BANDAI Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" Created by Robot Lovers Dream Team :Episode 1

BANDAI Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" Created by Robot Lovers Dream Team :Episode 1

BANDAI Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" Created by Robot Lovers Dream Team :Episode 1

BANDAI Super Mini-Pla (english)

Plastic Model Kits




In this episode, we had an interview with the members who were involved in the development of the new product, Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" which was released by BANDAI. The members were Tsuyoshi Nonaka (toy designer,) and Hideki Sakamoto and Satoru Hiramatsu from MegaHouse OEM department. Let us introduce the behind-the-scenes story of toy developments and developing the"VOLTRON".(total 5 episodes)



Today, we asked the development members of the Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" to join and share the development stories.


So, before we introduce our guests, let us organize how toys are produced, and your relationships. In making products, first, Japanese toy company BANDAI's candy division propose a commercialization plan.


Tsuyoshi Nonaka(TN):Yes, from when it was planned, I offered advices for the BANDAI's planner, and we discussed this product's concept and product design together.



So Mr. Nonaka, you designed the product design as a freelance toy designer.

After the design is made, the process moves on to the development phase.



Hideki Sakamoto(HS):That's right. Based on Mr. Nonaka's design, we drew the layout and considered about its concrete mechanism and its organizations.


So it's the phase to examine in three dimensions.


Satrou Hiramatsu(SH):Based on Mr. Sakamoto's layout, we built the prototypes. Considering its visual, playability, safeness, and other various aspects, we kept testing over and over again.


What is the difference between Mr. Sakamoto and Mr. Hiramatsu's roles?


(SH):It depends, and we always cooperate together. Mainly, Mr. Sakamoto design the figure and mechanisms, and I handle the prototype tests and factory production control.



(SH):This VOLTRON is produced in China. After all the design was completed, we made the mold and started the production in a Chinese factory. Plastic model parts won't be well assembled if the mold is not well adjusted. I also went to China, and adjusted the molds with the engineers to the end.


I see. The products are sold in stores after all those trials and errors.



(TN):I also designed the package design, too. Referring to the final product visual, I designed it so it will stand out in the store shelves.


Thank you, I understood your relationships of you all. Anyway, this package design is so cool!



Now then, I'd like to proceed into an introduction of you. Mr. Nonaka, you are now active as a freelance toy designer, but I heard that you originally worked for BANDAI.



(TN):I was born in 1966, the same age as the ULTRAMAN. So I spent my boyhood through with the glory days of TV characters and special effects films.


KAMEN RIDER is born in 1971, and MAZINGER Z is born in 1972. You really spent the golden age of the heroes in your childhood.


(TN):Absolutely. I was affected by those animation goods, so my dream was to be a toy shop staff, an archaeologist, or an artist from then.


You realized your dream after you joined BANDAI in 1987.


(TN):When I was in high school (1981-,) the animation series VOLTRON was on air. I was struck by the cool commercial movie of CHOGOKIN robot series.


That's interesting, you were affected by a commercial, not the animation stories.


(TN):Yeah, in a sense, the product was more attractive than the main animation contents. So I started to set my heart to work in a toy maker field, to make cool products like it.


What kind of job did you do at BANDAI?


(TN):After joining the company, I designed and planned character toys for boys like SUPER SENTAI, KAMEN RIDER, and ULTRAMAN.


While making those toys for kids, you planned the SOUL OF CHOGOKIN in 1997, the first die-cast metal action figure focused for adult collectors. The first product SOUL OF CHOGOKIN MAZINGER Z became a big hit.


(TN):SOUL OF CHOGOKIN is a series that can make adults satisfied modeling the character figure that they once loved in their childhood. At that time, adult-targeted toy business was just launched and there were no captive division. This year, a new company BANDAI SPIRITS was established from BANDAI to specialize in adult-targeted products. I've never thought the business would be this big then.


Mr. Nonaka has retired from BANDAI in 2014, and is active as a freelance toy designer. In which product do you have the most special feelings in your career?


(TN):I have too many special memories, but if I choose one from my recent products, it may be the Tower of the Sun Robot (TAIYONOTO ROBO). I made it for my hobby at first, but it was luckily commercialized and became a hit. It was released in 2014, the year I retired, so it is a sort of graduation design work for me.



Next, Mr. Sakamoto, let us hear your background.



(HS):I wanted to make game contents rather than toys when I was in school. Although, I thought I couldn't draw on my experiences from the electronic engineering school to creating games. Just then, B-AI (predecessor of MegaHouse) was creating both games and toys, so I decided to join the company in 1994. Well, I never created a game at here though. haha


What kind of job have you done in the company?


(HS):At first, my main job was designing electronic circuit of electronic toys. In 1997, I was transferred and assigned to toy design division at the time when three companies merged into MegaHouse.


What kind of toys did you design?


(HS):As I am in OEM division, I usually design candy toys with BANDAI's candy division. I have engaged in many products, but these days, I've devoted to designing robots for plastic model series of SUPER SENTAI, Mini-Pla.


You have experienced many works to this day.


(HS):I always liked robot contents as I have seen most of the animation movies of SUPER ROBOT WARS. I am doing this job by chance, but I feel it turned out into my calling.



May I hear about you, Mr. Hiramatsu?



(SH):I was just checking up mine as Mr. Nonaka said he was the same age as ULTRAMAN. I was the same age as VOLTRON!




(SH):But unfortunately, I didn't see VOLTRON in real time. I loved GUNDAM from as far back as I can remember, and I can tell that I already carried Perfect Gundam's model from my 2-year-old photos.


(TN):Isn't it because of your father's taste?


(SH):No, my father didn't have interest in those. So it is a mystery, haha. When I began to understand things, I loved SD GUNDAM, and I collected hundreds of capsule toys and trading cards. I still liked GANPLA and plastic models after I grew up, so I joined MegaHouse in 2004 to make these kind of toys.


What kind of job have you done in MegaHouse?


(SH):I've been in OEM division for 10 years, the same division as Mr. Sakamoto, and is designing candy toys and managing production. I have also involved in movable robot figure series VARIABLE ACTION for 3 years, at hobby division specialized for figure toys.


Is there a product which you have deep feelings about?


(SH):That's the ASSAULT KINGDOM series, which I engaged from the start-up.


It's one of the product of GUNDAM that you loved from your childhood.


(SH):Yes. In recent years, I'm attached to Super Mini-Pla series. Mr. Sakamoto and I are dedicating ourselves to make these robot products.


Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON is made by people who loved robots from their childhood. It's a DREAM TEAM, indeed!



Toys and models are produced from many efforts. The common fact is that all the producers love this job. What one likes, makes the best product. We can add to the merriment of having these toys when we can share their deep feelings.


To be continued in Episode 2: The Big Hit Planning Method of Toy Designer, Tsuyoshi Nonaka


Interview, writing, photography, graph: Takuma Ogata

Photo by courtesy of BANDAI CO., LTD.



Episode 1: BANDAI Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" Created by Robot Lovers Dream Team

Episode 2:The Big Hit Planning Method of Toy Designer, Tsuyoshi Nonaka

Episode 3: In-depth Dissection of How Creators Design Plastic Models

Episode 4: Interviews| Developers Story of Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON

Episode 5: Messages for Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON Fans


This article has been translated from Japanese into English. Go to Japanese ver.


【Please follow Episoze’s SNS】



Cheer! を送る
BANDAI Super Mini-Pla "VOLTRON" Created by Robot Lovers Dream Team :Episode 1

BANDAI Super Mini-Pla (english)

Plastic Model Kits

BANDAI Super Mini-Pla (english)のエピソード