The left image is "Smash and Change" Optimus Prime which clearly is for younger kids since there really isn't any transformation involved but this isn't the same as the Leader (or Voyager) class figure leaked last week. The highlights from the article are below.
Enthralled by the special effects in three big-budget “Transformers” movies that enabled the robots to convert in a matter of seconds, Mr. Goldner decided the toys needed to return to their roots. So he challenged his design team to reconceive them. Now, on the 30th anniversary of the brand, Hasbro is revealing a new look for the toys, including simple maneuvers that will complete a transformation with the push of a button or flick of the wrist.In general I really can't argue with the go simple decision as some of the toys have truly become a pain in the rear to transform (3rd party also suffer from this). Still I wonder if the trade-off is worth it as the complexity often came with a lot of articulation, detail and often excellent robot and alt modes. In the past, say with Generation 1 and Beast Wars, the simplistic sequences often resulted in subpar details, poor articulation and most of the toys have either a great looking robot mode or a great looking alt mode but rarely both. Hopefully when more of the line is shown off at London Toy Fair starting Tuesday (don't know if open to the public) it may let us know if Hasbro has cracked the problem of balancing transformation with look and play value.
“Our retail partners, they are getting very excited,” said Joshua Lamb, the senior design director for the toy line. “This rethinking of the brand is setting the stage long-term.”
The toys are expected to land on retail shelves in May, a few weeks before the release of the movie. Hasbro says it will build on the promotion for the movie with a marketing campaign of its own that will include ads on television and in theaters as well as on digital platforms, like mobile and social media.
Mr. Lamb conceded that the brand had gotten a little off track over the years. “As new designers and engineers continued to work on this brand, it got more complicated,” he said. Hasbro will continue to make complex Transformers for adult fans who have collected the toys since their inception 30 years ago. But the new design is intended to re-engage parents and children, who found the transformations too challenging.
The move to reduce the complexity of the toys extends to the branding, too. The property often has multiple toy lines on sale, reflecting various TV, movie and classic versions of the characters, leading to confusion in the toy aisle. Now, all Transformers toys will come under a single, bold logo.
The design of the packaging has been reduced to emphasize the toy and its action feature, leaving “as much space as possible to celebrate the characters,” said Jonathan Newkirk, the creative brand manager for Transformers.
“These are not necessarily the cheap tricks of marketing,” Mr. Newkirk said. “This is something that goes deeper than just the branding. We are trying to give the identity a voice in a very uncluttered way.”
As for the packaging, the G1 line back in the 80s did it better with more colorful and varied look that also achieve the same goals without such a boring design. I don't have a problem with a unifying look but seems like they could have done better with the box design or even copied what they did 30 years ago (appropriate for an anniversary year) and avoid such blandness in look. Maybe it will grow on me, time will tell starting around mid-May. Assuming they can get it in stores as trying to find new releases continues to remains far more difficult than it should be.