Saturday, 9 September 2017

The HasCon Reveals - A Few Thoughts...

...Based on the photos that have turned up online because, as usual, I've not managed to visit a show in the States (though, admittedly, I'm somewhat more keen to try to visit a HasCon in future having seen those images).

So, the big reveal is the final chapter of the Prime Wars trilogy, Power of the Primes... and I'm happy to admit that my darkest fears for this next chapter of the toyline were wide of the mark, for the most part. Having created the Titan Master gimmick (or rather, rebooted it from G1), Hasbro have chosen to make superficial changes to its look and function to create the Primes/Prime Masters... and then they've given a bunch of them somewhat incongruous (and tiny) Pretender shells based on actual G1 Pretenders. Given that these shells are barely articulated and also double as weapons, they seem a little disappointing, bordering on pointless... but I think I might actually pick them all up, if I can... I have a shelf in a small Ikea cabinet devoted to Primes, after all.

Jazz still looks crappy, Starscream still looks puffy (like someone tried to create a Generations figure with TF Animated proportions), Darkwing and Dreadwind still don't inspire, but Rodimus Prime is actually growing on me, despite the new Hot Rod looking too square and angular, the large backpack and the significant partsforming (I mean, who do Hasbro think they are? FansProject?). But what of the new stuff?

I'll start on a high note and admit that I'm kind of blown away by Orion Pax/Optimus Prime. OK, it's the old Powermaster Prime concept misused as a way to turn a Deluxe class Orion Pax into a Leader class Optimus Prime (seemingly designed to resemble Masterpiece v2), but it's a neat idea, playing on the G1 cartoon's story of how Orion Pax was rebuilt by Alpha Trion into Optimus Prime. My only real gripe is that the demo model seems to use an awful lot of grey plastic (due to the trailer, obviously) so, as with Titans Return Powermaster Prime versus TransFormers Legends Super Ginrai, I may end up holding out for the Takara Tomy version.

Then we have the Dinobots - probably the first time Hasbro has released a full set of the G1 Dinobots as entirely new G1-style molds... and, because they've been watching the Third Party companies, they now combine into Volcanicus... although that looks a bit on the flimsy side. One promising aspect is that they have chosen to develop and improve the Combiner Wars hand/foot concept, so that the extraneous parts become Prime Master-compatible armour for the limb-bots, and the feet now feature ankle articulation. Personally, I think I'll be happy to skip the latest round of Dinobots, just as I have with the movie versions, but I can see some fans snapping them up. Each component looks decent, though Grimlock's dino mode is probably the weakest link in the set. What's really funny is that, again, because they've been paying attention to the Third Parties, there's now a sixth Dinobot... who's female... and transforms into a Velociraptor. Again, who do Hasbro think they are? Fansproject? Of course not: Slash doesn't have robo-boobs.

There was only a hint of Power of the Primes' updated Predaking, but the silhouette looks better than Volcanicus. Not sure I'll be sufficiently interested to pick it up (a new Piranhacon may have been a more attractive prospect), but I hope it turns out to be a good one.

On the whole, Power of the Primes looks to be fairly light on the larger scale figures - there aren't even many Deluxes revealed thusfar - so it feels very much as though the Prime Wars trilogy is a single toyline, where the so-called Unicron Trilogy was three, yet still doesn't feel as extensive as the early years of Generation 1.  Hasbro seems to be reducing its content while expanding and diversifying its portfolio - I mean, I like the concept behind the simple, Allspark Cube-activated movie figures, but they're not relevant to me. Similarly, the introduction of combiners into RiD2015 feels like Hasbro jumping on their own bandwagon and introducing combiners just for the sake of it. I've ended up buying a lot more RiD2015 figures than I'd ever expected, and will probably end up watching the show (especially now I know it's on Netflix), but that's largely because some of the toy designs, while simplistic, have been particularly novel and interesting... Much like Armada and Energon.

There weren't any new movie toys on show, so I'm starting to wonder if they didn't have an inkling from the start that it wasn't a movie worth supporting with a toyline as extensive as the previous ones... but then, that just means that Revenge of the Fallen - arguably still the worst movie - still has the best toyline...

Watching the design team panel video recorded by/for, I did have to wonder why - with the essence of the TransFormers brand being 'change' - they seem to feel compelled to keep re-treading Generation 1, when they could be focusing more on creating entirely new toys and characters within these new sublines, to better cater to the whole new generation of fans for whom G1 has no relevance.

It also occurred to me that none of the panel were showmen, by a long shot... They didn't seem to raise much excitement from the crowds - who seemed either unsure of themselves or just completely nonplussed (after all, quite a bit of what was on show at the panel wasn't really 'new') - nor did they do a particularly good job of explaining the design/development stages. Still, this is their first solo Hasbro event and, having worked on a couple of events like this myself, I know these things are always a learning process, so they'll probably have it figured out in another three or four years...

Now I wonder if there will be a UK/EU version of HasCon...

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