Thanks again to 2005 Board member opoptimus who has posted in our forums a new English translation of an interview with Takara Tomy designer Shogo Hasui.
This interview was originally published in the Japanese magazine Figure King #270 in July 2020. The source of the first translation (in Chinese) comes from ‘Cybertron 600″ on Weixin. Here, Shogo Hasui (part of Takara Tomy design team) tells us a “behind the scene” look at all the development process of War For Cybertron Titan Class Scorponok which was quite a challenge.
Read the translation after the break and then share your impressions on the 2005 Board!
FOREWORD: This project was riddled with chaos. Even veteran designer Mr. Hasui still needed the help of “magic” to pull off the design of Earthrise Scorponok. This interview will bring you a behind the scene look on that, and more on the latest of the WfC trilogy.
–Please tell our readers why Scorponok was chosen as the Titan class figure this time around.
H: The character selection was basically Hasbro’s request. According to Hasbro’s survey(fan votes) Scorponok is really popular among fans, so they strongly proposed on making him the Earthrise Titan figure. Because the story of “Earthrise” actually takes place on earth, this request took us by surprise. Hasbro hoped this Titan figure would be able to interact with the previous Titan class figures, and give fans the opportunity to enjoy the base bots and their related toys; so we introduced this character in the Earthrise line.
–Was the “Double Head On” feature decided on from the get go?
H: Yeah, it was the earliest proposal from Hasbro. Even if we (TakaraTomy) did the proposal, it would no doubt be the same in this regard. Probably because this had been mentioned before when we were having general discussions with Hasbro. All in all, Scorponok having dual Heasmasters was decided on at the very early stage. In addition, Hasbro also hoped the aesthetics would be close to <Rebirth>, as well as triple-changing (‘bot, scorpion and base mode); they had decided on these from the proposal stage.
–As a Titan class figure, what first came in your mind when it comes to upgrades(from the G1 toy)?
H: It would have to be a comparable size with Titan Fort Max. The original G1 toy was too small compared to Fort Max; since these two are arch-enemies, they should then be the same size so they can be displayed next to each other. We thought fans would think the same.
–Although slightly shorter than Fort Max, Earthrise Scorpornok has a bulky upper body; he certainly does look the part against Fort Max!
H: But I went through hell to achieve this! (laugh), because budget was less than expected. The proposed budget this time around, was only enough to produce 3/4 of Siege Omega Supreme’s molds. With molds reduced by this much, but the figure needed to be bigger in size than Omega Supreme, we thought this was nigh impossible. Hasbro proposed to reduce the size accordingly–and of course it’d be much easier (for us)–but thinking about the fans that waited for years for a worthy Scorponk alongside Titan Fort Max, we just couldn’t accept a smaller size.
–Then how did you achieve this size?
H: I used “magic” (laugh). Firstly I explained to them how critical his size is, so there’s no way down the size reduction route. Then we started from cutting back on accessories, but even then the number of molds was over budget; in the end we thought if we were limited on the number of molds, we could use one mold to produce two completely same parts. Although we added some symmetrical parts in the end, the right/left hand and right/left legs are completely swappable mirrored design, which could be cast from the same mold. Also we had to give up the clear visor part as well, and use the saved area of this mold to increase areas in other molds, thus increasing volume of the figure.
–You went through all this to get to the current size.
H: All in all, with a bottom line of not compromising the aesthetics in mind, we tried everything to get him as close to Fort Max in size as possible. For me personally, aside from Scorponok, at the time I also had Studio Series Devastator and another big ticket product which I can’t name now in development concurrently. They were all big projects with very high difficulty so it was really stressful for me. During that period there was one day where the transforming Scorponok prototype and SS Overload’s final gray model were completed on the same day……(sad laughter)it was really a nightmare.
— Can you talk about the character design this time in more detail?
H: Scorponok as s character has appeared in the American <Rebirth>, Japanese <The Headmasters>, and Marvel comics. So how we could combine elements from these different portrayals into one design was no easy task. Specifically, Hasbro proposed “Titan class, dual headmaster, and based on <Rebirth>”, so we used these as a starting point where we added more elements from other versions of the character.
–The Marvel version is particularly different to the others right?
H: The comic Scorponok is about the size of Optimus, so we said F that. But we did design kind of a comic-esque muscular V shaped upper body, as well as make the small Titan master closer in look to the Marvel version.
–The ‘bot mode of the Head Master used the JP <HM> design. What was the thought process?
H: Truth be told the concept design of Scorponok was pretty much done back when we were still finalizing the design on TR Trypticon. But in the poll after Fort Max, Scorponok didn’t win; so when we were redoing all these Headmasters, he didn’t get a a chance to be remade. Back then we actually proposed to Hasbro to release him as a Deluxe class Headmaster only in the style of the JP <HM>. Because the Japanese version was such an impressive character, we thought even just releasing him as a single headmaster it’d be good for the product line. At least he could (in toy format) interact with the Decepticon line up. Although the proposal wasn’t taken on board at the time, this idea of having the Japanese Headmaster ‘Head On’ stuck in my head, and it’s finally realized this time.
–Please let us in on some hidden features if there’s any, like swapping heads with Fort Max.
H: This wasn’t planned intentionally but in the end it worked? (laugh). It’s probably Zarak stealing Fort Max’s body… In ‘bot mode the scorpions legs are stored inside the body in ‘bot mode, but we still made the chest panel openable and it could house a Titan Master inside This was inspired by a <Rebirth> scene where he captures an enemy, but of course it can be used as a pilot seat too.
–So as the designer, what are the selling points for Scorponok?
H: He’s a double headmaster but also has the neck articulation to look down. With double knee joint, ankle rocker, and claw articulation, a lot of effort went into articulation too. He can be put in poses that suit his menacing size, so I hope fans can also enjoy playing with a gigantic toy this size. The scorpion mode was also designed as an articulated transport mode. With universal ports all over, and the upcoming Weaponizer (Fasttrack), I hope fans will be able to use their imagination and create their own powerful Scorponok.
–Siege Omega Supreme and Earthrise Scorponok give off impressions they’re so fun to be played with.
H: Probably because both had their robot mode designed first, then transformation designed around it. Scorponok had more development time scheduled, so we were able to have the mold technicians come to Japan and iron out joint and mold issues one by one with me. For example originally I’d designed the scorpion tail to become the shield for ‘bot mode, however after the technicians pointed out adding heavy load bearing joints on the arms would be detrimental to other parts of the figure, we abandoned this idea. Being able to interact with production staff this closely, I think it helped increase our product quality too.
–The Generations line has grown a lot lately.
H: The original ‘Classics’ line started as a preview line for the movie 1 products. I thought this was a great position to be in, because back then there was the Movie line, and also the Animated line which were both very progressive in design; so Classics had the room to go for the “(traditionally) good-looking robots” aesthetics. Then it evolved into a main toy line that closely follows the foot steps of G1. This time there’s even animation directly based on these CHUG format toys. On the other hand, because it’s a line that’s had such a long history, the same character could’ve been remade in different series; so in order for us to get the fans to buy the same character again, we constantly improve on engineering and articulation, and also increase interactivity and weapon expandability etc. throughout the whole line. All of these efforts were recognized and acknowledged by fan and this is the reason why this line got to continue to this very day.
–Please talk a bit about the design direction in general.
H: For Siege, to demonstrate the alien nature tech on TFs, a lot of mechanical details were added. However Siege has included earth alt mode, so I referred to Studio X’s concept art because their design was heavily based on real life vehicles. I also borrowed from the details on MP products with a real life vehicle mode. Also worth noting, the character designs from recent years have been really faithful to older works (mainly G1), for example this Scorponok. If you think he looks quite like the G1 cartoon character, then it’s our success.
— Please talk a bit about what you think of the (Siege) cartoon.
H: I had the honor to visit POLYGON Pictures, the production company, and watched a couple of clips during production. Looking at the toys so faithfully recreated in animation, I was really touched. It felt to me that the production staff are big Transformers fans, and the show is really a labor of love. So I really wanted to find out what happens next in the show; and as a designer there’s a show that makes people want to buy the toys you designed, I feel really honored.
–Finally, can you please share your outlook for the WfC trilogy.
H: Keeping the robot modes in scale, all the characters you guys were expecting will be there. There will even be “this character gets a toy too!?” kind of surprises. Please stayed tuned.