Last Post for 2014 ★ Thank you so much for a great year!

Good day to you all.

Kaho-tan, here!  (@gsc_kahotan)  And even though I eat plenty of sweets as it is, I’m afraid of looking at the scale for the next few days.

But as they say, you grow a bit more with each passing year!  (Be that in width.)

Well then, today is the very last post of 2014!  (`・ω・´)

I’d like to thank you all for reading the Kaho-tan blog this year!

We’ll do something a bit different than last year, and finish off this year’s blog with the interview of 3 certain individuals.

We’ll take a look back at the top ranking blog entries and best selling products next year!

So, on to the first interviewee!

Here he is, supporting Good Smile’s very first domestic factory (Lucky Factory), and with a magnificently husky voice!


【Tori-Bird】(Lucky Factory, GSC Manufacturing Dept.)

 

1 Please share with us again your thoughts on being stationed at Lucky Factory!
Up until now, figure production was entrusted entirely to Chinese factories.  We want to thoroughly manage the manufacturing process, to continue making a consistent finished product – we do have a lot of assurance in our factories now, but we’ve also begun to realize that there are technological constraints.  In order to continue making figures in the future, we’ve got to be able to control every aspect of the manufacturing process.  In addition to understanding the costs and turnover time, we must also continue improving product quality.  The talk of Lucky Factory couldn’t have come at a better time, and I immediately asked to be transferred.In order to prove myself to the people at Good Smile who trusted me with the position, as well as to everyone who has high hopes for the domestic factory, I promise to put all I’ve got into creating products you can be proud of!

 

 

Tori-bird Senpai… You’re serious about this! (´□`。)

Tori-bird:

I’m always take things seriously! lol

But it’s also due to the fact that I have to talk in front of so many people recently!

Of course, taking something on like this means you have to do be diligent about a myriad of things.

Tori-Bird has such a smooth way with words that at the Factory Grand Opening live webcast, someone made the comment, “Is he some TV personality!?”

And though I wish I could have his eloquence, I hope I can learn something from him as a senpai.  (whispers)

 

Let’s move on to the next question.

 

2 Lucky Factory has finally opened!  What’s it like there now?Though we continue to train people for the production of our very first product, the speed at which the factory workers gain skill is a total surprise!Gradation painting in particular is incredibly difficult, so I thought it would be an uphill battle, but even people who had never touched an airbrush before in their life can now beautifully execute brushwork.  We only have about 40 people, which is still on the low side, but they continue to exchange ideas on how to improve product quality, so it’s a very passionate atmosphere.

That’s for sure!

I met all of the workers at the Factory Grand Opening, and they were all like, “We’re all in this together, to make this a factory from the ground up!”  A sense unity and mutual understanding seemed to come naturally to them. ε=(。・д・。)

 

Tori-Bird:

The factory manager, Mr. Kakuda, and Haryu and I may form the core, but all of the factory workers are out there putting in a lot of effort, too, so there’s this feeling that we’re all working hard together, which makes me quite happy.

Now for one final question. (。・ω・)ノ゙

 

3 It looks like you’ll have a challenging year ahead of you, but what hopes do you have for 2015? First off, I want to make sure that Nendoroid Sakura Miku: Bloomed in Japan ships out in March without a hitch.  This will be the very first product manufactured in Japan, so we’re finalizing the production schedule to make sure that everyone can have a product they’ll be satisfied with.

Next up they’ll be manufacturing the figma Horse (Chestnut), and figma Horse (White), but future items are already in consideration and underway.  I hope that Lucky Factory products arrive with a standard of quality enough to be recognized as a brand in their own right this year!

Based on the idea that “no matter where you are in the world, you always see the same moon,” every factory established by Good Smile up until this point has had the word “moon” in it.  (Even our domestic factory – the “Tsuki” in “Rakutsuki” Lucky Factory is this very moon.)

Even if we’re separated by great distances, “We want to distribute superior products around the world, and bring smiles to as many people as possible.”  This core principle has never changed. (`・ω・´)

We hope you’re looking forward to what’s in store at Lucky Factory, too!

And with Wonder Festival rapidly approaching, there seems to be something special in the works that involves Lucky Factory, too… !!

Keep you’re eyes open for it!  (●´ω`●)

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Moving on to our next subject!

The second person we’d like to share a few words with is this person, (in conversation style rather than Q&A) ♪

Head of the company that boasts such notorious members as Nitohei Kaneko and IG Sakai, it’s the President of Max Factory!

 

【Max Watanabe】(President and CEO of Max Factory)

【1st Topic】What kind of year was this for you?

 

I suppose this was a year we were able to release a lot of figma.  As for statues, we had quite a few challenging ones, including Yamato Kai: Heavy Armament Ver. but despite all that hard work, there were still a few complaints about how things have gotten so expensive…  And handling that concern will be a priority for us next year.

 

Kaho: You also invested a lot of work into the development of Dougram and other plastic models this year.

As far as plastic models are concerned, yes.  As one who’s also known as a “Modeling Superstar,” you could say it’s my passion.  I think our projects now are ones where you can use the modifiers “at last” and “long awaited!”

Kaho: Would you say that the addition of Taishou Shimizu (@shimizu_mxf)  (from the plastic model field) to Max Factory was a significant contributing factor?

From kit development all the way to after care, substantially moving along product planning, he definitely has a lot of pride in his work.  And as a comprehensive hobby manufacturer, we want to slowly expand into other fields via our products.  We have a long and close relationship with the plastic model field, and based on that we wish for this to be one of mainstays moving forward.

Kaho:Would you say that you laid the foundation for that mainstay this year?

To be honest, I’d that still lies ahead of us.  Even among plastic models there are various categories, but for now we’re just focusing on lineups.  Some from this series, some from that – that’s how we’re moving forward.  But our very first series, the “Fang of the Sun Dougram” series was well received, which gave us momentum.  Nonetheless, I still think we have a long way to go.  We’re currently developing a product for release at Wonder Festival next year, so I’d say that we’re continuing to move forward one step at a time, building our lineup.

Kaho: Aside from the company, how was the year for you personally?

I think you could say that I built way too many models!  I really threw myself into it – and though this kind of bleeds into next year, I hope to cut down a bit in 2015.  We had the Dougram of course, but as I made a lot of appearances in hobby publications this year, and it seems that I’m known even more widely as “That old guy who likes plastic models”…  But even so, I plan to tone it down a bit next year! 

 

 

【2nd Topic】figFIX debuted this year? What was the idea behind it… ?

 

The idea behind it…  there were so many elements that spurned the birth of the figFIX, to go into details would take forever… lol  But one of the reasons I mentioned earlier, which is the price of “static” figures.  With the continued cheapening of the Japanese Yen, production costs suddenly rose, and it’s impossible foresee how long it will continue.

 

Kaho: But if that’s the case, then there’s still the possibility for static figures to become less and less attainable.

We’ve got to eliminate that concern, and offer them at an affordable price, but we also want to have a statue series with remarkable quality and high collect-ability now more than ever!  And it’s the vibe we’ve been getting from fans, too.  This has been in production for a while, but it’s only now coming to light.

 

Kaho: There really are all kinds of people getting into figures nowadays, too.

We’ve always put a lot of thought into people who are so-called “light-users,” so to be honest, we’ve never solely made products for core fans.  This especially goes for fully-assembled and painted products, like scale figures and figma – we make things that people can enjoy and play with today that will still be there tomorrow, so I don’t think we’re losing focus on that core concept at all.

Kaho: Does that apply to plastic models as well?

That’s a good question.  We try to make them so that they assemble quickly and easily, but if that doesn’t appeal to some I hope they at least like the box art.  Of course, there’s also a well-established group of people who take plastic models to the extreme, and we want to have a product that they’ll enjoy, too!

Kaho: Would you say that figFIX is a mainly product for figma fans?

I would say just that – it’s a product for figma fans to take home and look at and collect dust.  I want them to say, “It’s so cute even if it isn’t poseable!”  I want them to have poses that a figma can’t do, to manifest the beauty of a statue but at an affordable price – and therein is the merit of the figFIX.  We know there were customers out there saying, “I’ve really been wanting this,” and I hope we’ve been able to strike a chord with them.

Kaho: I’m sure they’re looking forward to where you take this series next year!

This is ultimately a product for the customer; it’s up to them to decide, but we here at Max Factory are really committed to it and want to continue!

【3rd Topic】What do you think next year holds in store? 

 

With the figFIX and plastic models, I think we’re able to show everyone products that were a bit out of the ordinary this year, but we want to continue in this direction moving forward, offering slightly different products as well as product categories.  I think in 2015 we’ll have people saying, “I had no idea you could do that!” with the products we have in store, so please stay tuned!
As for me personally, I think I want to do everything I can to cooperate with and support Lucky Factory in Tottori Prefecture.  This is one project that absolutely cannot fail, so I want to do my part and lend them all my energy.  More saying that it’s “Made in Japan,” showing the world that we can make these products at this this price, and with this level of quality is something that we as a manufacturer want to say with unwavering confidence.  Even domestically, manufacturing requires a high level of attention and is hard work.  Which is exactly why I want as much a hand in it as possible.Who knows – I may even be in Tottori myself next year! lol

 

I never really have the opportunity to speak much with Mr. Max, so I really enjoyed the conversation!

Thank you so much for your time.

We’ve all seen Max at Lucky Factory wielding an airbrush but…

You never know, maybe we’ll see him inside the factory next year after the production lines are really moving… !

 

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Now for our final interviewee!

You may not be able to recognize him with his new hair cut!

It’s none other than our eccentric President and CEO, who also appeared this Halloween as that “certain plumber!”

 

【Takanori Aki】(Good Smile Company President and CEO)

【1st Topic】What kind of year was this for you?

 

A pretty uneventful one!

 

Kaho : Really?!


The figure industry has been undergoing a gradual shift since sometime last year.  For example, people aren’t after this-and-that a figure, but now they want “something with extra features.”  We ourselves have united with animation teams, and thought up various experiments we can try together, and have taken a new look at the industry to figure out the best way to move forward.  Maybe you could say that we’re still in preparation, or that we’re going into preservation mode.  So there wasn’t really a lot of output this year – doesn’t that make it rather boring?

 

Kaho: But we had so many new projects this year… !

“Let’s establish a domestic factory!”  “Let’s try the Red Bull Air Race!”  I told you about these projects, right?  We really wanted to do something that was totally original and unique, but none of these things have reached fruition… Even the factory won’t release any products until next spring, and the Red Bull Air Race is next May.  That feels like a long way off.

Kaho: I guess you could say that most of these things won’t be realized until 2015.

Yes, exactly!  This is related to what I was talking about earlier, we’ve recently crossed the bounds of the figure world, and have increased our friends in the animation world via USP (Ultra Super Pictures).  We joined forces with various teams this year, so I guess you could say it was a year of beginnings.  And through the blessings of all these new friends, many of those projects are about to take off.

Kaho: I guess you could say you have more people at your side, watching your back?

I would.  And thanks to these associates, we’re able to conduct trial projects on a large scale.  Some projects that have been underway for many years are finally becoming a reality.  Talking to everybody and taking a look at what’s out there in the world, I think we’re about to head out and say, “Alright, this is it!”  And I think this year was one of those years where we laid the groundwork.

 

Kaho: I get the feeling that more and more projects are on the move!

What would you say the year was like for you personally?

I really went so many different places this year… I think I traveled farther and met more people than ever before.

Kaho: There were quite a few stretches where you were out of the office!

In Japan and all over the world.  But I think the people I met will play a big factor in what to come next year and the year after that.  And of course, I also visited the factory in Tottori!

【2nd Topic】Lucky Factory in Tottori Prefecture is officially open… !

 

 

We said we’d establish a domestic factory, and we did it!  It really was a profound moment for me.  And the impact the Tottori Regional Governor had on me was surprising, too – lol!

 

Kaho: I was there with him on the live webcast, but he was even more enthusiastic than the rumors!

Maybe you can say it’s something of the local color, but you really get the sense that people there are good people.  I participated in the factory staff interview process, and everyone was earnest and hardworking.  It’s just one more thing that lets me khow Tottori was the right choice.

Kaho: I think that Factory Manager Kakuda, as well as Tori-Bird and Haryu all adjusted to the move very quickly.

The surrounding environment and people there have all been very kind to them, but all of them are extremely positive minded!  Especially Kakuda – he’s been involved the establishment of many factories, so he’s reliable.  I think we have some great people on board.

Kaho: I think everyone at Oshiage wants to work together with those at Tottori do the absolute best we can!

Speaking of working together, we’re receiving the assistance of all kinds of manufacturers at Lucky Factory.  They even interviewed factory workers with us.  And are instructing them in various manufacturing techniques.

Kaho: Even in the interviews… !  You don’t say!

When we said Good Smile will make a domestic factory, some said, “Whoa!”  But I think others said, “Can you really do it?”  Of course we can do it.  We have allies we can depend on (manufacturers who have been with us for a long time).  Knowing that we’re not in this alone is reassuring, even if being in the figure industry is a challenge… Even if there are pressures, I think one of our greatest strengths is turning that into a drive to work harder.

Kaho: It’s like everyone has a hand in creating Lucky Factory… I look forward to what the future holds in store!

I do, too.  For one thing, at Lucky Factory we’re incorporating all of the know-how acquired from Chinese figure manufacturing, but what I’m really looking forward to is what happens after that.

Kaho: By which you mean… ?

Figuring it out as we go along.  There will probably be things that we realize for the first time ever manufacturing in Japan, and we may find that other aspects are more difficult.  Some of this may be influenced by the start of a new year, but while preparing for manufacture and making all the last adjustments, we’re moving forward into actual production.  Some of it may be a fumble at first, but because this is Lucky Factory I want it to be simply the best, most advanced place it can be.

【3rd Topic】What do you think 2015 has in store?

 

All sorts of things we’ve been preparing are about to make their way into the world, so I hope it goes well.  Most of these things are totally new, so there are unknown variables, but we still want to pitch at full strength.  We’ll be happy if they’re received well, but if it doesn’t work out we’ll try again.  So many people have gotten involved in these projects, and for their sake we’ll make no compromises.  And even though we’ll probably try all sorts of new things next year, we still have even more new projects to undertake.  I invite you all to sit back and enjoy the show!

Kaho: It all starts with Wonder Festival!  We’re going to have all sorts of new developments in store!

…So there you have it!

What did you all think!?

There sure was an awful lot of text this time around.

If I ever have the opportunity, I’d like to try this interview-style post again! (。・ω・)ノ゙

Let me say again one last time…

Thank you all so much for an excellent year!

I hope you’ll tune in again to the Kaho-tan Blog in 2015!!!

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<Kaho-tan’s inner voice>

 

    ∧_∧
    ( ・∀・) .。oO(I hope next year)
  oノ∧つ⊂)
  ( ( ・∀・) .。oO(is a wonderful year, too!)
  ∪( ∪ ∪
    と__)__)

 

 

 

Thanks for tuning in!

I hope to see you all again next year in 2015!

 

Planning Department・Kano-tan (Blog #338) twitterID:@gsc_kahotan

※ The next update will be on (Tue) Jan. 6, 2015