TOYSREVIL: So what does TRICLOPS really really do?
TRICLOPS: Triclops really, really does customs and exhibition pieces, we also contribute to Clutter Magazine whenever they are so stuck for one last article that they‘ll take anything! Triclops Studio on the other hand is our new commercial venture producing product styling, illustrations, graphics, toys and games designs and character design for a range of toy and commercial clients.
TRE: so what’s happening in the world of Triclops now? I have felt a subtle shift in the toy-universe...
ROBOTBOY: Well, Triclops has spawned a mutant offspring, Triclops Studio co-owned by me (Robot-Boy) and the Apeman. We packed in our jobs to pursue fame and fortune, or at least enough money to pay the bills, with a design consultancy specialising in toys and games.
TRE: bills to pay, toys to play (heh) congrats on the launch of the new site! (i've heard mutant child-bearing is a real bitch) - why 'TRICLOPS'? Good things come in threes? trilogies only work in threes? what gives? whose bright idea was it in the first place?
ROBOTBOY: The stuff we cut up, stick & spray uses the burgeoning custom scene as a vent for the creative frustrations - pent up after years of working for a great big toy company.
I thought we should be called ‘Tripod’ but then Apeman suggested Triclops! It’s the name of a 80’s He-Man : Masters of the Universe bad guy . . . one of Skeletor’s goons ! We thought the 3 eyes thing would be a cool identity but, it seems like everyone does 3 eyes on toys nowadays so we’ve kind of kept away from it. It’s quite cool though cos it looks like we’ve got loads of toys out there!
TRE: how long has the Triclops collective been around? what happened to bring you folks together? and why the new company only now?
ROBOTBOY: Triclops has been on the scene doing customs, artwork and exhibition pieces for about 3 years now. We met whilst working as designers at Hasbro UK and were all into the Designer Vinyl movement, we all own strange and varied toy collections, so the shared interest first attracted us to customising.
Triclops Studio (our new company . . . have we mentioned that yet!) came along because production of Action Man (Apeman’s job at Hasbro) in the UK has moved on, so after 7 ½ years Apeman also decided to move on to pastures new. Robotboy felt he'd learnt everything he wanted to as a Concept Designer in the Games team and so (after many double Jack D’s) we decided to go for it on our own and set up the consultancy with a view to eventually producing our own toys. The third member of the original Triclops, Tattooman (our old customising buddy) is still at Hasbro - we’re flat out running the Studio so like the Spice Girls once said 3 becomes 2 or was that 2 becomes 1?
TRE: 2-becomes-1 (and now dammit the tune is stuck in my mind LOL) what do you think makes Triclops Studios any different from other design consultancies around? pitch me a hard one, sir! tell me why you're a winner!
TRICLOPS: We like to think that we have a foot in both camps, years of experience in the commercial world and then a few years of fun on the designer scene as Triclops gives us a nice blend of influences. There are plenty of other consultancies out there and it is quite hard to distinguish yourselves from the competition. We are trying to do a wide range of projects across toys, graphics, illustration, fashion, animation etc - to broaden our horizons beyond the norm. The dream is to eventually get some of our own product out there....in the commercial and underground scenes.
TRE: ya got me at "own product" - we'll get back to THAT shortly, meanwhile, tell us kind folks who did what and for how many years have you guys toiled in the vinyl-custom-sweatshop?
ROBOTBOY: I’m Luc Hudson aka Robotboy, former Concept designer for the games team for 3 years and my partner in toy crime is Rob Ames aka Apeman, former Senior Designer for Hasbro’s Boy Toys group. My job was pretty varied, working on character designs, pack graphics for games like Monopoly, Cluedo, Twister, Game of Life, all the classic MB and Parker brands really and also coming up with blue-sky concepts for toys and games. Lots of 2D blue-pencil sketches and photoshop and illustrator. Apeman’s job was a mixed bag of Action Man / ATOM / blue sky idea creating, toy feature brainstorming, character creation, sketching, rendering, model-making and computer arts. Our Hasbro experience was fantastic and it’s been a major string to our Studio bow, plus getting to play with toys all day & ‘ research' at Hamleys was pretty cool too !
TRE: so does it mean that Luc loves robots and Rob lurves monkeys? and hence your monikers? inquiring busybodies wanna know!
ROBOTBOY: Yeah, when we started up we had to have aliases cos we didn't know whether Big Brother (Hasbro) would be cool with us working on customs outside of the day job. Apeman DJs as DJ Ape, mainly because he wears exclusively Bathing Ape and if you met him on a dark night you might mistake him for a gorilla.
"Robotboy" = I am a big robot fan, from Tetsujin to Ashley Wood's Popbot and everything in between. I feel cheated to have missed out on Gundam and Macross programming as a kid but it never got to the UK. I'm not actually that good at drawing robots, mine always look a bit simple but there's always room for improvement!
TRE: how do you guys get inspired? what gets your creative juices pumpin’ overtime?
TRICLOPS: Brainstorming in the pub is a good one . . . !
Our inspiration comes from researching of all kinds of things. As soon as we have an idea we get online to make sure nobody else has already done it, we like to try to do something fresh because the market is so saturated that a lot of people are quite ‘meh‘ about it all at the moment. We keep our eyes peeled when we’re out and about and it’s been great brainstorming together on the Triclops Studio stuff, cos we never worked in the same team at the 'Bro.
Robotboy’s influences include: Tim Burton, Jim Henson, Kaiju, Giant robots, original Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Batman and clanky mechanical things and video games
Apeman’s influences include: Marvel comics, Bape (A Bathing Ape), Sneakers, Supreme, Music, Monsters, Graff + Street art, Ghostbusters / He-Man / GI. Joe / Garbage Pail Kids / The A-Team / Mask / The Goonies / Skateboarding / Madballs / Care Bears : joke ! ! ! Basically I’m a child of the 80’s, so everything around that time influences me so much.
TRE: damn! we be practically 80's-bruddahs! (sorry, my lame'o-attempt at rubbing virtual-shoulders LOL) what with the similar influences and all (CARE-BEAR-STARE!) LOL - you mentioned saturation of the market - personally, im seeing a whole range of diversity, and yet at the same time a whole shelf-filled with similar influenced toys ... where do you think the current market is headed? and what/who do you think could/will turn it around?
APEMAN: Triclops! LOL. I kind of agree in terms of diversity, there is new stuff coming out but you kind of feel that the people pushing that are just doing it to break up the norm.... ?
ROBOTBOY: Yeah, I think there is diverse stuff being released but some of it is just plain weird for the sake of being different and wouldn't look right on your shelf next to the rest of your collection. I think that the market will evolve as the audience and the people feeding it mature. At the moment it seems that most of us are from the same generation with the same influences, all the 80s retro stuff for example is what we grew up on, when the next generation get into toys, they will have grown up alongside designer vinyl and they'll be aping the 90s or whatever and giving different answers...
TRE: totally agree - icons from our collective "pasts" (and childhood) to call our own ... my fear is for the current youth, for what else do they have except recycled-icons from our past? do they even have anything to call THEIR OWN? (another topic for another day :p) ... coming back to the NOW, Triclops are primarily know for their customs - with that, what are your fave platforms for customisation and why?
TRICLOPS: We like it when we get asked to customise something really different, we enjoyed the Stikfas customs we just finished for Meanwhile UK because they’re such a small scale. Having said that, Apeman’s giant monkey hands had trouble with the fiddly little bits and kept muttering ‘bugger’ as he dropped them on the floor. We like working on a variety of blanks, we recently did the Vader Project and Simpsons Qee which were both great fun because they're so iconic. Also we were lucky enough to be asked to contribute a Mini-Munny Mobile for the Kidrobot gallery. It's a big privilege to be invited as a guest artist when we're in the company of our heroes from the customising scene like Sket One and Doktor A.
TRE: smoking-work, guys, IMHO - any words of wisdom, for noobs (like me) in the realm of customization? any no-nos? etc?
APEMAN: It's kind of like stick to what you know, stick to your trusted tools and your way of doing things but try to push the boundaries a bit with everything. You got to try new things. When we do a custom, we totally look at what it is, where its come from and remix it, we don't just slap our label/latest design on it (not that we have one!). It's also important to see something in the shape that's not necessarily associated with the original shape or product. A no-no, don't try and take too much on unless you've got the time. These things always take much longer than you think!
ROBOTBOY: We try to put some humour into our customs too, especially when you are up against the cream of the toy scene, it's important to make your piece stand out so if people are scanning the line up of a show and yours make them chuckle, it's pretty cool! Try to be original with customs, they are a one-off so they should be special.
TRE: now a question that's on every Triclops-fans chapped lips - your own line of Triclops toys = when and where?
ROBOTBOY: Aaah, the question on everybody’s lips, well, yours and my Mum at least. Apeman and I have a couple of Trexis that hopefully will be out by the end of the year and a couple of Dunnys which are going to be featured in the UK artist series.
We have a project we are currently polishing and hoping that it will be our first range of collectibles, working title 'Gutterbirds' very early sneaky peek pic attached.
TRE: aaaahhhh cheers for the schweet-sneakie-peekies, gents! looking forward to their development :) ... besides "toys" what else do you guys like (to do, to collect)
ROBOTBOY: I have a love-hate relationship with my 1962 VW beetle, I had it fully restored last year and it’s really cool but the cost of maintenance is a bit of an issue. When it’s raining I think I’ll sell it but when the sun’s out I get all Homer Simpson and say ‘let’s never argue again.’ I also enjoy building vegetarian customs in my space invader themed kitchen and walking my dog Barney in my homeland, the Lake District.
Apeman likes playing records out & about in LDN –mainly hip-hop, soul, funk & a splash of soulful drum n bass. He also n*joys reading old (mainly 80’s !) and new comics, drinking beer, making his signature meal : ‘ Pot Bean Noodle ‘ mash-up, playing football & shopping for t-shirts & trainers !
TRE: cheers for the time and trouble, Luc and Rob! (but of coz ima gonna be still pestering you for goodies LOL) - in closing, please do share with the readers (and your hungry-fans) what we can expect from the NEW Triclops? let slip your plans for world domination!
TRICLOPS: The new and shiny Triclops Studio will be hoping for that ‘big buck‘ project that pays well enough to plough back into manufacture. We really want to get some products out there with the Triclops Studio badge on!
We’re doing a load of t-shirt designs / fashion based products at the moment (our first venture into fashion is the Uzi bag) and pitching games and toys to all the major toy companies and we have a few IP concepts that we’ll be trying to flog.
On the custom front, we picked up a Giant Gwin from October Toys at SDCC for an upcoming show in California.. . we’re also spending a lot of time schmoozing and boozing – hoping to get our huge robotic-monkey foot in the door!
Peace & Love
Luc & Rob
[original post circa 03.09.07]