Popbot 3-pack by Ashley Wood and 3A

Ascended headLook what Santa had in his sack for me this year. The Popbot 3-Pack (Popbot, Badbot and The Ascended plus a Kitty each in different colourways). Popbot is an on-going comic by Ashley Wood and his company 3A make toys from this world and others…

Long sold out from pre-order night and waiting in customs for a month while Parcel Force got their act together, they arrived on Dec 23rd so I decided to save them a couple more days before the big opening.

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Posted in Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 2 Comments |

Hong Kong Clockenflap festival last weekend

Many thanks to all the people I met last weekend in Hong Kong for the Clockenflap festival (Craig, Jay, Mike, Kumiko, Clive, Justin, Andy, Phil etc…). Hong Kong is a long way to go for a 1 hour set and, luckily, they let me play longer. I was playing after some local bands and the also the Charlatans, who had flown in from Singapore I think, as part of their tour and the space was the 15th floor of a large warehouse-type building on one side of the island. (Picure of me playing above by Chris Lusher)

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I’ve only been to Hong Kong once before, 15 years previously, and other parts of China only one other time so it’s still new to me. The food is great, the architecture too and it has obvious elements of Eastern charm in the same way that Japan does but on a much more subdued level. I had some time off before the gig so I took the ferry from the Central part I was staying in over to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) which seems to be much more flavoured towards your traditional tourist than the part I was in. As soon as you dock you seem to be bombarded with people trying to sell you Rolex watches, suits or weed on the streets next to massive department stores for all the top fashion houses. In the streets behind these though you’ll find smaller stores selling all sorts of knock offs and little indoor markets crammed with bootleg goods.

I wish I had more time there but it’s never the case these days, on the way back to the hotel I passed a tiny store crammed with robot toys, a street away from my hotel. If you’d have run across the equivalent in the US it would have been called a ‘mom & pop’ store. The couple inside were idly watching some sort of game show on a big TV on the wall while I persused the wall of Gundam, Ultraman, Macross and more figures and kits, some of which looked like they had been there for decades and had a layer of dust to match. I ended up buying this lovely kit which looks straight out of the 70’s, box dents and all, as well as a few bits for my boys, all for less than £10.

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Posted in DJ Food, Event, Gigs, Robots, Toys. | No Comments |

Ninja Tune XX – Japan

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Japan, in contrast to the States the week before, was a fairly easy affair with not half as much packed in and just two dates in four days. This time the line up was myself and DK, Toddla T, Kid Koala, DJ Kentaro, Eskmo, Coldcut, Roots Manuva & Ricky Rankin and The Qemists – the full live band consisting of eight people. Also along for the ride were various other Ninjas including Mox and Pete Quicke on their chosen work jollies.

Japan still fascinates me as it is such a highly visual city, even in the everyday walking down the street, you can spot beautiful signs, logos or adverts as well as stickers and the odd but of ‘street art’. We had the first day off so I spent time in Shibuya, seeking out those strange little shops on the eleventh floor of some tower block that are filled with European library records at outrageous prices. It never ceases to amaze me, the obscurities from all over the world that turn up in Japanese shops, it just doesn’t happen in the same way anywhere else in the world.

It’s not all record shops though, I bumped into Jon More and then DK in the kitchen dept. of Tokyu Hands (a kind of condensed version of the larger Mark & Spencers stores), buying presents for the family. Japan wouldn’t be what it is without Manga, anime and toy robots so, after my customary visit to Mandarake, an underground shrine to all the above, I ventured out of my comfort zone in Shibuya to the Akihabara district via the train system. This is known as the Otaku area, ie: a place for nerds and collectors of anime, manga and video games to gather and shop. First stop was a look at the Gundam Café – basically a coffee shop with an interesting design concept and a place to buy waffles that look like robots. Second there was a 7 storey version of Mandarake selling everything from vintage toys to dodgy cosplay, manga porn and enough comics and DVDs to make your head spin. The rest of the time was spent just looking, looking, looking, although I could have spent a fortune on various things.

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Back in Shibuya, the gig was at Shibuya-O-East, a big, two room venue with a great sound system and a ton of sushi back stage :). DK and I were on second, after Eskmo but then had later sets in the smaller second room until the end of the night. This second room contained a large Ninja logo head with ‘X’s for eyes with coloured lasers shot through it and was a great way to stretch out without the need to incorporate video. DJ Kentaro and Beatink (our press and distributor in Japan) had made a special cake which was presented to Coldcut onstage and I arrived backstage after my second set to find it still uncut with the note “Please wait Kev! Don’t cut this cake” – they know me too well, I duly snapped a few pictures and then we all scoffed it. A 5am finish saw us trooping out into the early morning light and piling the gear into a van which would leave immediately for Osaka and the gig later that night, the Ninja head propped up against a back wall. Thankfully, we got to use the hotel and rose at a more suitable time to catch the bullet train en-mass, hungrily consuming bento boxes for breakfast.

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Osaka is a little more laid back than Tokyo it seems and we all had a little time to wander about after sound check, which I made use of, almost getting completely lost in the process. The club was a long, thin venue with a balcony and a VIP room above that looked down on the dance floor. Eskmo was on first again, this time with randomly screaming girl at the front, check the video below right, she was like this throughout his set, I don’t know how he managed to sing through it! We were up next but, because of the constraints of the stage size, had to play from the very back which made it hard to connect with the audience in any way, I think we did OK though. Unfortunately we had a 6am lobby call the next morning for flights back to Tokyo which then connected to London, a 20 hour journey home and I chose take the easy route and get some sleep rather than party as the jet lag was now out of control.

Posters in Osaka

More 3A goodness

entreatThis dropped through the post last week, well, it actually arrived by courier, soaking wet, looking like it had been sitting in a puddle for some time, the cardboard around it literally falling off when I unwrapped it. Good job they wrapped it in bubble wrap, and it’s a heavy bugger too at 12″x12″ size. This is Entr3At – a visual celebration of the first 2 years of Ashley Wood and Kim Fung Wong’s 3A toy making company, makers of the best robot toys in the world by a long chalk. This is my kind of book, studio shots of the badly weathered toys, production designs, work in progress, box layouts and logo art for the individual figures. To think that they made all this in just 2 years is incredible and there’s already much more in the pipeline for a follow up later.

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Their latest release is a ‘Heavy’ version of the popular Bramble bot, this time with huge bazooka and tougher build, coming in 4 different colourways. My good friend JP McCarthy managed to score me a Grave Digger variant this week and they sold out on pre-order in hours. Not cheap at $280 a pop but that includes shipping to anywhere in the world (and these bots aren’t small), some of the nicest packaging you’ll ever see and the most detailed paint jobs this side of a film set. These will doubtless not even turn up until around xmas time, if that, as they take a long time to make but a 3A package at the door is always a treat.

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Posted in Art, Books, Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

Remember The Future? mix

REMEMBER THE FUTURE3 years back I recorded a robot-themed mix for Solid Steel to coincide with the imminent release of the first Transformers film. I’d been meaning to do this for some time but this gave me the impetus and I crafted a little Transformers intro from various samples or tracks that sampled the robots in disguise. After that it’s mainly material from the 60’s and 70’s with that novelty look at robotics pre-Star Wars, what some would call ‘the golden age’.

I love this stuff, real oddity bin stuff, plenty of madcap psyche, dance craze records, vocoders and even a country ode to an electronic brain. A friend recently asked me to dig it out so here it is again.

Remember The Future by DJ Food

3A books launch today

headerbeiOne of my favourite artists and certainly my favourite toy-making company – Ashley Wood and 3A – launch their new book range today on the eve of a massive art and toy show in Beijing. Two hardback books with work from Phil Hale and Ashley Wood are available for $25 each but the one I’m most excited about is ‘Entr3At’, a 282 page celebration of the first 2 years of 3A toys. Packed with paintings, photos, works in progress, designs and box art, it’s going to be one of my books of the year for sure. Order any or all of them from bambalandstore now.entreat-cover

Posted in Art, Books, Comics, Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

7 Up

This arrived this morning, most won’t know or care what it is but for those who do and are expecting a similar package it’s the end of months of waiting and speculation.

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Another Ashley Wood/3A toy production, pre-sold with a few prototype shots last Autumn to a rabid fanbase – seven 1/12 scale Bertie droids and their Square companions – all in packaging that won’t have you throwing the box away and not half the price you’d think.

Proper pics of the actual bots soon…

Posted in Design, Robots, Toys. | 1 Comment |

Kraftwerk Kover Kollection vol.6

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Another Kraftwerk post (I’ll have to give them their own category) and time for the sixth installment of my Kraftwerk Kover Kollection to coincide with the final release of the remastered Catalogue boxset on Monday.
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It’s up for a week, streaming via the Solid Steel site and I’ll be making it available via Soundcloud when the next show replaces it.

For those unfamiliar, I do these hour long mixes every year or so featuring cover versions, sample-heavy tracks or songs that obviously owe a debt to the Dusseldorf quartet. I had the idea to string these sources together several years ago and the more I dug, the more I found, the amount of material out there is mind boggling. Not so strange for such an influential band who rarely release new material, I suppose fans have to fill the gap somehow. For anyone wanting to play catch-up, the first 4 are available here with full artwork and tracklistings and I’ll be putting 5 up with 6 next week too.

At a festival in Warsaw the other week, DK and I had the pleasure of seeing ex-Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos play. I was surprised at how much of the set was old material mixed with his solo stuff. His stage show pales compared to his former bands’ but he had full visuals and 5.1 sound all mixed live and hearing a new take on classic tracks was well worth the time we took to check him out.

World’s Best Robots

Ashley Wood is one of my favourite artists, he is ridiculously prolific, can draw and paint like a demon and designs very unique robots. They manage to look both futuristic and retro and they’re always battered, scratched, rusty and dirty. Not only does he draw and paint them but his company 3A makes them a reality in various different scales (1/6, 1/12 and a forthcoming 1/32 scale series’).

His Bramble bot in 1/12 finally arrived the other week, well actually three did – Merc, Medic and Deep Powder variants, all perfect miniatures of the existing 1/6 scale Bramble. The detail is unbelievable and each is articulated in a multitude of places. I’ve ordered a set of Berties in 1/12 too which should be ready for xmas. All these sets sell really fast and are then made to order although some are starting to make their way into retail chains as well as being flipped on eBay.

No one makes better robots, 3A are slowly revolutionising the way toys are made, designed, packaged and painted.

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Posted in Comics, Robots, Toys. | 4 Comments |