Playworksonline.com had the oppurtunity to catch up with Takara’s lead designer, Hideaki Yoke, at Cybertron Con and were able to sit down with him for an interview. For those that are unaware, Mr. Yoke has been working on the brand even before it became known as the Transformers. In the interview he discusses why the play pattern of Transformers is so popular, how the designers go about creating our favorite characters and why he thinks the brand will be something us fans we’ll be telling our grand children about.
Click the title bar to read the full interview or the link above. PW: Did you ever imagine Transformers to become the success that it is today?
HY: Never ever! The franchise we see today is more than something that I could have imagined. All I can say is that all of this is more than a dream come true to me.
PW: Which is harder? Trying to put character and personality into a machine, or trying to design the way the robots Transform? Because it is one thing to see the robots transform on screen, but to have toys that do the same thing? That’s looks like a lot of planning to us.
HY: I understand why this question came up as we keep aiming to amaze customers by designing rich personalities in both vehicle and robot mode with great transforming skills. The fact is however, that they are not that hard to design in either way. There will be some challenges in matching the products with the screen characters, but our designers enjoy accomplishing their job and at the same time, raise the bar a couple of notches.
PW: We’re sure you go through a hundred and one different designs and prototypes before a Transformer is born. What factors do you consider when deciding on a new Transformer? Are the factors the same as they were back then in Gen 1 & 2?
HY: Our customers today are of a broader demographic and their expectations to the brand are also not the same for each each group. I need to proof the design concept brief more carefully before the gray models are made. Looking back to Gen 1 & 2, I think we were more optimistic and our aim was to design just nice Transformers.
PW: This 28-year franchise has seen comics, cartoons, video games and movies. We can safely say that, like Mario, The Transformers is yet another trancendent force that Dad’s of today can share with their children. Do you think the parents of today will be able to sit down with their grandchildren and tell them stories of the first generation of The Transformers? Will Transformers still be coherent?
HY: Yes, I can proudly say that the Transformers not just a content, but also a toyline that fathers and their children can sit down to spend time playing/ watching together.
As for the factors of its long lasting popularity, I think it is the “Transforming” concept itself which has intrigued people. Transforming is in fact a great pattern of play itself. Of course, we have been putting a lot of effort to innovate the product line every year to make it fresh exciting. Our designers’ expertise and passion make this heavy task possible.
I’m convinced that the Transformers can be an ever-green playground for future customers if the tradition is passed down – next generation of designers following the key factors to success. The Transformers can be a universal language for every generation all over the world.
PW: You have overseen dozens of designs and development of Transformers, what is your all-time favourite Transformer and why?
HY: Perceptor is my favorite. The 2nd is Reflector even though it is not a popular character and it has less of a transforming magic. I was totally absorbed in designing or engineering those smaller robots of pre-Transformers. These designs make me recall those days.
PW: Finally, what can fans of the franchise expect to see at the first-ever Cybertron Convention in Singapore?
HY: I am hoping that the Cybertron Convention in Singapore offers the greatest opportunity for all the fans to celebrate and enjoy the Transformers of today together. You will see the great collection of toys from every era of the Transformers history in Singapore, so don’t miss it!