Interviews| Developers Story of Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON :Episode 4
BANDAI Super Mini-Pla (english)
Plastic Model Kits
[PR]BANDAI CO., LTD.
Now, I'd like to hear about our main subject of this interview, the Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON. First, let me know about the cartoon work VOLTRON.
▲Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON（BANDAI）
TM and (C) WEP, LLC, under license to DreamWorks Animation LLC.
(TN):VOLTRON is a popular cartoon broadcasted in Japan on 1981 . People who was just the age of 3 to 6 years old at that time, should be now around 40 years old.
▲Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON -Lion robot mode-（BANDAI）
TM and (C) WEP, LLC, under license to DreamWorks Animation LLC.
(SH):Five lion robots unite into one so the name of cartoon in Japan was 'GoLion' (Go means five in Japanese). DX CHOGOKIN 'GoLion', the main robot toy in those age, recorded the highest sales in CHOGOKIN brand history. By the way, don't you think its design is unique that the lions don't have manes? Are they actually female lions?
(HS):Some says that it's because they are young why they don't have manes.
'GoLion' was also released in the SOUL OF CHOGOKIN series in 2016, and became a hit.
(TN):Actually, behind the hit, there is a background that GoLion is a worldwide content. GoLion has been broadcasted as VOLTRON around the U.S. from 1984, and the new series is still in air on Netflix from 2016.
GoLion and VOLTRON is a worldwide robot character of Japanese origin.
(TN):Yes, so behind the big hit of SOUL OF CHOGOKIN 'GoLion,' there were many international fans of VOLTRON.
Robot heroes are worldwide dream icon. Personally speaking, I was hooked on POWER RANGERS (1993- ) in my boyhood.
(TN):POWER RANGERS became popular about a decade after the robot cartoons like VOLTRON was introduced in the U.S. I guess many older boys should have thought that the combined form MEGAZORD of the POWER RANGERS looked very similar to the VOLTRON's... For it has blue and yellow feet, and beast faces on the toes!!
It surely is...! Did you produce Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON not only for the Japanese fans but also for the international fans?
▲Super Mini-Pla POWER RANGERS MEGAZORD（BANDAI）
(TN):Last year, the Super Mini-Pla POWER RANGERS MEGAZORD sold well more than expected in the U.S. Taking that case into consideration and after discussing what will sell well in the U.S., GoLion/Voltron was singled out.
(SH):The chief production staff in the Chinese factory also was a fan of VOLTRON in his childhood. It was funny that as soon as when we decided to produce VOLTRON, he called me and said, "I want this product for private!"
(TN): The SOUL OF CHOGOKIN VOLTRON is a high-end product, so it is a little pricey and some fans can't get it easily. Then, how about making a more affordable model kit, with different design that SOUL OF CHOGOKIN couldn't make? That's what we were talking in the beginning.
What did you first think when you received this offer?
(TN):I have been engaged in the POWER RANGERS, so when I first heard that the Super Mini-Pla MEGAZORD made a hit in overseas, I felt very happy that the product I once was engaged is still beloved in the world. I challenged this job with thanks to the chance to make VOLTRON, one of the roots of MEGAZORD's design.
Fans should be delighted to see VOLTRON designed by Mr. Nonaka, who had once designed MEGAZORD.
(TN):So, I also watched the foreign edition cartoon before designing it. The title tune and the theme music are different from Japan's, and curious to say, it makes me feel into thinking it is VOLTRON, not GoLion!
(TN):What I submitted in the first meeting with BANDAI is this.
You said you designed "the design SOUL OF CHOGOKIN couldn't do."
(TN):The SOUL OF CHOGOKIN is a high-end model that can unite without changing parts. Although, if we take a close look at the original cartoons, the lion's heads are designed very big when they are united. For another example, lion's legs are hidden when they are combined. There are some places that can't make perfect sense without changing its parts.
(TN):On the other hand, the series Super Mini-Pla are permitted to change parts. So I can make a closer model to the cartoons in those points.
I see. So you intended to realize the cartoon image more faithfully.
(TN):Right. For the united robot's proportion, we have to consider about the detail measures because the VOLTRON's design has been changing from the past to present, and there are various VOLTRON fans in the world. From now on is when the MegaHouse staff play the active part!
Haha, it's the time for Mr. Sakamoto, who said, "I can't help changing the original designs!"
(HS):I'm really sorry to say it in front of Mr. Nonaka, though・・・
(HS):I knew about this project from before I got to know that Mr. Nonaka will be involved, so at first, I was drawing as I want from scratch. Concerning that it will be sold worldwide, I tried to make a figure with dynamism like in recent VOLTRON cartoons' CG animations, and with a bit spindly image like Japanese 'GoLion'. After I received Mr. Nonaka's design, I made a fix for it a bit・・・
(SH):Before we received Mr. Nonaka's design, we were also exchanging our ideas about the united robot's proportion. Based on Mr. Nonaka's design, we added our ideas and made the samples to consider its proportion. I remember that I got a little nervous when we put out this sample in the first meeting with Mr. Nonaka.
What made you nervous?
(SH):The biggest modification was that we modulated sharpness to the proportion.
▲The sample that Mr. Hiramatsu got a little nervous when submitting, and the first design of Mr. Nonaka. We can see that the sample's waist and knees are more tightened up from Mr. Nonaka's design.
(HS):For example, look at the waist. In the cartoon, its design is more linear, but in this product, the waist is tightened up. This is where we adopted the modern design trends.
(SH):The tightened design also enabled us to increase the range of waist motion and recreate its animated head forward postures. In order to do that, we needed to divide the waist part.
How did you feel when you first saw this sample, Mr. Nonaka?
(TN):I thought it's quite a nice idea. This product targets worldwide fans, so we settled into this final design after our discussions.
In this episode, we introduced the real inside story about developing Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON. Could you feel the tamashi (soul) filled in this product? In the final episode, we will hear the messages from the developers.
To be continued in Episode 5: Messages for Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON Fans
Interview, writing, photography, graph: Takuma Ogata
Photo by courtesy of BANDAI CO., LTD.
Episode 5:Messages for Super Mini-Pla VOLTRON Fans
This article has been translated from Japanese into English. Go toJapanese ver.
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