A little while back I made a chance encounter with a guy called Chris Rauen through a toy trade.
It turns out that Chris is a very proficient custom figure maker and is currently working on a set of Japanese themed pieces. The theme for the customs is a modern take on feudal Japan, mixing ancient and modern warfare imagery.
When Chris heard that I was an illustrator and knew about Japan, he asked if I’d be willing to come up with some insignia for his characters. As a figure enthusiast I was happy for the chance to work on such an interesting project and set about designing some logos.
Chris’ 3 characters are called “The Fox”, “The Hound” and “The Wolf”. I took my inspiration from Japanese family crests and came up with a set of insignia for each character. I used images of animals from Japanese traditional artwork and religious statues.
I tweaked the results to Chris’ liking and the results can be seen here. The customs are apparently close to completion and the next step will be to integrate my logos into the designs somehow. I will report back when the figures are finished for the full reveal.
Without meaning to show bias, for me one of the stand out cars in my Calling All Cars series was Dolly Oblong‘s “Jimi” from the first series.
When Dolly launched her Paper Totem series I leapt on the opportunity to reciprocate with a design of my own.
To take things a step further a few months ago I approached Dolly to enquire about the possibility of her making some exclusive Horrorwood plush toys (her other speciality apart from paper).
She kindly agreed and the results are what you see here.
There are 2 colourways of what I have dubbed “Horror Cat”, and 1 of “Horror Bunny”.
For these toys, Dolly took 2 of her existing designs and created these special Horrorwood colours with faces taken from some of my illustrations.
I will be opening the official Horrorwood online store sometime soon and these will be some of the opening products on offer.
Watch this space.
Secret Base is a Japanese toy maker who up until now I have had little interest in.
The company has admittedly gained a legendary status as being one of the first to produce the new wave of “designer” vinyl toys. My beef with the company is that they only seem to have a handful of designs that they churn out endless versions of in different colours, each time with a hefty price tag.
The trendy label that they have earned for themselves however means that each time people are clamoring to get their hands on a “new” release.
This bias of mine was recently reversed a little when I was able to cheaply purchase a blank version of one of Secret Base’s staple figures, “Skullbee”. The unpainted version revealed that the sculpt of the figure is actually really nice; clean, smooth lines and good proportions. My main reason for getting the toy however was that it provided me with an opportunity to try my hand at a custom paint job for the first time.
I kept the whole thing very simple to avoid making a mess of the whole thing, using model paints, pens and some transfers. I am generally pleased with the result, but even a simple custom like this was not easy so I don’t think I’ll be doing another one for a while. I will probably use my Skullbee as part of my display at my next exhibition.
Fellow Gravity members Shimatani and Hamada came to visit us the other day.
On arrival Hamada produced a little silver box and announced that he had something for me.
I am now the proud owner of a one-off, hand-made Skullboy figure!
We had talked at the last exhibition about how cool it would be to turn my Skullboy illustration into a figure, and unbeknownst to me Hamada has been quietly working on this little fella for many months.
The base is a Be@rbrick (one of my favourite toys) onto which Hamada grafted and sculpted new parts.
I only wish there was some way to turn this into a production piece. If there are any toy manufacturers out there, please get in touch.
The next Gravity show is planned for October 13th-19th. Details to follow.
There are big toys and then there are BIG toys. James Jarvis‘ “The Troll” from his comic Vortigern’s Machine definitely falls into the BIG category. I own all the other figures in this series which are already on the large size and had resided myself to the fact that I would never own this bad boy, because of both his size and cost.
However once again internet auctions provided me with an all too tempting opportunity to get The Troll for half price. After the necessary consultation with my wife I made the purchase.
When he arrived and I beheld him in all his glory even I was taken aback and had to apologise profusely to my wife. The Troll is the size of a small child and his box he is truly massive. I took a few photos as evidence and then he was banished to the loft. I am looking forward to the day when I have that “toy room” I have always dreamed of and have enough room to display The Troll and all his buddies.
My new year’s resolution was to stop buying toys, but when these popped on Ebay I had to break my rule.
In my defense this is the rarest release in James Jarvis‘ In-Crowd figure series. It was produced a few years back as a special gift for Nokia customers and was as such never on sale to the general public.
This set is called the “Office Archetypes” and depicts characters that you can find in a typical office. Though a little blander than James’ usual creations, the attention to detail is as high as ever and I even have a soft spot for the chair because of the fact that it is so daringly bland.
To celebrate the release of James Jarvis’ Selected Drawings, Amos Toys released a very limited edition Yod figure covered in James’ wonderful creature designs. The book itself is a magnificent tome, full of the artist’s original sketches from 2002-2007, but for me the Yod figure is the icing on the cake.
I was a bit naughty once again and treated myself to this set for Christmas…
The book is also signed by the man himself, making it a definite jewel in my collection.
For a long time I have not bought what I would call a real “action figure” and have focused more on so-called “designer figures”. Recently however I was tempted back to the world of action figures by one of the new Spawn series, “The Adventures of Spawn”.
I have not been interested in Spawn figures for a while because (like other McFarlane toys) they tend to be over detailed and I dare say rather messy as a result. With The Adventures of Spawn, however, McFarlane has gone for a sleeker, more cartoony feel and the resulting figures are in my opinion wonderful.
Most of the toys in the series are reinterpretations of past Spawn figures, and my favourite of the bunch is “The Creech”, who has long been my favourite McFarlane creation.
It’s toy time again.
This time I present to you the mighty Yod!
Yod is the latest creation from my favourite British artist James Jarvis and was produced by Amos Toys.
Despite his simple appearance Yod has a wealth of back story. Yod’s shape was apparently produced using a complex and mystical mathematical formula…
Either way, Yod’s simple design brings back memories of childhood TV characters and showcases Jarvis’ ability to create lovable characters with the simplest of strokes.
Though sold out in the UK, Yod can still be purchased from Amos Japan and is available in 6 tasty flavours.
The quality of figure design in Japan recently is ridiculous.
A level of detail that used to be reserved for high-end “statue” figures can now also be found in regular price figures.
Case in point is the figure I present here, an original character named “el” created by sculptor Yoshinori Yatake.
I do not usually purchase this kind of figure but the quality of production and character design blew me away.
The figure is distributed through a relatively new company Organic and manufactured by legendary toy maker Kaiyodo.
The release of a new series of Medicom Toys’ Bearbricks is always an exciting if not dangerous time. It is the only time when I go truly overboard and buy a whole box of the things. The reason being that they are blind boxed and a whole box brings the possibility of a lucky find. This time I was not as lucky as the last, but I did manage to get a basic full set.
The range of designs in this series is as intreaging and varied as ever and I particularly like the simplicity of the pure gold “Basic” bear.
I am planning to cut down on my toy consumption in the near future as I really am running out of space, but things like Bearbricks make it hard. At least they are small I suppose…