Monday, 8 May 2017

Dark Portents

Every so often, a fairly random thought - that is to say, unrelated to whatever I'm actually doing at the time - will pop into my head and nag at me persistently until I do something about it... This morning, for example...

It occurred to me, while I was getting ready for work, that it was pretty much right after the HeadMasters , Targetmasters and Powermasters of Generation 1 that I lost interest in TransFormers toys and that, not quite thirty years later, TransFormers toys have basically come full circle with Titans Return. "What does this mean?" I wondered, "Does it have any significance?"

It's a tricky question... because Titans Return - a reboot and (ahem) gestalt of HeadMasters, Targetmasters and Powermasters that very much favours the former in its execution - has actually been surprisingly good... albeit rather too reliant on just remaking G1 toys rather than doing anything new. The final chapter of the so-called 'Prime Wars Trilogy', supposedly to be named 'Power of the Primes' hasn't been revealed yet, even in the form of early prototype images, and we're currently under the impression that Titans Return still has a lot of mileage - Trypticon isn't even out yet, after all, and that can't be the end of the line, surely?

But here's the thing: the price hikes are problematic, because these are still essentially kids toys, but they're gradually outpacing the average kid's ability to afford them. I mean, I don't know how pocket money works these days, but I'm pretty sure my niece wouldn't be able to start a collection of TransFormers at today's prices (if she was interested, that is... and I don't believe she is, despite my efforts). It's all very well for collector to shell out £23-24 on a Deluxe (though I'm going to be fairly strategic in my purchases of The Last Knight toys, and there aren't too many more Titans Return figures that I'm inclined to buy, or have the space for) but a toyline has to be affordable to its target demographic.

So the random thought continued thus: "What came after Powermasters? Micromasters... and Action Masters..." And these are the perfect solution to Hasbro's economic woes.

Don't believe me? Allow me to explain...

In a way, we've already had a modern Action Masters analogue in the form of the TransFormers 'Mashers' - action figures with interchangeable parts - so they could easily re-emerge... After all, 'The Power of the Primes' could include the power to remove or deny the ability to transform. Unlikely, I agree... but not inconceivable, right? And it would drastically lower the parts count on each figure without reducing the amount of detail or poseability in each one.

But then look at Micromasters - my pick for the most likely 'bold new direction'. The originals were miniscule figures with ridiculously simplistic (G1 Mini Autobot-level) transformations into tiny, blocky vehicles. Obviously that sort of thing just wouldn't wash in this day and age... but look at what they're already doing with Titans Return: you have the Titan class figures - the likes of which Hasbro had previously said were not economically viable, so they were a big and pleasant surprise when they happened - then you have the Leader, Voyager and Deluxe class figures which are the bread and butter of the toyline. Next, you have the Legends class figures (not to be confused with Takara Tomy's TransFormers Legends line) and Titan Masters sets of small, triple-changing vehicles/robot beasts with Titan Master figures to ride them, or combine with them in decidedly non-standard ways. It's like they're laying the groundwork for a modern take on Micromasters.

The simplest thing for Hasbro to do about rising costs is to simply switch their size classes: eliminate Leader class and make Voyagers the new Leader class, Deluxes the new Voyager class and Legends the new Deluxe class. Each size keeps their existing price points, while the adjusted application of the size classes effectively means reduced physical size, parts counts and complexity. Titan Masters then make way for the new Micromasters, and everything carries on as normal, because each size class, while reduced in size and complexity, has returned to the cost it had about ten years ago.

Alternatively, the new Micromasters could become the sum total of the line for a couple of years, before the TransFormers brand sinks once more into obscurity, bar the toys made from the movies... which could become the contemporary equivalent of Pretenders crossed with Action Masters - non-transforming robot action figures that can be 'disguised' inside clamshells molded to look like the vehicles from the movies, not much of a leap from the Robot Powered Machines line of Hot Wheels-style toy cars with pictures of the robots embossed on the bottoms.

Hopefully I'm wrong...

Hopefully I haven't just given Hasbro ideas...

Only time will tell...

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to look back on this, in the wake of the images we've now seen of the Power of the Primes toyline... The facts that it's continuing (or returning to) the gestalt gimmick of Combiner Wars, as well as reinventing Pretenders as humanoid/monstrous shells containing Prime Masters which are basically Titan Masters without faces on their backs, which will interact with the larger figures in other ways are interesting and potentially exciting... but the remake of Dreadwind & Darkwing from Aerialbot molds looks pretty poorly executed, and the new Jazz just looks hideous. Rodimus Prime looks surprisingly good, but there's also going to be yet another Optimus Prime. The Voyager class Predacons/Predaking sounds potentially cool... but probably not my thing... and I'm absolutely not interested in new Dinobots.

    Knowing me, though, I'll probably buy more than I think...

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...