You know the Autobots. You know the Decepticons. But now, there’s a new breed of alien robot in town: the Predacons.
Thursday afternoon, hundred of fans sat in a crowded conference room in the Jacob K. Javits Center at New York Comic Con 2012 as Hasbro rolled out the latest line of Transformers toys: The Beast Hunters.
The Beast Hunters will be the touchstone for the Transformers brand next year, driven by Transformers Prime, the animated series produced by Hasbro Studios. The show airs on The Hub television network in the U.S. and is viewed by fans in more than 170 countries around the world.
Though season two of Transformers Prime is currently airing, lucky Comic Con goers who attended the panel got to see an episode clip from season three, when the Predacons will be introduced. The new breed of alien robot is referred to as “the ultimate Autobot hunter” in the clip and was well received by the fans in the room.
The Predacons are Cybertron’s version of dinosaurs. They make up Cybertron’s first ancient race that was destroyed in a great cataclysm. Once they’ve been reintroduced to Cybertron in the series, the transforming beasts will join the Decepticons in an effort to take down the Autobots.
“We wanted to go beast. We didn’t want to do beast machines or beast wars. We wanted to do something in our own ‘Prime’ way, but we wanted to bring more animals into it,” said Mike Vogel, vice president of development for Hasbro Studios, and moderator of the panel discussion.
A new range of Transformers toys will accompany the new series, set to launch next spring, and will include new Autobot, Decepticon, and Predacon action figures, as well as new Kre-O Transformers building sets. The panel members reminded fans that although the toys are based on the robots in the show, consumers won’t see all of the beasts come to the physical realm. Similarly, some of the toys won’t ever appear in the show.
Clint Chapman, brand development manager of Hasbro Studios, took fans on a guided PowerPoint tour filled with images of the new Transformers toy line. “We really went back to the drawing board with these guys and really beefed them up,” Chapman explained before revealing the first images.
The line includes four scales of figures including the Legion, Commander, Voyager, and Deluxe classes. In the Legion Class, Bumblebee features a Hawkbow to take down prey, shoulder cannons, and a new fashion-forward helmet. Highlighting the intense new weaponry necessary to take down the Predacons, Smokescreen has a chainsaw/gun duo, and Airachnid sports a Novastinger Bow and a Propeller Saw. As for the Legion Class Predacons, Twinstrike has two heads in beast-mode, which transform into dragon-head hands in robot-mode. He comes complete with a Piston Hammer, which changes into a Piston Cannon.
For the Commander Class, Bulk Head is back with a Nova Hammer and a biking helmet, while Predaking, the black-and-red Predacon leader, stands tall in beast-mode with his dragon-like wings spread wide and bright, yellow eyes searching hungrily for Autobots.
In the Deluxe Scale, a seemingly steroid-induced Bumblebee has been beast-huntered up, featuring a hawk bow, six projectiles, and a much larger, more intricate frame. “We literally cannot squeeze any more into a package than we did here,” Chapman said, “trust me, we tried.” As for the Deluxe Predacons, Lazerback comes fully equipped to hunt Autobots with a hidden Toxic-Strike Blaster that hides in his back or pops out and fires. Lazerback can also pull off his own tail to use as a whip.
The Kre-O building sets will also feature the new Predacons, as well as new versions of fans’ favorite classic characters. Ripclaw will feature push-button activated battle wings that flap, and Bumblebee will convert into a 4×4 vehicle with a double-barrel capture net, a first for the Autobot.
The Platinum Edition of the Transformers figures will begin releasing at the end of the year. These limited-edition exclusives are highly collectible items with special packaging. A Year of the Snake Omega Supreme and Optimus Prime will be released, both featuring new tooling, decoration, and foil packaging.
The panel members, a light-hearted group of Hasbro producers, directors, managers, and developers, were reluctant to give away too much information about the new line. Instead, questions about more upcoming products for next year and 2014 were answered with wide smiles, knowing glances, and a simple response of, “stay tuned.”