Artist re-imagines political bigwigs as fearsome mechanized transforming robots

transformers 3

RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

The leaders of countries are like super heroes on the political world stage to some people. So why not envision them as Autobots, the heroes of the Transformers franchise?

Artist Gunduz Agayev has transformed a number of the world’s political leaders with his art, mashing together heads of state with instantly recognizable vehicles from their country. The floor of the UN national assembly would be very different if everyone could transform into these alien robots.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin

President of USA Barack Obama

President of Turkey Erdogan

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Queen Elizabeth (United Kingdom)

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei

 

Hello Kitty x Mazinger Z die-cast crossover toys unveiled with anime short

Rocketnews 24/Anime News Network:

Bandai posted an English-subtitled anime short to promote its Mazinger Z and Hello Kitty crossover project on Wednesday.

The video also teases a possible collaboration between Getter Robo and My Melody at the 1:45 mark.

The Mazinger Z and Hello Kitty collaboration will include two revamped toys in Bandai’s Chogokin line. The Hello Kitty toy now comes in the colors and likeness of Mazinger Z, which includes a pop-open cockpit featuring a Hello Kitty mini-figure in Koji Kabuto’s uniform.

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The Mazinger Z toy uses the Super Robot Chogokin Mazinger Z as a base, and is painted in Hello Kitty colors. It includes a special belt for its Jet Scrander pack that features a Hello Kitty symbol.

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Both toys have replaceable parts that allow them to depict the handshake shown in the short anime.

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The crossover Chogokin Hello Kitty is slated for release in May, while the revamped Mazinger Z is slated for June.

Bandai will also release the Chogokin toy of Sanrio character My Melody on January 18. The release celebrates the character’s 40th anniversary.

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‘Giant Robot Biennale 4’ to showcase Asian pop culture at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Many people complain about something lacking from their lives, but few actually do anything about it. Eric Nakamura is different. He has not only filled that gap, he has created a new movement.

Nakamura is the creator of Giant Robot, now a store with a sister gallery in Los Angeles, which spurred an ever-growing interest in Asian and Asian American pop culture. He is also the curator of the exhibit, “Giant Robot Biennale 4,” set to open Oct. 11 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Giant Robot began as a ‘zine, covering Nakamura’s interests, such as live action robot shows, kung fu films, imported toys and international foods.

I grew up with a mix of both cultures (American and Asian) and I didn’t see a publication out there that documented that kind of hybrid,” Nakamura said.

After being deluged by readers asking if they could visit the Giant Robot office to see the products advertised in the ‘zine, Nakamura decided to open a store. Then he took his hybrid idea a step further by also using the space to exhibit art.

Today, some 21 years and a plethora of copycat store/galleries later, Nakamura still shrugs the notion of success. However, he credits Giant Robot’s longevity to his devotion to fairness and honesty.

The culture of Giant Robot is an artist family experience, which is different. We do things contrary to how a gallery would do things,” Nakamura said.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 24, is the fourth time Giant Robot and JANM have united for an art exhibit.

Asian and Asian American pop art has exploded in popularity,” said JANM president and CEO Greg Kimura. “Giant Robot really is the premiere example of that. It’s bringing some of these known and some of these rising artists to the public consciousness and, because of that, JANM is becoming known as a place where folks can come to discover very interesting and frequently provocative contemporary art.

Nakamura has divided “Giant Robot Biennale 4” inside JANM, devoting the ground floor to drawings, including comics, ‘zines and sketchbooks, and showing art from a range of disciplines upstairs.

Two large murals by Andrew Hem and kozyndan will also be featured in the exhibit, as well as work by artists, such as James Jean, Jim Lee, Kim Jung Gi, Katsuya Terada, Luke Chueh, Audrey KawasakiNathan Ota, Mu Pan and Yoskay Yamamoto.

In addition, there will be a photography installation from Hamburger Eyes.

Nakamura finds it hard to name a favorite artist, but he admits that he roots for “the underdogs who are working extra hard.” An example of this is Yumi Sakugawa, whose work can be seen in ‘zines and comics. There will be a video installation featuring a ‘zine reading by Sakugawa.

Kimura is also a big fan of Edwin Ushiro, citing the artist as “someone to watch.”

He’s huge right now, but he’s growing even bigger as a national and international artist,” Kimura added.

There will be a replica of Ushiro’s studio on site in which visitors will be invited to draw.

Kimura also likes Rob Sato’s technical ability and admires the shocking imagery of Mari Inukai, stating that the artists makes you feel differently about the world around you, as well as art itself.

“I like to think that Giant Robot has established a culture of some sort that maybe changed the landscape a little bit of what art is and then what a shop is like and what culture can be,” Nakamura said. “These are things that I grew up with that were separate and we unified and turned it into a package of some sort.

Want to go?

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday-Sunday and noon-8 p.m. Thursday from Oct. 11-Jan. 24. Free opening celebration 7-10 p.m.

Where: Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles.

Tickets: $9 adults, $5 seniors and children 6-17 and free for children 5 and younger.

Information: 213-625-0414, www.janm.org

Also, check out the Giant Robot Store!

Giant Robot Store

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2015 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 310-478-1819, www.giantrobot.com

GR2 Gallery

Hours: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 424-246-7626, www.giantrobot.com

“Welcome Home” by Esao Andrews will be on exhibit in “Giant Robot Biennale 4” at the Japanese American Naitonal Museum in Los Angeles Oct. 11-Jan. 24.

Giant Gundam headed for Hong Kong

Unicorn Gundam

RocketNews 24 (by Aleisha Riboldi):

Citizens of Hong Kong, brace yourself. An exciting Gundam exhibition is headed your way. This summer, as part of a month-long exhibition in Hong Kong, a giant  Gundam statue – something not usually seen outside of Japan’s Odaiba Bay in Tokyo – will be on display.

This isn’t the first time that Hong Kong has hosted a Gundam display; two years ago, there was an exhibit featuring a stand-off between an RX-78 Gundam statue and a Char’s Zaku statue. This time around, the exhibition will feature several giant displays including a 1:3 scale statue of an RX-0 Unicorn Gundam suspended Wing Gundam, a three-metre (approx. 10-foot) wide S-06F Zaku II head, and two-metre (6.5 foot) tall Gundam Build Fighters TRY statues.

Gundam build fighters

Gundam suspended

According to the Gundam Global Portal Facebook page, there will also be the chance to meet director Kazuhiro Furuhashi and voice actor Koki Uchiyama from the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam UC. In addition, there will be lots of limited-edition model kits and items as well as a display of Hajime Katoki’s Gundam art which has never been exhibited outside of Japan.

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Occupying Hong Kong’s Time Square, the exhibit will no doubt be hard to miss. The event, titled “Gundam docks at Hong Kong II“, will only be on exhibit for a limited time running from August 1-31.

Real life giant mecha duel planned between USA and Japan

Otaku USA:

You may remember the 2012 announcement of a real, functioning giant robot prototype called Karatas, by Suidobashi Heavy Industries of Japan. A human pilot can actually sit inside the cockpit, drive it down the streets, manipulate its arms, and deploy its weapons. Intended as an “art piece” and not a military weapon, it comes equipped with a “LOHAS Launcher” designed to fire water-propelled plastic bottle rockets which “from time to time… will hit its target”, and a twin gatling gun which fires airsoft pellets at 6000 rounds per minute whenever the pilot smiles (yes, you read that right).

Much of this has to be seen in the demonstration video to be believed. Despite a top speed of only about 10 miles per hour, it’s pretty impressive to see it cruising through traffic. The heads-up display inside the cockpit looks like something out of an scifi movie, but actually works! Aside from being showcased in a few different art exhibits throughout Japan, the Karatas appeared as an enemy robot in the first episode of Next Generation Patlabor, and in a 2013 Real Escape Game event in Makuhari Messe, Chiba.

Inspired by the Karatas, an American company called Megabots Inc. spent the last few years quietly developing a competitor. They debuted their prototype in a video sent to Suidobashi Heavy Industries earlier this week, challenging the Japanese team to a robot duel planned to happen in one year’s time.

Designed with the concept of robot fighting in mind, the Megabot Mark II fires 3lb paint cannonballs at 100 mph and requires two pilots to operate. One has to question the utility of a paint marker that shatters automobile windows on impact, but hey – it looks really amazing! Unfortunately this capability may not get to be utilized at all anyway, as Suidobashi’s reply accepted the challenge on the condition that the contest take the form of a melee duel.

The major question now is how these mecha designers will manage to solve the problem of pilot safety while pitting these multi-ton monstrosities against eachother at close range. Will Suidobashi back down on the melee fighting concept and opt for a giant robot paintball match, or will both sides show up to the match with clever ideas up their sleeve for non-lethal robot melee weapons?

Mazinger Z x Medicom Toy (Japan) “Super-Alloy Z” Bearbrick

Medicom Toy drops a new Bearbrick collectible with the “Super-Alloy Z” Bearbrick (Plated version). Taking upon the shape of the Super-Alloy Z character from the Japanese robot manga and anime series Mazinger Z, the 145mm-tall toy weighs about 400g and features a silver body with the red, blue and yellow markings of the super robot.

The Medicom Toy “Super-Alloy Z” Bearbrick will be available for purchase here this September for approximately $82 USD.

Japanese hobbyist Satoshi Araki’s incredibly detailed and lifelike dioramas

My Modern Met:

Japanese hobbyist Satoshi Araki creates painstakingly-detailed dioramas at an incredible 1/32 and 1/35 scale. And, what’s even more impressive is that he does all of this work at night, after he’s done with his day job. Araki constructs and paints objects that fit in the palm of your hand, and he builds complex scenes that fit on a tabletop. Miniaturized motorcycles, monsters, and tanks look deceptively enormous once photographed up close.

When viewed at the right angle, Arakis’ dioramas produce the illusion that they’re scenes from real life. His world often seems run-down or even post-apocalyptic – piles of trash, soggy boxes, and dilapidated buildings line the street.

 

Satoshi Araki Facebook page

A simple paint trick to make your anime robot models look extra sexy

SG 4

RocketNews 24:

Although the RX-78 Gundam is the most famous mobile suit from the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime TV series, it’s not the only giant robot the Earth Federation has at its disposal. As a matter of fact, debuting in the very same premiere episode as the Gundam is the RX-77 Guncannon.

Still, there’s a reason the series, and franchise, is called Gundam and not Guncannon. Aside from being slower and less powerful, the Guncannon can’t compete in the looks department with the dashing Gundam. Simply put, it’s just not sexy enough…at least not without this subtle variation to its paint job with a hidden significance.

For everyone who hasn’t spent their life acquiring an illustrated encyclopedic knowledge of anime robots, let’s take a look at the Gundam and Guncannon, side by side.

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As we can see, the Gundam, on the left, has longer legs and lithe limbs, giving it a more graceful and athletic figure. When lined up next to each other like this, the Guncannon comes off looking just a little dumpy.

In light of this, Twitter user and model builder Takuya decided to give the Guncannon a makeover. While he didn’t make the mobile suit quite as colorful as the titular Gundam, he decided to mix things up a little on the Guncannon’s legs, which are ordinarily a single shade of crimson.

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But why add two patches of pale paint? The reason lies in the Japanese text in the above photo. It reads zettai ryouiki, which literally means “absolute territory,” but is a Japanese slang term for a strip of exposed skin on a woman’s upper thighs between the top of her socks and the hem of her skirt or shorts.

View image on Twitter

Online commenters had the following to say about Takuya’s risqué creativity:

“That’s awesome. That’s sexy.”
“Looks like a robust woman.”
“Excellent absolute territory.”
“If you’re gonna do this, do it with the [schoolgirl-themed] Nobel Gundam!”

▼ Things got a little weird during 1994’s G Gundam TV series.

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Now we’re wondering if Takuya will do an even more revealing follow-up, using the same-flesh tone to create a sleeveless outfit for the underappreciated Guncannon, or, if he wants to get really daring, a bikini version for summer. Considering the hundreds of different Gundam model kits sold by licensor Bandai, the possibilities really are endless.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s new haircut makes him look like an evil anime mecha

KG 3

RocketNews 24:

Whether they’re being called dear, supreme, or great, North Korea takes the image of its top leaders very seriously. After all, this is the same country which claims the late Kim Jong-il, in his first round of golf, finished 38 shots under par (in case you’re not familiar with the technical terms, one under par is a “birdie,” two under is an “eagle,” and 38 under is generally referred to as a “crock”).

So it’s a little surprising that current head of hermit state Kim Jong-un’s fashion consultants have let him rock a hairstyle that seems to perfectly gel with the rest of the world’s image of North Korean dictatorship as cartoonish supervillainry, with a ‘do that makes him look like one of the antagonist mecha from classic anime Mobile Suit Gundam.

Since assuming power in 2012, Kim Jong-un’s been gradually filling into his role as unchallenged ruler of North Korea. While he was always known for his cherubic facial structure, the Supreme Leader seems to have packed on a few more pounds during his first two years in office, and in recent photos has been sweeping back his boyish bangs, perhaps in an effort to adopt a more dignified and commanding persona.

Not everyone is convinced this taller hairstyle is the way to go, though. Combined with, for some reason, much shorter eyebrows, some say it gives the 32-year-old a “creepy” vibe.

View image on Twitter

We have to agree that there’s something just a little sinister about Kim Jong-il’s voluminous flattop in the above photo. Somehow, it’s just a little too precise. As a matter of fact, it’s almost robotic.

Speaking of robots:

View image on Twitter

Pictured on the right is the MSM-08 Zogok, an 18.8-meter (61.7-foot) amphibious warmech used by the Gundam franchise’s recurring villains Zeon in 1986’s Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ TV series, and also in the more recent Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn direct-to-video series.

▼ The Zogok even strikes menacing, dictator-like poses on occasion.

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So did Kim Jong-il walk into his barber, carrying some bootleg Gundam DVDs procured in neighboring China, and tell his hairstylist, “I want that!” while pointing at the Zogok? That seems a bit on the nose, considering the side that builds and operates the mobile suit in the anime is so unabashedly fascist that its battle cry is “Sieg Zeon!”

 

KG 1

At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Kim Jong-il doesn’t look exactly as he wants to in the above pictures. After all, if he had so much as a hair out of place, we’re sure North Korea’s crack photo editing team would spring into action and do such a great job that we’d never be able to tell the images were retouched.

Resort in Philippines has literally giant Gundam rip-off, plus Disney and Marvel knockoffs galore

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RocketNews 24:

Although the Philippines have plenty of seaside travel destinations, Jed’s Island Resort isn’t one of them. Being located in the landlocked municipality of Calumpit means that while Jed’s isn’t far from Manila Bay, it doesn’t have any coastline to call its own.

That’s OK, though, because you can still relax in one of the resort’s nine advertised swimming pools. And while you may not be able to enjoy listening to the sound of the waves, you will be able to look up at Jed’s gigantic Gundam statue that’s as tall as the one in Tokyo yet far, far skinnier. Not into anime? Not a problem! Jed’s is also home to beloved characters from Disney, Marvel, and DC…or at least their disturbingly off-model, knockoff doppelgangers.

The facility’s grounds used to be a private estate, but were opened to guests as Jed’s Island Resort in 1995. The resort’s website boasts that “During its five summers of existence, Jed’s has welcomed actors and actresses, singers, and band members from showbiz as its guest.” Ordinarily, we’d write the use of “guest” off as a typo, but considering that the reference to Jed’s five summers of existence is on a web page updated in 2014, nearly 20 years after the resort’s opening, it’s possible the management simply isn’t very good at math.

But hey, who needs statistical accuracy when you’ve got the most iconic giant robot in the history of Japanese animation, the RX-78-2 Gundam!

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Wow…looks like Gundam needs a sandwich. Or, seeing as how he’s in the Philippines, maybe a plate of lechon, the local variety of suckling pig. The robot is looking so skinny that we’re surprised it can still stand, and also so anemic that there’s no way it could survive an attack by the bellicose Zeon forces.

Gundam is so gaunt that at first glance it seems like the photo is the product of a weird camera lens, but the proportions of the woman standing between his feet aren’t warped at all.

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As further proof, here’s the anorexic mobile suit from a different angle that reveals more of its narrow dimensions.

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Still, this is a pretty gutsy move by Jed’s designers. Non-official wonky physique and large letter J on its crotch, that’s clearly and literally a huge Gundam rip-off. We’re sure executives at Bandai, the company which holds the licensing rights to all things Gundam, aren’t happy about it. If it’s any consolation, though, Bandai’s lawyers should bear in mind that Jed’s Island Resort isn’t just ripping off Gundam, they’re ripping off everybody!

Well, maybe not everybody, but that only seems to be because there’s not enough space for a project of that magnitude. Still, Jed’s has done an impressive job of filling its property with as many unlicensed likenesses as it can hold. The resort isn’t shy about this, either, at least in the case of these two photos from its Facebook page, which are excitedly touted as “New attraction-One Piece at Jed’s! and Big Hero 6 Robot Baymax!”

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Among Frozen’s many crowd-pleasing aspects, some fans were thrilled to see a Disney movie with two princesses. But apparently the special Jed’s edition of the film features no less than three royal ladies.

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Elsewhere, Jed’s gets the number of siblings just right. Can’t say the same about their facial features, though.

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▼ Elsa must be hitting the gym regularly to have added that much muscle definition to her shoulders. She’s apparently become so addicted to the pump from lifting weights that she’s curling half a head of cabbage.

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Going from Disney’s newest hit characters to their oldest, here’s Mickey and pals Goofy, Donald, and Mickey Clones 1 through 3, plus rival Bugs Bunny, all posing in front of a brachiosaur.

 

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We’re guessing some older, hand-drawn cartoon characters must look down on their nouveau rich CG counterparts. How else could you explain why the heroes of Avatar were left out of the Disney/Warner Bros. group photo?

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Of course, not all classic animated characters are so set in their ways. For example, Snow White has expanded her social circle beyond her seven stout housemates, and is seen here in the company of 1977 anime mecha Voltes V.

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As a matter of fact, Jed’s Island Resort seems to be all about crossovers, like this snapshot of the Sesame Street gang hanging out with Mother Goose.

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Awesome as it is to see Superman and Captain America in the same place, it’d still be cooler if they were fighting.

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Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Wonder Woman seem to have climbed all the way to the top of the water slide tower before losing their nerve to actually go down it.

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Legalities aside, we can at least see why the management of Jed’s Island Resort would want to decorate their pools with these instantly recognizable and hugely popular characters. They may have been a little too zealous in their efforts to copy as much as possible, though. For example, can you imagine any travelers picking where to stay according to which resort has the cast of free mobile game Clash of Clans?

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But even then, Jed’s “creative” team wasn’t done scraping the bottom of the barrel, because you haven’t exhausted every option until you’ve made a knock-off based on the cover 1980’s flight disaster satire Airplane!

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