SDCC 2016: Hasbro’s John Warden talks Transformers toy line

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“Transformers! Robots in disguise!”

Not many people can hear such an epochal catchphrase and not connect it to the incredible franchise that came from it! No, I’m not talking about the cinematic franchise. I’m talking about something that, as kids, we treasured and cherished to no end. I’m talking about the toy line!

Hardcore fans of the Transformers franchise – as a whole – will tell you that it all began with the toy line, then quickly moved into comics, television, and movies. Now, in case you aren’t a hardcore fan, and you just happen to stumble on to this article without any knowledge of what the Transformers are, let me explain. The Transformers is a franchise produced by Hasbro that centers on factions of transforming alien robots (often the Autobots and the Decepticons) in an endless struggle for dominance or eventual peace. Throughout the years, this eternal battle has been translated to comics, television, and even in film. The most recent iterations on screen have been the Michael Bay interpretations from the last decade. We got a chance to catch up with John Warden, the design manager on the Transformers team for Hasbro, at SDCC, and he had a lot to say about what fans can expect with the upcoming toy line this fall.

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Nerd Reactor: We can see that you’re doing an awesome throwback with your new line, what made you decide to go this route?

John Warden: Well, with Transformers, we got something coming called Prime Wars Trilogy. This is a storytelling universe, a part of a cartoon that we’re actually doing in partnership with Machinima. It’s a three-chapter series, with the first chapter being Combiner Wars. So with the toys, the fans will be able to build whole Combiners, such as Menasor, and it’s been an exciting ride. The second chapter will be Titans ReturnTitans Return focuses on small characters that kind of resemble what fans might remember from the late ’80s called The Headmasters. We’ve re-imagined that, and these small characters, the Titan Masters, have the ability to not just attach to any one character, but they can attach themselves to Deluxe, Voyager, and even the Titan class Fortress Maximus.

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It’s really the idea that the smallest Transformer can take over the biggest Transformer. And then these little guys, actually, become the populous of the big city, so Fortress Maximus becomes an actual city, and he’s able to be populated with these little Titan Masters; it’s a lot of fun. So in a lot of ways, it is a throwback, because we’re taking that elements of some of the original late ’80s line, and we’re kind of infusing some new toy play elements to it, and we realize that the fans, nowadays, they just appreciate the sophistication of our generation’s toyline, and that’s actually attracting a whole new generation of younger fans, as well, that really want that challenge, and they love that type of play. It’s great to see it grow so much.

NR: And speaking of the new line, you also have a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive that we were looking at a bit ago.

JW: Yeah, this is a really cool item, and it’s exclusive for San Diego Comic-Con 2016. It’s Soundwave! Fans of the 1980s series might remember Soundwave as a type of music player, but this guy has been contemporized, and he changes into a smart tablet!

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If you can see here how intricate it is, and with the cool symmetry of it, it’s actually one of the more complicated Transformers we’ve done in a while. It just showcases an incredible level of design and detail. It’s just an amazingly fun and challenging Transformer. It’s a really cool new version of Soundwave.

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Front side (left) and back side (right)

If you can see here how intricate it is, and with the cool symmetry of it, it’s actually one of the more complicated Transformers we’ve done in a while. It just showcases an incredible level of design and detail, it’s just an amazingly fun and challenging Transformer. It’s a really cool new version of Soundwave.

NR: Now are is this entire line available for purchase, and if not, when can we expect a release date?

JW: A lot of these reveals are just for San Diego Comic-Con, because we always want to give our fans a sneak peek at what’s to come in the following years. Over here, the new Titans Return line, featuring great characters like Power Master Prime, Fortress Maximus, Hardhead, and Brainstorm, is in stores right now, and we’re super stoked about it! The next wave of Titan Masters will be coming out later this month (August), we’ve got some new Legend Class revealed, including Bumblebee and Sharkticon. Both of these guys are great, fans are going to be excited about them. I’m excited just looking at Sharkticon here, it’s just cool thinking about building a little army of them. It’s kind of awesome! These guys won’t be out until the early part of 2017, and of course, the Titans Return line will be hitting stores in August.

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Bumblebee (left) and Sharkticon (right)

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Titans Return set

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Menasor (left) and Victorion (right)

So if you’re looking to buy that nostalgic gift for that special someone in your life, you can check out all the available items on Hasbro’s official site, including the San Diego Comic-Con 2016 exclusive Soundwave, which is available starting today!

And just in case you need that extra push in deciding to purchase them, here’s a little nudge from us to you:

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Eddie Villanueva Jr.
Eddie Villanueva Jr. 313 posts

A movie connoisseur of only the finest films, and an Encyclopod of geek and nerd knowledge. And if you know what an Encyclopod is, you're cool too!