Ryuji Higurashi, one of Capcom's main illustrators who has worked on various Mega Man titles over the years, was interviewed by Rockman Unity about his involvement in his "Supervisor" role when working with Sentinel Mega Man figures. The interviews go pretty in depth about the figure design process, what difficulties there were, and some potential news on the future of the lineup! Check out the highlights from the interview after the jump!
|One of Higurashi's most recent, well-known pieces|
Before you read on please note: this interview was conducted between Ucchy (Rockman Unity) and Higurashi. Although Higurashi contributes greatly to the development of Sentinel's Mega Man figures, his comments don't necessarily reflect the company's views.
Now, let's jump into some highlights!
What is a Supervisor?
When the Sentinel line of figures were being planned, Higurashi was given a "supervisor" role. In the interview Higurashi explains what this involves.
The brief given to him for the 4 Inch NEL series from Mr Kitamoto of Sentinel was "figures that thoroughly reproduced the official illustrations"
Supervision on merchandise projects basically means making sure the figures look as close as possible to the original source material, while also considering the range, pricing etc. Levels of supervision differ depending on the product in question, for example, a figure that costs 500 Yen ($5) isn't going to get the same level of scrutiny, attention to detail & time spent making it look perfect as say a figure that costs 10,000 Yen ($89) as it costs to make adjustments to figures it could eat into profits if too many changes are made to say a $5 figure.
Higurashi had performed a similar role on the X-Plus series of figures previously & is also a huge toy fan so while he found some aspects of this job difficult he still enjoyed it. He states that the Sentinel line is probably his favorite so far & personally owns a few pieces from the lineup himself.
Higurashi explains that he usually has to submit a 3 sided illustration for a character to Sentinel as shown below, he states that it also makes them happier if the color codes for them are included too.
Higurashi did find this difficult however & says the hardest thing about supervision was that he wasn't the original author of the design material, since he started his involvement with Rockman with the EXE series but didn't design any characters himself until after that. Toy companies usually say "it's the responsibility of the original author to convey the correct answer" with regards to how the character looks in figure form so this was challenging for him.
He goes on to say one of the hardest figures to work on was Shooting Star Rockman (Mega Man Star Force) as he had never drawn Rockman himself in a 3 sided view from that series before, he had however drawn Subaru (Geo), Luna & Misora (Sonia) before. Ucchy then goes on to say–
Seems Higurashi would also like to see more Starforce figures!
Another difficulty with Shooting Star Rockman was the visor, making the visor into a solid object was a challenge as in the illustrations of course it's always flat, luckily Keiji Ueda from the Star Force team had a 3D model to help with the production.
Another figure that posed a challenge was Mega Man Volnutt as Higurashi states the designs in the illustrations change, for example in some of the earlier art Volnutt is shown with the tops of his feet being rounded rather than square as shown in later illustrations, he goes on to say the same happens with things like the color of Tron Bonne's dress etc.
The figures of both Volnutt & Roll Caskett are based on later illustrations as shown below
He also talks about the decisions involved with the Mega Man X NEL figure, since X has many different designs throughout the series it was difficult to decide which to choose. In the end they decided that since Mega Man X1 & Mega Man X2 were the most popular & were the best sellers they went with that design. They included the magnets in the feet so not only could you re-create the iconic wall cling pose but it also meant that the figure had a unique selling point & something that other previous Mega Man X figures didn't have. Higurashi also mentions that it is possible that a Mega Man X4 - Mega Man X7 design figure for X & also a "main illustration" version of Mega Man.EXE could be a possibility in the future!
The Tale of two Rolls
Higurashi explains in the interview why there are 2 variants for the Roll Caskett NEL. Originally it was only going to be the one figure, Higurashi wanted her to have a head option without the hat as well as Data included. However he was busy with the development of Mega Man 11 & still needed to draw a 3 sided illustration of Data for Sentinel to use. By the time the proposal was put forward for these 2 parts the figure had progressed to the point where they could no longer change the price or content. So the decision was made to make a limited edition figure instead. He apologizes to the customers as while he's happy he got to have both versions make it to retail it is a tough decision on the wallet.
Future of the line & what about other characters?
This is the big one, Higurashi reveals in the interview that originally the 1st female character that was going to be made for the lineup was none other than Tron Bonne! He had even done the 3 sided illustrations for her. However as Higurashi says, Tron already has her own game, has had appearances in many crossover titles & already has various figures & statues over the years. Whereas Roll Caskett has only ever had the Tomy Yujin Capsule figure of her & yet she's supposed to be the main heroine of the Legends series. So Higurashi himself pushed for Roll to be the next figure in the lineup.
He does say though that if sales for the Roll Caskett NEL are good then the possibility of Tron Bonne being the next figure is "extremely high".
He also goes on to say that because he personally wished for Roll he's personally ordered 3 of each variant to help support the release.
So what about Robot Masters? Or other minor characters in the future? Well Higurashi goes on to explain the pitfalls of doing this.
He notes that the figure industry is in a tough situation as prices keep rising. Up until now the majority of the figures in the NEL line have been main characters. If the line continues & they keep going down the sub character route sales will definitely fall & since the figure manufacturers know this they have to increase the price to make up for it. Problem is if they increase the price not as many people are willing to spend so much on a figure so it is a vicious cycle. If the series is to continue it's going to get harder, as Higurashi says you can already see this if you look at the price of Roll Caskett's NEL it's nearly double what the Classic Rockman NEL price was on release. As Higurashi puts it "Adventure of a business & difficult to know the result"
So if you want to see more Sentinel figures it looks like they'll need our support, personally i'd love to see a Tron Bonne NEL figure released! Who would you like to potentially see down the line?
Source: Rockman Unity