BotCon 2016 - Collector's Club Panel Report
RAC - Saturday, April 09, 2016
RAC and ExVee were at the TFCC panel, and we've got a rundown of the new reveals! Also questions answered about Terrorsaur's absent HandFootGun, the future of FunPub, the timeline for Subscription Service 5.0, and more! Keep reading to see it all! inThe panel opened with a history of the Collector's Club's products, from BotCon to the TFSS to the membership figures. Afterwards, we got a preview of the remaining slate of figures as well as TFSS 5.0.
First up was the next GI Joe Crossovers product, which is Generation 2 themed! The set is based on the GI Joe issues where the Transformers were reintroduced into the Marvel universe. Included in the set are Ninja Force Scarlett and a black-clad Cobra Commander. More of note to fans is likely comic character Doctor Biggles-Jones, leotard-clad double agent and chief engineer of Megatron's G2 Body. G2 Megatron is represented by the 2013 Legends figure in translucent plastic to represent a holoschematic of the body in progress. Also in the set is a Marvel G1-color Masterpiece Ratbat! The cover for the issue being referenced was by Chris Batista, and the art for the package reverses the layout of the original, now showing Cobra Commander holding a small (holographic) Megatron in his hands. Batista will provide the new image!
Then TFSS 5.0 was revealed! Six figures were revealed. First up was Counterpunch, another version of Combiner Wars Wheeljack/Breakdown. The rationalization is that Punch has died, leaving only Counterpunch. Then was Fractyl, once again a recolor of Terrorsaur- just the BotCon souvenir version this time. Also present was a Cybertronian Scorponok, a recolor of Titan Class Metroplex's mini-bot Scamper. Then was Toxitron, another version of the Combiner Wars Motormaster mold with a new head. Paradron Medic will become Lifeline, another borrowed GI Joe name.
But last and most noteworthy is the Double Pretender Megatron being planned to counter Double Pretender Optimus Prime. The Legends Megatron mold is again being employed, with a pair of Mini-Cons. But then there's the Pretender shell: rather than a new shell. Fun Publications has managed to use the pretender shell only ever used with Grand Maximus, the Japanese Fortress Maximus recolor! Originally intended for the Cerebros mold, the shell comfortably holds Megatron and a Mini-Con for the Double Pretender.
Next up was Q&A! Radio Free Cybertron's own Headmaster Don asked on behalf of his GI Joe friends if there were any future GI Joe plans. FunPub said that business as usual would continue until the end of the year, and that any future plans would have to be a conversation between the fans and Hasbro.
When asked about the lack of HandFootGun for souvenir Terrorsaur, they explained that that is how they received the figure, just as the Predacus' Ravage HFG had to be handed out alongside the set. They described the production process as scary: sometimes you'll get a sample that is perfectly fine and then the finished product comes back completely different.
More examples of narrowly-missed troubles were offered. Custom Class Ratchet nearly had Offroad's head, which is not even compatible with the First Aid part of the mold. This was fixed with BotCon mere weeks away. FunPub deals with both Hasbro Hong Kong and Takara so coordination across the globe is difficult. The initial sample of BotCon 2014 Scorponok was in every wrong possible color and the carefully designed mount for the Headmaster Zarak was not installed properly, making transformation impossible.
Headmaster Don also asked if the remaining "Only Human" figures would ever be produced. Everything scheduled currently has been approved for production, but with only 8 months remaining on FunPub's Hasbro license, there is simply not enough time.
Brian Savage went into more details on the current fan club subscription and ordering situation. He hopes to order subscription service ordering to anyone who has ever had a fan club membership. At present, anyone with a membership valid as of 4/1 may order. Some people doubled up in order to ensure they'd be able to take advantage of TFSS 5.0, and thus will get two of this year's membership figure, Armada Ramjet. Not a bad deal! Club magazines are also being overprinted so that those who wish a complete run can complete their set via a la carte ordering.
When asked about the ambitious goal of getting two TFSS rounds out in one year, they announced that the cutoff of 12/31 for all items to ship is absolute - FunPub may not sell any TF or Joe product after that date. They said that it's possible people may get a bundle of three toys in December, but seemed confident they would have all shipped on time since all are produced at once.
FunPub didn't elaborate on why the Hasbro licenses were lost, but reiterated Hasbro's statement that they were committed to continuing Transformers' close relationship with its fans. FP has held the GI Joe license for 20 years and the Transformers license for 12, but things change. They believe Hasbro is looking for a company that can do more, and is exploring its options.
The gentlemanly Headmaster Don thanked FunPub for their years of work on the Transformers license and hoped that they would find their feet fast in the absence of their sole licensor. FunPub prides itself on being the only licensee allowed to use Hasbro tooling.
Someone asked what the FP crew really collect,and Brian Savage's answer was: not toys, people. He encouraged everyone to keep visiting cons and maintaining the connections made there. Toys eventually go to a storage bin, but collecting friends is much more satisfying.
Lastly, diecast from RFC asked what the future held for FunPub, and if they owned the BotCon name. They do; it was purchased from the Hartmans. FunPub has no current plans, but is exploring other options both in similar arenas to BotCon, and entirely other opportunities.