Interview: Kojin Ono

Translated & Interpreted by Jeremy Barlow © Soundwave's Oblivion 2022

Interview from MPG Trainbot Raiden Book (Packaged with MPG-03 Yukikaze)

Transformers Raiden Developer Interview: Six outlines for MPG
In October 2021, the Raiden Project was full steam ahead after the announcement of the first MPG. Mr Kojin Ono, a Transformers veteran who created the original Raiden, started working on recreating the Trainbots, “MPG”, with the use of modern technology. Who would have thought that 35 years later the Trainbots would be revived by their original creator? Throughout this article we take a look behind the scenes to explore the “secret birth of MPG”, known only to the development team. This vision is unprecedented and these Transformers are only possible thanks to the technology that has been cultivated over the years.

MPG Transformers
This is a new brand of Transformers which is an expansion to the Masterpiece series. It is a culmination of technology under the themes of “Gattai”, “Giant” and “Great”. The first figure selected is the Trainbot Light Speed Commander Shouki. This was first released in 1987 under the Transformers Headmasters series which was exclusively released to the Japanese market.

1 Memories of Raidens Creation
Ono: Raiden was originally released under the Diaclone “Real & Robo”series and due to the influence and success of the Transformers series in the United States, we decided to release a Transformer version of Raiden. At the start of the original Raiden Project, I was designing a Sci-Fi train but when I submitted the design to my boss it didn’t go down well. So I went back to the drawing board and decided upon using an actual train. This was also my first attempt at creating a combiner and I remember it was a steep learning curve. Raiden was created to make it appealing to children and it was a massive hit and it led to the subsequent “Real & Robo” combiner robot series.

2 How did Raiden make a comeback for MPG?
Ono: Around 3 years ago we had a meeting to discuss the future of the Masterpiece series and there was an opinion that we should make Raiden into a Masterpiece. At the time I thought it would be difficult due to the intellectual property rights but each of the railway companies willingly agreed allowing us to proceed with the project. This was the first huge project for the Masterpiece series with a 6 robot combiner and I certainly felt the pressure. To ensure its success we created a new line so it sat outside of the current Masterpiece series. We wanted to make this a special product and market it to as many people as possible and as a result, “MPG” was born.

3 What was your focus during the development of MPG?
Ono: We were determined to get the “realism” right for MPG. We had lots of discussions with the TOMIX staff regarding the detailed specifications of the vehicles. Since the shinkansen and standard trains have different widths, we needed to devise a way to scale them just right so they would not look out of place when positioned side by side. After lengthy discussions we decided upon using the HO gauge scale. We also decided to keep the robot modes in scale with the current Masterpiece series. However as the HO gauge is quite large scale wise, it was a challenge to keep the robot modes in scale with the other Masterpiece's. We used various methods to prevent the vehicle modes from scaling down such as increasing the number of foldable panels.

4 What are the differences between the original Raiden and the MPG Raiden?
Ono: The original Raiden used the N gauge scale and additional parts were utilised for the combiner mode and this time around I was focused on an integrated transformation. The fists and wings on the back of Raiden are now recreated using an integrated transformation. The Leg Beams on both legs are created from transforming parts of Suiken and Seizan which are scheduled for future release. We also had to take the size of Kaen into account as the train mode is much smaller in scale. The original Kaen came with Raiden’s head but on this occasion we had to include the head with Yukikaze. There are many other differences so please look out for them.

5 The future of the MPG Series
Ono: Raiden will be complete when the sixth member, Kaen, is released. The upcoming releases of Suiken and Seizan are going to come with Raiden’s weapons so please look out for their release. We are currently working on the next MPG to follow Raiden. I can't tell you who this will be yet but I’m working full steam ahead to please the fans so please await the announcement!

6 To all Transformer fans
Ono: This is the first time we have attempted a Masterpiece project and we have aimed for the highest quality to ensure fans will be happy when Raiden is complete. I’m looking forward to the completed product myself. I like to share the appeal of the older trains as well as the newer shinkansen. Thank you to all Transformer fans who have supported us, it is thanks to you that we can bring Raiden back to life. Thank you all for the opportunity.

Kojin Ono Profile
Kojin Ono is a member of the Transformers development team. He has been involved in toy design since the initial launch of the Transformers and he has worked on countless Transformer toys. As a seasoned developer who worked on the original Raiden, he is currently in charge of developing the premium Transformers toys in Japan, including the Masterpiece series.
Translated Tech Specs
The Transformers
Other Interviews:-

- Kojin Ono

- Takashi Kunihiro

- Yuya Onishi

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