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HASBRO FACTORY TOUR
|Hasbro Factory Tour; Pawtucket, RI Friday June 29, 2007 |
Before Botcon 2007 officially opened its doors on Saturday, a number of fans, including us, were treated to a tour of the Hasbro factory. "Making the World Smile!" was an apt sign greeting us as we entered, for that was most especially the case on this day. Everyone was grinning ear to ear as we entered the first phase of the tour. Hasbro's Director of Marketing, Greg Lombardo was nice enough to share some of his insights into the thought process of developing marketing strategies put forth by the worlds largest toy company. While there was nothing earth shattering or unexpected heard during this "Transformers Growth Plan" presentation it was interesting to see a glimpse into what their daily work routine must be like in developing marketing strategies and get a small taste of their process in selling to buyers such as Target, ToysRUs and Walmart.
The next stop of the tour had general (not necessarily Transformers) toys and related displays. As well as having a chance to visit with Hasbro's director of international marketing, we enjoyed everythng from >6ft cardboard cut-outs of Optimus, Megatron and Bumblebee, to a model of Han Solo frozen in carbonite to a chance to model as a Spiderman toy, "Lukis Bro, Mint on card!"...
|Our next stop was to talk with folks whose job it is to handle licensing. It is the responsibility of this department to oversee everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs to comic books. We learned a couple of interesting facts, one of which that the scene at the end of the Transformers, where the Secretary of Defense, Maggie, etc... fight off Frenzy in the old armory, there are among the cobwebs, shelves of books. They are in fact, a multitude of copies of the brown backed licensing books as seen below to the left. Cool! |
Apparently, the gentleman who led much of the licensing discussion started with Hasbro as an package illustrator. Just for fun, he brought out one of his first projects, the box art of the Auto-roller, Roadblock, as seen to the right.
It something I had never thought of, was how all the non-hasbro companies get the nifty movie product art on their own products? This presentation provided the answer. Undoubtedly, this department spends weeks organizing the portfolio of art that is provided to all of these companies. I asked if they spend more time marketing to these outside companies or if they are generally approached by them. They told me, "it's a mix of both." We saw some very nifty art examples ranging from high rez movie model renders to more animated G1 styling, art that finds its way to products like t-shirts, back-packs, lunchboxes, comic books, sneakers and statues.
|After licensing, we enjoyed another real treat, Product Development. Here, we soaked in everything they had on display, ranging from preliminary character models to awesome unproduced prototypes. Since development works so far ahead from what is currently in the stores, we were not permitted to see the actual offices of the development team. Instead, they showed pictures including that of Aaron Archer, Transformers Design Director, presumably a few years earlier, which had no toys later than those from the movie. |
Although we did not see examples from Transformers: Animated, (because they were saving that for the, "Future Products Presentation" on Sunday,) we did see a lot of items which the fandom had never seen before. Models from a proposed World War 2 line looked neat. These included products that they considered, but never made the cut into production.
It was also very interesting to see preliminary concepts for the first wave of Alternators including a Porche Jazz (which they couldn't use because they couldn't get the license) and a much smaller version of the first Alternator, Smokescreen.
I thought we were very fortunate to also have been shown a display full of unproduced prototypes! We were told that these were originally intended to be 6" transformable Titanium toys. Included here: Bumblebee with Cybertron alt mode, Arcee, Shockwave and Cosmos. What we were told is that despite the intent to originally release them part of the Titanium line, to "not dispair," they could still be released as part of the continuation of, Transformers: Classics line. "Bring it!" we say!
Eric, the Transformers Lead designer also showed us a preliminary mock-up of the trailer for Energon Optimus Prime, a recolor of RID Optimus Prime as Defensor and a new Decepticon, Toxitron.
| The next stop of the tour brought us to a station where Transformers Design Director, Aaron Archer talked about working with Michael Bay and the designers at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM did the visual effects) for the concepts and characters that would appear in the Transformers movie. |
He talked at length about the evolution of the design for Optimus Prime and Megatron (especially the head) and made a funny reference to having to, "choose our battles." That is, they had to push hard to get many of the elements considered classic Optimus Prime in character's design, but (regrettably) did not make the same kind of push to incorporate classic elements into characters like Starscream. Of that character design, he said what we see in the film is almost exactly the same as the ILM illustrator's first draft design.
We saw "weapons studies" investigating possibilities for weapons and how they could be incorporated into the characters bodies and color reference charts showing the amount of thought that went into every facet of each character's design. It was really quite amazing
Of particular interest to me, Aaron showed a panel with the initial concept art for Bumblebee, done by ILM (described below.)
|Thoroughly blown away with everything we had seen and heard thus far, we came to the next station of the tour. ___ led a surprisingly interesting discussion of her job as color and paint application specialist. To determine paint and colors for each and every Transformer that comes down the line!|
| Here, you can see an excerpt from her presentation as she describes the process of plastic and paint color selection. |
As a neat bonus feature we got to see an unpainted, uniform color, "Incenerator" the soon to be released, "Allspark Power" Transformers Movie voyager toy. As you may recognize, this is the vehicle that the soldiers are riding in the film's opening where they describe their, "perfect day."
| Cameras and photography were not allowed in the next leg of the tour, Product Development. Here we saw the desks of modelers and milling machines where parts are individually lathed for R&D. We did get an interesting glimpse (sorry, again, no pictures) of a nother interactive toy like the Optimus Big Rig Blaster, based on Ratchet. Looked cool. |
There were few opportunities for picturing taking at the next phase of the tour, where Brian Chapman (sorry forget his title) discussed his process of pitching Transformers to Michael Bay, Paramount and Dreamworks, trying to get Transformers made into a live action movie. He also showed some interesting clips from *very early* renders from the Transformers movie.
Ever wonder what happened to Barricade in the end of the Transformers movie? Brian showed us a very rough cut of a proposed (but deleted) scene, where Bumblebee and Barricade face off. I guess we can presume this took place, "off screen."
The final stop of the tour was to see prototypes and packaging. Learning about the process of making packaging was quite interesting. As with the case with Starscream and Brawl, each is individually cut as seen before being sent to the art departments and mass production. Cool!
|Well, that about wraps up our report form the Hasbro Factory Tour. We had a blast and want to thank Hasbro for opening its doors to allow us this unique behind-the-scenes opportunity to see and learn more about all that goes into the production of Transformers.|