Hasbro Transformers Age of Extinction SDCC Exclusive Ark Hasbro, 2014
Day #1,017: September 25, 2014
Ark Transformers Dinobots Set with Pop-Up Headquarters
Transformers Age of Extinction Comic-Con Exclusive Gift Set
Item No.: No. A7804 Manufacturer:Hasbro Includes:4 more Dinobots Action Feature:Pops open, stays open with velcro Retail:$159.99 Availability: July 2014 Other: Impressive!
While cardboard playsets are a part of Kenner and Hasbro's history, their attempts at doing them since 2010 were, well, adequate at best. Mostly just a fancy insert, they just sit there and look OK. But the Ark is more than just a fancy insert - there are pop-open elements, fully-realized vehicles and art, and it all comes in a giant volcano. There's no instructions to it, so it's a little tricky to unfold correctly the first time - but once you do, and you get the velcro in place, you've got something special.
At 27-inches by 21-inches by 20-inches high, this may be the biggest cardboard playset I've seen from Hasbro and possibly the biggest playset in years from the Rhode Island toymaker as its boy's line is concerned. It isn't exactly designed to hold up to rough play, but it is nice and gets the job done - collectors seem to like it, as we're seeing a lot of people on eBay sell the figures and keep the Ark. On one side, you have a volcano, the crashed ship, a ramp, and the entrance. Flip it over and you'll see Teletraan-1 and much of the interior of the ship. More ramps, a helipad, and the little probe which helped restore and repair the Autobots and Decepticons while giving them alt modes is there on the wall. The attention to detail is praiseworthy, and its size makes it the centerpiece for a display room. As in, go get a table or a piece of furniture which this can sit on.
There is, of course, a couple of design flaws - this set's chrome was a bit of a problem for me, but on the playset part it turns out that the velcro fasteners are problematic. The adhesive to attach them to the sturdy, glossy cardboard doesn't hold up over time - I had this out for a few weeks and I noticed that it started to come off (but not rip) the cardboard. A stronger glue may be needed, or other means of weighing the parts down so gravity doesn't cause the playset to collapse upon itself over time.
Another not-insignificant problem is that the adhesive of the cardboard pieces being glued together is also already breaking apart - it wasn't strong enough to survive 3 conversions, so I need to figure out how (or if) I want to reaffix it and what kind of material would be best to avoid future problems. (If you have any advice, I'm all ears.)
I think it's a shame this was exclusive to San Diego Comic-Con and not shared with Botcon or Amazon or even Toys R Us - this feels like an environment that should be in any older fan's collection - provided you open it once, install it somewhere, and never convert it again. Maybe you won't proudly display it - after all, it's space-intensive - but it's neat. I would very much like to see this kind of environment in other Hasbro brands - a Death Star, a Terrordrome, perhaps some sort of horse house would also be fun. The Avengers' Stark Tower, too? It's a good idea and Hasbro pulled it off nicely. All I can say is this: more, please. Just use better glue next time, because seriously, we deserve better.
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