TFviews’ Q&A with Hasbro

At WonderCon this weekend, Hasbro held their first toy panel at this west coast convention, and TFviews was invited out to Hasbro’s after-panel meet and greet event to check out some new products and ask some questions. Check ’em out after the break.

This Q&A was off the cuff, as such it is not being reported verbatim. We got a chance to speak with Ben McCrae, aka BMac, Associate Brand Manager on Transformers.

TFV: Was this the intended timing for showing off Studio Series 86 Swoop, or was he running late?
BM: He’s actually early, we moved him up, weren’t going to show him off until later in 2024 but the opportunity arose to get him out there sooner.

TFV: Was the Studio Series Bumblebee-movie Concept Shockwave really an ILM design head to toe, or did you guys nudge it towards his TF:Animated look?
BM: This indeed was all the ILM design, Hasbro didn’t take liberties or push it towards an homage.

TFV: The Studio Series Gamer Series sub-line seems so different from the rest of Studio Series and Legacy, are they designed by a different team?
BM: Gamer Series is the regular Takara and Hasbro teams’ design.

TFV: Studio Series and Legacy are both under Generations, is there a push-and-pull with budgets between them?
BM: No, they each get budgeted separately so they don’t affect each other in that way.

TFV: It’s been announced that Hasbro’s 6″ lines are getting window box designs back, but Transformers wasn’t shown, when will we see samples of that look? Will they the same boxes but with windows glued in or something new?
BM: Not until 2025 or late 2024 at the earliest, it’s still a work in progress and hasn’t been decided at all.

TFV: With the Transformers Generations Selects Legacy United Autobots Stand United 5-Pack Figures and their opaque windows adding 5 more figures to the opaque windows side of the argument, how is that idea coming along, are we going to expect it more, or is it going to remain niche? And where do you fall on the idea of opaque vs. transparent plastic for windows?
BM: Right now, the team is still looking at that, but keeping it more for exclusive and side items. Some members of the team are die-hards for the transparent plastic windows like the G1 days, others are all-in on opaque for that G1 cartoon look, while BMac is somewhere in the middle and like it in some places more than others.

Bonus Q&A with Emily Bader, Brand Marketing on GI Joe.

TFV: We know paint applications are getting more expensive, with the recent release of the Techno-Viper there’s no paint on the figure below the upper torso – for example the knees are shot in a black plastic which shows on the hinges on the back – is this a sign of the brand lowering the number of paint apps?
EB: Absolutely not, GI Joe is not lowering paint apps. All these designs are from Lenny [Panzica, Design Manager on GI Joe] so that’s just what he designed for that iteration of the character, but we’ll take a look at that to make sure it’s what he was really going for.

TFV: During the GI Joe live streams, you and Lenny have been open with fans about the ongoing challenges of getting accessories to the right hardness, while it’s been getting better, there’s still a bit of softness, what’s happening there?
EB: We want them to be enjoyable collectibles while still being safe for kids, of course, since they are generally ages 4+. A while back, we changed to a different factory and there’s been an ongoing process dialing that in.

TFV: With the switch back to window boxes comes the return of the plastic tray inserts, which have been especially tight to get accessories out of lately, causing a lot more bent accessories and worrisome removal – could something be done about that? What about moving to a hybrid packaging that was window-boxed for the figure tied down to a cardboard insert and then the footlocker for the accessories? We know it’d be a little more expensive, but it’s eco-friendly and easier on the figures.
EB: We hadn’t heard about that issue, and will look at it. An interesting idea about mixing the types of packaging. The cardboard footlockers were a nod to Joe’s past, but they were indeed a bit more expensive to produce.

TFV: What exactly was the cause of that deluge of figures last year that crushed collectors’ wallets?
EB: This was a COVID thing, we had to slow down production and when that bottleneck cleared up, it left us with the choice to either get rid of half a year’s line-up or just throw a year’s worth of figures at fans in less than 6 months, and we really didn’t want to get rid of all those great figures. We know it was a wallet-crusher for fans, but hopefully they were able to enjoy what got out there without being too buried.

A big thanks to BMac, Emily, and everybody at Hasbro who made time for this, and congratulations on Hasbro’s first WonderCon!