Friday, June 29, 2007

Eat at Joe's:!

The latest buzz in the world of freaky toy collectors, like myself, seems to be the trend of underground, DIY toymaking. Part creative bootleg, part original concept and typically upwind of awesome, many skullbrainers have turned their talents to sculpting, casting and producing resin toys. Although I am not an expert on the subject (or even adequately informed), my understanding is that resin figure production can be accomplished in a backyard/garage studio, without the facilities, expense and production numbers necessitated by vinyl or ABS figures. The end result is that individuals (or duos), such as Le Merde, audiodifficulties and kaijukaijukaiju of, and Glitchpop can produce toys of their own creations for a fairly reasonable per-item cost.

A few months ago, new skullbrain member glitchpop debuted one such creation, the Gelatinous3, in the Custom Toys forum. Response, as I recall, was lukewarm, ranging from "hey, cool, custom toys" to "what is that?" I'll admit that even I did not take immediate notice of the first shots that glitchpop posted, which appeared to be of translucent or solid cube-like... things. However, as the discussion progressed, the implication of his creation finally hit me- this was not just some nondescript blobby resin figure, the Gelatinous3 is a toy of one of the oldest and most common RPG monsters: the dungeon-slithering slime. For the uninitiated, slimes and other gelatinous monsters are the cornerstone of any good fantasy and/or role-playing game- from the humble Slime of Dragon Warrior (or Dragon Quest if you are in the country of origin) to the Primordial Ooze from the Legends set of Magic the Gathering. As for why this particular slime is known as the Gelatinous3, well, its creator gave me the low-down on its story...

"Everybody knows the Earth is made of gelatin. Beneath the thin surface crust, several kilometers of rock and earth, is the swirling mass of effervescent poly-spectral gelatin. The greatest of oceans. The stuff of life.

Gelatin gives nutrition to the land and sea. It avails itself to all life forms. It is the soup from which all is made and the stuff to which all will someday return.

It is sentient. It knows what it is doing. Gelatin wants to become. The different colors and flavours of gelatin tend towards various transformations. Although, of course, gelatin can become any thing.

But there are stages of transformation.

Millions of pipelines exist. Pumping gelatin to the forests, the oceans, the cities, where gelatin can become what is needed. The pipelines run from the gelatinous core through rock and earth and sea.

Of those millions, a few pipelines lead to the deep places of the Earth. At these places, the gelatin can emerge unadulterated and take its true form.

At the atomic level, the world-gelatin is made up of tiny particles shaped like cubes. When these numerous particles collect, gelatinous3s are formed.

The gelatinous3s must stay buried in the dark subterranean places. For sunlight will change them.

Gelatinous3s have a purpose. Their purpose is to collect. Collect that which is discarded, that which is no longer needed. To collect whatever is in its path.

They roam the deep dark places and absorb. They grow. What they consume once again becomes gelatin and they return it to the great kaleidoscopic ocean where it is absorbed and returned to its primordial gelatinous nature."

Whew! Spoken like a true fan of those time-intensive and detail-oriented RPGs from which its inspiration arose. Whatever you may feel about the sculpt, I think glitchpop has done something great by tapping into the mythos and legend of fantasy worlds and blending it with the homegrown, neo-kaiju style of toy, to arrive at something that has its roots firmly in both realms.

Well, his work finally came to fruition about a week ago, when launched its online webstore. Currently, it only carries a few choice pieces, but as the side blurb promises, more is soon to come, including a secret sculpt! After exchanging a few e-mails with glitchpop, he gave me glimpse of things to come. I must say, I'm quite curious to see how his future projects pan out.

So what is the Gelatinous3? Well, right now, it is available online in two sizes: mini (about 1.5" on a side, with a longer slime trail) and regular (about 2" on a side). Grab the minis while you can- word on the dungeon tunnels is that they are becoming increasingly hard to catch in the wild! Wink. Gelatinous3 come in a variety of colors and materials- including a squishy green one- and several even have some of their recent meals still bobbing around inside. Minis will run you $35 and regulars, $60- but this includes shipping to the U.S., making it quite a fair deal. Keep in mind, each piece is hand-casted by the artist, thus making it completely unique.

I, myself, prefer the mini sculpt- the slime trail and asymmetrical drip on the face give it a lot of character. However, there is something enticing about buying 8 cubic inches of skull-denting clear resin... I currently have the solid white mini with green drippy slime on its way to me, and maybe another surprise. :D

Check out the selection of Gelatinous3s currently available on, and be sure to stop by every so often as new specimens are brought into captivity.

I'll be sure to post pics and a quick review when my jelly buddies arrive!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

May Madness

It's heeeeere.

There are two major clusters of Japanese toy shows throughout the year: Christmas/New Year's and May. Maybe three, if you count the smattering of shows throughout the end of summer and early fall.

We've just come off of the mid-May high of Patchimon Summit, Superfestival 42, WHF Sofubi Masturi and Design Festa 25. Observe the Celga-borne results (mostly). Maybe I should start going out more on the weekends. Might be cheaper.

Expect photos soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

[Review] Twice As N-Ice

EXOHEAD is one of the fringe entrants in the neo-kaiju game, as cliched as that may sound by now. Much like other smaller artists- Cronic, Skull Toys, etc.- EXOHEAD's offerings revolve around a small universe of designs, which are constantly being modified and improved upon in each iteration. Currently, EXOHEAD's line of toys consists primarily of his "Man Machine" concept, which uses a humanoid base figure, with a meticulously sculpted outer armor. I believe this is essentially a homage to Henshin Cyborg toys, although these figures are produced in a much more manageable 6" scale. Although EXOHEAD currently has only two designs in its stable of armors- and both of them incorporating... questionable... design elements, he is always expanding his repertoire, as any good artist should. The Skull Rex figure reviewed herein was a collaborative design effort between the Skull Toys producer and EXOHEAD. Galtan is a completely new figure, just released by EXOHEAD in the past month- sort of an EXO mini, I suppose. Both have been recently issued in killer new colorways, for which the Wanted thread demands have already begun.

EXOHEAD Type-E Bolan is one of a set of the first two Skull Rexes released in November of last year. The first Rex (Type-S Marc) was created in a magnificent Walder color scheme, with a clear purple body and orange inner mechanics. (We'll see more of him soon... ) Type-E Bolan was taken in a completely different- and beautiful- direction, with an inner figure made of milky translucent vinyl with metallic blue spray, and an outer armor in glassy, clear vinyl. I remember when pics of these first surfaced online, and I couldn't decide which of the two to buy. As it went, a set was offered on skullbrain, and I just couldn't help myself. In hindsight, I'm glad I bit, because besides being highly sought after, the OG Skull Rex set is probably my single favorite vinyl purchase. These are toys that will have to be pried out of my filthy, sweaty hands, if I should ever be forced to sell my toy collection. As a note, I will also be clutching my Victory Saber between my thighs at the time. Take them if you dare.

Skull Toys and I have sort of a love-apathy relationship going. I love their collaborative works with such companies as EXOHEAD and Blobpus- Skull Rex and Docross, respectively. On the other hand, I've only picked up one of their regular or mini figures, and I'm actively contemplating its sale or trade. I do have a hard time letting go of my toys, though. I think what really grabs me about Skull Rex is the design of its helmet, which is supposed to be a Tyrannosaurus skull- but even better: its helmet opens up to reveal an inner skull head, accented with clear orange spray. Given that the vinyl is clear, you can see the inner skull when the jaw is closed, which causes it to look like an internal glow or some shiz. All I knows is that it's damn beautiful. Overall the Skull Rex armor is just an inspired, fluid design that combines everything that is good about vinyl kaiju and HC styling into a bad-ass robot with dinosaur armor.

Galtan is a totally different story. When I first heard about this release, I was left with no clear feeling of desire- a little disappointed, in fact, that EXOHEAD wouldn't be focusing on his Man Machine lineup. Galtan is based on Patchi Kaiju card artwork, and is essentially Baltan's body slapped together with a skull head and some other design elements that I do not immediately recognize. So it's a wonky little figure with a skull head and crabby claws. I figured I could learn to love it- and hell, it's EXOHEAD, and he don't make bad toys. So when a preorder was put out for the OG Galtan, I snapped it up. Ok, cool.

So when Galtan arrived, there was already a good bit of hype on it already, because the San Fran crew had already bought theirs and were in the process of showing it off on the boards. Damn townies. I, however, had to wait the week that it takes to get to our little constellation of rocks in the Pacific Ocean. Galtan gets here, and it's a nice little toy. The sculpt, as with anything EXO is top-notch, and the vinyl smells great (like Gargamel, EXO vinyl has that smell that I like to keep in little boxes for rainy days). The vinyl is also not totally clear- sort of a snowy, icy look to it.

But then I stuck it under my mega photo lights, and charged up the glow and let 'er go. Hoooooly shit. I don't know how much time I spent photographing it that night, but I just couldn't get enough. The color of the glow is an eerie electric blue, that reminds me of those fish that live deep, deep in the ocean, and use bioluminescence to attract prey. Yeah, I was into deep sea fish as a kid. The name of the colorway is X-RAY GID, which I suppose refers to the fact that the clear vinyl combined with GID, causes it to look like an x-ray image. Either way, just check out these pics:

Oh, and none of the photographs used blacklight or sunlight to achieve the level of glow. It was straight-up incandescent.

This last one was taken on a white background, which had the effect of enhancing the glow illumination.

So what's up next for EXOHEAD? Well, Skull Rex was just released in a Type-S2 version, with GID outer armor and tinsel stuffed into the inner figure. Galtan came out today as a limited full-color version, and another version will be released on June 6th by S7 as a special "RFSO" GID colorway. I'm thrilled that the man responsible for EXOHEAD is getting some time in the sun, which is completely deserved given the quality of his toys and innovative concepts (clear GID??? Come onnnnn!). The only downside is that there are the inevitable bandwagoneers who raise the level of competition for releases that are already very limited. It's ok though, I like the hunt.