Fans snap up Hasbro’s special edition toy marking release of trailer for Nezha: Transformers animation series

Pearl Liu

Clad in red and gold and with his trademark pigtails flowing, he flies through the air on his famous wind fire wheels.

Now Nezha, the teen hero of Chinese mythology, is flying off the shelves in robotic form after a tie-up with US toymaker Hasbro’s iconic Transformers.

Fans went crazy on Thursday morning, immediately snapping up 100 limited edition toys launched on Tmall celebrating a new cartoon animation series set to hit screens next year.

Americans may feel a pinch this Christmas as toymakers face import tariffs

The specially tailored toy depicting Nezha in the form of one of the famous robot superheroes was released after the first official poster and trailer for Nezha: Transformers were unveiled on the Weibo accounts of both Hasbro and its partner in the project, CCTV Animation, a unit of the state broadcaster CCTV, on Wednesday.

“Nezha which represents Chinese culture and spirit will adventure with world-famous Transformers to brave difficulties and fight evils shoulder to shoulder,” said CCTV Animation on its Weibo account.

In the official trailer, the Chinese teenage warrior Nezha has become a transformer, dressed in a metallic version of his traditional Chinese red-and-gold uniform and still sporting his iconic pigtail knots.

Original characters from the Transformers series will come to join Nezha, fighting enemies against a backdrop that appears to be based on places in China.

Hasbro did not respond to an inquiry by the Post asking for details of the joint production.

The toy giant’s CEO, Brian Goldner, said during an earnings call in April that he was excited about the mash-up of the American and Chinese cultural icons.

“The entertainment looks so good that broadcasters around the world are starting to say, this could be something we’d take out globally,” he said. “We’re very excited about continuing to build that relationship with CCTV … it’s very exciting to see what’s possible in China.”

The US toymaker has been a victim of the prolonged trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

A 10 per cent tariff on a list of items including toys is to go into effect on December 15. It was originally supposed to go into effect on September 1.

Hasbro reported third-quarter earnings fell short of market estimates in October because the threat of the tariffs on toys imported from China had increased shipping and warehousing costs.

The adjusted earnings per share came in at US$1.84, a long way below analysts’ estimates of US$2.21 per share. Net revenue for the three months through September was US$1.58 billion, which missed the average estimate of US$1.72 billion among analysts polled by Refinitiv.

“The prospect [of tariffs] had our retailers cancel major direct import programme orders, and rewrite many of those orders as domestic shipments,” said Goldner in the company’s earnings call.

“Hasbro remains on track to deliver profitable revenue growth in 2019. However, as we’ve communicated, the threat and enactment of tariffs reduced revenues in the third quarter and increased expenses to deliver product to retail,” he added.

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