Tag Archives: Art

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!

OMFG! Update and some creativity…

I have no idea where this week has gone too!  Well, I figured I’d through up a quite post to update on the progress of the below OMFG! Kickstarter project which just this morning crossed over the funding mark.  There’s still a good month and a half to go until the campaign is over so if you’re interested in helping fun a possible Series 2 and would like to get your hands on some cool toys in the process, head on over and make a pledge.  I’ve been pretty inspired by this whole community toy project that I threw my hat in the ring with a couple of designs for the 2nd series.  First up is a little guy I call Boom Box

The drawing is a little wonky, but the concept hopefully gets across.  He’s a little bit hip hop, a little Soundwave/Megatron mash-up, and a whole lot of Boom!  I’m thinking he also has an evil twin named Ghetto Blaster…

Next up is more of a silly idea that I had to draw once it popped into my head.  It’s Stripe the Gremlin wearing a Mogwai (read Gizmo) hoodie.  Probably a little too “brand” specific for the OMFG! minifigures, but I had a lot of fun drawing him.  Think I might take a crack at coloring him this weekend (And now I did, though only some basic colors)…

 

Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the OMFG! project, head on over to the Kickstarter page or the October Toys forums and get in on the fun and speak up about your favorite designs!

Monster in My Pocket + M.U.S.C.L.E.s = OMFG! Series 1!

If there’s one aspect of this site that I tend to neglect, it’s a lot of the more current news and interesting tidbits that are heavily influenced by the 80s era craziness I typically expound upon.  It’s no secret that in the past five or six years there’s been a huge resurgence in the popularity of the toys, movies, and music of the eighties, but for the most part I’ve always felt that there are plenty of other sites that address this stuff better than I’d be able to, particularly with keeping timely updates and such.  Lately though there have been a handful of things hitting my radar that are so cool, I’ve had to flip my perspective and look forward.  With that in mind I thought I’d take a second today to point towards a really awesome independent toy project I stumbled upon yesterday (thanks to Jason at Open Your Toys) that should be exciting to all those kids who grew up collecting and trading M.U.S.C.L.E.s and Monster in My Pocket mini figures…

Created by a community of toy enthusiasts and artists, and spearheaded by the fine folks over at October Toys, these OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) are preparing to descend upon nostalgic toy collectors everywhere.  The first series features five outstanding creatures including the king of bone-daddys, Multiskull, a swampy southern man monster known as the Crawdad Kid, the frontier’s worst nightmare, the Phantom Outhouse, a master of his own castle, King Castor, and a cryptid that would give the purple people eater a run for his money, Stroll.

This community toy jam has been gestating on the October Toys forums for the past four months or so and has culminated with the launch of a Kickstarter fundraising project to make these little guys a reality.  If you’re the type of guy or gal that’s interested in collectable vinyl figures, nostalgic relaunches (like the Transformers Classics and the 25th anniversary G.I. Joes), or you’re still teary-eyed because your parents gave away all your M.U.S.C.L.E.s to the little brat down the street when you were off at college, then you might want to head on over to the OMFG! Kickstarter campaign and make a pledge today!

Wanna help me and one of my favorite local bands The Serenaders?!?

For the last couple months I’ve been working with my favorite local Atlanta band, the Serenaders, on their new album My One and Only You (the album cover is featured above.)  I’ve been doing a bunch of graphic design and illustrations for their CD and vinyl LP, as well as on some record release party flyers and posters.  I’ve been super psyched as this stuff has been coming together at the same time as they’ve been hard at work recording the album and I can’t wait to see everything done and in print.  I’ve gotten a chance to listen to a bunch of tracks off the album and they are really nailing the sound without losing any of the intensity of their live show.

The album is set to be released on May 24th, but in the interim the band is looking to raise some additional funds to help promote the record and to get it out into the hands of the public.  So they’ve begun a Kickstarter campaign to help out and I really want to help get the word out about the band and their music.  If you’re unfamiliar with Kicksterter, it’s basically a pledged fund drive, but instead of simple donations there are a bunch of tiered rewards that people receive for their pledges.  So it’s not charity, but a way to help the band while buying copies of their record, T-Shirts (featuring the above heart illustration I did) and gig posters, win-win.  But they have to make their projected goat of $6500 in order to receive any of the funds or all of the pledges are cancelled.  I’m also super excited about this since I designed and illustrated the album art as well as the artwork for the T-shirts and posters, so I’d love to know that this stuff was getting out there.  So, help the band out with a pledge today and you can get your hands on some awesome music and some of my artwork.  There are 42 days to go and they still have a ways to go, so if this sounds like something you might want to help support, please head on over to their kickstarter page, watch their pitch, and listen to some of their tunes while you’re at it!  Thanks for taking a gander…

Also, if you live in the Atlanta area and want to attend the Serenaders record release party, it’s being held on May 28th, at 8:00pm at the Goat Farm.  Admission is $10, and with that you get a complimentary copy of the CD, so again, win-win.  Go on over and RSVP to the event today…

459 square inches of Awesome…

I’m a bit late in getting to this before Christmas, but I wanted to take a second and point to one of the coolest things I received during this past holiday season.  I’ve been reading Roger Barr’s I-Mockery site for years, in particular during Halloween because he always has a plethora of hilarious thoughtful and in-depth commentary on the season and its swag.  The site also has a bunch of swell games and articles.

In addition to the fact that I-Mockery is an interesting read, Roger & the resident artist Pox have been putting together some super awesome pixel art posters in the past couple years.  Basically they’re 8-Bit style art jams featuring 6.2 million pop culture, gamer, comics, and cartoon icons culled from the 80s through today, and both of them are a real treat for the eyes.  Honestly, I spent a couple hours pouring over every square inch of these prints picking out characters I knew and trying to figure out the rest…

The best way I can describe these prints is they’re like when you were a kid in the doctor’s office painstakingly looking for all the wrong stuff on the back of an issue of Highlights, except everything on these prints is right!

The prints are very attractively priced as well and the quality is pretty top notch.  The wife and I are getting ours framed for our home office as I type this.

If you dig pop culture as much as I do and have spent any amount of time playing any old school NES games, I suggest heading on over to I-Mockery and taking a gander at these fine pieces of art…

**Update** You can see a pretty cool interview with Roger and a bunch of other artists from the Gallery 88 show that these pieces were created for over at Coin-Op TV!

Return of the 31 Days of Monsters, Day 31: The one, the only, Boogieman!

Well, we finally made it to monster number 31 and Halloween day!  Today’s big-headed bad guy is probably one of the most feared villains in the Ghostbusters rogue’s gallery (coming in just a hair below Gozer), the Boogieman!

That’s right, the one and only feeder-of-fright, the bane to children and Egon’s everywhere, the big B.  This is the ugly dude hiding under your bed at night.  He’s the one casting creepy shadows on your wall when you think it’s just a tree.  The Boogieman is also apparently the one using up all your mom’s lipstick and hairspray and then hiding the empty containers in your room so that you’ll get blamed!

Seriously though, along with the Sandman and Sam Hain, the Boogieman is probably one of the most evil foes the Ghostbusters have faced in their animated form.  I can say that his huge head and little goat-like legs freaked me out as a kid…

I also think it’s kind of neat that the two cels I managed to score also come from both of his appearances int eh series.  The wicked closeup up top comes from episode 81, The Boogieman is Back, and the cel of big-headed B coming out of the door is from episode 6, The Boogieman Cometh…

I was so overjoyed to get a hold of these two cels this past year as this guy is one of my all time favorite monsters from the series.  The only hole in my collection right now is Sam Hain, but then as I came to discover when I finally scored a set of series one Garbage Pail Kids, completing a collection can be quite the downer.  I think I’ll be okay looking out for that last Real Ghostbusters cel for awhile…

   

So that does it for another Halloween season here at Branded in the 80s.  It was my fifth year celebrating, and the second great year for the Countdown to Halloween hub site.  Once again, like in most years past I’m about ready to go into hibernation, but then again I have the first Up! Fair coming up in 19 short days.  I think I need a nap…

If you’d like to read more Halloween-y goodness, you can also click on the Halloween Archive link to the left (the banner with King Kong), as well as heading on over to the Countdown to Halloween to check out lists of a bunch of other sites participating in this year’s Halloween blogging event.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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Return of the 31 Days of Monsters, Day 30: Demon Ruler of Toyland!

For all of those joining me for the first time, welcome to the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween countdown here at Branded in the 80s!  I had a blast last year, so again I’m counting down 31 of my favorite monsters from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  All of these monsters come straight from my vintage animation cel collection, and my wife and I tried our best to put them in a not-so-scary to really-freaking-creepy kind of order with the creepiest falling on All Hallows Eve.

We’re almost there folks.  All Hallows Eve eve, or some such junk.  It’s been a fun counting down these monsters for a second year and I wish I had more cels to stretch this out for a third year, but I guess I’ll just have to come up with something else to write about.  Anyway, today’s penultimate monster is probably one of the better villains from the waning days of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  By this time it was already re-branded Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters, and it was in store for a truly disappointing end.  But before we got there we got a chance to sneak a peek at this Toyland demon from episode 126, Busters in Toyland…

Pretty gnarly looking, right?  This demon was actually much more Gremlin-like in appearance (see the screen shot below).  The crux of the episode revolves around Louis Tulley’s spoiled nephew who seems to have all toys in existence.  Louis, trying to wow him on his birthday ends up buying some spectrally possessed action figures (one of which I shared earlier in the month), which kidnap his nephew and steal him away to Toyland.  There a demon ruler tricks the boy into accepting the mantle of ruler so that he can be free and leave the realm. A fter the switch of power he reveals his true form, the crazy spiked demon wyrm you see above…

   

I was really happy to get my hands on this cel because it features Louis, one of the last “main” characters I wanted to have from the show.

Well, one last time I’ll make the call to come back tomorrow for another Real Ghostbusters monster animation cel as I complete the countdown towards my favorite character from the show!

Also, if you feel inclined, I would love everyone to spread the word about the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters countdown, so hit up those social networks and tell a friend (my twitter handle is smurfwreck, and I’m on the Facebook as well.)  If you’d like to read more Halloween-y goodness, you can also click on the Halloween Archive link to the left (the banner with King Kong), as well as heading on over to the Countdown to Halloween to check out lists of a bunch of other sites participating in this year’s Halloween blogging event…

Return of the 31 Days of Monsters, Day 29: the Ghosts of Warduke & General Kael!

For all of those joining me for the first time, welcome to the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween countdown here at Branded in the 80s!  I had a blast last year, so again I’m counting down 31 of my favorite monsters from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  All of these monsters come straight from my vintage animation cel collection, and my wife and I tried our best to put them in a not-so-scary to really-freaking-creepy kind of order with the creepiest falling on All Hallows Eve.

Today’s spooks are so much ghosts as they are physical manifestations based on dreams that are under the control of one of the Ghostbuster’s coolest villains, the Sandman!  These guys hail from episode 7, Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream…

I have to admit that I’m a sucker for skull-related iconography.  It has to be one of the basic building blocks of a human’s fear, mixing both the finality of death (how else are you going to see a real skull) and the mysterious unknown inside each and every one of us.  So whenever I stumble upon something creepy, imposing and with a cool skull thrown in for good measure, I quite easily fall in love…

   

I think I also really dug these two because they remind me of two similar villains from my childhood, General Kael (from the much underappreciated Willow) and Warduke (from the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon and toy line)…

   

Come back tomorrow for another Real Ghostbusters monster animation cel as I count down towards one of my favorite on Halloween day!

Also, if you feel inclined, I would love everyone to spread the word about the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters countdown, so hit up those social networks and tell a friend (my twitter handle is smurfwreck, and I’m on the Facebook as well.)  If you’d like to read more Halloween-y goodness, you can also click on the Halloween Archive link to the left (the banner with King Kong), as well as heading on over to the Countdown to Halloween to check out lists of a bunch of other sites participating in this year’s Halloween blogging event…

Return of the 31 Days of Monsters, Day 28: Slimer & Hyde, Together Again!

For all of those joining me for the first time, welcome to the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween countdown here at Branded in the 80s!  I had a blast last year, so again I’m counting down 31 of my favorite monsters from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  All of these monsters come straight from my vintage animation cel collection, and my wife and I tried our best to put them in a not-so-scary to really-freaking-creepy kind of order with the creepiest falling on All Hallows Eve.

Today is all about the fan-favorite little green spud, Slimer!  Whereas last year I shared a cel of a ghost that had a very striking resemblance to Slimer, and was in fact sort of the Earth 2 evil version of the little guy, today it’s really just the full on evil version of Slimer!

After feeling brushed off and ignored by the guys, Slimer is unfortunately possessed by a gaseous leak from a faulty pipe on the containment unit.  It causes the little guy to go all Jekyll and Hyde during the episode…

I really love the amped-up evil Slimer character design, especially his scary mouth full of shark-like teeth.  The horns don’t hurt either…

   

It’s also funny in the episode, because even though this version of Slimer is evil and bent on destruction, he still takes the time to continuously “slime” Peter!  There’s also a fun daydream sequence where Slimer has to come and save the gang from another ghost…

   

Come back tomorrow for another Real Ghostbusters monster animation cel as I count down towards one of my favorite on Halloween day!

Also, if you feel inclined, I would love everyone to spread the word about the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters countdown, so hit up those social networks and tell a friend (my twitter handle is smurfwreck, and I’m on the Facebook as well.)  If you’d like to read more Halloween-y goodness, you can also click on the Halloween Archive link to the left (the banner with King Kong), as well as heading on over to the Countdown to Halloween to check out lists of a bunch of other sites participating in this year’s Halloween blogging event…

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Return of the 31 Days of Monsters, Day 27: Whodunit Houdini?

For all of those joining me for the first time, welcome to the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters Halloween countdown here at Branded in the 80s!  I had a blast last year, so again I’m counting down 31 of my favorite monsters from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.   All of these monsters come straight from my vintage animation cel collection, and my wife and I tried our best to put them in a not-so-scary to really-freaking-creepy kind of order with the creepiest falling on All Hallows Eve.

Today’s ghost is only half as scary as he appears, and I’m pretty sure no chains, locks, or boxes could hold him.  This creepily floating harpy of a man is actually the ghost of the great Harry Houdini!

I hadn’t seen this episode when I picked up the cel originally, but when I laid eyes on it I couldn’t help but be seriously creeped out.  There’s just something unsettling about a crazy looking dude in an unbound-straight jacket that also appears to be screaming bloody murder.  This is the kind of ghost I fear bumping into one day.  I’d never be so lucky to get a calm, quiet free-roaming repeater.  No I’d get a Library Ghost (from the 1st Ghostbusters flick) or something…

Anyway, in this episode, #63 the Cabinet of Calamari, the Ghostbusters are given free passes to a magic show in the hopes that they’ll be able to take care of a pesky ghost that’s been haunting the current act.  Suspicions of foul play start to run as the guys are attacked by animated hand saws and swords (Winston sure picked a horrible hiding spot from the swords!)

   

After some investigation, the gang realizes that the ghost they’ve been hired to bust is actually Harry Houdini who is just trying to get his secrets and diary back from the evil Calamari…

   

Come back tomorrow for another Real Ghostbusters monster animation cel as I count down towards one of my favorite on Halloween day!

Also, if you feel inclined, I would love everyone to spread the word about the Return of the 31 Days of Monsters countdown, so hit up those social networks and tell a friend (my twitter handle is smurfwreck, and I’m on the Facebook as well.)  If you’d like to read more Halloween-y goodness, you can also click on the Halloween Archive link to the left (the banner with King Kong), as well as heading on over to the Countdown to Halloween to check out lists of a bunch of other sites participating in this year’s Halloween blogging event…