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BOTCON  -  GENERATION  2
(griffin's 2005 BotCon adventure)


- SUNDAY 25th SEPT - noon - HASBRO DESIGN (2 HOURS) -

Since this was a two hour panel, half of it was for questions.
Hosting the panel from Hasbro are - Aaron Archer, Greg Lombardo, Eric Siebenaler.  In the photo, Greg is setting up a GIJoe toy on the table to fill in for Jerry Jivoin, who was a Hasbro person who was supposed to be there, but wasn't able to make it.

Their slideshow started with Goals and Inspirations.

Goals. (story creation)
- how to make the line fresh
- what are they trying to achieve
- a story
- feature ideas (I'm guessing, gimmicks)

An example was given of the Cybertron Evac toy, showing concept drawings and the gimmicks.

Another example was the Cybertron story itself.
It was initially planned to be a "super-cross" concept, being a multi crossover by revisiting earlier series.
Then came the "Taco Bell" napkin brainstorming session of Aaron Archer, which had him draw on a napkin the rough outline of Cybertron, as pieces of Primus spread out over the galaxy that needed to be found and brought together back on Cybertron.  Noted were planets Beast, Fast, Earth and Giant, as well as Alpha Prime (would become Vector Prime).
He said it was based on the original Energon story concept, that would have seen parts of Unicron brought back together to be the returning main villain. (something that didn't end up being a part of Energon, so was put to good use in Cybertron instead)
For a look at the fabled napkin, Aaron Archer brought it with him, and was shown off at the end of Sunday in the Dealer Room.

Beast Planet was almost called the Apocolypse Planet.

They showed us a concept board for the Speed Planet.
 

Inspirations. (toy creation) (some of this is a bit confusing, so it is possible that I wasn't able to write down everything and was just noting the more interesting bits)
1 - Reference - they take photos of actual vehicles and Hasbro created vehicles to form toy ideas.
(they noted here that the Spider Tank Scrapmetal/Ramble was an idea that had been floating around for 8 years now... which would mean late Beast Wars Transmetal era)

2 - 3D model drawings - of various parts of the toys.
(there is a mention of their relationship with Takara, who develop Hasbro's ideas & features/gimmicks into toys, which then goes back to Hasbro to decides the colours on the toys).

3 - 3D grey-scale or unpainted models
They then listed the four definitions of reused toys, from least to most...
-- Redeco - changing the colours of plastic or paint only.
-- Retool - same mould with some small changed surface details.
-- New Parts - some parts changed that fit with the existing mould, less than 15% difference.
-- New Tools - more than 15% different, up to a totally new mould.
(these were Hasbro's definitions at the time, which is a bit different to what fans refer to as a retool or new mould)

4 - painted 3D models.

They showed the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary figures to show that they were redecos, with changed plastic and paint colours.

Colour guides were then discussed.
They decide the plastic colours first, then decide if any paint apps are needed.
At the start of a series they have some rough colour ideas, and to make sure that there isn't too much or not enough of one colour in a series. It's also meant to make sure that a wave doesn't have too much of the one colour at the same time.

They then showed us TFCybertron Excillion, Snarl and Menasor.

They showed some photos from Takara business meetings (the same as the Friday panel), and of some at the Hasbro offices, with some notable artists/concept designers (Tim Bradley, Don Figueroa, Marcelo Matare).

A quick note before Q&A started, that there is nothing known about the 2007 Movie (to make sure no one asked).
 

Q&A.

TFCybertron Override's Gender? - The original concept was male, but the US TV networks wanted more female involvement (to widen their demographics).  Since Override was judged to look the least male, he was the one chosen to be changed.

Bases and playsets? - not likely.  They aren't popular or too workable for Transformers.
They noted the changing target demographics as kids are getting out of toys earlier.  There is a focus on the older demographic, but the younger kids are who they are trying to capture most.

(comment about Energon Sharkticon looking like the Gen1 Nemesis ship) - Aaron says that he actually refers to that toy as "the Nemesis".

Is Re-casting lost moulds from their toys possible - yes, but not too enthusiastic about it (due to cost).

Unified gimmicks are easier to market (to retailers and general public).

Energon Omega Supreme as a battleship? - was originally a rocket (to homage the original series toy), but had to be changed to incorporate the combiner feature (and be complete vehicles when separated).

Robotmasters by Hasbro? - not of interest, as they are odd sizes, and too many fans would have bought them already to bring them in as a collector exclusive (like in the HasbroToyShop).

What is filling the gap between TFCybertron and the Movie? - no details yet.
Takara is taking a break from Transformers for a while (their Galaxy Force/Cybertron toyline ended this week, while Hasbro still has another year of toys to come), so Hasbro is looking for a domestic cartoon company for their next series. (Armada, Energon & Cybertron cartoons were imported from Japan)

No Alternators cartoon or comic.

Numbers of products in a toyline are decided early, except with Armada (it's demand/popularity was severely under-estimated, so they had to pad out the line with redecos at the end).
Redecos are usually planned from the beginning when they work out the mould designs.

Why were the first two episodes of Galaxy Force combined into a single for the Cybertron cartoon? - it was deemed too drawn out and boring by a test audience for an American audience.
As such, it wasn't ready for TV with the other episodes. (it didn't screen in America until the week before, after episode 14)
What happened to the lost footage? - don't know.  (later found that the missing footage was made into an episode and stuck on the end of the series as episode 52)

One of the major changes made between the American and Japanese versions of this cartoon was that the planet Cybertron was sucked into the black hole in Galaxy Force, but was only approaching it in the Cybertron cartoon.
(I guess Hasbro are taking on a little more realism with what a Black Hole is, in that it is a 3-dimensional object of immense gravity, not a 2-dimensional "hole" or portal to another place (like in the Gen1 cartoon), so anything drawn towards it (from any direction) is usually torn apart on its approach, and would be crushed into something the size of a pea when finally drawn into its core. Not exactly something that could be retreived later by the Autobots/Cybertrons in Galaxy Force.)
TFCybertron was always going to be a continuation of Energon by Hasbro - it was Takara who changed it to be a stand-alone story. (not Hasbro shoe-horning a separate series into the Armada/Energon universe)

DVD boxsets possible for the Unicron Trilogy? - no plans by the current license holder, due to demographics not making it viable (only doing volumes).
Paramount has distribution rights to Armada, Energon & Cybertron.
Rhino has distribution rights to Gen1 & Beast Wars/Machines.
No one currently has distribution rights to the RID cartoon in the US. (I think someone mentioned Disney were a factor)

TF Universe is now definitely finished as a General Release toyline.  They no longer need the extra product to pad out their range for Retailers anymore.  They will still use the label for exclusives though.

Minicon Beasts? - they are possible. (they should have said that they were coming, to hype up the fans, as they had noted yesterday that new mould Minicons were coming from September 2006, but the first new mould Minicons were the beasts that were held back and released under the Classics label... so they didn't need to sound uncertain about it)

Have there been any special requirements by car companies for the Alternator toys? - very rare... only one they could think of off-hand is Honda wanting the gun barrel removed from Override's weapon to make it look less like a gun.
On the new (white) packaging for Alternators they will have some character quotes, and maybe in future there will be bios and techspecs. (toyline didn't last long enough to impliment any changes)
No female Alternators planned.
Only Gen1 homages at this stage. There is interest in doing Beast Wars homages, but none planned.

No... there will not be any glow in the dark Transformers.

Greatest disappointments as a toy designer?
Aaron - Armada Smokescreen
Eric - Armada Laserbeak
 
 

You want one last reveal?
Okay, here's a teaser for the gap between Cybertron and the Movie (late 2006 to mid 2007)... there will be a selection of Deluxe and Mega sized toys, with alt-mode realism and Cybertron level of play/engineering.
First sneak peak - a seeker jet (Starscream) - Deluxe
Second sneak peak - a revolver styled gun with sight (Megatron) - Mega/Voyager

There will be no cartoon - it is just a toyline.
 

This should mean that this will be the main Hasbro product 'timeline' known at the moment...
Jun 2005 - Dec 2006 - TF Cybertron (completes a 3-series story arc)
Jan 2007 - Jun 2007 - (no name yet) (no storyline, just a gap-filler set of toys)
Jul 2007 - Dec 2007 - Movie toys
Jan 2008 - ? - Series is expected to follow on from the movie. (it wasn't - it was Animated)

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Okay... now for some of my own Q&A at the Hasbro booth in the Dealer Room. (it makes more sense being included here than on the Dealer Room page)

Will TFCybertron Mega Starscream be sold separately (the red one with Vector Prime)? - no.

What is the name of the Override recolour shown on Saturday's panel? - Turbo Override (the name changed to Override GTS before release)
When should it be out? - April

When is the fourth wave of Legends being released? - June 2006.

What size is Cybertron Defence Scattorshot? - Voyager.
When should it be out? - February 2006.

Does the new Alternator Skids have a number like the others? - yes, 17.

There are big website plans for Hasbro soon.
No plans for international sales from the HasbroToyShop (bad news for us in Australia).

Then I asked for details on the relationship of Hasbro America to Hasbro Australia (because that relates to me and my fellow Ozformers members).
Hasbro Australia is a distributor, not a franchise.
The Head Office in America dictates products, quantity, range, and target quotas in other countries like Australia... the other countries don't order what they want.
They claimed that there is no percentage or commission paid back to America, but I know from Hasbro Australia that this is not true.
Stock comes direct from Hong Kong to Australia, it doesn't come from America.
 

Jerry Jivoin as a GIJoe toy. (image from FunPub's website)


The next panel of the day was the last, and was a repeat of the G1 Voices panel, which was covered on Saturday at 1pm.

Return to Sunday 25th

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***All pictures in this convention report are mine unless noted. Any that are borrowed, have the source credited/noted.  If you want to use/borrow any of my photos, please credit the source as well. I try to take as many of my own photos as possible, and usually only resort to using others if I failed to get something, or my photo wasn't clear enough.

OZFORMERS - The Australian (and Asia) Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction (started way back in 1996)
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BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
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To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au