Home > Staff Blogs > PecanCtMichael – How Hasbro Screwed Up Transformers: Prime

PecanCtMichael – How Hasbro Screwed Up Transformers: Prime

For the last several years, Hasbro has aligned their Transformers properties primarily with Michael Bay’s live action movies.  Financially, this makes sense because this trilogy has been a cash cow since 2007.  However, this move has been to the detriment of other Transformers lines that Hasbro has maintained, such as Transformers Animated and Transformers Classics. No one likes to see their shows cut short. Now that the trilogy is complete, with no immediate live action sequel coming, Hasbro is having trouble getting out of their rut.

Enter Transformers: Prime, the latest non-movie entry into the Transformers mythos.  Prime (the show, not the character) debuted to promote the new Hub channel when it launched in the Fall of 2010.  However, this overlapped with the tail end of the Transformers 3 marketing wave.  Once again choosing to push the movie properties over everything else, Prime got little coverage and no toys to go along with the show.  Sure there were plans, but none would commence until the movie stuff was over.  All bets were off once the final wave of movie toys failed to sell well and were canceled.

Cartoons have basically been toy commercials since the early 80’s.  Toys that don’t have shows behind them do not sell, and shows without toys are kind of a waste of marketing dollars.  Action figures for Prime didn’t come out until the middle of its second season because Hasbro still had some Dark Of The Moon waves in the production.  Movie toys historically sold well, so big chain stores wouldn’t risk buying into a new line while sure sellers could be had (see: Transformers Animated toys).  Thanks, Wal-Mart…

The first figures released were only for the San Diego Comic-Con.  This is a huge event and many toy companies make exclusives for the show, but these are limited in number.  Then the first figures announced, dubbed First Edition, were only released in Europe and Australia.  Prime toys didn’t actually reach stores in the US for a while after that, and the molds and color designs had been changed since the First Edition run.  Collectors paid exorbitant prices to import the First Edition toys while regular toys trickled into domestic stores.

It didn’t help that The Hub was still a fledgling channel when Prime started.  On the Dish  Network, which I subscribed to, the channel bounced back and forth  between subscription packages.  At first, it was included in my package,  so I watched it.  A few months later, it was pushed into the next  higher subscription package.  I could still watch the  episodes online, but I don’t think that the show got as much market  share among its target demographic when parents would have to pay extra  for the privilege of seeing it.  And then wait a year for merchandise to show up.

Once again, Japan shows us how to do things right.  The Japanese version of the the Prime toys didn’t launch until the show aired there in April, 2012.  Then TakaraTomy released the figures with value-add extras in the form of new mini-cons, smaller partner figures that transform into weapons to be used in both vehicle and robot modes.  The molds were changed slightly to include mini-con ports.  Supplementing the line will be the Power Core Combiner sets, which died on the vine here in the states.  The Japanese figures also have some alternative paint decos that look great.

Hasbro now seems to have gotten the Prime train back on the tracks.  The show has been approved for a third season, the toys are now out at retail, and the movie-related toys are slowly exiting the stores (leaving the bulk of the shelf space for (piles of Bumblebee) Prime merchandise).  However, the Transformers movies made a gazillion dollars, so Michael Bay was coerced into making a fourth film.  It’s so far off that no one can predict anything yet, but I’m guessing that Prime will be canceled once the fourth marketing extravaganza gets under way.  Hasbro hates its fans.

The following post was reprinted here by permission of MichaelAndChrissy.com.  Check out the post by Michael Wilson Here.



Source : MichaelAndChrissy.com

About TFG1Mike

TFG1Mike is the Co-Creator of The GeekCast Radio Network. He loves Movies, TV, Comics, Video games, and podcasting... in case you hadn't noticed! Mike is someone who loves every aspect of the podcasting process, even though it causes him stress at times. From the scheduling, to recording, editing, and everything in between. He also enjoys writing reviews on the topics that he's interested in.You can hear TFG1Mike every week, on multiple shows here at the GCRN. His goal is to bring the fans of the GCRN the best possible podcasts! Unleash the Geek In You!
  • http://twitter.com/mrJoelGaspar Joel G

    Transformers Prime is too good of a show to cancel. Why cancel a show that has won two Daytime Emmy awards.

  • http://twitter.com/mrJoelGaspar Joel G

    Transformers Prime is too good of a show to cancel. Why cancel a show that has won two Daytime Emmy awards.

  • http://www.geekcastradio.com Steven C. Phillips

    Never underestimate Hasbro. They killed Animated for a film too so track record isn’t with them.

  • http://www.geekcastradio.com Steven C. Phillips

    Never underestimate Hasbro. They killed Animated for a film too so track record isn’t with them.

  • http://twitter.com/TFG1Mike Mike Blanchard

    While I agree with what Steve said. However it has been going strong so far. Michael is kinda a pessimist when it comes to TF Prime. LOL

  • TFG1Mike

    While I agree with what Steve said. However it has been going strong so far. Michael is kinda a pessimist when it comes to TF Prime. LOL

  • http://twitter.com/OptimusSolo Optimus Solo

    So many things wrong with this article I don’t know where to start!! Ok, not SOOO many things but at least 5-6!

    #1: Stating that Prime got little coverage when it debuted on the Hub etc is just not accurate. It has a gigantic marketing push.
    #2: While I agree that toys without shows don’t sell well there are actually quite a hefty number of shows that have done well without toy lines – kind of an over generalization here with the whole ‘cartoons are just toy commercials’ (stale) rhetoric.
    #3: Your comments about Hub not being available for the majority of the audiences here in the US is again assuming that everyone has Dish Network whereas the majority of DirectTV and regular Cable subscribers had no problem viewing the show not to mention that Hubs website streamed every episode as it aired.
    #4: I actually hate what Japan usually does with the figures so I disagree with that whole paragraph and much prefer what we got instead.
    #5: Saying “Hasbro hates its fans” is probably the most unintelligent thing I have ever heard you say which is striking to me since you seem like a pretty dang intelligent individual.

    Please don’t be offended as you know I love you Michael but this article is just pure unwarranted hate!! :)

  • http://twitter.com/OptimusSolo Optimus Solo

    So many things wrong with this article I don’t know where to start!! Ok, not SOOO many things but at least 5-6!

    #1: Stating that Prime got little coverage when it debuted on the Hub etc is just not accurate. It had a gigantic marketing push.
    #2: While I agree that toys without shows don’t sell well there are actually quite a hefty number of shows that have done well without toy lines – kind of an over generalization here with the whole ‘cartoons are just toy commercials’ (stale) rhetoric.
    #3: Your comments about Hub not being available for the majority of the audiences here in the US is again assuming that everyone has Dish Network whereas the majority of DirectTV and regular Cable subscribers had no problem viewing the show not to mention that Hubs website streamed every episode as it aired.
    #4: I actually hate what Japan usually does with the figures so I disagree with that whole paragraph and much prefer what we got instead.
    #5: Saying “Hasbro hates its fans” is probably the most unintelligent thing I have ever heard you say which is striking to me since you seem like a pretty dang intelligent individual.

    Please don’t be offended as you know I love you Michael but this article is just pure unwarranted hate!! :)

  • http://twitter.com/PecanCtMichael Michael Wilson

    Optimus Solo, we meet again! No offense taken, buddy, but you know that I’m right. I’ll iterate through your arguments:

    1) Prime did not get a gigantic marketing push. The Hub channel itself had minimal launch marketing. They had cross-promotions with other Discovery-owned channels (TLC, Animal Planet) and they put stickers on the current wave of Transformers toys. The marketing was meant to start small and build with the brand. http://www.adweek.com/news/television/qa-hubs-amber-tarshis-103494

    2) While there are plenty of good shows that do not have toy lines, the point that I was trying to make is that Prime is obviously a show that was made to accompany a toy line. A non-existent toy line. Does that undervalue the show? Well, the Hub only had 23,000 viewers in the second quarter of 2011. http://www.deadline.com/2011/06/is-the-hub-due-for-a-writedown-discovery-debt-filing-raises-that-possibility/

    3) The main complaint against the Hub channel was its availability. While all of the major cable/satellite providers offer the Hub now, many of them only offer it on their upper tier programming packages, so viewers have to pay more to see it. Most people are not willing to pay for the upper tier packages just to get one channel. And the amount of people that do get the package amounts to roughly 23,000 (as above). Viable cable networks count their subscribers in the hundreds of thousands. http://transformerslive.blogspot.com/2011/06/hub-in-trouble.html

    4) The first point that I tried to make is that Japan launched the television show and the toy line at the same time. There was no year-and-a-half gap like their was in the states. Should Hasbro have waited to launch Transformers Prime until the toys were ready? Yes, but that time frame didn’t coincide with the launch of their new television network. Maybe the extra gimmicks on the Japanese toys are not your cup of tea, but I guarantee that they will sell out of toys because there is a cartoon running concurrently.

    5) Okay fine, “Hasbro Hates Fans” is unintelligent. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not prone to putting “LOL” after everything I write. Maybe just a little fanboy-baiting? Did you take the bait? LOL! (that just felt wrong, I take back that LOL…)

    Rest assured that I have a healthy amount of mutual respect for you too, Kevin! While I don’t hate Transformers Prime, it’s not my favorite version of the franchise. I know that Hasbro could have done much better here if they hadn’t tried so hard to finagle Prime around the movie marketing.

  • http://twitter.com/PecanCtMichael Michael Wilson

    Optimus Solo, we meet again! No offense taken, buddy, but you know that I’m right. I’ll iterate through your arguments:

    1) Prime did not get a gigantic marketing push. The Hub channel itself had minimal launch marketing. They had cross-promotions with other Discovery-owned channels (TLC, Animal Planet) and they put stickers on the current wave of Transformers toys. The marketing was meant to start small and build with the brand. http://www.adweek.com/news/television/qa-hubs-amber-tarshis-103494

    2) While there are plenty of good shows that do not have toy lines, the point that I was trying to make is that Prime is obviously a show that was made to accompany a toy line. A non-existent toy line. Does that undervalue the show? Well, the Hub only had 23,000 viewers in the second quarter of 2011. http://www.deadline.com/2011/06/is-the-hub-due-for-a-writedown-discovery-debt-filing-raises-that-possibility/

    3) The main complaint against the Hub channel was its availability. While all of the major cable/satellite providers offer the Hub now, many of them only offer it on their upper tier programming packages, so viewers have to pay more to see it. Most people are not willing to pay for the upper tier packages just to get one channel. And the amount of people that do get the package amounts to roughly 23,000 (as above). Viable cable networks count their subscribers in the hundreds of thousands. http://transformerslive.blogspot.com/2011/06/hub-in-trouble.html

    4) The first point that I tried to make is that Japan launched the television show and the toy line at the same time. There was no year-and-a-half gap like their was in the states. Should Hasbro have waited to launch Transformers Prime until the toys were ready? Yes, but that time frame didn’t coincide with the launch of their new television network. Maybe the extra gimmicks on the Japanese toys are not your cup of tea, but I guarantee that they will sell out of toys because there is a cartoon running concurrently.

    5) Okay fine, “Hasbro Hates Fans” is unintelligent. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not prone to putting “LOL” after everything I write. Maybe just a little fanboy-baiting? Did you take the bait? LOL! (that just felt wrong, I take back that LOL…)

    Rest assured that I have a healthy amount of mutual respect for you too, Kevin! While I don’t hate Transformers Prime, it’s not my favorite version of the franchise. I know that Hasbro could have done much better here if they hadn’t tried so hard to finagle Prime around the movie marketing.

  • http://twitter.com/OptimusSolo Optimus Solo

    For the record that article you sited does not back up your argument that Prime did not get a marketing push. Some of your other ‘stats’ are not very solid either but you have done a much better job of outlining your points and conveying what you meant. So, I can see some of your points. However, just so we are both clear….Prime is MUCH better than that horrible Animated series!!! hahaha oh wait LOL

  • http://twitter.com/OptimusSolo Optimus Solo

    For the record that article you sited does not back up your argument that Prime did not get a marketing push. Some of your other ‘stats’ are not very solid either but you have done a much better job of outlining your points and conveying what you meant. So, I can see some of your points. However, just so we are both clear….Prime is MUCH better than that horrible Animated series!!! hahaha oh wait LOL

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