Thursday, April 18, 2013

How Transformers Are Made Part 1

Gizmodo has posted their first part that looks into how Hasbro and Takara design and manufacture Transformers. Today's part looks into the design and initial mold creation phase with Transformers Senior Design Director Josh Lamb and Product Designer LEnny Panzica at Hasbro's Providence, RI headquarters. Tomorrow's article will into detail on creating the master mold and manufacturing of the toys for wide scale distribution. Below is highlights from the article but worth reading the whole thing here. I keep hoping that every time a new Transformers movie is released on home video they would do a extra feature on how the toys are made. Maybe interest in articles like this will encourage them as the disciplines required to create a single toy is pretty substantial.

- Hasbro already designing toys, including Transformers, for 2015 (so guessing the TF4 toys are already through or at least near end of mold creation).
- To generate design ideas for Beast Hunter toys, previous TF toys and Zoids parts where painted grey (so can focus on shape, not color) and "frankensteined" together to see how new configurations might work and look like.
- The ideas are then sketched out to conceive a potential final product including robot and alt mode, features and more while being aware of the engineering that will be required for the transformation
- From there the designs are sent to Takara who crunches the numbers and works out the engineering required to get from one mode to another.
- Triple-changers rare because takes twice as long to develop because of their extra complexity.
- Once initial design and engineering worked out, switches to a constant back and forth as design is tweaked to remove joints, strengthen a piece, add spikes, change build material and so forth.
- Once work out all the details a mold breakdown is created where every individual piece is created by material, mold type and color. Hasbro and Takara designers then try to figure out how the make the breakdown as cost effient but high quality as possibly by making further design and material changes.
- At factory across street once used to make GI Joe figures, the final design is transferred to a CAD drawing, built and assembled.
- The assembled prototype is sent to a master model maker who tests it functionality and quality and adjusts the CAD model as needed to account for problem.
- Once near production design is determined, the master sample Transformer is hand painted by Mark Maher and usually used for the packaging pictures.

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