Hasbro Answers to TFviews Questions #5

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

Our readers came up with these 3 great questions to send in on July 13th, and after a few week’s extra delay (we’re assuming for Comic-Con), Hasbro was generous enough to supply us all 3 answers.

TFviews.com: While many of us understand the need for Hasbro to tighten up on its intellectual property, there are some lingering questions about the ramifications it may have. We get that someone making money off your IP is unacceptable, and we see the difference between that and individuals making their own personal stuff for fun. What about sellers that have sold items with semi-official sanction, such as the Lukis Brothers, will they be grandfathered in based on past precedent (example: the Vector Sigma accessories)? Will Hasbro attempt to fill the void left by now banned fan-company items? Clearly the demand for these items is high enough in collector circles to create the unlicensed cottage industry which Hasbro reasonably feels goes too far, yet you’ve also made clear that there’s no room in the Hasbro market plan for those sorts of collector-oriented extras. So might Hasbro be willing to actively find an appropriate licensee who will be able fit those sorts of complimentary pieces into their own business model?
Hasbro: While I can’t talk about specific examples, I will try to answer your question as best I can. The unauthorized sale of Transformers merchandise is illegal. Hasbro has very stringent quality testing guidelines that all official Transformers merchandise must adhere to for the safety and expectations of our consumers. Also, there are many official licensees that pay to be a part of the Transformers franchise. It is not fair for legitimate businesses to pay to be a part of the franchise while others profit without the same requirements. From a manufacturer standpoint, Hasbro is in the business of mass market toys. We have licensees that do some smaller run, more niche products like statues or the collector club for example.

TFviews.com: With some Transformers figures there are specific elements obviously designed into the item, yet go un-noted in the the marketing materials such as packaging, photos, and instructions – the “undocumented features”. Sometimes these are unfinished and thus understandably left out (such as Universe Galavatron’s walking tank mode). However, others are inexplicably complete and yet go unsaid, such as ROTF Knock-Out’s “wings” (from his removable cowling panels), 2007 Leader-class Brawl’s 2 sound fx buttons, Universe Cyclonus being able to have Nightstick plug onto his forearm in place of his hand, Animated Ratchet designed to accept Lockdown’s EMP Generator accessory, Universe Sideswipe/Sunstreaker’s gun being able to plug into holes on their shoulders, even proper transformations like the backpack height and triangular panels flanking ROTF Sideways’ head. How does the development team feel about these designed features going undocumented? Has Hasbro considered a possible official outlet for ‘correct’ transformations and undocumented features? And does Hasbro keep track of this sort of thing?
Hasbro: While we do not want to get to far into the details of our decisions for highlighting certain features, our packaging, photos and instructions are meant to highlight the most important/obvious features due to the limited space that we have to work with.
Additionally, we feel that these “hidden gems” are special treats for our dedicated fan base and also allows for that added depth of play.
Needless to say, if someone told you that you could only play with your toys in a certain way and nothing was left to “discover”, where would the fun be in that?

TFviews.com: In the current team’s experience, would you discuss any figures that have turned out significantly better or worse than expected? We mean those standout items that the team just wasn’t expecting to succeed or fail for whatever reasons, maybe going from the prototype to production stages something went very wrong or came out ahead of expectations, perhaps a figure that fans were supposed to love but didn’t or that you didn’t think they’d love but they did. And what TF toys for you guys would you revise if you could, and what ones do you consider utterly perfect as their finished products went?
Hasbro: Overall, our Animated line turned out a lot better than our wildest expectations. From the basic styling standpoint, we were concerned about how this unique styling would come out in the toys seeing that it was such a big leap from where we previously were. However, once we saw the final versions, we were more than thrilled about how the Animated series styling was captured in the toys. This is evidenced by the fact that some of the Animated characters, such as Bulkhead and Lockdown, being able to transcend the animation and become part of other lines.
Finally, as designers we rarely look back at our work as the pinnacle of achievement, thus perfection is a forward looking idea.

– 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 late August. 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!

If you’d like to discuss these answers with other fans, or you’d like to submit a question of your own, join us in the Transformers Q&A thread in our forums!

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