Adults in touch with their inner children, challenging themselves to re-create the robots they loved as kids!
Chances are you have at least one favorite anime robot. These overwhelmingly powerful, invincible defenders of Earth left a deep impression on those who watched their exploits. Bandai gave these feelings solid form with the Chogokin series of toys, which were made available to viewers all over the country.
In 1997, more than twenty years after the birth of the Chogokin series, a new toy series designed to stoke the spirit of the generation that loved the originals appeared: “Soul of Chogokin.” They’re made for adults and portray the exact same anime robots as the original Chogokin toys. Just how does Bandai make these Soul of Chogokin toys? We sent an undercover reporter into their laboratory to throw some light on the subject.
The Soul of Chogokin production process:
1) Deciding on a character (1 – 2 months)
2) Rough design and blueprints (2 – 3 months)
3) Detailed blueprints for each part ( 2 – 3 months)
4) Deciding on gimmicks via prototyping and re-design (1 – 2 months)
5) Creation of molds and final adjustments (1 – 2 months)
7) Packaging and sale
An Explosion of Ideas! A Passionate Debate Over Robots!
The Project Starts!
The Soul of Chogokin series is reknowned for its realistic renditions of animated robot designs. The series builds on the incredibly popular first series of Chogokin from the 1970s. Much attention is paid to improving the detail, articulation, and functionality over the original toys and to replicate the “coolness” of the original animated designs to the ultimate degree. Although they’re toys, they’re intended for adults rather than children. Why aim for an adult demographic? And why pick Chogokin for this sort of treatment? We spoke to one of the people responsible for guiding the Soul of Chogokin series: Hiroaki Tanaka from Design Team 3 of the Bandai Character Toy Division.
Tanaka:Even before the Soul of Chogokin series, there were people at Bandai who wanted to develop “Chogokin for adult consumers.” Circumstances dictated otherwise and it never actually happened.
Around 1995, the popularity of high-quality action figures from series like Spawn and Star Wars created a market for toys intended for adults. People began re-discovering Chogokin at the time, and more and more people within the company began saying that they ‘wanted to create a Chogokin for my generation.’ So there was a match between what fans and the staff wanted, and the result was the beginning of a new chogokin project. The first toy in the Soul of Chogokin series was Mazinger Z. Mazinger Z was the character at the vanguard of the Chogokin series in the 1970s. We wanted to create the same excitement among people in their 20s and 30s as the original Mazinger Z Chogokin had created among kids in the 1970s. That’s why we picked the character to kick off the series. Ever since, we’ve picked a new design every year based on what we hear from the consumers.
As I look over the design proposals on my desk, I discuss them with colleagues who happen to pass by: “I’d like to see this gimmick,” “I’d like it to be able to take that pose,” and debate the kinds of things I’d like to see in the toy myself. Sometimes we get wrapped up in reminiscing about the show, though. (Laughs) Occasionally, I’ll get mad at someone: “how could you NOT remember that line?” or “you don’t remember that weapon?” (Laughs) And of course, I re-watch all of the related material on DVD. My parents used to yell at me for reading comic books as a kid, but now that I’m an adult and it’s part of my job, they yell at me for not reading them enough. It’s kind of funny, actually.
The thing is, you really have to understand exactly what would make you happy in a toy rendition of a given character before you start working on it. If you don’t, you’ll never make something that will please the fans. So it’s very important for me to watch the show again and try to recall how I felt about it as a kid.