TFWe 2.0 Commentary 01 - Hasbro, Fun Pub, and BotCon oh my!

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Kickback, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. Kickback

    Kickback Proud father Administrator Super Mod News Staff

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    Before we begin, let me welcome all of you to TFWe Volume 2.0! After absolutely exhausting ourselves with 6 issues in 6 months, we took a much needed break as life in general became hectic for many of us over the holidays. But we're back, we're refreshed, and we're ready to throw you even more written articles about anything and everything Transformers, from the minds of myself, Sol Fury, Secretcode, Protoman, Shin Densetsu, and more!

    So sit back and enjoy ... and we can't wait to show you what we have in store for our first Volume 2.0 Issue!

    Hasbro, Fun Pub, and BotCon oh my!
    [​IMG]
    written by Kickback


    To say that 2012 has been a tough year for Fun Publications would be a bit of an understatement. For starters, dealer registration was set back with a strangely worded clause regarding third party products, to which Fun Publications and Hasbro stated that the selling of (and possibly even having in your possession) any third party products would result in the product being seized by Hasbro and/or Fun Publications, and by signing the dealer agreement, you give them the authority to do so with any or no reason required.

    While the outrage on this matter was slim, a lot of fans felt like Hasbro was over-stepping a bit, though in all reality, Hasbro has every right to do this as the third party market has exploded in the last 18 months. Regardless of your feelings on the quality of the toys being put out by companies like FansProject or iGear, the reality is in fact that these companies are profiting off Hasbro’s Intellectual Property (though my thoughts are that it is more aimed at what iGear has been doing than anything FansProject has done). I don’t know how many of you remember from years ago one of the more horrid (there’s plenty of people who purchased and would agree with that opinion) attempts at a third party product … the “A.R.C.” toy by A Rabid Squirrel? It was an Arcee toy (looked like Arcee, colored like Arcee, even had a headmaster portion like in the Rebirth series from the G1 cartoon). It was a total garage-kit type of toy, with each toy having varying amounts of quality issues different from the one someone else received. Aside from the typical Chinese knock-off toys found in your Easter baskets, that was the first real “third party” toy that I can remember coming out. The thing that was probably the saving grace on that “toy” was the fact it wasn’t mass-produced or offered through any online retailers.

    But the game changed when FansProject released City Commander. The popularity and after-market price on that item spawned all these different third party companies that this writer can’t even keep track of them all anymore. It went from “accessory” kits like what City Commander was to full-fledged figures like the Not-Insecticons and the Hercules figures. And while they are ‘different’ than their Hasbro iterations to a degree, they are still milking off Hasbro’s Intellectual Property by the similarities because let’s face it … Hercules is Devastator, and anyone responsible for the creation of those toys is lying through their teeth if they claim otherwise.

    So Hasbro and BotCon disallowing any third party items makes total sense, and in reality, we should have all seen it coming. TakaraTomy already threatened some Japanese online retailers with cancelling their accounts with them for selling third party products on their store websites (pretty sure it was over some of iGear’s products, possibly their MP Coneheads), and I wonder how long until Hasbro follows suit with online retailers like BigBadToyStore and TFSource. I imagine it’s a much steeper slope to climb to get that to happen because of so many different laws and regulations, but if there’s a way I cannot put it past Hasbro’s legal team to figure out how to make it happen.


    So after the whole dealer debacle with third party items, Fun Publications then has the nightmare scenario happen – their online credit card processor was hacked, possibly as far as a year ago, and the “seed” finally sprouted and collected hundreds (possibly a thousand, depends on the number of active memberships which is not publically shared) of member’s credit cards, E-mail addresses, passwords, home addresses … basically anything you’ve ever entered in their website in an order was obtained by online thieves. The sticky part is Fun Publication’s response to the whole thing, which was slow and uninformed (and at one point, came across as shifting blame to their members as opposed to themselves) but what people fail to realize is the second they realized they were hacked and data was stolen, it became a criminal (and possibly) federal offense. We have no idea what they were advised to say or not say, we have no idea if Hasbro was involved in any way, shape, or form, for all we know this may have caused a huge financial blow to the company, of which may affect future conventions, toys, and so forth.

    A special nod here to Pete Sinclair of Fun Publications – that man took a real beating by fans for having the guts to come out and at least communicate with everyone what was happening and tried to help. He inadvertently becomes the face of the company in a mess like that, and he stood his ground and tried to communicate what he knew when he knew it. Pete, don’t know if you read these or not, but thank you – you have a thankless job where you take more abuse than praise, just know this writer appreciates what you did and tried to do during that whole nightmare. Companies need more individuals like you – not people that talk to the fans of their stuff, but people that CARE about the fans and what is happening. In every case I’ve seen with identity theft from companies, everyone is on “silent” mode and generic E-mails are sent out. You tried to be proactive and I think you need to know that it did not go unnoticed.

    But the final part of this article, and the real reason why I chose to write it, is the revelation this week that Hasbro will not allow fan artists to sell any of their work (unless it’s deemed a parody). If you’re an aspiring artist and people love your work, you are not allowed to draw anything Transformers related for commission. If you’ve drawn your own fan-comic with fan-created characters, sweet – but if there’s anything Transformers related, even as small as a faction symbol, Hasbro can shut you down. The number of artists cancelling their tables in “Artist Alley” is pretty high from what I’m reading and hearing from various artists, and a lot of people are rubbed the wrong way about this whole thing.

    [​IMG]

    Let me state though that I understand WHY it’s happening – it’s part of the “third party” clause in which case Hasbro has to protect themselves by disallowing ALL unofficial works (whether it be toy, or art) if they want to stop even just one portion of it. I don’t believe Hasbro hates fan artists, and I don’t believe Hasbro is going to start stalking artists on Deviant Art and issuing cease and desists for drawing Optimus Prime and Megatron making out (okay, maybe on that one they should). They simply want to stop all third party related things from happening, and it makes sense to stop it at their convention. I get that.

    It just sucks for those who make some amazing drawings, paintings, or shoot, even plush Transformers … some of those people I know personally, and none of them are ever in it to profit, they do it because they love being a part of Transformers, they love leaving their own mark in their own way, and they love interacting with other fans. It just feels unfair that they are the ones being punished and having their convention experience mudded by a company like Hasbro who is really doing the only thing they can do to try and stop the third party explosion.

    My sincere hope is that for next year’s convention Hasbro’s legal team and Fun Publications can come to some sort of compromise and make an exception or Artist Alley and those who want to sell their own work that just happens to have Transformers in it. Anytime you start to take the fan out of the convention, you end up with less and less of a convention, and more like a corporate shareholder meeting (I’m looking at you, Hall of Fame 2011!). BotCon has a rich and admired history since 1994 … I truly hope that these changes brought on do not tarnish the reputation of one of the most looked-forward-to events for Transformers fans.

    -Kickback
    TFWe Editor in Chief
    TFW2005.COM Administrator

    Follow me on Twitter @rankal and always follow @tfw2005 for all your Transformers news!
     

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  2. legotron123

    legotron123 Child of Primus

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    I agree on all of that. :lolol  at the pic
     
  3. Alucard77

    Alucard77 Kaon Gladiator Champion

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    I hope this is the begining of NotCOn because Botcon just seems to be like you said, a share holders meeting.
     
  4. payton34

    payton34 Well-Known Member

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    :thumbs2: 

    Agreed on all points, especially in regards to Pete. That guy can take a beating, but kept wading in regardless. There is a lot I dislike about FunPub's business practices, especially of late, but Pete is an okay guy in my book.

    Like you, I understand the "all or nothing" approach that Hasbro is taking against 3rd party product and Artist Alley is an unfortunate bystander. My biggest issue is with the timing of it all. They announced the 3rd party product ban (albeit without much clarification at the time) right from the start, yet they waited until less than a month before the convention to inform the artists (that have already long since paid the reservation for their tables) that they wouldn't be able to sell their work as they have in the past.
     
  5. grimlock1972

    grimlock1972 "No Mas" My Wallet

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    very well written. I approve this article. and that pic is epic for the lulz
     
  6. Matty

    Matty @StayingInTheBox Moderator News Staff

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    [​IMG]

    Very well written article. I couldn't agree more on all of the highlighted points. I'm looking forward to TFWe coming back!
     
  7. Prime Aspect

    Prime Aspect Visual Synthesis Engineer

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    <aol> Me Too!</aol>
    Seriously, such a good article. I would love to see a follow-up in a few months if/when you are able to talk to FunPub and maybe Hasbro and get their take on all this. I think much of the criticism is simply made without knowledge of what is really happening.
     
  8. Bigbot3030

    Bigbot3030 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for that Kickback. Well written and sums up everything nicely. I too hope that the artist alley will come back next year. I love seeing everyone and what they create.

    but to make anouther point. It's okay to show off your art/plushies/etc., you just can't sell them at the Con correct? I know thats walking a thin line, I'm just trying to understand it correctly.

    Thanks.

    EDIT: I too would like to thank Pete. Really, the whole FunPub team, but Pete's been the one with his neck out, and it's been a easy target for some. I don't think anyone should have to take all the nerd rage.
     
  9. Hollywood Hoist

    Hollywood Hoist Well-Known Member

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    Excellent article, well written and sums up the situation nicely. I do believe the fan art ban might have something to do with the licensed comic artists from IDW being there who shouldn't have to compete with fan art to sell the work.
     
  10. Megabattimus

    Megabattimus Same As It Ever Was

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    No, many of the criticisms of Funpub stem from how poorly they've handled the credit card fiasco, the 3rd party and Artist Alley ban, and every other thing they've screwed up this year.

    And honestly, they deserve all the flack they get.
     
  11. WuLongTi

    WuLongTi Cyber Ninja Web Developer

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    "All about the Pentiums" reference? If so, I fully approve :) 

    I also concur w/ what you've said Kickback. It seems as though including a "1 day limited license" into the cost of a table in the artist alley would be a real easy way to get around allowing artists to draw TF stuff at the con.
     
  12. minimaster

    minimaster Miniac

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    Very well writen, summing up the problems on all the differing sides without the mud-slinging and petty bickering that most (if not all) sides of this fiasco have been guilty of to a greater or lesser degree.

    Hope the next few will get on track with happier topics.
     
  13. LamboTwinLove

    LamboTwinLove Lambo Assassin

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    I agree about Pete. He was great to deal with and I've said it many times I would not have wanted to be in his shoes... I would have been crying in the corner the first day.

    I've worked for several years with a few anime cons and I understand the 3rd party issue. This is their con and they have the right to ban and allow whatever they wish. I'm also a graphic designer and I know that I don't want my work used for someone else to make a profit on. The business side of me agrees. The fan side of me just wants to facepalm though because for the most part the 3rd party toys are filling in on things Hasbro and Takara have not done that collectors want.

    It's a really tough situation that leaves no one happy at the moment.
     
  14. Kickback

    Kickback Proud father Administrator Super Mod News Staff

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    No one is trying to justify what happened regarding Fun Pub and their handling of the credit card theft - but you always have to remember that sometimes you don't know there's a problem, or that security is out of date, until it's been breached. I'm not excusing the problem - in hindsight, yes, they should have been more proactive to these things as opposed to reactive - but they've paid the price and they will deal with the consequences of lost memberships.

    Though knowing this fandom, we are very, VERY easy to forget (forgive not so much) ... as soon as they showcase the new items for next year I guarantee you people will risk the $40 and the possible security issues to get their hand on that piece of addicting plastic.

    It's been a ROUGH year for Fun Publications - but you don't learn anything or improve anything until mistakes have been made. They see the mistakes. Now let's see what they learn from them. At the end of the day, all the calls for Hasbro to remove the license and so forth, has apparently fallen on deaf ears - Hasbro believes Fun Publications has the ability to continue to run their conventions smoothly.

    If we, as fans, have serious issues and concerns then they need to be organized, well thought-out, possible solutions included, and have it submitted in an organized fashion to Fun Publications. Twenty people whining on a message board isn't going to translate and in all honesty shouldn't - it's an incredibly small amount of your member-base and making decisions to appease the 20 most vocal can end up hurting the vast silent majority.

    Example - there's a lot of us who are pissed off about the "Golden Ticket" idea. But what happened? They sold out of their "Golden Ticket" packages. So in their mindset, and rightfully so, it was a popular decision and they will probably try to expand on it for the next convention. I personally, as a fan and collector who cannot afford such a thing, do not like it ... but from a business stand-point, it's pure profit and they sold through them all. Victory to Fun Publications on this one, and until people stop supporting decisions that some of us do not like, it will never change.
     
  15. VAwitch

    VAwitch G1 GeekGirl

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    Excellent article, Kickback. Nice summation of the salient points for the 3 major issues relating to TFCC, & BotCon.

    I just feel for the artists that went ahead & bought their airfare given the then official statement that Fan Art was ok - only to find out at <30days that nope, you're screwed.

    None of the ladies I know who make plushies, hats, jewelry, etc crank out more than a handful or so of a given item, and usually not that much when not stockpiling for BotCon. What prices they charge are largely for time taken to make a few pieces.

    I think Cally's box of Puggleformers is the most of an item I've seen - and no telling when she started making them for this year's show.
     
  16. Bigbot3030

    Bigbot3030 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, what "golden ticket" idea are you talking about?
     
  17. salmonman78

    salmonman78 Mordin, my hero

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    The Golden Ticket is a $300 upcharge onto a Primus package that increases the first day rights to buy the exclusives x3, plus gets a special pin and front row seating to some panels and casino night vouchers.

    Now does it make me nervous about getting my exclusives the first day? Yes, but I hope they have thought far enough ahead to make sure they have more than enough with this deal being added this year.
     
  18. Lumpy

    Lumpy Taylor Swift Actionmaster Super Mod

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    i agree with this article a lot as well... nice little read... reminds me that i need to finish reading the other TFWe issues...
     
  19. Kickback

    Kickback Proud father Administrator Super Mod News Staff

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    Hasbro has since retracted their stance on the Fan Art. Victory to the fans on this one.
     
  20. Enigma2K2

    Enigma2K2 Robot In Disguise TFW2005 Supporter

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    After all of that, if they're seriously going this route, then they better start with iGear.
     

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