And here you are the third and last part of the amazing interview with Takara Tomy Designer Takashi Kunihiro via Kakakumag website.
Thanks to our very own Super Mod Shin Densetsu for translating all the three parts of the interview for all of our 2005 Boards users. Takashi Kunihiro is a longtime Transformers designer at Takara Tomy, and he has worked creating new toys for years. Be sure his comments and reveals are an invaluable reading for any fan who loves the rich story behind the creative process of the toys. The interview covers:
- Part 1: “The 1st Transformers Movie Toy Struggles & Revenge Of The Fallen Optimus Prime (leader class)”
- Part 2: “How to make a transformable robot”
- Part 3: “Kunihiro’s Top 5 Favorite Transformers”
Takashi-san choices are sure great, and there’s even a Beast Machines figure on his list. We won’t spoil the full list, so you can read it after the jump. You can also find the full complete interview on the respective thread, and let us know your impressions on the 2005 Boards!
Kakakumag interview with Takashi Kunihiro Part 3
- Kunihiro has designed 400 Transformers to date
- By 2014, Kunihiro had already designed 300 Transformers.
- Started designing Transformers during his 2nd year at Takara
- Worked on some of Takara’s Braves series like Gaogaigar
- Has been designing Transformers full time at Takara since Beast Wars Neo
Kunihiro’s Top 5 Favorite Transformers:
- G1 Hot Rod – since it was 1st Transformers design. At the time he was told to increase durability. During that time, this was usually done by molding a bar that connected the legs together(like at the ankles or feet). Kunihiro got around this while maintaining durability(which was difficult to do) by designing the legs to slide down on diagonal rails. While the articulation overall was limited, he thought that the figure was innovative at the time.
- Beast Machines Night Viper – he likes that its tail transforms into the legs. He thinks the transformation is amazing
- Universe/Henkel Cyclonus – The original G1 Cyclonus was designed by a rookie designer at Takara in the 80’s. For the Universe/Henkei line, Kunihiro decided to design Cyclonus in a way that hadn’t been done before. He designed the nose of the jet to disappear completely into the body for a cleaner robot mode(compared to the G1 figure). He also designed the robot mode to be slender. He says it would’ve drove him crazy to just see the nose fold back and just merely stay there.
- Arms Micron AM-14 Vehicon – as soon as the Prime 1st Edition Vehicon was released, there was talk about making a slightly smaller Vehicon at a lower price. Since there wouldn’t be any reason for anyone to buy this if they already had the 1st Edition figure, Kunihiro sought to make it a fun figure and stand apart. He found that the Vehicon character design looked like it was from Evangelion but with big boots. So while trying to design the upper body of the toy to be slender, he put all the extra parts in the feet. The proportions the figure ended up by chance and were a result of the transformation since its’s angular. Had it been a round body, Kunihiro says it would’ve had gaps.
- MPM5 Decepticon Barricade – Kunihiro says the Human Alliance figure was designed by someone else and Kunihiro did things a little differently with Masterpiece Barricade. He sought out to make the arms longer and design a larger, more movie accurate weapon(compared to the Human alliance weapons which had to be made smaller). The interviewer says that Masterpiece Barricade seems better than Human Alliance Barriacade and Kunihiro says that’s the whole point; there’s no use in making a new toy the same way as the old toy one more time. As much as possible, he likes to integrate weapons into vehicle modes but gave up for Barricade since the weapon is too big. He designed a stand for the weapon since the blades will bend under their own weight without it.
Kunihiro likes to think about how to make more robust mechanisms in the future and also what to be careful with.
When asked what he thought was the best Transformer he worked on, he mentioned ROTF leader Optimus and most recently, Studio Series Blackout. However he felt that it was impossible to actually choose.
Various promotions are planned for the 35th anniversary next year. Kunihiro was asked if there was a specific character that he wanted to take on the challenge of designing. He didn’t give a specific answer but did mention that he’s working on a rather challenging secret project at the moment.
Blasphemy, we all know blackapple is better than those hacks at tt.
Seems like a great guy who loves our hobby as much as we do, as they all do. He also seems to get it, like their team generally does. His hard work is appreciated.
No kidding. For as much as we tend to put specific designers on a pedestal around here, they are still working on bringing someone else's vision to life. I adore Hasui, Kobayashi, and Kunihiro but I know they weren't responsible for coming up with G1 Prowl, G1 Starscream, or movie Barricade.
…but at the end of the day, Kunihiro is still an employee of the company. Regardless of his "vision", if management decrees he accomplish said design with the "compromised" constraints, he will have to do it.
I'm talking about G1 CHUG scale though. The 3rd party stuff is all Masterpiece scale.
I agree 100%. The only thing missing is an awesome vehicle mode, one that is as sleek and aerodynamic as he was in the G1 days.
Universe Cyclonus was one of my favorite molds at the time. In retrospect it's articulation is a bit hampered in the arms but that transformation and the bot mode are still stellar. I'm still trying to get every version of that mold along with Classics Rodimus to pull as many sets of Rodimus vs. Cyclonus as possible (though United Rodimus Prime ruins everything there by not having an extra Cyclonus to go with.)
There are a lot of G1 inspired Cyclonus figures when you include 3P stuff. I want a decent and accurate IDW-inspired one that isn't that add-on kit.
Universe cyclonus was okay, but I still think that they could come up with a perfect CHUG interpretation. It was cool that they did a voyager version recently, because Cyclonus should be a voyager.
But hampering him with the combiner wars gimmick really did a disservice to how cool he could have been in both modes. I am so tired of gimmicks ruining what could be fantastic Transformers, which is why I'm excited for Siege.
You're welcome. I have the FE Vehicon and RID one. Once I got my RID one I was surprised, most FE figures are better than their RID counterparts but the RID Vehicon stuck out. It's very impressive.
Loved Universe Cyclonus, dug how the Targetmaster could be handheld or turned into an armgun
!!! I am so glad the vehicon made it on to his top 5. Anyone who loves the vehicons and their frame, especially the toy is an awesome person in my book!
Thanks for the translation!
Nightviper and cyclonus were unexpected additions. Nightviper was definitely unique and I enjoyed cyclonus at the time. Don’t have movie figures so I can’t comment on those. I know the vehicon is well-regarded – may have to see what the buzz is about.
They aren't guest designers. Takara didn't give Yuki a choice for MP5 Megatron, it was 2 weeks or nothing.
Star Saber was just … boring … I know that’s super subjective but even with the travails of Dinobot, which I purchased at a roughly similar price point, he still feels miles more engaging as a MP figure … Hot Rod’s boxy chest and simplistic spindleshanks just scream ‘fuck it, they’ll buy it anyway’ and the whole ‘designed MP-05 in a wkend’ narrative always rubbed me the wrong way … a true master of his craft, one w/artisic vision and professional integrity, would reject such a comprised proposition out of hand … so yeah, I’m out on “guest designers” in the MP line … my bad
Exactly where was Star Saber "flubbed?" In fact outside of the chrome how was Hot Rod "flubbed?"
I want to say that was Hisashi Yuki, since he also designed Leo Convoy and Big Convoy, and his designs in BWII and Neo were in the style of original BW.
I'm only making a guess because i've never seen beast wars designer credits unfortunately.
Alright it's ok but I find it odd Takashi Kunihiro has been involved with so many lines & iterations in the TF franchise but hasn't been openly involved in the MP line. Maybe he's there behind the scenes in an advisory role or something (who knows?).
I would love to see him as a guest star designer just like what TT did with Yuki san for designing MP Star Saber. Other than some weak ratchets on mp Star Saber, overall that turned out great!
Although some fans moaned abt the lack of paint apps on mp Star Saber, making it less premium. But there's a reason for that, Yuki san openly said in an interview, he purposely used mostly colored plastics instead of painted parts bcoz he wants the figure to be played with and transform back & forth without fear of paint chipping. He didn't want it to be a static display piece hence it's more toy-like in appearance.
I love getting into the mindset of these designers, interviews are kinda rare which is unfortunate but I reckon somewhat necessary to keep things secret and to build momentum. I still find the same level of amazement that I did when I was 6 years old for Transformers, and I really do appreciate the efforts of these guys! My fingers and toes are crossed as to what may be coming for the 35th anniversary!
I wonder if he designed Ultra Optimus Primal. Whoever designed that was a freaking GENIUS. Even today that toy holds up(I have that and Kobayashi's MP, yes the MP is good but I look at both toys differently).
If he designed Primal maybe he also designed voyager Incinerator from 2007. That's another favorite figure of mine since like Primal, its gimmicks are still able to work no matter which mode they're in and no matter how their limbs are arranged. There's so much going on yet parts still work in unison.
Somehow I knew it was Night Viper. That was one of the standout figures.
I get that you are joking but Kunihiro is no novice. He's been with Takara since 1984 and started working on Transformers in 1985. He's got years on Kobayashi and Hasui. Kobayashi joined in the late 90's.
Yuki designed MP Star Saber and is not new to MP's. He designed MP5 Megatron in under 2 weeks. If he can design something like that in under 2 weeks, imagine if he was given 2 years to work on something.
It's assumed Kobayashi designed MP36 but the jury is still out. With recent MP's, Takara hasn't been outright in saying who designed which. We didn't know until this interview that Kunihiro was behind MPM Barricade.
Not to shift blame to Hasbro but we do know Hasbro did play a part in designing some of the MPM line. Which figures and to what extent, we don't know. We know Ben Montano worked on the line but we don't know which Takara designers were paired with him(aside from Kunihiro designing MPM Barricade and Yuya designing MPM Bumblebee). MPM4 struck me as being designed by a newer member of the team due to the lack of secure locking mechanisms going to truck mode and the way the head was designed. At this point we know that any collaborative effort is led by Hasbro, so the MPM differs from the main MP line because it's not a Takara-led effort.
It's been a big misconception that MP's are largely led by 1 designer. It's a team effort. The whole team was giving Hasui feedback when he was designing MP10. They all bounce ideas off of each other. A main designer isn't permanently there, they all switch off every few years. So while there is sometimes a main designer, the resulting toy is a team effort.
We may not all like the end results and that's fine. I just find it odd that one of the most experienced veteran designers out there is being referred to as a guest and should be relegated to the fry station, especially when he's one of the guys the other designers turn to for advice.
Thanks! It's probably something to do with the 35th anniversary next year. I'm pretty excited but have no idea what it could be. I'm thinking a rather big/important G1 MP.
You're welcome. I love how their interviews are a treasure trove of background information. Being that he's been at Takara for over 30 years, it's great hearing about how things came to be from him.
Transformers would outright SUCK without Takara.
You're welcome and I agree, it was an amazing toy. It was one of the rare times I liked an RID figure a bit more than its 1st Edition counterpart.