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Toy Fair USA: Day 1 Update

Written by Big Bot on February 17, 2008 | Animated,Hasbro,News,Press Release,Toys,Transformers movie (2007) |

Yesterday was the first day of the New York Toy Fair, and unlike the British one earlier this month, pictures are allowed (which means the USA people get a first look). Here is a list of galleries and reports from the first day:

Tformers
Official Deluxe Gallery
Official Voyager Gallery
Leader class Megatron and Roll Out Command Optimus Prime
Battle Begins DVD 2-pack
Animated Activators (Figures with spring-loaded transformation)
Animated Bumper Battlers (Like Cyber Slammers)
TFormers Gallery

Wizard Universe

TFW2005
Universe Deluxe Galvatron Robot Mode
Universe Deluxe Galvatron Tank Mode

Seibertron
Official Pictures of Animated Jazz and Oilslick!
Toy Fair 08 Galleries

Thanks to forum member Protoform X for links to some of the galleries.

Hasbro Reveals Full Transformers Universe & Movie Toy Lines

Written by Big Bot on February 15, 2008 | Hasbro,News,Press Release,Toys,Transformers movie (2007) |

Another Press Release from Hasbro, but this time on the Transformers Universe and Transformers Movie Allspark Battles toylines:

NEW 2008 TRANSFORMERS TOYS DELIVER “MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE” EXPERIENCE FOR FANS OF LAST YEAR’S BLOCKBUSTER MOVIE
Both Kids and Collectors Will Love New Line-Up of ‘ROBOTS IN DISGUISE’

PAWTUCKET, R.I., (February 2008) – In 2008, Hasbro will build on the buzz generated by last year’s blockbuster TRANSFORMERS movie by offering a variety of new products in both the TRANSFORMERS Movie and TRANSORMERS Universe segments.

This Spring, fans of the blockbuster TRANSFORMERS movie, can find new versions of their favorite big-screen characters as well as all-new characters in the TRANSFORMERS MOVIE ALLSPARK POWER segment. The ALLSPARK POWER theme brings new TRANSFORMERS characters to life and gives existing characters more power for kids of all ages. Also, new assortments include MOVIE SCREEN BATTLES and ALLSPARK BLASTERS that enable kids and fans to relive their favorite scenes from the film again and again.

In the Fall, Hasbro will introduce Transformers Universe, a new “world of” Transformers segment that celebrates the nearly 25-year heritage of the brand. The Universe segment will include new Classics assortments, as well as Robot Heroes. Inspired by the look and spirit of the original figures, the Transformers Universe Classic line features all new, realistically-styled versions of classic TRANSFORMERS characters. Advances in design and technology allow Hasbro to redesign some of the most beloved characters for today’s kids, while giving fans a chance to relive their childhood with the most realistic AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS figures available.

TRANSFORMERS universe products

Universe CLASSICS Deluxe assortment
(Approximate Retail price: $9.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Fall)
Fans of all ages will enjoy these realistically-styled vehicles and key characters from all parts of the Transformers lore. All figures come with the authentic TRANSFORMERS action that enables them to change from vehicle mode to robot mode, and some include additional features such as firing projectiles.

Universe CLASSICS Ultra assortment
(Approximate Retail price: $26.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Fall)
Only the newly designed ULTRA scale is big enough to hold POWERGLIDE and ONSLAUGHT! Featuring all new molds, lights and sounds in both modes, these Ultra scale figures provide action packed play for TRANSFORMERS fans of all ages.

Universe Robot Heroes
(Approximate Retail price: $5.99; Ages: 3 & up; Available: Fall)
ROBOT HEROES also pays tribute to the rich history of the TRANSFOMERS brand. This cute, exaggerated-form style of TRANSFORMERS will highlight favorite characters from various TRANSFORMERS lore including G1 and BEAST WARS. A total of ten 2-packs will be released this Fall.

TRANSFORMERS MOVIE products

MOVIE SCREEN BATTLES
(Approximate Retail price: $19.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Now)
Capture memorable moments from the film with the MOVIE SCREEN BATTLES! These movie scene battle packs include everything fans need to recreate the most intense, dramatic scenes from the TRANSFORMERS movie. Each pack includes a fully converting deluxe scale figure and several molded characters that are either human or TRANSFORMERS characters from the live-action movie. The action figures come packaged in battle-ready stances and surrounded by battle scene images from the movie.

TRANSFORMERS MOVIE DELUXE assortment
(Approximate Retail price: $9.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Now, with additional waves through Spring 2008)
The fun and excitement continue with the 2008 ALLSPARK POWER assortment of deluxe figures based on the TRANSFOMERS Movie. Through an updated new paint scheme, on-screen favorites such as BUMBLEBEE, will have ALLSPARK POWER running through their veins. The assortment also features newly-created TRANSFORMERS characters such as STOCKADE and LANDMINE. All figures come with the authentic TRANSFORMERS action that enables them to change from vehicle mode to robot mode, and some include additional features such as firing projectiles.

TRANSFORMERS MOVIE LEADER assortment
(Approximate Retail price: $39.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Now
OPTIMUS PRIME and other popular TRANSFORMERS characters from the movie are represented in these Leader scale figures, which feature lights and sounds in both vehicle AND robot mode. Figures include ALLSPARK POWER versions of NIGHTWATCH OPTIMUS PRIME and DEEP DESERT BRAWL. New premium deco versions of OPTIMUS PRIME, with an all new head and sword sculpt, and MEGATRON, will also be available.

ALLSPARK BLASTER assortment
(Approximate Retail price: $19.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: March 2008)
Finally, electronic blaster play is MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE! The new Ratchet and Bumblebee blasters come with electronic lights and sounds that mimic the conversion from arm to blaster — just like the characters in the 2007 blockbuster movie. One pull of the trigger and the blasters change from one mode to another, making AUTOBOT-in-training kids ready to battle the DECEPTICONS in a snap.

In addition to the product listed above, HPG, the licensing division of Hasbro, alongside more than 230 licensees supporting the TRANSFORMERS brand, continue to launch highly innovative and hip lifestyle goods into the global market in a multitude of product categories including apparel, electronics, publishing, food and beverage, paper products, domestics, health and beauty, and cards/stationery. Additionally, the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED licensing program is well underway, as HPG is working with more than 50 companies to bring goods to market in 2008

About TRANSFORMERS
First introduced in 1984 by Hasbro and Takara as a toy line, TRANSFORMERS has become a global phenomenon inspiring comic books, video games, animated series, films and a convention dedicated to TRANSFORMERS collectors.

For more information on Hasbro’s TRANSFORMERS toy line and the live-action feature film, please visit www.transformers.com and www.transformersmovie.com.

About HASBRO
Hasbro (NYSE: HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Hasbro “Rolls Out” New Transformers: Animated Toys

Written by Big Bot on February 14, 2008 | Animated,Hasbro,News,Press Release,Toys |

Hasbro have issued a press release about the Transformers: Animated toy line and what will be appearing at the New York Toy Fair and that they are working with 50 companies to bring other Transformers: Animated merchandise.

HASBRO “ROLLS OUT” LINE OF TOYS BASED ON CARTOON NETWORK’S NEW ANIMATED TRANSFORMERS SERIES
TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED action figures and toys engage a new generation of young fans

PAWTUCKET, R.I., (February 2008) – The TRANSFORMERS brand returns to its origin as an animated series in 2008 with the debut of the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series on Cartoon Network. And Hasbro helps kids take the excitement of the new series into the playroom with a full line of great new TRANSFORMERS products.

The new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED toy line features an array of characters from the series that will appeal to both young and long-time fans alike. Highlights of the line include Animated styled action figures, ROLL OUT COMMAND OPTIMUS PRIME and BATTLE BLASTERS, along with the SHIFT TECH OPTIMUS PRIME handheld game.

Co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios, the new animated series is set in Detroit in the near future and airs on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT). The good-guy AUTOBOTS have an unlikely guide through Earth society … the brash, energetic 8-year-old girl named Sari Sumdac, who helps the robots establish a headquarters in an old abandoned auto parts plant and becomes an honorary AUTOBOT by enlightening the “ROBOTS IN DISGUISE” on such mysteries of Earth like mega malls, and basic ‘hanging out.’

TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED products

Supreme Assortment – Roll out Command Optimus Prime
(Approximate retail price: $49.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Fall)
This imposing action figure is the largest incarnation ever of the AUTOBOT leader OPTIMUS PRIME. Equipped with “Auto-Spin Conversion Technology,” ROLL OUT COMMAND OPTIMUS PRIME begins to morph from vehicle to robot as he rolls along the floor. The AUTOBOT leader comes to life with a moving mouth, sounds, and speech from the cartoon. Also included is a toy replica of the double-bladed power axe seen in the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series.

TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED LEADER assortment
(Approximate retail price: $39.99; Ages 5 & up; Available: June 22, 2008 followed by an additional wave in the Fall)
These larger-than-life ROBOTS IN DISGUISE help kids recreate the fun, energy and excitement they experience from watching Transformers: Animated on the Cartoon Network. Featuring a variety of the show’s most exciting characters, the Animated LEADER robot figures have working lights and sounds and morph into cool vehicles. Featured characters in this assortment include Bulkhead, Megatron, and Ultra Magnus.

SHIFT TECH OPTIMUS PRIME GAME
(Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 6& up; Available: June 22, 2008)
An interactive TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED gaming experience, this handheld game features multiple levels that allow players to explore the world of the new TV series first-hand. With one fluid motion, players can change the shape of the game controller and instantly go from robot-mode to vehicle-mode on screen or visa versa. The SHIFT TECH OPTIMUS PRIME game features 15 games and a database of key TRANSFORMERS robots from the show.

POWER BOTS ASSORTMENT – CYBER SPEED BUMBLEBEE.
(Approximate retail price: $19.99 ; Ages: 4+; Available: Fall)
Designed to enable easy play for younger fans, CYBER SPEED BUMBLEBEE is a 12-inch robot-only version of fan favorite character, BUMBLEBEE and features robot stomping sounds, battle sounds and phrases! CYBER SPEED BUMBLEBEE stomps and then rolls on his back in one easy step.

TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED OPTIMUS PRIME VS. MEGATRON: THE BATTLE BEGINS TWO PACK WITH DVD
(Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 5 & Up; Available: June 2008)
Designed to introduce kids to the new world of Transformers: Animated, this two-pack includes OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON figures posed in battle-ready action stances with over-sized weapons. Also included is “The Battle Begins” DVD that allows kids to preview the new cartoon and become familiar with the expanded TRANSFORMERS fantasy.

TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED DELUXE and VOYAGER assortments
(Approximate retail price: $9.99 and $19.99 respectively; Ages: 5 & Up; Available: June 22, 2008, with additional waves throughout 2008)
Figures in the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED DELUXE and VOYAGER assortment feature character conversion that mirrors conversions in the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series. Both assortments feature a variety of characters with exciting battle weapons and firing projectiles.

BATTLE BLASTER: Optimus Prime
(Approximate retail price: 34.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Fall)
This next generation of Battle Blasters allows you to bring Optimus Prime to life. A seamless conversion from vehicle mode to signature weapon, BATTLE BLATER OPTIMUS PRIME not only features electronic lights and battle sounds in both vehicle and blaster mode, but it also has speech direct from the animated series.

In addition to the product listed above, HPG, the licensing division of Hasbro, alongside more than 230 licensees supporting the TRANSFORMERS brand, continue to launch highly innovative and hip lifestyle goods into the global market in a multitude of product categories including apparel, electronics, publishing, food and beverage, paper products, domestics, health and beauty, and cards/stationery. Additionally, the TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED licensing program is well underway, as HPG is working with more than 50 companies to bring goods to market in 2008

About Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com), currently seen in more than 91 million U.S. homes and 160 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service offering the best in original, acquired and classic animated entertainment for kids and families. Overnight from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (ET, PT) Sunday-Thursday, Cartoon Network shares its channel space with Adult Swim, a late-night destination showcasing original and acquired animation for young adults 18-34.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

About HASBRO
Hasbro (NYSE: HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Hasbro Issue Press Release for Toy Fair US

Written by Big Bot on February 13, 2008 | Animated,Hasbro,News,Press Release,Toys,Transformers movie (2007) |

With the North American Toy Fair coming up from 17th-20th February in New York City, Hasbro have issued a press release, giving details of what they will be showing at the event. The release contains information about a lot fo Hasbro products, but here are the Transformers specific bits:

Licensing: Building core Hasbro brands into global powerhouse lifestyle properties

HPG, the licensing division of Hasbro, continues to translate one of the industry’s richest portfolios of brands into powerhouse lifestyle properties for children and adults around the world. On the heels of last year’s TRANSFORMERS licensing program which boasted more than 230 licensees, initiatives supporting that brand are still going full tilt in 2008. Moving forward, HPG will seek to carry the global momentum surrounding the live-action TRANSFORMERS movie over to the animated world of TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED to build an equally powerful licensing campaign for years to come.

……….

TRANSFORMERS

In 2008, Hasbro will build on the buzz generated by last years blockbuster TRANSFORMERS movie by offering a variety of new products in both the TRANSFORMERS Movie and TRANSORMERS Universe segments. In addition, the TRANSFORMERS brand returns to its origin as an animated series with the debut of the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series on Cartoon Network. Co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios, the series is set in Detroit in the near future and airs on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT). The new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED toy line features an array of characters from the series that will appeal to both young and long-time fans alike. Highlights of the line include Animated styled action figures, ROLL OUT COMMAND OPTIMUS PRIME (Approximate retail price: $49.99; Ages: 5 & up; Available: Fall) along with the SHIFT TECH OPTIMUS PRIME handheld game. (Approximate retail price: $19.99; Ages: 6& up; Available: June 2008)

There is also a little bit about Toothbrush Juniors, which uses Transformers music, but that isn’t very interesting.

Hasbro UK Press Release for Animated and Universe

Written by Big Bot on January 31, 2008 | Animated,Hasbro,News,Press Release,Toys |

Hasbro UK have put out a press release today, whilst at the UK Toy Fair, about Transformers: Animated and Transformers Universe, both coming later this year. Animated is due to start in March with the toys and cartoon and Universe in Autumn/Winter, which could mean around September, just after North America.

2007 was a hugely successful year for Transformers, with a blockbuster movie supporting an ever popular toy range. 2008 is set to be just as exciting with the release of the new Transformers: Animated series. Hitting TV screens from march, it’s a great twist to the classic story of the “robots in disguise”

Transformers will be exploding into living rooms across the country with the all-new Transformers: Animated series set to launch this Easter. featuring on Nickleodeon, fans everywhere will be treated with the next generation of the popular struggle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. The series will be supported by a whole new range of action figures in the style of the new cartoon with some familiar faces such as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Megatron. The full toy line will be available mid year.

Transformers: Animated is a high-octane, animated action-adventure series based on the beloved 1980s ‘robots in disguise’ of toy and cartoon fame. The Autobots continue their battle against the Decepticons on Earth and this time they have human friends to help them in the search for the AllSpark, such as their energetic 8-year-old guide, Suri Sumdac.

Also launching this Autumn / Winter is the Universe Toy Range which is set to capture the classic Transformers styling, going back to Generation 1 and the Beast Wars, bringing back your favourite characters to excite and inspire a new generation of Transformer fans.

2008 is going to be another big year for the ‘robots in disguise’ and fans are going to be with them every step of the way!

New Products Include:
Transformers AllSpark Blasters – £19.99
Movie Screen battles – £19.99
Legends AllSpark Battle Packs £5.99
Animated Range – £4.99 – £49.99
Universe Range – £2.99 – £39.99

Transformers: Animated Broadcast Channels

Written by Big Bot on January 14, 2008 | Animated,Cartoon,News,Press Release |

Entertainment Rights, the UK based company that specialises in worldwide media, has put out a press release about the broadcasters who are going to show the new series. ER have also distributed Armada, Energon and Cybertron in recent years.

The series will be appearing on Nickelodeon in the UK, Gulli in France and Super RTL in Germany. Deals for other territories are currently being finalised and should be announced soon.

ENTERTAINMENT RIGHTS SECURES MAJOR EUROPEAN BROADCAST AGREEMENTS FOR TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED

London January 14th 2008 – Entertainment Rights Plc (“ER”) the UK’s leading global media group specialising in the ownership of children’s and family programming, characters and brands today announced it has sealed significant broadcast agreements for the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series (26 x 22 minute) plus a 70 minute special episode. ER secured the worldwide television distribution rights (excluding North America) covering television distribution across both free and pay tv platforms for the series.

Further to the hugely successful premiere of TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED in the US on Cartoon Network (highest rated kids cable programme in its time slot), ER is delighted to announce the following key European TV broadcasters have been secured including Nickelodeon in the UK, Gulli (France) and Super RTL (Germany). ER has sold TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED to over 24 territories, with a number of other key deals in negotiation.

TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED is the next generation of the globally popular saga of the struggle between the AUTOBOTS and the DECEPTICONS and is being developed by Cartoon Network Studios in Los Angeles. The best and brightest talent are working on the all-new animated TV series including: Sam Register, Executive Producer (Ben 10, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi, Teen Titans); Matt Youngberg, Supervising Director (Teen Titans, Batman); Vincent Aniceto, Line Producer (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Power Puff Girls); Marty Isenberg, Head Writer (Danny Phantom, A.T.O.M, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Derrick Wyatt, character designer for the smash hit, Teen Titans will take the role of Lead Designer.

The bold new 2-D style that will be this new show’s trademark presents a new twist on the original “Generation 1” animated series that launched the TRANSFORMERS phenomenon in 1984. Developed for a new generation of TRANSFORMERS fans, the series will also introduce new characters alongside legendary favorites such as OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON.

Chloe van den Berg, Director of International, Entertainment Rights Plc, commented: “We have had an overwhelming interest from international broadcasters post MIPCOM for the new TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED series. We recently extended distribution rights to include Latin America, where broadcasters are also showing great demand for the series and we expect to announce new agreements in due course. The recent agreements with European broadcasters demonstrate ER’s success at securing premier television platforms for the franchise around the world.”

About Entertainment Rights:

Entertainment Rights Plc (“ER”) is the UK’s leading global media group specialising in the ownership of high quality children’s and family programming, characters and brands ER owns or controls the rights to many global characters including Basil Brush®, Postman Pat®, Jess the Cat™, Little Red Tractor™, Rupert Bear®, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe®, Fat Albert and the Cosby kids™, She-Ra®, Jim Jam & Sunny™, Ghostbusters, , The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Felix the Cat and the award-winning Veggie Tales

In January 2007, ER acquired Classic Media, the US-based owner of an extensive portfolio of children’s and family characters and brands including Big Idea Productions Inc, producer and creator of the award-winning ‘Veggie Tales’ series of programming which, to date, has sold over 45 million home entertainment units in the US

Since 1999, when ER owned rights to just 39 episodes of programming, ER’s library has grown to circa 8,700 episodes of high quality children’s and family characters and brands. This includes certain rights to global brands such as Mattel’s Barbie™, Scholastic’s CliffordTM and Hasbro’s Transformers™

ER’s wholly owned subsidiary Tell-Tale Productions, created and produced The Tweenies, one of the UK’s most successful pre-school brands

ER has grown rapidly. Annual revenues have increased from £1.8m in 1999 to £29.7m in 2006, the last reported financial year

Transformers: Animated Premiere Ratings

Written by Big Bot on January 9, 2008 | Animated,Cartoon,News,Press Release |

 Cartoon Network has put out a press release with the ratings for the Transformers: Animated premiere episode, “Transform and roll out”, which was shown on 26th December in the USA.

The show seemed to do very well, with the episode being #1 for its time period on all TV for boys aged 2-11 and 6-11.

Here is the full press release:

Transformers Animated Premieres #1 on All Television Among Boys and Boosts Kids 6-11 and 2-11 Delivery by Powerful Double-Digits

January 08, 2008 – Cartoon Network launched into 2008 with the half-hour original series premiere of Transformers Animated (Saturday, Jan. 5, 10:30 a.m.), charting impressive double-digit delivery and ratings gains among key kid demos and ranking #1 in its time period versus all broadcast and cable competition with boys 6-11 and boys 2-11, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research. Coupled with a new episode of Pokémon: Diamond & Pearl (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.) the new animated series propelled the network’s three-hour Saturday morning franchise Dynamite Action Squad (9 a.m.-12 p.m.) to across-the-board double-digit growth. Transformers Animated is jointly developed by Cartoon Network and Hasbro, Inc. and is co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

Highlights of Transformers Animated’s premiere performance, as well as Dynamite Action Squad’s overall presentation vs. the same time period last year include the following:

Transformers Animated Premiere (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.) vs. the same 2007 time period

• Kids 6-11 delivery (657,000) grew by 14%, and ratings (2.7) by 13%
• Kids 2-11 delivery (956,000) improved by 29%, and ratings (2.4) by 33%
• Boys 6-11 delivery (528,000) expanded by 28%, and ratings (4.2) by 27%—#1 in its time period on all TV
• Boys 2-11 delivery (762,000) catapulted by 55%, and ratings (3.7) by 54%—#1 in its time period on all TV

Dynamite Action Squad Franchise (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.) vs. the same 2007 time period

• Kids 6-11 delivery (533,000) increased by 18%, and ratings (2.2) by 16%
• Kids 2-11 delivery (717,000) rose by 11%, and ratings (1.8) by 13%
• Boys 6-11 delivery (392,000) jumped by 20%, and ratings (3.2) by 23%
• Boys 2-11 delivery (538,000) raced ahead by 21%, and ratings (2.6) by 18%

About Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com), currently seen in nearly 91 million U.S. homes and 160 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service offering the best in original, acquired and classic animated entertainment for kids and families. Overnight from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (ET, PT), Cartoon Network shares its channel space with Adult Swim, a late-night destination showcasing original and acquired animation for young adults 18-34.

About Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Activision + Vivendi = Activision Blizzard

Written by Big Bot on December 2, 2007 | News,Press Release,Video Games |

In possibly the most surprising news in ages, gaming companies Activision and Vivendi have decided to merge and call themselves Acitivision Blizzard. The reason for the new name is that World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment is owned by Vivendi and is seen as a better name to keep.

The interesting Transformers related points here are, now with Activision, the Transformers game rights holder, being on the same team as the WoW guys, we could see the possibility of a Transformers MMORPG or regular strategy or something else apart from a regular action shooter.

Here is the full and really long press release:

SANTA MONICA, Calif. & PARIS, Dec 02, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) —
Activision, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) and Vivendi (Euronext Paris: VIV)
today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to
combine Vivendi Games, Vivendi’s interactive entertainment business —
which includes Blizzard Entertainment’s(R) World of Warcraft(R), the
world’s #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise — with
Activision, creating the world’s largest pure-play online and console
game publisher. The new company, Activision Blizzard, is expected to
have approximately $3.8 billion in pro forma combined calendar 2007
revenues and the highest operating margins of any major third-party
video game publisher. On closing of the transaction, Activision will
be renamed Activision Blizzard and will continue to operate as a
public company traded on NASDAQ under the ticker ATVI.

Activision, one of the world’s leading independent publishers of
interactive entertainment, is best known for its top-selling
franchises, including Guitar Hero(R), Call of Duty(R) and the Tony
Hawk series, as well as Spider-Man(TM), X-Men(TM), Shrek(R), James
Bond(TM) and TRANSFORMERS(TM). Blizzard Entertainment, a division of
Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion,
operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of
operating profit. Blizzard owns the #1 multi-player online
role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has
over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft,
Warcraft(R), StarCraft(R) and Diablo(R) games account for four of the
top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time. Vivendi Games also
owns popular franchises, including Crash Bandicoot(TM) and Spyro(TM).
Pro forma for calendar 2007, Activision Blizzard expects to generate
approximately 70% of its revenues from owned franchises. As a result
of the business combination, Activision Blizzard expects to have the
most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment
assets in its industry, positioning the combined company to capitalize
on the continued worldwide growth in interactive entertainment.

Jean-Bernard Levy, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief
Executive Officer of Vivendi stated: “This alliance is a major
strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to
extend our presence in the entertainment sector. By combining
Vivendi’s games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide
leader in a high-growth industry. We are excited about the
opportunities for Activision Blizzard as a broader entertainment
software platform. We believe this transaction will create significant
value for Activision Blizzard and Vivendi stockholders. In Activision,
we have found a partner with a highly complementary business and
strong operating team. Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly are industry
pioneers, well known for creating shareholder value. The combined
strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set
the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard. We
look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in
a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive
entertainment industry in the years ahead.”

Rene Penisson, Member of the Management Board of Vivendi and current
Chairman of Vivendi Games, added: “We are very confident that by
combining forces, Activision Blizzard will set the highest standards
in quality, reputation and profitability, and will bring together the
best creative teams in the industry. The combination of this unique
product portfolio with highly professional employees gives us great
confidence in the growth prospects for Activision Blizzard.”

Said Robert Kotick, Activision’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:
“This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our
stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing
transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining
leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online
games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading
market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing
interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest
possible audiences. By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will
become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games
business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian
markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading
operating performance across North America and Europe. Activision
stockholders will benefit from significantly increased earnings power
and the recurring nature and predictability of subscription-based
revenues, while also having the opportunity, if they choose, to
receive $27.50 per share for a portion of their shares in the
post-closing tender offer.”

Kotick continued: “Vivendi Games provides Activision with unique
strategic and financial benefits and will allow us to leverage our
franchises into emerging online opportunities as Blizzard has done so
successfully. Activision has been very focused on margin expansion,
and this transaction will meaningfully increase our overall operating
margins as we expand our franchises online and in new geographies.
Diversifying our revenue base among subscription-based online, console
and PC formats, as well as wireless and casual emerging opportunities,
gives us the broadest platform to capitalize on industry growth. With
Blizzard’s successful franchises, such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft
and an exciting pipeline of yet-to-be announced titles, Vivendi Games’
and Blizzard’s management team will join with Activision’s strong and
experienced leaders to become an even more powerful force for
innovation in online and offline interactive entertainment across a
wide range of platforms. This transaction also provides a unique
relationship with Universal Music Group – the world’s largest music
company – which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our
sizable leadership position in music-based games.”

Mike Morhaime, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard,
added: “Blizzard’s industry-leading PC games business, with a track
record of nine consecutive bestsellers and a global subscriber base of
more than 9.3 million World of Warcraft players, is an exceptional fit
for Activision’s highly profitable console games business. From our
interactions with the Activision team, it is clear we have much in
common in terms of our approaches to game development and publishing.
Above all, we are looking forward to continue creating great games for
Blizzard gamers around the world, and we believe this new partnership
will help us to do that even better than before.”

Structure & Terms of Transaction

Under the terms of the agreement, Vivendi Games will be merged with a
wholly owned subsidiary of Activision. In the merger, shares of
Vivendi Games will be converted into 295.3 million new shares of
Activision common stock. Based on the transaction price of $27.50 per
share of Activision common stock, this implies a value of
approximately $8.1 billion for Vivendi Games. Concurrently with the
merger, Vivendi will purchase 62.9 million newly issued shares of
Activision common stock at a price of $27.50 per share – a premium of
31% to Activision’s average closing price over the past 20 trading
days – for a total of $1.7 billion in cash. As a result of these
transactions, Vivendi will own an approximate 52% ownership stake in
Activision Blizzard on a fully diluted basis.

Within five business days after closing the transaction, Activision
Blizzard will launch a $4 billion all-cash tender offer to purchase up
to 146.5 million Activision Blizzard common shares at $27.50 per
share. The tender offer will be funded by Activision Blizzard’s cash
on hand at closing, including the $1.7 billion in cash received from
the Vivendi share purchase. In addition, Vivendi has agreed to acquire
from Activision Blizzard additional newly issued shares for up to an
additional $700 million of Activision common stock at $27.50 per
share, the proceeds of which would also be used to fund the tender
offer. Any remaining funds required to complete the tender offer will
be borrowed by Activision Blizzard from Vivendi or third-party
lenders. If the tender offer is fully subscribed, Vivendi will own an
approximate 68% ownership stake in Activision Blizzard on a fully
diluted basis.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive in its first
year post-closing for Activision’s stockholders and slightly accretive
for Vivendi’s stockholders. Activision Blizzard is targeting pro forma
operating income of $1.1 billion and pro forma earnings per share
(EPS) in excess of $1.20 in calendar year 2009. The transaction is
expected to be at least $0.20 accretive to Activision stockholders in
calendar year 2009.

Governance

Activision Blizzard’s board of directors will be comprised of eleven
members: six directors designated by Vivendi, two Activision
management directors and three independent directors who currently
serve on Activision’s board of directors. Rene Penisson, currently a
member of the Management Board of Vivendi and Chairman of Vivendi
Games, will serve as Chairman of Activision Blizzard. Brian Kelly,
currently Co-Chairman of Activision, will serve as Co-Chairman of
Activision Blizzard. The three independent directors will be Richard
Sarnoff, Robert J. Corti and Robert Morgado. Other Activision Blizzard
directors will be Robert Kotick (President and Chief Executive Officer
of Activision Blizzard), Bruce Hack (Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate
Officer of Activision Blizzard), Jean-Bernard Levy (Chairman of the
Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi), Doug Morris
(Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Universal Music Group),
Philippe Capron (Member of the Management Board and Chief Financial
Officer of Vivendi), and Frederic Crepin (Senior Vice President, Head
of Legal, Vivendi).

Management

Following the completion of the transaction, Robert Kotick will be
President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. Bruce
Hack, current Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi Games, will serve as
Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard,
accountable for leading the merger integration and the finance, human
resources and legal functions. Mike Griffith will serve as President
and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Publishing, which after
closing will include the Sierra Entertainment, Sierra Online and
Vivendi Games Mobile divisions in addition to the Activision business.
Mike Morhaime will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive
Officer of Blizzard Entertainment. Thomas Tippl, currently Chief
Financial Officer of Activision, will be appointed Chief Financial
Officer of Activision Blizzard and Jean-Francois Grollemund, currently
Chief Financial Officer of Vivendi Games, will be appointed Chief
Accounting Officer of Activision Blizzard.

Transformers Animated Premier: 5th January 2008

Written by Big Bot on November 30, 2007 | Animated,Cartoon,Hasbro,News,Press Release |

Cartoon Network and Hasbro have sent out a press release for the airing of the premier of Transformers Animated in North America. The new cartoon series will start off with a 90 minute movie on 26th December at 8 p.m. (ET, PT), titled “Transform and Roll Out!”.

The series will kick off proper on 5th January next year on Cartoon Network Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET, PT).

There is currently no news on any international release but expect a torrent online shortly after the premier.

There’s more than meets the eye when Cartoon Network premieres a 90-minute feature presentation of Transformers Animated Movie “Transform and Roll Out!” on Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 8 p.m. (ET, PT). The adventure begins when Optimus Prime and his small crew of Autobots come into possession of the AllSpark, a powerful Cybertronian artifact that attracts the attention of their long-forgotten enemies, the Decepticons, and sends them crashing to a strange and distant planet known as Earth.

The movie kicks off the brand new series, Transformers Animated, set to premiere on Cartoon Network Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. (ET, PT). Set on Earth in the near future in Detroit, the series begins when the alien Transformers are thrust into a world populated by humans and automatons. As visitors to Earth, the Transformers –Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Prowl, Bulkhead and Ratchet– work in the human world, interacting with the ‘natives’ in exciting and humorous ways. Following the Autobots across the galaxy to their new home, is the megalomaniacal Megatron and his army of ruthless Decepticons, a brutal race of war-mongering robots who seek to use the AllSpark as their ultimate weapon of destruction!

The Autobots unlikely guide through Earth society is a brash, energetic 8-year-old girl named Sari Sumdac, the adopted daughter of a robotics magnate. Setting the Autobots up with their headquarters in an old abandoned auto plant on the outskirts of town, Sari not only becomes an “honorary Autobot” by enlightening them on such mysteries of Earth life such as megamalls, holovision, hoverboards, junk food, and basic hanging out, but also becomes a vital component of the team in their adventures. For the AllSpark endows Sari with a very special power, one the Decepticons would love to get their hands on, not to mention the AllSpark itself.

Transformers Animated is jointly developed by Cartoon Network and Hasbro, Inc. and is co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios. Matt Youngberg (Teen Titans, The Batman) is supervising director, Derrick Wyatt (Teen Titans) provides the character designs and Sam Register (Ben 10, Teen Titans) serves as executive producer of the series. Marty Isenberg (Danny Phantom., X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) acts as head writer.

Hasbro and HPG, its licensing division, will expand the action-packed Transformers Animated series through toys, games, licensed merchandise and promotions around the world.

Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com), currently seen in more than 91 million U.S. homes and 160 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service offering the best in original, acquired and classic animated entertainment for kids and families. Overnight from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (ET, PT) Sunday-Thursday, Cartoon Network shares its channel space with Adult Swim, a late-night destination showcasing original and acquired animation for young adults 18-34.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry.

Auto Assembly 2008 Officially Announced + Guests (4 NOW)

Written by Big Bot on November 21, 2007 | Auto Assembly,Conventions,News,Press Release |

Good news everyone, we have a UK Transformers convention for 2008. Simon and Sven are back with Auto Assembly 2008 on Saturday 2nd August 2008 at the Clarendon Suites in Birmingham, England. There will the usual events and goodies with only a small incrase in price, £16 for adults and £8 for children. Here is there full announcement:

Yes, it’s finally here! We are pleased to announce that Auto Assembly 2008 has been confirmed for Saturday 2nd August 2008 and will once again be taking place at the Clarendon Suites right here in Birmingham, England. After taking a much needed year off, we’re back and hoping to bring you the biggest and best Auto Assembly convention EVER with loads of activities, and what could well be our biggest guest line-up to-date…

This time we’re running the event to raise funds for Help A Local Child (formerly known as Cash For Kids) – a local children’s charity founded by BRMB radio station – through a charity auction and raffle and any excess funds left over from the convention.

Help a Local Child was launched in 1994 with a commitment to helping the children and young people of the West Midlands, who experience the negative effects of poverty, abuse, neglect, homelessness, violence, crime, illness and disability. There are many children in and around the Birmingham area who are carers for their own parents or who are indirect victims of domestic violence or suffer daily pain due to illness. In this world of glamour and gain, these are the children that BRMB want to help. Their focus is local fundraising, with all money raised being awarded locally and really benefiting our community. With the help and support of their listeners, local celebrities, corporate partners, volunteers, and their employees, the fundraising year on year will help more and more children in the area, enabling them to achieve dreams and ambitions they would never have thought possible.

Back to next year’s convention and we’re going to be having the usual mix of activities – plenty of dealers, video screenings, a bar or two(!), toy and art displays, competitions and guest talks. We’re hoping to have our usual mix of UK comic guests including all of our “regulars”, another voice actor (who we will announce as soon as possible) but this time we want to have the biggest guest line-up ever at a British Transformers convention!

In 2005 Auto Assembly was the biggest ever held in Europe with 409 fans attending and last year we had 400 attendees and we are confident that we’re going to smash the European record next year. Every year we have a fantastic amount of interest for the convention with fans booking up from across Europe and as far afield as Australia and America!

We’ll be producing another issue of our fanzine, The Cybertronian Times, producing another one of our infamous “goodie bags” with plenty of great free gifts including two more convention exclusive postcards, and much more!

Anyway, we hope to see many of you there next year and feel free to get in touch if you want to know more! There will be full information about next year’s convention going on the website over the coming days and weeks and bookings will be open in the next week or so!

Simon and Sven
Auto Assembly 2008

web: www.autoassembly.org.uk
enquiries@autoassembly.org.uk
forum: http://autoassembly.proboards7.com

As well as this good news, the first THREE guests have been revealed as well. Comic artists Simon Williams, Lew Stringer and Any Wildman will all be coming. Simon and Any have both been to many Auto Assembly’s before whilst this is Lew’s first time.

There are many more guests awaiting replies so stay tuned for more news.

UPDATE: The fourth guest attending is IDW and Titan colourist Liam Shallo.

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