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Tag Archive: Hasbro franchise tie-ins


Review by C.J. Bunce

As we wait for December’s release of the prequel Transformers story Bumblebee coming to life in theaters, the largest and most comprehensive reference guide to the classic toys, comic strips, and comic books of the Transformers franchise is on its way.  Transform and Roll Out: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to the Transformers Franchise (1984-1992) takes the deepest dive yet offered into the early days of the favorite toys and comics of a generation.  Meticulously compiled by Ryan Frost, the book will take you back like never before as he dissects each story with summaries and cross-references.  The result is a massive 820-page historical document that Transformers fans will return to again and again.

Divided into large sections on the toys, the comics, and the cartoon series, the book breaks down the toys by their release and characters, and the comics chronologically based on release.  The greatest effort is in the third section, where the author provides production information and describes plot points of the animated series, identifying characters, creators, writers, and voice actors, and he even pulls key quotes from the episodes.  Did you know the popular tie-in novelist and comic book writer Donald F. Glut wrote for the animated series?  The original actor for Emperor Palpatine in The Empire Strikes BackClive Revill–provided voices on the series.  Frost even attempts to locate the early story’s likely location for Mount St. Hillary, Oregon.

Frost recounts how Hasbro tapped then-Marvel Comics staff editor Denny O’Neil to be the next Larry Hama–the renowned writer he took the G.I. Joe toy line from toy to comic book form.  Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter didn’t like O’Neil’s story treatment so staff writer Bud Budiansky stepped in, ultimately naming most of the characters and assigning them their memorable personalities, powers, and abilities.  Budiansky would edit the series, with well-known writers taking on the stories, including Ben Mentlo, Ralph Macchio, and Jim Salicrup.  Other creators would add to the series, including Bill Sienkiewicz, Michael Golden, Herb Trimpe, Mark Texeira, Charles Vess, Alan Kupperberg, Tom Morgan, and Mike Zeck.

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Everybody who has ever loved a car can see something of themselves in the trailer for the latest film in the Hasbro Transformers movie series.  If you’ve ever seen an old car on its last wheel and thought there was something more to be brought back, then the young Oscar-nominated actor Hailee Steinfeld is you in the first trailer for this year’s Christmas release of BumbleBee.  In the same way that R2-D2 and BB-8, or Number Five, or WALL-E, or CHAPPiE, or Marvin, or Iron Giant, were made lovable in their iconic sci-fi films, Paramount and Hasbro are turning back the clock, scrapping the Michael Bay model that audiences have been tiring of, based on box office trending in the franchise.  Less action, more heart.

It’s a car, but it might as well be alive.  And better yet, BumbleBee–that classic toy yellow Volkswagen Beetle turned Optimus Prime-protector–is returning to its VW roots as this film shows him back in 1987, instead of the Camaro incarnation we saw in the movies.  Whether he is your favorite Transformer or whether that honor falls to Optimus Prime, this new film may be just the thing to jumpstart the franchise.

Steven Spielberg is again executive producer.  This entry looks more like a Spielberg picture than more recent sequels.  In case you missed it, here’s the trailer for BumbleBee:

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clue-idw-image

Hasbro has successfully launched several toys and games like Transformers, G.I. Joe, Battleship, and My Little Pony into new media territory including tie-in movies and comic books.  Everyone’s favorite detective board game is making its way to a five-issue comic book series this year from IDW Publishing.  IDW has licensed Clue (or Cluedo for British readers) and is planning some fun tying together elements of the game and the 1985 movie Clue that starred Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Christopher Lloyd.  The new comic book series was announced this weekend at Emerald City Comicon 2017 in Seattle.

The classic cast everyone knows:  Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett (or Scarlet in the U.S.), Professor Plum, Miss Peacock, Mr. Green, Miss White, and victim Mr. Boddy, are all here.  Of course, over the years other characters have entered the fold–like Miss Peach, Monsieur Brunette, Madame Rose, and Sergeant Grey–via spinoff board games like Master Detective and video game versions of Clue.  Will they make an appearance in the new series?  Two new characters immediately stand-out from the initial artwork released: a young man and woman, the woman a red-headed starlet.  One obvious update to the original cast is Colonel Mustard, the classic “great white hunter” and colonial imperialist of the original game story, is now portrayed as a black officer.  Also, Miss White doesn’t have the dated servant maid attire of past versions of the game and the movie.

boddy     mustard

Writer Paul Allor (Guardians of the Galaxy, G.I. Joe) will be scripting the series, with artwork by Nelson Dániel (Dungeons & Dragons, The Cape).  They are putting a humorous twist on the game into their new story, similar to that found in the movie version.  Also like the movie, the first issue will have three alternate endings, plus three variant covers.  Depending on which variant cover edition you read, a unique conclusion unfolds.  Is it a clue, or a red herring?  Readers can collect all the variants (and clues), as well as the main cover by Eisner award-winning artist Gabriel Rodriguez (the classic game board image above).

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