About Illumina, once again

I hate to have to come back to this topic, but I have the right to defend and protect myself from the incorrect and false statements that Mr. Val Staples published on October, 6th on the He-Man.org forum.

These statements by Mr. Staples contain subtle and not so subtle accusations to me about Illumina and why she is not available to be made as an action figure in the Masters of the Universe Classics line by Mattel. All of his comments and accusations are meant to simply deflect fan's blame to me, while the only person responsible for Illumina being off the table right now is indeed Mr. Staples himself.

The reason that I am the only owner of the character and her story is simply because I never had a contract with MVCreations and Mr. Staples.

In the world of freelance work, vendors are contracted to execute projects. The art created, and its intellectual property, is immediately transferred to the company. Contracts exist to protect both the vendor and the company, to make sure that everything is agreed on beforehand.
Of course, if I draw a sketch of He-Man, it doesn't mean that I own He-Man, but I still own that sketch. While I can't use it as it still portrays someone else’s IP, its existence does not automatically give the company owning He-Man the rights to use my sketch. To do it, they'd have to pay me and have all the conditions regulated by a contract.
Without a contract specifically stating that the rights to the work done is no longer property of the vendor, but is forever assigned to the company, the vendor will keep ownership of his work and keep rights for any usage that is made of it. Anybody telling you otherwise simply doesn't know what they are talking about.

I worked for Mr. Val Staples for years without a contract. It was his responsibility towards Mattel to put me under a contract, to protect Mattel and make sure that Mattel owned all the art I created for MOTU during my tenure as a freelance artist for MVCreations. Mr. Staples failed to do that, and as a consequence, I still maintain rights to everything I created during that time. He cannot provide any evidence that says otherwise, except for a generic Non-Disclosure Agreement that contains an assignments of rights clause that is too vague to have any effect. Two legal firms went over this and confirmed that MVCreations needed to have a contract specifically stating the assignments of rights for my MOTU work.

This includes the creation of Illumina.
That is not a claim, neither is it something against Mattel. It is just the pure legal consequence of Mr. Staples' lackadaisical business' practices. Despite all this though, I am always willing to work everything out with Mattel, and to make Illumina available to them. That is all there should be to say about this subject, but for those curious about the details, here are Mr. Staples recent posts at He-Man.Org:

Yes, at one time both I and Val Staples gave Mattel our blessing on the forum to use Illumina for an action figure.
But: A: that is not an actual legal binding contract, and; B: at that time I didn't realize the legal status that my work was in, and so I took for granted that I had no control over her.

As Mr. Staples has said, time went on, and inappropriate things were said about Illumina by a former Mattel employee who once managed the Classics toyline. At that point, I expressed my wishes to never see a figure of her, simply because of the misuse that was planned for her that completely twisted the nature of the character.
Once I become aware that I still retained rights to her, I did not make any threats of legal action against Mattel. Far from it. Through my legal representative, I made them aware of the situation, again not created by me, and offered to work things out.
Mr. Staples's practices exposed Mattel to a possible lawsuit for any use of Illumina, which is not a path that I am interested to follow. I want to make things right and make sure everything is resolved for all the parties involved.

By what I can read in his post, Mr. Staples went from claiming to be her creator in April 2015 (something he had to admit to being wrong about when presented with evidence), to consider her a “blight” on his studio's 2002 license. Sadly, a few members of the He-Man.org forum were actually banned for life in 2014 after they questioned the creation of Illumina on his forum.
If I have to speculate, Mr. Staples was probably hoping to make a convention exclusive of this character, and try to get all the glory for creating her. When confronted with the fact that Mattel cannot currently make a figure of her, he changed his tune, and has given the fans the impression that he now hates the character since he cannot claim legal ownership of her.

All his talk about petty drama and nonsense come across as attempts to manipulate the audience in his favor by diminishing my serious and real concerns, while deflecting responsibility for his actions. Mr. Staples created a very bad situation for Mattel by not having me under contract for years, and now he is trying to pass the blame to me. He can’t even bring himself to type out my name as the creator of Illumina in his posts.

Fans should stop saying that I am hurting them with these claims. I am not claiming anything. This is the legal situation, and I have to protect myself as an artist. I want to see an Illumina action figure get made. Especially if she won't have a bio on her package negating what I wanted her to be. Most importantly, I want fans to have an action figure of her too.

There is really nothing in the way of getting Illumina made as an action figure. I am sure that all of the parties involved can come to an agreement at any time to make it happen.

For those of you interested in voting, there is a poll on the He-Man World forum asking fans if they would like to see Illumina made as an action figure.

SDCC and MOTU: a new vibe

It has been a while since my last post about Masters of the Universe.
But no, this is not a rant about King Hiss torso or Power-Con exclusives, quite the opposite.

After the overly positive experience in San Diego Comic Con, I made a promise to myself and to a few other people to make a post about how the vibes surrounding MOTUC and Mattel are definitely different.
As many of you know, a new team is now in charge of Mattycollector.com and running the MOTUC line. This new team introduced itself for the first time to the fans at the panel at SDCC. I was there, I listened carefully about everything that was said and what the fans' reaction was.
I have to give big props to these new people for the way the presented the new team and all the issues they addressed during the panel. They first recognized the experience with Mattycollector and MOTU, as fans and collector, hasn't been the greatest to say the least.
As they say, the first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one.
After that, I felt a lot more relaxed about the panel, and more than one time I smiled pleased at the things I heard.

I've been a big supporter of words like transparency with the customers, and not having one single person at the center of it all, but having multiple talents contributing to the brand. They took very calmly the huge but rightful outrage at Digital River. And the lineup and new projects they revealed (along with the expanded licensed products in development) showed a much more open mentality in how to handle the MOTU brand.

All this proved me one thing: we were right. We were right at voicing our criticisms. Yes, because of that I probably lost the opportunity to work on the brand again, but that's okay. Our message was received. We were right, because the moment new people stepped in, they realized what many fans were saying was true and there were issue to take care of, and a relationship to heal.

Of course, time will tell fans if they'll deliver what they promised. But I'm all for the fanbase giving them a chance.
They are already facing some big troubles with the fanbase with the Snake Men torso and the Power-Con exclusives. And while I understand some of the solutions are not good for everybody, I really appreciate the honesty they showed to fans with their answers, also understanding that sometime they have to deal with problems created before their arrival.
Make no mistake: 90% of the time, my problem was with the way things were communicated to the fans. If I see an effort – and I'm truly seeing it – to make things differently, that is a huge step forward.
I can finally sit back and relax, and watch what happens with MOTU, with a bit more hope and a smile.

I totally expect some idiot coming out and telling me I'm kissing their ass to try to get back to work on MOTU. First of all, I don't necessarily need to work on MOTU. I'd love to, and I would surely jump on any occasion that may present because my heart will always be with MOTU, but professionally, I'm very satisfied with my collaboration with Hasbro and the Transformers team. Those guys believed in me since day one, allowed me to learn and grow my skills as a toy designer and took me where I am now.

I'm also been at work on MOTU related products lately, so in a way, I'm still close to MOTU.
Also, if you believed I hate Mattel and I'm going to attack everything Mattel does, you're making a huge mistake. I've explained multiple times where the past issues came from. Due to the recent changes, I have no reason to believe these issues exist anymore. And since I'm part of the industry, I often have a better understanding than the average fan about the process. So please don't take my explanations of things as ass-kissing.
I will always be a big supporter of free speech and open criticisms, as these are meant to improve things, not destroy them.

My commitment with The Power and The Honor Foundation hasn't changed. The collaboration with Dark Horse put us back on track and we devised new exiting plans for the immense collection of art we have. We'll continue to make all the possible effort to bring it all to the fans.

TF Age of Extinction Slog

I kinda neglected the blog...
With the work on the Dark Horse book and tons of other stuff to do, it's just easier to post on Facebook.
But I still want to post my official works for Hasbro here.

Here is something interesting.
I did some work on AEO Slog. But this time, the basic design for the figure had been done and Takara had already figured out the 3D shapes and transformation (I had missed designing this from scratch because I was too busy with other assignments).
But the figure was lacking details, so I was contacted for a job called Surface Detailing.
Basically, working on images of the 3D model, I had to redesign and improve the look of the figure, in this case making it more organic and in line with the other movie figures.
It was a quick pass, but still funny and challenging.


Illumina's first appeareance

Today a group of dedicated fans, lead by Eric DeLima is celebrating Illumina day, an event dedicated to the character I created for the Masters of the Universe 2002 comic vol. 3, that unfortunately was part of a storyline we had to scrap due to the legal constraints we faced as the line was coming to an end.
Fans would like to see Illumina released in figure form at one point, and while Mattel doesn't currently own the rights to her, I like many others, hope that one day maybe a reconciliation could be reach and me and Mattel will find a way to work together to make a figure of her

In the meantime, I wanted to offer to all the fans that supported my creations for such a long time, a glimpse of something never revealed before.

When we began work on Vol. 3 of the comic, I was asked to come up with the story plot. So I wrote a very rough draft for the first few issues, loosely describing the action and what topic we would have covered.
This draft was later reworked, but the following is an extract from my original document, where Illumina makes her very first appearance!

"We see SK and EL in the library of Zalesia  where they have spent hours looking in the books an scripts but none of the them  contains more information that vague legends and myths (we could start to throw in more about Eternia’s past here) but nothing about Grayskull. It seems that everything has been erased on purpose!
SK is furious because he thinks he has been tricked by the FLO.
On the floor of the Library is painted a map of Eternia, but most of it can’t be read.
EL says that being angry made him blind. She solves the enigma her father had told them and chants a difficult spell and slowly a few skull symbols starts to appear on the map!
(The biggest of them is obviously on where Grayskull is)
They’re just starting to analyze the map when the room starts to shake violently  and begin to collapse.
EL implore SK to leave the library, but SK doesn’t want to go and he takes EL staff form her hands.
While the ceiling starts to crumble over them He chants a last spell using both staffs!
The room collapse.
We move outside and we looks at the smoldering ruins. After a few moments we see EL and Skeletor emerge from the ruins, a bit beaten up but still unharmed.
We pull back and we see a blue skinned, white dressed and white haired woman observing the scene from the distance. She’s not very young probably a bit younger than Duncan  and she wear her Warriors Ring on her left hand but I’m not sure how much we want to drive readers attention on this yet.
 On her side there is a big white panther with a silver saddle. She’s talking to the feline. From the dialogue we understand the she caused the ruin to collapse but he didn’t succeed in stopping SK… but she doesn’t dare to confront SK and EL directly and it’s time for the Guardians of Grayskull to move!"

There was really not much else in the plot about her so far. I did the original sketch of her at the same time, to present it to MVCreations.
This is where I introduced, for the very first time, the idea of this mysterious white dressed woman.
She was already in my thoughts since Homecoming. She was nothing more than a plot device back then. At that time, I wanted to merge the original Don Glut minicomic with the Filmation cartoon, so I had He-Man living in a tribe, but secretly being Prince Adam, hidden far from Eternos when he was an infant, to escape from the Horde invasion.
I needed someone that took the kid out of the royal palace and traveled with him to these remote regions of Eternia, where she left him to the care of this tribe. And for some reason, I wanted this person to be a woman. She was not a Gar back then of course, but she was already dressed in white and with white hair.

As an added bonus, here is the pencil version of the beautiful cover Enza Fontana drew with Illumina

And since it never appeared on this blog, the MOTUC design I did of her, adapting the 2002 style to the MOTUC style and parts library


Transformers 4 - Movie concept exploration 1

Just a couple of months ago I received approval on showing at least one piece of the work I did for Transformers Age of Extinction movie.
This is one of the craziest piece I did for the fourth Transformers movie and it was a lot of fun to work on.I did it under the direction of the mighty Aaron Archer who gave me a ton of details to fit into one single image.
I started with a couple of simple composition/mood studies, and then went into the full rendering.

We went throw a lot lot of revisions, including adding Drift, the sparkles and later on we also decided to change the color of the sky.

I loved adding all the dust and atmospheric elements, creating chaos during the battle.
There is so much going on that something can get lost, like Bumblebee fighting a bunch of Decepticons behind Grimlock.

There will be more? The title of the post suggests yes, as I did several other pieces, so, hopefully I'll get permissions to show some others in the following years.