The Thrilling 30: A Look Back At The Celebration of The Transformers Brand's 30th Anniversary

The official Transformers Facebook page posted a photo gallery "checklist" of all the numbered toys released as the Thrilling 30, the thirty special toys geared more to the older fanbase and meant to help commemorate the line turning thirty years old in 2014. But was the Thrilling 30 ever planned to be more than a packaging tag line - a catchy way of referring to how many years Transformers has pushed on? Keep reading as we break this down, and then let us know what you think!

With the entire range of these thirty numbered items laid out all together, it makes it easy to see that not everything feels like it fits together. There are a number of pieces whose inclusion feels completely appropriate, but still others that seem to want to point to almost random selections. While we will likely never know the truth behind this marketing strategy, taking the effort as a whole, here and now, the impression is one of having a packaging hook and someone insisting on trying to capitalize on it more than just as a slogan late in the game and leaving others scrambling to make it work. We're going to present our views on the execution of this, broken down to what we think worked and didn't. But this is just one opinion, and we'd like to hear more. So cast a vote in the poll, and then come by the forum post to let us know what you think about Transformers' Thrilling 30.

What Worked

#1: SDCC 2013 Exclusive Metroplex
#2: SDCC 2013 Exclusive Shockwave's Lab
#4: Platinum Edition Grimlock vs Bruticus
#8: Masterpiece Acid Storm
#9: Masterpiece Soundwave
#10: Platinum Edition G1 Predaking
#15: Masterpiece Sunstorm
#19: SDCC 2014 30th Anniversary Tour Edition (Transformers Heavy Metal Band)
#21: Leader Class Jetfire
#27: Masterpiece Prowl
#30: Windblade

The score so far is 11 out of 30 that in this writer's opinion fit the bill for Thrilling 30. Three SDCC exclusives, Masterpieces including one that is a Hasbro-initiated deco rather than adapting an existing Takara release, a reissue of a popular G1 combiner team, some Classics love, and the toy that was designed using input from fans. These all make a strong case for why they represent special celebrations of the brand's long life. But this doesn't mean that all of the remaining 19 entries are all outright bad and wrong. In fact, that list is not as big as you'd think, so let's take a look...

What Didn't

#5: AGC Con Metroplex
#6: Cybertron Con Shockwave's Lab
#7: First Edition Beast Hunters Optimus
#11: Construct-Bots Beast Hunters Predaking

I bet you thought this was going to be a lot bigger, didn't you? But as far as items that specifically should not have been on the list, it's really just these. 5 and 6 should be very clear why. I am not at all against the conventions in other parts of the world getting a chance at the exclusives enjoyed in the US, or as this case goes very similar versions. But the minor changes introduced should not merit individual numbering. The other two items seem particularly out of place in this lineup, and even now I'm left wondering what about that Beast Hunters Optimus even qualified it to be called "First Edition"?

Thus with these four we've covered half of the Thrilling 30, which leaves 15 items unclassified. These fall in to What's Left and for me represent a status of that they could go either way. And most of these are things tied to Age of Extinction. Evolutions packs, a couple of Platinum Edition sets, and some general multipacks. There are definite gems in there, like the wonderfully toy-centric Fall of Cybertron Grimlock redeco in #29, or the small Evolution packs that generally got you a Deluxe and either a Mini-Con or a Legend figure for basically the same cost as a Deluxe alone, sometimes weeks or months before the individual toys were available in the US. But does that make them Thrilling 30 material? Probably not. Breakout Battle is a strong contender, and if it weren't simply one among a pattern of otherwise not very special AOE packs given a number it might stand out just that little bit more to be part of What Worked. The things left unclassified may be interesting or cool in their own regard and don't undermine the Thrilling 30, but why exactly are they "Thrilling"?

This leads to the last portion of our article: What's Missing. Everyone will have an opinion about things that perhaps should have been included in the list in place of some other toy (and we'd like to hear yours, so please comment in the discussion topic!), and here's a couple that I feel would have been obvious for inclusion.

-SDCC 2014 Dinobots with pop-up Ark Diorama/Playset.
This was a big hit for concept and execution and while using Age of Extinction merchandise to fill it out, it was made to scratch a G1 itch. The toy decos, sure, but the wonderfully crafted pop-up cardboard Ark interior was the star, and something that brings these two things together in such an excellent way should really have found itself counted in the Thrilling 30 - especially since the subsequent Amazon exclusive Slog in G1-style colors released to finish the set of Dinobots was a numbered toy. This would have easily validated that in to the What Worked list too.

-SDCC Kreon Class of 1984
Kreons are the one thing everybody can agree they like about Kre-O, and this hasn't escaped official notice either. The collections of Kreons representing numerous classic G1 characters would make a great case for numbering.

-Kre-O Grimlock
This showed how Kre-O could do right. All it wanted to be was the best building brick model Grimlock it could be, and it succeeded at that. It went for the image of G1 Grimlock's dinosaur mode, a true fan favorite, and turned it in to a nice kit that made a fun, fixed-form figure when done.

-Masterpiece Grimlock Reissue
While a reissued toy may seem questionable for inclusion in this kind of lineup, it was rereleased based on fan demand and a year where Hasbro wanted a big push for their Dinobot characters made it possible.

These are just a few examples, and I'm sure you the reader can think of even more. And had timing happened differently, I'm sure we could make a great case for bringing Arcee in the list and other items whose production fell outside the numbering window.

In the end, Thrilling 30 had some solid hits, and a rather few outright missteps. The bulk of the run may be simply unremarkable, but there's more okay choices that were made for this marketing concept than ones that were really poor. Is it possible that the entirety of Thrilling 30 could have been handled better? Yes, I think so, but it would have taken a completely different approach right from the start. Again, we can't know if having actual numbered toys was always part of the Thrilling 30 plan, or how far in advance the numbering was worked out. I would like to think that if this had been a solid idea from the very beginning that the toys chosen for inclusion would have felt more internally consistent, but I think as it is the idea turned out well enough. And if this side of the tagline was sprung later in the game, then looking back over it, I think the Transformers team members did a great job pulling it together out of what they had to work with!

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Transformers Poll

How do you think the Thrilling 30 Transformers Toys turned out?

Winners across the board!
A little bit was weird, but pretty good!
They had some cool stuff.
Some of these don't make a lot of sense to me.
What were they thinking!?

Votes: 40

Poll Results

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