Transformers has been a household name for 30 years. While there have been many iterations – the original ‘G1’ series of the ‘80s, the reedited ‘G2’ in the early ‘90s, the CGI wizardry of Beast Wars and Beast Machines, and the Japanese/American co-productionTransformers: Armada – the rise of Michael Bay’s tetralogy has – if you will forgive the pun – transformed and expanded the storied franchise to the point where Hasbro held its own convention-within-a-convention this morning to celebrate the many, many, many ancillary versions of the brand.
The breakfast expo included a Transformers museum, footage from multiple concurrent TV series, a build-your-own-Transformer buffet, a beta test of a free MMOG, a variety of nostalgic and ironic repaints, a preview of upcoming toy lines, a selection of non-toy ancillaries, and even a few of the brand’s shepherding executives. Hit the jump for details, pictures, and video.
By the entrance there was an extensive display of vintage Transformers toys culled from the personal collections of the attending Hasbro Executives. The assembly gave a good sense of the brand’s scope and variety. Even with over 100 toys on display, it only scratched the surface.
Toward the end of the toy museum were a few fun and gimmicky bits including a collection of hair metal Decepticons called “The Knights of Unicron.”
One of the most impressive elements of the event was the playable demo of the still-in-beta Transformers Universe game. The online cooperative game takes cues from the likes of Counter Strike and Call of Duty but adds a Transformers twist. It follows the next-wave model of free to play/in-game purchases. I’m not much of a gamer, but the gameplay footage of trucks turning into robots looked better than the big screen version from 2007.
Amongst the literally hundreds of toys was one so-obvious-it’s-brilliant innovation – Transformers Heroes Mashers. This is a great idea. Given enough time, every kid will tear his or her Transformers toys apart at the balljoint and switch the arms, legs and heads out. Unfortunately, while the Franken-formers are fun, they very often damage the original version upon reassembly. Hero Mashers solves this by taking a Lego approach to the Cybertronian robots. Sure, they don’t transform from car into robot, but they do transform from one robot into another and another and another.
Finally, there was a pair of new Transformers from next year’s line Transformers: Robots in Disguise. In the tradition of the Constructicons, these are combiner type Transformers. But, unlike previous versions which came in box sets (when I was a kid in the late ‘90s), these will be sold individually. The toys were glued to a table and only displayed in their Combiner form, so I can’t speak to the playability of the individual parts, but previous Combiner toys certainly left something to be desired. Still, they look pretty cool when fully assembled.