Figures / Toys
TOKYO ~ Two years ago this week explosions and meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Genpatsu in northeastern Japan created this nation’s worst man-disaster. The ability to perform heavy duty repair work in the highly radioactive environs of a damaged nuclear reactor was one of the first obstacles that nuclear engineers faced at Fukushima Daiichi. To outside observers of Japan, the answer seemed simple: send in Japan vaunted robots.
But the myth of Japanese robot supremacy was blown to bits by Fukushima Daiichi. Yes, Japan had talking robots, robot children, sexy fembots, robot pets and manufacturing robots, but it hadn’t produced machines mobile, powerful or agile enough to be of any use in a real world disaster scenario. So, the Japanese ate some humble pie and called Boston-based iRobot, maker of the vacuuming robot Roomba, which sent Japan its PackBot and Warrior robots which became the first robots to enter and inspect Fukushima’s Daiichi’s damaged reactors.
But since Fukushima Daiichi, Japan has indeed stepped up its robotics game. Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Honda, Panasonic, and Toyota have all boosted funding and investments of their proprietary bot expertise, and the Japanese government has also increased support toward university robotics laboratories and private-public partnerships. So, if the triple meltdowns had a silver lining, it was the Japanese robotics industry’s new focus away from cute machines and toward capable ones. Akihabara News has a great article by Reno J. Tibke of how Fukushima sparked Japan’s robot renaissance. ~Rachel Roh
OITA ~ “Skull Reaper Eiji” (transliterated as “Skull Reaper A-ji” by the Western press) was elected to the city council in this city on the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu back in February promising local folks educational reform and improved social welfare facilities. He managed to garner only 2,828 votes, but that was enough to win him a seat. Eiji, 44, was supposed to attend his first council meeting this week, but his tight-assed council colleagues sucker-punched him by barring him from the meetings until he removed his wrestling mask. The Skull Reaper is the third masked politician elected to public office in Japan. [TIME ~ Politician Banned for Wearing Wrestling Mask]
To most, Giant Robot Biennale 3 at JANM is simply the biggest, best group show that an indie artist can be associated with. It isn’t very often that pop-rooted, independent fine artists (Asian or not) are given a top-shelf venue to gather and shine. Eric does a rad job of cultivating this scene, and has built up a real family of artists in the process. I am really proud to have worked with him on the magazine that has showcased so many of them.
So as the end of publication nears its two year mark, attending the opening felt a lot like a family reunion to me. I hardly get out to Sawtelle these days, and see Eric and the artists pretty rarely. So while it was especially cool to see the amazing art on the first day (such as the sculpture by Ako Castuera, above) it was just as rad to see so many people that I have grown close to (like the Big Boss Robot and his family, below).
Okay, it’s not like I knew everyone there. After I answered the person who checked me in that I was with four guests instead of one, she looked annoyed and asked, “Are you an artist?” No, but I quickly took the stickers for my wife Wendy (who designed GR mags 18-68), daughter Eloise, niece Lucia, and cousin visiting from New Zealand and moved on.
Right after the opening remarks by Eric and JANM representatives, Wendy and I saw our friends Susie Ghahremani and Michael Esten. They drove up from San Diego in time for the Chickfactor concert and stuck around to see Susie’s customs in the opening! (more…)
Taiwan-based EVA Air and toymaker Sanrio have joined paws and sent an adorable fleet of three Hello Kitty-themed Airbus 330-300s to do battle against their many competitors in the short-route airline wars in East Asia, flying routes between cities such as Taipei, Fukuoka, Tokyo (Narita), Sapporo, Incheon, Hong Kong and Guam. EVA spokespersons were quick, however, to quell rumors that pilots of these aircraft would be dressed as Pikachu. (BuzzFeed ~ Thank You for Choosing Hello Kitty Airlines)
Here’s a very well-done working transformer model built by Japanese engineer Kenji Ishida (Twitter him @BRLab). LEGO schmego. A tip of the hat to filmmaker/multimedia journalist Katsuyuki Ueno of Yokkaichi, Mie, Japan.
No, it’s not for sale. No you can’t have it. No. No. No. But Cookie Chef Babo is on display and the promotion to get one of Cookie Chef Babo continues at Giant Robot. Just spend $25 on Uglydoll merchandise and you’re on your way. (secure.giantrobot.com) (giantrobot.com – Details Explained) Cute, right?
Since the March 11th earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, there have been a number of charity projects targeted specifically at raising much-needed funds and support for disaster survivors. Giant Robot has written about one of the most notable, 2:46: Aftershocks (Quakebook), and one of the newest, Kizuna: Fiction for Japan. And you are strongly encouraged to support these projects and their worthy causes by buying a copy of both Quakebook and Kizuna. Both books are quite different and remarkable. But if you want to donate to Japan disaster relief in a way that appeals to your inner (or outer) child’s love of toys, there’s another way you can help: click on over to Singapore toy company Play Imaginative’s website and buy yourself a Supporto-fu figure. Designed by Japanese toy designers Devilrobots and manufactured by Play Imaginative, Supporto-fu is a happy little four-inch figure whose message is “Little help from everyone can put smile on everyone’s face”. Supporto-fu will cost you U.S. $16 (excluding shipping), and all the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Singapore Red Cross for the 2011 Japan Disaster Relief Fund. The figure is limited to 1,000 pieces, but Play Imaginative spokesman Jacky Teo estimates around 450 of the figures remain in stock. Supporto-fu is a marvelous little toy figure (this writer’s is pictured above) that really will put a smile on your face. And he’s a must for Devilrobots fans. But the really wonderful thing about Supporto-fu is every time you look at him or play with him, you’ll know you did something to help “put smile on everyone’s face”. Play Imaginative’s Supporto-fu page, which includes figure artwork and ordering information, is here.
Supposedly it’s a bad idea to judge a book by its cover. With this particular volume, however, doing just that is highly recommended. This is because the rich and colorful design on the outside is the perfect introduction to the varied and detailed tour of the fuzzy, furry, odd and wonderful Japanese mascots within. “Fuzz & Fur” is the second book about Japanese pop-culture icons by English brothers Edward and John Harrison. Their first book, “Idle Idol”, was a photographic guide to the inanimate figures which attract and greet customers outside Japanese shops and restaurants. “Fuzz & Fur” takes that premise and logically expands upon it by using pictures and detailed text to introduce the reader to a huge variety of animated, three-dimensional Japanese characters, basically guys in costumes playing fictional or mythological figures.
Here in the United States, at least, when you think of a person in a character costume, you typically think of a sports mascot, something like the Philly Phanatic or the San Francisco 49ers mascot Sourdough Sam. Or you see giant mice and anthropomorphic dogs, rabbits and ducks at amusement parks created by entertainment companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers. But that’s about it. However, in Japan fuzzy, furry costumed characters are far more ubiquitous, and are created and used for a wider variety of purposes than just promoting sports and entertainment. Japanese mascots are used to promote tourism, consumer products, government programs, and agriculture.
Giant Robot Online now features more kaiju vinyl figures and lower prices. Several popular and rare kaiju have been added to our online inventory! And prices have been changed in order to reflect a bigger discount for our customers!
Click on the photo below to check out what new vinyls we have added to our Kaiju Sale!
Takashi Murakami is one of the founding members of the Superflat movement whose pop art work has been exhibited around the world. His Kaikai Kiki workshop has spawned many younger talented artists including Aya Takano and Chiho Aoshima. Giant Robot has featured his art work through our art galleries, and we have made his lithograph prints easily available for purchase through the webstore. Now, we feature two new prints from the renowned artist!
These two lithograph prints are an edition of 300 each, and both feature similar design and placement of the skulls although the coloring effects provide a different look and feel to each piece.
Both prints are available for viewing and purchase through Giant Robot Online. Click on the photos above to check them out!
With the opening reception during the Fourth of July weekend, Yukinori Dehara brings his unique brand of creativity and insanity to Giant Robot! His new art show, “World Wide Panty Flash,” was unveiled this past weekend, where renown and new characters from the world of Dehara revealed themselves in various scandalous states of undress! It was a room of infamous panty shots as each character showed a little skin and some even showed a few guts. His new art show is now available online for perusal and purchase. Come and sneak a peek at all of the panty shots that Yukinori Dehara has to offer! Click on the photo below or click on this secure link: WORLD WIDE PANTY FLASH!
Yukinori Dehara’s “Panty Flash” not only brings crotch shots to Giant Robot! New merchandise by Yukinori Dehara has also invaded the interior of GR2! Fans of the artist can now own plush dolls of Menta-Kun, various sticker and button sets, Menta-Kun pencil cases, Menta-Kun hand towels, and various straps and keychains! These new products are limited in quantity, so purchase your favorite Dehara merchandise soon!
Click on the array of plush Menta-Kun below or follow the secure link [HERE].
On Friday night, I went with my old friend/ass-kicker/artist/zine maker/GR crew for life Kiyoshi Nakazawa to the NOMAD gallery in Frogtown to catch a fine display of the art of rocking and art about rock. Above: The mighty Coliseum made a stop on their California Obliteration tour. Yes!
Co-curated by Rich Jacobs (above) and Sam James Velde (Night Horse), the show had too many contributors to list, but I happen to be a friend or fan of many.
I never get sick of seeing my pal/GR crew Ben Clark’s work, especially when it’s printed. Up on top you can see THE picture of Justin fronting Unwound at Jabberjaw. What a rad show. Damn. I’m pretty sure I was at that Rocket From The Crypt gig pictured in front, as well, not to mention the Fugazi show at the Palace on the bottom left. Ben actually made me print of the latter, and it’s one of my prized possessions.
Art by some of my musical heroes: Rick Froberg from Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and Obits (above). David Pajo from Slint, Tortoise, Papa M, and a ton of others (below). Our mutual friend Sooyoung Park introduced me to Pajo at a BBQ in Chicago, but I doubt if he remembers me.
Blithe Spirits has reached its end at GR2. Our featured artists for the month of June were Ines Estrada and Sean Chao. Many of their pieces are still available, and Giant Robot is helping make them more readily available to you! Prices for many of Sean Chao’s art work have just been reduced. Many of his amazing sculptural pieces have been reduced by as much as $100 off. Click on the photo below in order to peruse and purchase!
With the beginning of a new month, a new art show has been installed at GR2 and the fanbase for this month’s artist is in high anticipation. Yukinori Dehara will be unveiling his new art show at GR2, titled “World Wide Panty Flash.” We have about 45 new sculptural art pieces that will be available for purchase in-store and online, as well as many new products by Dehara! Please expect his new art show to be available for perusal and purchase online by Monday, July 4th 12PM PST.
The evolution of Bossy Bear has reached its limit! And the new Kaiju Bossy Bear 5″ Vinyl Figures have reached Giant Robot! These new Bossy Bears feature the eclectic combination of western cuteness and eastern malevolence as Bossy Bear has become an altered beast that rivals the vinyl kaiju monsters before him. Recently released by Toy2R, the kaiju-inspired figure transmutes the moi-inducing Bossy Bear with a reptilian torso, scales, sharp teeth and fangs. He is dubbed the “Strange Beast Bossy Bear!”
The new 5” figure is available in Blue and Pink versions with four different facial expressions, because you never know what terrifying mood Bossy Bear will be in.
Click on the photo below in order to witness the emergence of this new incarnation! More bossy than ever before!
Bossy Bear is very bossy. And he’s also had just about enough. Bossy has reached his limit. Just like you, Bossy Bear has a strong side. Well Bossy’s strong side has come out, and he wants things his way NOW!!! Let Bossy help you find your strong side.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Art Show Opening:
Yukinori Dehara: Worldwide Panty Flash
July 2 – July 27th, 2011
Reception: Saturday, July 2, 6:30 – 10:00 pm
GR2 2062 Sawtelle Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90025
Giant Robot is proud to host World Wide Panty Flash, paper clay sculptures by Yukinori Dehara.
We’ve featured Japanese artist, Yukinori Dehara annually and his exhibitions range from being touching to grotesque. Yet like most artists, he has a deep ideology behind his pieces although to the casual observer, they look like fun.
Panchira means panty flash.
In Yukinori Dehara’s words, “It sometimes takes a candid shot of the panty and the uncle is arrested though it is a shameful thing. Panchira is an important part of Japanese culture for men. People want panchira animation, idol, and figures because we can’t watch panchira at real world.” “It is always noted in the commuter train and the town. I made figures imagining a lot of situations of panchira, so I love panchira.”
Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based magazine about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994, but has evolved into a full-service pop culture provider with a shop and gallery in Los Angeles, as well as an online equivalent.
An opening reception for the artists will take place from 6:30 – 10:00 pm on Saturday, July 2, 2011. For more information about Yukinori Dehara or Giant Robot, please contact:
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
Since the release of her new vinyl figures and autograph signing at GR2, Mari Inukai’s Sekaiseifukudan series has been in popular demand. Giant Robot Online had seven figures available for customers to purchase. Now we are releasing an eighth figure for her enthusiastic fans!
The Usagiman Do-It-Yourself figure is a clear light mint figure, measuring about 7 inches tall. It is similar to the light pink Usagiman figure, but this DIY figure is unpainted, allowing customization of its various features. All Sekaiseifukudan figures are eligible to receive a customized signature by the artist herself! Just choose “Signed” from the drop-down option when you make your order. There is no deadline for an artist signature request yet.
Mari Inukai was originally born in Nagoya, Japan but moved to the United States to study art. She studied art first at Santa Monica Community College until she graduated with a BFA in Character Animation from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 2004. She has worked with Sanrio Co., Disney Consumer Products, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, O Entertainment, Wild Brain, Nylon Motion Inc., Oishii Productions and NGTV. She has produced a short animated film, titled Blue and Orange, which has been featured in numerous film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival 2003 and winning the Japanese Grand Prix title at the Short Shorts Film Festival Expo 2005. Her art is featured in numerous galleries and exhibits for the many admirers of her talent.
Click on the photo above or follow this secure link in order to check out her newly released Sekaiseifukudan figures: