SUMMARY of year 2011 - TakaraTomy Marketing Team Producer Interview (part 1) 

Discussion in 'Transformers News and Rumors' started by SydneyY, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    Disclaimer: The original of this interview was published in Figure King issue #167. The reason I provide this translation is solely to help non-Japanese fans who are unable to read this insightful interview in the magazine they have purchased. Hope you'll enjoy. Pardon the bad grammar and spelling.
    I would also like to add that I was unable to be certain as to how to read Mr.Maeda's given name in kanji correctly. I adopted the reading that I considered to be most common. Apologies in case I am incorrect.

    Thanks goes to our Masabon for his contribution :) 

    [​IMG]
    Who is he? - Mr. Noriaki Maeda, TakaraTomy Transformer Marketing Team Producer.


    - Firstly, looking back upon this year's Transformers series, what are your thoughts?
    Maeda: This year's highlight was, of course, the third Hollywood live action movie in summer. The previous two movies in 2007 and 2009 gathered huge interest, and the number of the fans was steadily increasing when this highly anticipated third movie was released and (the brand) made another giant breakthrough. We introduced Animated last year even though we were far behind from other countries to do so, to prepare for this year. As we began to see the fans spanning over 2 generations, I am happy to say many young children obtained our products.

    - What were the popular items in 2011, or the product sold unexpectedly well?
    Maeda: Hasbro informed us that in "Darkside Moon", Optimus Prime would be extremely active, and not only that, there would also be his inner conflict written into the story. We wanted the fans to feel very close to him, and produced Optimus Prime toys in many different sizes and styles. Among those, Japan only releases of "Optimus Prime with MechTech trailer", "Jetwing Optimus Prime" and recently released "Striker Optimus Prime" were especially favourably received.
    What surprised me was perhaps "Arcee". This character did not appear in the third movie, but she appears in the new CG animation show "Transformers Prime" coming next spring, and she is one of the core cast members. We added the Japan original redeco to the first wave of Movie toys as a hint, but as there were not many bike TFs, she was popular among children.

    - Tell us about the many TakaraTomy original items such as Jetwing Optimus Prime and Striker Optimus.
    Maeda: For this Movie, Hasbro chose to release Optimus Prime as a Voyager class, but within our company, many thought the fans would certainly want Leader class figures. While we were discussing how slight remoulding of the abdomen would not be enough, we received the sketches of the jetwings and I backed the development (of Jetwing Optimus Prime). The product is a faithful recreation of the sketch, but unfortunately the weapons design was altered in the movie after all.
    We aspired to replicate the cool image of the movie promotional poster and the vehicle battle mode with Striker Optimus. The impression of the toy changed greatly simply by using differently coloured plastic, and we really wanted the toy to have "Mega Striker" gun that Optimus Prime carries in the movie. I was very excited when Kobayashi (Hironori Kobayashi) showed me the concept of the weapon which came apart into 2 MechTech weapons and could be attached to the vehicle mode!

    - What were the reactions to the MechTech weapon giveaways and MechTech campaigns?
    Maeda: There were also very well received. The previous "United" Micron store giveaways were huge success, and I wondered if the MechTech weapons that did not turn into robots would be good campaing items, but thanks to the fun action gimmick of the weapons and the connectivity to the game (online and gaming arcade machines), those were just as popular. In MechTech campaigns, we are giving away 4 kinds of gold chromed figures and the responses have been very good as well. I think it is easier to enter the draw online, and it resulted in twice as many entries as simliar campaigns in the past. The third MechTech campaign is still on until the end of January 2012, so I hope there will be more entries.

    - Why did you resume "United" series at this point?
    Maeda: 2011 was the 27th year of Transformers, though I feel there haven't been enough occasions to introduce the new fans to the all series after G1. There is overseas "Generations" series that pay homages to the origin of Transformers, and "United" adds to it the selection of the past series. The first lineup (of United) ended with G2 Optimus Prime in March 2011, and this second lineup starts off with G2 Tank Megatron. It also includes the items such as Warpath and Thunderwing whose domestic releases had been eagerly awaited. February releases also include another redeco of the items previously unreleased in Japan. I hope you will enjoy these as well as "Prime" products.

    (to be continued in the next issue)
     

    Attached Files:

  2. influence82

    influence82 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the translation. I wondered why TakaraTomy released DOTM Deluxe blue Arcee, as she was a homage to Transformers Prime, making her the first "Transformers Prime" themed figure released. I wonder why Air Raid or Vortex was created?
     
  3. Billzilla

    Billzilla Skeptic

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    Thanks very much for bringing this to us.
     
  4. lord ginrai

    lord ginrai Beastie lover

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    Thanks for the translation, SydneyY! Interesting read, I always love these kind of articles.
     
  5. Sol Fury

    Sol Fury The British Butcher Administrator News Staff

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    Agreed, I love finding out about these "behind the scenes" type things. Many thanks for sharing it with us SydneyY!
     
  6. adambman

    adambman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for bringing us this translation, Syd and Masabon! Before reading the whole thing through, I made a beeline for United segment; while this smooths over things that had been observed, surmised or deduced about the 2012 United figures in preceeding threads, even this was an interesting read. That said I love delving into 'making of' histories, interviews and programs.

    I suspect you couldn't resist bringing us this one as soon as possible, SydneyY, being the Striker Optimus Prime fan you are. :) 
     
  7. Timesynch

    Timesynch Go For Broke! TFW2005 Supporter

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    Interesting article behind two of my favorite Leader figure offerings recently, Striker Optimus and Jetwing Optimus Prime. Two great tastes that taste great together!
     
  8. Stepper

    Stepper Well-Known Member

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    So now we know why there is no Hasbro Leader class Optimus Prime because they opt for Voyager class instead
     
  9. savio-prime

    savio-prime Autobot

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    As a fan of Leader Class Optimus, I don't understand the decision and I wonder how far reaching is the decision. I mean for the Movie Trilogy Line, are we then to NOT expect a new Leader Class Prime?

    Striker Prime, "I'm coming for you!!!"
     
  10. TF Tony GI

    TF Tony GI Member

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    Thank you
     
  11. RedAlert Rescue

    RedAlert Rescue Banned

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    I think that a Prime will come out eventually in Hasbro version even if it is somewhere a bit odd like Costco.
     
  12. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Wields Mjolnir!

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    I thought it was fairly obvious that Ultimate Optimus Prime is why there was no leader class version.

    Glad to see United is planned to still continue. Solid interview, not a lot, but good information.
     
  13. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    ^That's what I thought, too. I also find it interesting that the same person (Mr. Kunihiro) developed both ROTF leader Optimus Prime and Ultimate Optimus toys.

    In an earlier interview he gave (Generations Vol.2), he mentions Air Raid, and the reason of his release was simply because there weren't enough plane TFs. Vortex might be based on the same reasoning but he did not say (or it was before Vortex was released).

    and this being about the marketing strategy of 2011 I thought I better hurry :)  (yes I LOVE my Striker Optimus!)
    Honestly there are plenty of articles I'd like to share with non-Japanese readers but I don't have enough time.
     
  14. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    Here is another comment from Mr. Maeda regarding future Masterpiece (from Generations vol.2)

     
  15. Stepper

    Stepper Well-Known Member

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    Sadly,no at the moment for a Hasbro Leader class Prime,so Hasbro is just contented with Voyager class,that's it.
     
  16. mazinger_c

    mazinger_c Headphone Master

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    Well, that certainly fills me with anticipation about what's coming. I do hope they realize thier goals with improving and diversifying the line.
     
  17. adambman

    adambman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the update on the MP line, Syd. For me, the first keyword that caught my attention was 'quality', as far as something that could have a number of definitions. Materials integrity? Playability? Engineering/conceptual/feature/transforation design? I wonder.

    These qualities intersect too; seemingly small problems within the initial release of MP-09 Rodimus with the materials and how they were used (shaped and exposed to stresses from use) may have marred or reflected poorly upon the transformation. Transformation being an inherent feature of most Transformers lines, the playability too is effected.

    That said, MP-09 was revised to amend these problems. Then MP-10 wentback to the drawing board for MP Optius Prime and MP-11 is/will be somewhere between these two approaches or magnitudes of revision. So perhaps this sort of consolidation, making the MP line more cohesive as a range and worthy of the name is what he means by quality.

    The next thing for me is 'properly licensed vehicle mode'. Unluess this refers to Movie Masterpiece releases, this would most likely refer to a fairly specific cross-section of G1 characters' alt modes. With a few exceptions like the Battlechargers and Throttlebots, most of the altmodes in G1 season three and beyond through Japanese G1 - Plus those introduced in the 1986 film - were 'Cybertronian' or 'futuristic'. That is, made up and unlike before altmodes were derived from the robot mode character models; no licensing required here.

    Soudwave and co are of course not vehicles. That said, neither is Megatron, though there are frequent rumours when looked for that suggest that he, and some post season 2 G1 characters are candidates for the next few MP releases. The future goal of licensed vehicles doesn't speak for all the avenues they may take, but sets aside further Dinobots, as well as the Insecticons, Reflector, Perceptor, Shockwave and Blaster.

    Licenced vehicle may not strictly mean Earth altmodes, so perhaps Jetfire/Skyfire is a candidate for MP treatment? That sad the large pool of obvios candidates are by deduction the G1 S1-2 Autobot Car/Warriors and perhaps some minibots (RE Huffer in the MP-10 concept drawings- perhaps he'll replace or add to Roller in an almost inevitable MP-10 re-release?). Judging by trends noted such as in the Alternators line, the most likely of these are the vehicles that were produced, coincidence or not, in the respective homelands of Hasbro and Takara; the USA and Japan. First of these, Prowl, Bluestreak and Smokescreen could be achieved with minimal retooling. This may extend to more accurate mini vehicle altmodes too; a particular muscle car for Windcharger or something like a Dodge Ram for Gears?

    This leads fairly naturally to problems in getting MP's of getting particlarly Bumblebee, then Jazz and Cliffjumper off the ground; VW and Porsche's anti 'war toy' stance. While I feel these companies' hearts are in the right place when it comes to lessons learnt from events in the past, this is bemusingly reactionary and is almost counter to respecting all motor vehicles as potentially dangerous. If HasTak went after thse licnses, that is truly an admirable undertaking. This is of course not to mention Sideswipe, Sunstreaker and Red Alert as Lamborghinis or the occasional Ferrari like Wildrider, popping up in combiner or other teams.
     
  18. [Wing_Saber-X]

    [Wing_Saber-X] Fortress Maximus!

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    Great little read, SydY! :D 
    This is exactly why I will always respect Takaratomy. They are taking conceited efforts towards making the Transformers name even more synonymous. It's heartening to know that even with the changing times, they always maintain sound production choices and strategies...thus, enabling them to keep going strong and gaining new fans' interests, even in this day and age. thanks for the translation!
     
  19. exclusacon

    exclusacon Expert with the Scopes!

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    So why isnt this guy the head person in charge of everything?

    So US miss out on Striker Prime, Jetwing Prime, because they wanted everybody to connect with Prime?

    In case Hasbro didnt know, Prime is not very hard to promote, he rips faces!
     
  20. SydneyY

    SydneyY @syd_tfw Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    adamB - As for "high quality" I took it as a product that is worthy of the high price point MP line commands. I don't own MP Rodimus myself but I hear of lots of problems people have with the figure. I am sure TakTom is aware of it....
    My thoughts when I read "licenced", was "crap no Jazz, then". What if it's MP Skids, based on Honda City? ;) 

    TakaraTomy's TF marketing hasn't been considered very successful for a long time AFAIK. No TF series was this popular in Japan since Beast Wars (I don't know how well Armada/Energon/Cybertron did outside Japan). I hope the kids who got into TFs thanks to the live action movie will stick around :) 
     

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