SDCC: Hasbro’s John Warden excited for future of Transformers

I think it’s safe to say that one of the toylines from our childhood is not going anywhere! And no, I’m not talking about My Little Pony. I’m talking about those iconic robots in disguise, Transformers! We got a chance to check in with our friend John Warden over at the Hasbro booth at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, and see how things are shaping for this year’s product line.

Nerd Reactor: Before we talk about any of the latest coming out this year, we wanted to say congrats on the appearance in the Netflix series, The Toys That Made Us.

John Warden: (Laughs) Thanks! Thank you, thank you!

NR: So we’re excited to see you guys here! What do you guys have in store for fans this year at Comic Con?

JW: Well, we’re at a point in the Transformers: Generations franchise where we just wrapped up the Prime Wars Trilogy. Prime Wars Trilogy was the three-part saga, made up by the Combiner Wars, Titans Return and Power of the Primes. And now, with the onset of a new trilogy, this is a great venue to introduce the first chapter of Siege.

Siege really represents that moment in time that fans of the G1 series might remember. Where it’s almost like their last desperate day on Cybertron, and we’re using this as an opportunity -from a toy standpoint- to standardize the heights. So, the Deluxes are one scale, Voyagers are another scale, Leader Class are a little bit bigger.

And the gimmick this time around is a customizable weapon’s system that draws influence from Japan and a lot of hobbyist from Asia, in general. They have -for years- have been taking model kits, and kind of customizing them in their own way. We see this as a big point of difference for the new War for Cybertron: Siege line, but one of the coolest things about it is that it actually allows us to make the bots a little more articulated.

Most of them have waist articulation, ankle rockers. We’re able to fill some of the void so they have a heavier, high quality feel. Plus, they are all able to have a Cybertronian mode, so even the guys we didn’t see in the 1984 pilot, like Ironhide, we were able to make a Cybertronian mode for him, as well.

The weaponizing system works out really well, and our $5 priced Battle Masters actually come with something called Fire Blasts that are small clear accessory parts that you are able to attach to the figure by way of a new 3mm port system. You can also attach them to cannons, or missile launchers, so you can bring your shelf to life in a way that fans haven’t had a chance to do yet.

NR: Very cool! I know that you guys have a movie right around the corner, with Bumblebee coming out in December. I’m seeing a lot of the anticipation here at the booth, what are some of the Bumblebee items you guys are excited to debut?

JW: That’s right! We’re super excited to be able to be a part of Paramount’s new feature film, Bumblebee. I mean, we’re talking about throwbacks, this is a really awesome opportunity for us to go back to 1987 and you get to experience some of that same ’80s magic. So from a toyline perspective, we are really focusing on Bumblebee with Power Charge Bumblebee, which a lot of fans really like it. It converts into a licensed VW Bug, and then converts to a big robot with a wheel in its chest that you’re able to rotate to get cool sounds and lights.

The Bumblebee helmet is incredibly cool too! It features Bluetooth sound, so you’re able to pipe sound through it from your phone. If you want to play music, you’re able to wear it and play music through it, and you’re able to cut in and say things. So you can pretend you’re Bumblebee!

One of my personal favorite things about the new Bumblebee product line is that we’re featuring two characters in the Studio Series line. The Studio Series line debuted this past year, and fans have been excited about it! Being able to bring Bumblebee film figures to life through this line is really cool because we have the licensed VW Bug that has a complicated transformation.

It has a mask and can hold weapons in its hands, but what I am most excited about is Dropkick’s big debut! We see him as a licensed Huey helicopter, and the conversion of this guy from robot to vehicle is just really, really fun. It’s really innovative!

NR: It sounds like a lot of these items will soon be available in wide release, but are there any products that you’re featuring here at Comic Con that is exclusively for this week?

JW: We have the Retro Rock Garage as one. It comes with an exclusive licensed 1977 Camaro Bumblebee, who’s sprayed out in a gold paint job that’s actually based on a ’70s Z28. But one of the reasons I think a lot of fans are gravitating towards this is that to toy collectors around the world, the Japanese Dino-Cassette tapes have become the holy grail. They’re worth a ton of money in the secondary market, and we’re proud to bring those back to fans with Dairu and Uruaz!

The other item we have this year exclusively at Comic Con is the Throne of the Primes, which is to commemorate the winning Prime. So you might remember that fans had a chance to vote on who was going to be the 13th Prime, and Optimus Primal won. So with that, we were able to create an Optimal Optimus figure for all those ’90s fans out there. And this exclusive version is actually a special deco that’s only going to be available here at Comic Con.

He comes with the four missing Prime Masters. So for those fans out there who are collecting the Prime Masters, he comes with the remaining four, including the 13th, which is the Matrix of Leadership character. It comes with a scepter and throne, which has an incredible feature where you can connect the sparks on the back. So if you have all 13, you can actually rotate the wheel on the back, and fill them all in.

NR: Wow, I can’t wait to get my hands on some of these! Before we go, I just wanted to ask you one last thing. What has been one of the biggest highlights for you whenever you come to events like Comic Con?

JW: You know, last year I got a chance to meet with a mom and her kid. And the kid, it was his first time ever seeing Transformers. And I remember standing there, and the mom was just excited to see the kid getting excited about the Transformers that he saw in the case. And they were just Generations Transformers, stuff that I was making for fans -in a lot of cases, adult fans- and I think it really hit me that our brand is for everybody.

Fans can really be all ages, and to see the connection between the mom and her kid, it reminded me of my own kids and the opportunities that we have, being a part of a brand like Tranformers. It really brings us all together, and I think that’s what’s really exciting about an event like Comic Con. We’re all here, and we’re all enjoying the nerdy stuff we like.

It’s a great sense of community. But honestly, just having a chance to talk with ordinary fans, and people from all over the country, you start to hear a lot of the same things, and it pushes you to be a better designer, and try to deliver on some of those things those fans are asking for.

So if you’re looking to find some of the great Transformers toys debuted this year at Comic, you can check out all the available items on Hasbro’s official site!

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