Con Exclusive Toys -- thoughts and a treatise

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by ShadowStitch, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. ShadowStitch

    ShadowStitch vectoring the hate plague

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    Today, I stumbled across a club/con exclusives thread from a few weeks ago that I didn't realize even existed, and which specifically called me out over some stuff I said regarding my opinions on con/club exclusives. I didn't notice and the thread is still going on, but that's beside the point.

    I like to think that fans can (At least sometimes) simply DISCUSS a topic, without personal prejudices or preconceived conclusions getting in the way, and without rehashing the same tired arguments over and over again like a bunch of Belmonts. Sometimes it's okay to just talk!

    So to this end -- something I was thinking about today that borderlines some touchy subjects: Con exclusives that make people angry.

    Now these are just my thoughts I'm simply stating what I've experienced, and what I think...Please, there's no need for fights and flamewars here, over ...incindiary... topics we've discussed exhaustively previously.

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    I, (and others I'm sure) was incensed at the 2007 Botcon set, more-or-less because it released mainstream characters as exclusive figures. Now the intention (finishing the line for collectors) and reality (the line was canceled) of the situation notwithstanding, it appears to boil down to the fact that some fans felt cheated out of a perceived "set," by events out of their control, and wanted figures that they felt they should have been entitled to purchase without having to pay out the nose to do so. As a result, some felt shafted, and were very angry about this.

    Some still are. :horse: 

    However, when the 2008 Botcon set was announced, I saw little to none of that sort of talk; no complaints of betrayal and collusion, of withholding characters or leveraging figures as ransom. Sure, a lot of people didn't like the Shattered Glass figures, but you can't claim conspiracy when the con exclusives are original figures. Either you like 'em and you want 'em, or you don't.

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    This thought bubbling on the backburner of my brain, I was browsing the net, idly grazing on random transformers info, and I started reading about the Kiss-play cassette characters, such as Grit, the decepticon medic... ("It is said that when he appears on a battlefield, neither side will win, because no warriors will die.")

    Then some of the E-hobby characters: Overcharge, the disposable Blitzwing clone soldier; Detritus, the Junkion Mercenary; Garboil and Howlback, the Decepticon 'Gestapo' Cobalt Sentries... plain, forgettable repaints given a new identity through their own storylines, which makes them somehow cooler, more desirable. At least, to me it does.

    You can mold a Black Optimus Prime or an Orange Starscream, but they're little more than novelties until you give them a backstory. Turning a FIGURE into a CHARACTER is what makes people want to have it.

    -----------------------

    Coupled with that thought was another incident:

    I was thinking about repainting/customizing a certain identity-less, headless silver figure I have, and I was curious who I might be able to reinterpret him as, so I checked tfu.info's transformer identification guide, under "Silver cars" and noticed that the Majority of figures are just...the same characters, over and over...

    Got a police car? That's Prowl.
    Got a yellow car? That's Bumblebee. Repaint him into Cliffjumper.
    Got a red truck? That's Prime. Repaint him into Ultra Magnus and Scourge.

    Seems like after a certain point, HasTak has done away with a lot of originality in favor of re-using the same character names and identities over and over and over. It seems wrong somehow, when someone can say "I LOVE Ironhide!" and someone else can respond, "Which one?"

    ...and yes, I realize the irony inherent in complaining about this as I was trying to do the same thing with my silver figure. But with the recognition that most of the notable silver cars were either repaints of Bluestreak or Movie Jazz, I decided it might be more fun to think up a new, original character instead...

    -------------------------

    Which got me thinking. Why don't Cons/Clubs take the opportunity that Has/Tak squanders, to breathe some new life into the franchise? Conventions that produce their own exclusives have the very real power to do that. Why not make ALL exclusive figures into something, someone new and different?

    Don't get me wrong -- I don't mind occasional, meaningful reinterpretations of existing characters, but remember these are names and personas that a lot of people hold very dear to their hearts, especially G1. When HasTak callously and routinely reuses those names, it cheapens them. And when well-meaning convention organizers start tossing those same personas around...well, it can be problematic; I'd bet that not a single person screaming about 2007's Thundercracker gave a single thought, much less torch-and-pitchfork mobs, about Bugbite being "Exclusive." ...Handling character identities can be volatile.

    In another thread, someone brought up the point that cons just can't win, because if they make figures that are popular, then fans get angry because they're too rare and expensive, but if they make less desirable characters, then no one wants them and people feel cheated.

    But I feel there's another option; that repaints as unique characters with real personality (And I don't just mean a con comic book appearance) could be a big hit with fans. There have been plenty of ORIGINAL botcon characters who DIDN'T cause a butthurt ruckus, but have their own cool backstories as well: Catscan, Flareup, Flamewar, Roulette, Shadowstriker, Antagony, Fractyl, Packrat...

    Perhaps I'm over-romanticizing... but instead of naming new characters after old heroes, how about letting some new blood have a chance to make their names known? It would end the debates over re-re-re-introductions of existing characters, as well as add flavor to an increasingly stale and incestuous universe. (wit' props to ma Wreckaz)

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    So what do YOU think? Are you happier when con/club exclusives remain in comfortable waters, reusing names you recognize to reinvent characters you know? Or would you rather see them break new ground with new characters you've never heard of before? I'd kinda like to know what other people think about this, without it devolving into riots. :lol 

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    TL;DR: I think a lot of controversy could be avoided, and great new characters could be created, by only giving Con exclusives imaginative new and original identities instead of rehashing older characters.
     
  2. Kingplay

    Kingplay Banned

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    that was a long read.......
     
  3. Noisemaze2006

    Noisemaze2006 Banned

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    I'm over the con/club/ehobby exclusive BS. Figures that you're afraid to touch because they're super limited & highly valuable just aren't any fun. I want figures that I can open up & kick around.
     
  4. Malach Ra

    Malach Ra TFW2005 Supporter

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    i open up all my lucky draws and transform them, and they aint con exclusives either. no toy is too expensive not to handle......except for a black zarak.
     
  5. Noisemaze2006

    Noisemaze2006 Banned

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    Also, I can understand a vintage figure that's over 20+ years old being worth $200+ but not something that just came out. "Botcon" or "ehobby" = automatic $200+ figure. Man, just don't bother me with that nonsense!!! :crazy: 
     
  6. Necrophon

    Necrophon Speaker of Death TFW2005 Supporter

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    About the price of the exclusive figures all I can say is that I collect for the FUN of it. If I have to pay so much money for the character that I'm afraid to get a scratch on it, then it's no fun. (And this is probably why my collection will probably never be worth much, I play with 'em too much.:dunce )

    Now as for the character being someone of a completely new identity or just a rehash of an existing one; I think that the "new" characters are more interesting when you read their bios, but without an avenue like a TV or comic series to develop that character, it's kinda hard for me to get too excited about owning them. I know that's not the case for everyone though and that's kewl. Whatever sharpens your pencil.

    I said that I collect for fun, and I think that for me, the most fun of TF's is probably the nostalgia, coupled with characterization. I love animated Bulkhead because of the great characterization in the show, even though there's no nostalgia associated with him. I love animated Jazz because he's a remake of a favorite character from my chilhood. Thus I buy (or want too buy, in Jazz's case.) the toys.:2c: 
     
  7. Valkysas

    Valkysas Attack Buffalo

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    "treatise"?
     
  8. giga-galvatron

    giga-galvatron Decepticon S.T.A.G ******

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    The only Con exclusive toy I want is Classic Thrust. Seeing how this is no possible way for him to release besides the Botcon version, he is the only one Im willing to shell out for.
     
  9. ShadowStitch

    ShadowStitch vectoring the hate plague

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    trea·tise (trē'tĭs) n.

    1. A systematic, usually extensive written discourse on a subject.
    2. A tale or narrative.

    :rolleyes2 

    ...Thank you, Necrophon, for being the only person so far who understands what I'm asking about.
     
  10. Necrophon

    Necrophon Speaker of Death TFW2005 Supporter

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    Aw shucks. :eek: 
     
  11. lastmaximal

    lastmaximal Hellspark

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    i'm all for new and original characters, or twists on old ones, or obscure G1 given a chance to shine. i love it when the unnamed or the less-portrayed bots and cons in the backgrounds get some fleshing out [meching out?], and i'm big on new spins on old things [which his why i'm a big fan of Animated's writing and characterization], or new characters/concepts altogether.

    however, i don't see this happening a lot -- given that the club [and Hasbro, hence their 'squandering' of this opportunity] still has to consider what will SELL. especially considering, in the club's case, the lower volume and accompanying higher price tag. people are simply more likely to buy an Optimus Prime, Megatron, Grimlock and Starscream [especially at Club fig prices -- which are, given their limited runs, rising in price even now thanks to the oil dealie] than they are to buy a G2 Strafe, G1 Hosehead or G1 Constructor Squad homage [all three of which i'd buy on the spot just because]. which is why the 2008 set, while not a direct Classics-filler bunch like 2007 was, still succeeded with its recognizable names and classic-trope twist on them.

    for a business such as it is, that's just the way it has to be run in order for Hasbro and the Club to stay afloat and remain in a capacity to be able to keep taking risks on unknowns or lesser-rans AND/or throw us the occasional bone.

    logically, none of these reuses should diminish one's attachment to or memories of the representation they're attached to. it's great that people hold them dear to their hearts, but that doesn't make them sacrosanct for reuse or reinterpretation. that's just the way the world works -- particularly in a story/mythology/character-based world where if the roster strays too far from the core it's more difficult to market.

    i'd wager this is less due to the character of Bug Bite and Thundercracker and more due to NO MY SEEKRZ WIL NEVAR BE COMPL33T. character-wise, to me, the survivor-of-a-dead-world Bug Bite strikes me with more intrigue than not-sure-about-faction Thundercracker.

    going off of my earlier mention of the importance of character selection with regard to ensuring the bottom line, i WOULD like to see a better balance between 'core' characters that are sure buys and new/lesser-used/need-to-be-redone characters. but comparing FP's own 2005 set [of which Ironhide well outsells the leader-type Deathsaurus and the Arcee-army-addition Chromia, let alone the new characters like Ricochet] to their 2007 set [where, as you mentioned, Thundercracker and friends trump Big Bite in interest], it's easy to see why they have to do what they do.
     
  12. optimus major

    optimus major Banned

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    really there is only one set that made me furious at.....the infamous 2007 set...
    i tried really hard to complete the classics line....and it bit me in the butt with that set

    and there is still one botcon thing that i am still pissed at......that is that i STILL don't own a botcon 08 ricochet....ME...ricochet's biggest fan :lolol 
     
  13. knook

    knook Let the Virus Consume You

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    As a younger collector I find exclusive characters annoying but then again I can't get every mass-release former I want either so maybe it doesn't bother me that much because I know that there is no way I'll go to Botcon till I'm in my 20s
     

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