Interview(s): Takashi Kunihiro

Translated & Interpreted by Jeremy Barlow © Soundwaves Oblivion 2021. With thanks to Delvon for sending me the scans.

Interview from Hero X Transformers Generations 2021 (May 2021)

Takashi Kunihiro

Takashi Kunihiro, born in 1960 in Shiga, joined Takara in 1980. He started developing Transformers in 1985 for “The Movie” and has been in charge of the design teams behind many of the lead protagonists. In the 90’s he played a lead role developing the Brave series.

“Hot Rodimus was a lot more complicated in the beginning.”

Masterpiece Movie Optimus Prime

- First off, could you please tell us about the Bumblebee Movie Optimus Prime which we have specially photographed today?
The Studio Series SS-30 Optimus Prime designed by Onishi was really well received and based on that feedback we decided to brush up on the design and release a Masterpiece version.

- What sort of things did you brush up on?
The base model Optimus made for SS-30 is really cool but it was made before the movie came out. There were changes made to the CGI model which we weren’t able to add to the toy so it felt unfinished. Our direction therefore was to make a movie accurate version. I feel that we certainly improved the accuracy by using the CGI model featured in the movie as a reference. I wanted to do it justice by reproducing the plump thighs and the way the tyres fit on the side of the legs which gives it a very impressive look. There is also a rounded section on the robot's back and I wanted to get that shape right.

- The vehicle mode is very reminiscent of the G1 style.
As it isn’t a licensed vehicle we were able to reproduce it from its fleeting appearance in the movie. Putting it plainly, when speaking of Convoys there is always a cab with legs behind it. I can’t change this but I was able to shift sections to the legs to make them look thicker. As the lower body has to carry all the weight I opted to use diecast metal parts. The metal parts are clearly visible in vehicle mode but they aren’t visible in robot mode.

- The chest windows aren’t dummy sections either.
The movie series introduced the split chest appearance. I sometimes use dummy chest windows but as this is a Masterpiece, I didn’t want to do this. Therefore there is a mechanism so when you press the left and right sides, the windows tilt diagonally.

- The trailer isn’t included either.
I was secretly able to include connector ports which are compatible with Masterpiece Ver 3.0. That trailer has a square connector so I simply included square holes enabling you to attach it.

-Could you please let us know any stand out features.
The front section of Optimus’ gun is long and cool looking. That's why the toy gun is long. When you pose it and leave it standing there, it just looks cool.

War for Cybertron Unicron

- Unicron has finally shipped. Could you please tell us your thoughts on this largest Transformer in history.
Ono made Unicron 35 years ago, didn't he? If you try to use the planet's curved surface as a body, that's what happens. But you can't mess with the spherical shape. It was never sold and it has taken 35 years to put it into production. Thank you for everyone's support. As it was a crowdfunding project, there was a very real possibility it would never have been made. Therefore I wasn't able to spend my entire budget so I used the same mould for the left and right sides of the figure therefore the screw holes were visible both at the front and the back. I therefore prepared detailed covers for the screw holes.

-It’s the first Transformer to hide the screw holes.
There is always talk of covering the screw holes but as this was a crowdfunding project that we created with you, we are asking you to fill the screw holes yourself as a rite of passage (laughs)! They are detailed covers so we’d like you to add them, please try it.

Memories of Transformers The Movie.

- Can you recall any memorable events?
It was just after I joined the company, the third Transformer I designed was for the movie. Both Hot Rodimus and Rodimus Convoy’s intended price points were changed right in the middle of production so I had to remake them from scratch.

-So you not only had to remake Rodimus Convoy but also Hot Rodimus!?
I had only made prototypes for the basic transformation sequence. The actual transformation would have been far more elaborate. I think those prototypes are long gone by now…….

-I really want to see the complex version of Hot Rodimus.
It wasn’t great, it was designed by someone who had just started for the company. Well, it was awful (laughs). I did try to make the updated version as similar as I could.

-On the contrary, the finished version of Hot Rodimus was quite a complicated toy for its time.
Thank you. One of the designers who joined the company later on did call it a masterpiece. If you look at it now you can see the mistakes such as the outline of the car mode. These issues have been fixed with the more recent versions of Hot Rodimus.

-I’ve photographed the prototypes for Rodimus Convoy and Wheelie before. It's impressive that they were much larger than the finished products.
Rodimus Convoy did shrink, didn't he? I remember working on it thinking “I'm going to make a big hero for Japan.” Galvatron on the other hand was huge in comparison!

-Have you seen the remade Kingdom and Studio Series versions?
The current direction is remaking and improving upon the old figures whilst still maintaining the nostalgia and I think the fans are happy with this. Hot Rodimus is very well made isn’t he? Transformers is a very old and long series, the people who make them change and the Generations change. Speaking of Cyclonus for example, at the time my senior instructor was designing Cyclonus the same time I was working on Hot Rodimus. With Transformers Henkei I had the opportunity to remake Cyclonus. I designed it so the nose cone could fold inside the robot body. Now younger staff members are remaking it for Studio Series. I’m deeply moved when I think about it. I’m already over 60 (laughs)!
Translated Tech Specs
The Transformers
Other Interviews:-

- Kojin Ono

- Takashi Kunihiro

- Yuya Onishi

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