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Punch Pants

A Ghostbot blog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

SDCC 2005: Part the Second The designer toy market has exploded in the past couple of years and stole my wallet. At the con, the aisles showcasing the latest and greatest in vinyl toys have grown as well. Some of the best toy designers are working in animation and comics (and vice versa), proving that a good design is a good design no matter what the medium.

There were some really cool showcases from the likes of Strangeco, Critterbox, Kidrobot, Toy Tokyo, Wheaty Wheat, Uglydolls, and Monsterisms, to name a few. I have to say that some of my favorite overall picks from the con ironically were toys. Check these out and see what I mean:

Jeff Soto's "Walker" produced by the fine folks at Critterbox is a stunner. The sheer size and love put into this baby is incredible. Soto's paintings are a visual cornucopia, so whoever had the idea of translating his creation into a toy is either crazy, or a genius. Critterbox (lead by the fearless Conor Libby) always seems to put out quality products (see their Dave Cooper toys), staying faithful to the artist's vision from sculpt to paint - and this one is no exception. The little dude inside the cockpit and the attention to detail (the paint roller!) just kill me. I don't know how much this toy is going to sell for but whatever the amount, it will be worth it.

A cool series coming out from Wheaty Wheat Studios, is Christopher Lee's The Urbanites. I got a chance to talk with Chris for awhile and he's one of those young-and-too-talented guys that make you feel really old-and-not-that-talented. He was the nicest, most unassuming guy and it seems like he has a great future ahead of him in toys, art shows, and animation. Chris is going to explode onto the scene once he graduates... That's right...HE HASN'T GRADUATED YET. I don't know about you, but the Golden Gate is looking mighty nice just about now.

You can see a good interview with Chris HERE at Vinyl Pulse.

Finally, much like comics, there's that one sleeper hit that gets everyone's drool flowing. Out of left field this year landed the Neth Creatures. Husband and wife team of Jay and Anna took toy design to a high level of sophistication. They both come from a design background (retail, fashion) and you can see their taste come through in not only their final toys, but in the packaging, poster prints, and display booth. I was especially impressed by their sense of pattern and color - something that is oftentimes unaddressed in designer toys in favor of kooky characters and "underground" paint customs. Everything just looked so darn classy (imagine if Martha Stewart and Banana Republic joined forces to make toys)! For a steal at $10, the Neth Creatures are the only toys that can fit in right next to your Pottery Barn picture frames. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!

(I'm not taking credit for any of these photos. If they're yours, please let me know so I can give you credit.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

SDCC 2005: Part the First

One month and three days after San Diego Con, I finally get the time to post about it (hey, at least it's not 2006). I'm sure by now everyone has heard about the visual overload, the superstar sightings, the 5000 Stormtroopers walking around, and the "teaser" 18-wheeler Optimus Prime. I'll just summarize my own experience by saying it was overwhelmingly awesome. I'm in for next year, but boy am I glad it happens just once.

Since the con is so all-encompassing of the entertainment industry, there were some great finds in all media. Here are some of my personal faves in comics:
  • Pixar books (Colossus, Little India, Rose and Isabel, Dumping Grounds vol.1, Rocket Rabbit) - like I posted earlier here, the Pixar gang came out swinging with an awesome selection of books. They delivered the goods in a big way and to top it all off, each artist was extremely friendly and chatty in person. You just got the feeling that they were genuinely thankful that people were buying their stuff, when in reality you needed buckets to sop up the drool trail leading up to their booths.
  • Draw! Magazine #11 - a little self-indulgent to mention since it had my interview in it, but it was especially awesome to meet up with Mike Manley again and observe all the hordes of "babymen". The magazine arrived hot off the presses and Mike literally opened the box in front of me and handed me a stack. He did such a terrific job with the whole issue and I can't thank him enough for the experience. Also, he gave me a copy of his newest sketchbook, aptly titled The 2005 Mike Manley Sketch Book which has a killer collection of his latest sketches. That Manley can draw! (no pun intended)
  • Artist Sketchbooks - cons are usually the only place you can find sketchbooks and it seems like everyone sells one these days. But for me, it's a neat way to discover new talent as well as admire the thought process of my faves. Some of the gems I found this year were from Israel Sanchez (The Art of IO vol.2), Derrick Wyatt (Teen Titans), Jim Smith (Ren & Stimpy, Ripping Friends, The Xs), Sho Murase (Nancy Drew: Girl Detective) and the Mucha Lucha! Sketchbook (thanks Eddie and Lili!).
  • Rocketo - seems like every year there is buzz about one book and it usually comes from a creator that blindsides everyone. For me, Rocketo by the incredible Frank Espinosa was that "it" book this year. After reading about his debut on the Cartoon Retro Forum, this was on my list of must-haves for the con. It easily became my favorite find. I was siked that I got to meet Frank in person and have the opportunity to look at his original pages and sketches (I've got to buy one of his original paintings next time). He's a humble and enthusiastic guy and has talent pouring out of his ears. Beautiful designs, fluid linework, and European flair coupled with an immersive story (hence the blindsiding). Highly recommended. I told everyone I talked to after that point to go buy his book. You can read recent interviews with Frank here (with a mention of Ghostbot!) and here.
More later on my toy picks and other fun stuff...

Monday, August 15, 2005


Russell, from the oversized Gorillaz vinyl toy set by Jamie Hewlett and KidRobot. The attention to detail that was put into translating Jamie's killer designs into toy form is outstanding. The sheer size of this guy will punch you in the face when you see it in person. Holy smack.

I was lucky enough to pick him up in the KidRobot shop on Haight St. in San Francisco… currently this super limited version is sold out online. If you move quick, you can still nab the alternate “red edition.”

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Buddhist Monkey fan art

Here's a warm and cuddly image I did of Buddhist Monkey for a fan of the show. It's for a Q and A column on the Happy Tree Friends site.
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