the Gherkimporium
Created using this by Frankell Baramdyka, this by Josh Nizzi, and this by Jamie Christopherson.  Based on this.


Created using this by Frankell Baramdyka, this by Josh Nizzi, and this by Jamie Christopherson.  Based on this.

what's the weirdest thing you were ever hired for?


I’ll copy/paste from an old blog post.

A few months ago (2010) I received an e-mail asking me if I could draw hentai for school children. I almost didn’t reply because that sounded too much like a hoax. But the e-mail came from an ad agency and it seemed legit. I had nothing to lose by seeing where this would go so I said I was interested. If anything, I would’ve liked to be embroiled in a scandal with demagogue pundits screaming will someone think of the children!

Next the ad agency wanted me to quote a price but couldn’t tell me exactly what the illustration was. It wasn’t their fault, the client wouldn’t tell the agency what it was, except they wanted two androgynous hentai characters. And the price needed to be final. So I overcharged a bit what I thought it could be worth, just to make sure I wouldn’t end up actually undercharging if the work happened to be more than I expected. I didn’t like doing that, but it’s not my fault the client isn’t giving me a full description of what he wants. But in the end, it turns out I charged just the right price considering the work demanded.

Two weeks pass and I don’t hear from the ad agency. I figure they found someone cheaper. I forgot about it but then the ad agency asks for my port folio. Now I got a problem. They want hentai for school children? Really?? Do they know what hentai is? Do they think hentai is a synonim for anime or manga? I don’t want to e-mail a picture of a facial cumshot and freak out the designer. So I e-mail her and ask her if she knows the difference between hentai and anime. You know hentai is porn, right? She asks me to phone her… Getting through the agency’s phone system, now I know this is legit. I talk to the designer. She explains she knows exactly what hentai is and she asked the same question to the client. She told the client that hentai is porn. The client answers, “you’re generalizing”. Uh, no she’s not. Ok, hentai means perverted and it can be something as trivial as a panty shot. But still, hentai is exploitation, it’s a type of porn.

The client’s previous ad campaign didn’t reach kids as much as they wanted. They used childish kids cartoon and nobody cared. So they want something that’s anime, but not childish. They don’t want something like Pokémon. So something more like those Bishounen and shojo or whatever it’s called (too lazy to check Wikipedia). But that’s not hentai. But why do they need to be androgynous? Like yaoi?? And did I hear something about oral sex hygiene??? I’m very confused but at least I know this is serious.

I send a non-porn port folio or my most “anime looking” illustrations. Turns out the client like the one that looks the least like anime… *sigh* But I’m approved and I can start working on the project. I’ve made an animation Gif of the whole (slow and long; you know, bureaucrats) process.

Turns out the client is the Health Ministry. It’s not about oral sex, it’s about preventing bad breath by brushing your tongue. But why are they androgynous?? I guess a boy and a girl can’t be in the same bathroom. And that was the hard part. It’s easy to draw a tomboy or an effeminate man. Or a butch or an obvious trap. But drawing someone you really can’t tell, that’s hard. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded either.

Anyway, I’ve received my paycheck today and the mirror the illustration was printed on was in the envelope. There’s a magnet behind so kids can stick it on their locker’s door. Sorry kids, maybe you’ll get some real government hentai someday.

When you have a lot of toys, sometimes it takes you a while to find some really good combinations.

I was writing a piece about these two so I put them together on my desk, and the contrast between them - and the height and physique differences in particular - is really striking and very characteristic too.  Gruff, imposing Megatron versus shorter, nerdier Orion Pax.  I like it.

They’re going to be squaring off on my shelves for a while.

The Winsome Wasp!

Actual development process:

Fun Pub: [in the BotCon 2012 brochure] This amazing six figure Transformers: Invasion box set features: Heroic Treadshot…

Fans: Oh, like a Warpath repaint, made to resemble G1 Treadshot?  That sounds amazing!

Fun Pub: Crap

What we get is slavishly accurate to the original colour layouts of Treadshot while also working to flip Warpath’s colour scheme (predominantly red, with some grey and very little black) on its head.  He’s pretty slick.

He also comes with his little pal, Catgut, who is an orange and black Arms Micron that can turn into whatever your imagination limits it to.

Have we run of of Decepticon Action Masters to remake yet?


I took my little brother (who falls on the autism spectrum) to see Guardians of the Galaxy and after this scene he lit up like a Christmas tree and screamed “He’s like me! He can’t do metaphors!” And for the rest of the film my brother stared at Drax in a state of rapture. 

So for the last 6 days I have heard my brother repeatedly quote all of the Drax lines from the movie verbatim (one of his talents), begin studying vocabulary test words, and tell everyone he knows that people with autism can also be superheroes.

Now I am not saying that Drax the Destroyer is, or was ever, intended to be autistic. All I am saying is that it warmed my heart to see my brother have an opportunity to identify himself with a character known for his strength, badassness, and honor. And that is pretty damn awesome. 

So while I adored Guardians of the Galaxy as a great fun loving film with cool characters I can do nothing but thank Marvel Studios and Dave Bautista for finally bringing a superhero to the screen that my little brother can relate to.

And Crosscut rounds out our quartet!  He’s cast in a nice pearlescent silver, and the front of his car mode looks like a baby koala.  It’s endlessly amusing.

Like Skids, Crosscut turns into a stocky, well-armed robot with slight restrictions in shoulder articulation.  Unlike Skids, his hips are actually assembled correctly.  His only new retooled part is a new head that is very Optimus-esque, from the faceplate to the ears to the forehead crest.  His red paint apps are shiny, evocative of chromed parts.  He’s very decadent-looking.

I might be wrong, but I think Crosscut is the first ehobby original character outside of Sunstorm to reach non-exclusive mass retail. (EDIT: Sunder came first.) So on the one hand, while he is basically a nobody as a character, you can pay like $15 for a better-engineered version of a toy that usually goes for about six times that much.

Shattered Glass Tracks sold separately.

I’m running out of new and interesting things to think about this mold.  It still turns into a wicked-ass car.  It still has those funky shoulders.  I’d like to see you fit a trenchcoat over those, Nightbeat.

Nightbeat is blue! He is really, really blue.  He’s a little one-note, to be honest.  His yellow paint applications are a little tin, so they mostly end up a sort of faded green.  It would have also been nice to have an all-yellow chest, like the original Nightbeat, to really add some contrast to that sea of blue, but c’est la vie.  I’ll wait for the inevitable Reprolabels.  Inexplicably, his back windows are painted glittery blue in an attempt to match his blue plastic.  It’s barely even noticeable.

Despite his flaws, I think he’s a better Nightbeat than the planned retool of Jazz would have been.  The new noggin is also really nice.

I like Nightbeat, but yawn.

Jhiaxus is orange!  I’ve tried to deny it, but there’s just no getting past it.  He’s properly highlighter pen, raver bright orange.  I was surprised and disappointed that he doesn’t actually shine under UV light.  He appears in orange and grey not in reference to the majority of his fictional appearances, but that one Robots in Disguise redeco of Jetstorm he had once.  It’s such a vast difference that I have trouble connecting him to other incarnations of Jhiaxus outside of Dark Cybertron, so I subconsciously didn’t take photos of him with any G2 characters.  Ho hum.

Outside of colouring, Jhiaxus is still that great toy Armada Starscream was, only with generous retooled parts to give him a new head, front and rear wings, chest, cockpit, and twin pistols.  I always like toys with twin pistols.  And the headsculpt is sharp.  Lots of greeblies and details and full of characteristic contempt.  The nosecone now has an additional joint to fold up into the torso, and the wings angle themselves back rather than forwards.  It goes a great distance to differentiate the two characters.

On its own, it’s a great toy with an interesting Cybertronian jet mode and the same range of poseability as Starscream.  As a representation of Jhiaxus… eh, not so hot.  Due to wave rescheduling, the comic he comes with doesn’t even feature this body.  And the retooling means he doesn’t have the swords that lead to his ironic death!  Hopefully we’ll get a G2 colours version.  Don’t let me down this time, Takara.

Windblade has a boatload of fans!  No, I mean, fans.  She’s got two spinning VTOL-type fans pivoting in her wings, and there’s a fan in the hilt of her sword, and her golden headdress comes off to become a handheld tessen fan, and she appears in a really well-made comic so a lot of people like her, too.  I hotly anticipated receiving this figure initially because of how butthurt certain fans are, and then ended up liking the character in her own right!

It feels like a lot of thought has been put into this figure, but I can’t place my finger on why.  Certainly the transformation is enjoyable; I feel like not a single piece stays stationary in the whole process.  This results in a really articulated robot mode that’s perfect for swordplay.  The wings are really articulated too, so whatever stance you can pose her in, you can always just about pivot the wings out of the way so the pose isn’t hindered.  Personally, I was impressed by the tab on the scabbard that allows it to fit into the bog standard slot on the outside of a ball jointed part.  That’s really neat.

She’s not without her faults.  Ankle articulation is non-existent due to transformation, and the heels have a tendency to tilt inwards and let her topple over backwards.  Additionally, her head is on a swivel rather than a balljoint, limiting some of her playability.  There’s a tilt at the base of the neck, allowing her some up and down movement, but it doesn’t look like a natural neck movement.

Windblade is great.  She looks like a warrior princess.  I mean, the face is far more stern than the comic version (and Sarah Stone took more than a few liberties with the comic character model).  I dunno, I guess I feel this represents a less naive Windblade who knows her place in the world.  Grown-up Windblade.  Give her the Matrix already.

Everyone should buy a Windblade.