2005 Board Contributor SydneyY has been gratious enough to provide us with another translated interview. Taken from the pages of Transformers Generations 2011 Volume 2, this interview with Takara designer Shogo Hasui gets into the details and creation process of Masterpiece 10 Convoy.
Click the title bar to read the full interview and all of the tidbits it provides into creating a Masterpiece Transformer. “Convoy for the New Series”
– When did you start the plan for the Convoy version 2?
Hasui: The development began around Golden Week last year, with making him in scale with MP Rodimus in mind. At that time the final plan of Rodimus was being drawn up, and I determined the size of Convoy based on the drawing.
– Tell us why Convoy was selected again as the (Masterpiece) subject.
Hasui: It has a lot to do with our future hopes for the series; the Masterpiece series can become a more enjoyable line to collect if all of the robot modes are in scale with each other.
– Do you mean there will be many different kinds of Masterpiece figures?
Hasui: I believe the past MP figures are supurb on their own, but I must say there wasn’t much consideration to match the scales. I think the appeal of Transformers is the world view in which many characters co-exist. We want the Masterpieces to become the series that can recreate the Transformers World by lining up different kind of characters – large, small or combiners – Convoy was chosen as the herald of such a lineup.
– The Masterpiece series began as an individual commemoration, but now you are starting over as a standardised series?
Hasui: That is right. This (MP- 10) is not simply meant to be a shrunken remake of MP-1 to match the scale with MP Rodimus Convoy, but a new beginning. I hope this Convoy will lead the characters that will be released in the future.
– By the way, how did you come to work on the development (of MP- 10)?
(note by Sydney – All past MP figures were developed by Mr. Hironori Kobayashi, including MP-3 which was “revised” by Mr. Shoji Kawamori.)
Hasui: I have normally worked on the overseas products, but the domestic and the overseas product teams were merged last year and it gave overseas product team members opportunities to create products for the domestic market. When it was decided to expand the development of MP series, Kobayashi was concentrating on Rodimus and that is why I was picked.
– What was the difference between the items you previously developed and a Masterpiece?
Hasui: Until now, my main focus was to create fun and easy-to-play-with toys for children, so having more specific target age group and pursuing the proportions and details was quite a new experience. I myself love the products from the past generations, and I thought of what I should do on behalf of the fans. I created as I considered how I could materialise the enthusiasm I have had to please the fans including myself. However, even though the product was being made for the older age group, I felt the easier transforming process and the playability were necessary and worked on realising those points.
– This is your first Masterpiece product, how did you face the pressure of the most prestigious brand?
Hasui: I was certainly aware of the importance. I really felt pressured to have the “Masterpiece” name on my project as I worked on it. No matter how much effort I put into, I felt it was never finished. Not to mention that Convoy had already been released as a Masterpiece, so it would be inevitable that the two versions would be compared. I had to deliberate what would make a Masterpiece Convoy with different appeals from MP-1.
“Based on Commander Convoy from the Cartoon”
– Tell us what you paid extra attention to while developing.
Hasui: It has been seven years since MP-1 was released, and there were the Movie and (Transformers) Animated series during that period. How I should make the most of the experience gained from working on those series to advance Masterpiece was my focus. Firstly I tried to make the vehicle mode as close to a real vehicle as possible as I did in the Movie series. Then I aimed for a robot mode proportion with a personality like the Animated series. I hope you will take a good look at the back (of MP-10 in robot mode) – there are no excess parts and I think I made him a hero who can convey his emotions with the way he stands.
– I assume there can be various images of Convoy, is there a particular one you kept in mind while you were designing?
Hasui: The G1 cartoon was what I based (MP-10) on. I do not mean the character setting drawings; I designed him according to the impression we have of the character in the show – a powerful commander, a veteran on the battlefields one can rely on. To have a complete image of Convoy, I watched all G1 episodes again. (*laughs)
– Did your impression change after watching the cartoon again?
Hasui: As I watched, I realised that the image I had in my head was heavily influenced by the toy design. For example, the silver fuel tanks on the side of the vehicle mode; they are cylinder shaped on MP-1 as well, but in fact it is the toy’s design and in the cartoon the tanks are more trapezoid shaped with corners. Also, the faction symbols on the sides of the trailer are placed closer to the rear in the cartoon. Those details are present in this product. Compared to the trailers of original or MP-4, you can tell that the positions of the faction symbols are changed.
– I see you have been very particular about recreating Convoy from the cartoon.
Hasui: Not exactly so, if I only picked the details from cartoon Convoy, it will not make a highly detailed design fit for MP series. I incorporated details from American comics and the toy where more details were required. For example, the details on the shoulder were taken from the original toy as well as the headlights – they are square-shaped in the cartoon, but they don’t look right in three dimentional form. I added the silver stripes like the original toy for the same reason even though they are absent in the cartoon Convoy. You will notice there aren’t many details created newly for this Convoy once you take a close look. Even the inside of the feet or the back are based on some previous images of Convoy.
– I heard that there was a lot of input from your fellow design team members as to how Convoy should be?
Hasui: The decision to include as many details of Convoy as possible was made within the team. Unfortunately, everyone had a different image of Convoy in their head. (*laughs) Our opinions were varied even for the most basic points. At the same time, we discussed about how much of our own interpretations of the character would be acceptable as too much re-arrangement would destroy the established image. If I spent a long time concentrating on it alone, I often found myself losing sight of what customers would want. I consulted Kobayashi and Yuki to discuss what would be the right direction, and made adjustments as I developed the figure.
– I assume there must have been many different opinions on the head sculptures?
Hasui: It was indeed difficult. We talked about what made Convoy’s face characteristically his. Deciding even on the angle of the face plate was tough. It is very subtle. His expression changes depending on the angle, and the way his expression appears to shift depending on the angle you look at the figure is quite like the cartoon, I would say.
– What did you intend to achieve with the transformation mechanism?
Hasui: As for Convoy’s transformation, MP-1 perfected it quite well. Kobayashi came up with an excellent way to storing the front tires. I consider it the most amazing feature of MP-1. I did not change the basics, but I aimed for a simple and stress-free transforming process that is fun. I think he has turned out to be a Masterpiece figure that people will enjoy transforming again and again. To minimize the frustration during transforming the figure, I tried my best to ensure the structure would hold the parts without falling off. Also I did not use any ball-joints because they tend to become loose.
– The first noticeable major change is the way the rear tires are stored.
Hasui: I could have thought of a more intricate process to store the tires inside the legs if I wanted to, but in consideration for the durability and the ease of transformation, I came up with the method that I thought as the best overall. The proportion around the heels would have looked off if the tires had to be stored completely. To tell you the truth, I thought the rear tires might not have to be necessarily hidden at all. (*laughs) I settled with the way it is now as the team members suggested (the tires) should be hidden to show the “evolution” in form.
“I insisted on including Roller”
– How were the accessories selected?
Hasui: The gimmicks and accessories that were present with MP-1 were omitted as far as possible because I felt doing the same was not interesting. I tried to include as many new gimmicks as the cost allowed. The Spike figure, the gun storage and Roller were the result of this.
– What was your take on the Matrix?
Hasui: As for the Matrix, the use of diecast and clear parts made it more appealing as a three-dimensional object. I wanted to emphasize that it was an important part of Convoy. Also, the transformation from vehicle to robot is consciously engineered as if the Matrix is wrapped in many layers. This is a “Signature” transformation concept I introduced in “Animated”.
– Tell us about the inclusion of the trailer and Roller.
Hasui: I believe the three components are essential for Convoy. We could not include Roller in the “Complete” edition (MP-4), and I had to have it this time no matter what. Due to cost restrictions it was nearly omitted, but I managed somehow even though I troubled many people to make it happen.
– How did the trailer improve compared to the “Complete” editions?
Hasui: The size proportion between the cab and the trailer is much closer to the one in the cartoon. I hope you will notice the feel of the material as the whole, or of the seat for the figure. Also, I suggested a theory to the mystery of the whereabouts of Convoy’s trailer when he is in robot mode. I think it very unlikely that it is “teleported to the Cybertron base” as often theorized. I think Convoy, his trailer and Roller are one entity and he can’t function without having his trailer nearby. So this time, I designed that Roller could pull the trailer as well. The theory is that when Convoy is in robot mode, Roller pulls the trailer.
– What was the reason for including the Spike figure?
Hasui: The main reason was to do something that was not done with MP-1. Also, while developing the trailer, I thought I shouldn’t overlook “Diaclone”. The trailer was designed to be played with human figures as their base. I wanted to do something for the human characters of the TF world, too. I believe the Transformers story couldn’t have been created without the friendship between Convoy and Spike.
– Did your past work with Human Alliance series influence (MP-10)?
Hasui: There were certainly some techniques I developed from working on Human Alliance that I wanted to introduce. However, how the human figure sits inside the vehicle was not my intended priority. As a result, you need to put the Spike figure inside the vehicle not through the door but by opening up the front of the cab.
– When I heard of the addition of the figure, I expected it to be compatible with Roller, bur never imagined there would be enough room inside Convoy.
Hasui: I drew the inner mechanism, and I had to be precise to a millimetre (0.039inches). One millimetre made the difference between if the figure could fit inside or not. “I must keep the space for the figure to sit in….”, “What should I do with these excess bits?” – I couldn’t have completed the task without extreme doggedness. (*laughs)
– Was the gun storage in his back inspired by the American comics?
Hasui: There was certainly an influence from the American comics, but basically that is taken from the cartoon, too. In many scenes, Convoy transforms with his gun. I wanted to make the most of that image. I assumed Convoy had a system to transform with his gun and incorporated (the gimmick).
“Personal Wishes and the Future Development”
– On the other hand, were there any gimmicks and such you had to give up?
Hasui: Personally, I wanted to include Drag (Huffer).
– Masterpiece Minibot!?
Hasui: The reason way I was so particular about Drag was that I was very impressed with the episode in which he pulled Convoy’s trailer when Convoy was hurt. So, as the herald of smaller Masterpiece figures, I wanted to create a Drag that is compatible with the trailer. I believe the Transformers world is based on such compatibility. I knew I wouldn’t get another chance (for MP Drag) if I couldn’t make one then, and I put lots of effort into it…. Unfortunately, there was no spare budget for such an extra and I had to abandon him. This is another reason that the Roller can pull the trailer – it is substituting for Drag.
– For you, Drag symbolised the new Masterpiece series as a collectible line.
Hasui: The size and the contents of the trailer are based on the assumption that it would be used as a base in a play. It is designed to be compatible with other characters.
– By the way, is there a plan for Ultra Magnus using this Convoy?
Hasui: It depends on how well MP-10 is received, but he is a character I would like to consider. To tell you the truth, I took many possibilities into consideration when I developed Convoy. You might find some clues while playing with him.
– We might want Megatron in the same scale, too.
Hasui: I would like to eventually, although I do not want to take an easy way and release second versions consecutively. I can’t comment on what is coming up next yet, but I want this series to have a variety that the fans can enjoy by anticipating who might come out next. Firstly we would like to concentrate on G1 and by releasing Transformers in various sizes, I hope the series will have a sense of scale. I want Masterpiece to be the series where you can visualise the G1 world by lining up all characters.
– Any particular character you are personally want to create?
Hasui: I would like to work on combiners. I think I am here now because of the Bruticus combiners I collected. (*laughs) When it comes to Transformers, combiners always come to my mind first.
– Lastly, tell us about something you want to impress with this product.
Hasui: Even the instruction sheet is done differently this time. There are commentaries on the weapons and transformation so that you can learn about Convoy himself while playing. I aimed for a whole package where you can enjoy the Transformers world view as well. He is a stress-free Masterpiece figure that you can have fun with, so please pick him up and play a lot. Even simply standing him next to the same scale MP Rodimus will enrich your Transformers world.
(end of Shogo Hasui interview)
Also here is an interesting comment and hint from Mr. Maeda.
Disclaimer: This comment is part of a short interview published in Figure King #168. The reason I’m providing this translation is solely to help non-Japanese fans who are unable to read this insightful interview in the magazine they have purchased.
*Please note this interview was published back in January, before MP Sunstorm and Lambor (Sideswipe) news.
Credit to Masabon for his contribution, and Sol Fury for proofreading. Love you, guys!!
who is he? – Mr. Noriaki Maeda TakaraTomy Transformers Marketing Producer
Noriaki Maeda comment on Masterpiece and Encore
“‘Masterpiece is the pinnacle of Transformers, and since the series usually draws a lot of attention from the fans, selecting the lineup is always difficult. There are often passionate discussions about the next release or specifications going on among us in Transformers Enterprise Section.
In March, MP Starscream with his memorable coronation items from ‘Transformers the Movie’ will be released. Many parts such as head, arms and legs are newly designed parts. MP-10 Convoy has become an expensive product because of the trailer, but we plan to introduce more reasonably priced MP figures and ‘that’ character the fans have been eagerly hoping for. Please allow us some more time until we can reveal these.
Devastor (Devastator) in November was the twentieth Encore, and in Februrary Soundblaster and Twincast are to be released. They are both double-cassette characters and each comes with two new Cassettetrons/Cassettebots. I hope they will be enjoyed by the fans. Some old products are difficult to reissue, but I hope we can give you more opportunities to actually own various products (from the past).”