Please note! This page uses cleaned up machine translations, which are bound to have mistakes! It is provided only for convenience, as an easier way to read these translations, until such a time that better translations become available. This particular page is for the HMM Zoids 3rd Public Product Conference.
Open Product Planning Conference!
The Open Product Planning Conference is an event where fans of HMM Zoids gather to discuss the future of the series, including the new product lineup.
The event was just as productive as the previous two meetings, with announcements of new products and a live performance by RAMAR, who performed the opening theme for the Zoids anime.
On June 5th, 2011 (Sunday), the HMM Zoids Public Product Planning Meeting was held at the Tokyo Culture Culture Live house in Odaiba. This was the third time the event was held, and one of the features of the event was that Takafumi Kamei, Kotobukiya's plastic kit planner, solicited opinions from participants on the spot, which were then adopted as materials for consideration in future product development. Of course, some of the ideas that needed to be reviewed were brought back to the meeting, but some of them were definitely adopted during the meeting.
The event, which was both fun and tense (for Kotobukiya), was divided into three main parts: 1) New product announcements, 2) Planning meetings, 3) RAMAR live performance. Here's a recap of the events in that order!
- The Venue
First, an introduction to the venue before the event.
The venue was designed to be relaxing, with tables and seats for all participants, and participants could freely order food and drinks at any time. In addition to the three large screens and the stage, there was also a space for selling goods and displaying plastic kits, and the HMM Zoids brought in by participants were displayed in various places.
Some of the HMM Zoids were assembled from ordinary kits, others were displayed on huge bases, and still others had been elaborately modified. Those who brought in their HMM Zoids were also given coupons to use at Kotobukiya's stores.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves even before the event started, so we asked a few people who were exhibiting their own Zoids to talk with us. Some of them were from Toyama, and some of the modelers were even women.
"I've participated in both of the past two Public Product Planning Meetings. This time I brought the Saber Tiger Gold. Kotobukiya's molding color is too good, so I had a hard time painting the gold colors. I told my friend to go build an Iron Kong, and as expected, he refused."
"This will be my third time participating. I brought 5 Gun Snipers, a Command Wolf, and a Squid (modified Wardick). I designed the appearance and history of the pilots to be set in a platoon. If you're asking me what part of the event I'm most looking foward to, I couldn't say. I'm looking forward to everything."
"This is my first time attending a Public Planning Meeting. I've been building Zoids since the second grade of elementary school and have participated in offline meetings and other fan gatherings. This time I've made a black Command Wolf, but my favorite Zoid is the Geno Breaker. I also love Lord Gale's head, so I was wondering if Kotobukiya would make a kit of it?"
- All Lineup 2011
The first thing that played on the screen after the event started was a PV of RAMAR's new song, which was filmed by the audience at Wonder Festival 2011 Winter. The PV featured RAMAR performing outdoors while fans holding message cards and HMM artwork were shown in between. Apparently, the performers of the PV were also at the venue, and when they were shown, some of the audience members laughed and cheered.
After that, Hideaki Mori, who is Kotobukiya's advertising manager, and modeler Sergeant Yamazaki appeared on stage to introduce today's performers.
Sergeant: "Today we're starting earlier than last time at 16:00, so that we can talk longer."
He was already prepared to go over the scheduled time of 3 hours. At this point, today's performers, Takafumi Kamei, Mercy Rabbit (an illustrator who draws package art for HMM Zoids), and Molyana from the Development Department took the stage.
Incidentally, Engineer Y, who wore a Gojulas Helmet and called himself Gojuyana at the Second Public Planning Meeting, participated this time as Molyana, wearing a Molga Helmet. As a side note, this helmet was made by a craftsman who makes helmets for special effects in movies, and it was made to real specifications, down to the smallest detail.
The following was announced for the 2011 release schedule.
June: - Liger Zero Schneider
- Liger Zero Schneider Unit
July: - HMM Customize Parts 022 Pteras Old Republic Image Color Exterior Parts
- HMM Customize Parts 021 Liger Zero Schneider Seven Blade (Silver Plated)
August: - Geno Saurer Raven Spec.
November: - Godos
December: - Shield Liger Bang Spec.
Mori was particularly interested in the Liger Zero Schneider. The clear file that comes as an initial bonus item has a list of HMM Zoids printed on it, and the products you obtain can be checked off. This list was apparently produced at the behest of Sergeant, who said "I'm getting lost while writing the instructions."
In addition, the Geno Saurer Raven Spec., a variation of the Geno Saurer released at the end of 2005, allows the model to take a proper charged particle cannon firing stance, which wasn't possible before.
Molyana said "I want people to feel the progress that has been made over the past five years," to which Kamei replied "The mold for the previous Geno Saurer was partially destroyed, so it was very difficult to make it work."
In terms of progress over the last five years, the Shield Liger Bang Spec. was not to be overlooked. While improving on the old mold, with a two-seater cockpit and increased tail detail, they've also recreated Sieg fused to the core. The figures of Bang and Fine in their childhood state are also a nice touch.
Kamei: "I was worried about the product since it's the last product that marks our 5th anniversary, and while there are many customers who've been with us for 5 years, nearly half of them are new customers. The Shield Liger, the first HMM Zoid made, is being resold. With very few re-releases of the Shield Liger, the first HMM Zoids product, we chose this opportunity to create a product plan that combines it with new technologies."
- Secret Guest Nobuyoshi Habara!
After the introduction of the products, Nobuyoshi Habara of XEBEC made an appearance as a secret guest. Habara is an indispensable figure when talking about Zoids, having worked on the storyboards, direction, and original drawings for the ZOIDS anime.
He also told the audience that he was one of the fans who purchased HMM Zoids at the event, which caused excitement not only in the audience but among the speakers as well. Habara talked to the audience about various topics while looking back at slides of the anime scenes from the time. One of the most interesting stories was about the Zoids that were reproduced in the anime using 3D modeling.
Habara: "At the time, I talked with director Takao Kado about making the 3D rendering look more like cel rendering rather than 3D rendering. We wanted to make sure that the characters and Zoids would not look out of place when placed side by side. Therefore, in some scenes, we hand-drew the Zoids. Also, CG can move at 24 frames per second, but that makes the movement too smooth and CG-like, so we thinned out the frames to make the movement more cel-like."
Habara also showed us an illustration he drew himself for the New Year's holiday in 2000.
He talked about his memories while looking at the illustration.
Habara: My drawings are a mess, so when I draw a stop-motion cut layout and hand it over to the 3D artist, they tell me that the claws aren't this big. But the 3D artist would take great pains to cut out just the claws and place them close to the camera. The front view is also powerful, but when you look at it from the side, there are many cuts where the model is in pieces. Even for the joints, the position of the joints is usually fixed for each model, but the Zoids 3D artists are flexible and will shift the joints depending on the scene to make it look more powerful. This is the kind of hard work that went into the production of this series."
Habara answered questions from participants in a friendly manner until it was break time.
If you're reading this report and have a chance to watch the ZOIDS anime again, please pay attention to the 3D models. I'm sure you'll discover something new.
- Great Turbulence At The Product Planning Meeting
After a short break, the main event - the Public Planning Meeting, began.
As soon as it started, Sergeant said. "Don't say that word. Cut me some slack."
Sergeant started off on a weak note.
The word he was referring to was, of course, "Gojulas."
In the first and second Public Planning Meetings, Gojulas was of course mentioned, but each time its name wasn't clearly stated as an upcoming product because it was too large and would require immeasurable effort to develop, making it difficult to make a reality.
While the performers sat in fear of the Gojulas vision, the results of the questionnaire survey conducted during the year-end and New Year holidays were first disclosed.
Results of the Second Public Planning Meeting: December 29, 2010; Web-based Survey: December 29th, 2010 ~ January 5th, 2010. Total number of valid responses: 772
 Which of these products from the HMM Zoids Series have you purchased? 1. Lightning Saix
2. Liger Zero
3. Command Wolf
4. Geno Breaker
5. Shield Liger
 What is your motivation for purchasing the HMM Zoids series? 1. Because I'm a Zoids fan
2. Because I like plastic model kits
3. Reproduction of the original with precision details
4. Full of movable gimmicks
5. I like the box art
 What is your favorite Zoids title 1. ZOIDS (Anime)
2. Battle Story (Old) (Magazine serialization)
3. Battle Story (New) (Magazine serialization)
4. Zoids New Century /ZERO (Anime)
5. Zoids Genesis (Anime)
 What is your favorite Zoids product made by Takara Tomy (formerly Tomy) 1. Death Saurer
3. Mad Thunder
4. Berserk Führer
5. König Wolf
 Which Zoids would you like to see as an HMM in the future? (Empire or Republic) 1. Berserk Führer
2. Shadow Fox
4. Storm Sworder
5. Death Stinger
 What is your favorite machine dedicated to an anime character? 1. Lightning Saix Irvine Spec.
2. Iron Kong Schwarz Spec.
3. Psycho Geno Saurer Rease Spec.
4. Geno Saurer Raven Spec.
5. Shield Liger Bang Spec.
 What do you expect from the HMM Zoids series? 1. Precise reproduction of details
2. Lineup structure in line with the world view
3. Ease of assembly
4. Reproduction of movable gimmicks
5. Improvement of parts accuracy, etc.
- Opinions Presentation
Based on the results of the above questionnaire, we now asked for opinions from the audience by a show of hands. In the second session, many opinions were expressed about peripheral goods, so this time, Kamei asked for opinions about the kits only.
Many hands and voices were excitedly raised from the audience, and lively suggestions were coming in. I can't write all of them, so I'll just introduce a few. Some of the participants were so eager that they wrote their own proposals, and the meeting became heated.
"I want Wardick."
"I want Gustav. I've written a proposal."
"I propose releasing large models in separate parts so that they can be realized."
Sergeant: "Ultra Saurus Weekly."
"I'd like to attach the Bomber Unit to the front legs of the Command Wolf in HMM form as well. I'd like to see parts that are interchangeable between kits like that."
"I'd like to see custom plated parts for Iron Kong and Red Horn."
"I would like to have decorative parts for the Zoids. I want their eyes to glow."
"I'm getting tired of making legs, so I'd like you to make snakes. Like Stealth Viper."
Sergeant: Isn't that the same!?
"I'd like general-purpose decal sets for personal marks, nationality marks, numbers, etc."
"I want effect parts."
Sergeant: "I'm all for the Dibison, too!"
Mori: "Here's an urgent news bulletin. Habara also has high hopes for Wardick."
Kamei was growing seriously worried about the wishes of the performers.
Kamei: "I've come here to decide on one product to commercialize.. Which one should I choose? There are priorities, you know?"
Kamei, in such distress, made a decision.
Kamei: "Ummm... Shadow Fox, Berserk Führer, and Dibison."
Three at once. The visitors cheered and applauded loudly. Although the details are still undecided, there should be some sort of move for these three in 2012 or later.
- Commercialization of Large Zoids
At this point, Staff:any, who is a staff member of the Kotobukiya Showroom on the 2nd floor of Radio Kaikan in Akihabara and the writer of the official Kotobukiya HMM Zoids Blog appeared.
any. solicited ideas for this Public Product Planning Meeting on his blog in advance, and he tried to propose the most popular ideas at the meeting.
The topic was the "commercialization of large-scale Zoids", which had been mentioned many times in the past. What was different, however, was the atmosphere that any. had come to the meeting prepared for anything.
any. "As has been said in the past Public Planning Meetings, there have been quite a few comments on the blog about the commercialization of large Zoids. Kamei... It's time to brace yourself. I think that if you say a word, we'll be able to move on to the next stage and see a whole new world."
Mori: "That word is Gagiguge..."
Sergeant: Gagiguge, Gojulas?"
Mori: Oh, Kamei, did you say something just now? It's an event, so let's speak up!"
There was a suspicious cheer from the audience.
Sergeant: "Gojulas, huh? What are we going to do?"
Kamei: "Release it..." (mumbling)
Sergeant: "Are you sure?"
Kamei: "... yes" (weakly)
The audience laughed.
Sergeant: "We're going with Gojulas."
Kamei: "Yes, we're going to do it." (finally speaking more clearly)
At this point, the audience got excited.
any. "Then, let's ask the audience for their opinions about the commercialization of Gojulas."
Sergeant: "I'm going to ask. This isn't in the script. Kamei, are you sure about this?"
Kamei: "... Ummm, this is the third Public Planning Meeting. Gojulas has been mentioned since the beginning. Besides, as any. said, I think there's a new world to be seen."
Thus, by Kamei's wise decision, the Open Planning Meeting turned into the Gojulas Meeting.
Everyone seemed to have their own opinions about Gojulas, as they had been waiting for it for a long time, and their requests ranged from "I want the Buster Cannon to be included" and "A hangar should be included to recreate the scene where it falls over" to "The hip joints should be screwed on" and "The price should be 13,800 yen for the main body and 3,980 yen for the MK-II unit." There were many opinions exchanged.
Another topic brought up by any. was a proposal to promote HMM Zoids to make them better known, which was actively discussed. Based on the premise of "fans being able to participate in the production" and "things that use HMM Zoids", we received many ideas, such as a stop-motion FLASH animation, a Zoids newspaper (suggested by Habara!), and a fan-produced digirama. So, when it comes to the CM, we'll decide on the specifics soon and request cooperation through the blog and official website. We don't know how it'll turn out, but we'd be grateful if you could help us when the time comes.
- RAMAR Live + Mini Corner
Easy Finish Course by Sergeant Yamazaki
After another break, we went to the Live Corner. Due to the need to prepare equipment and change the stage, a mini-corner by Sergeant Yamazaki and Mercy Rabbit was held first.
Sergeant Yamazaki's corner was titled "Sergeant Yamazaki's Easy Finishing Lecture."
This was a lecture about how to finish plastic kits in an energy-saving manner as soon as you buy them, in order to get through the HMM Zoids that are sitting in your closet at home, and to avoid adding to the number of Zoids in the closet.
Sergeant started building Liger Zero at 4:00 am on Saturday for this corner, but unfortunately, ran out of time with only 4 hours left to complete it, so he only brought the completed head. If you've ever built HMM Zoids, you will know exactly how fast this process is.
The points were as followed.
1. Open the box and the plastic bags containing the runners as soon as you get the Zoid (to make sure that you're ready to build them.)
2. After opening the plastic bags, detach all the parts from the runners (to create a situation where there's no turning back.)
3. Separate the parts by runner and put them in tupperware, which you can pick up at the dollar store.
4. Assemble the parts without cutting the gates. After assembling, mark the gates and parting lines with a magic marker (this helps to feel the process of completion and maintains the motivation for assembling.)
5. Disassemble again and file only the marked parts.
6. Use only a 600-grit file. Don't use a knife (to prevent injury)
7. Next, sort the parts by color. Paint the parts by color all at once, not by part (legs, head, etc.)
According to Sergeant, with this process, the Liger Zero can be completed within 24 hours.
Sergeant said, "A plastic model is meaningless unless you build it. By all means, everyone, please build one and let the Zoids stand on your desk."
- HMM Zoids Art Talk by Mercy Rabbit
Next up was Mercy Rabbit's corner, where he showed the process of making the box art and explained what kind of work he does. The order of work was as followed.
1. Taking a picture using the kit as a layout rough draft.
2. Creating a black-and-white layout by drawing the shape of the parts with the line tool.
4. Highlighting to bring out the texture
The black-and-white layout is said to be the most time-consuming process. The process of drawing the head, body, and other parts is "like making a plastic model in two dimensions", he said. The Liger Zero Schneider and Pteras Bomber sketches were also displayed on the screen, and the audience was commenting "Cool!"
However, these rough drafts were rejected because they didn't meet the requirements for package illustrations, such as the difficulty of properly showing off the face and overall shape. Mercy Rabbit diligently works every day, overcoming these sorts of difficulties, which are unique to box art. Mercy said "Today I hope to finish the head, I hope to finish the body, and so on."
- RAMAR Special Live 2011
At the end of the event, the details of the previously announced Shield Liger RAMAR Special were announced. The color of the special is surprisingly gold!
Sergeant asked, "Why gold?"
Sakai from RAMAR replied, "It was decided at a family meeting."
He said that he and his father were talking about it over during drinks, and that they were advised that gold is good for this year from a feng shui point of view. Moreover, the box art by Mercy Rabbit depicts the four members of RAMAR as a parody on Mount Rushmore (a rocky mountain with the face of the four U.S. presidents carved into it), which was sure to make a big impact.
The Shield Liger RAMAR special will include a singles CD containing the songs from the PV shown at the beginning of the event, the HMM Zoids 5th Anniversary theme song, "ENDLESS ADVENTURE" and "Wild Flowers Acoustic Version". It'll be available on July 24th. This item will be sold in limited quantities at the Kotobukiya store during Wonder Festival on the 24th, and through mail order. If you want a copy, check it out as soon as possible.
During RAMAR's live performance, Sakai sang "Wild Flowers," a well-known song for fans that he hopes to continue to sing with pride, and the audience sang along with him, reminding us of his timeless and unfathomable power. The excitement of the encore performance of "Sunflowers" had not yet abated, and the third Open Planning Meeting came to a successful conclusion.
However, the meeting ended at 9:00 pm, two hours later than scheduled. Sergeant's prediction came true, and the event lasted an unusually long five hours.
-- Thank you so much to everyone who participated. Thanks to all of you, we've had a productive meeting for 2012. See you all next time!
- Closing Notes
These translations are far from perfect, but these planning events are the spiritual predecessors of the massive events we see today, like Stand River, so I wanted to take the opportunity to place them on a page before they were lost to time. This page is a machine translation of the original Report Page, which, like many pages from its time has already been removed from the website and like countless HMM blog articles, all of the photos were lost.
If you want to see what this event actually looked like, check out the article over at Tokyo Culture Culture. This is the center where this event actually took place!