May the 4th Be With You

I’ve been waiting all year to post this… The original Star Wars trilogy, in Lego, in two minutes, told in shorthand, by a child. Lots more Lego Star Wars films on the official site.

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Posted in Film, Toys. | No Comments |

3A Japanese Defence Armstrong on sale now

With every penny of the proceeds going towards relief in Japan, this exclusive Japanese Defence Emergency Armstrong figure is on sale now for a limited time only. Sorry, it seems no sooner had I posted this, 15 minutes after the sale started, than they had sold out, raising 30,000 USD for relief aid in Japan. Ashley Wood‘s new book ‘Fuck It’ #3 is also just up for sale at the link above though.

Posted in Robots, Toys. | 3 Comments |

V23 Calendars from years passed

Around this time of year some of us are thinking about getting new calendars to plan our way through the next 12 months. I’ve just sold several OLD calendars, very beautiful ones designed by Vaughn Oliver at V23. Below are some examples of various months I’ve picked out. The V23 calendars were always very obscure, you couldn’t write on them and you could hardly tell which day or month it was on some, but that wasn’t the point.

V23 July 93 1V23 July 93 2V23 May 96

V23 Mar 96V23 Feb 96V23 mar 93Summer 88

V23 posters 1&2V23 Feb 90 web

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.

Pop sidePop topBad fullAscendedAscended legs & kittyBad legs

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

4 signs6504 x logos6505 x stickers650Mazinger composite650

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.

Anime centreGundam cafe details 2650The eyes have it650Gundam cafe details650

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.

XX cakeNinja head

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

Tokyo today

Ninja advert 650I’m in Tokyo, Japan, it’s just gone 10am Friday Nov 5th (remember, remember). Got here yesterday and it’s amazing as ever, big Ninja XX gigs today and then off to Osaka tomorrow. Walking through Shibuya last night we looked up and saw an advert for the gigs playing out on a huge screen. I also visited my favourite Manga and toy haunt, Mandarake, to buy presents for the boys. Have a great Guy Fawkes night in the UK, heading out for breakfast…

Mazinger 2 650Mazinger1 650

(if my wife is reading this, no, I didn’t buy them anything from this case you’ll be glad to hear)

Posted in Gigs, Ninja Tune, Toys. | No Comments |

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.

Ent 1Ent 2Ent 4Ent 3Ent 5

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.

Grave Heavy 2Grave 1

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

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 |

Rave Wars 7″ with free figure

AT-AT DriverTie Fighter PilotDarth

A mysterious package turned up yesterday, inside were three 7″‘s titled Rave Wars, each complete with an original Star Wars figure attached to the front in the style of the old Palitoy figures of yesteryear. Whoever sent them must have figured me for a follower of the dark side as I got Darth vader, a Tie Fighter pilot and an AT-AT driver. The back cover shows a gallery of characters from the first trilogy (collect all 77 – ah the memories). The labels are blank save for a rebel and imperial logo and the legends “If only you knew the power of the dark side” and “The Force is strong with the one” (sic). The music is a ravetastic barrage of amen breaks, electronics and samples from the first (only) three films. Any more I cannot tell you…

Back coverRun Out Groove
Hear and buy here but be quick there are only 200

Posted in Music, Oddities, Toys. | 10 Comments |