LIKE TOYS, LOVE CLUTTER
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26 RAMPAGE TOYS 26 Rampage Article by Nick Curtis
Cover by Rampage Toys
Kid Toxic by Blurble Article by Rich Montanari
WUZONE The Third Eye’s The Charm Article by Nick Curtis
JENN & TONY BOT
Cute, Cuddly & Polymer Clay Article by Travis Lykins
SCUMBAGS & SUPERSTARS Eat Shit & Die Article by Nick Curtis
Don’t Lose Your Head Article by Nick Curtis
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TEAM Miranda Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien Editor-in-Chief
Nick Carroll Art Director
Travis Lykins Contributing Writer urbanvinyldaily.com
Josh Kimberg Managing Editor
Jason Ryule Technical Coordinator
Rich Montanari Contributing Writer
Nick Curtis Associate Editor
Mike Torrisi Advertising Sales
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Mutantology mu·tan·tol·o·gy noun \ˈmyü-tən-ˈtä-lə-jē\ : the study of indie toys as selected by Rich Montanari of Mutant Vinyl Hardcore. www·mutantvinylhardcore·com
Kid Toxic by Blurble Pictured is Blurble’s first sofubi toy, Kid Toxic, cast in the blank “Funds for Seth” cream white edition.
I’ve been a fan of Mike Marinello, aka Blurble or Blurbleone, since meeting him on the SkullBrain message boards back in 2010. Over the years, I’ve watched him grow into a fantastic designer and painter with work that’s reminiscent of ‘80s skateboarder designs. Wild, vibrant, fast, and fun are definite ways I’d describe Mike’s work, which he has mainly explored using mediums like resin and squishy rubber. Recently, with the help of Luke Rook (Grody Shogun) from Lulubell Toy Bodega, he created the first vinyl toy of a character in his universe; a piece named Kid Toxic. Tell us about yourself. Let me start with my art name “Blurble.” I get asked a lot about what the name means or what does it stand for, [and] the word was actually something my oldest daughter came up with years ago. We love making up funny and weird words that make no sense. It [the name] fits my art: it’s strange, weird, and, most of the time, doesn’t make any sense. I started doing art when I was young. I was an only child, so when I was
bored, I would draw. To this day, doing art brings me back to my childhood and helps take away the stress of real life. I have an amazing family; a wife who supports everything I do, even though she sometimes doesn’t get the whole toy thing, and three amazing kids. My family is my life blood and they motivate me to keep doing what I do. My son Seth is a huge motivation for me. He was born with severe medical problems and has had to overcome huge hurdles that I have never even faced in my lifetime. But through it all he laughs and gives the best hugs. I have learned that life is about taking each day and loving the hell out of it and loving those around you, even when that day may suck. Feel free to read more about Seth’s journey at FundsForSeth.com.
How long have have you been making toys, regardless of medium? I started painting toys about five years ago and, from there, I got into sculpting. Then I started making resin toys and, in 2014, my first vinyl toy — Kid Toxic — was released. I still love resin and it’s probably one of my favorite mediums to work with. The thing I love [most] about it is
that anyone can take something they sculpted and make it available for others to enjoy for very cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I still love vinyl, but there is a higher cost and limitations to making a vinyl toy.
Who and what are the major influences on your art? Pezo THR, Barry McGee, Dalek, Ewok 5MH, Mike Giant, cartoons, the Oozeit [toy], lots of graffiti, and so many other people & things that influence my artwork.
Who are your favorite current toy makers? DuBoseArt, SelfishLittle, Dski One, Grody Shogun, Mutant Vinyl Hardcore, HxSaigansho, Retroband, and the list could keep going…
What’s next from you? I should have a new vinyl toy coming out very soon. I also have been working with SelfishLittle on an amazing new toy. Lots of new resin toys that will be released this year. It’s going to be an exciting year. For more information on Blurble, please visit:
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CUTE, CUDDLY, & POLYMER CLAY! TRAVIS LYKINS
“Blast Off” 2015
“The Bots Have Landed” 2014
“The Soap Eater” 2015
The Northern Kentucky based artistic couple Jenn & Tony Bot have made a splash in the scene with their lovable custom toys! With their unique character designs, use of colors, sculpting, and textures, they have created a style that is wholly their own. Recently we sat down with them to talk about collecting, creating, and some really exciting upcoming projects we can look forward to. Prepare to enter the world of The Bots! What first attracted you to the world of designer toys? Well, we have a deep rooted passion for collecting that came from all the awesome toys we bought as kids in the ‘80s and ‘90s. To be an adult and have an excuse to buy and play with toys again is reason enough to get anyone hooked. So let’s talk about collecting! Are there any toys that you collect? Our collecting has certainly slowed and become more focused in recent years. We used to buy everything that was released, but now only pick up things we really like. With that said, our collection of Vinylmations is quite extensive. And while that platform often seems to get a bad rap in our scene, they act as a constant reminder of our vacations together and times we’ve shared that weren’t spent working. In the past few years you have went from the new kids on the block to
having some of the most recognized customs in the scene. How does it feel to have such success? We always enjoy crashing the party and when we started customizing we felt we were doing exactly that. We knew that by using hand-mixed colored polymer clay our work would stand out, but we were blown away by how quickly the collectors took to it and our art. That certainly isn’t a measure of success however as we still have many goals that we want to accomplish. Your process of using polymer clay for your customs really helps your designs stand out from many other artists. Are there ever challenges when using this material versus another medium? There was certainly a learning curve when it came to customizing vinyl toys with polymer clay. Not so much with how the clay would react to the vinyl, but rather how the process of baking the piece would affect the platform. As we learned, there is definitely a sweet spot for how long to bake a
piece. The only limitation we have ever really faced with the clay is finding a big enough oven to bake some of our larger pieces in! However, as with any art medium, we have learned a ton of tricks over time. We work much differently now with different tools and different techniques than we did when we first started. Your customs feature a ton of character! Would you mind telling us a little bit about your approach to character design? Our characters typically are a direct result of something that is inspiring to us at the time. We often walk a fine line during the creation process battling with the idea of what we want to make versus what we think would sell. Working solely with characters can be exhausting, especially when you are creating hundreds of unique ones a year. It’s also very personal to us since it reflects who we are and what we were doing at the time of their creation. We laugh when we start noticing reoccurring themes in our Clutter 26 | 17
work and, more often than not, will immediately try to steer away from that theme in order to stay fresh. From time to time, you create pieces that mix pop culture and your style. Do you enjoy challenge of making a perfect mix of pop culture and your unique style? We love popular culture, but try our best not to use it as a crutch. Also, the demands of parodying pop culture can be tricky in that what we enjoy may not be what others like. And while we would love to release more pop culture pieces, we try to carefully balance it with plenty of original work. If you had the chance, are there any artists or properties you would like to collaborate with? Not to cop out on the question, but it’s often challenging for us to collaborate with others simply because our style of “painting” with clay really limits any collaborative effort. We love working on projects with anyone who is creative, no matter how “big” or “small” they may be. Whether you’re collaborating with a company or a struggling artist, there’s always something to be learned from working with others. We obviously dream as big as anyone out there and share many of the same goals. And while we have been very lucky with the projects we have worked on and the people we have worked with, we love meeting and making new friends. We have heard that you have an upcoming solo show. Is there anything you can share with us about that? Our show, which we have affectionately titled Monstrosity, opens the first week of June at Dream in Plastic [in Beacon, NY]. After several weeks of sketching up a storm and discussing possible themes, we decided to fill the gallery with 3” and 8” Dunny customs. All of the characters we’re working on are brand new and there are a bunch of them! Creatively, we really exploded when coming up with these pieces and we think that a lot of our fans — old and new — will love what we have to offer. How does it feel being asked to do your first ever solo art show? It has to be exciting! It’s as exciting as it is overwhelming! 18 | Clutter 26
When we first received the measurements of the space, we knew we had quite the challenge ahead, but once we started mapping out our pieces, things really started to fall into place and in our minds seemed much more manageable. Ultimately we realized how rare of an opportunity it is to headline your own show and we are thrilled that Dream in Plastic has placed that sort of faith in us! Are there any projects that fans should be looking forward to in the coming months? All in all, along with some other fun projects that we can’t talk about quite yet, the year is shaping up to be a great one! To start, we’re currently working on a release for NYCC, courtesy of Clutter. The release will be a collaboration with the super talented Jeff Lamm and we will be customizing
his Mini Greasebats. We also have a few amazing releases coming up with Urban Vinyl Daily one of which is a huge Mega Android drop at DCon [DesignerCon]. Also for DCon this year, we are collaborating with a team of collectors and five amazing artists to release a blind box series. Tentatively titled “Hold Your Breath,” the release will feature all aquatic themed customs created by us. Some of the designs will be Bots originals and others we will make based on submissions by other artists. The series is stacked and we can’t wait to start revealing pieces from it!
For more information on Jenn & Tony Bot, please visit: jennandtonybot.bigcartel.com
Opposite: “The Chameleon King” 2015
Below: “The Bearer of Bad News,” 2015
THE THIRD EYE’S THE CHARM NICK CURTIS
“Hulk Labbit” 2014 22 | Clutter 26
“Skully Drake” 2014
“True Skully” 2014
Within the symmetrical style and pristine patterning of WuzOne resides a true artistry that he imbues upon his hand-painted vinyl figures. An autodidact, the Spanish artist draws upon his graffiti background to create his unforgettable objets d’art while also satisfying his perfectionist tendencies. But, for anyone that’s studied his style, the meaning behind his penchant for three eyes is surely a curiosity; one that he talks about in this candid interview, as well as discussing his background and his future. Where does the name WuzOne come from? My alias comes from a mixture of things. When I was little, I started listening to rap and one of my favorite bands was Wu-Tang Clan, especially their album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). As soon as I started to paint graffiti, I liked the sound of choosing a name that started with “Wu.” The rest is history. Was your name originally meant to be “Wu Zone” then? If so, how’d it evolve to WuzOne?
My original name was not “Wu Zone.” It was Wuz, but then I added the One, as was typical of my favorite graffiti writers.
Completely self-taught. I always liked to paint, I even did doodles while I drank milk as a child. My only formal training is in psychology.
What sort of graffiti paintings did you do? Murals or tags?
What inspired you to use toys as canvases for your art?
I painted murals and letters mainly. I love creating the letters! I have to admit, though, that I also painted some clandestine tags from time to time…
When I started painting graffiti about 16 years ago, I used to buy graffiti magazines and that was where I was introduced to designer toys. It was love at first sight. My first custom was on a mini Munny in 2008, and I loved how my design gained personality from the shape of the toy. Then I started
What’s your art background? Formally trained? Self-taught? A little of both?
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to paint Dunnys, and there began the obsession… What attracts you to painting mostly symmetrical, abstract shapes on your customs? I think the taste for symmetry is characteristic of my personality, as sometimes I can be a perfectionist. My girlfriend, unfortunately for her, can confirm this. Speaking strictly from an artistic point of view, I like that my work seems so clean, so much like vector designs. At other times, I want to avoid symmetry and do something more ‘free’ feeling, but so far I haven’t succeeded. There are a lot of cartoonish elements to your art… Were cartoons & comics a big inspiration on you? Yes! My favorite cartoons are varied, but those that directly influenced my work are any of the Disney productions, classics like Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Felix The Cat, and some more current ones, like Doraemon, Family Guy, and SpongeBob SquarePants. I also love superheroes, like X-Men, Spiderman, and Batman. Another inspiration for me are video games, especially the classics from Nintendo and Sega.
think an odd number of eyes breaks the symmetry of my designs and, depending on if the person viewing is focused on the central eye or the other two eyes, they can see two designs and not just one! I also like the contrast.
who might not know my work. But stay tuned, everyone, there will be more news very soon!
Anyway, I am always evolving, so maybe in two years I’ll be painting only one eye. Who knows!?!
And what else does the future hold for you?
You have a penchant for including three or more eyes on your pieces. Why? What does this element mean to you?
It was recently revealed that Kidrobot will be making a production piece with you. Congrats! Can you give us any info about this release?
I just want to continue working hard to develop my designs. I also hope to take some classes on painting techniques, so that I can keep learning and pushing myself. In short term, I plan to paint some canvas pieces, but I won’t forget about my customs or abandon them.
I think the eyes are a key element in the design of a character, giving personality to the piece. Eyes are capable of conveying more than any other element. Moreover, I
Thank you very much for the congratulations! At the moment, I can’t say much. I’m very happy about it, and it’s a great opportunity for me, especially to be able to reach people
For more information on WuzOne, please visit: instagram.com/thewuz/
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“EyeSkull Series Nos. 1-5” 2014
ACTION… Experience 2,691 days of toy making dedication, no two alike! ADVENTURE… Conquer coolness by relocating to Japan! THRILLS… Assault the world with a bevy of beasts!
Kesagake - Garabear, 2015
Cyclops Dinos - Dogosaur, 2013
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
Kidrobot and asked him to make the figures I had in mind! (Laughs)
My name is Jon Malmstedt. In the “toy world,” I’m known as RAMPAGE TOYS. I started making toys in 2008 while living in Seattle and experiencing general boredom sitting in front of computer most days. I had gone to school for Paleobiology, studying the art of getting good grades and learning next to nothing useful. After college, I worked in a climbing gym, and spent most of my time rock climbing, biking, or painting models. I then moved to a desk job. (Sighs) My childhood dreams of searching for dinosaur bones never quite panned out, but at least I get to make dinosaur toys!
In fact, he actually responded to my email, and told me to have fun with it. I wasn’t surprised that he wasn’t interested, even less so now thinking of how silly those snack food things were… Anyway, things sort of snowballed from there. I quit my ‘real job’ not too much longer after that, and I spent many years trying to attain some sort of fiscal sustainability! It’s basically the best job in the world: being my own boss and playing with chemicals and all that. Yay!
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO MAKING TOYS IN THE FIRST PLACE? For Christmas in 2007, my wife gave me a Kidrobot Sketbot [designed by Sket-One] and a Sam the Pirate [by Red Magic]. Instead of running out and buying more figures right away, I went to the craftstore and bought casting supplies. I even emailed the owner of
WHAT WERE THESE ‘SNACK FOOD THINGS’? The series was called Rampaging Snack Foods. They were rubbery-resin snack food monsters that articulated on wooden dowels at the feet. The series consisted of Jello, a cupcake, a chocolate chip cookie, and a devil dog. There was also a marshmallow [character], but the mold broke when I cast the first one, so he never really came to life. This was just around the time that [64 Colors’] Marshall toy appeared, [and] my dude was
named… wait for it… Martial! Admittedly Marshall was far superior to Martial.
YOU MENTIONED A CUPCAKE DESIGN IN THERE, AND A LOT OF YOUR EARLY PIECES — CUPCAKE KAIJU, CUPCAKE BUDDHA, CUPCAKE GHOST — SEEMED TO HAVE A, WELL, CONNECTING DESIGN POINT. WHAT WAS WITH THE CUPCAKES? Cupcakes were BLOWING UP in 2008! In Seattle, Cupcake Royale was starting to open shops, Johnny Cupcakes was starting to do his thing, and many other cupcake-y things were popping up. When I made the first few snackfood dudes, I asked my friends what they liked; they all chose the cupcake, so I rolled with it and went a bit crazy with the cupcake dudes. The Cupcake Luchadore has since been denoted as — maybe — the first M.U.S.C.L.E. mash-up figure to be ‘produced’ in resin. At that time, TheGodBeast [Marty Hansen] was super helpful, giving me casting tips and generally showing interest in what I was doing. The other cupcake figures, and derivatives of the OG [original] Clutter 26 | 29
Micro Sofubi: Cake Tanks, 2014
Cupcake Luchadore, were all just fun. I don’t really love cupcakes… I prefer a nice cookie, preferably with some combo of chocolate and shredded coconut.
WHY DID YOU MAKE THE LEAP FROM RESIN TO VINYL WITH THE UGLY UNICORN? AND WHY DOESN’T IT HAVE A CUPCAKE ASPECT TO IT? You see, the Ugly Unicorn (UU) loves cupcakes. In some of my early acrylic paintings — done under the mentorship of my good friend Justin Hillgrove — the UU and the Cupcake Kaiju are battling it out. When it came time to choose a character for vinyl, I was more excited to make the UU than the cupcake guy. I guess I was already moving away from the focus on snackfoods, though I’ve continued to do various resin takes on the cupcake design. When I finished sculpting the UU, I was happy with how he fit alongside the various Japanese vinyl figures in my collection, so I took the leap and, on the recommendation of Mr. [Bwana] Spoons, I sent the sculpt off to Velocitron [Ricky Wilson]. That was right before I moved to Japan — seems like forever ago!
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TO JAPAN? WAS IT MAINLY A TOY PRODUCER RELATED DECISION? It wasn’t really driven by the toy production thing; the toy production was, more or less, driven by the move. My wife and I were looking to make a move from Seattle. After six years, it was time to leave Seattle, [we] just sort of reached that point. We have a few friends here in Tokyo, who we had visited in 2009, so we knew we liked it here. My wife was able to secure us visas by getting a teaching job. So the cards fell into place and, viola, we moved to Japan.
YOUR CYCLOPS DINOS OBVIOUSLY STEM, ON THE ONE SIDE, FROM YOUR PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED PALEOBIOLOGY BACKGROUND. BUT WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE THEM SINGLE EYED? Well, that was something that took a while to decide. Make “dinosuars” or make “something a little different”… I have a feeling there are a fair number of people out there who would have been more excited about these little dudes if they were bioptic — did I make that word up? — but I decided I wanted to go with something more cartoon-like and not just your
standard, ‘been done a million times’ dinos. Admittedly, the dinos are far more popular inside Japan than they are in the States or elsewhere, but that’s not something that really bothers me.
YOU’VE BEEN MAKING PIECES IN AN ULTRA KAIJU SERIES OF OFFICIALLY LICENSED ULTRAMAN CREATURES. ARE YOU A BIG ULTRAMAN FAN? I don’t really collect too many toys — it’s too dangerous and too easy to get sucked into random toy purchases when you live in Tokyo — so I focus on a couple things. One thing is the Ultra Kaiju Jamira. I don’t know just why, but I love the design. When I got to see the collection of original Kaiju watercolor paintings at the Aomori Museum of Art [in Aomori City, Japan], I just stood in front of the Jamira one for ages!
SO HOW DID THE ULTRA KAIJU PROJECT COME ABOUT? I wanted to make my own Jamira, and once my Japanese language ability reached the point where I could start asking around, I managed to figure it all out. The series wasn’t meant to be a series, just one toy. But Marmit [Kazu
Rotten X - OG Color, Rampage Toys × Skull Butt Head × Triclops × Disarticulators collab, 2014
Akamatsu] — who helps me with the Tsuburaya licensing — liked the first figure, and when he asked Tsuburaya if I could keep going with further characters, they gave the thumbs up! Psyched! So, I recently released Aboras, and in May, at Design Festa, it’ll be Pigumon and Red King. I have some fun ideas for future figures. This is the coolest thing to be able to do and I’m really excited to have this ongoing series to keep me busy, not that I’m ever NOT busy these days.
THERE IS ALSO THE RECENT KAIBUTSUYA — OR GIANT MONSTER ANIMAL — SERIES, WHICH YOU BEGAN WITH THE KESAGAKE FIGURE. WHAT’S THE IDEA BEHIND THE LINE? Kesagake is inspired by a real bear that destroyed a village in Hoakkaido in the early 20th century. I had the idea for the figure 3-plus years ago, when I was living up in Akita [northern Honshu], doing research about the bears local to that area, and stumbling across the story of Kesagake. At that time, I was focusing on painting my own stuff — mostly the UU — and doing collab painted releases, and I didn’t feel confident enough with my sculpting to tackle the figure as I envisioned it, so it got put on the back burner. Flash forward to Spring of last year, I had started doing my own wax prototyping, and I had gotten a few leads about scultping materials and stuff like that, so I decided to go for it. It took me three months to get the sculpt how I wanted it, always chopping it up, resculpting, and puting it aside to mull it over, repeating this process a whole ton. Once I got the sculpt done, the wax was another challenge, as it was so big and big casts are a whole different game from the usual small stuff I’ve been doing. Anyway, the figure came to life in sofubi for release at Sufes [Super Festival] in September of 2014.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE LINE IN THE FUTURE? The series will focus on similar historically routed instances of monstrous, man-eating animals. I have the next two figures in mind, but it’s just a matter of finding the enormous amount of time needed to sculpt them. I’m aiming for something new by DCon [DesignerCon] this Fall, I hope…
THE GATCHAPON GOBLINS WAS A DIFFERENT SERIES FROM YOU, IN THAT YOU MADE MINI FIGURES FROM A VARIETY OF ARTIST’S DESIGNS. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE THIS DIRECTIONAL SHIFT? These little dudes were my third project. I wanted to make a micro Ugly Unicorn and ‘normal’ Unicorns [My Little Unicorn], but didn’t want to make a mold for just these two little guys, and, apparently, I wasn’t feeling creative enough to come up with other figures at the time… So, I asked around a bit, and eventually got Bobby Beast creator and header-card artiste extraordinaire Walter Parenton, Joseph
Harmon, and Art Junkie onboard. Joseph sculpted Bobby and Harry as well as two dudes of his own devising — Slimeface Seijin and Eggplant Batboy — and Art Junkie got me a Shitman sculpt, and I did the whole bundle in wax. The figures are usually in my gachapon machine at events here in Japan, but I’m moving more toward selling painted versions these days. The little dudes take a while to paint nicely, but I enjoy it.
EARLIER YOU MENTIONED JUSTIN HILLGROVE, AKA IMPS & MONSTERS, AS BEING A LONG LASTING FRIEND. IS THAT THE REASON YOU PRODUCED HIS Clutter 26 | 31
Ugly Unicorn - Rainbow Hair V2.0, 2012
MANOTAUR FIGURE? YOU DON’T NORMALLY PRODUCE TOO MUCH FROM OTHER PEOPLE… Basically, yes, though the vinyl production was, again, run through Ricky [Velocitron]. Justin had wanted to make a figure since I told him about my plans for the Ugly Unicorn. At that time he and I were doing gallery shows and trade shows on the West Coast, and I was trying to learn how to paint better by hanging around him as much as possible! Basically, everything Justin sets his hand to is magic. Most people, even most people who would normally not like the type of stuff he does, they all enjoy Justin’s work. So, I was more than happy to help Justin with the Manotaur. I’m pretty excited right now, because Justin is working on a header card for me — it’s going to be rad! Thinking DCon for that. Would be my first time at DCon.
ONE OF THE OTHER RECENT TIMES YOU’VE WORKED WITH ANOTHER ARTIST ON VINYL PRODUCTION WAS THE LAB MICE WITH SPLURRT. WAS THIS A TRUE COLLABORATION? WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO MAKING THESE DISTURBINGLY CUTE PIECES? Well, this was more of a friendly 32 | Clutter 26
production project than a true ‘collaboration.’ Joe [Merrill, aka Splurrt] had shown me the Lab Mice sculpts in 2011, and then I kind of forgot about them. He never went through the process of sending them over here, getting wax and molds done, because he had other projects that he wanted to focus on. At some point he approached me about making the figures and I liked them, so I took them on. For me, it just comes down to the fact that it’s nice to have a range of figures to paint and release occaisionally. For Joe, he was happy to see them come to life in vinyl, and he can get figures form me whenever he wants them. At some point we’ll do new heads… maybe [even] some fun guest sculpts!
Ugly Unicorn - Red X-Ray, 2012
YOU DO A LOT OF HAND-PAINTED RUNS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S TOYS AS WELL. WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO PAINTING ANOTHER’S DESIGN INSTEAD OF YOUR OWN? AND DO YOU ALWAYS GET THE PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST, WHICH I KNOW IS A BIT OF A STICKING POINT IN JAPAN? I started out painting whatever I could get my hands on, and selling it wherever and whenever. That’s changed utterly. I now mostly do things with just a handful of people, and definitely only after asking them
Micro Sofubi: My Shaggy Little Unicorn, 2014
Kesagake with Villager Snack omake Garabear (detail), 2015
first. As I’ve made the transition from a hobbyist to a full-time painter/ maker over the past few years, it’s become more and more important to get the okay of the maker prior to painting their figures. I never piant over a painted figure, and have turned down commissions when people have asked me to do that. Anywho, collabs… Really, at this point, I’m only painting a few collabs very seldomly, but it’s fun to paint a range of things. When I’ve sat down to paint fifty Ultra Kaiju, it’s not so fun, but I always try to follow it up with some one-offs or a micro run of something I really want to paint.
RECENTLY, YOU’VE DONE PAINTED COLLABS FOR EXHIBITS AT RAMPAGE STUDIOS, YOUR PHYSICAL SHOP AND GALLERY SPACE IN JAPAN— I wouldn’t call it a ‘shop.’ I tried that route for a month or so, once I got everything all remodeled and I was settled into my work schedule… It
was kind of a disaster. I don’t think a lot of people realize that RAMPAGE TOYS is literally just me. Sculpting, prototyping, painting, selling, emailing, shipping, all takes a lot of time — and then trying to [be] open for regular business hours, that wasn’t possible! I guess I was a bit overambitious to start.
(LAUGHS) SO HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT? Well, I eventually settled into doing one week long ‘shows’ in my living room, and now I’m usually doing one night events on occasional Fridays. Yep, the room with the display shelves and the place where people like BLObPUS, Datadub, Zoomoth, Punk Drunkers, TRU:TEK, Yoda-san [Longneck], Elegab, Konatsu, and the sort have all been hanging out — and consuming frothy beverages — is my living room. The floor has the traditional tatami mats, and the one door in the room opens up to my kitchen. One of the major draws at RAMPAGE STUDIOS are my two
cats. Some people — the manager at Nakano Broadway, for example — come to the events primarily to see the cats. (Laughs) I’ve been lucky to have this space… The house is owned by a friend, and my wife and I get to rent it for a while. And I’m even luckier that my awesome wife tolerates the mayhem, which can often include lines of twenty or so people waiting out front.
WOW, THAT’S AMAZING. SOUNDS LIKE A FANTASTIC SPACE! It’s amazing. On top it all off, out the front door is the entrance to one of the larger Shinto shrines in Tokyo, as well as a giant, maybe 900-year-old, Ginko tree, which is the second largest in Japan. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t stop and realize how awesome this spot is. For more information on Rampage Toys, please visit:
WWW.RAMPAGETOYS.COM Clutter 26 | 33
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Opposite: Artwork (detail) by Sexual Youkai
THOSE FOUR WORDS ARE ALMOST AS MUCH A SLOGAN AS THE BRAND’S NAME, SCUMBAGS & SUPERSTARS. FOUNDED BY GEORGE ROSA, A CHILD OF THE ‘80S THAT “CAUSED TROUBLE” IN THE ‘90S ONCE HE FOUND GRAFFITI PAINTING, THIS UNLIFE-STYLE LABEL FOCUSES ON THE GRIM AND THE GRODY, THE MONSTROUS AND MENACING. CALLING FORTH IMAGERY INSPIRED BY THE CLASSIC UNIVERSAL CREATURES, YOU CAN FIND EVERYTHING FROM A THREEEYED RAMPAGING GIANT MONKEY TO A MADBALL-ESQUE MUCKSTER FROM THE BLACK LAGOON EMBLAZONED ON THEIR APPAREL. A TRUE AMERICAN GROSS EMBODIMENT IF EVER THERE WAS ONE. WHEN DID YOU START THE BRAND? WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM? WHAT AND/OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO STRIKE OUT ON YOUR OWN LIKE THAT? I started Scumbags & Superstars (SxS) in the summer of 2010. I had recently been thrown out of my apartment and a big art show that I was planning for over a year had been cancelled. I was at the end of my rope with art, the art world, and being an “artist.” I started SxS as a big fuck you to everything. I wasn’t “inspired,” more “forced” into creating a brand; I didn’t have many options at this point. I always was good at design and art but felt alienated by the art world, [so] starting a brand was a chance to finally do my own thing on my own terms. Fuck everyone!!!
WHERE DID THE SXS NAME COME FROM? The name comes from a line in a Talking Heads song and it came about in a random kinda way. I used to make
a lot of cut & paste collage/art zines years ago, and I made one called Scumbags & Superstars. The zine was all imagery and had no words other then the title, but people seemed to always respond well to the title when I showed them the zine. So when I started the brand and needed a name, I just thought this resonates well and is something that will stand out. Plus I’m a big fan of word play and I like how, conceptually, the title eludes to something greater. The idea of high & low brow, the winners & losers.
SO HOW DID THE SKULL CHIEF MASCOT FOR SXS COME ABOUT? The logo was basically something that I wanted to fit with the name. And the name to me, like I stated, eludes to perception. Who are the scumbags and who are the superstars? In 2014 those borders are pretty blurred. I mean, in many instances our “Superstars” — such as actors, athletes & politicians — are just “Scumbags” that have somehow tricked the American public, so are
these people really Scumbags or Superstars? Perception is what defines them, I guess. So back to the logo… Our company isn’t political and I’m not trying to preach to anyone — we make monster t-shirts and weird shit — but I thought it made sense to have a logo with a strong conceptual meaning behind it that coincided well with the brand’s name and not just something that was “catchy.” It had to be visually appealing, but I also wanted something very easily recognizable and very “American.” I have strong views about American politics and wanted something that was militant and defiant. In America today, no one is really perceived as much of a “scumbag” as the Nazis were, so I chose a German World War II skull and I added the headdress to the skull to symbolize death and tyranny. I think the juxtaposition of the two is very powerful. At the end of the day, our logo was made to be aesthetically pleasing and act as an eye catching design, but if people look more into it and/ Clutter 26 | 39
or ask us questions about it then they will understand that there is a strong concept behind it: in America we performed genocide on an entire race of people, the Native American people. And, if that’s not bad enough, the Native American image has been exploited and used in an offensive way for years in America, we wear these people’s image around on sporting hats and jerseys like they’re a fuckin’ mascot! This is truly offense and SxS doesn’t support this at all; we are trying to shed light on injustices & empower an overlooked people. We support the underdog and we mean no disrespect in any way to Native American people. We do not want our logo to be looked at as patronizing, instead we want our logo to be viewed as empowering and enlightening. We aren’t celebrating the fact that it’s a dead “indian,” we are trying to call attention to the true history and meaning of the image.
WHO DOES THE ARTWORK FOR SXS PIECES?
are able to collaborate and work with lots of really great people.
I do all the design and concept stuff, then we have some really amazing artists that do our illustrations: Sexual Youkai, Benjamin Lande, and Wizard Cleave are three of our main guys. Sexual Youkai has been with us since, basically, the beginning and the guy is a genius! We love him! But all the guys we work with are awesome. And we’ve had the pleasure of working with many really talented artists. That’s one of the most enjoyable parts of doing this, we
WHILE I HATE THE TERM ‘LIFESTYLE BRAND,’ HOW DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SIMILAR AND DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ‘LIFESTYLE BRANDS’?
Artwork: Sexual Youkai
Yeah, lifestyle brand is a dumb name. To quote George Carlin, “If you want to know what a moronic word ‘lifestyle’ is, all you have to do is realize that, in a technical sense, Attila the Hun had
an active, outdoor lifestyle”… I generally hate most street wear brands and am trying my hardest to distance myself from the whole industry. I think street wear is like a giant human centipede: every company is just eating the other company’s shit. Most of these brands are fake and corny. And most of these guys in the industry look like total assholes wearing all this dumb crap with bright colors like they’re 17 year old girls. Or these upside down crosses and satanic imagery, like some mad emo kids. Get the fuck outta here with that!! We make clothes for real people. Yes, our stuff is weird, but our focus is more with design and art in mind. Strong graphics are our forte and we aren’t selling “hype” or a name. And we aren’t trying to make the brand “mainstream” and sell our stuff at malls in middle America, we are trying to keep it 100% independent, underground, and real. I wanna create something that will live forever.
YOU ACTUALLY TEAMED UP WITH A ‘LIFESTYLE BRAND,’ MISHKA, TO RELEASE A NAGNAGNAG T-SHIRT FOR NEW YORK COMIC CON 2013. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? “Cleavis & Buttmunch” Artwork: Wizard Cleave 40 | Clutter 26
Well, there were two shirts actually. Shig [Arai of NagNagNag] asked me to design a box for his Nag Zombie, and I thought it would be cool to include a shirt with the Zombie and box. It
was printed in a very small run and most people didn’t see the Zombie release because it was on Thursday night. It was the Camo Zombie and the shirt that came with it has the Zombie illustrated and says NagNagNag on the front. The second shirt was a design that our buddy Sexual Youkai did for us. We were releasing the Nag Zombie with Shig and we planned to be hanging at the Mishka booth all weekend, so Greg [Rivera, co-owner of Mishka] and I figured it would be cool to do a collabo shirt. That’s were the second shirt came from. Sexual Youkai did an amazing job on the graphic! Both shirts turned out rad, I think.
NOT TO SINGLE ONE ARTIST OUT, BUT YOU’VE WORKED WITH SEXUAL YOUKAI FOR QUITE A WHILE… HOW DID YOU TWO START WORKING TOGETHER? HOW DO YOU TWO TYPICALLY WORK TOGETHER ON PIECES?
Below: Brooklyn hat and Middle Finger t-shirt. Artwork: George Rosa.
We’ve been working with Sexual Youkai since 2012. He’s an amazing artist and I’m really glad to have him on the SxS team! I found him on Instagram and actually thought he may have been a Japanese girl at first. (Laughs) I was like, “there’s no way this Japanese chick is doing this bugged out crazy shit! I gotta message this girl to work with us”… So I messaged her and, when I was sent an email back, it turns out he was an English guy living in Japan. We worked well together from the beginning. Even though we’ve never met face to face, I think we just form a great team. Many times I’ll send him an idea and then he’ll send me over a B&W design that I’ll colorize and/ or arrange stuff out on it. I think the both of us compliment each other really well. His style is perfect for the brand and he’s always coming up with great ideas; he’s an inspiring guy who’s work is super technical and advanced. He motivates me to create more stuff.
IT’S FUNNY YOU MENTION JAPAN, AS I SEE A LOT OF JAPANESE INFLUENCE IN THE ART ON YOUR RELEASES… IS THIS AN AESTHETIC THAT APPEALS TO YOU? I am very inspired by Japanese design. I think they have taken many Clutter 26 | 41
American aesthetics and made them better and expanded on them. Also I love their packaging design and use of branding. They are very meticulous as a culture, much attention is spent on small details. I’m the same way. Also, I think Japanese people tend to take more pride in what they do than most average Americans; they have a strong work ethic that compliments their savvy design sense.
YOU ACTUALLY PRODUCED YOUR MASCOT AS A JAPANESE VINYL PIECE. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO VENTURE INTO THE ART TOY WORLD THIS WAY? I’ve always created art and collected toys, ever since I was a kid. Around 2002 I found out about “designer” artist toys, this fairly new market that a lot of graffiti guys were getting into. This was my first introduction to seeing artist’s 2D work being
transformed into 3D, and ever since then I’ve always dreamed about creating my own 3D piece. I’m not a sculptor, my forte is more 2D design and drawings, so it was a long and interesting process seeing the Skull Chief’s transition from a logo to a rendered prototype and then produced into vinyl. All and all I think it turned out well. I plan on making some more pieces in the future… I’m working on a few things now that I hope to show and release later this year.
SO WHAT ARE THESE OTHER PIECES? Well, I don’t want SxS to be a toy company and I don’t wanna make toys just to “make” them. Creating the Skull Chief was necessary for us because it is our logo. That piece is something that’s timeless. In the future we may release a more “figurative” and traditional toy, but I need to be 100% on them before we
go to production with anything.
GOOD PLAN. LET’S JUST TALK TOYS IN GENERAL: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITES AND WHY? DO YOU FEEL THAT TOYS INFLUENCE SXS AT ALL? Toys… (Laughs) yes, I have a toy problem: I buy too many! I mostly collect monster/horror stuff, everything from vintage American to modern day, rare kaiju. I love Madballs, Freddy Krueger, Rat Fink, and Galtans, not in that order. But am I inspired by them? I don’t know. I appreciate the sculpts, but I think I like them more for their aesthetic form. I think I’m more inspired by 2D materials, comics and old movies and TV. Is TV 2D? I know when it’s live it isn’t, but I’m not watching it live — it’s flat on my screen. So is that 2D? I don’t know. Anyway, yeah, TV and monster movies. That’s the stuff…
Black Lagoon T-shirt Artwork: Benjamin Lande
For more information on Scumbags & Superstars, please visit
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DON’T LOSE YOUR HEAD PSYCHO SCIMITAR BY NICK CURTIS
“Ballerina Terror Mask” 2014 46 | Clutter 26
Clockwise from top-left: “Crystal Lady,” “Gorilla Fist Girl,” “Head Hunter Play-set” (head), “Booger Boil” (figure), and “Head Hunter Playset” (body), all 2014-2015
MAYHEM. MISRULE. MASS DECAPITATION. Welcome to the world of Psycho Scimitar, where malformed monsters run rampant, their precision perfect existence being one of terror. And artist Alex Gavryushenko wouldn’t have it any other way. What is your background, artistic and otherwise?
Where does the name Psycho Scimitar come from?
I was born in Kiev, Ukraine, but I don’t remember a thing about it. (Laughs) My family immigrated to New York when I was two, I grew up in Brooklyn playing Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter video games in pizzerias and collecting Pokémon cards. I studied fine art at Pratt, and I’ve been teaching and making art since. Psycho Scimitar is a relatively new project.
Before I made my first wooden figures, I had an idea for a comic set in a land that was terrorized by a mystical, murderous, flying sword that was — inexplicably — beheading the land’s inhabitants. The sword is the Psycho Scimitar, and the toys are based on characters in the story who eventually adapted to survive its attacks by transforming, growing new heads or bodies. I
haven’t gotten around to illustrating the story, maybe I’ll start printing some card inserts or headers with narratives about it. What are the inspirations for your art? I look out for independent comics or any source of weird imagery. There’s a publishing house in France called Le Dernier Cri, they put out really ridiculous, demented stuff. I like looking at Shintaro Kago and Keiichi Tanaami, video games and action cartoons from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and artifacts from ancient cultures. I’m also thankful for all the toy makers who make exactly what they want with reckless abandonment of conventions. What attracted you to making your art into toys? The toys are a totally new mode of making for me. Before I began Clutter 26 | 47
working on them, I had been making abstract sculptures, drawings, and prints, but the [Psycho Scimitar] idea just demanded that I worked in a different way. I don’t remember it being a deliberate decision to step into the toy realm, but it was definitely influenced by the fact that I had already begun collecting toys. I didn’t have nearly as many toys as I wanted when I was a kid, so soon after I got a job I started reclaiming as many lost figures from my childhood as I could. As I did that, I discovered a bunch of the stuff that had been coming out of Japan since the ‘60s: kaiju, robots, yokai, tin toys… I couldn’t believe how bizarre and imaginative all the designs were. I think once I got ahold of a few of those, I saw that when you have something that strange in your hand, it defies your conceptions of what exists or what is allowed to exist. That’s very exciting and encouraging. A lot of your work is made in wood, which isn’t very common in this scene. What drew you to that medium? I drew up a silkscreen positive of a character and realized that I didn’t have to print it on paper, it could go on damn near anything. I’m pretty familiar with the material and it gave me a chance to turn the images into objects. I like to imagine that I’m making relics or artifacts from the world of Psycho Scimitar. I didn’t give too much thought to how they may be received, I just knew I needed to print on a flat surface so
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Left to right: “Birthing Tulip,” “Robo-Slug,” and “Crystal Lady,” all 2014-2015.
that I could have a graphic image but at the same time be able to make movable parts. The heads and limbs of all the figures are very easy to interchange and that jibes well with the ideas of evolution and transformation in the story. I’ve got some resin figures in the works that will come from molds of wooden pieces. What can you tell us about the resin pieces? Will they have the same modular nature of your wood figures? Yep, all the parts will move and be interchangeable. I’m going to make a big mess of body parts and get to playing with them, adding more
Woebegone Mamilla, 2015.
over time. Maybe they will come preassembled, or jumbled, or both. So far I’ve made some parts of robots, humans, animals, ghosts, monsters, abstract ideas, things that don’t make any sense… Sometimes it’s fun figuring out what you’ve made after you make it, enslaving yourself to some specific plan beforehand is tiresome. Unlike the wooden screen printed figures, these figures will have a relief surface to them, the images carved by hand into their surfaces like traditional woodcuts, so they won’t be completely flat. At the same time the imagery will be very graphic, imagine the carved wooden block used to print a Ukiyo-e Samurai turned into an action figure.
Ballerina tank top.
Left to right: “Gooey Baby Bloom,” “Gorilla Fist Girl,” and “Fruit Bat Guy,” all 2015.
Actually that’s not a bad idea… Let’s talk about Woebegone Mamilla, your first vinyl toy. What’s the story behind the design? How does it fit into your Psycho Scimitar universe? The Woebegone Mamilla — Miserable Nipple — is a sofubi figure flying in from Japan as we speak! My girlfriend Laura came up with the name, she comes up with all of the names… So the Woebegone is what I imagine to be one of the most pathetic creatures in the path of the Scimitar. It’s helpless and stupid but, by the grace of having had its head cut off, [it] is morphing into something new. This first version of the figure is from that instant of change, it’s frozen in shock but its eyes have started bulging out of its head and transforming, hence the three different eyestalks. I’m working on new odd limbs and organs that’ll sprout from the separated head and torso for future versions.
the fuck out. It’s like, “whoa, that’s not supposed to happen.” I’m really excited about sculpting other things that will come out of the head, things that shouldn’t be found inside of a head. When can we expect to see this figure released? Are you planning to do unpainted releases? Painted micro runs? Custom one-offs? I’ll estimate and say that there will be at least one release before the end of May. There are a couple of editions slated for production at the factory so as soon as I have them in my hands, they’ll be up for grabs. This batch will amount to 4 different releases, painted and unpainted. And the edition sizes will all be very, very
small. I’ll mess around with some of them, too. I think tiny hand-sewn bikinis might look really good on the figure… (Laughs) It seems your creativity runs rampant! What else can we expect from you in the future? Right this minute, I’m thinking about panties. I want to get a few artist friends together and make a PantiePortfolio, limited edition prints on underwear. But also more sofubi, more toys of all sorts, maybe some animated shorts, and picture books.
For more information on Psycho Scimitar, please visit: www.psychoscimitar.com
Resin piece prototype 2015
The interchangeable eye-stalks are a brilliant feature… What made you think to take your toy in this direction? It’s a very creative idea. Thanks! I wanted to make parts that could be played with that weren’t arms and legs, but I also liked the idea of something coming out of the head. Have you ever seen those videos of people intentionally popping their eyeballs partially out of their sockets? That stuff freaks me Clutter 26 | 49
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