Interview with Former Brand Manager Mark Weber on Prime Wars … and Generation 3

The Full Force Podcast, a show of all things GI Joe and Action Force, recently included an interview with Brand Manager Mark Weber, who also spent some time on the Transformers brand. Transformers at the Moon caught this story, including Weber’s creation of Combiner Wars and his original plan for what would come after the Prime Wars Trilogy.
The interview comes as a 20-minute segment within a nine-hour podcast. Weber explains his involvement in developing and pitching the Combiner Wars concept, something that seemed like it should be an easy sell, based both on his experience of the play pattern as a child and on the achievable formula it offered for getting three price points of figures interacting with one another in a mix-and-match, interchangeable way. That would be a boon both to the brand team and to kids and collectors, since it meant Hasbro could “reskin” existing designs for new combiners and consumers could mix and match to build their own.
Weber chose to push Combiner Wars first, as his best idea he wanted to make certain he could see executed, despite thinking of it initially as the second in a series of concepts. But when retailers responded positively to the lineup, the Combiner Wars were extended by six months and became the first chapter in a trilogy.
He also explains his concept for where he would have liked to take the line next had he not been able to sidestep into his true passion in the GI Joe brand. After the Prime Wars trilogy, he envisioned a “Generation 3”, with “all new characters and styles”, where the Autobots pursued a group of Decepticons to Earth. Among the entirely new characters would be an antihero Autobot who would clash with Optimus Prime, a dynamic Weber likens to both Grimlock’s leadership and Captain America: Civil War. Another point of interest would be exploring previously unused alternate forms, including a snowplow and hearse. Given his work with other members of the team who are still at work on Transformers, he hopes that some of his ideas are still “in the hopper”.

As many times as they’ve had the chance to reboot and restart, it kinda blows my mind that no’s ever gone “Well, why don’t we just call it G3?”

Weber ends the interview stressing the importance of “new blood” and hopes to see Transformers pivot to introducing new characters: “I still think there’s a desperate need for brand new guys.” He acknowledges the importance of core characters, but stresses the importance of “lineup balance.” And even within existing characters, it’s important to find new ways to rework those characters to do something new and visually distinct, using the example of the ninja Joe Snake Eyes, who can’t wear his signature black to a desert camouflage mission.

You’re never going to get away from your core five to ten characters, but you can adapt them.

See the full Transformers at the Moon summary of the interview or the original podcast (start at 6:19 for Transformers content), then come join our discussion on the interview at the Allspark Forums. Is it time for Generation 3?
Thanks to Allspark legacy character with a new look, Powered Convoy, for tipping us off to this story!