Last week at Comic-Con International 2012 in San Diego, Hasbro was able to give us at ActionFigs.com an official interview with the Hasbro Transformers brand team members present, a few hours after their Hasbro Transformers Update panel and just as they were putting into their display cases the newly-revealed items from that panel.
We were given interview with Aaron Archer (vice president, Hasbro Design) and Jerry Jivoin (director, Global Transformers Brand). Since Hasbro's time was limited, we jumped right into the questions...
ActionFigs.com: So, one of my guys wants to know if Cyberverse is going to branch out of Prime and you know into like G1 or anything like that.
Hasbro (AA): We don't have any plans for right now for Cyberverse. You know, it's kind of into it's second year right now so evaluating, we focus it on Prime 'cause that's were the bulk of the, the kids you know the kids programming is against for that you know the Cyberverse is under a ten dollar price point so no plans as of right now but not to say it wouldn't happen but...
ActionFigs.com: Ok, animated season 3 never made it to DVD yet...
Hasbro (AA): That's correct.
ActionFigs.com: Any chance of that happening or is that really gone?
Hasbro (AA): No I don't think any, I mean, all of it's in action. We've seen Japanese series coming out and various things so you know, it is on the list that it gets evaluated every time those things come up and you know, I worked really hard on that show so I hope for the ultimate box set myself so...
Hasbro (JJ): It's ultimately Hasbro's studios... their call on if they're gonna release the...
Hasbro (AA): I mean it's a great series, I'm sure you'll see it someday but...
ActionFigs.com: Well, maybe it'll get added to Netflix.
ActionFigs.com: The economy has hit the line pretty hard, figures have gotten smaller and MSRP has gone up. At this point does this look like where it's gonna be from now on or like it's still in flux?
Hasbro (AA): This question's come up with everybody you know and to be honest, prices are going up on everything for everyone everywhere. The oil commodity being what it is, it's just the reality we're livin' in. All packaged goods and products and so what we try to do is give the best features, the play, the characters we all love, get that heart so it's pure and fun and hope that that does the job. We sell on kind of play value, not always size so ... but we hear the fans, we hear the- we do our best.
Hasbro (JJ): Yeah, we're trying to the best price value, you know, best toys we can do...
Hasbro (AA): You know, in the vehicle modes, we've always been smallest. So when you look at the robot modes, the robot modes pretty much stay consistent in their scale, a little shorter but I think it's still good.
ActionFigs.com: Why are we seeing three reuses of Soundwave for the first Generation's Voyager line? Not to say were not excited about you know, what you have and that Blaster look really good on the body, and of course Grimlock, but...
Hasbro (JJ): We gotta maximize the tools you know. It's a big expense and it really is the best way to get all those characters out. 'Cause they, they look pretty good. They're not so different... we don't expect everyone to buy every one of them either you now, so that's a choice. We were also... by the time we had greenlit Grimlock, we wanted Grimlock and Soundwave come out in wave one together but Grimlock, the development of Grimlock, was further behind schedule with Soundwave so that's why we had to move Grimlock out to wave two and have Soundwave, in that first wave and that's why we had the re-deco of Soundwave.
ActionFigs.com: I notice that there's a fall and a spring and there used to be shorter windows between waves. Is there just going to be one quarterly wave, approximately, from now on for the short time being?
Hasbro (JJ): Depends on the assortment. Deluxe, you'll have more waves, Voyager, yeah, Voyager's probably quarterly if you average it out you know, looking at it. You're trying to hit kinda the launch season and you get into maybe the mid-spring, maybe you know, the fall sets in your holiday. So, depending on the assortment, some assortments have more. But trying to do them quarterly, every 60 days would be the ideal.
ActionFigs.com: Generations, this the longest run continuously. Before, it would stop when a movie would come on or when something else would come on and you said it was gonna come back when it had time, and this time, the line was actually able to tread water for a really long stretch of time. You guys mentioned it felt like it was a relaunch was coming up but how are you able to hold those pegs at retailer without new products so safely?
Hasbro (JJ): Yeah, well I think you know, Generations, we are using that with the fall of Cybertron and this August is really the relaunch of Generations and now the plan we have in place through 2013 and already looking at 2014, doing a more expanded, robust Generations line that will secure the shelf-space. So that's important for us and to continue that and what you'll see and be happy to see is that we're planning the next movie that comes out in 2014 that you'll still have a Generations line out there, a robust Generations line that fans can enjoy.
Hasbro (AA): But we've also realized there's multi-tiers of fans. You know, the movie brought a wide audience and a collector audience and a kid audience but you know, the fans of Generation One or the classic story, they remain no matter what's happening so you can almost keep Generations going more often longer and that's what we've tried to do.
ActionFigs.com: Masterpiece has brought in a lot of people who are, I call them "casual fans" - they're fan who don't buy every Transformers product, they just stick to G1 and they don't even stick to that very hard. Obviously this is a big push right now with Thundercracker and the new Optimus Prime. Is there going to be any other expression aside from Masterpiece that will cater to them again in the foreseeable future?
Hasbro (AA): Besides Masterpeice? Nothing to announce at this time.
ActionFigs.com: Ok. On a design point, the Cyberverse vehicle playlets, things like the Arc and the Starhammer, they have, like the hexagonal waffle print in their floors, even though they're not even the same... one's Prime and one's movie. And that seems like that's going forward with more of the Prime piece. Why this style, why keep it goin'?
Hasbro (AA): The hexagons?
ActionFigs.com: Yeah, the waffle hexagons.
Hasbro (AA): They're all done by the same designer and my guess is that's a design element he likes... No tactical reason.
ActionFigs.com: Do happen to know if they're punched out or are thy pre-molded that way?
Hasbro (AA): I think they're probably molded that way.
ActionFigs.com: Oh yeah, they're pretty good. That's impressive.
Hasbro (AA): Yeah, we don't do too much punch-out stuff; too much waste.
ActionFigs.com: Yeah, that was to be my point actually. Are there going to be more vehicles in that Prime Cyberverse you know, Legion and Vehicle playset, and are they going to be all from the show or are you going to branch away from the show?
Hasbro (AA): We're trying to do the vehicles from the show. Optimus Maximus obiously isn't in the show but the Wheeljack's spaceship and the Energon driller, those are right from the show, so they and then so we want to do more vehicles in the future with the Cyberverse line because that's what's so great about that line and that scale that you can put 'em in things. Really we haven't had any Transformers.
ActionFigs.com: It's a really strong value too. I just picked up the Jackhammer right before I got to the show and I mean, for 20 bucks, it doesn't seem like anybody could take a risk as long as you like Prime. As long as you like Prime, that's pretty much safe so it seems like that's where it seems really easy to grow.
Hasbro (AA): Plus it's different. We haven't had vehicles, you know like you know, everyone, think back in like, Generation One. It would have been cool to have the Ark for all the Transformers but you know, it just wasn't- the line wasn't designed like that.
ActionFigs.com:With Prime, with the Deluxes, it seems like there's been a little trouble in deco. The decorations on like Knockout and Ratchet, they're less than their show counterparts and sometimes it's like, pick a place and you'll find silver on Knockout then you won't, it's not continued on; in Ratchet, it's only on the front, nothing on the back. Is that just a cost problem or is there, is there just something more in mind? Also, would there be a Premium expression that'll flesh them out later on?
Hasbro (AA):, I don't know. We've probably had to account for responsible costs, why they would change mid-stream, if that's what your saying...
ActionFigs.com: Well no, a few years ago when you did Revenge of the Fallen you had like the regular figures and then a few a few months later, to hold the line, you got the Premiums.
Hasbro (AA): That was kind of a tactical thing, like a- Let's do the Premium, [LAUGH] it wasn't called the Premium but, the Premium edition.
ActionFigs.com: Yeah, I think it was the Premium, I think so. They were like the silver foil on the card. Some people really responded to them. They really responded to that second look.
Hasbro (AA): Yeah I mean, that's the, we aren't currently, but thanks for you know, putting that back in our memory because that probably isn't abad idea to look at again.
ActionFigs.com: So I have 30 seconds, can you move the manufacturing to Mexico to save money on shipping?
Hasbro (AA): We wouldn't. [LAUGH]
ActionFigs.com: Oh! That was a good answer!
Hasbro (JJ): I don't think we manu- Hasbro doesn't manufacture anything in North America.
ActionFigs.com: Not right now.
Hasbro (AA): Not since '98.
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And with that, our time expired, so there you have it for our 2012 SDCC Hasbro Transformers interview.
We would like to thank Mr. Archer and Mr. Jivoin, as well as everybody at Team Hasbro who made this interview possible.