Developing the DX Aquarion Chogokin
In designing the robot protagonist of the Sousei no Aquarion series, Shoji Kawamori set two goals for himself. The first was creating a design that could be dynamically expressed using computer generated animation onscreen. The second was selling a toy that perfectly replicated the mechanical aspects of the character. Enlisting the help of Bandai, with its years of experience in engineering transforming and combining toys, was an indispensable asset in achieving the latter. But turning the design into a feasible product was far from easy.
Kawamori successfully created a mock up of the design using building brick toys, proving that the transformation worked in principle. The prototype was enough to convince Bandai to financially sponsor the animated television series. Still, many obstacles remained in translating this prototype into a mass-produced character toy.
In order to distinguish between the three robot combinations, the design team created a variety of different head designs and color schemes. The main mode, Solar Aquarion, featured a a face grooved with inorganic slits, set with a clearly defined pair of eyes. “All the better to make the robot more expressive, ” said a satisfied Kawamori of the final design. Indeed, the eyes are used to excellent effect in the animated series. The face of Aquarion Mars, with its star-like design motif, proved the most difficult of the three. Kawamori spent two months and hundreds of sketches perfecting it.
Upon reappraising the final draft of the designs it was decided to add wings to the individual Vector Machines in order to emphasize their roles as airborne vehicles. At the same time, Kawamori hit upon increasing the size of the legs of each robot mode in order to “extend the length of the fuselages of the Vector Machines in flight mode,” bringing the design one step closer to completion.
Bandai’s insistence upon a design that “looked good in three dimensions” required Kawamori to push the envelope of his considerable design skills, but that doesn’t mean that the project didn’t go smoothly. One reason for this is that Bandai sent a producer to work in the studio during the animation process, which Kawamori welcomed as “having Bandai participate directly made the production process far more flexible.”
Excerpted and translated from the DX Chogokin Sousei no Aquarion instruction manual