From TFW2005 member Ktulu. Original thread with concept art can be seen here http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/showthrea ... 034&page=2
TFW2005 content contributor Ktulu recently had a change to sit down with fan favorite Transformers comic book artist and designer Don Figueroa. Check out what they had to say below.
TFW2005: Are you involved in the design process of any upcoming Transformers lines like Classics 2.0? What were the last toys you were involved in that have been produced?
Don Figueroa: I recently did concept art for two deluxes and two smaller bots for Classics 2.0. The last toy that I helped on that was produced was WW Grimlock, and I think I'm the only one to have received a copy that got past the prototype stage, but I'm sure there's more at Hasbro.
TFW2005: How much input do you have in the overall process of a toy you are involved in? Does Hasbro only use the design sketches they request of you or do you have any input over what characters you want to submit and how you think the transformations/engineering would work?
Don Figueroa: Not much input. Hasbro will give me a list of characters to do and I'll draw it and after I send them, it's out of my hands. Most of the time, they will follow the transformations/engineering, sometimes they'll change it and I'll just see a prototype months later. Sometimes they will ask for concept drawings that never get used.
One time, they came up to me at a convention saying "We're doing a toy of your Primus and WW Starscream" and I'm like "pfft, yeah right" but later I'll see that it's only 'loosely based' on the actual sketch design.
TFW2005: After the whole process is finished, have you ever been let down by the final product?
Don Figueroa: Sometimes, mostly when I finally get to hold it.
TFW2005: Have you hidden your name in any toy designs other than War Within Optimus Prime?
Don Figueroa: Nope, that was just a joke I did that I figured will get noticed and removed, but it got through for some reason.
TFW2005: When you create packaging artwork, how much control do you have over it? Does Hasbro have a specific idea of what they want, or do you have more or less free reign?
Don Figueroa: A lot of back and forth, I have to send the pencils for approval and then later the inks, and I had to do what they say. Like with my first work, Armada Starscream, the first feedback I got was from Dreamwave. They told me to "reduce the head by 20%" or sometimes they'll ask for a different pose if the character's not "looking straight at the camera" enough.
But they've trusted me a bit later on and I did less and less corrections. Sometimes, Hasbro will tell me to change something because the toy's design has been changed. But one time, they asked me to change something that wasn't really necessary, it was for Energon Scorponok. When I first drew that, the drawing shows those vertical guns on the side of his chest. Hasbro later told me they were taking those off from the toy, so I did it with the drawing as well. But then when the toy came out, the guns are still there.
TFW2005: Which character that you've drawn would you like to see made into a figure the most?
Don Figueroa: Maybe the characters of my own series in their own toy line... Hiro Prime knows what I'm talkin' about.
TFW2005: Other than what you do for IDW Publishing, do you have any other jobs? Are you still working for Hasbro, or perhaps working with other companies?
Don Figueroa: I'm actually off Transformers comics nowadays. I'm still doing occasional TF stuff for Hasbro, Botcon and IDW, but I really want to do other things now including a creator owned series that Harold Tietjens (AKA Hiro Prime) will be helping me on. I've pitched it to IDW and I don't think they've rejected it yet but they really haven't made a commitment to it either. I might shop it around, I dunno.
I'm also helping out former IDW editor Dan Taylor with his own Mech-based series and I'm also hoping to work on another book soon for IDW, I'm doing character designs for it now.
TFW2005: Think we’ll ever see Macromasters in print?
Don Figueroa: Not a chance, nobody's going to let me do it.
TFW2005: Do you plan on revisiting any of your Macromasters designs or plan to implement them into future lines or series?
Don Figueroa: Probably not.
TFW2005: Are there any plans for a Beast Wars Mega-Litho like your G1 version?
Don Figueroa: No.
TFW2005: How long did it take you to produce the Generation 1 Lithograph?
Don Figueroa: 3-4 weeks, on and off. In between issues of DW's G1 ongoing, that Beast Wars Summer special as well as entries for the G1 Profile books. I'll never forget how horribly hectic that month was. It was something I promised never to do again.
TFW2005: How long does it take you to draw a typical comic book page?
Don Figueroa: Penciling a page takes me a few hours, mostly around 5-6 hours. But it takes longer now that I've been inking my own stuff, usually all day now. Even when I shorthanded the pencils. For me, inking takes a slow and steady approach lest you want your work covered in Whiteout.
TFW2005: What inspired Nova Prime's look? Did you design him on your own or did IDW pitch an idea, which you developed for them?
Don Figueroa: The design that eventually became Nova was originally an Optimus Prime concept I did for Hasbro, it's mostly inspired by a lot of other Optimii like RID Prime, PM Prime/God Ginrai. etc. When I was given the task of the Optimus Spotlight there was no full design available for him but an obscure headshot E.J. did for a sequence in Escalation. So I just dug up an old design, replaced the head and viola! Nova Prime is born.
TFW2005: How long did it take to make your massive combiner custom? What did you use to create them? Do you have any customs that you've not shared with the community?
Don Figueroa: I only did one combiner, took me about a month or so to build. He's called Warmonger. It's made of 1/16" sheets of plexiglass and it was one of my more complexed builds.
Every individual robot has a number of articulation points and every piece of the gestalt pieces is built in, like hands, head and feet. The combined form is also very articulated when combined.
I recently did a new scratch-built robot and I'm about 30% into it. It'll have a lot of mobility due to the new ball joints I got a hold off. It'll also have working pistons and gears as well as other features (perhaps shocks, if I can find some springs). I don't see it being finished anytime soon since I'm in no rush really, and I only work on it whenever I can.
TFW2005: If you could bring back any Transformers villain, like Dark Nova or Tornedron, who would you choose and why?
Don Figueroa: I think that's a question more suited to the powers that be, I'm just an illustrator. I never had such an authority.
TFW2005: What’s your most memorable moment in working with the Transformers brand as a whole?
Don Figueroa: There's just so many, both from the very good and to the very bad. From War Within, my first professional book, to attending my first convention as a pro, to seeing my work on the toy store shelves and comic-shops to the whole nightmare that was Dreamwave in it's death throws, to being overwhelmed by the numbers of different continuity brought upon by the different media and Hasbro annually pushing the reset button.
TFW2005: What do you wish to accomplish in the future that you haven’t yet achieved?
Don Figueroa: I had hoped to contribute something worthwhile to the Transformers mythos if only for a limited time, like a mini-series or even a one shot, but I was never able to do it, mostly because of bad timing, not fitting with the continuity or whatever. Or maybe they're just terrible, I dunno. But nobody has really said otherwise, just the usual "We don't have any plans for it right now" or "We already have a story planned, sorry" response or nothing at all.
But with most of my ideas, hopefully I can salvage and rework it and use it for something else entirely when the opportunity presents itself.
TFW2005: Thanks Don!
Don Figueroa: You're most welcome and thanks.