The "New Subline Imprint" Syndrome

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Nevermore, Mar 7, 2020.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

    May 14, 2004
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    I assume most of you are by now familiar with the infamous "Tail End Of The Line" syndrome, where retailers stop ordering ongoing assortments from the current line because they're aware it's coming to a close and will be replaced by a brand new line (for example, "Titans Return" being succeeded by "Power of the Primes"). Not wanting to needlessly clog their shelves with products from a soon to be "dead" brand, these retailers instead opt to invest their money in the upcoming new line. This in turn makes any new figures that are only released as part of the final wave(s) of the old line exceedingly hard to find, and thus rare and expensive in the aftermarket.

    However, the same phenomenon can also occur in the middle of an ongoing line, even in an ongoing assortment, if the line in question lasts long enough to feature one or more subline imprints. (For those who don't know the term, a "subline imprint" is a partial rebranding of an ongoing toyline, thereby seemingly "refreshing" it with a new look for the packaging and possibly also the introduction of a new gimmick, while still maintaining the larger overall branding. Examples are Armada's "Unicron Battles", Energon's "Powerlinx Battles", the 2007 "Transformers" movie toyline's "Allspark Power" and "Premium Series", or "Beast Hunters" for "Transformers: Prime".) Basically, "New Subline Imprint" syndrome is the little brother of "Tail End Of The Line" syndrome.

    The first time I noticed this phenomenon was the 2015-onwards "Robots in Disguise" toyline. During the first year of its run, the line introduced its own version of the Mini-Cons. Those included, among other things, a Mini-Con single pack assortment and a "Mini-Con Deployers" assortment, both of them featuring multiple waves of product.

    Then, for its second year, the RID line introduced a new subline imprint that put all its focus on the Mini-Cons, named "Mini-Con Weaponizers". This subline imprint dropped the "Deployers" assortment and replaced the Mini-Con single pack assortment with a new "Mini-Con Weaponizers" single pack assortment, featuring a new assortment number. However, the consequence of that was that waves 3 and 4 of the pre-"Weaponizers" Mini-Con single pack assortment, as well as the figure featured in wave 3 of the "Deployers" assortment (Crazybolt), were either never available in the United States at all, or were initially only available from online retailers, and later from discount chains such as Marshalls, T.J.Maxx and Kroger Marketplace many months later. In some other countries, the single pack Mini-Cons only appeared at retail long after their "Weaponizers" successors had already been released in those same countries.
    Blizzard-Strike-Slipstream-US-Card.jpg Swelter-US-Card.jpg Hammer-US-Packaging.jpg Forth-US-Packaging-showing-name-Back.jpg Scorch-Strike-Jetstorm-Carded.jpg Ransack-Carded.jpg Glacius-Carded.jpg Crazybolt_US_box.jpg

    For its third year, the "Robots in Disguise" line introduced yet another subine imprint with an entirely new focus, "Combiner Force". Either because of this, or because the original single pack Mini-Cons had already been selling poorly in the first place, the single pack Weaponizers assortment, i.e. the main focus of the entire subline imprint, was never available at retail in the United States either!
    Slipstream_US_card.jpg Bashbreaker_US_card.jpg Tricerashot_US_card.jpg Lord_Doomitron_US_card.jpg Windstrike_US_card.jpg Lancelon_US_card.jpg Sawtooth_US_card.jpg Decepticon_Dragonus_US_card.jpg

    Now something similar is happening again with the "Cyberverse" toyline: For its second year, the subline imprint was "Power of the Spark", whereas the third year saw the launch of yet another subline imprint, "Bumblebee: Cyberverse Adventures" (although some figures instead featured a "Battle for Cybertron" branding with the same overall packaging design).

    However, one of the consequences of this was that waves of ongoing assortments were seemingly skipped at US retail, and some even worldwide. The second wave of "Power of the Spark"-branded Scout Class figures, which would have introduced a retooled Bumblebee, and presumably also packaging variants (with otherwise unchanged toys) of Ratchet and Megatron, was never released anywhere in the world according to my knowledge, with the assortment instead jumping straight ahead to the "Battle for Cybertron"-branded Dead End/Ramjet wave.
    Scout_wave_5_Bumblebee_packaging_US.jpg Scout_wave_5_Bumblebee_robot.jpg Scout_wave_5_Bumblebee_attack.jpg Scout_wave_3_Ratchet_packaging_POTS_US.jpg Scout_wave_1_Megatron_packaging_POTS_US.jpg

    Furthermore, the Ultra Class assortment's second "Power of the Spark"-branded wave, which introduces Prowl alongside packaging variants (with otherwise unchanged toys) of Optimus Prime and Slipstream, has been released in several countries (such as Canada, Russia and Germany), but not in the US (although Prowl is available online from Amazon as of this writing). Instead, the assortment jumped straight ahead to the "Battle for Cybertron"-branded Clobber/Hot Rod/Bumblebee wave.
    Ultra_wave_5_Prowl_packaging_US.jpg Ultra_wave_3_Optimus_Prime_packaging_POTS_US.jpg Ultra_wave_3_Slipstream_packaging_POTS_US.jpg

    Online retailers such as Big Bad Toy Store, Entertainment Earth or ToyWiz never solicited these two Cyberverse waves either, thus leaving a gap in the ongoing wave numbering. Because of this, the exact composition of the Scout Class wave with the retooled Bumblebee is still only guesswork based on packaging stock photos that have surfaced.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2020
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