or Soundwave as radios?).

These guys aren't asking, "Can we do this?" They're asking, "HOW can we do this?" And because of that, I think we're getting some of the best figures we've ever had.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910953)
Posted by Va'al on September 14th, 2017 @ 3:00pm CDT
Just so people are aware, the transcript is now verbatim from the recording, and not a paraphrasis.

Thank you for your patience!
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910954)
Posted by WreckerJack on September 14th, 2017 @ 3:13pm CDT
Must have been a lot of fun to go to Hascon. I am really glad we got a lot of videos so that everyone can see what it would be like to go. The atmosphere must be very exiting and overwhelming.

Its also neat to hear them talk about the Optimus Prime Rubik's cube. (I still need to get my hands on one) Hearing them talk about designing things for characters makes me think about how cool it would be to show us different phases of design process and how they draw up the things they do. I remember Lego doing that with some of their sculptors and that was a good watch.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910957)
Posted by Rated X on September 14th, 2017 @ 3:34pm CDT
Good job on the interview Megatronus. I have to commend you for having the ultimate patience in dealing with the Hasbro team's secretive antics. I would have lost my composure and gone off on them when the said the predaking silhouette "could be a winged optimus prime" because comments like that just are an insult to the fanbases intelligence. But you kept your cool so mad props to you. ;)^

So now can somebody please post a a video of chewbacca mom eating hot dogs or whatever dumb s**t was shown with dude perfect, MLP, etc for a good laugh. How bad was the non-transformers parts of Hascon? Share it with the world my brother !
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910965)
Posted by Seibertron on September 14th, 2017 @ 4:42pm CDT
Rated X wrote:Good job on the interview Megatronus. I have to commend you for having the ultimate patience in dealing with the Hasbro team's secretive antics. I would have lost my composure and gone off on them when the said the predaking silhouette "could be a winged optimus prime" because comments like that just are an insult to the fanbases intelligence. But you kept your cool so mad props to you. ;)^


They were just having fun with Ari and me though. You know, sarcasm. We asked them about something that the brand team was not ready to discuss past the tease they revealed, much like the Superion reveal pre-Combiner Wars or Overlord last year. They know we know what it is.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910974)
Posted by MagicDeath on September 14th, 2017 @ 5:12pm CDT
[quote]"Oh man, I didn't get my Apeface or somebody that I really wanted" don't feel like it's the end-all-be-all at the end because as stewards of the toy franchise we are able to weave these things in where they make sense.[/quote]

As I thought. Probably not a coincidence he used a horrorcon name. Not that there's one coming, just that they're aware.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1910992)
Posted by Rated X on September 14th, 2017 @ 5:59pm CDT
Seibertron wrote:
Rated X wrote:Good job on the interview Megatronus. I have to commend you for having the ultimate patience in dealing with the Hasbro team's secretive antics. I would have lost my composure and gone off on them when the said the predaking silhouette "could be a winged optimus prime" because comments like that just are an insult to the fanbases intelligence. But you kept your cool so mad props to you. ;)^


They were just having fun with Ari and me though. You know, sarcasm. We asked them about something that the brand team was not ready to discuss past the tease they revealed, much like the Superion reveal pre-Combiner Wars or Overlord last year. They know we know what it is.


Lol I hear you. But with that being said, I was eexpecting them to display that predaking mockup we saw a couple weeks ago that I assume was leaked. Was that an image from Asia ? Or perhaps they thought twice about bringing it after reading the boards?
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911007)
Posted by Seibertron on September 14th, 2017 @ 6:55pm CDT
Patience young padawan. Good things are coming down the pipes. Patience is a virtue!
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911031)
Posted by megatronus on September 14th, 2017 @ 10:15pm CDT
Rated X wrote:
Seibertron wrote:
Rated X wrote:Good job on the interview Megatronus. I have to commend you for having the ultimate patience in dealing with the Hasbro team's secretive antics. I would have lost my composure and gone off on them when the said the predaking silhouette "could be a winged optimus prime" because comments like that just are an insult to the fanbases intelligence. But you kept your cool so mad props to you. ;)^


They were just having fun with Ari and me though. You know, sarcasm. We asked them about something that the brand team was not ready to discuss past the tease they revealed, much like the Superion reveal pre-Combiner Wars or Overlord last year. They know we know what it is.


Lol I hear you. But with that being said, I was eexpecting them to display that predaking mockup we saw a couple weeks ago that I assume was leaked. Was that an image from Asia ? Or perhaps they thought twice about bringing it after reading the boards?


Thanks X! I had a ton of fun. I'm into several brands, and that actually enhanced my experience many times over.

Like Seibertron said, we know Predaking's coming, they know we know - there's no point doubling down on a topic we know they're gonna be coy about, so might as well move on and maximize the amount of productive conversation we can get.

Ben & John are great sports, and you can see how much fun we were having in the video. Can't wait to see them at NYCC.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911052)
Posted by SpikeyTigertron on September 15th, 2017 @ 3:18am CDT
As someone on the west coast... I wasn't really prepared to go all the way to the East Coast for the convention... But I was extremely curious. Still kick myself for not going to BotCon when it was closer. All in all would you guys recommend going?

(it's off topic for the site) But what did you think of the Star Wars/Marvel Areas? Where there panels for those?
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911076)
Posted by megatronus on September 15th, 2017 @ 7:41am CDT
SpikeyTigertron wrote:As someone on the west coast... I wasn't really prepared to go all the way to the East Coast for the convention... But I was extremely curious. Still kick myself for not going to BotCon when it was closer. All in all would you guys recommend going?

(it's off topic for the site) But what did you think of the Star Wars/Marvel Areas? Where there panels for those?

The Marvel/Star Wars areas were equally awesome! Star Wars had a life size Luke's Landspeeder on the floor, Palpatine's chair for photo ops, a life size R2D2 rolling around, a stage for lightsaber 'lessons' and obviously the dynamic toy displays. Marvel had a life size Marvel Legends box you could take pictures in, lots of MCU movie props and paraphernalia (Cap's costume, Thor's hammer, etc.), a model making studio where the designers would 3D print and paint figures, and again, amazing toy displays. I'm just scratching the surface here.

Marvel had a toys reveal panel, a session with Stan Lee, and an interview with James Gunn (director of GotG). Star Wars has a 'behind the scenes' panel on Black Series (which was really interesting), a panel about Forces of Destiny (the new doll line), and a few other things.

If you're into multiple brands, like I am, you would have had a great time.
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911125)
Posted by D-Maximus_Prime on September 15th, 2017 @ 11:18am CDT
william-james88 wrote:Megatronus: So I know there are a couple of people very high up at Seibertron.com that are quite obsessed with Pretenders, so I'm glad to see that some of them are here.

John: Oh, really? [Laughs]

Hey Burn, it looks like Warden now knows about us!!! :lol: :lol:
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911144)
Posted by megatronus on September 15th, 2017 @ 12:12pm CDT
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:
william-james88 wrote:Megatronus: So I know there are a couple of people very high up at Seibertron.com that are quite obsessed with Pretenders, so I'm glad to see that some of them are here.

John: Oh, really? [Laughs]

Hey Burn, it looks like Warden now knows about us!!! :lol: :lol:

This exchange was a not so subtle jab at Seibertron, who has been known to bite the brand team's ears off about Pretenders. :michaelbay:
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911154)
Posted by D-Maximus_Prime on September 15th, 2017 @ 12:40pm CDT
megatronus wrote:
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:
william-james88 wrote:Megatronus: So I know there are a couple of people very high up at Seibertron.com that are quite obsessed with Pretenders, so I'm glad to see that some of them are here.

John: Oh, really? [Laughs]

Hey Burn, it looks like Warden now knows about us!!! :lol: :lol:

This exchange was a not so subtle jab at Seibertron, who has been known to bite the brand team's ears off about Pretenders. :michaelbay:

Well, now I feel disappointed
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911161)
Posted by Va'al on September 15th, 2017 @ 12:57pm CDT
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:
megatronus wrote:
D-Maximus_Prime wrote:
william-james88 wrote:Megatronus: So I know there are a couple of people very high up at Seibertron.com that are quite obsessed with Pretenders, so I'm glad to see that some of them are here.

John: Oh, really? [Laughs]

Hey Burn, it looks like Warden now knows about us!!! :lol: :lol:

This exchange was a not so subtle jab at Seibertron, who has been known to bite the brand team's ears off about Pretenders. :michaelbay:

Well, now I feel disappointed


Oh don't be! That's just Warden's jab title.


bdumtish
Re: Seibertron.com interviews Hasbro's Transformers Brand Team at #HASCON 2017 (1911252)
Posted by PopCultureGeek2063 on September 16th, 2017 @ 5:32am CDT
SpikeyTigertron wrote:As someone on the west coast... I wasn't really prepared to go all the way to the East Coast for the convention... But I was extremely curious. Still kick myself for not going to BotCon when it was closer. All in all would you guys recommend going?

(it's off topic for the site) But what did you think of the Star Wars/Marvel Areas? Where there panels for those?

same here, I probably would have gone if it was in the mid-west or in Texas, middle of the U.S., cause a ticket costs more if its all the way on the other side of the country. I live in California, I barely went to my first out of state convention earlier this year, which was in Texas, before I had always done Cons more locally, within the state I live in.

I wish Frank Welker would attend Cons closer to California, overall, he still hasn't made a Con appearance in California or the West Coast yet.

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