Transformers: How Unicron, The Largest Toy To Date, And Ghostbusters Optimus Prime Came To Be
What's cooler than a Transformer that's over two-feet tall and weighs as much as the average pug? I honestly don't know. Hasbro recently revealed its next HasLab project (Hasbro's crowdfunding for massive toys), Unicron. The largest Transformer toy in the classic 1986 animated movie is now becoming the largest Transformer ever put into production, even if said production is limited.
HasLab made waves in 2018 for its Star Wars, Jabba's Sail Barge, which was over four feet in length. This is Hasbro's way of offering up large-scale toys to a limited collectors market, as $600 toys are a tough sell to folks traversing your average Target. These toys aren't something you'll just pick on a whim. You can only get them through HasLab, and once the crowdfunding is over, you can never buy it again.
During San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro had the Unicron Transformer on display, and it was massive. Ben Montano, the senior director of global marketing for Transformers talked to GameSpot about this gigantic, planet-sized toy--which you can buy for yourself on Haslab for $575--and he talked to us about the SDCC exclusive toy this year, an Optimus Prime/Ghostbusters mash-up toy.
GameSpot: How did you come up with the idea to just do this massive, massive toy?
Ben Montano: We had the opportunity on this brand to do some special things for fans, that people have asked for. And my team and I, we're constantly listening to fans, talking to fans saying, "What's missing in a Transformers collection?"
This is easily the number one thing everybody says, "Yeah, sure. We got a Unicron from Armada. He's really the biggest Transformer ever. What can you guys do about it?"
We've been working on this for over 18 months. It has been a labor of love for a year and a half. And for us it was timing up with the anniversary it was getting Has Lab up and running as an organization. And when we kicked off the barge last year, this was already pen to paper, it was kind of in the work. So it was really fun to sit at Toy Fair last year and have everyone say, "What's next?"
And we just smiled at grinned and said, "Yeah, you just wait."
How did you come up with the idea to just do this massive, massive toy? (Continued)
Montano: This is the ultimate Transformer collection piece. So to do that, we knew it had to be the biggest because it's Unicron, and had to be the baddest. But it had to be just so magical. And in the engineering feat here is, everything converts with it. It's not a, nothing comes apart. It's not a parts former. Right. And the language of Transformers. And everything accordions out. The back of Unicron actually opens up just like he started to covert in the '86 movie with his fists. His fist, start to open up. So we literally took inspiration to that level in the toy say, "How do we actually take that film experience that magical like holy, what is this planet devouring thing, and how do we make that into a toy?" So you're going to get those magical moments when you actually convert this thing. And I can hear everyone start to like play the the Unicron death march in their head from Vince Decola like jamming synth music as they do that.
How did you come up with the idea to just do this massive, massive toy? (Continued)
Montano: So, but there's a lot of other features. It's not just about making it big, it is the intricacies of, it's got a moving jaw, but it also has moving teeth. So you can actually get so many different kinds of grr, mean looks on the face. All of his fingers articulate, 50 points, the shoulders raise and they lower and they move out and forward. Knees, hips, weights, swivel waist, rocker ankles. Like we went over 50 points of articulation. So it's not just a stoic beast, it's super posable at two and a half feet tall, almost. It's crazy.
From a design standpoint, how insane is that to do? Not only are you making this iconic piece from a movie transform into an iconic robot from a movie, but you're also giving him poseability. How long did it take you to kind of break that down mechanically?
The entire time.
The entire time. No, dead serious. And I think it took us this long to get it right. And there were conversations about revealing this at Toy Fair seven months, six months ago or five months, whatever it was. Were like, "Yeah, we haven't figured out yet guys. We need more time. We need to get right." Because, like you said, the intricacies of all the parts moving as something of this scale. And the most important part from our design, and engineer in Japan, [Takashi Kunihiro] was getting the sphere perfectly round. And obviously there's elements there's the spike belt and things that break that. But that's true to character. But every time you move a part and we change a finger, or we change something, it impacts the exterior and the sphere.
So continuing to move the sphere out and in, but keeping it perfect in locking all the panels together was insane. Every decision we made impacted like 10 things on the toy. So it really took us this long to get it right.
How much does this weigh?
So it weighs about 19 pounds all in. So it is very hefty. I think the height, you don't get credit necessarily for just how thick that character is all in. And the stand, what's cool. Yeah, you need to stay in the float unless you have magic. If you have Cybertronian magic of some sort, that planet will float without the stand. But in robot mode, you actually don't need the stand. We haven't here, because a lot of people are banging their heads on the glass to get close to it. So he would not be yet standing.
But some of his poses, yes, we need to stand in robot mode. If you want to lift the leg, you kind of give him like a lunging pose, of course you need a stand. But for most of his poses, you don't need it standing in his ankles rock. He can hold his weight really well, it's great. And you can kind of reach out the hand and kind of like he's grabbing for the next planet or victim. So it's the ability to actually stand a bot this big and this heavy, was also a massive engineering feat.
That's an undertaking, because you don't see anything this large, this heavy, that can stand on its own.
And that was a requirement for us. We're like, "This has to be guys, this is part of what our fans are going to want and expect."
Oh, how long is the transform time, on average?
So master [Takashi Kunihiro] has said he has done the prototype in 10 minutes. So now that is obviously a little finicky, because it's still a prototype.
So three hours for me.
So yeah, I think I'll be 80 before I actually get one converted. But when all is said and done, I think it'll take someone 8 to 12 minutes to convert on their own. And it's a fun puzzle. It really is.
That is always a fun aspect of Transformers. Something that drew me and my generation, every generation into it is the logic puzzle solving aspect to it. What do you find is the most difficult Transformer and not in a bad way but for you to transform in the line currently?
How did the Ghostbuters/Optimus Prime toy come about?
A crazy lunch in the office of the team saying, "All right, 35th anniversary, what can we do this absolutely just bonkers outside of Unicron?" And a lot of us grew up in the 80s we have a lot of younger team that grew up in the 90s and Beast Wars and other things too. But a lot of us are 80s kids and we all remember Ghostbusters. And we all realize actually this year is 35th anniversary for both, Transformers and Ghostbusters. And the light bulb went off like, "No." Like, "No way Sony would let us do this." But Sony's been a great partner and both of us are celebrating the anniversary and just found this great opportunity to say, "Let's just go crazy. Let's bring two story universities together."
Montano: And I think the most fun I had was the working with IDW team and writing the comics and just saying, "You know what? Sure we want to keep our characters within their kind of, the archetype they are, but let's have fun there. They're fish out of water on Earth fighting ghosts with Egon and the guys."
Montano: So it was really that easy. It would truly was let's do something that we think would be cool that should have happened 35 years ago, and see if we can get away with it." And yeah, it's been crazy to fan out pouring of, "This is unbelievable.'
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