It was immediately obvious when I approached Derryl DePriest and began speaking that they knew articulation was an issue that was going to arise today. Between Mr. DePriest and designer John Warden, there were a lot of articulation questions flying around, and as many of us suspected, it all boils down to cost.
Yes, of course there are costs associated with new tooling for figures that are 5 points of articulation, but as explained from Mr. DePriest, it’s more than just the new tooling. Manufacturing costs for figures with that many joints and movement points are extremely expensive above and beyond the tooled parts, so even using existing tooling was cost prohibitive in most cases.
They weighed this fact with the idea that many of these vehicles were being geared for children, who would do little more than slam the figure in the cockpit and drive it around, and the decision was made…if they had to cut articulation, the drivers were the best place to do it. It is a constant battle between quality of the product and the costs that can be absorbed creating that product, and in a year when they are trying to build the brand back up, they have to be extremely prudent.
John Warden also brought up some interesting discussion points in regard to costs of vehicle production. As a fandom, we’ve been complaining pretty heavily about vehicle size, and they’ve taken that into consideration. By reducing articulation and reducing costs associated with the vehicles, they can balance things out and end up producing vehicles that are a bit larger than we might be used to. The Ghost Hawk II is a perfect example. This vehicle was surprisingly large I thought when I was in the showroom, and I honestly didn’t think Hasbro would be able to make it the size I would have wanted, but they did, and some of that is due to costs saved with reduced articulation.
So even though it seems to many of us that the trade off isn’t worth while, we are getting a somewhat larger vehicle, and some other very nicely designed vehicles to go along with it. Mr. Warden confirmed that the heads of the driver figures are totally swappable to normal figures and he even name dropped Rock n Roll as being an inspiration for the Clutch figure. It sounded to me like there was much careful consideration and financial analysis done, short term and long term, and the articulation changes are going to save money, which could mean better things in the future. I’m not happy with the way the driver figures look, but the vehicles are excellent, by and large, and the toyline is very nice as well.
As for the single pack figures…John Warden also confirmed that some of those figures have reduced articulation, but as I deduced on a recent episode of What’s on Joe Mind, it’s due to form and function. Articulation is given on an “as needed” basis, so generic troopers might not get the full range of motion, but the ninjas do. Another example was that the first release of Roadblock won’t have double knees or ankles, but the Wave 2 “Battle Kata” version will, because he’s got more training.
Cutting articulation is not something anyone wants. Not the fans and not the Hasbro designers. But financial justifications seemed to warrant it in this case. Don’t worry about it overtaking the line, that is not a concern.