Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Let me tell you about the bids and the Bees!

They were the dream--resin cast beings able to transform their bodies at fan conventions, meetings and gatherings; a last line of defense against the realization that there could be no convention exclusive original molds! Or at least that was the idea back in 2004 when a couple guys from Washington and I made some trinkets for an unofficial Transformers fan convention called Cybcon. It seems like ages ago because since then we've seen many really great unofficial fan groups cranking out all sorts of Transformers inspired professional grade accessories and even entire robots. But back in '04 this sort of thing was entirely unheard of. Transformer fans were pretty much resigned to accepting that entirely new original toys were too cost prohibitive for Hasbro to produce and release at Botcon or to satisfy a small niche like crazy roboplastiholics. But nobody said anything about just a couple guys with a dream, lots and lots of cartoon screencaps and a whole buttload of resin.


So as part of a group effort we produced a bunch of handmade original "convention exclusive" toys that were essentially scratchbuilt prepainted resin garage kits in custom packaging. I did the figure design, casting, painting and assembly and the other guys did all the rest. I never was good at resin casting and the toys attest to that-they really do look like something a guy who didn't know what he was doing made in his garage with some sharpie markers, countless ounces of resin, a couple pounds of mold rubber and a couple hundred bottles of yellow Testors model paint. I refer to it as the time when I had more ambition and materials than talent but they were good times nonetheless and a very special part of my experience as a toy robots enthusiast. That aside, if I never see another bottle of yellow Testors model paint again it will be too soon.

It was a cool little project that lasted for a couple years and every now and then one makes its way onto eBay-like what's happening right now with the Cybcon 2004 Bumblebee. The end prices for these Cybcon exclusive auctions usually run the gamut of absurdity-sometimes they're lucky to pull 20 bucks and other times they pull hundreds. I've never quite understood that. My understanding and intention was the only people who'd really appreciate or care about these would be the couple dozen convention attendees who got one. That these trinkets would attain any significant secondary market value has always been perplexing, but maybe that's because the difference between me and the buyers is I know how amateurish the execution is. Call me crazy but if I had 200 bucks to spend on a yellow robot I sure as hell wouldn't blow it on a fanmade anything when there exists perfection in roboplastimetallic form.


I don't blog every time one of these goes on eBay but I have done it before and I want to clarify that things have changed a bit since I went on my last rant. I guess I've mellowed out a bit and my perspective has changed and I'm not so incensed by the profiteering anymore. Boy it's almost embarrassing how I used to go off on everyone involved in these auctions with such fury and rage, calling everyone on both sides of the transaction a bunch of soulless profiteering corruptors of my ideals and selfish retarded assholes and other things I usually reserve for the production staff of the live action Transformers movies. I guess that came from the insecurity of knowing the sculpts aren't all that great and my imagining how horrified the buyers must be upon realizing just what it was they bought. I've since learned to let go and not worry about some sucker getting taken by pretty pictures and a mysteriously worded auction description. I wish nothing but luck to all my selfish, soulless, asshole brothers!


gargunkle said...

That reminds me, I should do up a photo gallery of the tetrajet from a past year.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

If you're talking about Skywarp from '08 then I'm pretty fond of that one. I will always be proud of the new heights of crazysteve quality I achieved despite their asymmetric wings and bad paint jobs. I will always remember painting them in the hotel room as soon as I got to Botcon and being interrupted by a call from the front desk telling me the credit card I was using to pay for the room got rejected. Good times! I used to get all worked up about that kind of stuff but now looking back it's kind of funny. It's all just memories. Those resin castings will forever be mementos of the fun I had making them and the various shows I went to with them so I try not to dwell on how sucky my work was compared to the other resin robot producers and professional custom makers. Only now with a couple years of hindsight do I appreciate what a great ride my little resin casting phase was.

Captain Rufus said...

For fan made projects its pretty impressive dude. Im honestly not sure most of the current crop can really be called fan projects.

That Ultra Magnus armor is more "pro" than many well known miniatures companies' outputs.

Resin isn't easy to work with, and for one guy doing it out of love you did a damned good job.

(And its clear it was out of love, otherwise you would still be selling the things, even as unpainted kits. I'm sure you could probably make some solid bank, especially now with the DAPDX exposure that lead me here. Im sure others will come by too. Hell, I am pretty jealous over your Mighty Orbots resin.)

Hell, those Bumblebees would probably look even more rad if you had some of the more hardcore minis gamers paint them up.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

They were nice for their time but I don't think they're $200 and 1,500+ auction views nice. I'll never understand why that happens. Heck, at Botcon last year I saw one at a dealer table for 20 bucks and it didn't sell until late Sunday.

It was a lot of work and I loved doing it. I never lost the love-just the appeal of working so hard for a good number of attendees who saw the figures as nothing more than a source of secondary market profit.

I'm not so desperate to impress total strangers as I used to be. My crazy resin casting 30 figures at a time days are over. I'm happy with how I'm directing all that energy nowadays into my blog.

Heavyarms said...

Hey! I saw this on ebay the other day along with a tetra jet. I thought "Those Cybcon guys totally ripped Crazy Steve off!" but then I thought maybe you ripped off those Cybcon guys and I didn't want to call you out on it because I love my Crazy Steve custom tet-jet.

Its good to know you're not a shameless rip-off artist.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Well at some point it's all ripped off from Floro Dery designs. Anything fans do that's inspired by Transformers is ultimately derivative no matter who's done it first. All ideas are a dime a dozen anyways, it's the execution that really matters. I'm sure somewhere someone tried resin tetrajets before and after I did but that doesn't mean we're ripping each other off.

Speaking of execution, the Cybcon jets were the very last ones I did in my original style with the flat bottoms and the body cast all as one piece. The one you have is a 2.0 version where I went back and scrapped the old mold and started over. They're all special to me and although I consider the Skywarps my personal best execution of the tetrajet idea so far, you probably won't get a fraction as much for it on eBay as the earlier one we all made together for Cybcon. There's just something magical about that convention that makes people want to pay crazy dollars for those fanmade toys.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.