A sad trend in the toys, and perhaps in defense of "dumbification"

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by tfwmongrel, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. tfwmongrel

    tfwmongrel Plastic Crack Addict

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    So I have my Optimus Prime shelves all sorted out again, having relocated the Beast era Primes to another spot as yet more movie modes come out. Sitting back to admire the handiwork, I think about how my 8 & 10 year old nephews will be staying in this room, dying to touch them all. Which I don't object to - I'm all about appreciating toys for what they are.

    But there has to be rules - touch anything, but DON'T try to transform everything. Some of this stuff will break. And in my head I'm trying to imagine where the limit must be for a kid who's just trying to figure it out.

    • G1, Powermaster, G2 and the giants from the Unicron Trilogy era - go for it. They're built tough and some are a blast. G1 is a reissue anyway, just don't lose all the loose parts.
    • Star Convoy - well he's barely a Transformer but he's safe to handle for sure.
    • Hero Prime - go ahead, put that poor sunset-hued nerf bastard out of his misery.
    • Robots in Disguise - you may not work it into firetruck mode on your own, but it can handle the effort.
    • Classics, Animated - yeah they're tough too, knock em around.
    • Titanium - don't drop it on your brother. Same for MP01, I don't have that much insurance.

      But then...

    • ROTF Voyager or Leader classes - no, please don't bother. They're so complicated you'll probably break one.
    • WFC Prime - Even I can't remember how to do him, plus he's that cherry Takara finish. Let's leave him be.
    • FOC Prime - Go ahead, though he's Takara cherry too so play nice. The paint can chip off...
    • Prime series First Edition - oh geez he's one of my favorites and he already has a stress mark in one window, and his arms are really complex and this is the good one with the right colored doors - just admire that guy.
    • Beast Hunter Prime - we gave him a hard time, but he's good to play with. Watch out though because I added a battle mask, don't lose it.
    • Generation Orion Pax - kinda feels like he's going to break, and he's Takara too - I know I know, but he has those feeble arm plates. How about if it's ANY of these shiny guys just don't ok?
    • Evasion Mode - NO! He's from Japan too and my God those arms are so hard to turn just the right way, and I've seen that the clear piece can break and the whole thing is trashed - leave him be...

    However there's this AOE Leader Class - he's big and dumb and underdetailed - BUT he's almost the only one in the last 7 years I would trust a 10 year old kid to HANDLE. Isn't that sad?? Is it really necessary to make something an oversized bath toy, in order to also have it be usable by anything but an adult collector? AOE Leader Prime (normal edition) really isn't bad - maybe we should be applauding them for finding that balance. It's a tough pill to swallow.

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    Edit: image size reduced from iPhone original giant format.
     
  2. Sol Fury

    Sol Fury The British Butcher Administrator News Staff

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    I love your lineup of ever-decreasing Primes! Any chance you can resize the pics so they don't take quite so long to load though?

    And I agree, TF toys in the last few years have been horrendously complicated at times. I think that is why Hasbro has been moving to simplify a bit. Great if they can get the balance right and they include a decent amount of articulation in there, I say. I've just got Tankor and Rattrap in Generations. Rattrap is definitely not kid friendly with lots of careful panel alignment. Tankor can be done in ten steps and is very simple and logical. I've found Tankor the more fun to transform because of it. (Both are killer toys)
     
  3. tfwmongrel

    tfwmongrel Plastic Crack Addict

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    Oh man I'm so bummed to hear about Rattrap - my 6 year old daughter has two pet rats and I was really looking forward to getting that as a combo dad/daughter gift to ourselves. I had hoped she'd be able to handle it, because I know she would love the very idea of it.
     
  4. Gepard

    Gepard Well-Known Member

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    Having come back to collecting because of the ROTF/HFTD-era toylines, I naturally love super-complex, highly-detailed Transformers – ones I prefer to be as big as possible and stuffed with features. So it it's come as a bit of a surprise – and is something of a pain to admit – that I've found more enjoyment with the smaller, simpler toy designs starting post-FoC than I had with much of the more elaborate stuff. I've gotten more out of AoE Leader Prime than I ever did with Buster Prime; he's actually fun to transform and fiddle with, rather than something that's only 'fun' to transform once or twice and then stick on a shelf to admire.
     
  5. tfwmongrel

    tfwmongrel Plastic Crack Addict

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    I'm right there with you. Like my Maketoys Giant (aka Devastator), Planet X Omega Supreme, my slowly forming Feral Rex... I absolutely love LOOKING at that giant ROTF Leader Prime on the tip-top in his massive add-on wings in all the gleaming, complex detail - these things FEEL fancy and expensive (well because they were). It makes me giddy like a kid again. But actually transform them? There just isn't time for that sort of commitment. But the new AoE Prime like you said - I can have him back & forth in a minute or two, so he actually gets some tactile enjoyment.

    I suppose it's not fair to lump 3rd party combiners into this though, they are 5-6 characters each after all. It's remarkable that the Masterpiece line can look so good, and ALSO switch modes relatively easily. Again though the problem here is what you must SPEND on them to have or replace - I'm so afraid I'm going to stress-mark a Datsun window, or chip more of Sideswipe's paint. But, good things cost good money I guess.
     
  6. tikgnat

    tikgnat Baweepgranaweepninnybong.

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    First of all, love the Prime setup, much neater than mine. Plus you have three or four I don't have, and I thought I was close to having all the OPs.

    On topic I think it's quite sad that so many of our fandom fail to realise that first and foremost the stuff we buy in shops are meant to be toys and quite frankly much too advanced and complex for young children, presumably the market they're intended for.

    If I could have a conversation with one of those people I would say if you want complexity back in your TFs there's always the plethora of third party product to dip into.
    They might reply 'but it's too expensive, I can't afford it! Why can't Hasbro make stuff like this?'
    'Because life isn't fair and you touch yourself at night.'
     
  7. Basilisk

    Basilisk It will give you infinite pleasure!

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    I honestly think the best solution to thus is going back to doing Cybertron style transformers that was one of the best toylines to me yeah the toys might not be complicated but they actually managed to work as both a fun kids toy and looked good to display.

    I'm jelly of your Optimus collection btw it's great!
     
  8. Jalaguy

    Jalaguy has no known physical weaknesses

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    Yeah, I would argue that Hasbro's current trend is not one of 'dumbification' but of 'funification'.

    Something like ROTF Leader Optimus is a very clever piece of engineering, but it sure as hell isn't fun by any reasonable definition of the word, unless you're a masochist.

    As someone who only occasionally buys movie toys, the AOE stuff that I'm most tempted by is the One-Step Changers, because they just look plain fun to mess around with.
     
  9. Starscream Gaga

    Starscream Gaga Protoformed This Way

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    I totally agree. I'm 21 and some of the Transformers toys I own (including ROTF Optimus) give me lots of grief trying to transform to the point where I just don't bother, so I just cannot imagine children enjoying them. What happens is they just ask their parents to transform it and if they can't do it its just put in a box and never touched again.

    I think Hasbo is doing well with the simple toys. Maybe they're not what I want but I can completely understand why they've decided to go in that direction.
     
  10. Yggdrasil

    Yggdrasil Banned

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    This is why Animated still reigns supreme as the best toyline imo.

    All figures were bright and colourful, with tons of personality, looked great in both modes and the transformation didn't take more than like what 5 steps at best? And once you're done you get a figure that's as poseable as any other action figure.

    They were simple, fun and just overall great toys in every regard, not to mentin that they were sturdy as heck.

    And it's all because the Hasbro designers WORKED with the animators. That's the problem with say the movie or WFC/FOC figures.

    They design the robot mode and the vehicle mode separately and then using the magic of CGI bullshit the transformation by having parts disappear, appear out of thin air, morph mid transformation and rearrange themselves in impossible ways.

    I feel like the movie designers just handed Hasbro the new character designs and just went "Here are your character designs, now go fuck yourself with them."

    The new simpler toy direction is a step in the right direction. Now granted it's not perfect but hopefully it will continue and we will get a line that's as good as Animated was again.
     
  11. SouthtownKid

    SouthtownKid Headmaster

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    Agree. In general. The TFA toyline hit a great balance.
     
  12. atomD21

    atomD21 Not made of sterner stuff...

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    I think there's a happy medium that Hasbro needs to find with the Transformers. The one steps are too simplistic, and things like ROTF OP are headache inducing. Since they are still toys, they need to be fun, as was said. However, with the sizeable collector community they have, going too cheap (looking at you, Titan wastes) just turns them off and toward third party and imports.
     
  13. KFGatri

    KFGatri Madman with a Blue Box

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    Basically, the toys need to be designed first, and then the character designs should be handed to the animators to tweak into workable animation designs.

    Now if the toy and animation designs are designed in conjunction that's a different story.

    But if the CGI/animation designers aren't even going to try to design feasible transformations, then I say they don't get to make the designs. Let them work from toys, like in G1, BW, RiD and UT.
     
  14. shiftypenguin

    shiftypenguin Fancy-Pantsless Dancer

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    Not to mention that they even had that one giant Optimus in the animated toyline that transformed himself.

    You're right, though. Animated was the perfect balance of design and playability.
     
  15. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    I'm half inclined to just ignore the entire first post because of the absurd use of the not-word "dumbification."

    It's "simplification," and implying that simple=dumb is a load of nonsense. Animated was simple, but it was far from dumb. It was more intuitive than half the movie line toys that have all those moving parts but still end up as just okay likenesses.

    The AOE Generations seem to be hitting an even ground between easy but enough parts to be intuitive. I mean, what's more impressive? A toy like HFTD Prime that takes three times as long and looks okay when compared to the CGI model? Or Evasion Prime who's intuitive and intelligently designed to do less between modes, and yet turns out more accurate and even more of a fun toy, with less kibble, more articulation, and is more solid?

    Also, I feel liek you're not being entirely fair when you mention your own collection of Takara figures. Yes I know you can only talk about what you own, but Takara figures are not meant for kids. Transformers in Japan is still largely collector-based, so they add those shiney paint jobs and bump up the price because adults are mostly buying them. But here? It's the kids, and these figures don't have "candy paint" and don't need to worry about scratches. Gen Orion Pax is damn near the perfect toy. Those "feeble arm plates" BTW just slide off.

    Okay, I'm confused here. I understand the FE AOE Prime is under-detailed and very simplistic. (his entire robot mode and vehicle mode can be seperated with the vehicle entirely intact and the robot mode missing almost no detail) But the current Leader class? How is it underdetailed? Unless you mean paint, but last I checked paint doesn't have anything to do with design.

    Though both Optimus' suffer the same problem of clearly being based on the outdated "toga" model with a few hasty changes to match the details of the more "heroic" final movie versions. This is especially evident in the chests, with them being smoother and not as "pec'd". But regardless, the current AOE leader is plenty intricate, with plenty of sculpted detail. (you know, accepting that the movie design itself is more steamlined than before) It's biggest drawback is having some shell-forming going on, which is unavoidable given the bullshit nature of the movie model, and shell-forming doesn't always mean simplified. (typically a simplified design wants to avoid parts hanging off)

    The collector community is not as "sizable" as you'd like to think. If that were true, we wouldn't be seeing these simplified toys.

    And even still, the current movie Generations like Evasion Prime, Hound, AOE Leader, etc, are all what I'd call the "happy medium." Just don't mistake first-try inaccuracy for "simplification." Remember most of the first toys for movie characters? Even in ROTF, the peak of complexity with the maddening likes of Mixmaster, characters like Sideswipe and the Twins had.... acceptable renditions. The proportions weren't right, and they were also far more kibbly with big backpacks made of a lot of the car modes. Hmmm... It's only when multiple versions of each character are made do they refine and improve. Ironhide's first toy barely resembles him.
     
  16. Yggdrasil

    Yggdrasil Banned

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    As long as the Animators take liberties when translating the toys into motion.

    That was a major problem for Energon and Cybertron, the bots just looked like gigantic toys and it's uncanny and bad looking. That is just as bad as impossible toys, because Transformers is all about the connection between the fiction and the toys, if one suffers so does the other.

    At least to me.
     
  17. CodeXCDM

    CodeXCDM Well-Known Member

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    They need a good balance is all.

    See RotF Leader Prime is a very impressive toy... but he's an absolute puzzle for kids... and even then you might want to refer to the manual the first few times...

    But then you have figures that are literally two or three steps total... meh... it is too dumb.

    I kind of miss the old indicators on figures that had 3 or 5 tiers of difficulty... Maybe no more 5's... but it wouldn't be bad to have beginner, intermediate, and even a handful of "advanced" figures now and then. I suppose Hasbro is trying the flip changer figures too as a means of offering simple yet fun figures for kids... and the proper generations for the rest. (Even though many of the new Gen figures don't seem overly complicated.)

    Indeed... Beast Wars designed the characters with the toys in mind... but they took liberties in the models. The Unicron Trilogy, honestly, didn't care enough... and it showed. Armada sported some solid character designs, but the toys were absolute bricks. Energon/Cybertron basically took the toy designs, and slapped them into the show with very few modifications. (Namely the face... and for Thunderblast... apparently something else...) Course, the plots in those shows were pretty bad honestly, made worse by awkward translations to boot.
     
  18. SG Roadbuster

    SG Roadbuster SG Wrecker

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    honestly, the aoe figures arent that bad. they just need more/better paint. For chrissakes Hasbro paint your friggin tail lights and rear bumpers!
     
  19. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    I don't mind simplification of transformation as long as there's still decent articulation on the robot mode to make up for it. What I don't like is a simple transformation and then you end up with an equally simple robot that can't bend at its knees or elbows or sometimes even hips. And usually no weapon included either.

    Simplification here often seems to me more like just trying to cut the engineering and parts count costs right down (and then hiking the selling price) rather than just making Transformers that convert more easily for kids. Making just the transformations easier was supposed to be the point, wasn't it? Seemed like in some places they've used that as an excuse to simplify many other things as well. And of course save themselves money in doing so too.
     
  20. bellpeppers

    bellpeppers A Meat Popsicle

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    Swivel arm battle grip.

    Just improve upon and bring back Alternators