New My Little Pony & Transformers Unveiled at HasCon 2017

HasCon, Hasbro’s first ever convention included many special events, panels, and autograph sessions with celebrities, artists, and athletes. But at the heart of the show is the toys upon which Hasbro has built its empire. When speaking with staff members, their commitment and passion for the stories and characters built around this merchandise is clearly self-evident. Convention Scene spoke with managers for both My Little Pony (MLP) and Transformers, two of the company’s most stalwart brands.

As both of these properties are entering their fourth decade, the obvious question is how do they stay fresh and remain relevant for generations of fans. Tyla Bucher (Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, My Little Pony) explained it thusly, “One of the responsibilities of the brand owner is to make sure that the brand always feels new and different and timely and really all of it starts with our show and the content. We have our main six ponies that are pretty consistent as far as cast go but they’re always having new adventures, meeting new friends, and the way that our writers write them and their personalities is so timely that there’s something about that content that continues enthusiasm and engagement around the brand. We bring that to life on the product side so that whatever you see on the show you experience when you take it home.”

Ben Montano (Director of Brand Marketing, Transformers) said, “Whether it’s Robots in Disguise now or Rescue Bots or the movie universe to G1, Optimus Prime still stands for loyalty and dignity but he’s a little weathered or a different iteration or he may be from a time before the war. That’s where the fun has been, it’s how can we bring those parts of their story to life in a video game or a new animated series.”

As Hasbro continues to expand its brand across multimedia platforms, with animation, feature films, video games, and comic books, the staff emphasized that product is a key component to keeping the story cohesive and continuity intact. “It’s a seamless dialogue,” said Montano, “What’s fun is that I get to work a lot with our partners whether it’s Paramount Studios, Hasbro Studios, or Polygon for Robots in Disguise and those partnerships are great; we all understand that together we make better story.”

Bucher reiterated this sentiment, “Brand integrity and continuity is something that we focus on and I have people on the team. We’re really connected everyone who works on the brand so even though Pony touches on a lot of different businesses all those team are really connected because they want to be linked to the story and the right way.”

MLP in particular has seen a huge resurgence in the past few year with the launch of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. “The content is really what attracts our fans, and we have fans of all ages and genders,” said Bucher, “The timing of the show in 2010, or G4 as people call it, was perfect for people who remembered it from the 80s and now may or may not have kids that they are introducing to the brand, both girls and boys.”

One of the big developments underway right for MLP is the brand new feature film set to debut next month. “We have a movie coming out in five weeks so everything that we’re doing now is driving towards generating excitement for that which is a huge thing for our brand it’s such an exciting thing,” said Bucher “The Ponies are going on an adventure where they leave the Equestria for the first time which is a huge thing if you’re a fan and if you’re not it doesn’t matter because you still get introduced to these Ponies are having a really, really fun adventure. The new form factors are we have sea Ponies we have hippogriffs, we have a mysterious Pony with a broken horn so we’re taking the characters and the worlds of the brand in all these really different directions.”

On the Transformers side, Hasbro has rolled out a new line called Power of the Primes, which allows fans to combine multiple Transformers into a new, unique figure. “One of the things we thought would be magical would be to pay off the idea that a mortal Transformer, like Hot Rod, changing into a Prime, or the thirteenth Prime specifically once they get the Matrix of Leadership,” said John Warden (Design Manager, Transformers) “It’s a fun and challenging transformation and something we’ve never tried before. And as a result where fans are going to get a cool new version of Optimus Prime. So I think in a lot of ways it’s taking the D.N.A. of the character and then adding something that’s revolutionary and fun that plays homage to something that fans know about but have never experienced before in toy.”

Finally both teams credited the passion and savviness of their fans as motivation to create a better product. “Our fanbase is really smart and really engaged with the brand so if you go off the rails they’ll notice that and they’ll call you on it so we try really hard to make sure that all of our story lines and our characters and our Backstory are tied together in a way that if you’re the consumer it seamless,” said Bucher.” Warden stated, “Lots of new stuff on the horizon and I just wanted to say a big thank you out to the fans in your audience. Thank you for being Transformers fans, you inspire us and we’ll keep trying to bring awesome toys for you.”

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