Hasbro: Transformers Toys to Be Simpler Going Forward

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Hasbro: Transformers Toys to Be Simpler Going Forward

Hoping to make Transfomers more accessible for children, Hasbro will be simplifying the toys in the future.

When I was a kid the original Transformers was already a thing of the past. That being the case, I did grow up in the glorious prime of Beast Wars, its animal-themed, time-travelling sequel which, in a word, was awesome. Granted, the show's CGI visuals haven't aged particularly well since the mid-90s, but the toys remain fantastic if a bit complicated at times.

I can only assume the complicated part has gotten worse over the years because Hasbro, the toy company behind the Transformers line has recently revealed that it intends to take the property back to basics with the release of its next toy line. According to Brian D. Goldner, the company chief executive, new Transformers will be vastly simpler to play with than the "1,000-piece puzzles" that have become the norm in recent years. Consumers can expect the new toys, in turn, to allow near effortless transformations that the company believes will be more appealing to children.

It won't just be the toys themselves changing either. The Transformers brand as a whole is being simplified so that going forward all toys falling under its umbrella will branded with a single uniform logo. This new line of toys will launch to retailers in May, just a few weeks before the release of the next Transformers film: Age of Extinction. Retailers are, not surprisingly, looking forward to the launch. "Our retail partners, they are getting very excited," said Joshua Lamb, senior design director for the Transformers line. "This rethinking of the brand is setting the stage long-term."

All of this said, I, am honestly a bit saddened by this development. While my fandom of the wider Transformers universe is admittedly a bit limited, I have some very fond memories attached to the sometimes lengthy process of figuring out just exactly how my Transformers worked. There was a satisfaction to finally getting it right that I fear more accessible toys are doomed to lack. What do you think? Are simpler Transfomers toys a step back, or is the brand simply revisiting its simpler roots to draw in a whole new generation of fans?

Source: The New York Times

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My first reaction was frothing fury. But then i thought about how fucking hard it must be for toys to compete with modern videogames.

Game technology has improved a lot since i was a kid. Not sure if toy technology has, or even can.

Can they really afford to demand that level of patience from children now?

I can't remember the last time my baby brother asked for a toy for christmas or birthday present. It's always a video game. Granted, that may be because of the generation gap. Get games from the brother and old fashioned toys from the parents, kind of thing.

Always seem to me that they have followed a pattern of periodically resimplifying to introduce to a new generation. Even in the early days when they first took over GoBots and pushed them as a more kid friendly "introduction"

Not really a bad marketing strategy I guess considering its effectiveness. Does not bother me to see new generations brought on board. What does concern me is the creeping pace in which the franchise has matured to match the first generation of kids that are now well into adulthood, and still cannot manage to properly unify all of the conflicted mythos into one cogent foundation to build the entire property on from cradle to grave as it were. It concerns me because each new fix ends up leading to new splinters and if the lore cannot be unified it only serves to stagnate the whole property.

AntiChri5:
My first reaction was frothing fury. But then i thought about how fucking hard it must be for toys to compete with modern videogames.

Game technology has improved a lot since i was a kid. Not sure if toy technology has, or even can.

Can they really afford to demand that level of patience from children now?

I can't remember the last time my baby brother asked for a toy for christmas or birthday present. It's always a video game. Granted, that may be because of the generation gap. Get games from the brother and old fashioned toys from the parents, kind of thing.

Its hard for toys to compete with videogames, compare a nasty plasticky Transformer toy to the Fall of Cybertron game for instance. Toys should compete though, physically interacting with toys is good for a kids development and their imagination. A game puts everything in front of a kid, with a couple of toys though the living room can become the Fall of Cybertrons coffee table.

I think that actually interacting with something physical and developing their imagination is important for kids, games don't do that although they are engaging and stimulating in other ways.

Thats nice probably will never add any to my collection, then again my puny 500$ beast wars collection is puny LOL.

This simplified version sounds boring and that's both the kid in me and the adult in me speaking. My favorite part of going home from the mall used to be fiddling with the mechanisms required to transform a new Transformer. I'd like to know which of the current toys qualifies as a 1,000 piece puzzle; I feel like I should pick one up before Hasbro ruins them.

Unless by "near effortless transformations" he means there is now a button you can press that will trigger a mechanism to do all the complicated manipulation automatically - and you can take the toy apart to get to that mechanism.

If it means more slick and minimalist designs, colour me interested.

I would be okay with this if they made both easy and complex versions so everyone gets what they want.

As a kid I always thought of it as an achievement if I could figure out and remember how to transform whatever I had between the two modes without looking at the instruction pamphlet.

How simple are we talking about? Like G1 era or the Gobot toylines? Either way while the kids will find it easier but for the rest of us it will be unpleasing since one of the things I liked about the current Transformers (despite some were hard to transformeed) is that you can posed them abit then being a wooden stack like the G1 toys.

Can't say I'm thrilled about this, but I'm certainly willing to give it a chance before I bash it. I'll admit, there are some toys *coughUniverseGalvatroncough* that have been ruined by over-complication, while at the same time there are bots that are both simple and satisfying.

I just think there's room enough for both is all. Completely axing complicated Transformers seems like a mistake to me.

I'm not a huge fan of transformers, but I'm a fan of simple and elegant design.

Making a toy that very easily turns into something totally different is much harder than making one that requires a lot of assembly, but depends on the overall quality of the design.

Perhaps it's changed recently, but later plastic transformers seemed to be very basic comparison to the metal G1 transformers I had as a child. A lot of modern transformers are essentially a car that you can stand up with a picture of a robot on the bottom.

i would like to bring attention to the darth vader/death star transformer of a couple of years ago... getting it to robot stage was fairly simple, but oh my god!! it takes about an hour to get the thing into the sphere shape of 'Thats no moon!' it was quite literally the most maddening thing ever!! and i am a 35 year old man.. i have skills!

I liked my transformers as a kid. I didn't find I needed any affinity with engineering to be able to bend them as intended.

My favorite ones were two sets of smaller ones that combined into bigger ones. One was made up of several sea creatures, the largest one being a essentially a Blastoise long before Pokemon came out. The other was much smaller and made up of small transformers. The cool thing was, that each little one fit in the backs of a monster shell.

So each one was like two different toys, and then half of them had 2 different forms, and still combined into a larger thing.

It was pretty damn awesome.

They sold the action figures that didnt transform after the 2nd release. Which sucked cause i was really hoping for a Jet Optimus Prime

Aren't the current Transformers toys all based on Michael Bay's Transformer movies though? In which the design of every Autobot and every Decepticon is a convoluted mess of crap that turns every Transformer into the most generic piece of crap on the planet.

My favorite Transformers were the Transformers from Armada. I loved the TV series and the designs of all of the Transformers.

Dexterity:
Aren't the current Transformers toys all based on Michael Bay's Transformer movies though? In which the design of every Autobot and every Decepticon is a convoluted mess of crap that turns every Transformer into the most generic piece of crap on the planet.

My favorite Transformers were the Transformers from Armada. I loved the TV series and the designs of all of the Transformers.

No currently it's based on Transformer's Prime, the new continuity they made in an attempt to combine the best stories and themes from all transformers media into one single narrative.
They'll switch to Bayverse Transformers again after the release of Age of Extinction

The last two transformers games, War for and Fall of Cybertron are both supposedly set in the same continuity as Prime.

...great now I'm remembering my bizzare imagination stuff with 'Lord Waspen', a proper gentleman, who is actually the evil Waspinator in disguise! because the toy for some reason gave him the two faces thing going on.

the complicated one from when i was kid in the 90's is better.. i vividly remember spending over an hour trying to figure out how to transform the Beast Wars Transformer figure SkyShadow when i got him in elementary school.. it was incredibly hard, but well worth it.. though the complicated ones aren't for everyone, they already have different levels of how difficult the various transformers are, it says on the package how advanced it is.. they should just keep making simple ones for little kids and more complicated one for older kids.

Seems to be in-line with Hasbro's cost-cutting measures, honestly. I used to collect Star Wars figures as a child and teen and when I was super-into it, they were getting more and more complex, with the average clone trooper having incredible amounts of flexibility, on-par with early Halo 3 figures. Flash forward to a few weeks ago, when I was getting my little cousin a christmas present, and I look at the new ones and holy shit they declined seriously in quality. The average clone trooper today is lucky enough to have a couple more joints than a Kenner stormtrooper, and the paint is just horribad these days. They've gone cheapass on us, and I have a feeling that decline in quality is really what's behind this shift towards simpler designs.

Transforrmers: Prime is the best thing to happen to the TV universe since Beast Wars/Machines. I can't speak to the toy design but the shows are excellent.

And yeah, I still remember my friend's G1, part-metal Optimus Prime. That thing was amazing.

Toys can be dumbed down to reach a wider audience!?

All my transformer toys were Beast Wars ones too. There was one spring loaded one that could transform on it's own at the press of a button, that was pretty cool.

AntiChri5:
Game technology has improved a lot since i was a kid. Not sure if toy technology has, or even can.

Are you kidding???
Toys are like....1000% more advanced now.
Like holy crap, more advanced.

I have a 6" Spider-Man with 48 joints.
I have MegaMan figures that can perfectly replicate MegaMan artwork in every way.
I have an Optimus Prime that transforms from a perfect replica of his War For Cybertron truck form to an almost perfect replica of his War For Cybertron robot form. No big extra chunks or weird extra bits or unhidden robot parts in either form. It's crazy.

Granted, that might not be the case with all modern toys, but it's the case with Marvel and Transformers stuff, for sure.

Awesome! Even now when one of my younger brothers get a transformer it can be a pain in the ass to transform it. You should be able to transform them without looking at a manual or breaking a piece off because it was not supposed to bend that way.

I loved the really complicated Transformers. Just mastering their transformations was a game unto itself.

StewShearer:
According to Brian D. Goldner, the company chief executive, new Transformers will be vastly simpler to play with than the "1,000-piece puzzles" that have become the norm in recent years.

I understand the word is "Kibble". I recall at the time of the release of the Beast Wars toys that many lamented them as a tremendous downgrade from the intricacies of the G1 figures.

I immediately went into this guns blazing and charging the orbital death cannons, but after reading an article on this in a dedicated Transformers website my tone has now changed a bit. (Not gonna say where, or link to the website because I'm not sure how the forum rules are on that)

On the article was a point saying:
"Hasbro will continue to make complex Transformers for adult fans who have collected the toys since their inception 30 years ago. But the new design is intended to re-engage parents and children, who found the transformations too challenging."

So maybe simplified figures will just go under a side-toyline like Activators or Fast-Action Battlers with standard Deluxe/Voyager/Leader class figures being still being available. Or maybe it means that this will only affect the toylines for the movies/cartoons but it won't affect the Generations and Masterpiece toylines (Which are aimed more at adult fans). Otherwise it would be weird to make a statement and a change like this after releasing a complex Metroplex figure that's over 2ft. tall. Just wish there was an easier way to find these toylines in the UK. Only place I can find them is by importing from the US!

Regardless, if 'Smash-To-Change' is to become the new norm, then that's really sad. I know the original G1 toys weren't exactly the height of complexity (owning several, I know this) but this goes beyond simplistic and almost into complete lazyness (not the mention the near complete lack of paint on Ultramus Magprime up there). It looks less like a robot that transforms into a vehicle but more like a robot that's wearing a vehicle as a massive, blocky cape.

This isn't news, this isn't wholly accurate, and this isn't a bad thing.

We found this out at BotCon in June last year. At that time, we were shown the less complicated stop-gap Beast Hunters toys, upscaled version of the little $5 and $10 Cyberverse toys. We were told that these were not wholly indicative of the future of the main lines, but meerely something that was knocked together for the tail-end of BH. We were also told that we'd still be getting more complicated toys aimed more at collectors, but they'd all be in the Generations line.

And this is all sorely needed. These toys are supposed to be for kids age 5. Some of the toys from the last few years - especially Revenge of the Fallen and Prime, but in general pretty much everything since the movie lines started - were very complicated. There's a lot of stuff that I, a grown adult with hundreds of Transformers, have problems with. Many times over the last few years I've just held a toy and thought 'kids must hate this'.

And simple isn't bad. Cybertron was mostly simple, but produced some awesome toys, including arguably best Optimus toy. Armada likewise, with Animated being closer to 50/50. Also, G1 toys weren't intricate or complicated in any way. Even those basic $5 Cyberverse toys are more complicated than most of G1 toys. Toy technology has come on so far as to be incomprehensible to someone who's not played with a toy since the 80s.

Baron von Blitztank:
Ultramus Magprime

Seriously, what the hell happened to that Optimus?
Why is he so Ultra Magnusy?

Do you come from the land of Transformers where they have answers for these types of things?

Ieyke:

Baron von Blitztank:
Ultramus Magprime

Seriously, what the hell happened to that Optimus?
Why is he so Ultra Magnusy?

Do you come from the land of Transformers where they have answers for these types of things?

Sadly not in this case, I'm guessing this is the new Bayformers design for Optimus Prime... Only I'm guessing in the movie that he doesn't wear his alt-mode like a coat.

Baron von Blitztank:

Ieyke:

Baron von Blitztank:
Ultramus Magprime

Seriously, what the hell happened to that Optimus?
Why is he so Ultra Magnusy?

Do you come from the land of Transformers where they have answers for these types of things?

Sadly not in this case, I'm guessing this is the new Bayformers design for Optimus Prime... Only I'm guessing in the movie that he doesn't wear his alt-mode like a coat.

It's the new design for Prime for Age of Extinction. He's bluer than he was before, although not this blue. He does look a lot like Aligned Ultra Magnus here. It's possible it's an early model that's not been detail painted. Or it's possible that those'll be the final colours. And, no, the CG model doesn't have kibble hanging off his back, because the CG model is allowed to defy physics, but the toy isn't.

My ass!

I used to be able to transform these guys right out of the box in 5 minutes when I was a kid, then after that it became second nature! Dammit Hasbro.

I feel the need to shake an aged fist and mumble about kids and lawns and how we used to have to transform our robots in the snow, up hills, both ways. I can't say I'm thrilled with the design, but I do think having some simpler toys would be good. G1 toys were not overly complicated, even if a few could give you fits (Skorponok). As has been mentioned already, these are just one of several productions they are doing, so there should be a product for almost everyone to enjoy. Also, I suddenly feel like getting my Omega Supreme out and setting him up.

Vausch:
My ass!

I used to be able to transform these guys right out of the box in 5 minutes when I was a kid, then after that it became second nature! Dammit Hasbro.

There's transformers now that take me 15 minutes with practice. When were you a kid (just out of curiosity for reference, no slight intended.)?

Cradok:

Vausch:
My ass!

I used to be able to transform these guys right out of the box in 5 minutes when I was a kid, then after that it became second nature! Dammit Hasbro.

There's transformers now that take me 15 minutes with practice. When were you a kid (just out of curiosity for reference, no slight intended.)?

If by "kid" you mean 12 or under, 2002 and below. First one I had was Beast Wars Optimus, last one I got was the firetruck Optimus. That sucker goes for hundreds now.

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