Hasbro Answers to TFviews Questions #3

  Posted in Hasbro Q&A on March 10th, 2009 by JediTricks

Our readers came up with these 3 great questions to send in on February 23rd, and today Hasbro was generous enough to supply us all 3 answers.

TFviews.com: What roles do mythology and symbolism play in character design? As a character’s personality is designed right into the toy, features such as spikes and horns obviously help shape the character. What sources do the design team turn to for this, and how does the team go about this process?
Hasbro: Symbolism is huge. You want certain things about a character to be very clear right from the start, and using visual symbolism is the quickest way to help define a character’s “character”. For example, in Animated, we wanted Lockdown to draw his iconography from the “Road Warrior” (spikes), Frankenstein (parts from other Bots), and Boba Fett (Centurion, Markings, Physical Presence). Derrick Wyatt’s early ideas and my own were markedly different… In the end, we needed to prioritize how this character would act on screen. Since we’d wanted him to be more nimble but still freaky looking, we blended the two designs. Derrick did a wonderful job conveying the final result after several hours of back and forth between him and myself. We get our ideas/iconography from all kinds of media, existing archetypes and sometimes stereotypes… Mythology is just another form of Media to reference iconography from. But before we get to that point, we do a lot of verbal discussion and brainstorming to define the big picture (all characters involved) before we ever put pen to paper.

TFviews.com: Given that many of the recent toy designs in Transformers are planned with potential reuses in mind (repaints or partial retoolings), are there steps being taken to preserve the original tooling for those designs? For example, the “Classics” Starscream mold has been reused thrice more at retail in the US, plus several times for conventions and the foreign market. In an effort to ensure a reusable figure design for years to come, is Hasbro (or TakaraTomy) keeping a master mold for figures such as this, or might there come a point in years to come where the tools of today wear down so far or suffer significant breakage that they become completely unusable and thus are forever lost?
Hasbro: While we cannot get into the specifics of how we maintain and reuse our tooling, we certainly appreciate your concern on the long term viability of these items. From our perspective, every year we develop our line with the goal to deliver the best possible product execution possible. If it make sense to utilize repaints and/or partial retoolings to deliver this product execution, then we will do our best to achieve this goal.

TFviews.com: The use of a prefix “Autobot-” or “Decepticon-” in front of otherwise unobtainable character names is a great solution that allows a character to retain its original name in some form. I.e., since “Jazz” cannot be used on its own, “Autobot Jazz” is a good compromise. That being said, why is the approach used for some characters but not others? For example, why “Insecticon” rather than “Decepticon Shrapnel”, or “Tankor” instead of “Decepticon Octane”?
Hasbro: This is a great question that could take hours to explain, so here is the quick answer: We continually work with our legal team to protect our IP [“Intellectual Property” – Ed.] , including all of our names when possible. Sometimes this means that we are able to simply use Autobot or Decepticon in front of a well known name. However, in some instances, another entity might have that same name registered, thus preventing us from using it on a carry forward basis.

– Well, that’s it for this round, this is a bi-monthly Q&A series so we’ll have more great questions ready to go in early May. Thanks to all the readers who participated by coming up with these questions, and a huge thanks to Hasbro for making this Q&A possible!

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