8.15.2012

Armorvor: History and Concepts

The idea behind the Armorvor (or Neo Beast as we used to call it), began many years ago, but it only started to become a reality after combining forces with Marty "The GodBeast" Hansen and Jason Frailey.

Marty and I had discussed a Battle Beast inspired figure all the way back in our first communications together,  as we had both wished that the classic line would make some kind of return, whether as repros or as a completely new series (which arrives this September from Takara Tomy!). I had added some small joints to a few of the vintage figures, imagining that a new line might resemble something of that nature and shared the images with Marty, who seemed to get a kick out of them. Even though it was just a passing conversation, the seeds were sown for what would eventually become the Armorvor.

Fast forward to the spring of last year, when the subject of making a beast inspired figure popped up again. I was preparing for our next figure, which was looking like the Delphi or Noboto, when a change of plans occurred. Marty had mentioned that he knew an extremely talented sculptor named Jason Frailey, and that he thought Jason would be the perfect artist to build the "Neo Beast" that we had been discussing for so many years. I was a little hesitant at first, because we had never produced another sculptor's work under our own banner in PVC before. Would Jason understand the multiple properties each part would need to have? Would the figure look too out of place when completed? Even with some reservations, we moved forward.

Once I had my first conversation with Jason, I knew we would be more than alright. Jason Frailey, as it turns out, is not only a world class sculptor, but he is also an gifted designer. I think this is a little known fact even amongst his peers at his job with NECA. After supplying Jason with the initial conceptual drawings, he started in on roughing out the core proportions. I was thinking about making the overall figure a little leaner, so that it would fit in with our standard range of figures, but Jason wanted to give the little guy a bit more heft, evoking a deeper BB connection. Initially I was concerned that we were getting too close to the core BB property, but with a few tweaks and many late night talks, the right balance came into focus.

Jason stayed very true to the first drawing with the early sculpt, but then started to add some of his own twists and details into the design, which made the figure really come to life. The entire shoulder structure was improved, as was just about every single piece of the Armorvor thanks to the intuitive process that Jason employed. He even came up with and designed the backpack/phaser/drone head without missing a beat. I realized fairly early on to trust in his abilities as a designer, as well as a sculptor. The Armorvor became something more than it would have if it were only developed in our shop. It became a true collaboration between all of us. Marty would weigh in on the creative direction, using his BB expertise to assist in the visual cues that we all eventually settled on.

Once the final sculpt was a lock, Marty began the casting process to bring the early prototypes out to all of you guys, with him and Jason continuing to design new heads all the while (I squeaked a few out with Marty as well). Nate from the Dork Dimension then brought his illustrative arsenal to the party and made some incredible works of packaging art, rounding out the urethane release in proper form.
The first phase of the Armrovor's life had begun.

The basic storyline for the Armorvor has been in place for some time, so having Jason sculpt it also played right into the "alternate tech" idea, representing a slightly different aesthetic for this particular race of characters. I really can't say enough about Jason's contributions to the final piece, it's as much his design as it is mine, maybe even more so.

Our goal was to get this little bugger into full production, and thanks to our man Paul over at our factory, we have been able to finally do it, after an entire year of development!

Thank you Jason, Marty, Nate and Paul for working so hard with us to bring this new creation to life. Hopefully, we can do it again real soon.


18 comments:

  1. Many thanks to EVERYONE involved in bring this fantastic creation to life. It is one of my favorite toys from the greatest toyline ever: Glyos! Matt, I remember seeing your customized Pirate Lion and Tigerburn pics on another forum and couldn't believe my eyes!! I remember hassling you to try and commission one from you. You kept saying that you were in the process of creating your own mini figures soon to debut at SDCC. Little did I know at the time what that would lead to! Ha ha! Its been a fabulous ride these last couple years collection Glyos, and now that the Armorvor is in production, I can't wait to build a huge army of them and add heads made by Marty and Jason! I'll also dream of an Armorvor Custom Corps one day! Can't wait to see how the Onell crew tops this!

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    1. Thanks Pete! It seems like just yesterday I was messing around with those custom BB figures. I clearly remember our back and forth and being surprised that anybody would want any of my frankensteined creations!

      There are still many oddball customs lurking around here, from attempts at sculpting Samus from Metroid, to weirdo versions of Action Master Transformers that would make a vintage collectors shriek in horror at the chopped and painted parts. At some point I should photograph some of this junk!

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  2. awesome... they are beautiful and fun... I can't wait to travel with one...

    I also look forward to other animal species cropping up, and I hope they get chest insignias at some point!

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    1. Thanks Nate! With Marty and Jason making new heads at a pretty steady pace, there should be no shortage of fresh material to keep things interesting.

      Marty really makes sure to keep a very consistent quality in everything he does, from sculpting to casting to shipping. He brings a unique and very valuable angle to this collective project, and to Glyos in general.

      See you and Missy very soon, Nate!

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  3. This is a fabulous insight into the entire process...

    Oh who am I kidding, I heard NONE of it past "next figure" and "DELPHI"!

    Hope we still see them somewhere down the road :)

    I also really enjoy when you post sketches and design concepts. While it makes perfect sense, I was almost a little surprised at how fantastic of a 2 dimensional artist you are. The first time I saw some of your work I literally said to myself "Why is this guy making toys when he can just crank out a living making art?" Obviously I then hit myself in the face because toys are awesome and are an art of their own- but it was just a pure gut reaction.

    Plus it's great to see some of the changes and possible future variants in all these designs.

    Which reminds me, any word on if some of those awesome OuterSpace Men alternate heads/etc will ever make it out? Dying for a cthulhu squid head!

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    1. Thanks Rez! You are way to kind about my scribblings. Drawing has always been my first love, so I'm happy that you like seeing the 2D stuff.

      I try and draw something everyday, even if it's just a tiny sketch.
      Everybody should try it! You don't have to be a whiz to gain something from a little creative time. It helps set a rhythm for each day, making the daily challenges a bit easier to process. At least for me it does.

      You can never underestimate the importance of scribbling!

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  4. Whoa!! AWESOME! I love reading "behind the scenes" entries, always so informative & interesting. I really like that Armorvor blaster that seems to flip into a melee weapon. I always loved that Ranged-to-Melee duality of some of the New Adventures of He-Man toyline, so alot of my characters have weapons with that function. I'm on vacation with Beth & my in-laws until late Friday night, so my order with my Armorvors is back in New York LoL. It seemed to have arrived right after I left. Ah well, I eagerly await busting my Armorvors out to play with, so excited they finally came out. Keep up the great work everybody, I look forward to more great stuff from the lot of you. :-D

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    1. Thanks Chris! I had a feeling you might like that flip flop weapon, it seems like something from your playbook!

      Enjoy your vacation and say hi to Beth from all of us up here.

      See you in October!

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    2. Oh I love flip-flop weapons, it's something I need to make one of these days. I've been playing around with 3-D printer designing so maybe this is something I can make with that. Nothing is cooler then an axe that can turn into a laser gun. :-D

      Vacation was good, got to relax & ate at this amazing buffet called "the Woode Grill". Matt, the sheer amount of food & the variety would have put even your impressive eating abilities to the test. I should have taken pictures. Beth says hi back & that she misses all you guys a lot.

      Yes, most definitely. We got 4-day passes so we'll be there Thurs-through-Sun this year, so we'll have more time to enjoy everyone's company. Jeremy is in the process of working on my newest figure for the show, it's shaping up to be a pretty rock solid figure.

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  5. I am absolutely thrilled to own this guy and to see this make it into full production. Having been a huge fan of BB/LB for a long time, this was an instant win. I hope some of his latest additions like the cyber gator head make it to full production some day too. Hey, I can dream, right? Also, what's the deal with some people getting a red-eyed Armorvor and others a blue? Is there a story about that? I really hope the Delphi get to full production. They are my absolute favorite race in this universe. I'll be honest, I cried a little when I saw they were bumped. Maybe soon enough tho. Armorvor is worth it. Thanks to everyone involved!

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    1. Thanks Kevin! The Armorvor was a long time coming, so to see you guys playing with the production version has been really satisfying on many levels.

      The Gator is yet another awesome head from Jason and Marty. I just painted up a Granthan (pics coming soon) and I'm continually impressed with what those two can do. Marty's sculpting gets better with each head, and I think Jason and him really push each other to raise the bar on the whole project, which we all benefit from!

      The different color eyes on the Armorvor was just to spice things up and make the first production run something special. There are less of the red eyes versions out there, and even a few oddball ones that escaped the barn.

      The Delphi will make it into production, hopefully before the end of 2012. I'm happy you still like those strange looking creatures!

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    2. Hunh, I did not know what the sound of a grown man squealing sounded like before. Thanks for sharing Matt! :D

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    3. Delphi in production!?! I was really in need of some good news, some cheering-up, and that did it. Thanks! :) Looking forward to it more than anything else in the Glyoverse.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this story, Matt! Everything sounded like it went so smoothly as to be downright organic, and Jason continues to sound like one heckuva talented guy the more we get to hear about him! As for the Armovor itself? I've been keeping one on me more-or-less since receiving it, and there are few figures I can say that have captivated as much attention as the Armovor has. Though my heart is still with Glyos for building and its own unique aesthetic, there is a strange sense of appropriateness, of belonging, that the Armovor possesses. I hope we get to see more variations on this theme, especially with Jason's talents in addition to your own, to see in which myriad directions Glyos can expand. Thanks again for always bringing us your very best!

    As for production Noboto and Delphi . . . when can we hope for such a thing to finally come about?

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    1. Thanks Roy! It's great to read that the Armorvor is riding around with you.

      As we keep this bus rolling, I think it's important to keep things open to new projects, and that little armored wolfy guy in your pocket (does that sound rude) is a sign of things to come.

      My favorite music and art come from unexpected places, so I really want to try and keep Glyos evolving, but at the same time keep a steadiness to the decision making so we can stay alive. It's really a strange razor to spend time on, with so many variables ready to sink the ship if things are not balanced just right. That being said, as long as creative minded people like yourself remain part of this trip, we stand to discover even more interesting things over the horizon.

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  7. It's been a long time since I made a comment on the Blog but I just had to throw my 2 cents in as well. Glyos is the only toy line I try to buy consistently. I made some changes in the budget to hopefully be able to participate at least a little in each drop like I was doing back in my early days. The Armorvor is definitely a favorite with me and the boys (my wife just thinks I'm crazy.) I keep him at work along with a few other select figures to keep me occupied on long conference calls. LOL.

    Matt, you Marty and Jason and everyone else involved just outdid yourself on this launch. Doing the comics and the passcode really brought me back to when I first started and some of the early releases it was so much fun. I feel honored to be part of this whole process by just being able to buy these guys and bring them into my home. Thanks for letting us all play in your sandbox in our own way. You are one FANTASTIC person and the info about Delphi before year end is the best news I could have ever heard.

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  8. I have saved these drawings to my ipad and looked at the pretty much everyday since you posted them. I really like the aesthetics of these versions. The final figure is indeed a predecessor to the Battle Beasts, but these sketches show they took a bit of a side trip into Macross/Mospeada territory before ending up in production.

    Don't think I missed those Power Ranger weapons in the first pic either ;)
    http://www.rangercentral.com/database/1992_zyuranger/images/zyu-ar-rangerstick.jpg

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  9. Wow, such kind words, Matt. The design really does belong to you at the heart, I think, I just made fun variations with the idea you gave me with your concept drawings. I think you actually encouraged me to play around with the design more than I initially wanted to! It's interesting because I wouldn't have thought of the same shapes, not just in the armor but I would have taken the wolf head more literally, but I think I prefer the kind of cartoonized wide face with the extra thin mean looking eyes, small mouth area, etc.

    I also feel like mentioning that I made the robotic head and probably thought of it as a backpack too, but I never thought of it as a phaser/gun until I saw people using it in builds!

    That is a very fun and rewarding thing to see, all these cool builds and paint jobs people make. I saw a snake/bot, a black phaser/head made into a robo/dog, really beautiful paint jobs, and then the stories and Passcode episodes, it's just very fun. This is a very cool community of people supporting eachother and I love that.

    I am definitely interested in any future projects down the line! It's been a fun ride.

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