Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC

Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC

Thursday, July 26th, 2018 7:54am CDT

Categories: Movie Related News, Toy News, Event News, People News, Interviews
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 56,180

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Another of's big interview videos from last weekend's San Diego Comic Con 2018 event features the Hasbro Transformers brand team, with the awesome/gruesome twosome of Ben Montano and John 'Hasbro' Warden answering questions as much as they're allowed to on the War for Cybertron: Siege toyline for the first half, our thoughts about the reveals and the future events in which more product will be shown (worldwide), then moving on to some Masterpiece line questions and US distribution of those figures (they're all coming over!), their hopes for the Bumblebee Movie and what's next in fiction.

The full video is posted below for your viewing pleasure, and we've provided an almost verbatim transcript beneath that for ease of parsing and understanding the points made in the interview. Check it all out, and let us know what you think in the Energon Pub discussion boards!

Ryan Yzquierdo (Seibertron) -
Alex Valente (Va'al) -
John Warden – Hasbro Design Manager
Ben Montano – Hasbro Marketing Manager

Va'al: "We saw today the reveals for the War for Cybertron Siege stuff, and you've said it's a very one sided war with only the Autobots revealed for now – when are we to expect more stuff (Decepticons in particular, ndr)?"

Ben: "Later this fall, there are some really cool conventions coming up around the world and we have a global tour coming up on our plan and we'll have a lot more to share. I can't say right now exactly when but stay tuned. Best non-answer answer I can give you."

John: "But I can say that if there were enemies they would be very cool and defy all expectations."

Va'al: "We've seen the different size classes for the line (Battle Master, Micro Master, Deluxe, Voyager, Leader, Weaponizer). IS Weaponizer only for the deluxe class, or will we see it across the line?"

John: "The Weaponizer classs robot is a deluxe class character, there will be other in the line than Cog, it makes sense from [?] - take Cog, he transformed into a bunch of weapons and vehicle, so it makes sense for that size to work with other characters to hold. So right now, deluxe."

Ryan: "One of the comments on our YouTube videos asked if Cog can also turn into the invidual robots that made up the character originally, can he still do that?"

John (with Ben) – No, he's not a Duocon. We'll put the actual vehicle and robot mode in the case soon, we need to move things around. He has a dedicated vehicle mode that can split into two, and he does have a third mode in being able to be all the weapons – that's the Weaponizer."

Va'al: "Combiner Wars had Devastator, Titans Return had Trypticon, Power of the Primes Predaking. Are there any plans to have something that size or with that idea in the line, at any point in the trilogy?"

Ben (with John) – Yes, that's our intention. Somebody fitting of the battleground. Fans have responded really strongly to it, so we'd like to continue with it."

Va'al: "So you'd like to continue the Titan class."

John: "Definitely. I mean, this is really taking a page from the 1984 pilot episode, and it's what happens on Cybertron in the last hour, and there's definitely room for a big character for sure"

Ben: "There's a lot of good guesses out there, online right now."

John: "It's exciting to see what people are saying, because we get an idea of what they want."

Ryan: "A question about Micro Masters, for the Unicron Trilogy fans: was there any talk of giving the Minicon ports? Are they compatible with previous figures?"

John: "We did talk about that actually, early on. We didn't want them to become too cluttered with stuff, and in order to pay homage to the original late 80s Micromaster line we wanted to really keep the conversion from vehicle to robot, but also make sure fit in the new ecosystem which is weaponizing. So they do convert and form weapons and munitions thing, so they do have that screwport, but so did the original Micromasters anyway."

Va'al: "In terms of the where this is now going, Siege being the first chapter and two more after that. Do you already know what the next two will be, or are you waiting to see how this one goes before moving onto the next part?"

Ben: "We already know where it's going. The Trilogy is mapped out, we're waiting to see some of the response and reaction, and some elements can change but the story is pretty much outlined in our heads, which is great and why – I think John would agree – the product is sharp, because we are focused, we have a plan, and we're able to provide a real play experience in Siege."

John: "Part of it is putting a stake in the ground with our design philosophy early on, we've been working of Siege for almost two years now, and trying to understand the constants. Scale is going to be a constant. The level of articulation mostly, and trying to make the characters the best version of that character they can be. Ultra Magnus is kind of a testament to that. The front cab turns into the white Ultra Magnus, the trailer turns into his armor, that's part of what he is. The plan is to keep that philosophy, so that people can go for a ride for three years. If this year they didn't get this one guy, they might get it next year."

Ben: "Assuming that fans love all we're doing is not fair to anybody."

John: "But coming to events like this and talking to you guys, finding out what you want is really exciting. Hearing what you have to say really does influence what we're doing."

Ben: "We had some people say 'I didn't vote for Impactor or Mirage' and the votings were close, so the more we hear from you guys, from your fans, it feeds the roster, it gives us depth through the line. There are certain things that will be standards, but there's flexibility in what micro collections can be fulfilled. Someone asked about Powermasters – there's a lot of subsets within the continuity that we can bring into the storyline if we see there's enough interest in it."

Va'al: "You mentioned the Armada retro-compatibility with the Minicon ports (that are not there), you have RID elements in Ultra Magnus, are there any other references or ideas from previous iterations that are not G1 or not RID that are present in the line?"

John: "There is Chromia, who is sort of IDW but really is an homage to that episode where she appears, briefly for a second. But there is definitely room to put things in that make sense in War for Cybertron: Siege and the Trilogy in general. There's a misconception that this is a G1 brand, and in a certain sense it is: there's the original Ark crew, things like that, but we also have characters like Ultra Magnus, he's got the RID vehicle mode. As we think about this toyline, it's more about who makes sense, if people want an authentic G1 experience, they can buy a Masterpiece toy – this is Generations, so what is best in the context of this new story."

Va'al: "So the story first approach is still continuing for this line."

John: "It's definitely a toy story, if you think of the ecosystem at play. I don't know about you guys, but my most favourite toy experiences as a kid were coming up with my own stories, pulling down Encyclopedia off the shelf and building a Cybertronian base and using sugar cubes as Energon."

Ben: "You took off a week from not designing toys and made this diorama. John did this for a week, or a month. 'John aren't you supposed to be checking emails?' 'No, I'm busy making this diorama.'"

John: "I was just moonlighting, much to my wife's chagrin. I jut worked day and night, I worked twice as hard. But when you get an opportunity to build a diorama… Ben's right, you get a chance to channel those exciting things that made you fall in love with being a toy designer in the first place, and I think this new line is not just about collecting characters, it's about creating that universe of story on the shelf, that's why those fireblast effects are in there. That's why we're adding levels of customisation to the characters, and more articulation than we've done in years. It's about how does your Transformers universe come to life. What does it mean for you to be a collector."

Va'al: "To that point, what is your target point for this particular age bracket? Are you looking at both the old collector and the new collector?"

Ben: "We've found that a huge set of the audience is kids, 7-8-12 years old getting into the Generations line. A lot of it has to do with parents getting their kids into the line, whether this is the touch point or the animation. But a large percentage of the fanbase is not the 30+ collector. It's just appreciation for really cool toys. John and I talk a lot, and you've asked if we have a long view for this trilogy, and we definitely do. And there's definitely a misconception in the universe that we may prefer one era of Transformers over another, say G1 over Beast Wars, but we grew up in different eras, half of our writers on Cyberverse grew up in the 90s, early 2000s, our design team is the same, we have designers who are in their mid 20s, so we're introducing G1 to them too – so what you'll see in this is an extended universe continuity introduced within Siege. So to a lot of people saying 'you don't like Beast Wars' 'you don't like the Unicron trilogy' I am fairly confident that we will debunk that over the course of the next couple of years. We respect the entirety of this brand. This is our first step, a starting point which will be epic, and I'm confident that everyone will be excited to go on this journey with us."

John: "Ultimately, the reason I hope this line will be popular with kids – just like Power of the Primes is – is that Transformers is fun to play with. It's fun to change a vehicle into a robot, you take time out on a rainy day to do so. And I think it's time to break that perception that there's Beast Wars fans or G1 fans – we're Transformers fans, we're a big family, we may have big fights online about stuff but we still love robots that convert into cool stuff."

Va'al: "So what you're saying is we'll complain no matter what you do anyway. [Laughter]"

John: "I didn't say that."

Va'al: "No, that's what I said. It's what I heard."

Ben: "Transformers fans unite. That's the vision we have, the entire team has, there's no reason there should be animosity within the fandom. Everyone has their own preferences, got it, we respect that, we don't want people to lose that, their passion, their 'G1' - but everyone has their own G1. We hope that this trilogy will be the opportunity to bring all of those things together, same with the Bumblebee movie, I really feel like that movie is going to unite fandoms. That's really a vision we have."

Ryan: "I hear you talking about Siege, your plans for the next stuff, I see IDW is coming to an end with the Unicron storyline – can about the fiction behind this? It's ripe with stories, any plans on that front?"

Ben: "Nothing yet. Nothing yet. But the fact that your head is already going there is great, this says 'tell me about it'. So we'll have a lot more to share in the future."

Ryan: "I'm really excited about this, I think it has a lot potential. If we switch gears real quick, I wanted to ask about Bumblebee – it looks like a different style to what we've been used to, there's a lot of love going into it, you seem to be having a lot of fun, can you speak to that?"

Ben: "The toys or the movie?"

Ryan: "The toys, that's where you guys are at."

Ben: "Yeah, so we've shown two characters so far with the Studio Series, Dropkick in a really cool new mode, that no one had seen yet. But also to have a VW mode for Bumblebee is really fun, it tugged at a lot of strings that we had as we got into this brand a long time ago. But even a lot of the other stuff, DJ Bumblebee, Energon Igniters, there's a place for them. Here at SDCC, seeing the kids' surprise and excitement around Bumblebee, having 3-4 year old kids running into here screaming 'Bumblebee' that's a whole new universe, a whole new group of fans that want to have fun with this brand. They're not looking for war, they're looking for their favourite hero, the playfulness of it, converting their figure, and we're having a lot of fun creating toys that do that."

John: "And what's exciting is knowing that that kid, who might go see the Bumblebee movie, maybe his first toys is the Power Surge one, but guess what – this world [Siege] is here, if he or she feels like they need another level of complexity, Transformers is great like that. There's room to grow into something. Once that kid is done with doing War for Cybertron, maybe they start collecting Masterpiece. There's ways of graduating into it."

Ryan: "Speaking of Masterpiece, Takara Tomy is releasing Beast Wars Megatron – is that coming from you guys or not?"

Ben: "It's a partnership we have with Takara now, so Hasbro are now importing the Takara Masterpiece items stateside. You will see a box that will go around the Takara Tomy original packaging, like a slip sleeve sort of thing, that will bring our brands together. It will be the exact release you would've expected in Japan, at the same time you would've gotten it in Japan."

Ryan: "Is it a product you worked on together?"

Ben: "There's definitely more collaboration going on, not to the level of Movie Masterpiece, but in general you see the unification of our brands, product lines, the Masterpiece line that Takara is creating is our next step in working together."

Thanks and END.

This article was last modified on Thursday, July 26th, 2018 11:13am CDT

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Re: Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC (1974122)
Posted by Amelie on July 26th, 2018 @ 8:31am CDT
The comments about Takara Masterpiece being brought stateside with just a slip/sleeve cover for English fans is probably the most exciting tidbit here. If true - it takes a huge amount of pressure out of Hasbros hands on rebranding and all the usual "changes" that often happen along the way, meaning we should start getting regular mp releases again. Which is great news.

Full confirmation we are getting another titan, too, is pretty excellent as well.
Re: Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC (1974132)
Posted by william-james88 on July 26th, 2018 @ 9:02am CDT
Some interesting points:

The Seige line will not just be G1 (though the story itself will be G1 based)
They will debunk the myth that John Warden does not like Beast Wars i the coming years
Their target market (and the higher percentage of sales) come from the 8,9 10 year olds (though their parents buying toys), not 30+ year olds.
While the toy cycle may have appeared to have gone down to 1.5 years fom conception to release, it is back to 2 years now.
Re: Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC (1974207)
Posted by Nemesis Primal on July 26th, 2018 @ 1:21pm CDT
The skeptic in me wants to laugh out loud reading the dev team say that they don't dislike Beast Wars and that there will be more in this WFC trilogy than just G1, but the rest of me just breathed a sigh of relief. So go ahead, Hasbro, please prove my inner skeptic wrong. Bring on the Cons of all varieties (when the Cons finally show up anyway). :CON: :PREDACON:
Re: Video Interview and Transcript with Hasbro Transformers Brand Team at #SDCC2018 #HasbroSDCC (1974248)
Posted by Emerje on July 26th, 2018 @ 3:45pm CDT
william-james88 wrote:They will debunk the myth that John Warden does not like Beast Wars i the coming years

Not just Beast Wars, but also the Unicron Trilogy which I thought was a strange thing for fans to say after all the Armada stuff we've gotten. I'm still hoping this leads to a Beast Wars themed line in 2022 for the 25th anniversary.

They also re-enforced that a Titan is happening in 2019.


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