Last year, J Balvin launchd his own MacDonald’s Happy Meal and his own Balvin Air Jordan 1. Now, he’s getting his own Transformers figure, Billboard has learned.
On July 13, Hasbro will make available for pre-order the “J Balvintron,” a 7-inch tall figure with two mini cassette accessories inspired by Balvin’s Energía and Vibras albums that transform into a condor and a tiger to create a mash-up J Balvintron 3-pack. The figure also wields a blaster, and incorporates Balvin’s signature rainbow colors and smiley face icon.
While Hasbro has previously partnered with brands like Marvel and Universal to create figures from their respective universes, the J Balvintron is the first figure created with a musical artist or actual living celebrity since Hasbro launched its collaborative program in 2019.
The figure, which will be available exclusively on the NTWRK platform as a limited edition, will retail for $69.99.
“I’ve loved Transformers since I was a kid so this was a dream come true,” Balvin told Billboard.
“The J Balvintron Transformers that are coming out are a reflection of my dream toy. Ever since the proposal came to me I had this vision in mind.”
The Transformer proposal came to Balvin via livestream shopping platform NTWRK, which is known for its exclusive, celebrity-partnership product drops, and which had a strong relationship with both Balvin and Hasbro.
“NTWRK approached J Balvin and Hasbro with the idea to collaborate with Transformers because Balvin is a huge fan of Transformers and we thought it would be an amazing fan experience and cultural moment — For Balvin and Transformers fans,” says president Moksha Fitzgibbons, who was previously Group Chief revenue officer for Billboard’s former parent company, Valence.
Balvin, whose affinity for games in general is well known, was excited.
“I asked them to include elements from my past albums in the design. This is why they have two cassette options, one for Vibras and then one for Energia,” he says. “The colors, the names, I suggested all of these to them for inspiration. When we were in the process of making the design, Colores had just come out so we wanted to make many different color options.”
Evan Brooks, the designer in charge of the Balvintron, knew the singer was a big G1 Transformer fan, so his starting point was Soundwave, a popular Gen 1 transformer whose best-known disguise is as a cassette player. Brooks designed two small cassette players that transform into Balvin albums. Because the cassettes are usually animal-themed, “We looked at his tatoos and saw he had four or five tigers. We ran it past him and had one of them turn into a tiger that turns into Vibras, and the other one is a condor that turns into Energia.”
The first step in designing based on an actual person, says Brooks, is taking the visual elements that define the person and extrapolating them onto a robot. The biggest challenge, he says, was trying to balance Balvin’s many color associations.
“If you look at Balvin’s figure, I found his rainbow hair style very iconic. We went through ten iterations. The robot head has the five color break. We made sure the smiley face was present.”
The whole process, he says, was “very easy and very smooth,” with a bonus. Brooks, who hadn’t heard Balvin before, became a fan, and “Rojo” is now his favorite track.
The J Balvintron will only be available on the NTWRK App, which will premiere the figure along with an animated video and an interview with the Balvintron designers. Balvin will also promote the figure on social media.