Open Letter: Hasbro, Please Sell the Transformers to a Company Who Cares

 

 

Oh, how it pains me to do this.

 

Anyone lucky enough to know me in real life can vouch for my Transformers fandom. No matter how bad the franchise would get, being a creator, I always gave myself the caveat to fix it one day. I have kept this pledge even recently on my minds page.

 

 

Unfortunately, I can no longer keep this pledge if Hasbro keeps the Transformers license. Although I have a killer Transformers story that I dabble with at times, saving Hasbro at this point would feel like John Galt going back to work at the Twentieth Century Motor Company.

 

Read Atlas Shrugged and that will make sense. But if you don’t have the time to read a thousand-page masterpiece, the gist is why waste talent on a company that doesn’t deserve it?

 

And Hasbro is going out of their way to earn this ire.

 

The movies

The live-action movies are more a personal dislike than outright failure.

 

Similar to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, moviegoers were enthralled by the first live-action Transformers movie in 2007. And just like The Force Awakens, I was not one of them. While walking out of the theater, angry about the travesty I had just witnessed, I nearly got into a fight with a fanboy who thought it was the greatest movie ever, and I politely disagreed.

 

This type of back-and-forth argument over the live-action movies would continue until people finally realized that we critics were right. And just as the Star Wars franchise circles the drain, the decline of Transformers live-action is confirmed in the dwindling box office numbers.

 

 

Now it is popular to meme on the live-action movies, and the main complaint about the series has not changed and that is, you can barely see anything.

 

 

Shaky cameras, along with monotoned colors and giant robots that often don’t fit the screen, does not make an enjoyable cinematic experience. There were also several ridiculous attempts at humor in the films that missed the mark. Not to mention my disdain for people always trying to make the Transformers look human.

 

 

Everyone who loved these movies always tried to say the classic Generation 1 look of the Transformers would not translate well on screen. Then came the Bumblebee movie to shut down that excuse.

 

 

The first few minutes of the Bumblebee movie were gorgeous and brilliant as we finally got to see what the real Transformers looked like in live action for the first time. Many hail Bumblebee as a turning point and upgrade of the franchise, but is it really?

 

 

We’ll see if Transformers Rise of the Beasts will bring the movies back to profitability, but they won’t have my dollar. This kind of cash grab and lack of quality control over the Transformer franchise has become a trend with Hasbro. Currently the box office is projecting a $50 million to $60 million for its opening weekend today, but the film cost $200 million, and with Across the Spider-Verse out there, it’ll need to keep playing in domestic theaters and resonate at the international box office to justify that hefty price tag.

 

The Toys

My opinion of the live-action movies aside, there is a growing chorus about the quality and skyrocketing prices of Hasbro products, including the Transformers.    

Plastic Free boxing

Hasbro made the controversial decision to forgo putting plastic windows on some of their toys. This meant you could no longer see what you were buying, and collectors were not happy. One of the last purchases I made from Hasbro was their Nightbird figure. It was my first experience of getting my toy in a cardboard box that I could not see inside, and I understood every one of their complaints.

 

My guess was that Hasbro thought collectors would not actually open the packages, but many did and Hasbro has since had to backtrack from this practice. Yet, that is only a small part of the issues with Hasbro toys.

     

Prices

People like to say Transformers are for kids, but what kid can afford these toys? When I was a kid, my paper route money was enough to purchase several Transformers. Maybe not someone like Omega Supreme, but definitely a Soundwave or Bumblebee. But look at the prices for these figures now.

 

 

Yes, if you’re lucky, you can get them closer to the MSRP price at Hasbro’s Haslab page, but those sell out quickly to toy sites who buy in bulk. And the price gouging continues when you look at a Sludge or Blaster.

 

You can get a complete original G1 Sludge for nearly the same price, which is a higher quality toy. Speaking of quality.

 

   

Quality Control

When talking about Transformers toy quality you must begin with die-cast metal. TFwiki.net explains the difference between die-cast and plastic when it comes to Transformers. 

 

“Advantages of die-cast metal include strength and stability. ZAMAC alloys have a breaking strength of about 41,000 psi; the high-impact polystyrene and PVC plastics used in Transformers can only withstand 6,000 psi.  Suppose two copies of Generation 1 Bluestreak’s roof were made: one from die-cast ZAMAC; the other from molded, unfilled (clear) polystyrene. The die-cast roof would withstand a force roughly 6.8 times greater than the plastic part before breaking.”

 

Contrary to common belief, the original G1 Transformers were not completely made of die-cast metal. In reality, certain high stress or used parts such as feet, chests, and hoods were made of the metal while other parts were made of plastic and rubber.

 

Optimus Prime is a combination of plastic and die-cast where Rumble is purely plastic

 

This combination added some weight and heft to your toy but did make some of the die-cast toys more brittle, which is why some G1 toys are more expensive than others. Try finding a G1 Jazz with a complete roof, or a Mirage with an unbroken waist. Finding a Smokescreen with his roof and back windows still intact for my collection was an exercise in patience and beer self-medication.

 

Every Transformer collector feels my pain

 

Hasbro has since gone to full plastic toys with mixed results.

 

 

Toy reviewers tend to give Hasbro a pass on the flimsiness of their Transformers toys, but I have no access to lose. I bring up the weight issue because, with the loss of the heft from the die-cast metal, Transformers toys feel like you are one bad turn from breaking it in two.

 

 

This video from youtuber RandomRickReviews who found a Coronation Starscream at a discount store – yes, it’s happening to Transformers toys now too– pretty much sums up the feeling of many Transformers toy buyers. You want to like the toy but can’t shake the feeling that what you’re holding is actually crap. 

 


Starscream coronation Transformers the Movie Figure

 

And he was not the only collector finding issues with current Hasbro toys.

 


Hasbro, these Transformers toys need BETTER QUALITY CONTROL!

TOY HAUL | Transformers With Failed Quality Control (July 5th 2021)

 

The argument was that going to plastic only would eliminate the brittleness of the die-cast models, but I disagree. If I were a kid given these current Transformers, not only would I be afraid to transform them, there is no way I would risk playing with them in the yard liked we did in the 80’s.

 

If you can’t play with Transformers as a kid or transform and pose them as a collector, then what’s the point? You’re paying more for a less quality toy than one that came out thirty years ago, and that is all on Hasbro.

 

And don’t tell me Hasbro can’t do it. Take a look at this MDLX Megatron from them that is currently on pre-order.

 

Must…resist…purchase!

 

Hasbro chooses not to make quality Transformers, and it doesn’t just stop with the toys.

 

WTF is this?

The Comics  

The history of the Transformers has been well documented. For the comics, Bob Budiansky is to Transformers what Larry Hama is to G.I. Joe. If that doesn’t make sense either, let’s just say there would be no Transformers without his influence.

 

Loving the medium, Bob Budiansky wanted to get into the comic industry and was given a lifeline with the Transformers. Under the stern and visionary watch of Jim Shooter, Bob was given the gist of the toys Marvel had licensed to create into a comic. Applying his creativity, he came up with all the names, profiles, and backstories for the Transformers we love today.

 

If you have a few minutes, watch this interview with OptimusPrimal to hear a funny story about his issues pushing the name Megatron to Hasbro. Or if you can stomach Netflix, he repeats the story in the season 2 Transformers episode of The Toys That Made Us.

 

Unlike current comic ‘creators’, Bob Budiansky didn’t see the Transformers as his steppingstone into Hollywood. Like Larry Hama, he poured his creativity into the franchise and what followed was a classic 54-issue run through 1984-1991.  After Bob left, we got the Simon Furman Marvel era, where the quality quickly plummeted. But that is a later article that will get me in trouble with the Transformers fandom.

 

 

Later we got what I consider to be the best Transformer comics since Bob’s heyday in Dreamwave productions.

 

 

The art, action, and stories were fantastic, and the Transformers were the actual focal point instead of random humans. These early comics still hold up, in my opinion, and I thought Dreamwave Productions would usher in the new era of Transformers. But Dreamwave Productions’ flame would quickly burn out. They grew too large too fast, brought in Simon Furman (ugh), and went bankrupt just a few years later.

 

I mention these comic runs because after they were over, that left us just with just IDW as a Transformers comic publisher.

 

Before Transformer fans condemn me, yes, IDW does have some great Transformers stories. If you are ever sailing through your local comic shop, I would suggest beginning with All Hail Megatron, which focuses more on the machines instead of annoying kid sidekicks.

 

Now that’s my Megatron

 

But then, like Ethan Van Sciver says in this video, IDW made the Transformers gay while you weren’t looking. What does homosexuality have to do with two warring machine factions vying for energy to control their planet in a war that spills onto the earth?

 

As Critical Drinker likes to say, don’t know. But that is what IDW introduced into their Transformers comic.

 

That wasn’t a one-off dabble into this ideology, with them basically shipping a version of Ratchet. For those who don’t know, Conjunx Endura means deep love in the lore. So, we get the implication in this image.

 

 

Call me all the names you want, but it won’t change the fact that I don’t believe this nonsense belongs in a Transformers comic. I want battles, schemes, lore building, soul-crushing deaths, not real-world ideology. Did putting it in completely kill IDW? No, somehow they still limp along, but Hasbro did pull their Transformers license soon after.

 

But IDW had poisoned the franchise, as this ideology often does, and that led to the blasphemy that is Transformers: Earth Spark.

 

Transformers: Earth Spark

As much as I adore the Transformers franchise, the cartoons have always been hit or miss.

 

Transformers Generation 1 will always be the pinnacle of cartoons to me, as I mentioned before. Transformers: Beast Wars grew on me as time went by, even though they introduced the concept of sparks, which I could live without. Transformers Energon and Armada are terrible in my opinion, along with anything from The Hub network, but I’d rather binge watch any of those series while strapped to the iron throne in my underwear than endure Transformers: Earth Spark.

 

Earth Spark continues with the cartoony, angular, California art-inspired trash animation that ruins franchises. The venerable Optimus Prime, the idol of many, is a buffoon in this series, while Megatron is the misunderstood anti-hero, but that is less egregious than their openly blatant far-left ideological push.

 

 

Again, what does identity politics have to giant robots at war? Don’t know. But as fellow lifelong Transformers fan Kneon from Clownfish TV says, Hasbro is getting weird.

 

 

 

 

These scenes in Transformers: Earth Spark are not only offensive as a fan but also as a writer. It makes zero sense that machines from another planet would adopt earth’s crackpot identity politics. This is clearly an attempt to indoctrinate kids with a controversial concept about gender and sex and has no place in the Transformers franchise.

 

With its lackluster toys, shoddy animation, and dabbles in identity politics, Transformers: Earth Spark will fail like most recent Transformers cartoons, but this time it threatens to torpedo the entire franchise with it.  Mainstream media picked up on the Nightshade debacle, and the usual shill came to its defense. No franchise can survive when you divide the audience, but as we know now, this has been Hasbro’s’ goal along.

 

The Games

Before anyone says I am being overly harsh on Hasbro, let me throw them a bone before I go in on the company. I have nothing bad to say about the games. Stay away from anything live action movie related but Fall of Cyberton and Transformers Devastation are fantastic games.

 

So, credit where it is due.

 

But now we deep-dive into the company itself to ruin that goodwill.

 

 

The Company

Jon Del Arroz exposing Hasbro’s pride lineup

 

Before he unfortunately passed away, CEO Brian Goldner is credited with leading Hasbro back from the brink. Like them or not, the live-action movies did bring in billions of dollars. He made three G.I. Joe movies as well and stewarded the revival of the My Little Pony Franchise. Under his watch, stock shares went from $34.43 per share to $88.05.  Under most circumstances, you couldn’t ask for more from the CEO of a major company.

 

But then the summer of love in 2020 happened. It was then that Mr. Goldner drank the Kool-Aid and embraced Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. You can read his groveling prostration to the cult in his internal memo, but if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.

 

It was then that a whistleblower came out and told Project Veritas about Hasbro forcing their employees to endure Critical Race Theory classes and partner with entities wishing to push this indoctrination to kids. Of course, Hasbro retaliated by suspending David Johnson and he had to set up a GiveSendGo for coming out against CRT and the indoctrination of children.

 

This explains why Hasbro tried to exclude gender in their Mr. Potato Head line. It also explains this embarrassing exchange where Hasbro’s global brand manager literally embarrassed and forced a fan to announce his pronouns before he was able to ask a question.  

 


Fans FORCED To Give Pronouns at G.I Joe Q&A Panel - Hasbro Brand Mgr DESTROYING Company

 

Later in the video, she even forces her employees to announce their pronouns. How many toys do you think these fans went out and bought? How many people saw her forcing the employees to bend the knee just decided not to purchase Hasbro products anymore?

 

With all these issues plaguing Hasbro, is it any surprise that their stock has plummeted since that highwater mark of the Goldner era?

 

 

New CEO Chris Cocks (not making that up) is now blaming food prices for Hasbro’s troubles, meaning they still don’t get the true reasons why their company is falling, taking the Transformers franchise with them.

 

Hasbro CEO Blames FOOD PRICES for Its Failure?!

 

Transformers is a dying brand even though Hasbro and hardcore fans don’t want to admit it. Like classic Star Wars, Generation 1 still sells, but the company, like Lucasfilm, seem hell bent on damaging that legacy to uplift characters, cartoons, and stories no one wants.

 

As a lifelong fan, I’ve heard all the put downs. Transformers is for kids. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. It’s just a big toy commercial to sell toys. Fine. Let the Transformers franchise be all those things. But make good cartoons, with good storylines to sell quality toys.  Kids deserve the best Transformers they can get too, and time pretending to be a robotic hero before the real world crushes their spirit.

 

Let kids be kids for as long as they can.  

 

That is all we are asking for, but I fear we’ll never get that again with Transformers while Hasbro holds the franchise.

 

So do the right thing Hasbro, sell the franchise to someone who cares.

 

Related: Bringing Transformers & GI Joe Back to Marvel Would Be a Huge Mistake

 

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If you are looking for an escape from modern audience fare, check out my novel Fiasco of Adventures here or here.   

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Victor James

Just a writer sharing his stories with the world. Support the Iron Age and New Culture to bring back escapism. Follow me on Substack and Minds for story updates, and find my book here.

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