Like an Adult in a Toy Store: Hasbro Shows Off Its Wares to Collectors

Marketer caters to nerds at expo

And Fan Media Day isn't just an opportunity to send forth the toy company's most enthusiastic fans with photos of new product; it's also a place where the firm's higher-ups have access to a captive audience of toy collectors on which to test older-skewing advertisements. The presentation of an obscure Marvel character is met with cheers and screams of joy; the G. I. Joe toys receive mostly polite applause, except for a couple of diehards.

Hasbro also has an expanding video entertainment component, so fans also get to vet some material that has been under lock and key until today—first, new footage from Prime, then a gameplay video from the upcoming Fall of Cybertron multiplatform title. Ushers patrol the aisles for telltale red lights indicating a videographer trying to land a scoop (Activision is notoriously a company without a sense of humor). The presentation also includes material from the upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation and, oddly, My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, a series with an improbably huge fan base among 30-something men (seriously, they're called "bronies").

The venue provides a place for the company to gauge interest in both new CPGs and video content. Mattel, too, has begun breaking out its fan-skewing lines into a weekend presentation where the blogosphere can check out the new toys and report back to its readership. It's like advertising, but with no money down.