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Last May's
Question of the Month

Is The Transformers market flooded with too much product?

The Winner

I do not believe that the market is flooded with too much Transformers product. If anything, the amount of product currently and soon to be available shows that Hasbro is expanding their demographic reach. Transformers: Gobots reaches the segment that might be too young to understand the complexity of the other figures. Transformers: Armada targets the main age group with imaginative designs and intricate transformations, along with the addicting quality of collectability. Heros of Cybertron and the G1 reissues show that Hasbro recognizes the importance of the older fans, and gives them back the older characters they grew up with.

And in a two-pronged movement towards the adult collector, Hasbro is proceeding with two collector lines: TF: Universe will not only tie the Botcon universe to that of the main lines, but will allow collectors to get older Post-G1 figures they might have missed; and the mysterious 2004 "adult" line, which shows that Hasbro thinks enough of the collector market to dedicate new mold production to capture its money.

Had all these lines been targeted at the same kid demographic that it had been in the past, I could see that as oversaturation. But because the amount of product is being spread out and targeted at different groups, it not only gets alot of product out there, but it will giver nearly everyone something they want.

Now, if someone wants to go out and buy all this stuff, then complain there's too much, it's their own fault :p

--Shawn Reynolds

good question, and a tough one to answer. but, here goes:

simply put, yes and no. let me explain. i promise, ill try to be brief...

first, the no. as an avid transformer fan, i can't think of a better time for fans and collectors. the market penetration and variety of product on the shelves is wonderful. the plethora of merchandise can only help to increase brand recognition, and hopefully, result in increased sales and revenue, guaranteeing transformers-related merchandise for years to come. we are getting a wonderful new toyline in armada, and the re-releases are aimed squarely at adult-collectors and G1 purists. the Heroes of Cybertron line, stickers, clothes, books (comic and otherwise), and the Go-Bots line are all wonderful examples of expanding the franchise in new and exciting ways.

now, on to the yes. speaking completely selfishly, there is so much transformers product on the shelves, that i cannot possibly be able to afford all of it myself. this pains me, as i would love to have one of
those "impressive" collections that many of us are awed by when they are displayed on the web or at various conventions. in that respect, i long for the "minimalist" days of beast wars and beast machines when the product was limited and released at a much slower pace, which allowwed me to collect almost every figure released. realizing the futility of trying to keep pace with the currect release schedule, however, is something that i unfortunately have had to come to grips with. my once completist attitude
has slowly shifted to a more choosy consumer, having to select only those items that i think will be most dear to me in the future...

so, there you have it. i applaud Hasbro for taking the tranformers line in a fresh and new direction, but at the same time, curse my limited budget.

Matthew Skawinski

Hello,

I am new to the transformer collecting scene and have noticed that there are a lot of new transformers out there for sale in stores and noticed that a lot of the older transformers are being reissued which i feel is great since i grew up with transformers though being only 2 when they first came out in 1984.

I don't personally feel that therre is too much product in the market just a vast variety and many choices for kids whom the toys are mostly directed for to play with though for us collectors with not so high of a financial situation like myself the situation differs a lot, sure i'd love to be able to buy them all at once so i won't have to worry about getting them once they are gone from the stores, but still i feel that the vast market of transformers offers us collectors a great line of toys. I'd rather have a lot of different transformers to choose from then just a few. I mean imagine if there were only generation 1 and 2 transformers and nothing else, I am pretty sure all of us who love and collect transformers wouldn't be as happy as we are now with the fastly growing line of transformers toys.

- Brian Thompson

Most definitely!
First, we had Car Robots/TF 2000/RID, along with the Beast Machines. Then came the Takara G1 reissues, and TF Armada. Now the Takara G1 reissues are in the book form/box, along with the Hasbro reissues. How many versions of Optimus Prime and Megatron do the toy manufactures expect us to buy?

As a collector, I'd like to collect the full line of toys in a series. With this glut of TF product in the recent past, that has become almost impossible unless one has a very fat bank account. Walking into the major toy store chains, I see TFs now in the clearance bins. When was the last time a TF collector has seen that? In the 90's with G2!

Sure we can buy only what we want, but that defeats the purpose of "collecting" to some of us that prefer to have complete collections.
I've stopped collecting Transformers. To me, there's no value to collecting something that toy companies can just reissue over and over. I don't collect for profit or investment, but I liked the idea of having a collection that my friends didn't have and thought was cool. Now they can just walk into a store and have a nearly identical collection instantly.
If Rolexes or Rolls Royces could be bought by anyone, the people that can afford them would no longer want them because these items would have lost their "status" and "prestige". The reissues are great for the casual toy buyer but I, as a collector, think that they will hurt the Transformers "market" in the long run.
Just check ebay for all the Spawn and Star Wars figures that few collectors seem to want anymore. It'll happen to Transformers soon enough.

--Go Nagai

The market of transforming toys has been a popular one since the late 1970's, asn was brought over from Japan in the early waves of anime to find it's way into our cartoon lineups. Since it's debut in 1984, the
Transformers brand name has been the most popular and most marketable of the genre, and has generated several individual product lines. Now Transformers fans are becoming like Star Trek fans: some embrace all series, or try to, others fight amongst themselves as to which series is best, or s even worthy of the brand name. Many non-fans or would-be fans can be confused by the vast array of similar-yet-different toys and names and allegiances. But this is not to say that we have been "flooded with too much product". The basic problems with the "Transformers" world of toys are not matters of "too much", but of "too little": too little imagination; too little faith in its consumers, too little consideration for quality.

By the time the original Transformers hit the market in early 1984, most lines of transforming toys had
already been around for a few years. Many of the toys that would become the first series of Transformers had already been on the shelf in previous incarnations; GoBots had already hit the toy stores, and even they had already been around in earlier toy lines. But the Transformers line of toys made a connection with its consumers that none of the other lines did, and quickly established itself as the primary brand name for transforming toys. Names like "Optimus Prime", "Megatron", "Starscream", "Ironhide", and "Grimlock" became a part of our games and our childhoods from the moment they were introduced to us. To us the first generation of fans, 1984-1986 was the Transformers heyday - the "Golden Age of Cybertron, if you will. But as the years went by, and the original product line began to fail (more on that anon), the manufacturers began to create "spinoff" series: Powermasters, Machine Wars, Beast Wars, Generation 2, Armada, etc. I see nothing wrong with that by itself, but the popular names that Transformers fan had grown to know and love were now popping up in each spinoff series. By my count, there are now at least eleven different toys called Optimus Prime (more if you count those called "Convoy", to say nothing of names like "Rodimus Prime" and "Optimus Primal") and at least ten different toys called Megatron. When a person mentions "Predacons", he may be talking about the evil Transformers from the Beast Wars line, or the Gen1 team who combined into the gestalt robot Predaking.
The faction names "Autobot" and "Decepticon", along with their corresponding insignias, have been used in at least three or four different lines, some of which have been produced simultaneously. Even some of the relationships are the same: wherever there's a Starscream, he wants to replace Megatron as leader of
their faction. Instead of making each product line in the Transformers brand name unique, the toymakers are continuously rehashing as many ideas as they can from the "Golden Age".

Which brings me to the second problem: too little faith in the consumers. This seems to have begun with
the third series of the original line (1986), but it really began to show in the fourth. With the introduction of the third series, all of the first-series toys, including Optimus Prime and Megatron, were taken off the market. (That's not entirely true - Starscream, for reasons unclear, lasted one more series.) While the first two series of toys were based on vehicles and other machines we saw around us every day - to this day, I cannot see a VW bug without thinking of Bumblebee - the new toys were, for the most part, "futuristic vehicles" of one sort or another. Few of the new toys seemed to catch on like the old ones did, and it must have rattled the toy-makers: the new products of the fourth series reek of desperation. All of a sudden, everything had to have a gimmick: Headmasters, Targetmasters, etc. The remnants of the first and second series were totally swept away, the cars and "jets" from the third series were retrofitted with Targetmaster companions, and a couple more "gestalt" robots were added. But in their desperation to keep their consumers, they had lost them - a problem which grew worse in future series, especially when the "pretenders" started appearing. And to the first generation of Tranformers died. But the brand name lived on, and brought out Machine Wars, and Beast Wars, and Robots in Disguise, and so on. But instead of letting these toy lines evolve in their own way, the manufacturers kept trying to capitalize upon the associations and enjoyments of old, hence the various Optimus Primes, and the Autobot/Decepticon factions, and so on. They seem not to trust consumers to try out a new product without reminders of a glory now long-gone. In doing so, they have created a kind of rift, between those who knew and had and loved the original toys, and those who knew only the new ones. I know Transformers fans who bristle at the use of the name "Optimius Prime" for any toy but the 1984 original; "It's just not Optimus Prime", they say. And now some of the original toys are coming back. Hasbro and Toys 'R' Us are reissuing our childhood friends a couple at a time. But now they have been altered to comply with current "child safety" laws. Do they not realize that the majority of the people who want these toys are adults, who want to recapture the joys of their childhoods? They could offer a "collector's edition", exact replicas of the originals for these adult consumers who are far less likely to choke on a Seeker Jet's missiles, but they don't; we determined few who insist on them have to "rely" on the Japanese reissues we find on eBay.

Third is the issue with quality. As anyone who collected transformers during the Golden Age remembers, those initial toys were sturdy plastic and die-cast metal. This began to change around the third series, when the new toys were almost all-plastic, and the quality of the plastic became lighter and cheaper. When we veterans of the Golden Age say that the old toys were better, we mean it - you'd have to be really rough and careless to break most of the original 'Bots and 'Cons; some of the newer ones break all to easily. The newer ones also just feel lighter, less substantial. For instance, take a Gen1 Inferno and a
Gen2 Inferno and put 'em side by side. What do you see? The Gen2 is a lighter color, and is made of a
plastic much lighter and thinner than the Gen1. Plus, the Gen1's fist is locked in place; by neutralizing
its firing capability, the makers of the Gen2 have also made it so the fists slide out of their slots a
bit unless the forearms are angled up. The Gen1 looks much sturdier, much more, well, real - the Gen2, in
comparison, seems rather like those cheap Chinese Devastator knock-offs. Some of the quality seems to be returning with the Armada and RiD Transformers, but they're still not like the ones from the early '80s. And the modified pieces to the TRU reissues are painfully obvious: Thundercracker's new missiles, for example, seem to be made of an entirely different plastic - and in an entirely different blue - from the rest of the toy, and Jazz's weaponry looks like cheap knock-offs.

The Beast Wars, Armada, and other Transformers lines have their fans, and that's all well and good, but the confusion created by the use and reuse of names and ideas, the manufacturers' lack of faith in their
consumers to be interested in a line that did not reuse those names and ideas, and the lessened quality of the toys themselves may ultimately bring about these series' downfalls.

Yr. Obdt.

Dafydd Mac an Leigh-

I'd say it's not over run too much. There's a good amount of quality products out there for everyone. For
the old timers like myself, we have the G1 Reissues, the kids have Armada and then there's the occasional
non toy item (ie. puzzles, card decks etc...) Personally I like the amount of toys out there, we have a good selection of choices of what to buy. Not like the 80's where you had the toys, then there was the over abundance of non toy items. I mean really, who's gonna buy a re-writable pad (the plastic erase kind) just because there's a picture of Transformers on it! In short we have a lot of TF product out there but it's good product and it doesn't fill an entire aisle with crap that just has the logo on it.

--Scott Perrett

I don't think its too much product really,but a matter of quality do we really need a repainted Megatron with the name Galvatron slapped on or an Optimus repaint w/corona Sparkplug when the original sat(and is still sitting) on shelves at your local store? How about redoing some old characters. While I enjoy the reissues progress could really pardon the pun Jazz up some old figures that in the 80's might have been boxy and not to articulate like Iron Hide or Scourge, or Cyclonus. I'd die for a Scourge that look like the animated one.I can't be alone on this can I?

--Cheryl Shilling

Hmmm good question. Regarding the actual brand of Transformers, I wouldn't say it's flooded. Yes there is a lot of product out there; toys, comics, posters, busts, novelties, etc., but I wouldn't go as far as to say the market is flooded. Transformers has a huge following, and I myself haven't seen any product gathering dust on the shelves. Then again I don't get out much....
I suppose you could say that the producers of all this stuff might be grabbing at a bit much, trying to captilize on the brand as much as they can and in turn make as much money as they can. I don't think it's hit the flood stage yet tho. Star Wars product has become a flood for sure, Transformers is quite a few light years below that level I'd say.

However I wonder if other transforming and robot toys steal the thunder of Transformers, such as Power Rangers, Digimon, Gundam, Zoids and the various ( good and bad ) knockoffs. Including these other brands under the umbrella might push us up a little toward that ever dreaded flood level, but overall:

GRIMLOCK SAY Transformers here to stay!!!

Awesome site :)
Nick

Probably, but I don't mind. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff out, but this means I can pick and choose what I want. And it means that it reaches a wider audience. Don't like the cartoons? Maybe you'll like the comics - take your pick from 'Armada', 'G1', 'War Within', and reprints. Don't like the Armada toys? There's reissues, PVCs, statues... Basically, if you like Transformers and want a piece of them, there's bound to be something that fills you with consumer lust and sends you to the stores, online or real life.

Of course, if there's too much *good* stuff, it wreaks havoc on your
wallet...

Though what we *really* need is Insecticon PVCs. But I'm biased. ;)

- Melissa DeHaan

Mail Bag

Are there any plans to include a section on the PVC / HOC figures? I know they don't transform, but are very popular among TF folk (I just got into them and have found many long time TF collectors getting them and being very helpful to a newbie like myself). Just a thought.

--Tim Cloyd

Well Tim, it's definitely been a consideration for a while now. It's not out of the realm of possibility. --Ant

Hi,

I wanted to write to say that I really enjoyed the catalog pictures you have on
the following web page:

http://www.tfu.info/issue01/catalogs.htm

I *distinctly* remember looking at those exact Transformers and Gobots pages
from the 1985 Sears Wish Book over and over again back when I was 13 years old.
I have always wondered why I did not seem to remember Ramjet very well. I
guess it was because he was not shown with Thrust and Dirge in the Sears
catalog!

Looking at those pictures made me feel very old (I'm about to turn 31);
however, it also made me feel very nostalgic in a good way. I am glad to see
that Transformers are still going strong after all of this time.

Thanks Again,
Chad Rushing

Glad you are enjoying the site, Chad, and glad I can make you feel old. ;) -- Ant

I have a question about Jazz. I cannot seem to get his rocket launcher
into place without it pointed straight up in the air. Can you help?

Thanks
Jeremy

Sadly, I can't. It seems the thickened plastic on the US Reissue of Jazz has made it much harder to get his launcher in place correctly. The best you can do is keep trying. -- Ant

This month's winner recieves a free toy courtesy of TFU.INFO.

It's time to put your two cents in folks! Send us an e-mail and let us know what you think. Don't forget to look at this month's Picture of the Month Contest.

Picture of the Month Contest!

We're trying something new with this issue of TFU.INFO Magazine; instead of a Question of the Month, we've decided to have a bit more fun. We're want all the people with photo editing skills to chime in on this one. Here's the challenge:

Take any picture from the figure archive (any picture at all: toy, cartoon, comic, etc) and digitally recolor it to your tastes and send it in to us. Judging will be on skill, originality, theming, and overall-badassness.

Ready, set...GO! I'm looking forward to seeing my email flooded with cool digital recolors.

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