• Member Since 30th Dec, 2011
  • offline last seen Last Thursday

Blueshift


More Blog Posts166

Feb
3rd
2013

A history of executive meddling and toy selling - How would YOU do it? · 3:47pm Feb 3rd, 2013

“Hey Blueshift, what are your thoughts on the whole ‘Twilight Alicorn’ thing which unless you’ve been living under a rock has caused so much consternation over the internet” is a question which nobody ever has asked me. I’m going to reserve judgement to be honest, as really, the proof is in the pudding. Sure it sounds like a nightmare pitch, but then again so does “Make a My Little Pony show that doesn’t suck” and we saw how that ended up.

Things that sound terrible have become brilliant. For example, from the moment I clapped eyes on him, I hated the casting of Matt Smith as the Doctor. Hated! “It’ll ruin the show forever!” I cried, until I actually saw him and was completely won over from his very first appearance at the end of the Tennant finale. On the other hand, things that are sure certs end up dreadful, such as “Let’s make a new GI Joe cartoon and put lots of talent with a great track record on it and give them full control, it’ll be… oh.”

Would I do things differently though? Yeah, probably. To illustrate this, I will take you through a potted history of Hasbro properties and the levels of ‘executive control’ levered on them via Transformers, a franchise I have known and loved for many years, and what has and what hasn’t worked.

Note – if you want to skip the history lesson, scroll down to the big ‘PONY TIME’ where I talk about ponies!

Obviously the big grand-daddy of them all is Generation One, back in the 80s. Now, as a kid growing up in the UK, we didn’t really get the cartoon apart from episodes chopped up into five minute segments on ‘Whack-A-Day’ or whatever video tape was at the rental shop. For me, Transformers was all about the weekly UK comic (yes, comics in the UK were weekly, suck on it America!). In the US though, it was all about the cartoon.

Here’s how it worked – it was pretty straightforward, and pretty clever. Every year, Hasbro brought in a new wave of figures. They used the cartoon in its purest form – shove in as many toys as they could. Nearly every toy from the first few years gets some sort of appearance with a few exceptions. There wasn’t really a core group of characters, each episode was Optimus Prime plus a gaggle of random picks going on an adventure. Of course, there were some characters who appeared more often than others, but everyone got some screen time. If you bought a Transformers toy, odds are that it would pop up on tv and be having adventures. That’s great for kids, it makes the character seem more ‘real’ (As a child, I would divide my toys between the ‘real’ ones and the ‘not real’ ones, the ‘real’ ones being the ones that actually appeared on their respective cartoon).


Some of these were in the cartoon. Some weren’t. Guess how that affected sales.

How does this compare to the current MLP? Well, it doesn’t really. MLP has a core cast, but doesn’t really have any interest in slipping in any of the other toy characters, which is a shame. Sure we get Cheerilee pop up, and Blossomforth once made an appearance, but for a channel like the Hub which was explicitly about linking up Hasbro’s disparate commercial aims, it’s odd. We know the show creators need to approve every character model/colour scheme. We know that Hasbro makes their own characters/colour schemes. Why not join forces? Why is Rainbow Dash’s friend ‘Lightning Dust’ rather than ‘Feathermay’, or vice versa, why didn’t Hasbro put out a toy of Lightning Dust when they saw she would feature in an episode rather than a ‘new’ character with no media support?

As a child, it’s a really powerful feeling seeing the figure in your hand on screen, even if they’re just in the background. Especially given that all the pony molds are the same and it’s just a case of putting a different colour plastic in the factory molds, it’s really puzzling why they’ve not prioritised that over ‘new’ toys.

Anyway, back on track. We then get Transformers The Movie. This film was an absolute disaster when it came out, tanking Hasbro’s initial plans for theatrical movies based on their other properties. Sorry GI Joe, you’re straight to video! It’s later been reassessed as a stone-cold classic (and rightly so!) but looking at it, it’s easy to see what went wrong.

Hasbro wanted to sell more new toys. Its 1986 line was completely new and different. Obviously there needed to be a clearing out of old characters to make the new ones more important, and they made one fatal error: they didn’t think anyone actually cared. The movie is an exercise in the systematic brutal murder of many beloved childhood heroes.

Here’s the infamous ‘shuttle scene’ from the start of the movie:

Hey kids, you know those characters you know and love so much? Brawn? Prowl? Ratchet? They die with barely a word! And look, there’s Ironhide who is in nearly every season 1 and 2 episode and who gets shot in the head!

The equivalent to this would be a My Little Pony movie in which Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash gets shot in the face in the very first scene and replaced with ‘better’ ponies. And then Twilight Sparkle dies 20 minutes in.


Hasbro gave Optimus Prime wings too! In heaven :(

There were post-movie seasons which apart from some dodgy animation were actually far superior to what had come before. However the Movie had left a bad taste in people’s mouths, and the franchise soon folded on television. All they had to do was shuffle the characters about rather than murdering them, and it’d have been fine!

Into the 90s and Transformers revives with Beast Wars, generally considered one of (if not THE) best Transformer show, but also held hostage to some terrible decisions. Part of this is the fault of the writers in setting up the show, if I’m honest. It was a ‘bottle show’ in which a group of Maximals and Predacons were trapped on a prehistoric Earth with no hope of rescue (to help with the limited budget for expensive CGI!). Any new characters could be introduced via the ‘stasis pods’ which were ejected by their ship and held in orbit.

One of the commercial problems with a show like this (and one that relates to my earlier point) is that it’s only really good for selling the characters on screen. For a show that first and foremost exists to sell toys, it only actually pushes a dozen of them. Worse than that, the setup explicitly de-canonised all the other toys that Hasbro was pushing out. There wasn’t a B’Boom or a Magnaboss or a Cybershark on the planet! The toy bios would say how characters like ‘Polar Claw’ were one of Optimus Primal’s top commanders… when obviously they weren’t. The show was so tight-knit you couldn’t really get away with sneaking in extra toys in your childhood imaginations without ignoring the show’s strong continuity.

It’s here we also get to the modern era of redesigning key characters and reselling them rather than just replacing them with new characters. For the second year of Beast Wars, Hasbro decided to make some of the characters ‘Transmetal’ which meant they got three modes and nice shiny metallic beast modes. Given that the characters were stranded on a prehistoric Earth with barely any resources, such an upgrade seemed outside the realms of possibility, so the show writers did what any sane person would.

In the first episode of season 2, the moon explodes, causing a magical wave of energy which causes anyone caught in it to turn into a ‘Transmetal’. They then shrug and get on with the rest of the season. It’s short, to the point, and doesn’t waste time with struggling to introduce new toys.

The same trick doesn’t work for season 3, when everyone gets made ‘Transmetal 2’. Rather than the ‘all in one’ approach, unfortunately they decide to introduce each new toy per episode, so most of the season is taken up with explaining why character X has been upgraded. It’s pretty painful to be honest. I prefer the ‘ripping off the plaster’ approach.

The next show was Beast Machines. This is fascinating, in that it demonstrates what happens when Hasbro give pretty much no interference in a property. Beast Machines was the sequel to Beast Wars, set on a Cybertron where Megatron is in control and Optimus Primal must fight a guerrilla war against him (he’s a gorilla, ho ho ho).

The problem is, it’s terrible.

Don’t get me wrong. It looks nice for the most part. It’s a perfectly fine show on its own merits. However, it’s an awful Beast Wars sequel and a dreadful Transformers show. It’s all about how evil technology is, for heaven’s sake! Characters from Beast Wars turn up and are completely assassinated – Rhinox stops being a loyal scientist and becomes a moustache twirling villain. Blackarachnia went from strong female villainess to weeping peril monkey. Megatron is the bad guy because he thinks Cybertron should be full of robots not plants. It’s this sort of situation when you wish someone from Hasbro had stepped in and just told them to stop.

The toys are also awful. There’s seemingly no connect between what is on screen and what is on the shelf. Half the characters don’t look remotely like their on-screen counterparts, the rest are weird sizes. Optimus Primal, the leader, is a tiny figure while the tiny character of Nightscream gets a toy as big as a child.


Believe it or not, this is one of the better efforts!

Hasbro then decided to top this all off with ‘Supreme Cheetor’, a figure that will forever live in infamy. “Cheetor is popular,” they said. “Let’s make a version of him that’s as big as a house cat so kids can’t play with it in a sane way with their other toys, costs $50, and transforms by standing up.” It was awful, shelfwarmed terribly and wouldn’t even sell when shops desperately slashed the price to $10.

The franchise probably would have died if it weren’t for Hasbro being able to import the 2000 Japanese cartoon ‘Car Robots’ and the associated toys, turning it into ‘Robots in Disguise’. Despite being a straight import, this actually did rather well.

Their next project was the ‘Unicron Trilogy’ of Armada, Energon and Cybertron, in partnership with Takara in Japan. Hasbro provided the character concepts and designs, Takara turned them into toys and a Japanese company made the cartoon.

Armada did really well. Ridiculously well, in fact. They had to keep repainting the same figures because they kept flying off the shelf. Unfortunately that’s where the good times stopped. Hasbro had no control over the content of the cartoon, and Energon turned out to be terrible. Cartoon Network where it was being broadcast noticed this, and basically did its best to hide it away. The Energon cartoon really was the pits; they even managed to spell episode title captions wrong.


I don’t like to call professional television show staff ‘lazy’, but come on, there’s no excuse for this. Insultingly lazy.

The animation company kept ignoring any of the notes Hasbro sent them, and decided to make Cybertron its own continuity (which Hasbro did not want, they wanted an Energon sequel) so a great deal of reediting and interesting dubbing had to be done to bring it back in line with the original plans.

Then we get the Michael Bay films, which… well… hmm. The first one was actually pretty decent, the second two were dire. Really, really dire. They did fantastically well though. The toy sales for the first film were so good that they had to pull figures from international stock to shore up the US releases (grumble grumble). There were loads of emergency repaints brought in to shore up the line.

By the time we reach Dark of the Moon, the third film, it all goes horribly wrong. The film makes over a billion dollars, but the toy line tanks. There are still shelves full of unsold movie figures today, and the reason is simple:

Parents don’t want to keep buying toys of the same characters for their kids.


”What do you mean parents won’t buy the same character again? Should we… should we give him wings?”

The movies kept pretty much the same cast. They looked the same in each film. This was a massive problem for Hasbro, given that they wanted people to buy a big expensive Optimus Prime figure each year. Parents who bought their kids Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet et al in the first year were less keen on buying something that looked exactly the same again and again. Sure, the actual toys were new – they were new molds, new engineering etc, but if you looked at the toy, they were the same.

It’s not rocket science. People won’t buy the same things again and again, they want to buy things that look new. They want to feel value for money. They don’t want to buy a pretty much identical Optimus Prime again and again, even if he is ‘different’.

Yeah, Dark of the Moon was a disaster. Waves were cancelled. Toys of characters who were in the movie weren’t even released in the US (though the planned US releases eventually made their way to Asia). All this from one of the most successful movies of recent years.

It’s also worth mentioning Animated. This was the cartoon in between the movies and showed on Cartoon Network. Brilliant show and fantastic toyline (which didn’t do great given the very ‘new’ designs but seemed to be slowly picking up steam). Unfortunately it was part-owned by Cartoon Network and so cancelled in favour of a show Hasbro owned completely that could be broadcast on their new channel, the Hub.

Let’s be frank, I’m not a huge fan of Transformers Prime. It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s what you’d get if you asked a computer to output a generic Transformers show. I’ve tried to watch a lot, but it never seems to spark with any sort of passion. Really, I’m still bitter that a great show like Animated was cancelled in favour of a generic show like Prime because of licensing issues.

Because they’ve used super-expensive CGI, they’ve gone for a ‘bottle show’ again, of a handful of Autobots and Decepticons, with a few cameos when the budget can afford it. Also they are apparently defending a city that is empty, because there’s no budget for animating lots of people. The whole show feels quite empty, really. For season 3, Hasbro are rebooting it as ‘Beast Hunters’ which includes new characters, and all the current characters redesigned (sound familiar?). As robots though, it’s easier to get away with redesigning them. It makes more narrative sense.

PONY TIME!

So what about MLP then? Where’s all this going?

No matter the outcome, I think Hasbro have made a fundamental mistake. Sure from a marketing point of view, the short-term benefits have been huge. It’s generated a lot of buzz, a lot of talk, a lot of publicity. Everyone’s going to be watching the episode to see what happens. People who maybe haven’t thought about MLP in ages are talking about it. Short term, it’s great. Long term, we’ll see what happens.

Problem is, the buzz is all from a position of weakness. The buzz isn’t that it is exciting, but that it’s an awful idea. The discussion seems to be mostly between “I don’t like it” and “I don’t like it but maybe it could be good”. I’ve not seen anything punching the air saying it’s a brilliant idea (I’m sure there are people like that, but it’s the minority). Yes, you get a lot of buzz, but the buzz is that it is a terrible idea that can hopefully be salvaged, not that it’s an exciting, welcome new development.

Secondly, well, yes, you want to sell more toys. Hasbro are concentrating a lot on a core set of characters, which can be a diminishing return, and it’s harder to keep selling the same figures again and again. I think they saw the sales of the Celestia princess figure at the start of the line, saw the sales of the Cadance figure at the end of season 2, and decided that each year their big event needs to be to push a princess figure. That’s all that makes sense to me. The thing is, what works once isn’t guaranteed to work again and again.


How many expensive toys that look like this will people actually buy?

MLP is very repaint-heavy. Most of the characters look the same anyway. If you’re trying to push a big expensive Princess toy, even if it is a new mold (I’m not sure that it is, but it might be), it still looks exactly the same as the previous figures to most people. Parents may be happy buying a pink Celestia, they may be happy to buy a pinker Cadance, but will they really triple dip for the same figure but in purple? They might pull it off, but it’s not proof of a winning formula by any means.

We’re in an economic slump. Toys are expensive and people have less money. Parents don’t want to keep buying variations on characters they already own, they want to buy new characters. If their kids have a Twilight, sure, some will cave in and buy ‘new Twilight’ but plenty more will say “No, you’ve got one already.” That’s what killed the Transformers Dark of the Moon line. They may be new figures, but to all intents and purposes the kids already owned them so the parents weren’t buying.

How would Mr Blueshift approach this problem?

1) Bigger rotatable cast
The game plan is to be able to keep things fresh and new. Sure you can have your core characters, but try to develop a bigger set of background ones too. You can insert one into each episode, basically auditioning them to see how the audience responds, giving them more screentime and toys the next year if your core audience likes them. Characters like Scootaloo and Trixie are a good example of that, she pops up in one or two episodes in season one, and then a lot more because she’s popular. At some point, your core cast will change as it is gradually rotated out.
You could have spotlight episodes about any character! Why not? From a sales point of view you want to push all your product, not just a few figures, and it only helps to make the world feel bigger.

This is my biggest point really. The problem with a bottle show is that once the audience has become bored with the core cast, there’s little place to go apart from start changing them in weird and wacky ways. It can’t hurt to have some trainees in the sidelines who have already rehearsed themselves in prior episodes.

This would be more episodes like ‘Wonderbolt Academy’ where Rainbow Dash is hanging around with previously unseen character ‘Lightning Dust’. In Blueshift world, we may have already seen Lightning Dust in the background, and she’d certainly have a toy by the time her episode was on air! Maybe she’d pop up again. Maybe not. Depends.

2) Background characters are toy characters
Or vice versa. I don’t care which. Hasbro started to do that with Lyra and Trixie releases, but there’s no excuse for not giving all their other ‘new character’ releases the colour schemes of characters already in the show. It’s free, low-effort advertising. Or vice versa – decide all the colour schemes with the animation company ahead of time and make sure they are all in the show and available on toy shelves. A few seconds exposure is still better than no exposure after all.


Why doesn’t this happen more? There’s literally no downside, nothing to lose!

3) Mix up the settings.
This is part of the ‘keeping things fresh’ idea. Change the setting for each season. From the pre-season publicity, I did assume season 2 would be in Canterlot, and season 3 in the Crystal Empire, but they kept it all in Ponyville. Why not have your core cast move to a new place, perhaps leaving behind the less popular characters and swapping them out for new ones (bye, Applejack!). We can always visit them again. This gives a chance story-wise for more new situations, characters and ideas, and toy-wise to push the sale of play sets. Everyone wins!


The toys said ‘Canterlot’! Why do they even say that if it’s a lie?

4) More interesting gimmicks
The princess thing is a gimmick. But it’s harder to sell the same gimmicks again and again. I was actually surprised that they didn’t push the ‘Crystal Pony’ thing more as I assumed that was the season 3 gimmick. Was it all really just to sell a wave of transparent blind bag figures?
When I was little, my sister had a pony whose rump had to be rubbed before it would reveal its cutie mark, that was exciting! Maybe that would be the year’s gimmick (Apple Bloom discovers a town of blank flanks and helps them get their cutie marks / they have hidden theirs out of shame / something). Perhaps seaponies? Flutterponies? It gives a good excuse to introduce new characters too.


Okay, maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea.

5) Prioritise soft toys more
It does confuse me how Hasbro have put a low priority on plushies. They are a huge business on sites like ebay, with toys going for vast amounts. Meanwhile, the official ones look horrendous. A bit more care, and you’ve basically got a license to print money. Add to that the idea that parents might not want to buy their kids another plastic Twilight Sparkle, but they’ll probably have no qualms about buying them a decent plush Twilight Sparkle if they have a plastic one already, because they are seen as very different items. With a good quality plushie range you can double your sales on characters! They’re making them anyway, why not make them well?


”We don’t like money”

In a Blueshift world then, we’d still see Twilight as the main character, but we’d get a lot more character rotation. Maybe Applejack would be phased out to the background and replaced with a more popular character. Can’t hurt, as long as there are toys of them! You’d see every character on screen represented by some form of product, at the very least a blind bag figure (because again, why not, they’ve got to be some colour, use the ones you’re already advertising!). Give people more chances to own all the characters they see on TV rather than ones they have zero attachment to and keep throwing in new things to the mix.

Anyway, thanks for listening! That’s my take on it, what would you do differently if you had to make sure a great show continued to be both good and sell toys?

Report Blueshift · 4,441 views ·
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Comments ( 114 )

tl;dr
I demand moar plushies!

A very thorough history, and a very good point as well. And yes, I only skimmed it, but I read enough. Good stuff.

I have no problem with executive meddling or companies seeking profits so long as their product or service doesn't lose quality as a result. I have a bad feeling about Alitwi, but I'll try to reserve judgement. And who knows, it might not even happen!

"Maybe Applejack would be phased out to the background and replaced with a more popular character."

Oh you. :ajsmug:

789212

Oh yes, and Zecora. It's like she's wandered in from another tv show. A bad tv show. Bye Zecora!

789214
What about...
Changeling plushies/toys/board games?

:ajbemused:

Anyway, that aside, you've made a lot of good points. The problem is, Hasbro is a large multinational and they're always very conservative when it comes to trying new things.

789220

The problem there is that Chrysalis is pretty scary. If I were Hasbro I would be worried about marketing something like that. They'd probably need to be a bit more 'cutsey' than that (Chrysalis more than the Changelings)

789194

It does seem odd that they're not a key part of Hasbro's marketing strategy, especially given their success with the fandom, and the demographic of the target market (young kids! They love cuddly toys!). Surely there's room for the plushies to be MORE popular than the plastic figures?

The writing on Blossomforth's package "The pony pulls the cart!" sounds like something a serial killer would say. Anthony Trotkins in: The silence of the fillies.

swapping them out for new ones (bye, Applejack!).

Nigga you best be joking about honest pony. :ajbemused:

Honestly, AliTwi isn't that much of a concern to me. Fics will always find ways to work around aspects of the show the author doesn't like. You could set all the fics before the last episode of season 3 forever! But I digress.

Alicorn Twilight does seem purely sales motivated, I agree, but you know what'd be even worse? Introducing the G1 (or any) humans to this generation. That kind of thing keeps me up at night...

Anyway, love the blogs! So much effort! I commend you, noble Blueshift.

I detect a pattern of non-Applejack here.

I see.

Well in that case...

Yeah, there really needs to be a lot more of this. Having stories revolving around the main 6 still, but their interactions with non-mane-6 supporting characters as the basis of the show would be an effective compromise.

Like Rainbow and Ditzy/Derpy in the Last Roundup.

Pinkie Pie and DJ Pony episode.

Rarity and Octavia.

Twilight and Doctor Whooves/Time Turner.

Bam. I just thought of three new toy crossovers fans would love.

789238 Maybe Hasbro bought tons (and I mean tons!) of plastic in the 80's and 90's, thinking plastic toys would always be popular, and now they have to use up all the plastic they bought because what the hell else are they gonna do with 2000 tons of hard plastic? Just my 2 cents, I have no evidence to support such a theory.

789245

The human thing does worry me. Part of me thinks that the Hub really needs good ratings (it was in the news a while back because it was struggling) and MLP is pretty much its only huge show. Most channels never find a hit as big as this. They won't mess it up.

Another part of me thinks "or will they?"

And this is where Blueshift puts on his serious hat. It's a hat which isn't made of Jaam.

I love your ideas! I was skeptical about the character rotation, but after you explained it more, I was all for it! In short, :pinkiehappy:

Hasbro should hire someone who has better marketing sense.


Hey, Blueshift...!

789259 I remember thinking "There's no way the writers would just 'introduce' Twilight's brother and another Alicorn for him to marry without any previous mention." And yet, they did. Granted, Cadence and Shining weren't the end of the world, and I'd like to think everything went better than everyone thought. I also remember thinking "There's no way they'd ax Derpy because and handful of tumblr bloggers with giant egos who thought they spoke for everyone experienced asspain" Now Derpy is only in the intro, and who knows if she'll even be in S4.

I also recall thinking "There's no way they'd make Twilight an alicorn, it'd throw the whole dynamic between the mane 6 out of whack!" And, here we are. I think the writers will do AliTwi well, it's just post season 3 that worries me. I can only pray humans stay as far away from my ponies as possible, but who knows. I too remember seeing the report on brands like Hasbro and Mattel losing money year after year because most kids want an xbox or an iphone rather than a non-electronic piece of plastic.

Their market is shrinking, and I fear it's making them desperate.

789259

Never underestimate a company's ability to shoot itself in the foot.

Also, I am one of the people doing dances about AliTwi. :twilightsmile:

You did not just say "bye Applejack" that seriously pissed me off:ajbemused:

789282

I don't mean 'get rid of her', I just mean push her more to the background. Last Roundup is one of my favourite episodes, for example, but I think there's far less that you can do with a character like Applejack than with the rest of the characters once you've covered the major storylines you can do with an 'honest farmer folk' character. She's very much one-note, while everyone else has a lot more going on.

OK, I may be in the minority here, but I enjoyed the Transformers movie. When I was little I was a fan of the series, and I saw the movie in theaters. It was a big deal getting so many characters killed off, and it left an impact on people. Personally I think its OK to do this. When writers decide to make a 'game changing' moment, they should be prepared to make it bold and big. Why? Because the 'status quo' sucks, and making a big change while trying to keep the story within the same boundaries as before tends to ruin it. Everyone knows that, and yet you'll still get people bitching and moaning whenever a story doesn't return to the way things used to be, regardless of how logically the changes play out and how impossible it is to go back to the old way. Some people will complain when you change things, and others will complain when you don't, when you keep doing the same story over and over again. Hasbro realized this and decided to do whatever they want, instead of what a subsection of the fans want, because any move they make will piss someone off. Better to do that while curving it in a direction that benefits them rather than not.

Do I feel this way about all executive meddling? No. Most times it turns out really badly. However, I agreed with way they handled transformers. Depending on the skill of the writing, I may agree with the way they handle MLP too. Time will tell.

789293

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the original Transformers movie. One of my favourite of all time. Looking back as an adult, it has moments of actual genius (most, I think, are accidental. Certainly the original script which was recently released is dire).

Growing up and reading the comics, it was mostly set 'post-movie' with Rodimus Prime or a rebuilt Powermaster Optimus Prime, so to me the movie was a stepping stone to the greatness that was to come. Looking at all the reactions at the time though, it was devastating to kids who grew up with seasons 1 and 2 to see all their favourites murdered.

Long long term, it's been great for the Transformer franchise. Short-to-mid term, it was disastrous.

Personally, I found Optimus Prime far more of an interesting character when he was dead (as in, there was this enormous legacy he left that had to be lived up to) rather than alive and being a bit dull.

789227

But they look awesome, so maybe some maybe they will be bought for boys.

789302

Yes, but could you see Chrysalis a toy for little girls which is the core market, with her bent horn, insect wings, holes in hooves and scraggly mane?

It might work if you 'prettified' her design a lot. Who knows.It's the sort of thing I imagine would end up being left on all the pegs though.

789304

Well, all I know is that there is a significant amount of boys as well as girls who like Friendship is Magic, so making a boy oriented pony toy might be worth a shot. I remember when Hello Kitty tried to expand their market to boys, I'm not sure how that turned out.

Any, this is an excellent article, it gives a perspective we don't often see. I agree with a lot of your ideas, it would be particularly nice to try another setting for another Season, I was expecting this mini-season to take place in the Crystal Kingdom as well.

789289 that was slightly better but theres still a s*** load of applejack fans though not as many as the others that would seriously piss alot of them off.:applejackunsure:

I honestly have no expectations that I'll be able to do more than tolerate alicorn twi. The thing that really pisses me off is the people talking about how it's exciting to go in a new direction. Fuck them, they are idiots. You love Coke! Let's completely fuck it up but making it taste like Pepsi! It's just a new direction.

Dammit, now I'm learning something on a Sunday. :facehoof: Really interesting history, though, and I agree with the points about the show. More adventures outside of Ponyville would be awesome.

789337
Yeah, you should never discount how famous some background characters are :pinkiecrazy:

An interesting idea, but maybe instead of replacing characters in the mane cast a better way of doing it might just be take one pony from the mane cast an have her interact with some new or old ponies in a new setting.
Applejack goes to a family visit in Appleloosa.
Pinkie Pie tries to out-party DJ-PON3.
Fluttershy and Blossomforth have a relaxing day watching butterfly's and fighting dragons.
Rainbow Dash write her fanfic about her and Daring Doo.
Twilight Sparkle travel back in time to read a book with Star Swirl the Bearded only to discover she is Star Swirl the Bearded and have to live hes whole life in disguise.
Because well you can't change the mane cast, what would happen the next time they need the elements of harmony?
It was fun reading about the transformer toy history.

789368 yah I know like derpy and lyra those would be great but kicking applejack out to do it. . . not so great anymore:ajsleepy:

789371

Well, we already have had several episodes which feature the CMC, I mean more things like this. Start them small, if they are popular and have potential, rotate them in to bigger guest spots / one-off spotlights. From a purely commercial point of view, there's lots of toys to sell and from a creative point of view it would help to make the world seem bigger and do things you perhaps couldn't with the mane 6.

Another simple marketing idea that immediately came to my mind was: do a spinoff.
As it stands, Hasbro has a hugely successful show that wasn't only well received by the target audience, but also a completely different demographic. That leaves them with ample oppurtiny for concepts attractive to either group. And one such thing would be a second show.
I could easily imagine another My Little Pony with a more action-heavy and slightly darker, more mature theme and setting, which might also work with the initial demographic as little kids tend to not stay six-year-olds forever. All this would basically double the characters, settings and thus toys they could sell.

In some regard this has already been done with Littlest Pet Shop, but I don't think kids can really draw the connection that both shows have been worked on by the same people. Also, from my point of view they didn't understand at all what made the FiM cartoon so great in the first place.

Well, it's been said before, but it all boils down to the fact that Hasbro is run by a bunch of old people. Old people who have yet to catch on to the fact that kids have become more sophisticated, parents more discriminating, and that markets and demands can change at a ridiculously fast rate now, and they have to be prepared to adapt at a comparable rate. For example, I'm sure more and better plushies have been suggested by someone, and may even be in the pipe somewhere, but apparently the Hasbro corporate structure just isn't made to have a sense of urgency around getting the new products out. They're still in the mindset of, "make show with a type of toy, then sell vaguely similar toys, kids won't care," when the fact is that kids, parents, and adult fans do care, they care a lot. :flutterrage:


As for the adult fans, Hasbro seems to have just barely started to catch on to the fact that they now have--at least for the time being--a large adult pony market, and they just don't seem to know what to do about it. Frankly, I think the best thing for them to do right now, in the down time, would be to put in a massive focus group effort to learn what adult and young-adult fans of the show want, and to get their input on what they believe children and parents want. Many of us are grown-up fans--of Hasbro's shows or others'--and we remember what we liked as kids, and what would have been awesome. I have to wonder if there are actually any grown-up fans of anything getting input into the decision-making process at Hasbro. :rainbowderp: Sometimes it seems like large parts of Hasbro barely know the show exists. :unsuresweetie:


I think you can monetize a 'bubble show' as you put it, but you have to do it in diverse ways, as you said, not selling the same toy over and over. For example, they've poked their noses into the comic market, but I wonder if they've even considered the idea of young-adult-level novels with some illustrations--I devoured stuff like Goosebumps as a tween, and if I were a YA fan of the show I would certainly have given such a thing a try. Judging by what I've seen on FIMFiction, there's certainly a demand for written media at that level, and heck, I'd be willing to pay for some of the stories on here if there were a professional editor involved. Frankly, I think they shot themselves in the foot by not following Faust's desire to have more adventure on the show. The core characters could have been the same, allowing a fixed, well-developed cast to anchor the show and for use in other media, while larger story arcs and adventures would have given them exactly what you describe: the ability to have new characters appear, to see the reaction to them, and then bring them back if they are liked. :scootangel:


Overall, I think Hasbro's main problem is that they just aren't listening and paying attention, and that's a worrying thing in the modern business world. A company that can't adapt is a company headed for disaster. :raritydespair:

789406

I dunno, I don't think I'd have liked the show nearly as much if it was more adventure orientated. I came for the 'it's MLP but exciting' but stayed for the slice of life comedy.

I find it amazing how detailed and informative Blueshift's blogs are. Always a joy to read.

Really, I’m still bitter that a great show like Animated was cancelled in favour of a generic show like Prime because of licensing issues.

Reminds me of what happened to the "Spectacular Spider-man". I really liked that show, but then the rights to the property got juggled around and it was generally a piece of piss. :(

I do not care much for the"Ultimate Spider-man" show.

789401

>I could easily imagine another My Little Pony with a more action-heavy and slightly darker, more mature theme and setting

See, I CAN, but I don't think that would be a great idea. The show already appeals to an older demographic as it is, changing it to try to appeal to that demographic which is already appeals to is a bit mad and may backfire, making it appeal to no-one.

I'd like a CMC spinoff. 15 mins a week of them being cute and doing fun activities. I believe that was one of the original ideas.

789414
Well I'm not saying it should have been entirely adventure, but I think its being nearly entirely SoL is part of what's leading to a sense of stagnation. A good sitcom is hard to pull off for very long, especially when limited to E-level content. :trollestia:

789304

Maybe wet mane Chrysalis?

789299

Personally, I found Optimus Prime far more of an interesting character when he was dead (as in, there was this enormous legacy he left that had to be lived up to) rather than alive and being a bit dull.

Allow me to explain a bit of this. No doubt Optimus Prime was really cool after death. There's something to be said for going out at the height of your career, so to speak. However, this is also a cultural artifact of the United States. Optimus Prime was modeled after John Wayne in his approach to leadership, his directness in confronting problems, his boldness, and even his voice to an extent. Back at that time, John Wayne was idolized as what was best about America, and he was to be respected and looked up to as a role model (I would argue that he still is). Optimus Prime was John Wayne in cartoon form as a freaking ROBOT FROM SPACE, and every American kid crapped his pants over that.

789401 789418 I want an HBO or Showtime MLP spinoff. Like Game of Thrones or Dexter, but with ponies. :rainbowwild: :rainbowlaugh:

789448

Ah well, see, there you go. I'm British.

Optimus was always the perfect leader. He was always right, wise, powerful. Not particularly interesting. Rodimus was criticised for having an actual personality because he couldn't live up to Optimus.

The comics were completely different, Optimus was a far more insecure, interesting character with the weight of the world (or worlds) on his shoulders.

Man, I love these blogs.

If I were in charge of a company as big as Hasbro, it'd probably be bankrupt within the week.

I remember to this day crying over Optimus Prime's death. The others were traumatic, and I couldn't believe they had died (and so horribly), but the movie left me weeping.

That first image of the Transformers brochure (if I remember right it came with some of the toys) brings things back. I wanted the Autobot Air Guardian so bad. Since it was a recolor of the VF-1 Valkyrie, and made to a much higher standard, something about it just screamed 'coolness'. I think it cost at least twice as much as the other Transformers.

Marketing wise it was worse than Princess Cadance. Expensive and not even in the show.

I almost mistook this for a cracked.com article

789479

He was in the show! He was Skyfire!

Because it was a Macross toy, they couldn't show it in the cartoon as he was because the cartoon was also to be shown in Japan, so they changed his design AND his name and called him Skyfire!

http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Jetfire_(G1)#Generation_1_cartoon_continuity

Sure it sounds like a nightmare pitch, but then again so does “Make a My Little Pony show that doesn’t suck” and we saw how that ended up

Fuck you, the earlier generations were entertaining.
The first generation was darker, with some menacing villains. It was goofy as all Hell, but so is the current incarnation of the show and all good children's programming.

789508

Well, I was referring more to the stuff in the 2000's which made it into a pretty toxic property (the sock song none-withstanding,). Generation 1 was really odd. Half terrifying and scary, half super cutesy like they weren't sure what sort of show they were making. Also George Arthur Bloom resubmitting the same script again and again :twilightoops:

789418

That's why I say catering to fans is never a good idea unless the show's ratings are in the toilet. After all, if the show was so bad that it needed all the changes these fans are begging for, it wouldn't even HAVE fans to cater to. The fact that the ratings are through the roof proves that they're already doing everything right and that they don't NEED to change anything.

Blueshift, you must be that guy that gets thrown out the window.

And no, I like my AJ.

Login or register to comment
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!