One thing that’s a bit fun about going through my old archives and doing the ‘bin diving’ is seeing what’s still relevant in some of the posts. While I’m not longer active as a Transformers fan, I have recently paid enough attention to the recent response to ToyFair 2010’s announced figures to notice that everything seems so familiar… This post is old originally appearing on usenet back in 2001!
Being part of the ‘fandom’ for so long, I’ve noticed that many fans over the years somehow come to expect preferential treatment from Hasbro. I don’t mean the preferential treatment that Hasbro already extends to the fans, such as BotCon exclusives, and the occasional ‘bone’ thrown within each toy line. I mean, basically, that a number of fans honestly expect that Hasbro run their business in precisely the way that they, as a group, demand.
The idea stems from this thought: “We have been fans of Transformers since day one, so you owe your continued success to us.” Of course, the corollary to this is that the fans, in their infinite wisdom, obviously know much better than Hasbro. And, more to the point, the fans have obviously lined Hasbro’s pockets for the past twenty years. In fact, every success that Hasbro has had can be attributed to the dutiful and diligent fans. Hasbro, therefore, owes us, and must do what we say.
The thing is, no matter how much of Hasbro’s market that the fans comprise, Hasbro, honestly, doesn’t owe us very much. Hasbro is a toy company. Their entire purpose for being is to manufacture and sell toys. Hasbro doesn’t owe us these toys, there’s never been a contractual agreement between Hasbro as its target audience saying that ‘Hasbro will do precisely what a small group of fans want’.
When a fan buys a toy, the fan enters a ‘buyer’s agreement’ with Hasbro. The idea is that this fan gets a certain quality of toy for his or her dollar. In return, the fan pays for that toy. That’s the limit of what Hasbro owes fans – giving the fans, as well as any other consumer, a product worth the money that they’re spending.
Saying that Hasbro somehow ‘owes’ us a certain toy or toyline, or that Hasbro ‘owes’ us a certain look and feel, or that Hasbro ‘owes’ us our exclusives, is just a little shy of totally ludicrous. As I said, Hasbro doesn’t owe the fans very much. They just have to produce product that’s going to sell.
The end point of all this is simple. If you don’t like the current direction that Transformers is taking, you’ve got two avenues. The first is to simply not buy the toys. Hasbro will notice if a line fails due to lack of sales. The second recourse is to send in a small, professional letter, stating what you don’t like about the line. This isn’t likely to work as well, unless a lot of people state the same problems with the toys. Either way, if enough people are unhappy, Hasbro will indeed take a new direction with the line next time around.
And maybe that time, the fans, as a group, will get what they feel is ‘owed’ to them.