M1+2 Translation Update (Jan. 29)
UPDATE: If you’d like to contact Banpresto and let them know there’s a demand for this kind of stuff outside of Japan, see here.
Here’s a follow-up to the story about the new giant Mr. Saturn plushies.
A few weeks ago, Itoi’s company (known as Hobonichi) interviewed the main creator of these new Mr. Saturn monstrosities. I’ve translated that little interview below. I should mention though that you have until the 28th of February (remember that Japan is usually a day ahead!) to pre-order your plushie here. Basically, you have one day left!
They keep saying “first run”, so it’s possible there may be more made in the future, but it’s unclear. Only 500 will be made in this first run, though. It probably has to do with how well these ones sell. If they sell well, they’ll probably make more. If you’re outside of Japan and need a middleman to order one, try Celga.
Also, because I get asked this a lot: if over 500 are ordered, they will do a lottery-type thing where if your name is drawn, you’ll be allowed to buy one. They don’t take any money up front (though your middleman might have to) so if you don’t get chosen there’s nothing to worry about.
On with the interview!
Hobonichi: What made you decide to make a Mr. Saturn this large?
Sakata: Well, back in 2006, we made Mr. Saturn plush figures for UFO Catcher machines. (Note: these are those crane games where you have to grab stuff and pull them up to win them)
Hobonichi: Yes, I remember them.
Sakata: To be honest, we didn’t make very many of them, but the UFO Catchers with the Mr. Saturns in them made a whole lot of money. MOTHER fans went out of their way to get the Mr. Saturns. In fact, I even heard about people from Hiroshima Prefecture coming all the way to Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture just to play the Mr. Saturn UFO Catchers. (note: that’s approximately 800 kilometers / 500 miles)
Hobonichi: Hiroshima to Chiba?! That’s crazy!
Sakata: Yeah. But they were hard to get because there were so few of them that those Mr. Saturn plushes almost have premium item status now.
Since that’s the case, we decided about two years ago to make much larger ones and in enough numbers so that everyone who wanted one could actually get one.
Hobonichi: I see.
Sakata: There was no real special occasion for it or anything. We just went to Nintendo and asked to make them and got the OK.
At around the same time, someone in the company was considering an online shop for the company, and we realized that doing orders through an online shop would help us sell exactly as many as there was demand for. So it was like our two plans melded together.
Hobonichi: I see. Still, it was a real shock to see a Mr. Saturn plush figure of that size.
Sakata: A good while back, Mr. Itoi once talked about the Mr. Saturns’ size. “Height-wise, they’re about knee-high I’d say…” I believe he said. But as I’d never met Mr. Itoi personally, I couldn’t really tell what their exact size should be.
Hobonichi: Yeah, it is pretty hard to tell.
Sakata: And when I went to talk to Mr. Itoi about the Mr. Saturns, I wound up looking at his legs the whole time.
Hobonichi: Ahahaha. You kept looking down, huh? (laugh)
Sakata: I was so focused on the whole “knee-high” thing. (laugh) So, because of that, the plush figure wound up being named “Knee-High Mr. Saturn Plush Figure”.
Hobonichi: I see. Were Itoi and Nintendo really strict with their quality control?
Sakata: Everything progressed as smoothly as possible.
Hobonichi: Huh? There wasn’t any, “The nose should be this big…” or “The hair should be like this…”?
Sakata: It all went without a hitch, really. A lot more so than usual, in fact. We used the 2006 plush for ideas and added a new little thing that lets you shape his hair however you want. Even with that, there wasn’t a single case of, “No, you need to change it.”
Hobonichi: That’s really amazing!
Sakata: But we’ve never had things go as smoothly as that before, so it actually made us feel a little uneasy instead. I personally felt it was adorably made, though.
Hobonichi: So having some sort of criticism or feedback would’ve felt more reassuring?
Sakata: Yes. Even the packaging for the plush went through approval so smoothly.
Hobonichi: I see. Come to think of it, you did put a lot of thought into the packaging too.
Sakata: Yes. Treasure chests in the MOTHER series are present boxes tied with ribbons, but The King of Games had already used those kinds of boxes for their MOTHER T-shirts. We felt that doing the same thing wouldn’t be very interesting, so we thought customers might like delivery boxes from Escargo Express, the delivery service in MOTHER 2 instead. So we made the boxes look like cardboard delivery company boxes.
Hobonichi: No doubt fans will love that.
Sakata: It’s an honor to hear that.
Hobonichi: What about the limited run of 500 figures?
Sakata: This is our very first time selling merchandise to customers online, and since we have no experience with this sort of thing yet, it’s actually really nerve-wracking.
Hobonichi: Especially since you’ve already made 500 of them, right?
Sakata: They’re extremely large-sized items, so they’re basically taking over the storage room. To all MOTHER fans, please grace us with your business!
When you think about it, his reason for making the new plushies does make sense. The tiny, limited number of MOTHER 3 Mr. Saturn plushies from 2006 go for like 10,000-15,000 yen nowadays (often $200-$300 outside of Japan), and these ones are MUCH larger and cost that same amount. It’d be crazy to make too many of them though and then not sell through them all, so they’re probably testing the waters, especially since, like the guy says, they’re still new to this online shopping thing. I think they’ll find that they could sell a bazillion outside of Japan easily.
Maybe we should send the place e-mails, asking for them to sell outside of Japan too?
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