During a Hasbro panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the Transformers brand team presented their plans for the the remainder of this year and into 2009. Thanks to the blockbuster success of the live-action feature film, the Transformers brand had a banner year in 2007. Hasbro learned that they had not only a collector’s property but a strong children’s brand as well. While there was crossover between demographics through additional movie toys, Universe Legends and Robot Heroes, this past year saw the company catering lines to specific demographics. For adult collectors, Hasbro developed the ‘Transformers: Universe’ line to focus on classic characters redone with updated technology. For the kids, there was the animated television series and its accompanying line.
As strong as this two-pronged sales model was in 2008, next year looks to be another banner year for the brand. Transformers will not only be celebrating their 25th anniversary but also storming back into the mainstream once again with the tent pole summer film, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Despite Hasbro’s reluctance to reveal upcoming product or details on the film, they were more than ready to reveal their plans to honor the Transformers brand for its success.
Unlike the 25th anniversary G.I. Joe line, which is focused primary on the brand’s strongest period during the era of the original Marvel comic and Sunbow animated series, Transformers will celebrate all iterations of the line. From a re-issue of original hero Optimus Prime to characters from various themes, these new products will be released under the banner of ‘Transformers: Universe’. As products from the animated series and movie will primarily carry the youth/casual shopper market, the 25th anniversary line will cater to the collector market. Being the first piece, Optimus Prime will be packaged as a box set with both a DVD containing the first three episodes of the original show as well as a comic. This set will serve as a perfect, inclusive “meet the Transformers” package for collectors and newcomers alike. Releases thereafter will be more specific, giving fans characters and products they want to see. The current Robot Heroes, Universe, and Universe Legends lines are slated to include characters from Generation 1, Beast Wars, Generation 2, and many more.
Needless to say, the fans attend Hasbro’s Transformers panel were ecstatic… it was fantastic to witness. In the internet age, message boards and fan forums are often categorized not by the quietly-content and excited majority but by the angry, bitter and never-satisfied minority that feels the need to whine about a missing racing stripe or the size of a weapon or decal. Seeing the excited and satisfied fanbase represented at the panel was a treat, and Hasbro is certainly going to give them plenty to cheer about in the year to come!
You can read more of C.J.’s musings on film, toys and music over at stunksstage.com.