Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Transformers Club updates

The Club Forums have been online for about a week now (depending on what exact level of access one uses as a definition for "online") and discussion has, for the most part, remained civil and productive. Here are some highlights.

We learn that the club store is unlikely to carry foreign Transformers toys in the immediate future. This is at least partly because it turns out that only Hasbro has the legal right to import Transformers toys into the US. Other sites do, in fact, carry imported items, and Hasbro has been kind enough to turn a blind eye to this practice, but for the official club to carry such items would need to be done directly through Hasbro. They're looking into options, though, so this situation may change given time.

The Master Collector magazine will continue to be sent to club members every month. A group of folks (myself included) suggested the possibility of "opting out" of every other month of Master Collector (when the Transformers magazine is not included), arguing that this would save Fun Productions ("FP") shipping costs. Brian Savage has argued that even this option would create for FP the problem of creating separate shipping lists, and that it is easier just to send Master Collector every month to all club members. As mentioned before, just sending only the Transformers magazine is not an option, as Master Collector serves as a "wrapper" that enables to post office to send the magazine.

A few folks have mentioned the possibility of using G.I. Joe figure molds to create figures for some of the human characters in the Transformers saga, such as Spike Witwicky and G.B. Blackrock. Brian Savage seems to be considering this, and has asked for suggestions as to what Joe figures could be used for what Transformers humans. Other member suggestions for exclusives have involved possible tie-ins to the movie scheduled to be released in 2007. Although many members have expressed a desire to see exclusives originally planned for the old 3H club come out, FP has restated their position that they prefer to work on original projects. This also applies to a popular suggestion that FP could release toys originally planned, but never released by Hasbro, such as several unused G2 designs.

Although international postage is prohibitive for club members outside of the U.S., current international postage regulations make changes unlikely. FP charges what they are charged for overseas shipping. Also, for several reasons, it is unlikely that FP will sponsor a Transformers convention outside of the U.S. in the foreseeable future.

There should be an announcement regarding club exclusive toys in the near future. Probably not before Christmas, but possibly before the New Year. In any event, it is hoped that even club members who joined at the very beginning (whose memberships expire in early January) will have some chance to get these exclusives. But they'll have to be on the lookout, and order quick! :)

The possibility of collecting the comics from the club magazine into a single volume has been discussed by FP, but at best, it will probably be another couple of years before this can happen. Brian Savage did make an off-the-cuff statement in response to this that indicates that the current story arc is expected to last for 5 years, which is consistent with the current promise that the "freebie" exclusives that all members get each year will be parts of a combiner to be completed after the 5th year the club has been running.

Many club members have expressed a desire to have Hasbro representative Aaron Archer give the club behind-the-scenes updates, similar to those he used to provide for the 2005 boards a few years ago.

As always, options for where BotCon should be held are being heavily debated. There is also a lot of discussion on what opportunities the convention should feature. Despite a widespread desire to see the convention return to a summer schedule, it seems likely that BotCon will continue to be held in September for the foreseeable future. FP hopes to have an announcement on the location and dates for the 2006 convention soon, and they are already hard at work on the convention exclusive toys.

Finally, many folks at FP have expressed interest in having club members submit articles for publication in the Transformers club magazine. As more members submit articles, FP will better be able to use the best for the magazine. Not only will this make the magazine more member-based, but the end result promises to be of better quality, so I definitely encourage everyone to send in their ideas!

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