Aramaki: In the early days a lot of robots transformed into crazy things that didn’t look like planes or anything in real life. For me, it’s more fun to take something everyone knows and making it transform into a robot.
Matt: Is that penchant for observing the world around you where you got the idea for “Beetras”? Those are robots that transform into realistic-looking insects.
M: Takara produced a similar series of toys that were sold as the “Insecticons” in America. Your “Beetras” designs were eventually sold in the U.S. as “Deluxe Insecticons,” upping the ante a little. Was there a sense of friendly rivalry with the Takara designers there?
A: At the time, definitely. The original Insecticons are wonderful toys, but they don’t really look like insects.
M: Here, I brought this to jog your memory. (Slides Beetras “Beet-Gugal” out of bag)
A: Where do you FIND this stuff!? This brings back memories... Wow. The president of Artmic illustrated this package too.
M: Was it based in some sort of television show proposal?
A: No, nothing like that. A toy company called Takatoku approached Artmic and asked if we had any interesting designs that they could merchandise. We asked them if they were interested in something insect-themed. They liked it and asked us to go with it. I designed them. I remember the color schemes being totally different in the United States. Bright and wild.
M: I think Americans are fascinated with bright colors. “Beet-Zeguna” transforms into a cicada, but the Transformers version was this day-glo orange, almost like a hornet.
A: (Laughs) I’d always wondered about that. Actually, on that note, we planned out a second series, and there was an actual hornet in that.
M: A second series of Beetras toys!?
A: They were never actually produced as toys, but there were prototypes. One of them was a hornet. There was also a spider, and a dragonfly, and another one. I designed those, too. Since it was a second series, it was decided to give them a new gimmick in addition to transforming, and so they incorporated little wind-up motors that would carry them across a taut piece of string.
A: The toy company produced prototypes, but the series never came out.
M: That’s a crying shame.
A: It is.
M: Uh... You wouldn’t happen to still have those, would you? Or the design documents?
M: (Begins weeping quietly into his beer)