Takara: On the Ball?
By Anthony Brucale
Reissues: A Lesson in Marketing
In the untamed wilderness of the Internet, you can tell that you are in the midst of the
North American Fanboy by its distinctive whine: "Make this because I want it!" Granted,
deep down, all of us as fans have some unreasonable bizarre personal wish. However,
some of the fandom is more vocal than others when it comes to saying what they want.
Many fans clamored for a long time to have old G1 toys reissued despite the fact that
these toys were (and still are) available on the second-hand market for almost 20 years.
In 2000, Takara's experiment with re-releasing an old G1 toy, Optimus Prime, was
successful, leading to further releases. However, their reissue plan for the next few
months stood in drastic opposition to the actual point of Transformers Reissues. The
seminal idea behind reissuing toys from the 1980's was to give fans the opportunity to
buy that toy in brand new condition at a relatively low price. Yet, Takara failed to adhere
to this idea, making rare, hard-to-get convention reissues in abundance while limiting the
mass market reissues to only a handful a year, with the overflow of repaints further
emphasizing Takara's theme of "quick and cheap" production over "interesting and
PVCs - A lesson in fan unfriendly marketing
After starting the reissues, Takara also began its PVC line of Generation One
Transformers. With further disregard and reckless abandon, Takara went and sunk to a
new all-time low. Though the PVCs in and of themselves are great pieces of
Transformers memorabilia, the company's approach in marketing them was horrendous.
Although the PVCs were randomly packed in cases of twelve, Takara would only create
six regular molds for each case, splitting the case between painted and clear versions of
the molds. In addition they would go on to throw in two chase figures into the mix, which
would randomly crop up in a small percentage of case assortments.
In a business mindset, this makes sense; do half the work, make twice the money.
However, twice the money should not come at sacrificing the quality of half the product.
There are enough repaints within the Transformers universe (as evidenced by Takara
reusing the PVC molds repeatedly) to fill out box spaces per Act. ("Act" refers to each
set of PVCs, normal and chase.) Imagine an Act of PVCs where Takara gave us twelve
figures instead of six colored and six clear/pewter. There are enough molds in existence
now that it is entirely unjustifiable to create single color PVCs.
Furthermore, Takara, at the very least could have tried to make these single color PVCs
canonical. They could have painted them all gold and make them from the episode "The
Golden Lagoon," or painted them all Hate Plague Red ala, "The Return of Optimus
Prime." PVCs molded in clear plastic only apply to a few characters (Starscream) and the
pewter colored ones apply to nearly none ("Immobilizer" Wheeljack is the only instance I
can cull up for pewter).
Also, there are enough Transformers fans to sell cases to wherein chase figures are not
necessary. It has been my experience that some people didn't buy the PVCs because they
knew they weren't going to get a complete set due to the amount of chase figures. Were
the products within the case more fulfilling, there would be no need for chases.
4: What's to Come