During the chaos of San Diego ComicCon, friend of GeneralsJoes Chris Polansky took some time to stop by the Hasbro booth and spoke with Mark Weber, Derryl DePriest, and John Violette about their roles in the latest iteration of G.I. Joe. They talk 50th Anniversary, IDW Comics, Kre-O, and all sorts of other topics. It was a great conversation, which I’ve transcribed below. Big thanks to Chris for taking the time out of his trip to help out. Enjoy!
A few short days after initial reports hinted at a potential merger between Hasbro and DreamWorks animation, the latest word is that those talks have come to an end. According to the New York Times, a dip in stock prices and internal pressure from Disney may have contributed to the deal falling apart.
It’s not especially surprising giving Hasbro’s deep relationship with the Mouse, being the primary licensor for many of their action figure brands, not to mention just recently sweeping the princess license away from Mattel. Disney is a very powerful voice in the industry and not one you want to be on the wrong side of.
It’s tough to say exactly what the combined forces of Hasbro and DreamWorks might have meant for the G.I. Joe brand, and now it appears we’ll never find out. Get more details at the New York Times.
Ever since Disney swept in and more or less consumed the Marvel and Star Wars brands (two toys long linked to Hasbro contracts) the rumors began that a merger between Hasbro and Disney was more or less inevitable.
Well, as many suspected, rumors have emerged today of a Hasbro merger with a large scale animation company. But it’s not Disney.
According to Deadline.com (a very reputable and accurate Hollywood rumor source) Hasbro is in talks with DreamWorks Animation on a potential landscape-shifting deal that could help solidify their entertainment brand. Of course by solidify, I mean likely solidify it in second place compared to what Disney is doing and has been doing. Heck, maybe even third behind Disney and Pixar.
I suppose looking at this logistically, it makes a bit of sense. Stephen Spielberg has been working alongside Michael Bay from time to time on the Transformers films, and has a stake in DreamWorks, although one might say his links to Disney & Lucasfilm properties are even stronger.
What this may mean for Hasbro as an entertainment brand is anyone’s guess, but if nothing else, it’ll make things interesting, especially when it comes to toy contracts. As the primary action figure licensee for many Disney properties (including Marvel, Star Wars, and the newly acquired Disney princess license) it seems odd that they would become partnered with one of Disney’s animation rivals. But stranger things have happened in corporate America.
Check out the full details at Deadline.com and stay tuned!
Wow. Wow wow wow!
As much as I’ve loved the G.I. Joe Kre-O stuff to date, what they’re showing in the show room at Toy Fair this year is just incredible! Look at that Terror Drome! The Firebat, the Skyhawk… Serpentor?! Good grief some amazing stuff coming for Kre-O fans this year.
HISSTank.com has been on the ball with posting their images, and I’ve mirrored some of their images below. Hit them up directly for the details.
Very interesting article out of the Wall Street Journal, who reports that 3D Printing company 3D Systems Corp is partnering with Hasbro to create a new 3D playground for Hasbro’s large portfolio of games and toys.
3D Systems Corp is one of the largest manufacturers of three dimensional printers, and has recently acquired Gentle Giant, a well known toy/collectible design and manufacturing company in their own right.
This could create some interesting opportunities for kids and fans, as Hasbro leverages this new agreement to perhaps expand their brands. Time will tell how this all shakes out, but definitely an interesting twist leading up to Toy Fair.
Check out the article right here.
It seems only appropriate less than 24 hours after the State of the Union address last night that a mild controversy has formed within the walls of the online G.I. Joe community.
Honestly, it’s tough to remember a time when some sort of controversy wasn’t brewing with an online fandom somewhere.
In the latest SmallJoes.com newsletter, the following little nugget of information was in there:
“We are not expecting any new GI JOE 3 3/4″ product at retail in 2014.”
For obvious reasons, this caused a bit of a flurry of activity. But I do want to caution people to get to heavy handed or critical, and be tempted to shoot the messenger.
I’ve seen posts online claiming that perhaps the G.I. Joe fandom was “lied to” at San Diego ComicCon this past summer, and I would just ask that we please stop. The man who provided the information at SDCC was Derryl DePriest, someone who many of us have known for a very long time, and one of the hugest supporters of the G.I. Joe brand over the past decade. I have talked to him frequently at conventions over the past several years, and I can say without doubt or hesitation that he did not and would not “lie” to anyone about plans for a G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary.
That doesn’t mean that we’re getting something this year, though. In fact, signs point to no. But it’s much more a matter of plans changing, not so much someone directly “lying”.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. It has provided billions of people with a way to directly interact with each other in real time, and that atmosphere has created a strong sense of entitlement when it comes to early information. As a fandom, we all demand to hear and see things as early as humanly possible, and often berate corporations who don’t show us what they’re working on months or years in advance. So what do we expect when we ask a corporate rep something that far in advance, and then the plans change and we’re unhappy with the end result?
We cannot have it both ways. If we’re going to ask for this early information, we have to be mentally prepared to accept the fact that things can change in a period of 6 – 8 months, and it certainly seems like that happened in this case. But please, let’s not assume that Derryl stood up in the Hasbro booth in San Diego and “lied” to several fan representatives who asked him directly about 2014. That is not at all fair to him.
Now, I’m not absolving Hasbro of all blame here. If anything, I’m feeling far more critical of the way they’re treating (or not treating) one of their flagship brands on the 50th Anniversary of the brand’s creation. And not just the brand. We’re talking action figures as a whole. This entire industry was born 50 years ago this year, and even if G.I. Joe at large has faded from public consciousness, Hasbro makes enough money off of other action figure lines to at least pay some sort of lip service to the brand that started it all. To do otherwise is disrespectful and short sighted.
There are plenty of ways that Hasbro could do something with G.I. Joe using existing tooling at limited cost and through limited retail channels, but by all accounts they seem unwilling to do even that. Disappointing to say the least.
Of course this point might all be moot if we see something at Toy Fair, but by the sounds of it, that does not seem likely. At this point, though, in the midst of excellent Convention reveals and FSS shipments by the G.I. Joe Collectors Club at least there is a silver lining, though one that is more expensive than what many collectors are willing to consider.
So, I guess in conclusion, let’s not jump all over Derryl, I’m sure he was going by the information he had at the time, and Hasbro proper, if you’re reading, when you look at all of those Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Star Wars, Transformers, and dozens of other specific action figure toy lines that earn your revenue, pay your salaries, and continue to keep your entire corporation relevant, let’s not forget where that all started.
The dichotomy between 2013 and this upcoming new year couldn’t have been more stark than it was when I was researching the Top 10 biggest news stories for the past year. We went from anticipating a new film, lots of new Hasbro release toys, the emergence of Kre-O, and many other potential new G.I. Joe events from the upcoming year to a year of total uncertainty.
Today marks the beginning of the 50th Anniversary of the G.I. Joe brand, a brand steeped in history and cultural relevance, and it seems to be a real shame that such an event would go mostly ignored by Hasbro, who wouldn’t exist as an entity today without G.I. Joe’s presence throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. A damn shame that nearly four full decades of success relegates a once remarkable brand to the potential dustbins of history and pop culture insignificance. G.I. Joe as a brand helped build you, Hasbro. It would be nice if you would at least spend some efforts trying to return the favor.
Rant over. :)
Click the “Continue Reading” link below to see my list of the Top 10 biggest G.I. Joe news stories of 2013, let’s all cross our fingers that there are enough reasons to be writing up a similar list this time next year!
First and foremost, props to Wayne Losey who linked to this great article on Twitter, which takes a very close look at how action figure sales have been trending over the past several years (hint… it ain’t good) and the potential impact of movie licensed brands on those sales.
Mr. Losey is an industry professional (being one of the brain children behind Go Go Dynamo, which is currently producing the awesome Modibot, and who also did some work with Hasbro on Xevoz, G.I. Joe, and Sigma 6) and this article really takes a long hard look at the intertwining of repeated blockbuster movies and product sales associated with them. Frankly, it’s eye opening.
The G.I. Joe news front has been somewhat quiet in recent weeks, so some of the parts of Episode 85 of the What’s on Joe Mind podcast dip back in time just a little bit. But then again some of the discussion here is timeless. We speak to former Hasbro designer Rick Schad who gives us some great insight into his time on G.I. Joe, and of course, with it being episode 85, we pick our favorite figures and vehicles from 1985! Vintage love for you.
Check out episode 85 at Podbean.com (or the embedded player below) and the show notes can be seen below.
Last week Gizmodo posted a very cool video about the design and construction of Transformers, but I didn’t post it, just because…well, it was Transformers. However, today, they’ve followed up that video with another video, this time a peek into Hasbro’s model shop.
This is where some of the magic happens, folks. Figure sculpting, paint, construction…a lot of that happens in the Model Shop. For folks who went on tour at Hasbro in 2010 during JoeCon, we got a very quick walk through and it was some of the most interesting stuff we saw in the entire process. The way industrial design, artistic flair, and electronics all merge together into one fascinating department of toy magic. Pretty awesome.
There are many steps before a toy gets to this point, from concept work, input drawings, etc… but the Model Shop is awesome in its own right as well. Check out the video on Gizmodo, or embedded below. Watch for a Storm Shadow cameo!
And for good measure, here’s last week’s Transformers video as well, now that some of my butt hurt has worn off: