Tag Archives: Ideal

These Should Exist: The Robo Force Edition!

Well, I’m finally back from my winter hiatus and I have a lot of stuff I want to write about here at Branded in the coming year.  2016 marks my 10 year running this site and I’m kind of floored that I’m still loving it after all these years.  Hell, I’ve officially been writing about the 80s as long as that decade lasted and I still have a ton of articles in mind that I’d love to tackle.  Bottom line, I want to take a second to thank each and every person who has ever stopped by to read an article, leave a comment, or strike up a conversation on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.  I’ve gotten a chance to meet a bunch of you at various conventions and live events, and there are still a lot of folks I’d love to say “Hi” to in person someday.  It’s been a crazy ride and it’s not even close to being over yet.

I wanted to ease my way back into writing articles so I thought this would be the perfect time to share another set of digital trading cards that I’ve been slowly working on over the last year.  Looking back to the beginning of this site, there was one 80s brand that came up a lot when I was fondly remembering obscure nostalgia from my childhood.  It’s a toy line that is a real underdog when it comes to under-loved properties, and one that has had a great resurgence over the past couple of years.  I’m talking about those loveable, hugable robots, Maxx Steele’s Robo Force!

Robo_Force_Wrapper

When I started designing these digital 80s trading cards I knew that I wanted to not only fill in the pop culture cards for sets based on TV shows and movies, I also wanted to create sets for other fun stuff like bands, book series and toy lines.  Robo Force was always right up there at the top of the list of sets I wanted to work on, not only because I have a lot of fondness for the line, but also because there is a lot of great artwork that really hasn’t been showcased.

RoboForce_Combo_1

RoboForce_Combo_3     RoboForce_Combo_8

RoboForce_Combo_2

I took this opportunity to scan the back of one of the packages that had some great art featuring all the characters from wave one of the toy line.  I also scanned in some of the book covers and took some fun screenshots from the one cartoon episode that was finally released on DVD this past year…

RoboForce_Combo_4     RoboForce_Combo_5

RoboForce_Combo_6     RoboForce_Combo_7

RoboForce_Combo_9

All in all, I had a blast working on this cards.  To beat a dead horse, I really wish that I could get these professionally printed up, but until I can make that happen I guess I’ll just have to be content in creating them.

RoboForce_Combo_10     RoboForce_Combo_11

RoboForce_Combo_12

RoboForce_Combo_13     RoboForce_Combo_14

RoboForce_Combo_15

RoboForce_Combo_16     RoboForce_Combo_17

This is also one of those sets where I had a hard time holding back when it came to the amount of cards I wanted to design.  Between trying to feature all of the characters, the great artwork from the books and screenshots from the DVD, if I had the time this set would have easily had 100 cards or more.  As it stands I tried to cap myself at 26 to keep it down to a manageable project.

RoboForce_Combo_18

RoboForce_Combo_19     RoboForce_Combo_20

RoboForce_Combo_21

I was really happy with how these turned out.  In fact, I’m toying around with the idea of making a second series that exclusively focuses on the animated special so that I can try my hand at putting together a set that is more in line with the Masters of the Universe cards that Topps did (complete with scene by scene breakdowns and speech bubbles added to all the screenshots.)  But we’ll see…

RoboForce_Combo_22     RoboForce_Combo_23

RoboForce_Combo_24-26

The Return of Robo Force!!

As a kid growing up in the 80s I felt pretty lucky when it came to be exposed to all sorts of different toy lines.  I was pretty obsessed with a lot of the usual suspects, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Masters of the Universe and Transformers of course, but also got into some of the smaller or more obscure stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, Blackstar, Go Bots, ThunderCats, Silverhawks, Air Raiders, Starcom, etc.  In this more obscure subset, one of the toys I had that I’ve developed an amazing appreciation for over the past decade of reveling in nostalgia is Robo Force.  I only had one figure as a kid, Wrecker, the black and yellow muscle of the heroic robots.  In fact, I ended up finding Wrecker in the woods behind my house, caked in mud with his chest sticker half torn off.  I wiped him down and added him to my collection, fascinated by the intense hugging crushing action of his bendy straw arms, and his huge suction cup feet (foot?)  I’m pretty sure he acted as a stand-in for one of Skeletor’s minion robots when I played with my Masters of the Universe figures, but I never dug into the line enough to really realize what he was or that there were other toys in the line.  If I had to guess it’s because the line was never merchandized well, not like practically every other property in the 80s.

5759359184_acf5d8a334_o

Sure, there were bedsheets, baseball caps, watches, stickers, a lunchbox and even a magazine, but the line failed to really penetrate the marketplace with the absence of a syndicated cartoon.  There was a single episode produced by Sunbow that aired only once in the evening back in the winter of 1984, but it was never picked up for a full 65 episode run and thus the toy line sort of died on the vine.  A few years ago, when guesting on the early episodes of the Saturday Supercast, the little under-appreciated robots came up in conversation with Jerzy Drozd and our pal HooveR.  Ever since I’ve been really been addicted to the toys and have been picking up mint figures here and there whenever I can find them in the wild, like this Enemy figure I found at a local flea market.

Well, earlier in the year I caught wind that the rad John Kent and his company Toyfinity had purchased the rights to the line and was planning on relaunching it for a new generation of toy collectors.  We’ve seen all sorts of toy line relaunches by the large companies, G.I. Joe, Transformers and MOTU in particular, as well as designer toys heavily influenced by older lines (like the Weaponeers of Monkaa which riffs off of Crystar and the Trasformers), but how often do we ever see fans grab up the official lines and do an actual relaunch of the property?  Not very often, if ever.  To say that I was excited for the possibility of a Robo Force relaunch is putting it mildly, and this past October I finally managed to get my hands on one of the Genesis editions of the new figure kits!

5644c0503c3311e3953322000aeb0b99_7

The first thing you’ll notice is that these new figures are a little different than the originals.  In particular the “action” features of the originals have been dropped in lieu of a more modern modular approach to the design, taking a page from Onell Design’s Glyos system, with which these are completely compatible.   I’m fully in favor of this switch as it both plays into the robotic nature of the characters and I really love the crossover it presents with other independently created figures like the Weaponeers and Glyos.  The ability to customize Maxx, or down the line to mix ad match eventual colorways is super intriguing and opens the line up to all sorts of fun ideas.

So, what’s included in this initial Genesis Edition launch?  The kit comes geared towards making a Maxx Zero figure with the 25-piece build shown above and below…

Roboforce 1

Roboforce 2

But there are also 14 or so other pieces that will enable you to change out the tank treads for legs and switch out the hands, heads and weapons.  In fact you have enough pieces to build three other classically inspired Robo Force characters, The villain leader Hun-Dred, Enemy and the heroic Sentinel.

Roboforce 3

The additional heads are subtly crafted (much like the heads of Glyos figures) to be multipurposed by twisting them around so that in one direction the head looks like the original Enemy or twisted it becomes Sentinel.

Roboforce-5-1024x764

John and the sculptors even managed to get the effect of Hun-Dred’s raised dome to expose his laser gun eyes!

Roboforce-6-1024x764

Getting back to the launch of this new line, when I first found out about it I immediately wanted to tell a handful of other Robo Force fans that I’ve met over the years, in particular cartoonist Jerzy Drozd who I knew would be over the moon.  Secretly, what I really wanted was to see Jerzy get a chance to bring the characters to live with a comic, and lets just say that all the pieces manged to align just right and that has become a reality with the launch of an online story this past week!

MAXX PROMO IMAGE

I’m really excited to see where this line goes, and am eagerly awaiting new sculpts and colorways that I hope will be coming down the line in the near future.  If you’re looking to pick up one of these kits, they’re currently sold out at Toyfinity (a very good sign), but keep your eyes peeled as I’m sure there will be more figure drops soon.  In the meantime, Toyfinity also has a line of rad Mordles minifigs that are pretty darn cool!