BotCon in Hasbro's Backyard
(griffin's 2007 BotCon report)


HASBRO TOUR


Just pointing out to those who didn't see the other whinges of mine already - I missed out on the Hasbro Tour, so the photos and info are from people who did go on the tour.  The details and most of the photos are from fellow Australian fan Legham, with some supplimentary photos from the TFW2005 gallery.  All photos from TFW2005 are clearly noted, and *ALL* the rest on this page are Legham's.  No photos here are mine at all.

The TFW2005 Gallery can be found here - http://www.tfw2005.com/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/1806
Legham's Gallery can be found here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/legham/sets/72157600661777300/

Since the write up for this is going from the notes given by Legham, what I read online, and my own interpretation of the photos, some of the info below may be inaccurate or completely wrong.  I have tried not to guess at anything I am unfamiliar with though, because most of this was explained to me, and I have attended previous Hasbro panels describing the toy development process.

And because I can't help myself.... I just wanted to say once again how much it sucks that I missed this dream of mine.  To miss the chance to finally walk on hallowed ground, and witness first-hand what goes on in the HQ of the one thing that has become such a major part of my life in the last 20-something years.  I missed getting onto the tour by one day, just because I didn't have the money in the right account at the time pre-registration started.  It might be my fault for missing it, but I still can't help venting at the organisors for making it a free tour, which allowed less-intersted fans and relatives-of-fans (who don't care about TFs), either not even go, or go in the place of other fans who would have appreciated the tour enough to want to pay to get into it. Yeah I know, I'm complaining again... so without further delay...

Friday 29th June.
The tour was broken up into two main 'convoys' leaving the Convention centre at 7am and 9.45am.  Each convoy was later broken up into small groups for the actual tour inside Hasbro.

The queue for the busses outside the Convention Centre. (photo from TFW2005)

At Hasbro, which looks like they went in through the staff entrance.  The carpark has signs resembling Monopoly board locations.

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And who's really behind the continued sale of Transformers? - Swindle, who was 'hiding' in the carpark:

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 (photo of orange reserved sign from TFW2005)

(photo from TFW2005)

This sign looks like it was probably on the more visible side of the Hasbro building.
(photo from TFW2005)

Main corridor.
Inside, fans were treated to a long corridor with various displays set up ready for them.

(photo from TFW2005)

(photo from TFW2005)

(photo from TFW2005)

(photo from TFW2005)

GM Movie vehicle display.

Optimus display, with many (not all) Optimus toys. Probably at least one Optimus from every series or generation though.
(photo from TFW2005)

A case of some unused prototype Transformers.

Top shelf had some possible non-car Alternators (probably could have been sold as GIJoe Transformers, since they appear similar to that Comic crossover). There were three - tank, jet, jeep (is probably a reworking of ALT Hound).

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(photo from TFW2005)

Second shelf had four Titaniums prototypes, which were made before the line was cancelled.  Conflicting reports suggest that they will either be reworked into the Classics line in late 2008 or produced as some sort of store or club exclusive.  First two are Arcee (as a car finally, but different to her Gen1 form), and Shockwave.

(photo from TFW2005)

Plus War Within Bumblebee and Gen1 Cosmos.  Poor Cosmos - twice now it was almost a toy, and twice the line has been cancelled before he made it to production (it was first planned as a Classics toy).

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Third shelf, some (unknown) cars.  The smaller one looks like Gen1 Smokescreen, while the other one has a head like Grimlock.

And a Transmetal Fractyl (a character from BotCon's Beast Wars story), plus an unknown carrier trailer for a truck Transformer.

Fourth shelf - two figures revealed at a past BotCon - Toxitron, and Hotspot.  I can understand not doing Toxitron, but that Hotspot looks sweet, and would have been much better than the yellow Universe version, or the red overpriced 2-pack version that Myer are still sitting on at AU$169 each.

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A nice Optimus Display, showing the Aniversary version on one side, and the Movie version on the other.

(photo from TFW2005)

(photo from TFW2005)

Human sized cardboard cutouts for the Pepsi-Mountain Dew promotion in America.

(photo from TFW2005)

Giant Robot Hand with the countdown to the Movie clock.  This meant that they have two of these, because there was one at the Convention at the same time as these tours.
(photo from TFW2005)

A poster board showing photos of different Hasbro people at their workstations, and all the toys they have around them.  Not sure about the pink crown though, or why it was on two different people in these photos taken by two different people.  The interesting photo is the one with the guy holding Ultimate Bumblebee - next to his hand is a boxed Nightwatch Prime (recolour of Movie Leader Prime). Legham showed me his full size photo on his camera (the one below has been reduced in size), giving me a first look at this toy a day before it was revealed at the Hasbro panel to the people at the convention.


 (photo from TFW2005)


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(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)

Transformers Merchandise.
Another display in the main corridor showing current and future Transformers licensed Merchandise.

(photo from TFW2005)

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Above and below are some posters we could end up seeing released if a company wants to produce them.

(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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Pre-production toys and pre-production packaging.
This was also in the main corridor, a presentation of some pre-production prototypes, plus the process of getting the right packaging for each toy, to make sure it keeps the toy intact by the time it reaches the store, as well as allowing for any 'try me' access to the figure (shown with the Brawl toy below).
(photo of Hasbro person holding Masterpiece Starscream is from TFW2005)

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(photo of Brawl in mock up packaging is from TFW2005)

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Introduction to Transformers.
Off to one of the presentation rooms, Greg Lombardo (Marketting) hosted a presentation, including slides and info that was mostly replicated at the Hasbro panel at the convention.  Things included the Education of the Movie people into the world of Transformers (see Hasbro panel write-up), and marketting objectives.

(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)

Below was an example of what mock-up packaging can be like, using an older toy to give retailers and their own marketting staff an idea of what the general theme is with the next line.  Next to that on the table are two voice changer prototype masks.  No, we won't be getting a Gen1 Optimus Mask (that I know of), but it wass explained as a mock-up done to see if it was possible to create a Transformers version of the Darth Vader helmet - because all the electronics in the Vader helmet were in the chest panel, and they needed to see if they could relocate it all into the helmet itself.  The exterior appearance was unimportant at this stage, and it was done as Gen1 Optimus because either the design of the Movie Optimus head was still in development or they just wanted to put together somethign in a hurry, and that head is fairly simple looking.  After they found it could be possible to produce, the exterior detailing was made to match the Movie Optimus head, as shown by the uncoloured helmet on the right.

Complete Production Process of a Transformers toy.
A start-to-finish guide on the development of a Transformers toy, as shown by a diagram board, using Cybertron Optimus as an example.
This is usually an 18 month process:
1 - Hasbro Concept Sketches
2 - Takara Concept Sketches
3 - Takara Plan Drawings
4 - Takara 2-D
5 - Hasbro 2-D overlay
6 - Model Development
7 - Cost Reduction if Needed (removal of parts or modifications to bring it under budget for that size class)
8 - Mould Plans
9 - Colour Guide Development
10 - Paint Master
11 - Package Fit (probably to make sure it can fit within the set package size)
12 - Test Shot (Testing the moulds to make sure the finished product is what is expected, and to use the test shots for safety and durability tests)
13 - Animation Development (for packaging art)

After that, I'd be guessing a full test run is done with the moulds and paint apps of a few dozen figures, and then the full production run of the finished product.

(photo from TFW2005)
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Figure colour selection process.
Using some items that will be released later this year or early next year, the group was shown how figures have their colour schemes applied to match the colour charts drawn up by the art department.  The process was highlighted by the three stages - the colour charts of Evac (recolour of Blackout), Desert Attack Brawl (recolour of leader sized Brawl) and Incinerator (new mould), an unpainted figure and unpainted parts (Incinerator), and the painted parts and painted reassembled figure (Evac) were all on display and discussed.
 

(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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This photo shows which parts are to be produced together on the same sprue or mould, so that the colourist knows which parts are all going to be the same colour plastic.

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(photo of Hasbro person holding Colour Chart is from TFW2005)

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Movie Characters - The Evolution of their visual elements.
This was presented by Aaron Archer, designer, and dealt with the Hasbro - ILM relationship during the creation process of the characters for the Movie.  In the photos below, you will how certain characters evolved as character options and ideas were created and decided, sometimes with compromises from both sides.  As an example, the head of Optimus at one stage had really pointy ears to give him a samari look, but took it too far from the 'classic iconic Optimus image'.  Bumblebee was described as looking like a very generic robot, so Hasbro had to make them add in panelling, doors and wheels to not only give their toy design department something to work with, but to also make it look more obvious for people to tell what it might turn into. (second photo below is from TFW2005)

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This headshots display is interesting, showing that they started with a shot of their Gen1 heads, and developed various design options inspired by that.


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This model sheet for Arcee shows that she must have been dropped from the cast some time into the pre-production processs.  This is what she would have looked like in the Movie.  For those who didn't read the Movie Writers page of this report, one of the reasons Arcee was dropped was due to her small size (turns into a motorcycle) compared to the rest of the robots and humans, which you will see further down with a size comparisson chart.

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Hasbro fought to have a visor on the Movie Jazz, to reflect its Gen1 version.  I think as a compromise, they must have suggested this option of a 'battle mask' like Optimus' face mask, which can be retracted when not in use.  The toy got the visor though, but I don't think it was used much in the movie. (he was probably the least used Autobot in the Movie)
(photo from TFW2005)

Texture reference/suggestion guide for Optimus and Bumblebee for the Movie Animators. Also below is the colour scheme Ratchet first started as, before being given a green rescue vehicle mode.  This red and white colour scheme is still being used as a toy though, with the upcoming 'Rescue Ratchet' recolour. (Ratchet photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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A nice size comparisson chart for the original cast of the Autobots.  Things to note are the original colour scheme for Ratchet, and the initial inclusion of Arcee, who was replaced with Ironhide after this. Also note that theses show what ILM first wanted the characters to look like in robot mode, but with some suggestions from Hasbro, they were bulked out a bit and had obvious vehicle parts added (for the reasons mentioned above). (photo from TFW2005)

Model sheet for a character called Stryker. Probably is what became Wreckage, who was also an early cast contender.  It's probably why there is a toy of Wreckage in the main movie toyline, but as far as I know, the character is not in any of the Movie universe (game or prequel). (photo from TFW2005)

A corridor within the depths of Hasbro.

Engineering Department.


(Both photos above from TFW2005)

A workstation in the Engineering department.

Showing off the upcoming Ratchet Roleplay gun (like the Optimus and Starscream ones, but looks like it might have some electronic features).
(photo of Hasbro person holding gun is from TFW2005)

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And their in-house workshop.

(photo from TFW2005)

Over to one side looks to be something that resembles the Ark from Raiders of the Lost Ark (no idea why).

(photo from TFW2005)

Non-Transformers Displays.
Like a small museum of Hasbro stuff, there were various other Hasbro toy icons on display.

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A failed GIJoe experiment - a female toy for boys. It's one reason why we don't get female Transformers toys very often.  Also, probably one of the original Monopoly games.

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Other classic editions of their boardgames. And Spud Bling.  (spud photo from TFW2005).

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Employee store.
Work at Hasbro and you can probably get to buy anything they produce.

(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)
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(photo from TFW2005)

And finally, another Hasbro Icon - a giant Mrs Potato Head.

(photo from TFW2005)

But where is Mr Potato Head?

He's out the front waving to visitors....

(photo from TFW2005)


Go to next panel/page - David Kaye (Friday 9am)

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griffin @ otca.com.au

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