SDCC 2017 - Where's Trypticon? Missing Exclusive, Or Change Of Strategy?
ExVee - Sunday, July 16, 2017
It was a fine, if occasionally frustrating tradition, started with Metroplex in 2013. A Titan Class Transformer hits the shelves at general retail, and a slightly modified version would also be seen at the Hasbro Toy Shop booth for sale during San Diego Comic Con. For the three Titans released between 2013 through 2016, it was a sure thing. But, here we are now, two weeks away from the beginning of SDCC 2017, and we've yet to hear the slightest hint of a special convention edition Trypticon to come our way. Has the streak been broken? Is this a sign of a bigger change? Keep reading for rampant speculation!
Last year thanks to an excessive amount of leaks, we had signs of SDCC Fortress Maximus very early - of course officially it was only revealed about a month before SDCC. Setting aside movie-related products, this year has been a lot more restrained on the leaks in general, but regardless, it seems like we should have had some positive indication Trypticon was coming - and we haven't. Is it just being cut super close this year for reasons unknown? Or is it more a sign of changes in approach in general?
The 2016 SDCC exclusives were surprising. Surprising in that it was virtually effortless to obtain them even without going to SDCC because a plentiful number went up on HTS - and stayed there. For a while. That was something that hadn't happened across the entire Transformers offerings before. This might not be a sole cause, but I think it could be a contributor to a change in thought. Before we go forward, it's worth noting that even if the will exists, Trypticon may not be suited for a convention season exclusive, and to think about that, we have to look back at the prior Titans again.
See, Metroplex, Devastator, and Fortress Maximus all managed some distinct differences that tied in to some existing iteration of their ideas. Metroplex gained chrome to better mirror the G1 toy deco, plus an extra copy of the large gun. Not to mention a set of PVC miniatures of "normal" size characters to array around him. TakaraTomy made similar changes - minues the PVCs. Devastator also got chrome for the SDCC release, and an alternate head sculpt that more reflected the original toy. TakaraTomy also made changes, though this time more removed in concept than the close match between Metroplexes. And of course Fortress Maximus last year essentially had the SDCC version be the TakaraTomy version physically, with the different Titan Master face, and the Master Sword. There were deco differences between Hasbro-SDCC and TakaraTomy-retail, as well as the sound chip. But both were distinct from the regular Hasbro-retail edition, as were both Titans before it. Trypticon, as it's appearing to retail, is more or less all you can do with it. TakaraTomy is only minorly tweaking the deco for their release, and that's it. Accessory-wise, the only thing that might could be added is a representation of Brunt, but if that's not turning up with the Japanese release, there's nothing in-built to the tooling to make that happen. Some might argue for a Gigastorm retool, but that's so very unlikely, just as recolors like (orange) G2 Devastator or Transformers: Zone's Metrotitan were improbable to the point of being a sad, sad joke.
So, we're looking at not so great sales of the 2016 exclusives, and a big toy that doesn't really have anything meaningfully special that can be added to it for this year's convention purposes. Faced with these factors, don't you think the individuals involved might have stepped back and decided to come at things from a different direction? The expected large toy is out anyway, and the collector-aimed three-pack last year didn't really do that great. Could they brainstorm up some alternative big exclusive? Sure, but the last time they tried to go outside the box, we got Knights of Unicron, which most agreed was an interesting idea, but not one they wanted to own. No, they would think it's time to try to really tap in to the market they're going to be pushing towards in San Diego: The casual. And thus our first SDCC reveal is a repack of this movie's Voyager Optimus, with a piece of tire material from a movie-used vehicle. The second reveal is a bit off the wall, but it's doing so more modestly, and so you have a black and gold Titans return Optimus with a skateboarding theme, co-branded with a skateboard company. So while they're different from each other, they do have a common point I think is telling: Both clock in just under $50. That's not normal.
For years a pattern existed. You'd often have a "cheap" exclusive, around $40, a middle exclusive, at $70 or $80, and the big item. Fall of Cybertron Bruticus in 2012 was the big item at $120. The pricing crept up a bit from there. Fortress Maximus last year went for sale at $180 - a comparative bargain when held against the normal retail price of $150, and especially the import price for LG Fort Max between $230 and $250. Having our two known exclusives at this point both be the same price point, and both err closer to the low end of the standard pricing structure is unusual, and tips me off that there's been a change in philosophy. Add to that, the Primitive Skateboarding Optimus at that $50 price is only $5 above that mold's retail cost.
The exclusives look like they're trying to me more accessible across the board. You have toys with less fictional "weight" on them that basically proclaim their intent at first glance: A movie memorabilia Optimus Prime, and a skateboarding Optimus Prime. Yeah, that second one is a tiny bit more complicated than that in reality, but the fundamentals of what they're going for aren't hard to grasp. And the price point is making them as "casual purchase"-friendly as is reasonably possible. Meanwhile a Trypticon would be again $180 or maybe even more. That could be a third strike against Trypticon too. It may not even be possible this year to keep a price point for a meaningful exclusive version of that toy under $200, and that could very easily be the point where any plan gets vetoed. Trypticon could probably grab some sales based on nostalgia and people who legitimately think it's the toy they had as a kid, but probably not enough, especially if it cracks that second $100 bill.
So, if Trypticon is out for this year, will we see a third Transformers exclusive from Hasbro Toy Shop? After all, we can't count the reissue MP-10 Optimus Toys R Us will be selling there; that's just taking advantage of the opportunity to launch something meant to go in stores in general anyway. I had at one point speculated Transformers Tribute might be convention season merchandise. That the Orion/Optimus two pack has since appeared at an overseas Toys R Us would serve to eliminate that possibility. Just like with a Trypticon announcement, we're very close at this point. It's not impossible that something small might get revealed soon before show time, but I think these two Optimus Primes might be all there is for SDCC this year. But... there is always Hascon in a couple of months.