Tag Archives: Art

31 Days of Monsters, Day 7: The Scared Crow Spector…

Being as un-prepared for the countdown as I was this year, there are a few of these monster cels that I haven’t been able to pin down and do the proper research on their background.  Today’s little spook is one of these, so for sake of argument I’ll just call him the “scared” crow spector!

Though I’m sure this little spook comes from the Real Ghostbusters series, I’m not sure which episode or the context.  When I picked this one up I was drawn to the interesting design.  It really speaks to the fall, scarecrows, and weird tentacle-d creatures which I tend to flip over.  Hopefully by the time the countdown is over I’ll have figured out how this guy is…

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 6: Sir Trance-A-Lot has already got a Holy Grail. It’s Ver-ary Nice!

Playing a little bit of catch up today (didn’t get this guy posted at midnight like I wanted), but better later in the day than missing it completely I guess.  For today’s monster animation cel I have a really cool frame featuring one of Prime Evil’s main henchmen, Sir Trance-A-Lot!

I absolutely love the character design on STaL, what with his imposing skull face (mirrored on his steed Frightmare) and even his Dali-esque moustache and French-ish accent (provided by the much underappreciated Lou Scheimer.)  I love that as a ghost he’s also sort of like the Sandman from the Real Ghostbusters as his main power is to put people to sleep using his Trance Lance (which has a sawed-off tip and spews a sleep-inducing gas.)

This cel also came affixed to a production photocopy of a background, this one featuring a pretty gnarly-looking castle!

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 5: Poso in honor of Puzo!

Hey boils and ghouls, it’s Friday, Day 5 of the 31 Days of Monsters Countdown here at Branded and I’m slipping back into The Real Ghostbusters territory.  As a continuation of last Wednesday’s post, here’s Poso in all his pink Jabba the Hutt-like glory!

I read a bit of trivia on this character that says his name is an homage to Mario Puzo, the author of the Godfather novel (seeing as how Poso is desperately trying to become the spirit world’s own Godfather.)  We also get another glimpse of Peter Venkman covered in the yellow Psychomagnotheric Slime (originally featured in the live action Ghostbusters sequel) in this cel.  Unlike most of the Real Ghostbusters cels I’ve acquired, this one came attached (with double-sided tape) to a vintage production photocopy of a background, which leads me to believe that they may have used this cel in a reshoot or correction of some sort.  Here’s what it looks like with the background intact (if you look close you can see the darker patches with the double-sided tape near the top of the scan…)

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 4: Jake Kong can run rings around this Colossus!

We’re jumping back over to the Filmation Ghostbusters cartoon for today’s 31 Days of Monsters post.  This cel features Jake Kong Jr. facing off against a giant colossus, and it comes from the episode #13 (production # 68008) titled “A Friend in Need” from 1986.  In the episode, Prime Evil’s boss, Big Evil, decides to take over the organizational duties at Hauntquarters and it’s up to Jake, Eddie and Tracy to team up with Prime Evil to take Big Evil down!

 

This cel is from a segment where Big Evil animates two huge statues laying around Hauntquaters, and sends them after the heroes.  This giant metal colossus is pretty neat and reminds me a bit of the character design of Calibos from the original Clash of the Titans (p.s. world, I hate having to type “original” Clash of the Titans.)  Like most of the Filmation Ghostbusters cels I was able to acquire, this one was accompanied by a vintage production photocopy of the background…

…though in this case the background isn’t accurate (though it was taped to the cels to keep them in place on it which is weird.)  Checking in this episode I can see that the BG is a bit different (though both feature the Hauntquarters setting.)

Either way, I’m glad to have it and honestly, it’s pretty darn awesome even all by its lonesome!

I love the quality in the Filmation backgrounds, it was always an area where they never skimped…

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 3: Venkman gets suited up in Psychomagnotheric Slime and is chaperoned by Shifter!

Well, it’s Day 3, and I’m bouncing back to a couple of animation cels from The Real Ghostbusters featuring Peter Venkman, Luis Tully, and more importantly (to this countdown) Shifter, the greasy ex-stooge of gangster Boss Poso (who will be making an appearance shortly) from the episode Partners in Slime (which originally aired in season 5, 1989.)

This episode is fun because it’s one of the few in the series that calls back to events from the live action movies, in particular the Psychomagnotheric “mood” Slime from Ghostbusters II.  In an effort to become the kingpin of the spectral underworld, Poso kidnaps both Janine and Luis and the only way to get them back is for Shifter to smuggle Peter into Ghost Town (in New Jersey of all places.)  In order for the rouse to work, Peter has to be covered head to toe in the mood slime recovered after the battle with Vigo in GBII so that he can look ghostly and have limited spectral powers (like flight.)  For some reason the slime is yellow in the cartoon instead of the soft bubblegum pink of the film.

I guess in a way, since the slime is almost sentient, today features two ghosts.  I wanted to include this second cel from my collection so illustrate what Peter looks like fully covered in the episode.  Also, you’ll notice a sneak peak at Friday’s Ghost, as we can see a rather large pink tail that belongs to a certain mobster spook…

Also, a quick note about the original pencil drawing that accompanied this second cel.  As someone who loves cartoons, both the final episodes and all the behind the scenes work that goes into creating them, I can’t help but get a little bummed at how these elements were treated after the shows were finished being produced.  Unfortunately, at the time (in the 80s) there wasn’t a huge demand for these cels and pieces of production artwork so it was common to just stack hundreds of them in boxes (cels interspersed with their corresponding production drawing or photocopy of the background artwork) and have them shipped off to an un-climate-controlled storage unit, left to rot for years.  Luckily a lot of the cels and drawings survived, but many became fused together as the paint on the cels melted and re-dried to the drawings underneath.  The below damage isn’t all that severe, but I do have some where the production drawing had to be destroyed in order to get a good scan of the cel.  It always kills me when this happens.  Anyway, off the soapbox I hop…

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 2: Ghost Buggy is Raring to Go!

Alright, it’s day 2 of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween Countdown, and since I started out with a cel from the Real Ghostbusters yesterday it’s time to switch things up and visit one from Filmation’s Ghostbusters!  I like to start these cel countdowns with stuff that’s either not-so-scary, or with characters that might otherwise be considered one of the good guys.  So, sort of like the Slimer cel, I was thinking of a character that would be sort of similar in the Filmation universe and the one that immediately sprung to mind was Ghost Buggy!

Certainly a “must” for any Ghostbusters outfit worth its salt is a sweet, yet temperamental ride, and Ghost Buggy fits that bit to a T (a haunted Model T that is.)  This southern jalopy is not only sentient, but he can also transform into all sorts of vehicles from a car to a plane, a train, and can even travel through time!  DeLorean, eat your heart out.

One of the aspects that I love about Ghost Buggy is that his face doubles at the logo for the team.  Whereas the Real Ghostbusters cartoon writers and series developers did their best to work in the “No Ghosts” logo specter into the opening credits and interstitials, Ghost Buggy is actually a part of the team in the Filmation series.  In a way GB is almost the ultimate 80s cartoon logo/faction symbol in this manner (think the Autobot, Decepticon, Cobra, and Thundercats logos.)

Anyway, I was lucky enough to score a copy of this cel with one of the vintage Filmation background photocopies, so for once we can put this cel in context of a scene.  Though I’ve yet to get my hands on some of the original Filmation background paintings, these photocopies really go a long way to making me feel like I have a small piece of this cartoon in my collection.

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

31 Days of Monsters, Day 1: Slimer’s coming to get you!

Welcome back to another Branded in the 80s Countdown to Halloween!  This year marks my 7th year celebrating the season here on the site and I’m really excited to be able to resurrect the 31 Days of 80s Monster animation cels.  Back in 2009, and again in 2010 I had the opportunity to share a total of 62 Real Ghostbusters monster, ghost and creature animation cels from my personal collection.  This year I was able to dig up 31 new pieces, though I’ve decided to shake things up a bit and alternate between both the Real Ghostbusters and Filmation Ghostbusters cartoons.  Though TRG is arguably the more popular franchise, oddly enough Filmation GB animation cels are much harder to come by.  It’s taken me years to be able to find some, though only enough cels so that I could share them during half of my Halloween-y countdown.  So I thought it would be fun to bounce back and forth.

To get this started though, lets go back to the 31 Days of Monsters roots with this awesome cel featuring everyone’s favorite focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm, or a Class 5 full roaming vapor (who can eat a vending cart full of hotdogs like no one else), Slimer!

I absolutely fell in love with this cel when I stumbled across it.  Not only is Slimer wearing a great Hawaiian shirt, but that demonic expression is great.  I actually ended up donating this exact cel to the recent Strange Kids Club Issue 3 kickstarter to help raise the funds needs to get that comix anthology printed.  So this guy hopefully has found a new loving home where it will be displayed proudly in a “Strange” collection.  Be sure to keep tabs on the Strange Kids Club to get the details on when Issue three will be available for public purchase, as it’s going to be an issue full of fun comics and articles that you won’t want to miss.

As a bonus, here’s a scan of the accompanying pencil sketch that the base animation cel was produced from…

So come back each day this month for a new monster animation cel, and also, for more Halloween-y fun all month long, be sure to check out the Countdown to Halloween website for the complete list of sites participating in this year’s spooky fun.  John Rozum has been working hard compiling the list, and it looks like there is a lot of awesome sites already signed up.

Hi, my name is Shawn and I’m a mechanical pencil nerd…

A couple weeks ago I shared my love for the vintage Mead Trapper Keeper folder system.  Well, writing that post reminded me that I also wanted to expose my slightly geekier side by talking a little bit about my nerdy mechanical pencil memories.  Though I’d hesitate to say that I enjoyed my time in elementary, middle and high school, I can say without a doubt that I loved “gearing up” for the new school year with all new supplies.  Of all this stuff, folders, figural erasers, writing instruments, and lunch boxes, my all time favorite school supply had to be mechanical pencils.

I was given my first “mechanical” pencil (using air quotes because these barely qualify) by my sister as a hand-me-down.  It was a strawberry-scented push pencil (I wrote about these a few years ago) that no longer had a berry scent and was missing some of the pencil tip nibs, so I had to stuff little wads of paper inside the barrel to get the pencil to work.  A little later on I remember getting my hands on a new one, Transformers branded that was light purple and covered in little Megatrons and Decepticon logos.  I was constantly losing the nibs though (they made great darts for my rubber-band slingshot), and had to make the leap to something a little more utilitarian for actual writing.  My mom bought me a package of Papermate Sharpwriters, those ugly yellow pencils where you’d twist the point to advance the lead inside…

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Though the bland “useful” design kept me from wanting to tear it apart and play with it, I never really liked these Sharpwriters because the tips aren’t tight (by design) and therefore they’re a little awkward to write with.  Well, even though I didn’t want to play with it, as you can see in the picture above, I do have a predilection for taking these kinds of things apart, though as a kid it was so that I could try and figure out a way to make it feel a little more solid.  I remember that I was supremely frustrated when I discovered that once you remove the tip, the pencil is basically dead.  These are ultimately the most disposable mechanical pencils anyway, but after breaking it trying to fix it I knew I was going to begging my mom for something better and studier.  So sometime during the 2nd grade I got my hands on my first Pentel Sharplet-2…

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This is truly where my mechanical pencil fetish began.  How can I adequately explain this discovery?  I think what really got me hooked on these Pentel pencils was the bright colors and the fact that they were built to be somewhat dismantled.  You could unscrew the tip to get to the lead-advancing mechanism inside, as well as remove the eraser cover to get at or replace both the erasers and lead.  It didn’t take me very long to find a couple colors I really liked that I could swap out the tips and eraser caps to make my own designer pencil creations.  In fact I seem to remember a bunch of kids in my class doing this and personalizing their pencils…

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These Sharplet-2′s were a revelation and a lot of fun, but as far as I know they were only available with two lead sizes, 0.5 and 0.7.  During elementary school 0.5 was what I loved because the lead was thin enough to always feel sharp and ready.  But by the time I got to middle and high school, I was yearning for something a little more versatile.  For one, the erasers were so thin that they’d wear out really quick and before I knew it all I had was the little aluminum eraser holder on the end.  Again, I’d have to wad up a piece of paper to keep the extra lead from falling out when the cap was off.  So by the time I entered the 5th grade I was upgrading yet again, this time to my favorite mechanical pencil, the Quicker Clicker!

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Though I’m certain there are “better” pencils on the market, once I received my first few quicker clickers I was done searching.  Design, color, customizability, multiple lead sizes, these suckers had it all.  Not only that, but for the first time I had access to pencils that had super cool translucent plastic barrels, and much wider, more useful erasers.  The overall design of the quicker clicker, with its lead advancing button right at your finger tip, better erasers, and availability in a 0.9 lead thickness made then super useful for drawing (which I had taken up around that time.)  Also, I always thought the eraser cap looked a whole heck of a lot like Megatron’s head, which reminded me of my old push-pencil, so these sort of felt like a good replacement.

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The 0.9 lead was a bit softer and would dull like a regular wooden pencil tip which made it really versatile for sketching and being able to vary the line width and contrast of the pencil work.  From 1987 until today, the Quicker Clickers have been my pencil of choice, with only a few road bumps along the way…

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I’m not sure when they changed, but sometime after the year 2000, Pentel decided to alter the design of the Quicker Clickers to add a rubberized grip around the front of the barrel (around the lead advance button), as well as changing out the tip a bit.  It’s not a huge deal, but part of me had become so accustomed to the feel of the non-rubberized grip that this addition actually affected my drawing for awhile.  Though I’m a pencil nerd, and this change did bug me, I tend to obsess a little over using the same pencil. I guess it’s sort of like ballplayers wearing the same jockstrap during a good season (or career if you’re Cal Ripken, Jr.), so when Pentel switched to the new design I never thought to stock up on some back-up pencils in the older style.  Well, in the ensuing years the value of vintage Quicker Clickers (without the rubber grip) has skyrocketed.  A 0.9 lead QC in the original solid red or brown can cost as much as $50 on eBay!  As for the more standard translucent 0.5 lead versions in blue and smoke are almost non-existent on the secondary market.  Apparently though, recently a few boxes of old overstock 0.5 translucent smoke pencils have made their way onto eBay and you can get a package for around $10 to $15.  It’s still much higher than a mechanical pencil should cost, but it’s a lot better than what the standard vintage pencil scalpers are asking.

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I couldn’t write about my favorite pencils without bringing up their constant companions, the Pentel Clic Erasers…

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As most pencil nerds will attest, the idea of using the included eraser on the pencils is sort of frowned upon.  The eraser is more of a last ditch, backup incase your eraser of choice is misplaced or used up.  Besides, though you could adjust the eraser on the Quicker Clickers as it wore down (by pulling out the eraser and the little metal clasp that surrounds it and then pulling it up and snapping it back in), it made the eraser unstable and a little fugly.  For me, the eraser of choice has always been the Pentel Clic because it was long and for all intents and purposes it’s the mechanical pencil of erasers.  The material of the eraser is great for drawing too, soft enough to not tear up the paper, yet sturdy enough to erase most pencil lines (unless you’re a heavy-handed penciler.)

So that’s my nerdly little secret obsession, 30 year old mechanical pencils.  Anyone out there also a closet pencil nerd?  If so, what’s your favorite brand, color or lead thickness?  Anyone ever drop some serious money to re-buy a pencil from your youth, or is that just me…?

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OMFG! voting for series 2, and the new S.L.U.G. minifigs!

Of all the toy projects I’ve come into contact with this past year, OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) has to be one of the coolest.  Not only is it independent and artist driven, but riffs on some of the cool toy lines from the 80s like M.U.S.C.L.E.s, Battle Beasts, and Monster in my Pocket.  I’ve written about series one before, but I wanted to make a note that voting has just begun for the second series.  You can participate by hopping over to the October Toys forums, registering and voting for 5 of the 461 new designs for series 2.

I’m pretty excited to see this project moving forward, so much so that I’ve thrown a couple of my own designs in the ring, Boombox (#55) and Killscreen (#57).  Just saying, my wife would kill for a Boombox figure.  Regardless if you dig my designs, if you have a moment, head on over and check out the other entries.  There’s a whole range of stuff, and there is some really killer ones in there.  I know I’m partial to the Puke Knight (#357), Thatman (#429), and Deadbeet (#144)…

  

Also, to tide us minifig collectors over until the 2nd series of the OMFG! get picked and hopefully produced, Jakks Pacific has just released a line of really neat collectable Zombie Minifigs called S.L.U.G.s (Scary Little Ugly Guys)…

Series one has just been released and so far there are 16 different little zombie figures available (though I’ve heard that there are 99 in the series.)  They come in packs of 3 (where you can see the figures you’re getting), as well as a larger 12-pack that comes in a really cool looking coffin…

    

In order to get all 16 you’ll either have to buy all four different 3 packs and the 12 pack coffin (there are 4 figures only in the 3-packs, and 4 exclusive to the coffin set), or hope you can find someone willing to trade their doubles.  The 3-packs are $4, and the 12-Pack coffin was $10.  As far as the quality of the concepts and sculpts, this set is pretty good.  There are a few duds in the set that either don’t really read as zombies (the boxer), don’t stand well (King Tut) or are kind of boring (again, boxer), but most of the figures are pretty darn fun.  My favorites have to be Rigamortis Lourdes, the cheerleading zombie (with severed head pom poms), Neil Armgone, the zombie astronaut, and the clever homage to Daniel from the Karate Kid, The Corroding Kid (who has had his leg swept but good.)

   

I’m sure these will pop up in a few stores, but right now I’ve only seen them at my local Toys R Us.  Unlike the Trash Pack, all these new minifigs are really doing a great job of riffing on the whole M.U.S.C.L.E. and Monster in my Pocket toy lines.  What a great time to be collecting toys again!

OMFG! is pretty darn rad!

As a kid I completely missed out on the whole M.U.S.C.L.E. men craze as I was concentrating all my playtime and allowance money on Garbage Pail Kids stickers and G.I. Joe & Transformers figures.  It’s not that I wasn’t aware of them, or how cool the little rubber guys looked packaged in their clear trashcans and bright blue blister cards; it’s just that I was spread a bit thin collecting-wise.  “A kid can’t have everything…”, is a statement I heard my mom say a lot at the time.  So I satiated my young mini-figure cravings with Transformers Decoys, Smurfs, figural erasers, and the old Blackstar demon or Trobit.

Years later, after the majority of my toy collecting cravings have more or less subsided, I find that the one thing that I can’t bring myself to stop collecting are little mini-figures.  Whether it’s Hasbro’s mini Heroes lines (aka the Star Wars, Transformers, and G.I. Joe chub figures), vending machine toys (like Little Homies), or Lego Minifigs, I just can’t help myself if I find something particularly cool.  This past June I stumbled across the October Toys OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) project on Kickstarter and I was immediately hooked on the idea.  A bunch of artists and sculptors in the October Toys forum came together to hash out some ideas for a line of mini-figures riffing off of the nostalgia for old toy lines like Battle Beasts, M.U.S.C.L.E.s, and Monster In My Pocket.  Enough folks backed the project for it to be successfully funded, which was cool, but then began the wait for the figures to actually be produced…

I finally received my two initial sets from the Kickstarter project last month, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome!

    

There are five figures in this first series, Multiskull, King Castor, The Phantom Shithouse, Crawdad Kid, and Stroll, all of which have some excellent sculpting and detail work.  Again, though I never had any M.U.S.C.L.E.s growing up, I’ve seen enough of them to know that they weren’t rendered in this much detail.  The main set comes in a “flesh” colored PVC, but there was also a Kickstarter exclusive black set that I picked up as well.  The wife called dibs on King Castor and Stroll, but she doesn’t have any of the nostalgia or fondness for the pink fleshy figures, so black seemed the way to go.

Part of the Kickstarter campaign was the ability to help fund at a high level to secure a thousand minifigs in your very own color-way.  This was a great idea to get other small toy companies and stores in on the fun with the ability to sell exclusive color variants of the figures as an incentive for investing in the project.  There were four groups that chose this option resulting in a few exclusive colors including a mustard yellow (University of Muscle), a lime green (Little Rubber Guys), a true blue (Rotofugi), and a lighter “Glyos” blue (Onell Design).  There was also a sixth exclusive color-way/artist-proof, hot pink, that was split between the artists and sculptors that worked on the project.

Before Christmas, while waiting for the base and Kickstarter sets to be shipped, I noticed that the Onell Design light blue color-way was available for purchase.  Since I was champing at the bit to get my hands on these, I went ahead and splurged on this variant set.  Besides, I thought it would be fun to give a couple of the figures to my nephews for the holiday.  The Onell variants were my first taste of OMFG!, and I had a sneaking suspicion that even after I received the pink and black that it wouldn’t be my last.

Ripping open the light blue set I realized that the variant color-ways that the various companies chose didn’t seem to have too much thought behind them at first blush.  Granted, no one color would easily represent the figures, so this is hardly a complaint, just an observation.  Onell chose the light blue as it’s the first color they used when creating their own toys a while back, but for this set it really doesn’t fit with the design of the actual figures.  King Castor looks the best, as it has a cold icy feel that works decently with stones that make up the figure, and an argument can be made for Stroll being a “yeti” variation, but it’s a little off.  The flesh being an homage to M.U.S.C.L.E.s makes sense, but again it doesn’t really fit any of the figures.  The black exclusives, though cool, are almost too dark to really fully appreciate the detailed sculpting, and I began to wonder why each variant color was chosen.

After receiving the two additional sets from October Toys, it occurred to me that there might be some thought behind these choices after all.  The logo design of the series, the Rolling Stones-esque open mouth and tongue design is comprised of five colors (green teeth, pink tongue, yellow lettering, blue lips, and black outlines and fill in the mouth.)  Could it be that the colors were chosen to reflect the overall scheme of the packaging?  What with the two blues (the lips being offset by the blue of the background) and the two pinks (the tongue and the OMFG banner below the title), all of these colors were present and accounted for.  Could be a coincidence, but I thought it was interesting to point out.

Though I thought I would stop at the three sets, I soon found that I was really loving all the color choices (whether they made design sense or not), and I ended up picking up the green set, as well as the yellow and artist proof exclusive hot pink of the Multiskull figure (which is my favorite of the bunch.)  I even snagged a custom painted version of Multiskull that the artist (Charles Marsh) put up for sale a couple of weeks ago.  I had really wanted a version of the figure in white or grey, the traditional skull colors, and managed to score the NightFright custom which fills this gap in my collection quite nicely.  He even glows in the dark!

All in all I really love these figures and I can’t even being to put into words would cool it’s been to watch this project from design to fruition.  Seeing an independent artistic community come together for a project like this is rare, and seeing it come out so well done is even rarer.  October Toys and their forum are doing the initial prep work on a second series, and submissions for figures ideas are still open until the 29th of this month.  I have a few designs submitted (Boombox, Miss Pucker, and Killscreen), but there are all sorts of cool figures in the forum thread that would make an awesome second series for the OMFG! line.  Can’t wait to see how far the community will take this thing!