Thundertron concept sketches!

Remember the recent post about Thundertron? The new Transformers character introduced in the Exodus novel? Well, the folks at Hasbro have been nice enough to give me permission to share my original concept sketches for him!

As a fan and a designer, sometime I enjoy a lot seeing the process behind a design (some time even more!), so instead of posting just the final clean sketch for Thundertron, I wanted to share also a bunch of other sketches to show how the design evolved. You can see one of the preliminary sketch, the following finalized pencils based on Aaron Archer's suggestions and the final ink drawing. BTW, pencils and inks are now just terms for various stage in the process, all steps have been executed digitally.

Also I'm including the head study based on Aaron's awesome direction. If you look closer, in the final pencil I just shrinked and pasted the same head on the rest of the body, and then inked it.
Overall was a great concept to work on, trying to include some recognizable pirates elements and silhouette while keeping it cool and not to distant from the Transformers Prime visuals. I didn't get to color it, but I'm very happy with the color choice Hasbro went for!


Transformers: Mudslinger with Decepticons

Continuing this quick gallery of  toy I helped designing, one of the early assignments I got from Hasbro was to come up with the vehicles that I would have later on learnt being part of the Powercore Combiner Mudslinger with Decepticons.
Not too loved by fans, I think this was the first actual product released on which I had worked and it was incredibly exciting!


The ToyFare Interview

Enjoy the interview about our work on the 2002 MOTU comic by clicking on the images!


Star Wars: Transformers quad changer

The Quad Changer - Republic Cruiser to Star Destroyer to Anakin to Dart Vader was a nice surprise for me.
I was involved with it at its very inception. I worked with the Star Wars team at Hasbro to create the ultimate Star Wars Transformers crossover toy. The project was ambitious: a Transformers with 4 modes: two robot modes and 2 vheicle mode.
I was asked to put the concept on paper, and what I did was a very rough sketch, in color, but still nothing refined. I figured out most of basic ideas of the transformation, but rarely freelancers are asked to develop the actual transformaton, so I only immagined how it could work and left the real engeneering to Hasbro.
I didn't know the project was moving on, I wasn't asked to provide more work on it, no revisions or sculpting input (when we refine the details for the model makers or the sculptor), so I assumed the concept was abandoned.
Then, this year at Toy Fair, the toy was presented and my jaw dropped at seeing how faithful the finished product was to my rough sketches. Even most of the transformation (like the Star Destroyer's sides detaching to become the Republic Cruiser's engines) looke a lot like what I had done.
That made me really proud: when I work on sketches, I don't only try to make them look good, but I want them to make sense, I want them to work as products that kids and collectors can enjoy.
I can't wait to see more of the work I did for Start Wars products on the shelves, it has been an absolute pleasure to work on one of my favurite brands!

Transfomers: Thundertron!

Thundertron is a project I'm very proud of . He was a character I worked on more than a year ago and he has now become a real toy, in the form of the mighty Thundertron, leader or the Star Seekers, a new Transformers faction appeared in the Exodus novel!

I was honored to develope Thundertron along with the great Transformers design team, and seeing my drawings translated verbatim to toy form by Takara and Hasbro, in the main Transformers line is absolutely awesome!

Not only Thundertron is exactly like my sketch in robot mode, but the beast mode is exactly the same too! That blew me away: the folks at Takara and Hasbro have been able to make the transformation happens without changing any detail from the concept. They are really masters of toy making and it feels great to be involved in such amazing creations!

Here you can find a great gallery of the figure.


A month of MOTU - Part 2

Where did I left?
Oh yes, Palos Verdes! Once Power-Con was history (at least for me it is now) on Monday we went visiting Mark Taylor and Rebecca at their beautiful home! Rebecca had invited also Peer and Kevin "Jimpansen", two awesome MOTU fans from Germany and they joined us for the ride.
After being amused by the street names in Palos Verdes, we arrived at Mark's place, where we've been joined by Rudy Obrero and our new pal Errol. Rudy hadn't seen Mark probably since 1982, so that was a great reunion happening in front of all of us!
A sudden toothache prevent Ted Mayer to be there too, but we'll hopefully do it again next year.

I remember Peer being totally in shock for the surreal experince. And I knew what that was like! Hanging out with He-Man creators and artists, and while we had planned that for month, for him it was a totally unexpected turn of events!
Despite me getting a cold, we spent a wonderful day with Mark and Rebecca, enjoying the beatuful view on the Pacific Ocean and listeniing to stories about MOTU, the toy industry, crazy airplane flights and a lot more!

Mark will always have a story to tell, and all of them are fascinating. One funny anedoct was that Mark was telling us about a King Kong playset by Playmates he designed and Rudy exclaimed: "I did the box art for that set!" Without them even knowing, the awesome team the created Graykull and the famous boxart for it, had been reunited by Playmates on another project!

We left Mark and Rebecca later that night, me sneezing like crazy but all very happy for the time spent together. I lef the house not just a fan anymore, but as a friend. The best thing that MOTU brought to my life is definitely the people I met, the friend I made. One day, I will probably make a blog post about this.

The following day, while handling the flu, we didn't stop! Early in the morning we went to visit Dave Wolfram, who showed us some very cool MOTU concept art. We should be used by now, but no, we were once again amazed by the great stuff Dave had. All this is now saved for future Foundation projects of course, so I won't go in details, but among that we also saw a lot of other art for Judge Dredd, Food Fighters and Captain Power! Dave was extremely sweet and let us scan all his art, which is now preserved forever by The Power and The Honor Foundation.

After a quick stop to get some Tylenol, we paid a visit to the Otis College where Rebecca teaches.
Rebecca gave us and Peer and Kevin a tour of the college and well, how can I describe the feeling of being in a college which has an entire floor dedicated to toy design?  It felt like the place where I wanted to be! And I was not even sure I wanted to be there teaching or studying! That place is just awesome, and the students are simply amazing. We got a glimpse of their skills and no wondering on why companies try to steal them from the college before they even finish courses.
For anybody interested or just curious, I suggest to check Otis website, just the video presenting the courses it's so captivating already! (and look, Martin Arriola is there too!)

After the Otis, having still some time to kill in LA before our flight back to NJ, we went with Peer and Kevin on hunt for toys and collectible shops. We didn't find anything special, but it was fun! I wish we had more time with both of them, and I hope to see them again soon at Grayskull-Con.

Wow, all this in just 2 days. I want to keep these posts shorts, so let's end this one here for now. The rest of the trip may not sound so exciting, but it's still filled with little MOTU tidbits, so hold on for Part 3!
And, hopefully I will get to make some posts about Castle Grayskull and the DC comics soon too
Oh, and tear apart the new minicomics of course!

A month of MOTU - Part 1

Josh, Mark Taylor and Me
Okay, almost a month: from September the 20th to October, 15th, I've been travelling in US. Needless to say, about 95% of my time has been spent as a MOTU fan. Yeah, shocking news, I know.
Being out of He-Man.org didn't diminished my passion and my commitment to MOTU in the slightiest and I was lucky to do a lot of cool stuff and make a lot of great experience as a fan during the month in US. And even if I have tons of stuff to do, I'm gonna bore you with a small journal of what I did there!

First stop was Los Ageles, where with my pal Josh Van Pelt we immeditaly went to meet one of the most influencial artist in MOTU. Nope, not Rudy Obrero, and not Bill George (even if we had the pleasure to meet both of them later on during the trip) An artist which remained a mystery to many for 30 years, and still, all He-Man fans are familiar with his art. The amount of art he created for MOTU is probably 4-5 times what George and Obrero did together. Thanks to Mark Taylor, we got in touch, and we had a wonderful time at his home. We'll soon reveal more about him on The Power and The Honor Foundation website, for the moment, let's say he's an incredibly sweet, humble and nice person, who also let us borrow all his art and take it with us at the hotel in Torrance, where we spent most of the following 2 days scanning like crazy.
During Power-Con, many friends stopped by our room to take a look at the historical pieces laying on our beds during the scanning process. They all had the same shocked look I had when I first looked at that art, and they have been extremely lucky to share with us that incredible sight.
Don't worry, you know why we did all that. Years ago I promised I wanted to wait to present all those toy design pieces we had, to make it right. Rest assured we want to do make justice to this artitst and his work too, so just keep your finger crossed!

The PAH Foundation crew!
Oh, right, Power-Con.
Or the lack of it. I won't be hypocrital. That was a bittersweet experience. I was officially cut out of anything Power-Con related, barely allowed inside and with silly restrictions. My plan was not to go at all. Still, I went in a couple of times, mostly to say hi to friends there. And that was the best part. The words I heard most where "I'm glad you're here". I felt the trust people put in me and their love was still intact and that was really heartwarming and made me feel a lot more relaxed.
The sad part that being officially excluded, I was not allowed to share lot of things with my friends and hang out with them as much as I wanted. And I don't mind admitting I enjoyed the work I did last year at Power-Con, which I missed this year.
Sad part aside though, everybody has been wonderful and I so loved the time I had chance to spend with all my friends: Danielle & Magoo, Karla, Arnoud, James, Tom, Chuck, Josh B., Pete, Mike and Englebert, Nate, Dan, Leanne & Rod, Israel and last but not least Eric, Jim, Owen, Shane and Sherri from the Four Horsemen Studio, plus all the great fans I met or met again (too many to list!)
If I forgot someone, you can call public shame on me when I'll post this on FB (but a couple of German guys may want to wait for Part 2...)

Martin Arriola was a blast as usual, now joined by Ed Mosqueda, which showed us a few great pieces he worked on (including purple & black haired tytus and Eldor test shot!) Larry DiTillio was sweet as always and speaking of Filmation, this year I also got to met Rob Lamb! Rob was one of the higlights of the days in LA for both me and James, and thanks to him now the Foundation now has lot more very cool art!
I had also the pleasure and the honor to intruduce Rudy Obrero to William George. What a moment!
Oh, and I sold out of my prints in half an hour!!

On Saturday, we had to stop scanning earlier and set up the room for the Friends of  The Power and The Honor Foundation Foundation Reception.
Thanks to the art loaned from friends, we had some amazing stuff on display. Some never-seen before art (with very cool surprises) and a huge homage to (and thank to) Mark Taylor. For us, that was the best way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of He-Man.
We also had the He-Man Power Tester on display, but we coudn't manage to make it work properly. Oh well.
The reception was successful: a nice, relaxed, small thing, with a few friends and guests that chimed in all night to say hi and check out the art. I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad so many friends showed up and donated to be part of it :)
The Cake Ricky made for us!
Our pal Ricky also brought us a great and tasty cake skillfully made with the vintage MOTU cake pan!!

In the afternoon, while setting up, looking at all the cool stuff by Mark, I decided to give him a call at home to describe him the view of the room and say hi. Mark was very happy to hear it was looking good and asked me where we were. I told him the hotel's name and he said he would have joined us for the night.
My mood immediatly jumped and I told everybody we were going to have a very special surprise.
Everyone was captured by Mark's stories!
Mark and his wife Rebecca arrived later during the dinner and spent the rest of the night with us the fans at the reception. Everybody was listening to Mark's stories about He-Man and toy industry and I was just sitting back chatting with Rebecca and thinking there was nothing better for He-Man's birthday party to have his dad there. Fans loved Mark and Rebecca. Both me and Josh are extremely grateful they joined our little thing and I'm sure all the fans feels the same. It was a wonderful time and I'm so grateful also for Mark and Rebecca trust and friendship: another thing I will never forget.

And those were just the first 3 days!
But before we move to Palos Verdes, I gotta get back to Transformers, work is calling!
Stay tuned for Part 2, (hopefully) soon!