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Thread: Animated Promo weekend with Designer Eric Siebenaler

  1. #1
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    Default Animated Promo weekend with Designer Eric Siebenaler

    First up, apologies to any of the Melbourne people for adding in copies of a number of postings and photos from other parts of the board, to add to the Sydney details.
    Also, dirge has some photos that I don't, which hopefully will be posted here soon as well. (if there are any more Melbourne photos, post here too)

    I also made sure I checked first, and Eric said it was okay to post what was said over the weekend. There will be one exception though, as I don't feel comfortable publically posting one thing he said, especially with the look he was getting from the marketting manager as he said it.

    So what was this promo event? - Five lucky kids won an online competition and had personalised character drawings done by Transformers Head Designer Eric Siebenaler, over this weekend (8th and 9th November).

    But a bit o' background first (for those who are new).
    Last month, the Aussie Cartoon Network website had a Transformers Animated Competition for kids under 15. They had to generate a robot from the various parts of the main cast of the cartoon, piecing together arms, legs, body and head, to make an 'original' and creative robot (like Autobot-X in the Gen1 cartoon). The people at Hasbro would then select five winners, each of whom would win a set of Animated toys worth about $250, and flights and accomodation for the winner and their family, to one of two promo events in Sydney or Melbourne. At the promo event, the Transformers Head Designer, Eric Siebenaler, would hand draw their resulting entries, and have it signed and framed.
    Both events were held outside a Kmart store in a major shopping centre in those two cities, and scheduled for a 3 hour block in the middle of the day.
    The Melbourne Promo event had 3 of the winners, and the other 2 were at the Sydney event. I think the idea behind the event was to draw interest from passing kids and from those who knew about the upcoming event, but either a lack of prior advertising or an unsuitable location for the target demographic (families with young kids), there didn't appear to be the huge turnout that Hasbro were probably hoping, or expecting.
    To be honest, this sort of thing probably hasn't been done before in this country, so Hasbro probably didn't know what interest they would get, Especially with something like Transformers, which isn't as popular or well know in this country as in America, due to a number of limitations in our market to theirs.

    I was at the Sydney event on the Sunday 9th November, but first, a few details from the Melbourne event, the day before on the 8th.

    At the Kmart in Southland Shopping Centre, Eric and three Hasbro people were there running the show, and probably making sure the kids and their families were involved in the event as each one had their entry drawn up by Eric.

    I think the members here who attended were Iceburn, Paulbot, Demonac, GoldenPhoenix, STL, JuzMel, and Jaydisc got there just after it was over.

    From what I can work out from the sketchy reports so far - Eric spent about 30-40minutes with each entry, plus did some drawings for other people, spending the rest of the 3 hour block (probably about an hour) chatting to the collectors who showed up.

    The Toy prizes given out to the kids were random Animated toys, most of which have been released here, but there were also ones that weren't (probably released to store-chains, but haven't yet reached the stores). Some 'unreleased' figures seen in the prize packs were Shockwave, Activators Grimlock and Activators Megatron.

    Some of the info to come from the discussions included:
    (posted by GoldenPhoenix)
    He was a nice guy. He also gave out some details about new figures.
    He said we were getting a new Animated Bumblebee mould that is smaller and comes with some sort of accessory. Supposedly more in scale to other figures.
    Also said there was going to be a repaint of Voyager Bulkhead. Wouldn't be a new character, it would be like the other Animated repaints. So something like ________ Bulkhead.
    Apparently Hasbro is going to do more repaints of the same characters and not make new characters out of them (like in Energon or Cybertron), mainly because by keeping them the same character, they add to something he called "Name Real estate"
    I think it is something like the reason they keep making Optimus Prime and Megatron. People will buy them because they know the characters, so if they repaint them as ______ Optimus Prime, then there is a higher chance of the same people picking up the repaint...or something like that.....

    (posted by Paulbot)
    Scope out his sketchbook Sydney-siders. Very interesting ideas in there!
    Following up on GP's post:
    The new Bumblebee GoldenPhoenix mentions is a new deluxe toy but the toy will be smaller but have a "large accessory".
    Oh and he said no Activators in the new movie line. Nor Unleashed.
    He also talked about the planning for a fourth series of the Animated cartoon (not really confirming it will happen but it's being planned for).
    The Jetstorm/Jetfire toy concept was one he'd had in mind for several years and finally got made in Animated.
    And his first toy he designed that got made was Armada Laserbeak which "everyone hated" to quote Erik himself. (I kind of laughed when he said that was his first toy so was happy to hear him say that and acknowledges fandom didn't really take to that toy)

    And JuzMel got Eric to draw a Bumblebee for her, and autograph it:


    Since the Hasbro team had to fly back to Sydney after the Melbourne event, it sounds like they had to run off soon after their scheduled 3 hour event.

    Fortunately for me, as I had guessed, Eric had more time after the Sydney event to have a chat with the fans.
    They started soon after the 11am start, and only took about an hour and a half for the two remaining prize winners. Those of us from this board who showed up(Goktimus, dirge, FFN, IamTrunks, me), ended up having a good 2 hours with Eric afterwards (except Trunks, who had to go just before we went off with Eric to discuss TFs).

    Some of the photos I took.

    The area outside Kmart set up for Eric:


    Starting on the first drawing. Note that he has a printout copy of the winning kid's entry, which is actually in colour. For a young kid of that age who wouldn't know who Eric is or appreciate the significance of his hand-drawn pictures, the coloured picture would probably be more interesting to them.
    Also of interest was his sketchbook (the kids looking at it on the right), which had a lot of character sketches in it that haven't (or won't) be done as toys.


    After the outline, comes the inking.


    As the Hasbro Marketting managers put the finished image into a frame, Eric starts on the second entry.


    The winner and his framed entry:


    And as close as I could get to the first drawing:


    Inking the second drawing:


    The finished product:


    Eric in front of the main banner (I rushed the photo to get him before that little kid got in the way, which blurred it a bit).


    And after hearing about his feelings towards his first Transformers creation (Armada Laserbeak), I had to bring it along:



    So after about 2 hours, the winning kids and their families had gone, and about another half hour the Hasbro managers had had about enough for the day. Eric was kind enough to stick around for another hour and a half at a coffee shop nearby, to talk to Goktimus, dirge, myself and another fan who isn't a member here.

    Some of the interesting things discussed during the day:
    - Eric is in Australia until February, on a 'working holiday', but would love to come back. He said that the temporary relocation is part of an initiative at Hasbro now to have the more important people exposed to other branches of their (global empire) company, and have the branches benefit from it in the process (or something like that - it sounds like something they could be doing a lot in future).
    - He's been working his normal job, but just more efficiant (no distractions like at their US offices).
    - He's been around a fair bit of Australia while here (as a tourist), and hopes to visit New Zealand before he heads back to America.
    - He pointed out to us that he has been responsible for designing all of Animated, not just Oilslick (which I thought was his only Animated figure, because it was on the tfwiki). He mentioned that there is a complete list of his works on tfw2005 site somewhere (I couldn't find it).
    - On the topic of Oil Slick, he said that it was originally intended to have slime in the second barrel (the one with the lid, not the chain weapon), and slime in the bucket over his head. When that didn't work (potential for leaking during transport from China was the issue), they looked at having water in the bucket over his head, but found out that it is 'not a good idea to have anything from China with water in it', in case it gets consumed by a child (seems that the water from China isn't the healthiest in the world). In the end, the toy was left without anything, but like Animated Swoop's weapon or Universe Galvatron, the original features are still there.
    - Aside from the Toasted TV interview, he has also been interviewd on TTN (kid's news show) and FHM (men's magazine).
    - Is working on 2 of the size classes for the TF2 Movie line, one of which is the Voyager size (I think he said Scout was the other). As expected, he couldn't say anything else about the movie, other than how great he thinks the toys are coming.
    - Mentioned that the Animated Sideswipe in the UK comic was something they drew up without telling Hasbro, and told them to change it because it was a character they would probably do eventually.
    - His thoughts on some of the good quality custom TFs, is one as a fan, who want's to get a 'City Commander' (Classics Magnus trailer) for himself.
    - Told us why we haven't seen any Animated Constructicon toys yet, but I can't say why here at this time.
    - Described the Animated Arcee toy a little, being a whole new Deluxe sized mould, and isn't all pink.
    - Said that the neutering of Animated Swoop's weapon (was designed to extend the flame spikes when pulling on the chain), but didn't pass safety tests (if swallowed, it could get lodged in a kid's throat, and pulling the chain to remove the toy would hook it in even more).
    - A fan of Translucent plastic on TFs, but not of Mighty Muggs (don't blame him - they're an abomination...).
    - He prefers the creative freedom of doing new characters over homage characters. And says that he's just about done about all the major Gen1 character homage toys for Animated, as more of the focus will be on new characters now (after next year).

    He also discussed a fair bit about the design process - what he does, what some of the restriction on him are, and how most turn out close enough to how he wanted them to.

    And a few things from the Marketting Managers:
    - The Animated cartoon will return to Australian free-to-air (Toasted TV on Channel 10) by the end of November, on weekdays.
    - Delay with the release of 25th Optimus here (probably won't be in stores until early January now)
    - And I think there was a similar delay with Special Edition classics as well.

    That's about all I can remember at the moment (I'm half asleep). I'll post more if I remember it. And those at either event can post stuff he talked to them about as well.

    EDIT - adding in the corrections by Eric, for anyone else who reads this posting.

    Ozformers Write up - Good job overall! But some things wound up getting confused.

    1) Mighty Muggs (i'm actually quite obsessed with the little guys and trying to go completist among all the different Brands) i'm sure i simply misunderstood a question you asked. Not a big deal... but it's funny that some of my friends in the fandom and at hasbro were kind of confused by that statement.

    2) Toys designed - list wasn't posted on TFW2005. I'd just sent it to a friend on those forums. It has since been posted to the TFWiki site.

    http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Eric_Siebenaler

    3) Comment by Paulbot - i found this a little disrespectful and presumptuous. "Turns out the Hasbro group didn't need to run off straight away from Melb as we saw 'em having lunch in the very busy food court before heading back to the hotel they were staying at and their afternoon flight back to Sydney." ...Truth be told - we had checked out of the hotel before we went to KMart that morning, had 20 minutes to eat, and had to go directly to the airport from there... of which we were nearly late checking in.

    4) No worries about the Constructicons comments (on the 2005 boards). This info is already out there, but most people haven't been able to make the connection between Movie/Animated constructicons from a business perspective yet. Technically, nothing is spoiled.

    Minor things aside, i felt that you guys did a great job reporting what was said. I love talking to fans, answering questions, and getting feedback on stuff... but there's been times in the past where i had been misquoted and made to look like an @ss. I must commend you on your, and your board members' efforts.
    AND, more photos of the event at dirge's site - http://www.cliffbee.com/eric/
    Last edited by griffin; 16th November 2008 at 01:15 AM.

  2. #2
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    Most of us couldn't be there but at least we can read this nice report. Thanks bossbot!

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    YAAAAYY ARCEE!!!! its a car i hope...
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    Great Wrap-up Griffin!

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    Excellent read Griffin.

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    You know what this thread is missing Griffin? A report on any huge burger finds!

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    Quote Originally Posted by griffin View Post
    - Described the Animated Arcee toy a little, being a whole new Deluxe sized mould, and isn't all pink.
    Sweeeeeet! Can't wait til the first pics surface...

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    Nice to hear about Arcee. I was hope she has a G1 style vehicle mode too. I think it would fit well into Animated's style.
    Hopefully she will be in her full curvy glory
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    He didn't say much about the vehicle mode, but did say the robot mode was exactly like her cartoon model in the Animated cartoon, which I think looked a little Gen1-ish. I got the impression that it would be a good representation of Gen1 Arcee in vehicle mode, but that was just my interpretation of how he talked about it.

  10. #10
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    In Melbourne the Hasbo display was set up within the K-Mart store. This reduced the amount of passing traffic, but people with kids did stop to look. I think they sold a few TF toys for K-Mart from their table.

    There wasn't much time for the Hasbro group to hang with the fans afterwards as they had to head back to Sydney after the allocated time at K-Mart. I think they only had time for lunch (in Southland's crazy-busy food court) due to the long trip back to the airport. The group of us that tried to eat their struggled to find a table.
    Last edited by Paulbot; 14th November 2008 at 03:56 PM. Reason: More accurate

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