If you've ever read an issue of pop culture-heavy magazine Giant Robot, or stopped by one of the company's stores or art galleries, then you probably know that toys are an important part of their work. So, it's not surprising that they'll have some goodies from David Choe and David Horvath (Uglydolls) for sale at their Comic-Con booth. But, this year, Giant Robot will be bringing its own toy to San Diego too.
Big Boss Robot is a 3D rendition of the brand's logo made in connection with Good Smile Company, who is renowned for its anime collectible figures and is garnering a lot of buzz right now for the popular figure Black Rock Shooter. We asked Giant Robot co-founder Eric Nakamura about the new product.
Why create a Giant Robot toy?
It's a miracle that in our generation this is even possible. As a kid in L.A., toys were GI Joe or perhaps imported Japanese toys, and to be able to be part of a history of making a toy is insane.
The Giant Robot logo, Big Boss Robot, is an obvious design for a toy. It's a 3D version of our logo that's inexpensive, and I'd like to think very well done. There's plenty of other small figures out there, but most depict animal forms, so why not a robot? It's long overdue, and it fits into a lot of people's ideas of what a robot looks like. The Big Boss Robot also represents the many tentacles of our brand, and hopefully that's long lasting.
What kind of challenges did designing a toy for the first time present? How did you resolve them?
Designing the toy is something that Good Smile Company worked on, but they considered it easy, since they normally make much more detailed items.
Obviously translating a flat design that's one color to a 3D shape is a challenge. What's rounded? What's square? When it's 2D you can't really tell, so we had to decide on what shape the robot really is from a 3D perspective. You just have to go with what looks good and what design simply works. The worst would be to make something that can't hold up over time because of its design and there are plenty of toys out there like that.
What led you to work with Good Smile Company?
The company president saw our logo and thought it was great enough – to the point of wanting to make a toy out of it. Sometimes you have to go with enthusiasm. The companies I've wanted to work with in the past, and I'm talking years, had no interest in us at all and it turns out, Good Smile is probably one of the best out there.
What was your favorite toy when you were young?
Japanese import toy robots, no doubt. They were die-cast, shot missiles, and were well crafted. They were seriously great. If there's a toy Hall of Fame, these toys from the late '70s through the early-mid '80s should be in there. I also liked Star Wars toys, which decades later are still great and being remade in different forms. That's an example of great design over time. A powerful juggernaut of a movie franchise helps too!
How many times have you been to Comic-Con now?
At least 15 years in a row.
What's your favorite part of Comic-Con? Is there anything you look forward to seeing in the exhibit hall or any panels that you like to check out?
My favorite part of Comic-Con is our own booth. Unlike a normal customer who walks through it, I can stay in our booth and most everyone stops by. It's easier than finding people. You also get to see people the one time of year at Comic-Con. It's like a reunion of people we hardly know, to seeing artists, friends, and even colleagues. I'm moderating a panel for Drawn and Quarterly with artist Jillian Tamaki, but otherwise, I'll be trapped in our booth!
David Choe will appear at Giant Robot's booth Thursday and Friday from 12-2 p.m. David Horvath will be on hand Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. Eric Nakamura moderates Drawn and Quarterly's panel Saturday at 11 a.m.