Just got back from the 4 Horsemen’s ”Toypocalypse” art show at Toy Tokyo Underground. The show was a fantastic retrospective, featuring a fraction of what the 4Horsemen have been working on over the past decade. The show was overwhelming (in a good way) and packed wall to wall with final packaged pieces, prototypes, and one of a kind “two-ups”.
I had a few of my He-man inspired pieces on hand, and toward the end of the evening I had an opportunity to show them to Chris, Eric, and Cornboy (3 of the 4 Horsemen). There were also a couple of executives from Mattel at the show. Suddenly, there were way more people than I expected checking out my Battlecat, Cringor, and Prince Adam.
Here’s a shot of me chatting with Scott Neitlich (Mattel’s very own Toyguru) and Chris Dahlberg (of the 4 Horsemen). Thanks to Chris for getting so many people to check out my work.
Heavily influenced by the awesome G.I. Joe/Cobra Python Patrol series, comes this bad ass bald beauty, Smirking Python. Built up on a taller stronger body than the Toy Tokyo Edition, the TOYSREVIL edition utilizes the Barrack Sergeant body, which is very close in movement to the standard Hot Toys body. It features that awesome “cut out” style shoulder and double jointed limbs that the Hot Toys body, Sideshow Trooper body, and 3A body use. Additionally, the body “crunches” well at the stomach to get some really dynamic poses. We managed to procure 20 of these nude figures and we’re really happy with the way our resin head sculpt looks on it.
The edition comes to you with blind boxed styled accessories; of the 20 pieces:
3 x Flintlock Musket & Gunpowder Flask
5 x Sword (metal) & Sheath (random color) w/ 2 x Throwing Stars
5 x Chain Whip (metal) & 3 Frag Grenades
5 x Mace & 2 Gas Grenades
2 x Machete & Smoke Grenades
The Secret Set:
As stated previously, this will be an edition of 10 pieces. Of the ten pieces, one set will feature a belt of modern throwing knives and a Chinese Chopper (actually, you’ll be getting the exact figure picture here in these photo’s). These figures will be pick up only at the New York Comic Con 2010, at the Toy Tokyo Booth (booth #2871 in the Cultyard). They will be pre-boxed to preserve the mystery (sorry no request on weapons… it is blind boxed after all).
Pre-order is now open. Go to LABEL111 for Smirking Python.
(This is actually my favorite version, don’t tell anyone.)
Following our Hollow Walker SDCC exclusive 1/6th scale custom figure for Toy Tokyo, comes this NYCC exclusive, “Smirking Python”.
This striking camouflage ninja features a head sculpt influenced by the artist Mati Klarwein, whose work has grace such legendary album covers as Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” & “Live Evil”.
Miles music and style is a constant source of inspiration here at our studio.
So, I was surfing around looking at some SDCC pics from this year (2010). I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but this cheeby / super deformed style “Galactic Heroes” Arf Trooper looks strikingly like the Storm Shadow Trooper custom figure that my wife, Angel, and I made last year for our Cobra – lalilulelo. He later appeared at the “Art Strikes Back” Star Wars art show a month later where he was sold.
For SDCC this year I created 3 OOAK plush figures using the same basic body. I designed a figure form based on “Alice the Goon” (from Thimble Theatre and Popeye). Each figure features a different Needle Felted head that is inspired by different cartoons that I like.
The Wild Mancat is primarily inspired by Ickis from Nickelodeons AAAHH!!! Real Monsters cartoon. That cartoon was so unique and awesome and predates Monsters Inc by years. I imagine the Wild Mancat as being a forest nomad and shaman, like the main character from Mushishi.
When I first began Felting, Felt sculptures were a mystery to me. I got into it through my wife, Angel. She had seen some japanese books on Dry Felting, and they were always cute Hello Kitty characters or food. The first time I saw a picture of a Croissant made out of wool fiber I think I just laughed out loud in a book store, saying “what” to myself in a high pitched voice. Special Note: Ignore the weird white guy in the Japanese book store.
Moving right along, the third figure I sculpted out of wool fiber was Battlecat. He still is the most perfect sculpture for me. One part Tony the Tiger, one part 80′s cartoon, and one part Powerpuff Girls.
Two years went by and there was no companion (save the Cringor I made) for my perfect Battlecat. And then a little game called the phantom Hourglass came my way. Followed by another stellar Zelda game known as Spirit Tracks. Inspiration struck and I created this Adam based on Link’s design from the game…..
Mercenary, twisted underling….. Major?Something about this guy. What’s his deal? Is there a stump under that cybernetic casing?
I know one thing for certain: he’s Kind of scumbag with this incipid nasally Skeletor voice. Only his is accented with touch of Brit or Aussie.
I can’t help it I love his design. I was really proud with the way this guy came out. Alas the only original piece that I sculpted was the eye patch. And that broke so I’ve recently redone that.
To me he looks so damn close to the original 3 3/4 scale figure sans dogtags. I did not forget however, by the time this guy’s ready for the show he will be sporting the dogtags of fallen Joes…..
Work. Not the jobbie job but the work you do on you own. The work that matters. The work that you think about all day as the hours slowly drain away from you.
For over a year now I’ve been completely possessed by this gallery show that my wife and have been talking about. It all started with the Cobra Commander & Destro 12″ customs.
That began a tangent of ideas that lead to the “Excess of Evil” show. The title is a reference to the WWII Axis Powers of Germany/Italy/Japan. However, these are toys after, and “Axis of Evil” just doesn’t sound playful enough.
Originally, the plan was a gallery show featuring custom 12″ figures that are mash ups of ’80′s villains with a WWII Axis twist. The concept has grown to incorporate characters that have a Korean War & Vietnam Conflict era feel.
Here’s Major Bludd: his look is a tad more modern but still 80′s.
It’s been exactly a year since I wrote last. Is there a hungry audience still?…..
Hopefully. Well, this past year has been filled with activety. The main reason why I haven’t scribled anything down here is that last Febuary I began working as a sculptor at Jeff Koons Studio. As I write this I realize that legally I can’t go into any crazy detail about what I do there, so I’ll provide a link here: http://www.jeffkoons.com
Check out the “Popeye” gallery over to the right (toward the end in the long list of artist themes). That’s pretty much what I’m working on.
I know one thing I can say is that there’s a whole lot of sanding involed. All of those inflated balloon animals you see are infact made of aluminum. Great effort and long hours are spent creating wrinkles and smoothing out surfaces so that the metal looks like inflated vinyl. It really is quite an amazing feat.
Possibly one of the most interesting head sculpts I’ve come across is this one. I found it on ebay for like ten bucks, and at the time I had no idea that Sideshow Toys was going to make 12″ figures of Indiana Jones. Which is the only reason why I wanted it. I wanted a Henry Jones!
So, I made a mold of this head and what you see here is most likely the 3rd head out of the batch. I made about 5. This one I epoxy-ed onto a 21st Century Toys body. From there the grey suit, from Toy Presidents Albert Einstein figure, really establishes the Henry Jones facade. I made the Bow-tie from black ribbon.
The Hat is from a Mold I made of the green Hornets derby. The suit case hails from the Leiji Matsumoto Arms Collection, and a pair of WWII Dragon Spectacles really finishes the toy off nicely.
Destro was always more menacing and I took him way more seriously than the Commander. After all I once read that the Commander’s personality was a bit of Hitler mixed with Yosemite Sam. I am not joking.
The writers literally wrote Cobra Commander to be an evil dictator. As the series progressed they realized that the character just wasn’t working out with that personality in the given scenario’s.
Enter Destro, he was the stabilizing evil genius, ever since the beginning of the series. And I think now that we’re all a lot older we can see that so much better. Subconsciously, everyone seems to respect and relate to that character more. I remember the first GI Joe mini series (I think it’s the one with the Weather Dominator) Cobra captures Duke, and Cobra Commanders immediate thought is gladiatorial competition! Of course! After all isn’t that a normal first response to POW’s?
So, they throw Duke into a pit with a ten foot tall wrestler. Each gladiator is controlled by a device around their head (like Batman’s the Mad Hatter) as Cobra Commander and Destro manipulate them each with a Joystick control mechanism that is reminiscent of an atari controller. Ah, so eighties.
At one point Destro makes it a point to say, “Ok, we’ve had our fun, now let’s just kill him and move on to the next phase of our plan.” At that point Cobra Commander flips the hell out and is insistent on controlling Duke until there’s no fight left in him. I guess he just wants to break his spirits. Destro is actually animated to appear annoyed. Which is a phenomenal leap for an early 80′s cartoon.
Who is Destro in the pantheon of Cobra? The action figure says Cobra’s Arms Dealer. Even the theme song says something like: “… GI Joe against Cobra and Destro, fighting to save the day … GI Joe, A real american hero …” etc. Seemingly, Destro’s status has been established to be at least equal to that of Cobra Commander. After doesn’t he later get his own Iron Grenadiers.
So, despite his distinct red “Cobra-like” jacket collar, he’s his own man. Not quite a terrorist, just an arms dealer. Who lives in a castle in Scotland. I always thought he was a black dude, but no, he’s Scottish. Which reminds me, on a side note they should get Sean Connery to play Destro in the upcoming movie. That’d be like taking two icons and mashing them together into a new fantastic icon super-hybrid … hurray!
Maybe that’ll be my next Destro: a Sean Connery version.
Right off the bat, I wanted to make the classic leaders of the Cobra organization. I sculpted the Cobra Commander “sack face” and then later on I sculpted a smooth face shield for another version of the Commander. When it came to Destro, I was about to sculpt the head and then I realized “wow, there are some amazing bald headed figs out there.”
I figured I could alter a pre-existing bald headed 12″ figure. And guess what: I did.
I wanted Destro to Command respect as soon as you see him. Therefore I custom made him from a 13” Martian Manhunter, this version of Destro is intended to stir up memories of the animated adaptation of the character, while carrying all the details of a new and modern toy. I sculpted his neck “collar”and his trademark medallion was realized with the help of an expensive Swarovski Crystal. Really. The Gloves are from a 12″ Boba Fett. The Boots are made from the mold I made of the Cavalry Boots, which I used for The Supreme Chancellor edition of Cobra Commander. The clothes are made from a pattern that I designed (and they took about 3 days to get right, as I took them apart often to make adjustments to the bulky DC Direct 13″ body.
Though Destro is an inch taller, when paired together with the Commander they just feel right to me. The Commander is about 1/4 inch shorter than my other 12″ fig’s, so Destro appears to tower over them. But he looks in scale, and scale is very very important to me. Not to brag, but the more I sculpt and the more I custome I’ve discovered that I have an uncanny knack for scale. I think it’s something I developed in school.
I studied comics and with comics you draw them about twice as big. When printed, they’re scale down to the general size that we’re all familiar with. I think from seeing this art every day for a long time (and in it’s varying scales) I’m able to judge with amazing accuracy. I only say “amazing” because sometimes I even surprise my self. I’m no robot but my guesses about scale are 99% accurate. Apologies for any arogance.
But the point is, I always felt like Destro was just bigger, like his very presence commands a silent respect. Subconsciencely this is achieved through height. Cobra Commander acts like yosemite Sam because he’s a little short, destro says little and commands a great legion because he’s tall like a Titan.
Ever step back, look at your toy collection and think, hhhhhhmmmmmm I need a rad Arms Dealer for my other 12″ action fig’s. But, where do I find such a fig?
Look no further! Destro has arrived!
SO, the big custom figs for us and our gaggle of friends would have to be that trinity of world domination that has plagued all of our collections. The “Axis Powers?” you must be thinking. But, no … I’m talking about Cobra Commander, Destro, and the Baroness.
After Supreme Chancellor Cobra Commander, and Face-shield Cobra Commander the next no-brainer character would be Destro. With the Baroness being in my future cross-hairs.
To my delight, I’ve finally found the Vincent Price Fig from Neca. It’s old and limited but I got it! The face sculpt is so amazing. it reminds me of Alfred from Batman. Or The flash from the JSA Liberty Files Elseworlds comic
Unfortunately his clothes were a huge disappointment, so I made some new ones. I’m not sure how many 12″ Doll style figures Neca has made, I know that they’re cornering the market on posable 12″ action figures with fantastic laser scan sculpts (and limited movement).
I wanted to make a Blackhawk inspired costume, so I having just acquired some nice shiny black vinyl I went to town, completing the whole sha-bang are some Destro styled boots. As far as this figure goes the clothes definitely downgrade the toy. I would say the original clothes make this figure feel like it’s a 25 dollar fig, but that’s beside the point.
As I assumed The Invisibles turned out to change in a radically wild direction. I sincerely was hoping that it would and thank goodness. There are some amazing stories and characters. There’s even a little homage to the EC Comics style of “Tales from the Crypt” era books.
The homage is not so much a direct retelling or anything of that nature, but more like in the tone of a twisted tale that ends in ironic horror (or a horror tale that ends in an ironic twist – whatever you favor). Being a huge fan of that type of story telling I was hooked then and there right in the middle of “Apocalipstick” the second volume of the Invisibles.
For anyone following what I blather on about here, my inspiration for the first part of this blog was based on a conversation my wife and I were having with an old friend of hers. Basically, we were trying to describe the similarities between Tim hunter from the books of magic and Harry Potter to some else who wasn’t so familiar with Tim Hunter, but like so many of you has read all the books. I just can’t bring myself to read it. I don’t even want to like it. I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 of the movies, and they work great for a young audience, but they are so … ridiculous is the only thing that pops into mind. For a number of reasons they are ridiculous to me, too many to list, and honestly I don’t want to waste any more internet space on it.
But, I will say three things:
1) To me, the main difference between Tim Hunter and Harry Potter is that one goes to school (Harry) and the other seems to be rather … well, homeless (Tim).
2) I am always happy to see a created hold the reins (well, for the most part anyway) of there creation in various incarnations, while essentially reaping most of the rewards as well. The way JK Rowling controls the Harry Potter juggernaut is commendable and ushers in a new era of creators who won’t get screwed out of the income generated by their own properties. It’s very reminiscent of George Lucus and his control over the Star Wars franchise. I know that the studios still get their Bucks, but, well, I digress …..
3) The last thing I have to say is that J K Rowling’s series has inspired so many americans to read. And for that, I thank you. It’s so damn cool to see kids reading these thick ginormous books on the subway here in New York. PSP’s, Video IPods, Portable DVD Players, all those things are cool, but books, ah …books. They’re so great because, well, you can’t beat imagination.
Partially inspired by my good friends urging, I started reading the Invisibles. Which, at the moment seems to be the telling of a young man’s quest to become a powerful magical force. I am only as far as the first half of the collected Trade Paperback “Say You Want a Revolution.”
For those of you who don’t know, the Invisibles was this Vertigo comic from the 90′s. It’s pretty darn good, and my personal interest lies in the fact that Grant Morrison wrote it. So far, everything I’ve read of his has this ability to refer to a number of concepts at one time, essentially by saying very little.
It’s all in the conversation and situation. But, unlike other intellectual comics, these books are not filled with dialogue. An overwhelming amount of conversation tends to bore me, for as much as I like a good story, comics are what they are because they are meant to have pictures. Good Pictures. Not just shots of people talking at each other like the Dailies or the Sunday Comics (with the exception of Bill Waterson)
You need good narrative imagery with thoughtful pacing and realistic conversational dialogue. That explanation may be a little too simplistic for the complexity that can be achieved with comics, but boiled down, that’s it.
Another reason I wanted to read the Invisibles was in part due to a little controversy some time ago about the relationship between themes in this book and themes in the Matrix films. So far the only similarities are the concept of another “true” existence or reality that parallels our own, and the infamous “jump” scene. Neither of those things seem particularly tied to one intellectual property. After all, didn’t Superman or someone else psyche themselves out with jumping (or falling or what ever) a great distance. And the whole “what’s really real” thing has been done in countless books and movies.
(That’s right, question reality bitches!)
But that’s not what I want to talk about. Let me get to the point of my blogging: What’s up with the chosen one in British Literature?
Not that I read a lot of Brit books and comics, but I do read a lot of American comics written by British writers (and the occasional Brit novel), and frankly, I’m beginning to notice a trend in the writing of English gents: Magic …
Maybe it has something to do with the Arthurian myth being so much apart of the British Fantasy mentality. Or that could just be my American impression of British born Fantasy.
So if I’m not being accurate, then I apologize (and feel free to comment). But let me say, from “Tim Hunter” of “The Books of Magic,” to the totality of the Harry Potter franchise, it seems like young British boys on the quest to becoming the next greatest magician of our time is a story I keep reading about.
Which brings me back to my original topic, The Invisibles. It features (of course) a young teenage boy in England on his way to becoming a powerful force. Be it magic or something else entirely I don’ know yet (as I’m only a few books in at this point), but it certainly seems like magic.
But, at this point, half way through, I felt inspired to say something. Mainly, what I’m getting at is: with all these young men in Great Britain clamoring up to become the next Merlin, who will win? Does it Matter? Are we all on some impossible quest?
Do we long to escape this reality so tenaciously?
So, we love Star Trek. Especially, The Next Gen. (or TNG, for those of you who are also down with Trek).
I’m pretty sure I’m not a Trekkie (as I’ve never worn Vulcan ears or sported a Klingon “Forehead” piece), but I have to say with all geekiness aside The Next Generation is perhaps one of the best written shows for television … ever.
The way the writers consistently propose a problem, and then have the characters discuss the various sides of the issue, is unparalleled. Be it science based or ethically based or otherwise, the character dynamic was set up so that the captain almost always had to conference with his commanding officer staff. It may have been an obvious format to discuss social and political ideals, but it was often so thorough with it’s dissection of an issue that I can’t imagine a more perfect way to show these sentiments.
Now I know that the Original series had a similar format, but it was constrained due to the time period from which it came. And I’m not talking about the future, I’m talking about 1966 when it was first aired. For example, the original Trek featured one of the first depictions of interracial intimacy on television. Kirk and Uhura actually kiss – oooohhhhhhh!
That was actually news worthy 40 years. People were shocked. After all, it could only happen in 23rd century, in order for the people of the 20th century to accept it. The turbulent ’60′s were so racially divided, I’m honestly surprised that it even happened. Then again ten years earlier someone somewhere on some show said “water closet” which was apparently against network sensibilities at the time. That too, was news worthy. Wow, people really had nothing to do with their free time.
I can’t imagine a world where the word “Toilet” is unacceptable for so called “decent” people to say in public, let alone an interracial mixing of tongues. I’m so glad we live in the future. By that I mean the present day where technology and self improvement is more important than being socially acceptable.
What I’m saying basically is that an interracial exchange was more note worthy than the idea of say .. I don’t know destroying the planet due to nuclear arms. An idea which they referred to in some form or another throughout the series.
Maybe it was shows like Star trek that helped to ease the drama of racial divide. Fortunately, for geeks like us, we got to see what the world could be like. Though highly stylized, we were allowed to see a new possibility of existence. Strip away the simplified / highly modernized sets and costumes. What’s left is a world from the amazing mind of Gene Rodenberry. A nearly utopic scenario where there was no racial separation, where women worked side by side with men, and had the same social – political responsibilities.
A triumph for equality. That’s partly what Trek means to me.
Any-who back to what I was originally talking about before I launched off into an equality rant, Star Trek: TNG is again being released on DVD. This time in a great big beautiful clear box with green Disc holder’s, wrapped in space fog. I am, to say the least, beyond excitement.
TNG is so thought provoking (as I’ve said before), but also the acting is fantastic. It’s not that typical cheesy sci-fi acting. These people are stage quality, believable, relatable, and at the end of the day: convincing.
You can watch classic Trek and find the acting sort of over the top at times. You can watch a later Trek series (i.e. DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise) and not even feel moved or engaged. But, with TNG, you can watch the 7 seasons and really feel as though your witnessing the life of these characters unfolding in a believable way. The spirit of these actors is so tangible, and their dialogue is delivered in such an effortlessly sincere way. It’s perfect for me. Buy yours Today!
Editing pics all day. I wanted to get some pics of my work up and man oh man, there’s a ton of stuff we have here in the shop.
Speaking of toy shop, Geppetto and Pinocchio are sort of mascots around here. You know the whole idea of a guy who builds puppets and toys. So much so, that he’s essentially alienated from everyone else in the world. In his old age longs for a connection … a child. That’s where Pinocchio comes in or as in our version, he’s sorta tethered in:
Originally, my version of Geppetto and Pinocchio started out as another gallery piece. There was yet another show at The Showroom NYC. The show was set to be a general show featuring Custom / Kit Bash 12″ figures. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, but I did make a figure. I normally hate the phrase kit bash (it has a “thrown together” felling to it), but I don’t know what the hell to call this piece. It consists primarily of bits and pieces from other figures that I filed and cut and rearranged and reassembled back together into the icon of man bestowing life to toys: Geppetto.
So, these parts are all from other things, yes it’s true, but I feel that I created a truly unique and original character. On a side note: his feet are made from mixed nut containers and his legs are made from wooden pieces that I did make and they actually move. I also patterned and sewed together the clothe jumpsuit from pieces of polyester security guard pants. That’s where that bright yellow stripe comes in.
Maybe ultimately he’ll show up in our comic The Disposable…..
So, I’ve been working on a custom cobra commander. I’ve been wanting to make one for quite some time and, well frankly, I didn’t know exactly how to go about it. For three weeks I research Military WWII clothing. I thought I had an idea about those clothes, but as it turns out, I didn’t really know shit. Now I do, but that’s another story.
I researched the crap out of clothing and I also researched the crap out of G.I. Joes.
Wow, There’s like 9 different versions of Cobra Commander in 3 3/4 scale. I believe there’s 3 versions of Cobra Commander at a 12″ scale. Let me tell you, they suck. They have to be among the most collectively disappointing toys ever. The “Valor VS. Venom Cobra Commander” is the only one that comes close to being remotely iconic. Here are some pics of toys and art that inspired me to create a 12″ Cobra Commander of my own.
Oh, and for the record Cobra Commander traditionally sports either a light blue or navy blue Panzer Jacket.
You can read about him on wiki, or you can read about him here. You should probably go to wiki, for more detailed info though.
But this is the man right here. That picture is so Pimp!
This guy was one of the primary influences on the character of Allan Quartermain (I would assume especially in appearance). Selous was of course, one of the Big Game Hunters of Africa. Once romanticized (like the classic military aviator with his long flowing scarf billowing in the wind), he was one of those Victorian-age white British adventurer / explorers who would be known the world over as a frontiersmen of the African jungle.
The main thing I identify with is the fact that Frederick Selous major love in his life, was also a source of sadness. Assuredly, we can all identify that. But, what I mean specifically for him, is that his desire to explore and hunt was at first a great joy. After a life time of hunting however, he could see the negative effects of his presence on the land he came to love.
He could see and feel the blatant reduction (or deduction) of species he was hunting and tracking. Maybe people in that era never thought “hey if we kill all the animals in this area, they’ll be gone.”
Seems like a no-brainer to me. But hey, I make art, and art’s all about reacting to your environment.
Well, I do love the fact that he was a naturalist, studying plants and animals. Primarily acquiring samples to send back to England and the America’s. I love how the term “acquiring samples” means killing stuff and pinning it to a board for later study.
And on that note I leave you.
When most people talk about fusion, typically they mean 70’s jazz-funk-rock, or some kind of Indian dish mixed with an Italian dish (you know pasta and curry). But, instead I bring to you the fusion of the Action Figure. Most notable in Japanese products and idea’s being worked into the American ideal of flooding the toy market season after season with products.
In my lifetime I’ve seen G.I. Joe go from “action doll” to the revolutionary 3 & 3/4 scale, based on the Japanese toy Microman. Right here, I’m talking about the fusion between Super American, Kung Fu Grip sporting, Bearded G.I. Joe with 32 point posable, fully detachable at all the joints miniature fun time Microman.
It’s amazing to see in retrospect that these two idea’s merge together to form: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Not to be confused with plain old G.I. Joe. The flocked, tuff, angry face of the 12″ Joe now replaced by the memorable guise of a blond Arian (he’s a Duke no less!). Now leading the good fight against a hooded (or sometimes shiny face-less) terrorist, at almost a third of the size, these leaders of good and evil, had hundreds of allies and henchmen.
The depth and breadth is so much more than the original “Joe” toys.
The point: fusion is good. With out it we wouldn’t have the wealth of characters that existed in this property. After all there was someone for everyone, just like a singles bar! We each have our random fav’s. Like Alley Viper or the original two variations of Cobra Commander. Even real people who popped up here and there like Sgt. Slaughter or The Fridge………but I digress.
The lesson: Diversify and draw inspiration from different pools. Fuse those varying source materials together in a personal way and express them in your work. Through the Internet, connect with others who can relate to a project and share…….