This time, I will introduce a maker’s Monogatari for a bit of variety.
He was born in Hokkaido in 1968.
He had a longing for a hero in his childhood and was actively involved as an Air Self-Defense Force Official ; a member of rescue party,. And then, he started his new career as a kickboxer in 1990.
He got an ” All-Japan kick boxing rookie of the year title” in the following year. He took the second place of Japan, and the third place of the world, but retired due to injury.
In 2001, he started making figures in the characters departments of CSS Inc.
Next year he became independent and established CCP : Character Contents Production, and incorporated it.
He is the strongest company-president who continues making figures with fighting spirits.
see below )
CCP released an Ultraman-powered figure. Explus / Shonen-Rick released the second impression of the real master collection of Powered figures. Ultimate-Luminas-premium of Bandai released a blue-eyed Ultraman-Xead of “Ultraman two”.
In different periods, many different types of Ultraman have appeared and have kept inspiring various creators.
What they buy depends on the preference of the person.(Of course some people buy all of them.)
Their experiences decide their tastes, their favorite shapes, their views of the world.
But sometimes, even when we had an antipathy to a certain figure, the moment we set eyes on it, we can be mesmerized by it.
…I might actually have desired to see such a thing all this time, even though I have never been conscious of it…. Such a situation that confuses the person himself suddenly falls from the sky on his head.
The terrible magical power of figures is such a thing.
It sometimes comes over people like a surprise attack, and the person cannot help but praise it when faced by its overwhelming existence.
Now, here is one small toymaker.
It has only been around for 20 years and so cannot yet be called long-established. But it has released various soft-vinyl figures and has led to some enthusiastic fans.The president is a very rare martial artist-turned-toymaker. He always has racked his brain for a way to create an attractive figure in this highly competitive business world.
What kind of a figure pleases people?
What kind of a scenery shakes their souls?
As if the scene fell down from the sky.
It was a figure of Spectreman that CCP first created.
“Spectreman” is a special-effects hero drama by P-pro, which was televised from January 1971 till March 1972.Originally titled “Space Ape Gori,” “Spectreman” is a story about Spectreman fighting many monsters sent by “Gori”, an invader from space.
In making of the figure, a certain enthusiast offered a lot of magazines, and an another enthusiast spent hours copying its gravures in color. With these various sources, the composition was decided on, and a current master of figurative art gave full play to his talent and the first work was completed.
Mr. Sohji Ushio, the representative of P-pro and the author of “Spectreman”, upon seeing a photograph of the figure, said “We have not taken such a photograph of Spectreman.”
Mr. Ushio had mistaken the photo of CCP’s figure for a genuine one from the show.
CCP made its debut with such an awesome, scrupulous realism.
Its ability stood out from the beginning.
Fighting Spectreman(「Bouken-ou」summer vacation extra number in 1971)
Mr. Endo was originally an Air Self-Defense Official.
Then, he found his way as a kickboxer, and as a professional martial artist, became second place domestically, and third place in the world.
But he had to retire because of an injury, and thought of what to do in the future.
“Well, what should I do from now on? Will I try running a gym or something making use of my experience of kickboxing?”
It was at the end of the 1990s.
At that time, Mr. Endo went to the Wonder-Festival.
The Wonder-Festival is huge festival of figurative-arts held twice a year, and was held at Tokyo Big Site in those days.
At that time, an acquaintance had set up a booth as a dealer.
There, Mr. Endo was fascinated by a certain figure.
Mr. Endo was fascinated by one certain figure.
It was a soft vinyl figure of “The Return of Ultraman” that a highly-gifted figure prototype model creator had created.
Mr. Endo loved toys by nature.He grew up among toys such as Ultraman, Kamen-Rider, Jumbo-Machinder etc. in his childhood.When he came to Tokyo, his toy-fever had flared up again. With this and that, toys had been familiar to him customarily.
But the shock when he first saw that figure was great.
Mr. Endo says,
“I had thought all the time that toys belonged to the world of children. When I talked about my love for toys, I used to be treated with contempt as a little boy. But on that occasion, it was completely attached to the world of grown-ups.”
In those days, Takashi Murakami, a contemporary artist, energetically came to submit figures to Wonder-Festival.
It was the time when the concept of toys and figures was being heatedly re-created.
At that place, an Ultraman so overwhelming to change world views existed.
< I will do this >
Mr. Endo thought.
The idea came to his mind to stand at a position sending toys into the world, which wasn’t just as a hobby or adoration, but as a design for his future.
Mr. Endo says, “I am not an artist.”
“A job is something real. It is important whether we can eat by it.
Even if we create toys, it’s out of the question if the toys don’t sell.Without our toys being in demand, we can’t create the next toy. We can’t give the next job to a prototype model creator, coloring creator or various staff.”
He says he is not an artist. He thinks of themes and the compositions. He also thinks of who to place the order with, taking account of the characteristics of some prototype creators. Sometimes he decides while talking with the creators. He establishes the deliver-by date, the process and the quality, and calculates material costs, personnel expenses, postage and other fees, and oversees all.
In the drawing room where CCP’s figures were lined up tightly, I asked him,
“Which is your most favorite one?”
Mr. Endo answered.
“I can’t select one. It’s difficult to say what is best.”
I think his words mean this.
・・・Personal taste is irrelevant.
Unless it sells, there is no meaning.
Unless it sells, we cannot make the next toy.
Mr. Endo thinks.
“Not me, but what are the customers seeing?”
What is the picture in the customers’ minds?
“As for Ultraman…” Mr. Endo says.
“It is not good to just create a figure from printed matter. It looks dark and dingy.”
By looking at many pictures, photographs, and various materials, he tries to find out the Ultraman that customers wish for.
“There is an answer in every customers’ head.
If I actually offer it, they may say, “Ooh, I have wanted this!”
But without carrying it out, I can’t know how they will react.”
“Things just like they were in those days are not real. Customers won’t buy it even if we offer a true and real thing. It’s not essential whether it is right or not. Unless it’s cool, they won’t buy it.”
Sometimes he is accused of being too responsive to customers’ needs.
He has coated figures over again to fulfill the expectations of customers and made his staff bear the burden before.
It’s certainly fine service, but to get burdened excessively could weaken the company’s strength.
But it might be one of his struggles to get closer to the inside pictures of customers.
Mr. Endo says.
He always tries putting one piece of the puzzle down first when thinking about what to create.
On an empty board without any pieces, he puts down one piece which he wants to do.
Then, he adds other pieces, thinking what the insufficient pieces are.
He thinks about who the model sculptor is, whether it’s paying or not, how he advertises it, and what this creation means.
“Sometimes I can’t fill in the blanks of the board completely.
I cannot change my ambiguous image into certainty.
I can’t firmly believe whether I can reach the goal or not.”
He use words “certainty”, “belief”…
He has walked down a path which does not have a positive guarantee and one failure might become fatal.
Without a strong belief, he has not been able to go ahead.
“It is impossible to forecast whether our toys will sell well or not.
Even if we ask any retail store, they will, without exception, say just based on the past data.
I do not know whether I can take responsibility unless I try creating it actually. This is the world where we can’t get answers except by results.”
・・・The world that they can’t answer except for results.
He still stands in the ring.
In the first place, a small toymaker’s creations are exposed to various restrictions.
At first, as a matter of course, it’s the copyright.
For example, Mr. Endo loves Kamen-Rider, too. But he cannot step into the absolute kingdom of Bandai. It is different from a major company getting popular characters by tie-ups.
As for Ultraman, he was first turned away at the door by Tsuburaya.
It was unexpected luck that he was granted use of it.
Not only the copyright of characters.
For example, action figures whose joints are movable sell well.
If considering sales only, moving figures sell better at a ratio of seven to three than a figure with correct form, Mr. Endo says.
But creating moving figures is also blocked by major companies. It is beyond his reach. KAIYODO was also blocked with that wall, too. The way to the destination is impeded from the beginning.
Mr. Endo says as if to stir himself up.
“But I was moved by unmovable figures.
I wonder how movable figures will be left 100 years later.
Unmovable ones will survive, won’t they?”
“However, if I were allowed to create an action figure…?”
Mr. Endo’s voice took on a dreamy tone.
“On that occasion, I will exert myself to show people an unknown joint, a strange joint that I devised.”
When creating a soft vinyl figure, at first they always make a wax mold from a model, plate it and make a die. Putting vinyl-chloride into the die, they heat and solidify it and take it out of the die.
They can make figures in large quantities to a certain extent at a relatively low price.But it is said that the molding of thin things is difficult. On that point, the creator’s skill vividly appears.
When a person talks about so-called nostalgic toys, unless talking about metal works such as tin plated works, he mainly points to these soft-vinyl figures ( vinyl chloride material ).
Good old soft-vinyl dolls … they have a lovely loose feeling reminiscent of the Showa period.
But an appearance of a genius figure prototype creator extended the possibility of this material by far.
It was a figure in this material that CCP made its debut with in scrupulous realism that shocked Mr. Ushio. Afterwards, while also using various other materials, CCP has mainly used soft vinyl material and has sent skilled and delicate figures into the world.
Lately, the 3D printer has been developed and it has enabled us to 3-dimensionalize the images as taken.
Although it still has some problems, it has already been put in practical use and is seen to advance further in the future.
To be able to convert an image into three dimensional works by the power of the computer is just a pressing menace for a toymaker which was good at overwhelming realism.
Mr. Endo says.
“If the creation in realism comes to be unaccepted, I will create figure in deformation.
Even if sympathy for realism is ruined, times will change again.
Anyway, I should read the air of the times and customers’ inside images.”
Attempts to find the way have continued all the time.
CMC is the project that CCP has continued for seven years.
It’s an abbreviation of “CCP Muscular Collection”; the “Kinniku-man Ultimate Muscle” (Muscle Man) figure series with the concept “if a “Chojin” really exists.”
“I will go to Southeast Asia tomorrow with Mr. Yudetamago for an event.”
On the interview day, Mr. Endo seemed to be devoted to preparation for it.
An event inviting the author of Kinniku-man will be held in Southeast Asia, and CCP will also go there and sell their works, I heard.
It seemed that I visited him when he was so busy.
In 2017, the 29th year of the Heisei era, (29 can be read with the same pronunciation as “Niku” (In the Japanese it means “meat”)), many events relating to Kinniku-man are being held. On “Jump plus”, a new serialization started. About this great manga, many people enjoy lovely celebrations.
CCP’s “Ultimate Muscle” figure.
As for the facial expression, it’s just like one from the manga, but the body is very muscular and very real.
The face is one of the manga’s.
But the body is overwhelmingly real.
“But when we merely 3-dimensionalize something 2D, there is a possibility that people will say this isn’t a true Kinniku-man,” Mr. Endo says.
Only changing 2-dimentions to 3-dementions won’t do, I hear.
How amateurish of me, but I have never looked at things like that. Real in a ground plan and real in three dimensions are different… I noticed such an obvious thing for the first time.
To be sure, any impressive illustration should have the drawer’s original tricks implemented skillfully with the greatest care.
For example, by slightly drawing in part of a blind spot that we cannot see in reality, an outstanding drawer always expresses things cool beyond simple realism with his original skill, I presume.
Besides, this is the comics that has been attracting people by drawing powerful fighting.
Naturally there is a special setting.
For realization as an impressive figure, it is natural that we need a new logic and a new trick of molding it.
Being an amateur, I came to realize at length.
We can see Ultraman and Spectreman in special effects drama.
But it is an entirely different thing to change the two-dimensional expressions such as from the comics.
In addition, about 3-dimensionalizing “Kinniku-man (Muscle Man)”, Mr. Endo says.
““Kinniku-man” has continued for a long time. We cannot be praised only by 3-dimensionalizing the present illustration. The gap in deliberately realizing an old illustration with the present muscle appeals.”
His words “not only to 3-dimensionize 2-dimensional things”, had a double meaning.
As said previously, the said change of an illustration’s trick to the three-dimensional logic.
Now also, by using the combination of two different generations, to provide its own distinctive feel surpassing reality.
… Not mere conversion, but the newness beyond the memory.
I noticed that the people who appreciate that feel are the regular customers of CCP and I was shocked.
“To read customers’ inside” said by Mr. Endo was to fight in this sophistication!
As mentioned above, “CMC” is CCP’s “Kinniku-man” figure series with the concept “if a “Chojin” really exists.”
Mr.Endo considers its shape, and calculates the percent of body fat, and infers the development of muscles from the signature move too.
In the first place, the attempt to make things beyond the realm of existence exist.
The manifestation of grotesqueness, and the inquiry into a superman physically and mentally ……. a revolutionary challenge has continued.
“To make something exist.” How fearful that is.
It is out of the ordinary, deep, and shining.
The attachment towards “existence”, that is probably the root of a toy’s magic.
In a martial art, above all this sensitive genre called “professional wrestling” (the world of “Kinniku-man”) there is a different fever other than the excitement on scenes.
It is a passion to taste “context”.
To memorize various skills and excellent matches, and to study them, to interpret them, and to put context together, to be amused by its difference and promises.It can’t happen without the maturity and sophistication of the genre and its fans.
We just live in the time of people who have such eyes for toys as well.