Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Great Third Party Drought

 - Dorian MacQuarrie

The first quarter of a year is rarely booming with new releases from Third Party companies. Sure we'll see a handful of new releases but often these are delayed products, initially planned for the end of the previous year, delayed then caught up in Chinese New Year until finally, a toy planned for a fourth quarter release of the previous year finally sees release along with the first blooms of Spring. 

This year feels especially quiet.....

'Gaze upon my field of exciting Third Party releases and see that it is barren'
 - Wu Ming c.820 AD

Given the amount of Third Party companies it would be easy to think every month sees a swathe of new releases and teasers for upcoming projects but the current climate has seen more and more companies keeping their cards close to their collective chests. Gone are the days when we would be privy to the ongoing development of an upcoming release. With the ever escalating wars in the 3PMP game, it's only natural that companies and designers would want to keep their design secrets just that, revealing the truths of their works only upon final release, or at least a scant few months prior. The fallout of all this obfuscation is cold and disengaged sections of the collecting community. It is no surprise that my interest in transforming-robots-which-happen-to-look-like-Transformers often wanes around this time of year, the common cool-down period for many Third Party Companies. Without a fresh supply of releases or at least updates of upcoming products, it's difficult to stay excited. 

I know Fansproject set some early standards for the future of Third Party toys but that shouldn't extend to their communications.

Even with my recent change in collecting interests, I still like to keep up to date with upcoming releases and news within the world of Transformers, Hasbro/Takara and Third Party alike. With that said, I can't help but shake the feeling that the scene is especially quiet right now. Less releases, less chatter, less interest. 

2017 gave us some incredible reveals of what was to come. From Iron Factory's Decepticon Justice Division (which combine!) to Maketoys Cross Dimension and RE:Master releases, it was an exciting couple of months but it seems the furore has died down and the usual levels of updates from these companies and the subsequent discussion has all but vanished. 

C. TFW2005

C. TFW2005

C. TFW2005

Personally, I think a lot of the Third Party market is hype. Hype for upcoming projects, hype for a bigger and better 'Masterpiece scale' combiner. I enjoy taking part in the initial awe and early discussions surrounding an exciting reveal, even if it's just a grey prototype. It's exciting. It hints at what is to come and begins to inform future buying decisions and display options. Take that away and well, I find myself going into a long term Sleep mode, just waiting on some news from Maketoys on their latest Cross Dimension or maybe even, just maybe, the announcement of a new Third Party Liokaiser (Ah, TFC Hades, so close, yet so, so far). 

Maybe I'm just seeing things from 'the outside' as it were and it's only natural I would feel there is a lack of discussion and buzz about the Third Party scene as it stands. With convention season nearly upon us I hope we see not only a host of new reveals from a plethora of Third Party companies but more importantly, significant updates on those projects revealed last year. 

As always, keep it #Refined.

[Editor's note: Of course Fansproject would reveal the release of a long awaited set of repaints right as this article is published!]

You can follow Dorian @Vigadeath

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