Altered States Magazine - June 2002

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    The History of Online TransFandom

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  • Takara: On the Ball?

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    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 original."

    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.

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      Copyright © 2002 Altered States Magazine
    A SkyJammer Enterprises Publication