ITMedia's Netlab had an interview with designers from TakaraTomy, talking about Transformers, with emphasis on the Siege toyline. Published in Japanese, we only have machine translations to go off of right now, so it's hard to dig too deeply in the content right now. But while we wait for a better translation from the fan community, we can still take some interesting bits and pieces out of what we have.
These are our summarizations and interpretations of what's presented by an automatic translation of the article; they shouldn't be taken as verbatim quotes or talking points until better translations are available so that the entire piece can be understood in full context.
• In recent times, the internet has made it much more common to have knowledge of Transformers lore from both the Hasbro and TakaraTomy backed works, regardless of the region one lives in. Localization is still kept in consideration, but it seems like the greater level of knowledge has allowed more possibilities in developing the lines.
• An interesting response when asked about bringing in news fans or collectors, TakaraTomy representative Okabe indicates that he sees the movie line serving that purpose, with people moving to things like Generations from that point.
• One of the early concepts in developing Siege that was decided on was a theme of armor up and weaponizing, which for one thing led to the wide adoption of 5mm connection points across all the toys. This weapons-first design theory is said to have led to the battle damage paint effects, and specifically cited as reference points are both Last Stand of The Wreckers, and Marvel's Generation 2 comics.
• They also explain why there are so few ball joints to be found among the Siege toys: load bearing. With the need to hold Battle Masters and Micromasters and Cogs, it was felt that ball and socket joints didn't have the strength required to let the toys utilize these increasingly heavy add-ons. Special callouts are made as well to the fact that all of the toys feature waist swivels and ankle rockers so the feet can always be kept flat against the ground.
• They reference how Siege Ultra Magnus is the first since the original to fully replicate what the original toy could do in having the cab robot form, and a trailer armor that it could combine with. It was felt the design of G1 Magnus made the character a perfect fit for Siege with its design goals. This led to the example of being able to create a "Super Sideswipe" and how these functions are meant so that even if you own other toys of these characters, you can still get something unique out of these newest iterations.
• The third page starts to talk about how the joint design made issues with parts count, and how the design method works, but as the information becomes increasingly technical, the machine translation begins to break down more, unfortunately. The gist of it seems to be that because they more or less go in knowing what parts count they can support for a given toy, they have to play a game of trading back and forth between the parts needed for transformation and basic structure, against the parts needed to articulate the toy the way they want to - a process complicated by generally ruling out the use of economical ball joints.
• They go on to talk about the process of engineering the transformation and other aspects of the toys, for which work on paper still plays an important role prior to the point of taking a design to computer modeling. And at least one of the designers early in his career found it helpful to use other toys as points of reference to better imagine how the movements would work, though eventually that led to developing the skill to imagine them more and not need the models to envision the process.
You can read the article with Google translation here
. The article in Japanese can be found here.