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transformer Stock photography

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transformer Stock photography

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    Yeaaaaah. If only.Stock photography, often simply referred to as stock photos, is official photography of Transformers toys used by Hasbro and Takara to illustrate toy packaging, catalogs, instructions and toy listings on their official websites. Hasbro and Takara sometimes use the same stock photos for the same toys, but in many cases, the two companies use different stock photos, often because the toys may not be entirely identical in terms of coloring and details. Stock photos may also be supplied for magazines and other media outlets.Sometimes stock photos are taken in-house, while in other instances, the job is outsourced to external photo studios. The photographers often have a tendency to photograph the toys in (sometimes glaringly) incorrectly transformed states. Awkward poses are also common.The toys used for stock photos are often early prototypes that might differ from the final toys. Production samples may also be used for stock photos. Furthermore, Hasbro also have stock photos of the toys in packaging, often including international, multilingual variations.Contents1 Types of stock photography1.1 Generation 1, 2 and early Beast Wars (Hasbro)1.2 Enhanced prototype photos and CG renders (Hasbro)1.3 Production samples (Hasbro)1.4 Takara stock photos2 Problems with stock photos3 Notes4 Footnotes Types of stock photography Generation 1, 2 and early Beast Wars (Hasbro) Direction arrows not included.Early Generation 1 toys featured plenty of stock photography. Photos of the toy in both robot and alternate mode(s) were printed on both side flaps of the packaging, and who could forget the Start>Change>Finish transformation sequence that was printed on the top of the boxes. In 1984, the instructions were also made up of stock photographs.By 1985, Hasbro switched to line art for the instructions. Subsequently, stock photography disappeared almost completely from the back of Transformers' boxes. The only exceptions were combiner components, who often showed the other team members as cross-sells. Larger scale toys like Omega Supreme or Fortess Maximus also featured additional detail photos of various features and gimmicks of the toy on the front of their boxes.Probably the most familiar Transformers stock photography from those early years, though, were the Hasbro catalogs. Just about everyone who got a Transformer with a catalog can remember poring over it, examining those photos and trying to decide which toys to talk their parents into getting. The 1984 catalog featured a lot of group shots of the toys on color-neutral (but presumably real) backgrounds; the 1985 catalog, meanwhile, featured many toys in diorama settings with "rocky terrain" backgrounds, while some larger toys were simply superimposed over the catalog's own background.In later years, the amount of stock photos was reduced to one photo of each mode, which were used on the packaging as well as in catalogs. Starting in 1986, the catalogs no longer featured real backgrounds, instead depicting the toys superimposed over whatever background the general catalog had. In addition, the 1989 Small Pretenders featured cross-sells on the back of their cards, and carded Micromasters depicted stock photos of the included toys on the back of their cards. European Classics combiner team members also depicted the entire team as cross-sells on the back of their packaging. The Astrotrain toy you never had!Where it gets tricky with the catalog stock photography is that many of the toys used were early prototypes (or, in some cases, possibly recycled Diaclone production toys): 1984's Bluestreak was consistently depicted in the infamous blue and silver Diaclone color scheme his Transformers incarnation was never available in, 1985's Astrotrain featured extendable arms, a different head and a different color scheme than the final toy, 1988's Powermaster Optimus Prime featured either retractable or sawed off super mode hands on his trailer in vehicle mode, and a lot of toys were equipped with different weapons than they actually came with.Generation 2 featured cross-sells in the form of group photos of the toys on their packaging, set on "rocky terrain" backgrounds similar to the group photos from the 1985 Generation 1 catalog. 1996 and 1997 Beast Wars toys by Kenner continued to use diorama group photos of the toys for the back of their packaging. Enhanced prototype photos and CG renders (Hasbro) Sadly, the actual toy is not chromed.When parent company Hasbro reclaimed control over the Beast Wars toy line from their Kenner subsidiary starting with the Fuzor and Transmetal figures, diorama photos were replaced with isolated images of the toys in both modes superimposed over neutral backgrounds. The toys used for these photos now often were early, spray-painted prototypes with hand-painted details and water-slide decals for graphics and insignias that would later be tampographed on the final toys. For the photos, the toys would be lit with a strong overhead light to accentuate the sculpted details, with an additional head-on light to give it a reflective sheen, and a very diffused back light to enhance the shadows. Subsequently, the photos would be digitally retouched by adjusting the levels and curves to further enhance the lighting, saturation and contrasts, resulting in a very glossy, "airbrushed", almost "metallic" look... which was far from representative of the actual toys, which still typically featured flat plastic colors. An exception were toys with vacuum-metallized parts, such as the Transmetals; however, in the long run, they were the exception rather than the rule.Hasbro continued to use the "airbrushed" prototype photos up until mid-2015, when they were replaced by CG renders for the most part. In either case, large images of each mode are regularly featured on the back (or bottom) of a toy's packaging. The "improved" look of the photos (or renders) compared to the actual toys has actually increased, with shiny colors and extensive paint operations (for the prototypes) that make the real toys look like a sad disappointment in comparison. In addition, due to their prototype nature, the toys used for these photos may also sport physical differences from the actual toys, such as the different head sculpts for Movie Deluxe Class Protoform Starscream and Leader Class Megatron (which were based on earlier designs for the movie) or the movable forearm cannons and articulated hands for Revenge of the Fallen Voyager Class Starscream (which got gutted for the final toy due to budget reasons). Notable color differences with the final toy may also occur, as happened with Armada Powerlinx Thrust and Energon Insecticon. The disclaimer "Product and colors may vary" (also sometimes "Color and contents may vary") protects Hasbro from litigation in this regard. Who are you guys?In a particularly bizarre case, the "airbrushed" stock photo of Legends Class Scattorshot on the back of the Universe Target exclusive "Special Team Leaders" five-pack depicts a bent elbow, even though the toy is a redeco, and no previous release of the sculpt had featured articulation joints at the elbows. Supposedly, it's easier for Hasbro to simply rapid up a new prototype than keeping samples of older product around for the purpose of re-painting them. This also happened with the Target exclusive Movie Scout Air Raid, whose on-packaging stock photos depict him with the same feet sporting human-like toes as previously seen in the stock photos of the original release of the sculpt, Energon Skyblast, even though both Skyblast and Air Raid's production versions sported more robotic feet.Starting with the final waves of Energon and Alternators Windcharger and Swindle, Hasbro used "airbrushed" stock photos of the toys' robot modes on European multilingual packaging instead of the package art the North American toys continued using for undisclosed reasons. Package art has since made a return in Europe with Animated and Universe, however. In addition, starting with the Movie line, Hasbro also use gray-scaled versions of the "airbrushed" stock photos as "cover" images for their instruction sheets, replacing the line art renditions of the toys from previous lines. Production samples (Hasbro) Can you guess which version you could actually buy in stores?In addition to this, Hasbro have also used a second set of stock photos ever since the days of late Beast Wars, which once again included a shot of each mode of the toys, but this time taken from (pre)production samples with minimal alterations in post-production, resulting in a more accurate representation of the actual toys. Occasionally, however, pre-production samples are used for these photos which aren't 100% accurate to the final toys either, such as the beige plastic used for Universe Cyclonus's Targetmaster partner Nightstick (versus the actual toy's purple, which more or less matched the earlier airbrushed stock photo), or the missing black stripes on Generations Deluxe Class Bumblebee's chest.This set also includes a photo of the toy in sample packaging. Additional photos of international multilingual packaging also exist; sometimes they are simply digitally altered versions of the US packaging, sometimes they are actually brand new photos of the different packaging. Sometimes the photos of the packaging samples are also later digitally altered in the case of last-minute changes to the packaging design. For example, two versions of Universe Vector Prime and Inferno's packaging stock photos exist, with the background of the "25 years" logo changed to a different color. Stock photo overload!The back (or bottom) of the packaging always depicts the "airbrushed prototype" stock photos, as do the accompanying cross-sells. In other instances, there is no cut-and-dry rule for when which set is used: Hasbro's official website listings for toys sometimes depict airbrushed prototypes, and in other cases, they depict the more realistic production samples. Generally, however, the website tends more towards the latter. Store websites and online retailers are often supplied with both sets. Some eventually replace the "airbrushed" versions with the more accurate samples, others use whatever they get first, and sometimes they even depict both.In more recent years, additional sets of stock photos have come into practice, among them a set featuring both the toys themselves and child models playing with them. For toys including different accessories or pack-in materials in different international markets, separate photo sets exist for each verson. Takara stock photos One of the few fields where Takara is undeniably superior to Hasbro.Takara generally use different stock photos than Hasbro, especially since their version of a toy often differs from its Hasbro counterpart. Takara's stock photos, usually taken by e-HOBBY's parent company Part One Inc., also often depict hand-painted early prototypes that may slightly differ from the final toys, but the photos aren't run through heavy post-production filters, and as a result usually look a lot more representative of the final toys than Hasbro's "airbrushed" photos.Takara often have additional and/or different stock photos for their own website, online stores (with e-Hobby often getting the biggest bulk) and toy packaging, and occasionally supply Japanese Hobby magazines with even more additional detail photos.Sometimes Takara and Hasbro use the same stock photos, especially when the toys are virtually identical. Most Movie and Revenge of the Fallen toys didn't have their own Takara stock photos—instead, Takara just used Hasbro's "airbrushed" photos for online listings. The packaging of those toys—with the exception of the "Basic" figures from the first Movie line, TakaraTomy's versions of the Fast Action Battlers, which had their own unique packaging with unique stock photos—used exactly the same design as their Hasbro counterparts, down to the use of unchanged English text (save for additional stickers that identified them as Japanese releases).The same usually applies to USA Editions and other toys released in Japan in Hasbro or Hasbro-derived packaging. Even toys like Movie Incinerator and Universe/Henkei! Henkei! "USA Edition" Powerglide, both of whom sported notably different color schemes from their Hasbro counterparts, depicted the Hasbro versions on the backs of their packaging. The same generally applies to exclusive redecos, which either use the same packaging as the respective sculpt's original release, or use gray-scaled or otherwise monochrome color variations of the original packaging, with minimal changes to the on-packaging text. An odd case was Movie Black Arcee, a non-exclusive (but still Japan-only) redeco of the original Movie Arcee toy (which was also available in Japan), which came in a mostly unchanged version of the original Arcee's Hasbro packaging, down to the bio...but with all-new stock photos on the back depicting the new color scheme, which were closer to the usual Takara stock photo quality. Problems with stock photos oUR liVEs aRe PaInMost Transformers figures are more complex than your average G.I. Joe or Star Wars toys. Because the people who take the stock photos for Hasbro, regardless of whether they're an in-house department or an outsourced external studio, take photos for all of Hasbro's toy lines (meaning they may be working on a tight schedule) and probably aren't fans, they may encounter problems when trying to transform the toys—especially when early prototypes don't come with instructions. Mistransformed robot modes and awkward poses are often the result. Although this is understandable (in some cases, even the official instructions are vague, unhelpful, or even incorrect), there are instances where one has to wonder if the photographers stopped to think for a moment if the robot they just took a photo of looks like it's correctly transformed and posed. Furthermore, why does Hasbro use some of those photos in official advertising (including the back of the packaging), when they're (arguably) poor representations of their products? Reportedly, Hasbro nowadays tries to send someone from the design team to the photo session to avoid this problem, but time does not always permit.Occasionally, stock photos even show a misassembled toy, such as a production sample of Alternators Prowl with two right arms (which, ironically enough, had a counterpart at Amazon.com, whose own stock photos depicted a Prowl with two left arms). Even worse are stock photos depicting toys inside their packaging… sample packaging that is very obviously damaged. Speaking of "poor representations" of products… Yes, Hasbro employs color-blind people. You got a problem with that?For some reason, Takara's stock photos rarely feature mistransformations, and the toys are usually more dynamically posed. Either those Japanese photographers are more capable of handling the toys, or Takara simply puts more emphasis on "acceptable" product photos.Another occasional problem is notably incorrect color schemes and decos depicted in the stock photos. When redecos of Armada toys were included in early waves of Energon as eleventh-hour additions, they simply depicted the toys in their original Armada colors on the back of the packaging: The stock photos for Energon Ultra Magnus sported Armada Overload's colors, Energon Rapid Run was shown in Armada Sideways's colors, and Energon Treadbolt was shown in Armada Scavenger's colors. Fortunately, this practice was never employed again to this extent. The redecos that never happened.In addition, sometimes the post-production department goes overboard and screws up the hue and saturation settings of the "airbrushed" photos. This is most evident with toys that sport red or orange colors, which tend to come out as various magenta-ish shades after too much digital alteration. Notable instances provided to online retailers include early stock photos of Alternators Optimus Prime and Rollbar, Universe Deluxe Class Sideswipe, Revenge of the Fallen Legends Class Arcee, Generations Cliffjumper and Reveal the Shield Scout Class Windcharger. With Legends Class Arcee, it even affected the later set of stock photos depicting a production sample. Sometimes Hasbro later sends out updated versions of those stock photos with corrected hue settings. The back (or bottom) of the toys' packaging usually features the photos with more or less correct hue settings.Something similar may have happened as early as 1991, when the packaging for the European-only Classics reissues of the Generation 1 Combaticons depicted the team in seemingly redecoed colors across all the various market-specific packaging variants, although the toys themselves retained their original decos. NotesIt has been suggested[1] that Hasbro's airbrushed, heavily digitally retouched stock photos and their lack of resemblance to anything that will ever realistically be available in toy stores are a totally conscious decision: Since the toy market is heavily competitive, toy companies will want to make their toys as impressive for mass retailers' buying agents as possible. Simply put, Hasbro tries to convince Walmart that Cybertron Backstop is the most awesome toy ever by touching up his early promotional photos, which the buying agents will use as a basis for deciding how many cases of a toy line's waves they are going to order. Since those buying agents won't care about the differences between the early stock photos and the final toys anymore by the time those toys come out, Hasbro have no problem with providing them with deliberately deceptive renditions of their products. Footnotes↑ Post by Jin Saotome at the Shortpacked! blog, October 2008.Retrieved from "http://tfwiki.net/mediawiki/index.php?title=Stock_photography&oldid=1106952" Categories: HasbroTakaraTomyToys
     

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