Proposed late-90s TF "Action Figure" line info?

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by FakeEyes22, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    I posted this story in the "Unreleased Toy Wishes" thread, but it got me thinking that I'd really like to know if anyone remembers or knows more about this.

    Maybe 12 or 13 years ago, I was at a Joe convention in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. I'm not positive that it was the official JoeCon, but there were some Hasbro people there with a small table and a loose mock-up statue/sculpture(made of foamcore maybe?) of this really cool looking amped-up battle ready Optimus Prime. At the time, it looked like a Gundam/Powermaster Prime Hybrid.

    There were also design sheets for this and another character, I think it was Starscream. The rep told me these were done to gauge interest in a highly detailed line of non-transforming articulated figuresh. The whole thing makes perfect sense to me now that I look back at how collector based action figures were towards the end of the 90s. They were probably inspired in part by McFarlane stuff. It seemed like I was the only one who cared about this at all at the con since 80s toy collecting wasn't quite a serious thing yet outside of Star Wars.

    Now, since this was way before our amazing Classics and Masterpieces, I was RIDICULOUSLY interested. RID/Car Robots hadn't arrived yet, so any new thing that was even remotely G1 was a kick-ass window into the past. Since this was just before you could rely on everything to pop up online, I specifically brought a camera on my trip back to the con on day 2 just so I could obsessively stare at it forever...and the prototype was gone! I did get a shot of the rough design sheet that was still there, and I only remember any of this since I found the photo the other day.

    I haven't found any new info while searching since the line would have been called "Heroes of Cybertron," just like the unrelated PVCs that came later. I'd love to know if someone got some photos of that Prime mock-up, even though it probably looks like garbage compared to what we've actually gotten since.

    Anyone else have any info or photos of this?
     
  2. Dinodigger97

    Dinodigger97 germinates within you.

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    I don't know.....but that sounds soooo cool!!:) 
     
  3. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    Here's the one photo I managed to take of the Optimus Prime character turnaround, since the actual model was no longer there. I had forgotten I even had this until I found it all bent up in a box of my old Beast Wars stuff last week.

    This artwork was pretty large and mounted on press board or poster board behind the model. Sorry about the quality, I've got no scanner and this is a 3 x 5 print since digital cameras were not really a thing quite yet. This is a digital photo of a photo of someone at Hasbro's artwork:

    [​IMG]
     
  4. brr-icy

    brr-icy G1 Collector

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    interesting, i thought you were talking about the pvcs,
     
  5. Dinodigger97

    Dinodigger97 germinates within you.

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    That looks cool!!!
     
  6. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, Google thinks the same thing, naturally. I can't find anything besides some text that states that there was a line with this name discussed at some point.

    It seemed pretty clear that Hasbro was looking for a way to attract the relatively new idea of teen/young adult toy collectors who were getting into Spawn and similar stuff at the time. Nostalgia for G1 and other early 80's brands was starting to trickle in just after Hasbro had done a lot to try and completely reinvent their big guns with Beast Wars and G.I.Joe: Extreme. I remember that at this con in particular, the center of the dealer room was all G.I.Joe. There were quite a few 3 3/4" 80s figure dealers at this con and this was the first time that group didn't look like a kiddie pool among the 12" from the 60s and 70s.

    If it helps anyone who may have been there remember, I went to a con at this place 2 different years but I can't tell them apart. One year had Don Levine's book as a attendance gift and another had fake money that was allegedly used while filming Batman Forever. Weird. There were G.I.Joe exclusives, so it may have been an official Joe Con in some way.
     
  7. Brooticus

    Brooticus "You bred Raptors?"

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    I came here to suggest Transtech, but that image is new to me!
     
  8. Steevy Maximus

    Steevy Maximus Old School Snarkster

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    Back towards the end of Beast Machines, a Hasbro/Kenner designer (I've forgotten his name) proposed that line to tap into the "nostalgia market" since Transtech was moving back to Autobots, Decepticons, and a number of Classic characters.

    Called "Heroes of Cybertron", the concept was, as stated, high end "Action Masters". He showed promo art for Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bluestreak and Bumblebee (no Starscream, though had the line proceeded a high probability). Concept pages (like the one above) had pics taken, I know guys over at the Allspark still have copies

    To reiterate, this was a "test" showing by a designer, and never confirmed to actually be in development. Considering this was a few years before the 80s nostalgia boom hit, I think it was a "ahead of its time" concept.
     
  9. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    It seems to me that both concepts were playing with the same idea of getting aspects of G1 out there, but in completely different ways and years apart. This would have been a character focused, probably collector driven thing outside of the mainline toys, while Transtech would have taken the current characters and shifted the mainline towards the classic vehicle play pattern.

    I'm finding that parallel interesting. It looks like this didn't make it nearly as far as Transtech's development stages. As the first possible Optimus Prime toy I'd seen since the Action Master, I nearly lost my mind. I didn't even care that the thing would practically be an Action Master itself. We've come a long way.
     
  10. Steevy Maximus

    Steevy Maximus Old School Snarkster

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    That's because this was a "side project", something Hasbro didn't sanction. Kind of like how the Four Horsemen showed the "Masters of the Universe Classics" He-Man prototype the year before the line was launched: they were effectively doing the same thing as this guy did with Heroes of Cybertron:
    gauge consumer (primarily collector) interest in the product to show his superiors there IS a market for that kind of product.

    Given the environment around the brand and collectors circa 2000 (when these were first shown), it doesn't surprise me these didn't get into production. In the end, they were still "Transformers that didn't transform", and the 80s nostalgia boom hadn't really kicked into force at the time (and by the time it did, Hasbro had already moved to "Robots in Disguise" which accomplished much the same goals Heroes of Cybertron would have)

    Remember, Transtech was "farther along" because it was the mainline replacement for Beast Machines, and Hasbro HAD to have product to retail in the summer of 2001. All things considered, Transtech probably represents the biggest shift in brand direction and "scrapped material" ever. From what I know, the Mainframe animated series had reached some preproduction level (again, aiming for a fall 2001/early 2002 premiere), and the first wave of deluxes and first wave of Ultras were stopped JUST SHORT of getting tooling done for them.
     
  11. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!! (Sorry to double post)

    Yeah, "ahead of its time" is what I'm realizing now that I'm looking back.

    The "interest gauging" aspect at cons is something I've seen lately with the designers of the Masters of the Universe sticking proposed items in their own cases rather than Mattel's.

    I was certain that these weren't officially in development based on the brief talk I had with the people there, but I still found it interesting that they had their own little table and the few people discussing it really wanted it to happen.

    I've never been to Allspark, so thanks for pointing me in that direction. I'd love to see if someone's got a photo of the Prime mock-up sculpture. I figured it may have disappeared from the table since it was sitting right out in the open waiting for someone to snap a limb off.
     
  12. Sol Fury

    Sol Fury The British Butcher Administrator News Staff

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    Interesting, I'd never heard of these before. Shame, that Optimus design is pretty cool, and looks loads better than some modern takes on the classic design.
     
  13. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like we're simultaneously posting.

    I agree with you completely. Transtech was something that they hit the brakes on after a lot of work. This Heroes of Cybertron just represents one of probably countless designer ideas that never make it beyond paper(or little foam statue-thing) I only find this one particularly interesting because I had gotten excited for it personally and because it was seen by quite a few people, especially considering how much of a rough idea it was.

    We both went for the He-Man comparison at the same time. This does remind me of the Four Horsemen booth items quite a bit.

    EDIT: I see what you're saying. I may have assumed that the woman I spoke to, and others at that table were Hasbro reps or marketing folks. They may not have had anything to do with Hasbro, aside from the designer himself...who I don't think was even there, actually. At the time, I just saw Joe exclusives and the creator of G.I.Joe and figured "Hasbro's in the house!" Even that assumption is flawed now that I know more about how cons & exclusives work.
     
  14. Steevy Maximus

    Steevy Maximus Old School Snarkster

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    They MIGHT have been former Kenner people.

    Around 2000 (after the cluster eff STar Wars Episode I ended up being, I've read Hasbro even renegotiated their Lucasfilm deal down from one BILLION dollars to around $650 Million due to the weaker than expected performance of EpI merch), Hasbro consolidated operations to Rhode Island.
    That meant their Kenner subsidiary (which in later years, was their "action figure" division) finally got the ax, and I'm sure a LOT lost their jobs in the transition.
    So maybe the con snagged some former designers to help fill out the event...
     
  15. Rattrap Primal

    Rattrap Primal Geek Overlord

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    I remember reading on the internet about the Action Master Homages, as well as a supposed Ultra Class Grand Mall figure (early Unicron.com sections had this listed, but they might have been operating off of rumors) and a Deluxe Obsidian ( a character who deserves a Generations or Prime upgrade) as well as reports that some within Hasbro wanted Transformers to be the BIG Sci Fi franchise (this rumor was reported on this board I think a few years ago) to replace Star Wars but they where shot down at the time (though now TF is the 2nd biggest Sci Fi Franchise that Hasbro produces)
     
  16. FakeEyes22

    FakeEyes22 Well-Known Member

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    That seems possible. They seemed oddly professional in the way they were proudly showing off 2-3 drawings and a foam(or something) statue. There MAY have been a Bumblebee sculpture, but I was too fixated on mega-gun-happy-Prime to remember very well. I hadn't even considered the Kenner shake-ups. Supporting any ideas at all during that time could have meant having a job. Or maybe the designer just had enthusiastic friends and family for all I know.

    I didn't know about the Star Wars negotiation. I appreciate and respect your aresenal of toy knowledge! I knew they overproduced product, but now the comparatively low-key Episode II toy launch makes even more sense. Not to go too far off track, but they really did go nuts with Episode I. Not just Hasbro, but everyone who could get a license tried to toss out as much junk at one time as was released for the entire original trilogy! We probably didn't need several flavors of Star Wars toothpaste.

    Even though I'm not sure of the year that I saw these concepts, I'm pretty sure it was pre-2000, but barely. From what you're saying though, I probably saw this stuff when things were going downhill.

    I keep looking around for the year or more photos, but the Heroes of Cybertron name is killing me. Narrowing it down by Joe related stuff is pretty useless too. I'm obsessed with seeing that mock-up now.
     

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