Amidst all the chaos this last week at San Diego Comic Con 2017, TFW2005 met up with Hasbro Designers John Warden and Lenny Panzica for a short interview about what was just revealed, the future of the Generations line, the current movie line, and Robots in Disguise as a whole, and a few specific queries regarding design choices! We’ve transcribed the interview from start to finish, and it can be read in full after the jump. Enjoy!
Tony B: Here we got Starscream, and the two that are Combiner Wars remolds, or reuses.
John Warden: That’s right.
TB: And then we got Starscream and everybody thinking that that’s going to be a combiner. Is there any kind of stealth thing going on?
JW: Ah, very interesting speculation! [laughter] And it begins! So I can just say this, you know I’m sure if you grab Ashley here today, she’ll be able to tell you sort of the similar song, but the Power Of The Primes is really about unlocking forces within the Transformers and although there’s a lot of awesome things that happen with the Prime Masters in terms of what the powers can be, from a toy design standpoint we’ve hidden all kinds of secret easter eggs in there. We’re going to unveil them slowly over the next few months, lots of awesome news actually coming at Hascon, big debuts there and a lot of secrets will be revealed. So we have plans on reviewing all of these hidden toy features. One of the toy features we’re actually able to talk about today is the fact that Dreadwing and Blackwing combine together to form a pineapple apple pen. [laughter] Just kidding! Dreadwing!
TB: Alright. Is Titans Return kinda like done – the line?
JW: That’s correct.
LP: Well, we’re moving on.
JW: Well we’ve got some exciting reveals this year for Titans Return, but yeah just like Combiner Wars, Titans Return is coming to a close, that chapter of the Prime Wars Trilogy is coming to a close. But, we’ve got Slugslinger which is really cool, he’s just been revealed over there [gesturing to display case], and so I guess we’ve got some really exciting things, fans should not be heartbroken.
JW: There’s some really cool stuff on the horizon, like literally we come to events like this to kinda listen to fans, we heard over and over again what fans want. One of those things is Rodimus Prime, alright, so we go back to the office, talked it over with Lenny and the designers, we’re like “We gotta bring Rodimus Prime, we gotta do it.” We’re always on message boards and Facebook posts, things like that.
LP: Closing this chapter just means we can open up a new chapter, and another maybe trilogy, another maybe another story that we wanna tell, but a whole new way to play with Transformers in the Generations line.
TB: Yeah yeah.
LP: There’ll be more, new, cool insightful things that we’re looking forward to in the future.
JW: And just because this is the third installment of the trilogy, also we have more plans for things in the future; in fact Ashley said yesterday we had plans going all the way up to 2021, we’ve already plotted that far out.
TB: That’s cool!
JW: And we actually- we’re looking into ways to cross into the rich movieverse. So we’re really looking at all sorts of ways to address the needs of fans of all ages, and fans of all different universes of Transformers.
TB: In the Google Hangout, you kinda mentioned that The Last Knight ends kinda short, like it’s done, it’s ending after the Nitro wave. Is there any other movie figures coming after that?
LP: That’s after wave 2.
TB: Right. And then Transformers Tribute, we’re just trying to figure out as fans, is there like an ongoing “Movie Generations”? Like in between movies? Is this Tribute that? Is there something else? Like where are we at with the ongoing movie stuff?
JW: Sure, so as you guys know, 2017 isn’t just a year that marks the time of another Transformers feature film, Transformers: The Last Knight.
JW: It also marks the 10th anniversary of the original 2007 Transformers Movie. In celebration of that, we’ve got the Movie Masterpiece, which is starting to take a look at that original movie, and as we’ve heard from fans today at Comic Con and yesterday, they’re- people are so excited about those. There’s a segment that’s continued to energize that. The other thing we’re hearing loud and clear is that, there are a lot of movieverse characters we just haven’t touched on, and unfortunately right now it’s a little too early to get any kind of specific details about what’s in store for the future-
LP: He’s not talking about the-
JW: No no, the Tribute is truthfully- it’s an opportunity to bring fans the 2007 Optimus Prime that they might’ve remembered when they were kids, so Tribute in general is ways that we can y’know, go back to the vault and look at taking tools that might have awesome nostalgic value or really great play value, and bringing them to fans again.
TB: So it’s a quick subline?
LP: In a way. It’s like taking an old mold and really diving into it without any extra back pedaling, adding extra deco and getting the deco right, cause now that we have seven years of research on that character, there’s extra details that we may have missed the first time around that we can really embellish upon. It’s something that we whenever we do these anthology lines, it’s actually exciting as a designer that you can get in there and get a quintessential version of that character with that tool that’s actually a beloved tool. I mean you know, and that was when we as a brand had gotten a movie, a movie was born. And we were like “We gotta make these figures.” We were really learning a lot about transformation and how that all worked.
TB: That changed the game-
LP: It changed everything.
TB: -having to figure out how to transform all that Michael Bay stuff into a toy.
LP: Yeah, I would say that influenced a lot of Generations, and a lot of the kids’ stuff too because we looked at transformation in a whole new way. Like we started to realize there’s a more creative way to transform something and thinking about, instead of doing something right-side-up, do it upside-down- like understanding the origami of it essentially. So it was a BIG turning point for us.
TB: Okay, cool cool.
JW: And I guess in response to that, I wanna reiterate, we do have exciting news in store for the movieverse, and fans who wanna understand more about that should sign up for Hascon, cause we actually have some- well no see, it’s a plug, but in reality there are some awesome reveals planned for Hascon, yeah. So there’s reveals here, uh Power of the Primes, but there’s lots more comin at Hascon; and so fans of Power of the Primes AND movieverse should stay tuned cause there’s some cool stuff coming there.
TB: I will be there! So – Robots in Disguise- is that continuing?
JW: We’re excited to bring to life Combiner Force, which is the newest installment of Robots in Disguise, we recognize the fact that there’s a lot of Robots in Disguise out there, and the series is going nice and strong, and it’s too early to talk about that right now, but yeah Combiner Force is our newest series.
TB: Titan Masters in the Titans Return boxsets, what’s the deal with their names?
JW: Oh the Siege on Cybertron set?
TB: Yeah like the various boxsets.
JW: Sure sure, yeah so those, when those sets were originally envisioned, the idea was to give fans kind of a cross-section of the ecosystem of Titans Return, and we kept back the names and the personalities of those Titan Masters, yes they do have names and personalities, they will be revealed on social media. Not coming today, probably soon. Um, so we wanted to kinda make a special thing out of it just to kind of talk about news and excitement about who those characters are. Fans might be excited and have a good laugh about the names of some of them, cause some of them are kinda digging a little deep in the lore, but yeah those are coming at a later time, yeah.
TB: One last question. Maybe over the last year or so, I don’t know how long, there were Decepticon symbols or Autobot symbols… on the toys… that were made inconsistent. Sometimes on the same figure. You’ll have movie Decepticon symbols mixed with G1 symbols on the same toy or within the same line, so I think there’s something going on with it over here (points to the figure display case) Like you got movie symbols on the wings, G1 symbols on the chest. Now those are protos so I think that might be the case there, but-
JW: Yeah I think that’s what it is. If it’s a Prime Master you’re looking at, I think that may have been an oversight.
TB: I mean the Generations stuff, which is technically not movie, but it’s got movie stuff floating in there. When you guys were doing the G2 sets, some of them had the G1 symbols, some of them had the G2 symbols.
JW: Oh, the G2 sets!
LP: This is something that’s really hard for, in particular-
JW: It’s something we try to avoid.
LP: Right. Transformers, as we know, already has a lot of different facets. We have our movie, we have our Generations, we have our G1/G2- like, we really try to keep it clean.
LP: I think, there’s really no easy answer for that, to tell you the truth, we really try to keep it separated, but it’s more-
TB: Yeah. I don’t have every particular case of this listed here-
LP: I heard ‘em talking about it last night.
JW: Yeah, it’s a fair point, and as we recognize those, we make sure we address them.
TB: Cool, cool guys, thank you.