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BOTCON  -  SORTA  do much redundant descriptions.

Hosting the panel - John from Hasbro - Daizo from Hasbro as part of the design team that works with TakaraTomy - Kojin Ono.

It's amazing to realise that Kojin Ono has been designing toys since at least the 1970s, as an adult before many of us Gen1 fans were even born, but he doesn't look that old.

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For those who didn't know, Kojin Ono was inducted into the Hall of Fame in its first year in 2010, which can be seen here.

Some of his favourite characters first.

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Fortress Maximus was designed to be a base for Aerialbots and Stunticons (with the combiners in mind in terms of interaction and scaling).

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The first concept idea for Powermasters, dated late 1986.

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Pre-Transformers versions of toys that would later be used by Hasbro for the Transformers toyline.

The very first transforming toy that Kojin designed, that would later make its way into the Transformers toyline.  This is the toy that started it all, over 30 years ago.

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Note that he only started on Optimus Prime, and someone else reworked it when finishing it off.

This is what it first looked like in its earliest form. A completely different robot and trailer.

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I get the feeling that this other early version in the design process was later homaged with the Micromaster Overload. But that's just my opinion/observation. It is probably just coincedence.

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Kojin was very happy with what Shogo Hasui did with the Masterpiece toys Lambor/Sideswipe and Prowl, by respecting his original designs.

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Skids only exists because Kojin was driving a Honda Civic at the time and asked to make a toy of it.

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In Japan the "Seeker" jets are actually called "Jetrons".  The original sketch for Starscream looks more like the Pretender version, which came out several years later.

Constructicons were originally coloured yellow and orange because that was more realistic to the construction vehicles in Japan.
This was the first Combiner he designed.

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Isn't this one an awesome early idea for Devastator... or any combiner really.  One member of the team carries the others on a trailer.
Okay, so they did something similar with Energon Optimus, and it wasn't that great... but this would be with transformable team members in the trailer.

At this time we were shown several Diaclone TV commercials from the early 80s... which I didn't record, but might be on youtube somewhere by now.

After that, we continued on with more of the Transformers toys that he designed, including ones that went straight into Transformers (didn't end up as a pre-Transformers toy first).

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This was a toy that never got beyond the prototype stage... which was a different one to the one that was on display at BotCon 2009.

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Back then, wood was used a lot for early prototypes and sculpting of details.

And heads were done out of wax.

Kojin Ono has been designing Transformers toys on and off since those original series toys, including recent Movie toys and Animated.

This toy was originally planned to have a "Remote Controlled" transformation, but was then scaled back to just be a rolling transformation.

 

Transformers toys that didn't make it into the Hasbro market that he designed.

What would be later known as Raiden in Transformers.  Trains are very popular in Japan.

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And yet another spelling for this character... for all those archivists and passionate fans to add to the list of names/spellings to debate.  Or it could just be a mis-spelling as some of his English hasn't been perfect on the slides.

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A deeper look at the various pre-Transformers series, with toys and art... some of which became Transformers later.

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The Hasbro mail-order toys (Powerdashers) from around 1985-86.

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Car Robot was the name of the sub-group of the (pre-Transformers) Diaclone toys that would include many of the Autobot Cars of 1984-85.
It was also the name of the 2000 Japanese Transformers Toyline (which would be the first Robots In Disguise toyline by Hasbro).
So many series names keep getting recycled now, it's getting hard to refer to different ones.

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This one never made it past prototype stage.

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A lot of these Microman toys ended up in the Transformers toyline.

A gold coloured Browning... not sure why it is gold coloured, but if it was a limited release, there are probably fans now looking out for it.

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The seven mini-bots that would make up the first year of Hasbro Transformers mini-bots (1984), with the blue one (Bumblejumper/Bumper) being released in Cliffjumper packaging in yellow.  Maybe it was just too similar to the other two cars for Hasbro to want to create a Transformers character and packaging for it, or maybe six products to Retailers was the perfect number for master cartons.  Who knows. The interesting thing is that the pre-Transformers version was blue (all the others were released in their pre-Transformers colours so you'd think it would be blue by Hasbro too), but the actual toy in Transformers packaging was yellow, and the character art for the toy in South America by Hasbro shows it as being white.
It's just one of those Transformers mysteries that may never be known.

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Perceptor was apparently done by another designer (Hideaki Yoki), but was included here with the other images.  The binoculars might have been done by him as well.

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Diaclone returns to Japan, with some new "Masterpiece" type toys.  Starting with a new modern version of this toy.

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Just shown off this same week at the Tokyo Toy Show - Dia Battles!

No word on if they will be released by Hasbro, but TakaraTomy will try to get them into the Western markets.

I guess if it is successful, it certainly has the potential to see some pre-Transformers versions of Transformers toys released under this new Diaclone banner... or maybe even some of the existing Masterpiece toys in Diaclone colours.  (unless Hasbro blocks it for those toys being used in their Transformers toyline first)

And a message from one of the other significant Japanese designers, Hideaki Yoke.

A short Q&A, as this was a big panel that filled the full hour.

Is Designing toys easier now than before? - Technology has made the process easier, but the concept stages (drawing) where all the ideas come from is still mostly the same.

What was the reason for Sunstreaker having the external engine, as it isn't based on an actual Lambourghini? - it was inspired by other cars that had engines sticking out of the front or back of the vehicle.

Hasbro changing his robots from "human controlled mecha" to sentient robots when they created the Transformers toyline/Brand - he was okay with it, as it brought a new dimension to his toys.

A question about licensing, after all issues in recent years over certain car companies refusing to allow new Transformers toys be commissioned from their vehicles - it didn't exist in the 1980s because it wasn't seen as being necessary in Japan at that time.
 



That was the last panel of the day.

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***All pictures in this convention report are mine unless noted. Any that are borrowed, have the source credited/noted.  If you want to use/borrow any of my photos, please credit the source as well. I try to take as many of my own photos as possible, and usually only resort to using others if I failed to get something, or my photo wasn't clear enough.

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BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
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To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au