To the purveyors of wonder at Hasbro,
Hey, guys. It’s me, Lee. I have to admit it. You blew me away with the amazing assortment of Transformers toys on display at Toy Fair last week.You brought it big time with the upcoming 30th anniversary figures. A legitimate triple changing Springer? A new Blitzwing styled after Transformers Animated? Goddamned Metroplex!? I don’t mean to take anything away from the Prime Beast Hunters toys. I’m sure the kids will eat that stuff up. But you knocked it out of the park with the Generations series. But for all the good stuff we saw, there’s still one thing we’re missing: combiners. We go back a long way, so I hope you can take this constructive criticism in the spirit it’s given.
First, let me say good job on the Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. One of the reasons I think we should talk is that I’m hoping you’ve got plans beyond Bruticus. Sure, he’s pretty hard to find right now, but he’ll show up eventually. It’s about time you got it together on a Bruticus because you are getting slaughtered in the awesome department by a bunch of talented fans with an itch to scratch. Hell, I’ve had a great-looking Bruticus for years thanks to the genius designers over at Fansproject (but you guys did help a little by making that goofy-looking Energon Bruticus first). And in case no one else has, let me say “Bravo” on the upcoming Terrorcons. Would I rather them be deluxe sized? Sure. But I feel like you’re starting to pay attention, and it’s not a moment too soon. You’d do well to get back in the game you perfected back in the day.
By now, I’m sure you’re aware of the teams at Fansproject, TFClub, MakeToys, Mastermind Creations and the like. These fans have pooled their considerable talents and resources to fill a gap in the fandom by making some fantastic homage versions of the toys of old. What started as new limbs for the aforementioned Bruticus has evolved into full-on new figures that you should be making instead and I can’t figure out why you’re not. Fans love a combiner. And don’t start on me with that Powercore Combiner crap. No one wants those, but you figured that out pretty quick. And don’t give us the Energon-style where you squeeze five figures out of three molds. We don’t want that, either. We want a return to full-fledged combiner teams.
And why not embrace the missing fifth element (with multipass mail-away)? Does the argument that there’s no audience for a combiner really hold water? These small companies are charging $60-$100 per figure and they are selling out! They’re going back for multiple production runs and they’re selling out, too! Granted, these are mostly grown men, but the argument still stands. For every one fan that shells out $300+ for a full gestalt figure, there are legions more that can’t justify the price. But nearly all of them would gladly pay for a series of $15-$20 figures from you guys to achieve a similar result. Kids would love these things, too. The Power Rangers line is still kicking and those new Zords look absolutely ridiculous with all those heads hanging off of them. Get in on some of that action!
I’m going to level with you; we’re suckers. That goes for the kids all the way to the adult collectors. Some of us will buy your stuff even if we don’t like it. Photographic evidence exists of some guys having bought both of the 3rd party Devastators released last year (that’s upwards of $1,000 in toys you didn’t make). This is the same type of fan that has bought all three versions of the FoC Bruticus released thus far (and the Wreckers redecoes coming later this year). We’ll pay out the nose for these, but we’d rather pay less and get them from you, even if the engineering might not be quite as impressive (no offense, but have you seen these things?).
I’m not entirely selfish. I see plenty of benefit for you, too. You can get nuts and retool existing teams into new creations (like the aforementioned Wreckers wave) or keep on rocking the G2 repaints. You can sell more than just one style of these figures. Plus, if you actually pack a team evenly in a case, you have the potential to greatly reduce peg-warming syndrome. You’ll sell entire cases because the goal will be to build the whole gestalt figure. I’ve only ever seen a single WFC Blast-Off figure from the Bruticus wave on a store shelf. I’ve never seen any other figure from that assortment with my own eyes. These guys are selling. You can’t make a Menasor without Dead End, and no one wants Dead End by himself.
Speaking of Menasor, you’re moving too slow. This year, third party companies are releasing a Menasor/Stunticons-inspired team, an Aerialbots/Superion team and two different Predacons/Predaking teams. You guys should do that! Full disclosure, I’m more than likely going to have that Menasor. I know. Look, I’m sorry, but it’s going to look amazing. And really, I’d love to get my hands on a Predaking, but Fansproject is making their Stunticons really affordable (comparatively speaking) and there’s only so much money to go around. I’d much rather buy from you and get both for less than what it will cost me for one of these, but this is one case where you don’t want to take my money. I have to choose one now since you guys won’t make them both. Maybe the new season of Transformers Prime and the Abominus set will drudge up enough interest in the Predacons and you’ll give us a real Predaking combiner next year. That would be awesome.
I don’t have a ton of market research to look at. I haven’t run the numbers. I’m sure you’ve done your due diligence. You’ve got to have some sort of reason for not filling this particular need of your consumer. All I’m saying is that you might want to rethink it. These third party guys are laughing all the way to the bank, and they’re doing it by providing a top-quality product to the fans that realistically, you could provide. You don’t have to answer now. I know you’re busy. Just think about it. I think I might be onto something here. I’ve seen it starting already. As soon as those glorious pics of Metroplex hit from Toy Fair, fans were posting on Transformers message boards that they were canceling their pre-orders for the $350 3rd party Omega Supreme. You can totally get in on this action. In the meantime, I’m gonna start saving my pennies for Fansproject’s Menasor. That thing ain’t coming cheap, you know? Oh, and just so I don’t forget, thank you so much for Metroplex. So… So much.