General Blackblood head by System

Frustrated by the price of the 3A toys’ 1/6th replica of the ABC Warriors’ Mongrel last year (see above left) Jason McFee aka System decided to build his own set of robots, well, starting with the heads at least. His first choice was General Blackblood, notorious traitor turned good guy (later to turn traitor again – keep up) in the on-going saga of the meknificant seven in 2000ad. Still with me? Well if you aren’t it’s far too complicated to explain but I’ll let some of the images from Jason’s site do the talking. Very impressive version of a difficult design – looking forward to the other six.

Posted in Comics, Robots. | 5 Comments |

I Am Legion custom toy show, SF, Nov 4th-Dec 4th

Regular blog readers will have noticed a love for Ashley Wood‘s 3A toy company and its works and his legion of fans are putting on a custom show in the 1:AM gallery in San Francisco in two weeks time. A blank severed Bot head was given to each participant, to customise as they wish but it seems a few have gone outside the brief too with amazing results. Over at the 3A forum there has been a slow reveal of some of the custom creations set to appear and the overall quality and ingenuity of some of the pieces is staggering. Wish I could see some of these in the, er… plastic. More to come once the show opens hopefully.

Posted in Art, Robots, Toys. | 5 Comments |

Transformers 3

I don’t know where to start, I really don’t. I don’t usually do film reviews and was never particularly into Transformers as a kid so there’s no ‘Michael Bay raped my childhood’ angle here but I thought I’d try and put something down about the film I’ve just seen.

Early reviews suggested that it was ‘epic’, ‘long’, ‘laughably acted’ and ‘better than the second one’. It’s all that but it’s only just better than the second one, that not being difficult because that episode was the most confused, disjointed, stupid, insult to the intelligence since Charlies Angels 2. To start with some positives: it has possibly the best cgi work I’ve ever seen, just amazing stuff, tens of robots and ships in some scenes, all believable, fitting right into the enviroment. The sound design is amazing too, really noticeable as it was in 7.1 where I saw it. The robot design is still as intricate and fussy as you like but they’ve discovered weathering finally, especially on a battle damaged Megatron, who is back with half his head missing after the battle in TF2.

Right, that’s got the plus’s out of the way, on to the negatives. Where to begin? Acting: bad all round but everyone looks like an ageing thespian next to the wooden-ness that is Rosie whatshername, the underwear model who looks like a Barbie and somehow got a leading role in the summer blockbuster without an ounce of charisma. I was wondering why she didn’t speak in any of the trailers and now we know why, every time she opens her mouth it’s like we’re transported from a blockbuster Hollywood film to a school play. It doesn’t help that she has some of the lamest dialogue as well as one line that should go down in history as one of the worst ever in film.

Plot: why does everything have to be so complicated? Why does Sam always somehow get involved in these situations through seemingly random occurrences? Lightning might strike once, maybe twice, but three times? So many scenes and characters could have been edited out of this film and none would have been missed, the story would have gone on it’s merry way. Sam doesn’t need to be in it, Barbie doesn’t, she just provides a reason for him to do stuff amongst the robots, we certainly don’t need his parents or another autobot comedy duo either. We don’t really need the army troops on the ground, as they generally run about completely ineffectually or scout things out until Optimus arrives. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, no one goes to see Transformers for the humans, they go for the robots, they’re the stars. The sooner someone realises this and takes people out of the equation the better, the cgi robots can out-act half the cast anyway. But Optimus, ah Optimus, the most righteous, downright dull robot ever, there he goes again with one of his speeches about ‘freedom’ – yawn. At one point a soldier comments. “Why do the Decepticons get all the good shit?”, when some fighter or rocket ship bursts overhead, and you do find yourself rooting for them over the good guys as they at least have some personality.

Where was I? The plot: space race, autobot moon crash, dark secret, space gate, cannisters, Sentinel Prime, military hiding stuff, Optimus pissed off, Sam needs a job, parents visit, girlfriend’s boss has the hots for her, John Malcovich, strange japanese guy knows about Sam, Japanese guy gets killed by a Decepticon, Chernoybl, earthworm Decepticon, CIA, Africa, Sam and hotty have a bust up, cue comedy ex CIA guy and his butler to get involved, chase on a freeway, army, hotty gets kidnapped by her boss who’s in with the bad guys, space gate opens, Decepticons invade, fighting, shouting, comedy autobots, Sam and parents have a chat, ex CIA agent goes to Russian bar, Sam HAS to go into an alien invasion war zone to find his girlfriend and the army help him because ‘they killed one of my buddies’, soldiers jump out of a plane, soldiers run up a building that’s falling down, building falls down, they have to get to a bridge, find camera in the rubble, Barbie and Sam have a hot link to the CIA and tell them what’s happening, soldiers run up another building so they can parachute out again, Optimus battles then gets caught up in some rope, cannisters bring Cybertron to earth, more shouting, Barbie has a chat with Megatron, Sam fights Starscream but can barely kick Barbie’s boss’ arse, Optimus gets free and has a big battle, Sam and Barbie love each other in the middle of a warzone and have a little joke.

But getting back to the plot – there really isn’t one, everything is so rapidfire that you barely have time to register a flippant remark about ‘we’ve got three marks on the screen, closing fast’ before you’re plunged into some fight or chase scene with a random bot who you can’t recognise unless he’s Bumblebee (Yellow and Black) or Optimus (Red and Blue). Every scene seems to be either an action sequence or a lame attempt at comedy with the occasional line of dialogue threading it all together. At one stage there’s a scene of Optimus and Sentinel Prime talking in what looks like the outback of Africa, then we’re back to Chicago. Bay rams the pedal down and cranks the volume up to 11 from the off and it’s all you can do to keep up. There is no dynamic at all, no soft and slow to balance the fast and loud, just a massive race from one set piece to the next with zero tension. The film is the equivalent of an audio track that’s been compressed and brickwall-limited into an oblong waveform.

I found it so hard to enjoy the good stuff simply because I was reeling from either a jump cut from elsewhere or some useless scene that need never have been in the film in the first place. Watching it is like being repeatedly punched, spun round, amazed and assaulted whilst having lame jokes thrust upon you for 2/3 hours. The 3D is nothing to write home about, in fact the film has some of the worst ghosting in parts that I’ve ever seen, really shoddy compositing. So much is happening in each scene, as well as rapid edits, you never get a chance to focus on the 3D much. Another thing was the beginning, where they included original 60’s news footage to show Kennedy implementing the space race. Intercut with restaged, retro-styled footage, both artificially grained and clean, the artificial grain looked cheap and nasty and didn’t match the original footage at all, more like a cheap Final Cut Pro filter, the whole thing just didn’t work.

All in all a massive let down but marginally better than the second, which isn’t saying much. Here’s a short film on the sound design of it all to end on a positive.

Posted in Film, Robots. | 4 Comments |

Transformers 3 posters

Going to see Transformers 3 at the Imax on Friday (after TF2 I’m not expecting much but, giant robots in 3D can’t be ignored). Here are two variants on a poster that will be given away at the Arclight cinema, Hollywood for the midnight screening tonight. The artist is Jesse Philips and the gold variant will be available to buy sometime Wednesday online.

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 |

Ashley Wood vs Gundam

A match made in heaven, not sure exactly what he’s doing with them yet but an official announcement was made last week that Ashley Wood has partnered with Bandai, the makers of Gundam figures, to do something. Here’s a first look at a painting he did earlier this week – beautiful


Posted in Art, Robots. | No Comments |