The third (previously: Hironori Kobayashi, Shogo Hasui) translated TakaraTomy interview has rolled in, thanks once again to TFW2005 contributor SydneyY (and TFW2005 member RedTruck, who provided him with the Transformer Masterpiece Official Guide Book from which this interview originates) – this time with Takara Masterpiece designer Hisashi Yuki! Yuki is notable for being the designer of the upcoming and highly-anticipated Masterpiece Star Saber figure.
In this interview, Yuki elaborates on his history with the Masterpiece line, the Masterpiece poll, the future, and more.
Check it out after the jump! Hisashi Yuki
Joined Takara in 1992 and was in charge of MP-4 Convoy Perfect Edition (Trailer) and MP-5 Megatron. Currently working on MP Star Saber.
– I hear the first Masterpiece figure you created was MP-5 Megatron and you hold the fastest development record with it.
Y: That is right. (*laughs) I was not assigned to be in charge of it initially, but due to the circumstance within the company I was unexpectedly handed down the project. The schedule came with it and I was stunned when I realised that I was only given 12 days, about 2 weeks…To make it worse, at the time of my receiving the task, even the product size wasn’t decided. (*tears)
Even more horrifying was the plan of reissuing MP-1 to go with Megatron – simply reissuing him wasn’t considered to be appealing enough and it was decided to give him a trailer. That decision was made after the Golden Week (note by Sydney; The Golden Week is a period usually between the end of April to early May which include some public holidays and their makeup holidays) and I was told to come up with a proto (of the trailer) by the end of May, and I designed it in one night. This is how MP-4 Convoy Perfect Edition came into existence. I couldn’t shirk my task as the release date had already been set by backward calculation. I really did the best I could though there just wasn’t enough time.
As for Megatron, the more I watched him in the cartoon setting the more I wondered how that form could turn into a gun (*laughs) Looking back now, it was such a great effort on my part to have made him into a form within such a short time frame, if I may say so myself.
– It has been a long time since you went through such hardship, and now you are back to the MP series to work on the 30th anniversary project, Star Saber.
Y: That is correct. While I participated in brainstorming sessions to discuss the lineup and such, I did not contribute to any actual item developments as I was not a main MP designer.
– And where did the idea of choosing the first of the new lineup of Masterpiece figures according to the poll result of “Masterpiece Fan’s Choice” come from?
Y: My memory is a bit fuzzy, but the main reasons were we were keen on doing something that the fans can participate for the 30th anniversary and we were also keen to know which characters in “The Headmasters” and the later series were more popular by asking the fans directly.
– So the idea was to ask the fans directly what they want first, then realise it as a product.
Y: Yes. It turned out Star Saber was the winner. Hasui, the main series designer, was going to be in charge of the 30th anniversary MP originally. But he was fully occupied with Bumble and Wheeljack, and since Star Saber was a character I was attached to personally, I stood for the job eagerly.
Actually, when I was still a student I tried to come up with my own way of turning Star Saber into a three-dimensional form. I considered scratch-building a fully articulated model though it wasn’t meant to be transformable, and drew plans while watching the cartoon.
In fact I had a similar idea with Ginrai as well. I had fun drawing plans and trying to create Ginrai that was fully transformable yet proportioned as seen in the cartoon.
– You already had many ideas for Star Saber and Ginrai that far back?
Y: Well, because they were my favourite characters, or rather, as one of the fans I used to think they looked so cool. The original Star Saber released in 1989 has many excellent components as a toy and I embarked on the MP Star Saber project with an intention of being always true to those. Also I wanted to make him into a product which would remind you of that cool Star Saber from the cartoon as that’s the characteristic of the Masterpiece series.
– The proto shown at Tokyo Toy Show had a very refined shape – were there lots of trial and error until you reached that stage?
Y: No, it went unexpectedly smoothly. I had a much clearer image of Star Saber in my head than I thought, so I could draw a good-looking Star Saber with hardly any effort, then added gimmicks here and there…and it was done.
My method is to outline the shape first, then draw the inner mechanism. As I draw, inconsistencies and hindrances to the transformation become apparent and gradually, the rough structure takes a form in my head. I add various mechanisms to it and consider suitable structures for the articulations, I contrive several patterns based on different ideas until I settle with the final one.
– In your mind, it is almost concluded.
Y: The appearance of Star Saber is quite set from the very beginning, so what I did first was to decide on the rough proportion, estimate the size and consider how many gimmicks could be incorporated.
The product size is slightly bigger than MP-22 Ultra Magnus. It is about the same size as the original Star Saber toy. I couldn’t help it becoming one size bigger because I wanted to include the gimmicks the original toy had.
To be honest, during my long career as a toy developer, I have rarely had an opportunity to remake a robot toy I liked. When I was working on MP Star Saber, I discovered that a job with such fun actually existed. (*laughs)
– Is it possible that you will work on a MP figure again in the future?
Y: I can’t say for sure as it also depends on the balance of the entire TF development duties at any given time, although I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. But if Ginrai gets a go-ahead, I want the job no matter what. I am still waiting for a fully articulated, anime-proportioned toy of my very favourite, Ginrai. (*laughs)