Monday, February 18, 2008

[Review] Modern Artifacts

Six festivals later, a copper Blobpus forgotten outside in the elements grew up into a weatherbeaten horror- a Last Kaiju.

Kaji-san and company released Blobpus in three metallic elements: Gold (Au), Silver (Ag) and Copper (Cu) at Superfestival 39 in April of 2006. The Argon Blobpus, sadly, turned out to be nothing more than vaporware (Ba-dum-bum. Pssh!) In a technique that was ahead of its time (Secret Base Space Bee?), each Blobpus was given a metallic chrome coating using that secret recipe that involves a four-leaf clover, prayers and electroplating. Unfortunately, due to the malleable nature of soft vinyl and the complex Blobpus sculpt, the metallic coating would be prone to cracking and flaking across the board. As you can see from the photos, this is particularly evident on the skull-blob arm extension.

Nonetheless, the chromed metallic copper texture is still beautiful with its hard, glossy finish. One might almost believe that this Blobpus is made of copper, were it to have a little more heft.

If you're somewhat familiar with ancient Japanese history, you might see some parallels between the design of Blobpus and the Jomon era Dogu statues. Besides the obvious similarity of the main 'eyes' (sewn shut, in Blobpus' case), the array of four 'eyes' on the upper head and mandible area also seem to be reflected, although exaggerated, on the Blobpus sculpt. Recently, Marmit took it upon themselves to reproduce the Jomon Dogu in vinyl form (to be released in March 2008). There's something very 'full-circle' about creating a vinyl reproduction of an ancient ceramic art piece. Depending on your beliefs, Dogu are thought to be representations of ancient extraterrestrial visitors, which gives them a monstrous birthright of their own, I guess.

No, I'm not going off on a tangent; there is a point to this discussion. When it was announced that Marmit would be producing a vinyl Dogu, I thought it would be incredible if Blobpus produced its sculpt in a weathered metallic/ceramic version, as a nod to its artistic roots. To my surprise, Kaji-san then actually DID release a set of a Blobpus Last Kaiju, Dokugan and Docross at Superfestival 45 in January 2008, all of which were done a rich copper base color, with a greenish 'patina' wipe. Beautiful! The only catch? They only released two pieces of each sculpt at the show. Doh!

Dokugan fans everywhere were saddened at the limited nature of this release, but rumor has it that there will be a second run of these later this year. An unsubstantiated rumor, to clarify.

Well, due to the relative unpopularity of the Last Kaiju sculpt, I was (obviously) able to land one on a Yahoo Japan auction. For the curious types, I actually know where the other one ended up as well... Rarity aside, I love this piece for what it represents (in my head, anyway), as both an acknowledgment to the 'roots' of Blobpus, and as a grown-up, weathered version of the Blobpus Cu. The Marmit Dogu should arrive soon, and then I shall be complete.

Although I thought that these six pieces had been cast in a pearl copper vinyl, the base vinyl color is actually pink. This means that these six were likely created from extra blanks from the recent Toxic Pink run of the Last Kaiju, Dokugan and flying Docross. So even if a second run is eventually released, it remains to be seen how they will be produced.

Also packed in with each 'Special Paint' version of the Last Kaiju, Dokugan or flying Docross was a clear 'rame' Berippus Gatchamon. Unlike the last two sets of Gatchamon, each show only heralds the release of a couple sculpts in this glittery vinyl. Which, depending on your viewpoint, is either preferable or infinitely more annoying than selling a limited set of fully-painted Gatchamon, and two sets of variant solid colors at a single show. If the maker is feeling particularly sadistic, however, they can use different color inserts or inner paints to create a large number of 'different' toys for us fools to collect. I speak from experience here, kids.

Blobpus Cupric:

Blobpus The Last Kaiju (special paint version):

This shot (below) from behind the left side of the Last Kaiju's head is one of my favorite views of this piece. The 'patina' wiped into the stitched fold really reminds me of weathered copper plates that were riveted together. Very steampunk, I guess (although I hate the overuse of that term). A suprising effect given the very organic nature of the sculpt, but nicely done.

The tendril in the center of this photo has had a bit of the copper paint rubbed away, revealing the bright pink vinyl underneath.

Blobpus Berippus (Gatchamon, 3rd series)

Full-size versions of all photos can be seen on my flickr set.


idle. said...

Interesting. I love the idea of copper and verdigris but I think that's something better left to customs. It's quite hard to pull it off believably even if just for one single piece. What I don't get is why the verdigris on the Hedora is glossy - that doesn't make much sense.

Och well,... I am just being picky, I guess.

akum6n said...

Ah, I learned a new word today- verdigris. :)

I think someone once compared the effect to the faux antique copper items sold at Pottery Barn.

However, I have also seen a custom/one-off (?) Hedorah displayed at a Japan show with a similar paint job, so I wonder if it was intended to emulate that piece instead.