Takara-Tomy recently interviewed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen product designer Hisashi Yuki about his work for the toy line and some of his past work on other Transformers. From the ROTF toy line he designed Sideways, Scapel, and The Fallen toys. Below are excerpts, but click here to read the entire interview that was translated by SydneyY.
What was your first impressions on "the Fallen", who is the key character in the story?
Yuki: When we first heard that the Fallen would appear in the movie, we thought of the American comic character with the same name right away and wondered if he would be in the story, but the robot design we were given was different from what we imagined. His design looked like something from an ancient civilization. I understand while he is a homage only hardcore fans would appreciate, his design is completely original for the movie.
With the Fallen design, which part did you have trouble with, or put the most thoughts into?
Yuki: For the most of the TFs who appeared first in the second movie, we were only given the images of the front and the back views of robot and vehicle modes. We had to develop (the toys) without any knowledge of what roles those characters would play.
As for his robot mode, I tried to re-create the images as closely as possible. When we started (with ROTF toy development), the rise of the crude oil price was at its worst. Also to make the re-creation of the robot mode easier, I was not able to allocate many parts to the vehicle mode. Those were the difficulties I had.
As for the characterization ideas, we hardly had any information as to how he would be featured in the story, which made it very difficult for me to come up with a character-based gimmicks. Among the small amount of information we had was a tidbit that there would be a scene in which the Fallen crushed a primitive man under his foot. That's how I came up with his toe gimmick, and it made me grin when I actually saw the scene in the movie.
When developing his "Mech Alive" mechanism, I thought his could be different from other characters' since his body is made with more exoskeleton. We reached an agreement among the members of the staff, and I designed the protruding clear red parts, which is a homage to the flames the Fallen wears in American comics.
Tell us about Sideways.
Yuki: He was the first I designed from this line. He does resemble Barricade (from the first movie), but in the earlier stage his character sketch had a completely different look from Barricade. I was going along with it and had no regards (to Barricade design), and a prototype had already been built. Then we received a new robot design with some major changes. He had tires on his arms where he had none in the earlier design. I had to rush to alter the design to hide the arms inside the body while in vehicle mode.
Tell us about Scalpel.
Yuki: Perhaps the most intelligent of all (ROTF Transformers). (*laughs) Most of the scout class characters do not appear in the movie, but he has a role as "Doctor". I wasn't informed how his microscope mode looked like at all, so the toy's microscope mode is quite different from the one in the movie.... Well, he has a little hidden fun feature. His face looks as if he is wearing the glasses to begin with, and I made the glasses part detachable.
So he can do "Where are my glasses" gag?
Yuki: I had a little fun as a designer without an extra cost with this typical Japanese joke, "The glasses are meant to be dropped and desperately looked for". (*laughs)
Tell us about the development of Mixmaster.
Yuki: It took me a while to come up with the best way to store the arms inside the mixer drum. You can see it once you have the toy in hand that his level of complicity is rather high. In the movie robot mode design, the caterpillars separate, but unfortunately that couldn't be done with the toy because of the cost, the probability of even more intricate transformation and such. I could include the "Artillery" mode we were given the design sketch of, and I was glad to see it in the movie. It does make me happy to see the same features as the toys' gimmicks in the movie.
Which do you think is more difficult to develop, a Transformer with a futuristic car mode or one with a licensed actual car mode?
Yuki: There isn't much difference in futuristic and realistic designs when I think up the transformation. It is easy if I am just given a robot mode image to come up with a cool looking vehicle mode for it. As for the movie toys such as Sideways, both of their robot and vehicle modes had already been decided, and to make the figures true to both modes was a big struggle. I can see the movie designs do have some regards as to which part of the vehicle goes to which part of the robot, and I try to re-create them as closely as possible. Also, we always have to keep the product cost in mind. If it is a 1000 yen figure, it must have the 1000 yen class measurements and parts number. It is very difficult. Especially a car TF requires at least 4 parts just for the tires, and the challenge is to think of the best way to allocate other parts.