Translated & Interpreted by Jeremy Barlow © Soundwaves Oblivion
Interview from Figure King 278 (March 2021)
Here is a message from Mr Ono, the legendary toy designer who worked on the
latest Masterpiece Skids.
Masterpiece figures are complicated to transform, I feel it's much better to
focus on a more straightforward and mechanical transformation…. For Skids,
the starting point was to create a Masterpiece figure which took a different
direction and this is very different from the current trend of figures.
Another aim was to keep the costs down without affecting the quality. After
all the iconic "Transformers" started with the Car Robots, vehicles which
turn into robots. When thinking of characters yet to receive the MP
treatment, Skids the Honda City immediately came to mind. It's true he only
appeared twice in the cartoon but the overall look of the City is so
attractive and the 80’s is currently enjoying a resurgence. That's why I
decided to take the challenge with Skids, not only to bring out more
characters from the cartoon but also to bring back the appeal of this car.
Back in the day, the City was very popular, sporty and cool. It was
fascinating. I used to own a red City R so I’m personally attached to it.
designed the Car Robots I’d never have expected to be handed this project
however I was determined to do something we couldn't do in the past. The
development is being handled by Yuya Onishi’s team. Due to the schedule the
design has not been outsourced and has been drawn up completely by Onishi.
chosen respect the animation and the weapons have been designed in a similar
fashion. We wanted to follow the original Car Robot play aspect to allow us
to seat the small figures, sold previously in the Masterpiece series, in the
driver's seat. Unfortunately the Motocompo is not included. When you talk
about the City, you immediately think about the Motocompo but when Skids was
released in the Transformers series the Motocompo was omitted. That's the
reason I didn’t include it with this version of Skids. I thought about
including it when we would release a Diaclone version. As development
progressed there was a feeling in the team that if we wanted to recreate the
City it would have to be “red”. This year is the 40th Anniversary of the
City so my boss simply said “Don’t you think we should release two colours
simultaneously?”. I thought that was a great idea for car fans to pick up
two Masterpieces at the same time; Skids the Transformer and a brand new
character who transforms from City to robot, Reboost! As Reboost is a brand
new character we had to release it with a little extra which is why the
Motocompo is included. Several Masterpieces are simultaneously being
developed, these include the Trainbots and a brand new Skyfire. Raiden’s
combined form will be of a similar size to the recent Unite Warriors. I know
everyone has been anticipating this release so please stay tuned.
Hero X Transformers Generations 2021 (May 2021) Kojin Ono Interview
Kojin Ono was born on the 11th May 1959 in Tokyo and joined Takara in 1980.
A legendary member of the team (as well as being the oldest active member)
who has been integral in the Transformers development since Microman and
Diaclone. He is currently a member of the Masterpiece team.
fun with the direction of the new Masterpiece toys."
Skids / Reboost
- Do you feel the Masterpiece series has entered a new stage with Skids?
overall series has been changing with the likes of War for Cybertron and I
felt it was time to go in a new direction. I discussed this approach at
length with the whole Transformers team. I took the lead with Onishi (Yuya)
and considered several directions. I considered previous products such as
MP-12 Lambor and MP-17 Prowl as a good starting point.
- Mr Ono,
speaking of Skids, isn’t that an item that you worked on in the Diaclone
I had a lot of fun working on it. Skids is a Honda City which was a popular
car at that time, I even owned one. The decisive factor for Skids
development was that the car had recently celebrated its 40th anniversary
which attracted a lot of attention, especially with the current 80’s boom.
Technologies have improved dramatically since the Car Robot series and we
have more options at the development stage. As this is a high-target product
we also have a different budget. There are plenty of movable parts to
achieve a range of articulation and in vehicle mode we were very particular
over the detailing. Another focus was the cost. We wanted to achieve a high
quality product with a relatively inexpensive price tag. Maintaining the
play value without including unnecessary accessories was a difficult
- You are
demonstrating your commitment to real cars with the opening and closing
doors and bonnet.
The Car Robots had similar gimmicks and it was something I wanted to
revisit. It’s the same reason that a figure can be placed in the driver's
seat. It's also why I included the Motocompo, but since it was not included
with the original Skids, it's instead being included with the new character,
unique to release two colour variations simultaneously.
The simultaneous release of multi-coloured products for general retail is a
first for the Masterpiece series. Our marketing department is also
considering new ways for promoting products; they are currently making a
special website and PR videos for our Transformer products. I hope this
effort will generate great results.
Starscream Ver 2.0
- Can you
please tell us about Starscream Ver 2.0?
This is another product that I have history with. This product is based on
the cartoon, a completely different approach from Skids. Now we are
exploring a new direction with the Masterpiece series and we will continue
to take on challenges according to the character and how the final product
- Was the
tail section most particular for this version update?
This time round the challenge was to fold all surplus parts within the robot
form. From the design sketch drawn by Oshima (Yuki), we wanted to work out
how to hide the horizontal and vertical stabilisers which the robots in the
cartoon don’t have. I eventually came up with the idea that we should fold
the “vertical stabilisers” in the main wings. Another new feature was the
recreation of the “alternate transformation” or hovering form. As this was
frequently used in the cartoon I definitely wanted to be able to recreate
future for the Masterpiece series?
you please tell us about your future line-up?
I wanted to release a Transformer unique to Japan so I chose to focus on
Raiden who was “born” in Japan. The rights to the vehicle designs are split
amongst several Japanese Rail companies so I was overjoyed when we received
permission. We are currently in the process of development and have
considered various options in order to release Raiden. As a start we are
focusing on Shouki. We hope you can't wait to see the completed Heavy Union
mentioned that Skyfire was under development in the Masterpiece series.
It’s been in the works for a while now, it began when Convoy Ver 3.0 was in
development and we have now inherited the project. With the release of the
Siege version I pushed back the schedule. During its development we set up 3
goals. First, it has to be a big Transformer, it has to be cartoon accurate
and it has a transformation mechanism to switch to the alternate
transformation mode. I had the idea of a “giant flying base”. In the cartoon
he was portrayed as a transport plane so we plan to include miniature
figures of Convoy, Meister and Wheeljack in order to recreate these scenes.
Transformers The Movie
“Transformers the Movie” is heavily featured in this book, is there anything
you can tell us?
The 1986 products that appeared in the movie were the first actual
Transformers we developed. It was at this point that toy development
completely changed. I was given the design in robot mode and vehicle mode
and was told to “make it like this”, so at first I was a little resistant
(laughs). Since we didn't have the internet back then it was difficult to
develop a three dimensional product from limited sources. When I saw the
final movie I did feel a little regret. The ‘86 series is currently
undergoing a resurgence. I’m sure Kunihiro shares my opinion.
of the Movie, the unreleased Unicron looked rather impressive.
That was most regrettable. At that time the US market accepted high priced
products so we were enthusiastic about making the largest Transformer yet.
I’m a movie buff so when I received the prototype voice tape I was surprised
it was actually Orson Wells’ voice! This was the first time we had the
actual voice cast on tape. WFC Unicron is the ultimate item that could only
be released now. It’s fitting that Kunihiro, who was a rookie back then, was
able to finish it now as a veteran.