Monday, October 16, 2006

Now we return once again to TAKARA Interview

Different Measures Taken for Domestic and Overseas Versions
When you have the actual product in your hands, you certainly can feel the solid finish of die-cast parts. However, this is only available for domestic versions. Overseas versions use resins for the entire body, and there are some packaging differences as well. It is easy to understand that various options must be considered when it comes to developing a product for worldwide release. We asked for some concrete examples.

Shirakami: We use different materials; die-cast for domestic versions and polycarbonate for overseas versions. There is the obvious weight difference between those materials, but we use plastic parts to support them in both versions, so how we strengthen them without affecting the appearance or the function is very important. We discuss and experiment on a daily basis; such as trying to find places for some pieces where they can be hidden from view.In Japan, we make them durable by using hard die-cast parts, though polycarbonate is used in the overseas versions for the same parts, so the durability needs to be enhanced by the entire structure. Based on these variables, we work on the overall structure and the designs of each part to be used to their limit.

Kobayashi: We considered several cost-cutting ideas, such as making the interior part of the door and the clear part of the window a single piece. We have to share all the molds with Hasbro, save for the ones for die-cast pieces, so the matter of durability is vitally important.The ones I make in the trial stage are merely prototypes with many possibilities. You might say that they are full of a developer's hopefullness that they might be produced somehow. It's all thanks to Shirakami that they are made into the products we can release to the market.

Shirakami: For Kobayashi, Binaltechs are a "beautiful dream", but a person in charge at the factory is said to have called them "a nightmare". This is a well-known episode at the factory. Of course, it was said half-jokingly, but the people who actually manufacture [the toys] come across an extraordinary amount of problems.

Kobayashi: Personally, it's not always fun to create these toys, either. [Beginning of page 116] You could say that I have to reach deep inside my mind to create one; I have to reach my limit. I try my hardest and I ask that my production line does the same, hoping that we can both achieve the very best.

Shirakami: Simply put, it's a matter of cost. They [Hasbro] had a strategy to sell this item for under $20 and could not go over their budget. Also, overseas, solid-looking and expensive items aren't really expected from this sort of toyline. Their primary target age-group is usually grade school children, so I imagine that they considered plastic to be sufficient

Kobayashi: I've already mentioned that we share our molds with Hasbro, which also means that how loose or tight a joint can be is often determined by Hasbro's standards. If it was exclusively for Takara we could make it [tight enough] so that it doesn't come apart easily, but by overseas standards, a joint has to come off when excess force is applied to it. Due to our co-development, there are some points which we have to employ their way.

More of the interview will be posted over the next few days. If you guys are interested in getting the book. I have one on Sale here


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