TF Character Culture

by Darren Pierce : Radar, Radar! : 04.14.06 1:05pm EST


The Transformers Hybrid Style Convoy sold at a rate three times faster than projected, and TakaraTomy noticed. The reason? The toy has Shoji Kawamori's name all over it. You can't say the interest was totally unexpected -- his association with the toy was being heavily promoted beforehand, and he certainly wasn't brought on to the project just for old times' sake.

Bandai learned that designers sell product a long time ago. They waste no time associating Katoki or Ohkawara with a project, and the hype works. Takara has associated designers with projects in the past -- often exclusive Microman toys -- but this might just be a new focused strategy for them.

Kaiyodo's Yuki Ohshima, another big ticket on the Japanese design scene, is doing characters and toys for Transformer Kiss, JOQR's new Transformers based radio drama. One upping Kawamori, Ohshima's name is going right into the product title. Ohshima is the name behind the K-T Figure Collection, Licca Vignette, Watashi no Onii-chan, and innumerable box art jobs. Oshima's work was featured in the Little Boy exhibit in NYC.

This is part of a campaign to salvage lagging BinalTech sales. The toys are being re-associated with the new radio show and the Ohshima promotion. The show even features the voice work of Lyrian, one of JOQR's idol personalities. Girls and machines are the winning combination to capture the fanboy market -- after all, Shirow Masamune has built his entire career on it. The hobby festival crowd -- a market Takara Hobby understands quite well -- is increasingly becoming obsessed with girl / mecha pairings. Color Takara trendy.

We'll see if it works. If they're clever, they'll dig a Great Robot Base feature out of all this.