Blog #827: Combiner Wars: Hasbro is Repeating Old Mistakes, But They Never Learn From Them

Combiner Wars: Hasbro is Repeating Old Mistakes, But They Never Learn From Them

Now that Hasbro’s early waves of Combiner Wars are out, I wanted to talk about a few things.  I’ve reviewed all of the toys that are out as of now, but I wanted to talk about the packaging.  Hasbro seems to have a habit of making mistakes, really stupid mistakes, and now they are repeating them.  I wish I could say I was surprised.

When Transformers: Armada toys were first released, I, like many fans, were dismayed to find that Hasbro had left the tech specs, both the bio and the power rankings, off the box.  This was a change from nearly twenty years of Transformers toys.  If I’m being honest, I was really pissed off.  I had (still do) the tech specs for every USA toy that has had them, so for them to just not have them anymore really sucked.

Hasbro slowly realized they had made a boneheaded mistake (I’m embellishing) and they corrected it.  Transformers Energon included a real trading card as opposed to the blank back stickers included with Armada (more on that later).  They had power rankings at least, so it was something, but still no bio.  Finally, when Cybertron came around, they got it partially right, giving us back the rankings, though they were no longer in a single cut out card, but at least they were there.  This was when collecting Tech Specs became saving the whole card backs.  Now that has been the way it’s mostly been since, bios and rankings, sometimes on multiple parts of the box sometimes together ever since.  Sure, not every toy has had them since, but most.  They screwed up with Armada, realized it and fixed it.

Then came 2014.

I think the first sign that someone was forgetting the stupidity of removing Tech Specs from toys was with Age of Extinction.  Only the Deluxe, Leader, and Voyager toys had bios and none of them had power rankings.  When I was eight years old, I cut out and saved every Transformers Tech Spec and GI Joe File Card, so it makes little sense to me not to put bios on any of the younger kids toys.  Not every toy needs a bio, but at least the Power Battlers and One Step Changers should have had them given how many of them there were (that’s for another blog).

As annoying as this was, I didn’t get too upset.  Generations still had bios and rankings, and as much as I love the movies, Generations is my favorite current line by far because it’s mostly G1 based.

Then I got my Combiner Wars Voyager Optimus Prime in the mail.  Looked at him in the package and was pretty impressed.  I turned over the box to read his bio and found this.

packaging1
What in the actual fuck.  That isn’t even a bio.  It’s an advertisement for Combiner Wars.  What a damn joke.  And there are no power rankings either.  This only got worse as I got more Combiner Wars toys.

packaging2

The Legends had exactly one sentence, one of which, Bombshell, was only five words.  Can you imagine that?  They give a character that has existed for THIRTY YEARS a five word bio.  That actually takes away from how good the toy is.  Believe it or not, it got even worse when I got to the deluxes.

packaging3
THREE WORDS!  Hell, it’s not even a sentence, there is no punctuation.  Whatever incompetent moron gave the green light for this should be fired and never work in toys again.  This is absolutely ridiculous.

And yes, there is more.

Also on the back of Optimus Prime was a picture of him combined.  Now, store listings have shown (I can’t recall what site I read this on) that we are getting a set of Autobot limbs including Mirage, Ironhide, and a couple others.  Instead of picturing them, Optimus Prime is shown combining with three Aerialbots and a Stunticon.  Now, as dumb as this is, the other toys aren’t going to be out anytime soon.  Hell, they might not even have photos of them, so I can give them a pass for this.  Putting him combining with what’s in the same wave is fine, even if the four Aerialbots would have made a lot more sense.

Then I got Silverbolt.  Would you like to guess what was on the back of his box?

packaging4

Last time I checked, Superion is not built out of four Aerialbots and a Stunticon.  What idiot thought that made sense?  I understand the logic of releasing them across two waves (though they should have done two of each in each wave), and yes, they can be interchangeable, but Superion is built of Aerialbots, period.  Sure, you want to mix and match when you play with them, that’s fine.  I built Frankenbiners when I was kid,mix and matching the limbs, but you can play up the angle that they are interchangeable without bastardizing your own characters.  This was just stupid.

Back to the Tech Specs.

I know that someone will say that it doesn’t matter that there are no tech specs, but it actually does.  See, apparently, Alpha Bravo is not supposed to be Slingshot as a helicopter, but a “new” character.

packaging5
Right as if that head design and coloring could be anyone but Slingshot.  Well, apparently some idiot at IDW couldn’t just have Slingshot rebuilt as a helicopter, but had to have a new character that just happens to look just like Slingshot, replace him on the team.  That’s dumb.  But if Hasbro is going to embrace the dumb (and let’s face it, they are really good at that), then that is why you have bios.  It gives characters personality without the need to read a comic or watch a cartoon, or even worse, have to research it on the Internet.  This is made all the worse since no G1 fan could look at that toy and not see Slingshot as a helicopter.

I admit to taking this personally, but that is because these characters mean an awful lot to me.  They have been part of me for a long time, some for thirty years.  I don’t have a problem with some mode changes.  I know Alpha Bravo will probably be retooled into Blades or Vortex, or maybe both.  I’m okay with that.  I can live with a vehicle change when it has a purpose, especially when he has a robot mode that makes it so clear who he is meant to be.  Just don’t tell me some comic writer decided to change thirty years of history without even putting that on the box.

Yeah, I know, I sound like an old man screaming for kids to get off my lawn.  I don’t give a shit.

Of course there is one more thing.  Lest we forget that Combiner Wars were announced to be coming with trading cards.  I believe it was at Botcon or maybe SDCC we were told that.  I remember thinking that was pretty great.  I love the Japanese trading cards that come with toys.  I opened Optimus Prime and found a card with really nice art on the front.  Then I turned it over.

packaging6
That’s the back of the trading cards, if you can all the, that.  What a joke.  They could have at least put the Tech Specs on the card back.  So, essentially, we are right back where we were with Armada.  Someone at Hasbro has regressed Transformers more than a decade.  No bios, no power rankings, and a bank back card instead of a blank back sticker.  What wonderful progress we’ve made.

What’s really sad is that I’ve so often defended Hasbro (and also not).  I love the movies.  I love a lot of movie toys, and I like the vast majority of them (though Age of Extinction was step backwards in toys, but that’s for another blog).  I don’t mind them reinventing the Transformers, so long as they respect the history, the characters, and the fans.  Hasbro is respecting none of that.  Bios and rankings exist for damn near every character they release.  Putting that on the box isn’t that hard, and if you can’t do that on quad-lingual boxes, then don’t print four languages on the damn boxes.  They keep raising the prices and giving us less and less.

Is a bio, power rankings, and combiners that show the right toys really that much to ask?  Is it Hasbro?  Come on, give me an answer.  Explain yourselves.  I seem to remember hearing about how many people made it a point at Botcon to say that Hasbro loves the fans.  Explain how this is loving the fans.  The new toys are overall fantastic, but you don’t get a pass for doing that, because so often the toys aren’t.  I can only speak for myself, but I imagine a lot of fans would agree with me.  We want an answer, and none other than Optimus Prime said it best.

We are here.

We are waiting.

(See what I did there?  Yeah, I know I won’t get an answer, but it felt good to say it.)

Thanks for reading!

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About lmb3

I’m 36 years old, and I work in network tech support for a public school system. I am a huge fan of Star Trek, Transformers, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics as well as numerous other fandoms. I’m a big sports fan, especially the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I collect toys (mostly Transformers but other stuff too), comic books, and Red Sox baseball cards. I watch an obscene amount of television and love going to the movies. I am hopelessly addicted to Wizard Rock and I write Harry Potter Fanfiction, though these days I am working on a couple of different original YA novels.
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12 Responses to Blog #827: Combiner Wars: Hasbro is Repeating Old Mistakes, But They Never Learn From Them

  1. lmb3 says:

    DarkAlex1978, no need to apologize. I didn’t know myself when I made the original post. Thanks.

  2. DarkAlex1978 says:

    In that case* yes, is a a good decision but I think that they have not any real choice about: I’m fairly sure that american fans already upset for Slingshot substitution, would be very angry if he had been aviable only in Japan 😛
    Not to mention that Third Parties surely would have produced a Slingshot.

    * I don’t live in Usa and Toy r Us doesn’t exist in my country (sadly: is not easy find Transformers here and are more costly) so I’m not well informed about, sorry :-/

  3. lmb3 says:

    DarkAlex1978, it’s certainly a Takara idea, but Slingshot and Wildrider have shown up in TRU computers,so Hasbro is releasing them. For that, I give them credit. When I first heard about Slingshot I was sure Hasbro wouldn’t release it, so they deserve credit for a good decision, even if they screwed up to begin with.

  4. DarkAlex1978 says:

    As he has been showed on a japanese magazine, I think that is more a Takara idea than Hasbro. Slingshot is basically a recolor of Fireflight with a new head. Maybe he woulb be only for the japanese market, I don’t know, but this simple retool made all the “saving costs logic” behind the existence of Alpha Bravo almost totally pointless (imho)

  5. lmb3 says:

    Tfcrafter, wow, that’s great. I hadn’t heard that. I’m a little floored that Hasbro is actually paying attention. Now, if they wanted to take the extra step, they would include four white hands/fists with Slingshot. I know the won’t, but I’m feeling greedy. 🙂

  6. Tfcrafter says:

    Deluxe Slingshot showed up on a Toys R Us scan along with Deluxe Wildrider.

  7. lmb3 says:

    Tfcrafter, is that confirmed? I heard about the gift set, but I have not heard that Hasbro will be releasing it.

    Thanks,

    Lewis

  8. lmb3 says:

    Hey, DarkAlex1978, thanks for the comment.

    I agree that the TF mythos is a mess. Thing is, if you’re going to make a toy of Superion, there are only so many versions of Superion. One Google search and everything about him is at your fingertips. It’s really not that hard to figure things out.

    Admittedly, the question of what fans want isn’t easy either. But since the trend with Generations has been overwhelmingly G1 based in recent years with some Beast Wars and others thrown in, I think it speaks for itself which way they should be going. Fans want the characters they love from the past. Alpha Bravo does not qualify. Of course, if I’ve learned one thing it’s that if you ask ten transformers fans a question, no matter how simple, you will probably get 10 different answers.

    Thanks,

    Lewis

  9. Tfcrafter says:

    Takara and Hasbro are both releasing Slingshot. Takara’s is in a Superion giftset, Hasbro’s is going to be single carded.

  10. DarkAlex1978 says:

    “They put G1 Strafe art on AOE Evolutions Strafe’s box instead of G1 Swoop”
    Omg, you are right: it’s hilarious 😀

    ” I know the standard reply I usually get from people is that they are a money making corporation, etc, etc.”
    Yes, it’s the standard reply, but many who usually give this reply imho prolly doesn’t stop to think about that a money making corporation should know its product to the core, to be able to sell it at best and make money (unless the majoriy of its buyers are dumb and would buy in any case): is how a professionist should be, imho.

    “I think whoever is making these decisions does not know enough about Transformers history, either of the brand or the mythos” Maybe: surely there are people who know little about (and maybe without realizing it). However, to be totally fair, the Transformers mythos are now very confusing, expecially (in my eyes: I may be wrong) due comic book writers that mixed togheter totally different settings, universes etc. just because they wanted to use this or that of their favorite characters of concepts: I would not blame anyone to lost himself into that. I’m not justify anyone, I’m just saying that today the Transformers Mythos are a very mess and is part of the problem.

    “or to have any idea what the fans want”
    I agree and often prolly is the case, but sometimes I wonder what fans actually wanted. For example there are many fans who would buy a toy just because the character, regardless if the toy is well made or not (I am the opposite for example: I left more than one of my favorite characters on the shelves, because they were (at least in my eyes) poorly represented… like Blitzwing or Brainstorm).

  11. lmb3 says:

    Thanks for the comment.

    If I were to guess, I think whoever is making these decisions does not know enough about Transformers history, either of the brand or the mythos, to realize these mistakes were made before or to have any idea what the fans want. I mean, they don’t even know their own characters. They put G1 Strafe art on AOE Evolutions Strafe’s box instead of G1 Swoop. No one noticed that? If there was even one actual G1 fan who knows these characters and their history, that could never have happened. I know the standard reply I usually get from people is that they are a money making corporation, etc, etc. I know that’s the case, but then tell them to stop proclaiming how much they love the fans. If they really did, they wouldn’t let these things happen. It took twenty-eight years to get an Arcee. Twenty-eight years. I remember a room of a couple thousand Transformers Fans erupting in thunderous cheers when we found out Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia had been repainted into Arcee. That was 2001, and it still took another 13 years for them to hear us. They’ve lost any right to the benefit of the doubt. If they really care, then they can show it.

  12. DarkAlex1978 says:

    Back in the days I used the Tech Specs and Bio informations to play with my Transformers toys (not entirely true: I used the more detailed Transformers Universe Marvel books, but without them I would have relyed on techs and bio informations on the boxes) and I admit that I were part of just a tiny, tiny percentage that did so. As a kid (and even now) I loved how every Transformer have his own merits and flaws, quirks and unique weapons, expecially about combiner teams because made them more than “the guys that forms the giant”. Hasbro maybe assumed that adult buyers simply know the informations and without caring about the young ones: this is the worst scenario I could imagine, so I hope to be wrong XD

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