Thanks to 2005 Boards members SydneyY for the translation and Type-R for the original scan, we have the opportunity to read the full text of the interview with Shogo Hasui from the April issue of Figure-oh magazine. Besides some of the same details we’ve learned before, there’s a lot of interesting new information here, including:
- why they decided against light-up ears for Wheeljack
- details of Wheeljack’s transformation
- hints about Bumblebee as the next MP and why he was chosen to be paired with Wheeljack
It’s a really fascinating read and you can read the whole thing after the jump. Shogo Hasui on Masterpiece
– tell us about how you first came to know about Transformers.
H: As I grew up with Microman and Diaclone, I was rather put off initially when Transformers started in Japan. But thanks to the cartoon, my friends had started to be very enthusiastic about the series and that made me interested. I had Air Rider (Air Raid) and Brawl bought for me then, and they are my first Transformers. I must have been into military characters.
– What did you like about Transformers?
H: I have to credit solid characterizations. It was also appealing that both sides were cool. My friends and I used to get together bringing all our Transformers to play battle. It was very impressive to see (the toys) lined up. That impression is still with me, and when I developed Masterpiece I had in mind that the figures should be enjoyed lined up together.
– It was also fascinating that Destron/Decepticon looked tougher.
H: They were military weapons (while Cybertrons/Autobots were) civilian vehicles, so the difference in their firepowers was quite apparent. With that much disadvantage, Cybertron still won the battles with their wits and courage. I think the twist in the story was good.
– Wheeljack was an important character in Cybertron’s resource department.
H: I believe Transformers always need Wheeljack and Satrscream. Wheeljack invents something, and Starscream betrays – without them the story doesn’t go on, and I think it makes (the story) interesting.
– A character like Wheeljack doesn’t usually become a marketable product.
H: He certainly is not a typical heroic character. Bow-legged, and compared to other good looking guys he is more like a middle-aged man. Though once his comrades are in danger, he never considers his own safety. I watched the cartoon again and noticed he rescues Bumble(bee) many times. He and Bumble are especially warm-hearted among Cybertrons.
– We get an impression Masterpiece Wheeljack became reality relatively early.
H: He was one of the candidates to be MP-20. But at the stage of collecting the resource for the real vehicles and considering transformation processes, Wheeljack’s was quite complicated and I thought of putting him off. (*laughs)
– Is he that challenging?
H: The proportions of his robot mode are very different in the toy and the cartoon. His hips are buried underneath the body, and since his shoulder tires aren’t drawn in the cartoon, I couldn’t allocate the area around the rear tires to the arms. I had to find shoulder blocks and hip blocks from different areas. If I gave him actual hips, most of the car became the body and the legs, leaving no room for the head and the arms. Because of that, I nearly gave up. But once I came up with the idea of the storage space for the head, I thought I could do it. I crammed a lot in the head and hip structures and when you have the actual figure I am sure you will be surprised.
– Did you not make the ear parts clear or with light gimmick?
H: The (developer) team members couldn’t reach agreement on that, but I was against the light up gimmick. If the gimmick is included it will lose the neck articulations, and it is hard to express the blue/silver colour change as well.
– Is the Magnet Cannon on the shoulder detachable?
H: It can be attached to the vehicle roof and hand-held weapons can be stored under the car. The wings on the back stay on during transformation. I wanted to keep the essence of G1 toy as much as possible.
– Any hardship to obtain vehicle licence?
H: Actually, thanks to Tomica brand, we can negotiate with many car manufacturers such as Fiat. This is a great result of merger (of Takara and Tomy). I had a Lancia Stratos Tomica when I was little. The style and colour scheme is very unique and hard to forget. It was my favourite but as I was young, I don’t think I remembered the name.
– Any difficulties you came across while re-creating the body colours?
H: In the cartoon, he doesn’t have the actual vehicle’s colours on account of animation drawing. I thought over very hard if a Masterpiece should be true to the cartoon, or if it should be considered that the colours were simply omitted (in the cartoon) and make it true to the real car. Considering the fact that we actually obtained the licence, I reached the conclusion that the Alitalia colour scheme has to be re-created. Though I arranged the chest area a bit as the robot mode chest is very characteristic.
– Until Wheeljack, the characters were selected based on variations, but he appears to be a single use for now?
H: It was possible because the production number per figure is larger now compared to when Lambor was produced. Smokescreen could have new parts. The series is still new and we are still at the stage of going up one step at the time. If Wheeljack is successful, I believe we can choose from wider selection of characters in the future. In fact, when we started this “real car” series, we intended to make the first three to be something that would amaze even the “super car” fans. I wanted this series to be appealing to the fans of super car era.
– What about the future plans?
H: This is the third vehicle, so the next one might be more unique. Personally, I think there are certain pair or rival characters in Transformers. I hope such combinations (of figures) can be developed together. Also, I prefer Destrons and want more of them. If I have an opportunity to develop Masterpiece figures again, I hope to be working on a steady growing series and have more choices of characters such as combiners. I am looking forward to seeing the future development of the series, please lend us your support.