Toy Fair 2018 - What Did We Learn? #NYTF
ExVee - Saturday, February 17, 2018
Yet another Hasbro Fan media event is behind us at Toy Fair. From this we have lots of photos of current and upcoming toys to obsess over, as we do every year. But that's simply the obvious, most easily visible takeaway from the presentation. But we learn more than that, so it's time to look back over the day and sort out the larger scope of information we've been given from what is arguably our biggest single day of reveals for the whole year. Keep reading!
The most important information we came away with today was Power of The Primes being a short line. Though the first wave managed to all make it out before the start of the year, the entire line was set up to start and end within the span of 2018, versus the roughly 18-month length that has been more typical of previous lines. As such, we now know for certain that Prime Masters, Legends, Voyagers, and Leaders will have only three waves each. With wave 2 making its way through US retail right now, that means only one more full wave is ahead of us before the line wraps up its regular retail run. Deluxe will see a wave 4, but Nova Star (Firestar) will be the sole new figure, much like Slugslinger's position in Titans Return Deluxe wave 6.
As it is only mid-February and wave 2 is out now, it's no stretch to expect wave 3 to turn up by around May, and Deluxe wave 4 may not be far behind with its sole new inclusion. With that in mind, we'll be looking at the back half of 2018 apparently without further updates to the Generations line. Though nothing to this effect was stated at the show, there is a possibility of refresh waves at least in the smaller price points that may extend the time retailers will receive assortments in order to keep the shelf space alive, but this is just speculation. Reference was made to Power of The Primes exclusive items that haven't been revealed, which will also help in a small way to maintain some momentum following the general release conclusion of the line.
The future of Generations in 2019 was revealed, as War For Cybertron. No relation to the video game of the same name is intended. What little they were able to say at this stage indicated a setting possibly taking place during the original war before the Transformers went to Earth. The primary meaning of this is seeing familiar staple characters, but in body designs that would be more geared around Cybertronic vehicles, though the robots will probably still look much the same. No toys or other visuals were offered for this at this event.
Studio Series is serving as the toy support for the Bumblebee movie later this year. Hasbro did have to change the release order of some toys once the decision was made to delay the movie's release date, but Studio Series was always planned to begin around April. Hasbro's representatives assured that the toys in Studio Series were all new, even where they might seem to have similarities to The Last Knight toys or other prior items. Based on one statement, it sounds like Studio Series was in part inspired by TakaraTomy's Movie The best line, and trying to figure out what the next step from that would naturally be.
Stickers. They will remain for the duration of Power of The Primes (and based on what we saw in the showroom, look like they may make at least one appearance in the Studio Series line), but Hasbro's people have heard "loud and clear" the response to the stickers from the fan community. It was explained that Power of The Primes was meant in part to lean harder in to recapturing qualities of original G1 toys, which included that kind of sticker-based detail. because War For Cybertron is moving along a very different design approach, it sounds like the stickers will not be a factor for that lineup. Though if that changes we certainly hope they take our comments on this matter to heart in deciding the best utilization of that resource.
The Authentics Alpha and Bravo assortments are the focus of the "evergreen" design styles. The specific intent is to have what amounts to the essential version of a given core character so when someone is getting a first iteration of an Optimus or Megatron, that's an option that isn't constrained to any particular media. It's also meant to make things easier for (in their example) a grandmother who's been asked for a Transformer. The way Hasbro's reps spoke of it, it doesn't sound like they mean for this style to have a very wide reach in the brand overall, despite that Cyberverse does follow its cues somewhat.
This year's fan vote will pick a two-pack of Deluxe figures to be made. Three options will be available to choose from based on pre-determined pairs. They stressed heavily that the pairs are firmly set and you can only vote for pairs, Tracks vs Needlenose, Wheeljack vs Spinister, or Mirage vs Impactor. The choices have a ring of being very "safe" with who's included in the pairs. That and the firm stance on exactly what fans would be voting for suggests a desire to keep a tighter control and avoid any potentially inconvenient 'wildcard' wins like Optimus Primal in the last vote. They wouldn't commit to whether any or all of these would be fully new molds, instead saying that even if they were mold reuses, it would be from War For Cybertron which is planned to be all new designs without carry-overs from the prior lines (excluding potential exclusives or the like). In that respect, they would be "new molds".
And lastly in something that'll probably only be of importance to a certain variety of Toy Nerd, we finally got a proper name attached to the practice of two toys sharing some core parts and then swapping out a bunch of the rest to make them distinct: They call this a "partial-tool", as compared to wording like "retool". This doesn't cover something like Hun-Gurrr who, while using many of the same engineering approaches as Silverbolt, Cyclonus, and Scattershot, shares no parts with any of those prior toys and thus is neither retool nor "partial tool". Unfortunately we'll probably have to wait for the next Toy Fair before someone can directly ask about what the design team prefers to call such cases.
To be honest, for me the rapid news cycle of Hasbro getting toy rights to Power Rangers ended up overshadowing the impact of Transformers at Toy Fair, but getting to see several of the upcoming toys in photos from the showroom has made me feel a fair bit more interested in them than I was prior - like those lovely saturated Terrorcons and the dangerously vivid Abominus they form together. And the statements from Hasbro's reps on site that we've had reported back have me intrigued in a couple different directions. All in all, I'd say it was a solid showing, and it even managed to give us concrete answers to some things we'd been wondering about. Can't wait until next year!