We are exactly a week away from New York Toy Fair 2018 and the excitement is slowly building up. Few days ago, at the 2017 Full Year Financial Call, Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner made several statements that will not only be reflected at this year’s toy fair itself, but also on the future of the Transformers Franchise as a whole.
“So, when we talk about our Bumblebee movie, it’s really the focal point of an entire blueprint activation that will take place around that time of year.”
What does it mean? We are diving deep into the statements made, in order to figure out all the hints given away regarding the franchise we know and love.
We are also giving you an exclusive look at Licensed Transformers: Robots In Disguise Toys with their upcoming Evergreen packaging. Check it all out, after the jump.
A Knight In Shining Armor
Before we dig into the future of the Transformers franchise, we need to take a look at the obvious elephant in the room; Transformers: The Last Knight. How well did it do?
“If you look at Transformers, I think that we go from strength-to-strength. This year, Transformers in the fourth quarter was in dollar terms, our biggest growing brand. And overall for the year grew very strong double-digits. It’s because we are perpetually engaged with our audience by demographic and psychographic.
We delivered revenue and profit growth in the entertainment and licensing segment led by strength in consumer products. We had two successful franchise brand theatrical events, which drove incremental revenue in both Transformers and My Little Pony.”
However, the presentation slide does not directly say how much the movie toys contributed to the $2.57 billion growth. For Hasbro, they are happy with the sales from Transformers: The Last Knight despite the movie under-performing both critically and financially (did not reach the traditional breakeven point valuation). But for them, an eyeopener came in the form of another famous franchise; Star Wars.
To Bee Or Not To Bee
On 2017 July 31st; the day Bumblebee: The Movie began its principal photography, an official announcement came from Paramount Pictures, stating that the release date has been pushed to December 21st in 2018. This news was quite a surprise as fans were accustomed to summer releases for the live action movie series.
Back then, we hypothesized couple of reasons behind the decision:
- Away from tough 2018 Summer competition such as Avengers: Infinity War, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Deadpool.
- Christmas is a time for families and family-friendly movies are a huge hit. Bumblebee movie being one can certainly reap more benefits.
But, the above are important for Paramount. What about Hasbro?
“When we talk about our Bumblebee movie, it’s really the focal point of an entire blueprint activation that will take place around [Christmas] time of year. And we will bring to bear all of the different strengths and power inside the blueprint to bring Bumblebee and Transformers to life at that time. So, we know that there is an amazing array of entertainment with the beneficiaries of a lot of that that’s in the world today and we think our brand like Bumblebee and Transformers holds its own.”
Now we are coming into the subject matter denoted on our title. Despite the fact Transformers: The Last Knight toys sold well for Hasbro, it truly shone during the Christmas season rather than its summer release. Dancing Sqweeks turned up on many retailer ‘Must Have This Christmas’ lists. The movie releasing close to December means many kids would write down a Transformers toy on their Christmas Lists as well.
Unbeknownst to the fans, this decision was partially a byproduct of another situation. Star Wars toys generated a whopping $1.27 billion loss for Hasbro last year. Despite that, the company saw an influx of sales during the time Star Wars: The Last Jedi ran in theaters. It was very clear, now more than ever, that Christmas seems to be the time to promote theatrical movie based toys for maximum impact. Summer release windows aren’t really doing it anymore.
2018 December is also crucial for Hasbro regarding several other reasons as well.
Everything Hasbro started doing (for the Transformers franchise) for the past few years is coming to an end by this December:
- Power Of The Primes will effectively close down the Prime Wars ‘event’ which took place under the Generations banner.
- Transformers: Robots In Disguise animated series and Hasbro toyline will conclude its sales.
- After 7 years, the toys for the original Rescue Bots will run out of steam by a lack of entertainment backing.
- Michael Bay era would come to a close if the director choose not to return to the franchise.
The above reasons will factor in to usher a new era for the Transformers Brand Blueprint.
Bumblebee: The Movie will kickstart something new:
- The new movie will test the waters for a low-budgeted series of Transformers movies that will not only be profitable against the breakeven, but will also test for their potential on the hands of another director other than Michael Bay.
- Cyberverse will replace RID for the Kids’ Segment.
- 2019 will bring Rescue Bots Academy for the youngest Transformers fan.
- Transformers Video Game License may fall into a new publisher.
- The next plan for the Generations line will be known by the end of 2018.
A journalist who attended London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs told us that Hasbro is changing their game when it comes to Transformers. Focus is falling upon their ‘Phygital‘ initiative where physical toys utilize a play-pattern with digital entities such as smartphones and apps. In this new age, Hasbro must keep up with times without falling behind the rough competition from smartphones. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Therefore, there’s a lot going on by the time holiday season hit this year. And it all starts with Bumblebee: The Movie. Hasbro is clearly thinking to move onward with a fresh new outlook.
Green With Evergreen
Started off as a line of toys for the Budget Market, Transformers Evergreen initiative seems to be growing at a rather surprising level. Possibility of Deluxe and Voyager figures may indicate Hasbro has bigger plans in mind. This of course is something that is not unheard of. Not too long ago, Mattel did the same with their Batman Evergreen line.
Is this what will eventually come next after Power Of The Primes? Most probably not, but it may become a powerful line of figures under the Generations line. Yes; for those who are unaware of this, the Evergreen toys are categorized under Generations banner by Hasbro. We won’t know the future of this initiative until New York Toy Fair 2018.
License To… Sell
Directly relating to what was stated above, the license Hasbro giveaway to manufacture consumer products based on the franchise has changed significantly. Reports from aforementioned London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs states that the Transformers license is unified under the Generations Evergreen banner.
What you see here for the first time is the new packaging for licensed RID toys from Simba Dickie. The old RID characters, the colors and the name is gone now; removed from the packaging and replaced by the Evergreen branding.
Being TRU To Yourself
People who are in touch with Hasbro stated that the company is looking at the possibility of “a life without Toys’R’Us”. Sure enough, few days later Hasbro CEO himself stated that they have a contingency plan in place in case TRU is gone forever.
“Our team has built a plan for the right sizing of the Toys “R” Us business. We have continued to grow the number of doors and continued to grow our revenues outside of Toys “R” Us. We continue to be supportive of them but most importantly we continue to manage our risk and inventory as they streamline the amount of inventory they can take. And we are prepared for any eventuality.”
During London Toy Fair this year, investors and press got to know that Hasbro will be catering more to small retailers and will even give them exclusive items. This new initiative is a good plan to have when TRU is no longer there for Hasbro. Of course, the December holiday season this year will give Hasbro the exact outcome of the changes they made. We hope that it will be good.
There’s A Whole Cyberverse Out There
Led by Bumblebee and Windblade, Transformers: Cyberverse is a key turning point for the franchise. This new cartoon will see Transformers brand adopting the new 11-minute format for a children’s series.
According to rumors, the show is planned for a Fall/Winter release. It makes sense considering the fact that Bumblebee: The Movie is a winter release and the cartoon will benefit from the popularity of the movie.
However, Cyberverse is not the only one which will reap benefits from a major theatrical release…
The Kids Are Alright
Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy will hit the television screens somewhere in early 2019. Started as an initiative to teach kids on Hazards And Safety, the original Transformers: Rescue Bots quickly became an award-winning series loved by adults as well its intended demographic. It’s departure from the traditional Autobot-Decepticon conflict proved to be a fresh new take on the franchise and the series is about to take another turn with several notable changes to the cast and the crew. Non-Union Cast from New York will work on the voice-work with animation shifted to Hasbro owned Boulder Media Studio. This new series will also adopt the 11 minute episode format.
With that, we are stopping for now. It is indeed amazing to realize that it has been 11 years years since the first Transformers Live Action Movie came out. For many across the globe, these movies became their own G1. We couldn’t help but wonder at the fact that Bumblebee: The Movie will become a new generation’s introduction to The TransFormers. There’ll be a kid out there so happy during this Christmas season, watching the new movie with awe and wonderment and later writing to Santa for a Bumblebee toy. 4 days later on the Christmas Day, he or she will wake up early in the morning and dash to the Christmas tree to tear the packaging with so much excitement to see their new toy. Thus, a new ear will truly dawn.
A fan is a fan no matter what iteration they follow and best is yet to come from Hasbro. Bumblebee: The Movie is right in the center of it. It is indeed turning out to be the focal point of the franchise’s future.
We will know exactly what will happen, during our coverage of New York Toy Fair 2018. So, don’t forget to join with us on next weekend for tons of fun and info. Until then, keep discussing what you will think of what we’ll see this year and beyond. ‘Til All Are One.