We have quite an interesting reading to share with you. Courtesy of 2005 Board member opoptimus who has posted in our forums an English translation of the first part of an interview with Takara Tomy designer Shogo Hasui.
This interview was originally published in the Japanese Transformers Generations Book 2020. The source of the first translation (in Chinese) comes from ‘Cybertron 600″ on Weixin. On this interview Mr. Hasui talks about team work between Hasbro and Takara, considerations and new ideas that were introduced in War For Cybertron Siege, the original concept for Weaponizers, the introduction of the new Commander Class (and Jetfire of course), Omega Supreme , trivia and more. We highly suggest you to take your time to enjoy this interview.
Click on the bar to read the translation, and stay tuned with TFW2005 for the second part. Let us know your impressions on the 2005 Board!
We interviewed Mr. Hasui Shogo, who as a key figure on (Takaratomy’s) overseas product team collaborates with Hasbro, and asked about the latest development on the WfC trilogy, and several other designs by Mr.Hasui.
–Please tell us your relationship with Hasbro during development of the Generations line.
H: Generations is a product line co-developed by Hasbro and TakaraTomy. TT sell the products in Japan and Hasbro in all the other countries and regions.
–Practically, how do the two companies collaborate? What’s the process like?
H: Firstly Hasbro work out budget and sell price, molding investment and other budgets. We (TT design team) calculate the amount of plastic and number of molds allowed(within budget). Within this budget limitation, how we can design more interesting products and the compromises we make, is decided between the two companies. What TT want, what Hasbro want, we try our best to lay it all out on the table, and decide on the general design direction and what compromises to be made. This type of design collaboration is quite unusual, but it had been in place before I joined Takara 20 years ago. We all have Yoke san to thank for his effort on making this unique collaboration possible.
–Back in Yoke san’s time, this (type of collaboration)must’ve been confusing?
H: Yeah, the common practice back then was “I designed this product, let’s discuss how much we can sell it for”. He elevated the mindset from “let’s design a product at this price point” to “let’s see what fun ideas we can put in within this budget”. It took a lot of effort for this change in mindset to happen.
–Every year there’s a design concept (gimmick) for Generations, how do you decide on that?
H: The previous Prime Wars trilogy started from a rough concept by Hasbro, and we decide what characters can be made from this concept. But it’s different for the WfC trilogy. Hasbro design manager John Warden came to me direct, asking for input from the very beginning. We started from a topic along the lines of “we’ve done pretty much all of these characters in the classics format in the past”, what are we doing from this point on? Then we talked about further plans into the future. We considered making less known characters, but in the end decided on creating a world and play pattern that includes all the characters, where fans can immerse themselves into. Countering popular play patterns like “combining” or “city bot”, we suggested developing a “mix-matching weapon and armor” play pattern, which will be across the board in the new line.
–Cog or Six-gun being add-on pieces to combine with other figures is a very creative idea.
H: Within the parts count limitation, if we put too much focus on individual figure’s weapons or armor, the quality of the figure itself would be negatively effected. To avoid this we considered producing “weapon packs”. We looked at the fiction in the past when researching, and imagined Six-gun being part of “a Transformers race that can come apart as individual parts to enhance other transformers”; then we kinda expanded on this idea which ultimately evolved into “selling Cog and Six-gun as weapon packs”. We actually had made the suggestion to include weapons across several figures which combine into a Cog like mini character; although the idea wasn’t taken on board at the time, this concept eventually gets realized in the WfC line.
— Do you share your ideas with Hasbro on the actual design of products?
H: The Siege line-up began as Hasbro’s proposal to include all the well-known big names, then TT would adjust and distribute into each wave and price point. And (TT) proposed adding ankle pivot and waist rotation across the line to better pose out with weapons. Being mindful of the scale was Hasbro’s proposal. I’d suggested this to them in the past, the idea of so called “chain marketing”, where after buying one figure collectors would want to buy the others in the line; for example UW Devastator and PotP Predaking are close in size, then collectors would want to display them together. Hasbro took up my idea, so for this new line we would keep bot mode scale and a unifying aesthetics in mind (when designing).
–Omega Supreme is not only in size, but also in aesthetics and transformation, very faithful to the G1 cartoon. We fans are really touched.
H: Because I was involved with establishing a new (Commander class) price point, I had to entrust this design task with Kunihiro san. But I really wanted to be part of this project, so I drew up some “Omega Supreme size and appearance” sketches, and gave suggestions like “Omega’s face better not show any emotion”. Of course I didn’t do this just for Omega Supreme; I always slip our Generations team members files like “this character’s trait is this”, it’s indeed a strange behavior (laugh).
–The Commander class in question, is Jetfire right?
H: Jetfire had been done a couple of times already, but I was never involved. Firstly I really like this character, so the design process was such a joy. The sticking point for me personally, is I really wanted a Jetfire that transforms from “that jet” to “that robot design”. I imagine a lot of fans are like me, (would want to) take no hints from “that particular toy” back in the day(laugh), but to focus 100% on recreating the cartoon look. Actually when we first started on the project, Jetfire had a different Cybertronian alt mode, but I insisted on “‘bot mode is already so faithful to the cartoon, fans will be thrilled if the alt mode is too”, so we eventually settled on the current look.
–Compared with other products, (Jetfire) feels a bit different; there’s a lot details that use linked mechanism. A luxury feel to it overall.
H: Really? Maybe my love for Jetfire was too strong (laugh). Because of the the new Commander price point, we could experiment on some new ideas. I explained that we could work out parts count based on price point, but the details of these parts, or their weight hadn’t been set. So here’s how we designed this new Commander class: starting from Titans class Devastator, we took off head and body, worked out the weight limit for Jetsfire backwards from the parts count of what’s left on Devastator – Scrapper, Long Haul and Mixmaster. We then throw in all the details and gimmicks into we could within this limit, and there was Jetfire.
–A 5mm port flips out when the fist is closed, what a mechanism!
H: Originally it was a Hasbro proposal to add an arm mechanism that rotates between 5mm fist and splayed out hand. But there’s not enough space left in the arm, so I came up with this mechanism. It wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for Hasbro’s participation.
–The handle bars underneath the jet fuselage is also interesting
H: It was intended for Ironhide or Thundercracker to grab onto. Jetfire’s alt mode is actually a cargo jet, so in order to hold other characters firepower 5mm ports were put under the wings too, and the bottom of the jet was designed to interact with Six-gun.
Part 2 to be continued…..