How LEGO and Hasbro teamed up for 10302 Optimus Prime: the inside story
LEGO designer Joseph Patrick Kyde has revealed how the LEGO Group and Hasbro originally teamed up to create 10302 Optimus Prime.
Of all the licences we dreamed might come into the LEGO fold – let alone expected to – Transformers was never at the top of the list, simply because it seemed like an impossible boundary to cross. Optimus Prime, Megatron and the rest are all the sole property of Hasbro, famously one of the LEGO Group’s biggest competitors in the industry.
Against all odds, though, the two toy titans have now come together for 10302 Optimus Prime, the first product to feature the LEGO and Hasbro logos side-by-side on the box. It’s a significant moment in the history of both companies, and has obviously led to a collective gasp from the LEGO community – followed by questions of how something like this could ever have come to pass.
For the answers, we turned to Joseph Patrick Kyde, who was responsible for leading the design process on 10302 Optimus Prime – and has plenty of experience in the world of Autobots and Decepticons. The LEGO Group’s Vice President of Design Matthew Ashton recently tweeted that a LEGO Transformers set was ‘pitched multiple times’, but didn’t clarify whether those pitches had come from the LEGO design team. According to Joseph, it was actually Hasbro that finally set the ball rolling.
“Hasbro approached us and said, ‘Do you want to do Transformers Optimus Prime as a LEGO set? And we said yes,” Joseph offers to a room of LEGO Fan Media representatives, including Brick Fanatics, by way of a very succinct summary. “It was very interesting and very surprising when it happened, but I was very happy to work on it.
“I used to work as a designer on Transformers at Hasbro, so it was a very good match for me and kind of a perfect fit. I think that’s why I was approached. And yeah, just seeing those names [LEGO and Hasbro] on the side of a box, it’s a milestone.”
Coming from Hasbro to the LEGO Group and then designing a Transformer feels serendipitous in a way few other LEGO designers have likely experienced – but what lessons did Joseph take from his time at Hasbro, and how did he apply them to 10302 Optimus Prime?
“Knowing how to do a transformation is probably the main thing,” he tells Brick Fanatics. “We haven’t really tackled anything quite like this at the LEGO Group before. And just knowing Optimus Prime inside and out – I mean, we go way back. I got the original toy back in Christmas of 1984, so I’m pretty familiar with him.
“And yeah, just knowing exactly how it’s been done, because I’ve done it before. I’ve designed Optimus Prime toys before!”
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Unfortunately, Joseph didn’t have that original toy to hand while designing 10302 Optimus Prime (“It’s in storage at my parents’ house,” he laments), but he didn’t really need it, either. “I used a lot of images, and I am very familiar with what it is like, so you know, I can just conjure it up in my head and know everything,” he laughs.
Where conflict might exist between rivals, it sounds like there was none in the development process for 10302 Optimus Prime – perhaps not too surprisingly, given creating the first-ever LEGO Transformers set could really have only gone one way, and particularly with the LEGO Group’s new ‘adults welcome’ ethos in mind.
“We were very aligned in what we wanted,” Joseph says. “It was basically, ‘Hey, we want to celebrate Generation 1, the original iconic Optimus Prime, but we want him to be in brick form. So what would an ultimate Optimus Prime built out of LEGO bricks look like?’ And we were both totally aligned on that goal of just celebrating this very iconic character in his most iconic form – at least for people my age.”
That meant appealing first and foremost to the crowd of 30- and 40-somethings who grew up with the original Transformers cartoon in the ‘80s and ‘90s, more so than the generation who came after – now in their 20s – who might be more familiar with Michael Bay’s intricately mechanical take on these iconic characters.
“From the beginning we were fully aligned on making G1 Optimus, just because that’s Optimus for so many people of my generation, the people who are huge LEGO fans,” Joseph explains. “I know that a lot of younger people are seeing the movie Optimus as their version, but I think both companies really wanted to celebrate his original form that every other iteration of him has been based on.”
It’s easy to draw parallels between this approach and the LEGO Star Wars theme, which continues to concentrate on the original trilogy for its 18+ sets – the LEGO Star Wars Diorama Collection being just one recent example – at the expense of those fans who grew up with the prequel trilogy, and are now adults with their own disposable income to boot.
It’s just as easy, though, to remember that the LEGO Star Wars portfolio has been going strong for more than two decades, while this is the very first LEGO Transformers set. Maybe two decades from now we’ll see the LEGO Group take on the incredibly complex designs of the recent movies, but for this landmark initial collaboration between LEGO and Hasbro, it could only ever be G1.
Does that collaboration leave room for more Transformers sets to follow? Joseph is – in that way only LEGO designers can be – typically coy.
“I of course cannot comment on any sort of future product or anything like that,” he says. “Our focus right now is to get Optimus Prime out to all of the Transformers fans and see how they react, and see how well it does.”
10302 Optimus Prime launches on June 1 for £149.99 / $169.99 / €169.99. While you wait to get your hands on the Creator Expert set, check out our early review.
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3 thoughts on “How LEGO and Hasbro teamed up for 10302 Optimus Prime: the inside story”
If only Lego could offer a buy now pay in installments scheme. I for one would love to buy this having been brought up on the original Transformers but it is out of my price range for a off one purchase. Love to see Bumblebee next. Its now my son who loves everything Lego & grew up on the second generation of Transformers cartoon & film.
I really hope we see more of these especially because of how excellent Prime has turned out! When I first seen this I jumped up out of my seat with excitement and I felt like a kid again. I am also really pleased with the g1 approach because that is my favourite design for prime. If I where to guess who we might get next I would love Megatron just because of how fitting it would be to have them two together. Lego Optimus Prime in my opinion actually beats the masterpiece transformers just because you actually get to build him I am definitely getting this set june first for sure!
Waar ik enkel voor vrees is dat de armen te zwak zijn waardoor ze enkel langs zijn lichaam kunnen bungelen, zoals voltron.