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.”

HasCon Is More Than Meets the Eye

This year Hasbro debuted the inaugural HasCon, a “FANmily” event in which the popular toy and gaming company invited fans to get an in-depth look at their latest products, purchase exclusive collectibles, rub elbows with celebrities, and indulge in their passion for the many brands represented.

The initial impression that HasCon was very different from most public conventions in that most of the main exhibition hall was not devoted to vendors and retailers, aside from the Hasbro booths selling convention exclusives. Instead, there were large pavilions dedicated to the variety of Hasbro brands such as Transformers, My Little Pony, GI Joe, Nerf, and Magic: The Gathering as well license partners like Star Wars and Marvel. Each area was filled with latest toys and games which staff members encouraged attendees to play with. Additionally, they showcased movie props, original design and packaging artwork, and interactive displays.

Located at the Rhode Island Convention Center, directly across the street from Hasbro’s global headquarters, many (if not all) of the staff on hand were employees of the company who were friendly, engaging, and enthusiastic to talk about their work with attendees and show off their latest projects. “We know that we have such a vested audience and so many brands so why don’t we open up our doors and let in everybody in who would love a peek behind the curtain,” said Tyla Bucher (Vice President of Global Brand Strategy & Marketing, My Little Pony), “It’s not so much driving the brand forward as much as it is about creating another point of connection with consumers and fans.”

John Warden (Design Manager, Transformers) echoed this sentiment, “Any chance to actually meet the not just the designers the marketing team like we normally would get at a San Diego Comic Con but also the engineering team, the packaging team, copywriters… We’re all part of the big Hasbro family and really fans have an opportunity to see everything that makes the brand work.”

Another marked difference is that HasCon was incredibly family-friendly with games and activities geared toward children as well as adult fans. There were stylists on hand to give attendees My Little Pony and Troll-themed makeovers, a Nerf shooting gallery to demo their entire collection, several cosplayers in costume to interact with fans and pose for photos, and, naturally, the latest toys. While it may seem obvious to the layperson, the fact of the matter is that most large conventions are geared toward adult fans with kid-oriented events and exhibits being an afterthought, if they are included at all.

“Obviously the big idea around HasCon,” said Ben Montano (Director of Brand Marketing, Transformers), “is to bring all families together, not just the super fan or a collector but also fans who want to bring their kids into a property or they’re already sharing a love of. For Hasbro to be able to do that, not just for fans of Transformers but My Little Pony, Magic the Gathering, that’s absolutely insane and mind blowing and we’ve seen in the last day and a half now fans and families coming in and their kids split off one way and they go another and everyone has something to appreciate and enjoy.”

Shane Wilhelmsen, a local fan and veteran of many comic conventions across the United States, attended HasCon on Friday accompanied by his two-year old daughter. “Honestly, when I bought our passes a few months ago I didn’t have a very clear idea what to expect or how well she would handle the whole experience,” said Wilhelmsen via email, “I had a general sense of what brands were going to be there based on the information on their website, but wasn’t sure what was going to have its own booth, or what sort of experiences were going to be there beyond panels (which I knew she wasn’t going to want to sit through).” However, his fears were soon alleviated as his daughter enjoyed playing with Mr. Potato Head toys, participating in a singalong with Sesame Street’s Elmo and Abby Cadabby, and meeting the Trolls cosplayers at their booth which Wilhelmsen cited as her favorite part of the convention. “She had an amazing time! She was well-behaved and totally engaged from the time we got there to pick up our badges in the morning until we had to leave at 5:00 PM.”

Overall, the first HasCon was a rousing success. There were certainly some organizational hiccups but those occur at any show, and certainly for an initial launch it’s to be expected. But the level of fan-engagement and excitement was clearly evident from top to bottom and fans are sure to want to come back next year to see what new excitement Hasbro has in store.

Scene and Heard: The Defenders at SDCC 2017!

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Con Reports and Photos, Television

In honor of Netflix’s The Defenders premiering tonight, here’s the cast and the showrunner of The Defenders speaking to the media at SDCC 2017!

Scene and Heard: Midnight, Texas!

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Con Reports and Photos

In honor of the premiere of Midnight, Texas, here’s the cast and executive producer for Midnight, Texas!

IDW Publishing Recaps Comic-Con 2017

Press Release:

San Diego-based publisherIDW, was well represented at this year’s Comic-Con International and made some noise, thanks to IDW’s high profile booth signings, in-demand exclusives, and major announcements! Not to mention walking away from the annual Eisner ceremony with awards for Best Anthology – Love is Love, and Best Reality-Based Work – March: Book Three.

As they celebrated the trilogy’s conclusion, Congressman John LewisAndrew Aydin, and Nate Powell not only received Eisner Awards for March: Book Three, but also Inkpot Awards for their contributions to the field of comics, before leading hundreds of students, teachers, and fans in an inspiring march through Comic-Con.

Love is Love project organizer, Marc Andreyko, was awarded the Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his efforts to aid the victims of the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The benefit anthology raised over $167K for those affected.

Legendary comics creator Walter Simonson, whose Ragnarök is published under IDW, was honored during the ceremony as well, being inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in recognition of his long and outstanding career.

With so many announcements hitting during the biggest trade show of the year, we’ve compiled a handy guide to what exciting news IDW/Top Shelf made at the event.

Sonic the Hedgehog — Everyone’s favorite blue blur is returning to comics in 2018, now under IDW’s editorial guidance as SEGA announced a new publishing partnership.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — Award-winning creators Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill will conclude their careers in comics with a final storyline, “The Tempest,” beginning in June.

Goosebumps — This October, encounter monsters old and new in IDW’s comic series from the terrifying world of R.L. Stine’s bestselling series.

Black Crown’s Assassinistas — This 6-issue miniseries from writer Tini Howard (Hack/Slash) and newly minted Will Eisner Hall of Famer Gilbert Hernandez (Love and Rockets) packs a punch. Ex-hitwoman Octavia comes out of retirement, dragging her college-aged son and his boyfriend along on her mission to kick some serious ass this December.

Black Crown’s Punks Not Dead — Courtesy of writer David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds, cross the pond this January for this UK-based tale of Fergie, a boy in search of his father, and his companion, the ghost of The Sex Pistol’s Sid Vicious (obviously).

TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 — The Heroes in a Half Shell and the original ‘busters will reunite for a 5-week crossover event series this November from Erik BurnhamTom Waltz, and Dan Schoening.

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call —The heroines of the 2016 feature film are returning to comics this October, now with their own series, from Ghostbusters veterans, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Corin Howell.

Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions — The new anthology comic set in Jem’s world will premiere this November, with an all-star lineup of rotating creative teams including Jem mainstay Sophie Campbell, plus Kate Leth and Tana Ford joining the jam session.

The X-Files: JFK Disclosure — This two-part special, written by Denton J. Tipton with art by Menton3, will reveal the truth surrounding one of the greatest conspiracies in American history.

Gears of War — The popular video game franchise will return to comics in January 2018, with writer Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens) scripting new stories. In addition, IDW will be reprinting the previous Gears of War comics into collections.

Glénat — IDW Publishing and French publisher Glénat are teaming up on a new joint initiative to publish original graphic novels in the U.S. and France, publishing genre graphic novels that will fit into both markets. It kicks off with a new fantasy series, The Highest House, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, creators of The Unwritten.

30 Days of Night  — Fresh art from the upcoming reimagining of the vampire tale set in Alaska was unveiled. From writer/co-creator Steve Niles and artist Piotr Kowalski (Sex), a new take on the modern classic arrives this December.

Star Trek: Discovery — The first details about the comic book tie-in to the upcoming Star Trek TV series were teased, including a Klingon-centric storyline. It will be written by Mike Johnson and Star Trek: Discovery TV writer Kirsten Beyer with art by Tony Shasteen with more details to come about the October launching title.

Visionaries — Hasbro’s Visionaries return to comics was teased from the creative team of writer Magdalene Visaggio (Kim & Kim) and artist Fico Ossio (Revolution).

Unicron is coming!  — First Strike, the next major Hasbro comic book event from IDW, will see Unicron enter the picture, which can only mean one thing – destruction!

For additional details or assets for all of the above, please reach out to IDW’s media contact.

IDW Publishing thanks all of its talented creators, dedicated fans, and the hardworking staff of Comic-Con International for another amazing year! See you all in 2018!

Scene on Video: San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Our collection of 2017 SDCC videos including trailers, panels, cosplay music videos, etc.

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SDCC Digest #2

More highlights from the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con.

SDCC 2017 Thor: Ragnarok Trailer, Panel, and Interviews

Everything Thor: Ragnarok related for you in one place.

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UPDATED: Scene on Video LIVE: IGN at SDCC 2017

 

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