Hasbro helped kick off 2013's Comic-Con International in San Diego with a panel celebrating the 30th anniversary of "Transformers." The panel focused on new and upcoming toys, including the "Thrilling 30" series of "Transformers" figures, the latest in the "Transformers: Generations" line that launched in 2010. The "Generations" line was designed to celebrate the franchise's history, and the "Thrilling 30" figures in particular recall classic and "Generation 1" characters, to the delight of long-time fans.
The panel was hosted by Hasbro's Director of Global Brand Development Jerry Jivoin, Senior Designer Lenny Panzica and Global Marketing Director on "Transformers" Ben Montano. After a quick series of plugs for various aspects of the "Transformers" franchise -- including "Transformers The Ride 3D" at Universal theme parks -- the panelists got to the meat of the presentation: a slew of new toy announcements.
Among the upcoming figures announced at the panel were "Transformers Prime: Beasthunter" figures like Dive Bomb, Rot Gut, Ace Vehicon, Bluestreak, Unicron Megatron, Ultra Magnus (the rebooted Optimus Prime), Bludgeon, Night Shadow and regular Bumblebee toys, Prowl, Windrazor (dubbed an "extremely angry bird"), Smokescreen, and Twinstrike. In the voyager class come favorites like Optimus Prime and Predaking, and Hasbro also revealed a talking Bumblebee figure, the first since the character regained his voice in the show.
Hasbro next showed off a new line called "Construct-bots," figures that tie in with a smart-phone app that lets fans design their own figures and fight with them on a virtual battlefield. The figures can also be customized and combined; Hasbro showed off a combination of Ironhide and Starscream that they dubbed "Starhide," along with other possible hybrids. The line will allow kids and adults alike to create their "dream Transformers," Jivoin said. To that end, Hasbro is also hosting a "Best Bot Showdown" and a "Kid-Built Bot Contest" that will eventually see fan favorite designs made into physical toys.
"Not only can you leverage old characters that we have in our lore, but you can take them and go even further with it," Panzica said. The "Construct-bots" line includes figures like Wheeljack, Smokescreen, Dragstrip, Optimus Prime, Skystalker and others. It also features highly customizable "triple changers," like Blitzwing and Bumblebee, that transform into three different forms. "The sky's the limit on these guys," Panzica said. A duo of Optimus Prime and Megatron figures elicited some enthusiastic "ahhs" from the audience.
Hasbro also announced plans to release more toys to tie in with the "Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising" show that will debut later this year, including the regulars like Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Shockwave, multiple versions of Predaking, and others, in dual-packs and other packages that will retail at Target. The line also includes an "Abominus" hybrid made of five individual toys that will be sold in a single package.
As the panel continued, Hasbro looked further and further back into "Transformers'" history. "All this crazy stuff happened in 1984," Jivoin said as pictures of "Indiana Jones" and other classic '80s franchises flashed on the screen before a warning that "what you are about to see may make your head explode."
No heads exploded, but the hardcore fans in the audience cheered loudly for the next announcements. Hasbro revealed new "Transformers: Generations" figures, including Swerve and the green UFO Autobot Cosmos, a classic character that drew whoops and applause from those assembled. Tailgate, Sharpshot, Goldfire, Dreadwing, Skids and Waspinator ("It actually flies like a real wasp -- science!" Panzica said) were introduced as well. In addition, Voyager class figures coming in 2014 include Scoop, Starscream, Doubledealer, Rhinox, and Whirl. A lot of these characters are clearly fan favorites, judging by the excitement buzzing through the crowd.
Hasbro also announced several new figures in the "Thrilling 30" series, which includes 30 limited edition exclusives that will release between now and the end of 2014. The first figure will be the large Metroplex, released at Comic-Con this week. "Metroplex was actually kind of a challenge because he's so big and so heavy," Panzica said. They designed a new joint system specifically for this figure. After that will come large figures based on Shockwave's Lab, Platinum edition Ultra Magnus (from the "Beasthunters" show), Grimlock vs. Bruticus, more Metroplex and Shockwave's Lab variants that will be released exclusively at ACG Con in Hong Kong, Beast Hunter Optimus Prime, Masterpiece Acid Storm and Masterpiece Soundwave (with five cassette tapes; both figures Toys 'R Us exclusives) and Predaking, an Amazon exclusive.
The "Thrilling 30" figures tie in with the "Dark Cybertron" storyline of IDW Publishing's "Transformers" comics, and upcoming event that editor John Barber previously called "the biggest event in Transformers comics history." It also includes a "fan-built bot" that fans helped design on Hasbro's website. At the panel, Hasbro revealed the winner of that contest: a fembot called Windblade. She's a "valiant sword-wielding samurai knight," her sword a "turbine tornado buster kind of thing" and an energon blade like Optimus Prime's, Panzica said. She'll be given a full backstory, introduced into the official lore and included in IDW's comics.
"Windblade could end up anywhere," Jivoin said. The toy will be the 30th and final item in the "Thrilling 30" series, released in deluxe scale at the end of 2014.
During the Q&A portion fans requested more Dinobots figures and female characters. A young girl even asked about a "My Little Pony" Transformer. "Definitely a cool idea," Jivoin said, though there are no plans for that particular crossover at the moment.