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Starbreeze / Overkill Pre-E3 & The Walking Dead Game Launch Event

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With E3 2015 wrapping up a couple days ago, we’ve been seeing some pretty cool announcements coming from the electronic world over the past week. Some fantastic-looking new games, new systems, new gadgets. Nerdy fun to be had by all.

Just before E3, however, I got to have a bit of that fun for myself. Recently, Overkill Software had an event they called the Hype Train for their game, PayDay 2. This happened back in February/March, but you can still see some of the info from it here. This event effectively solidified Overkill/Starbreeze as my favorite gaming company around today. While studios like Electronic Arts are nickel-and-diming us gamers with in-game purchases, and a studio like Gearbox is suspected of plagiarism, it’s getting hard to tell who the good guys are in gaming. Overkill made that a little easier with the Hype Train. Here are the basics: Overkill set a list of goals to reach with corresponding PayDay-themed prizes. These goals were met by fans purchasing the game, DLCs, characters packs, etc. Anything at all PayDay-related that was purchased from their official outlets in this time period went toward the Hype Train. As prizes were unlocked, anyone with the game got access to these prizes. So even if you just had the base game, but didn’t or couldn’t buy anything during that time, you still got the Car Shop Heist and the Hoxton Revenge Heist. The way they went about this event was very cool in that it was obviously for the fans. Instead of just being out to make a quick buck, they promoted the game and the additions in a way that engaged the community, and rewarded fans. I’ve seen a few cynical groups of fans criticize the gaming company for involving money in the event at all, but that criticism seems extremely short-sighted. Of course a business has to make money in order to continue releasing their brand of awesome. At least in Overkill’s case, they did it in a way that really gave back to their fans and their community – and not just the factions that could pay for it at that particular time.

One of the prizes released during the Hype Train affected me, directly. There was a possibility that a prize would be unlocked where Overkill would fly 10 heisters to L.A. for a Pre-E3 event. I’ll be honest – the details were incredibly vague at the time, and whether it would even happen or not had not even been announced yet by the time you had to enter to win this prize. However, to enter, all you had to do was send Overkill a tweet during a certain time frame. What does one tweet cost you?  Nothing. Nothing at all. I sent my tweet back in March, went about my life, and actually forgot about it.

That is until early June when I started getting messages from Overkill on twitter.  When they first started trying to get my attention, they hadn’t yet told me I won the trip. I was mid-sentence in a conversation with my husband, and checked a notification on my phone. I trailed off in conversation, and my eyes got very big. My husband asked what was going on, and I responded with “SOMETHING IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.” A few minutes later, Almir Listo, producer of the PayDay franchise, let me know I had won, and asked if I’d be available to fly to L.A. in exactly one week. Naturally, I freaked out, put everything in life on hold, and went. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’ve been a big fan of the PayDay games for a while at this point, but even bigger, I have grown to respect and love Overkill as a gaming company. PC Gaming is one of my biggest hobbies in life these days, and these hotelguys were doing it right. I absolutely jumped at the chance to fly across the country and meet with them in person.

The following week was a blur of sustained excitement, and early on the Saturday morning following the announcement, I was on a plane. I arrived at the same time as several other heisters, and we instantly bonded. Everyone invited along, and everyone who met up with us from the studio were amazingly friendly and welcoming. We were all extremely excited.

We got to the hotel Overkill had us staying in – the Grafton on Sunset BLVD in West Hollywood.  A beautiful hotel that was rock-themed, newly renovated, and in a great location.  I walked with some of the other heisters to a nearby burger place, and had lunch. Afterwards, we were all in need of a nap – each of us had been traveling since early that morning, and were in for a long night ahead of us.

A few hours later, we were picked up in a limo, and given a tour of Hollywood before being dropped off at the event.

The party was at the Hollywood House of Blues. Technically, it was only half a block from our hotel, and we easily could have walked, but the limo ride was fun either way. There were 3 floors of drinks, food, music, fun people, games, and announcements. It was crazy. Immediately upon walking into the gate, I met Damion Poitier – the voice of Chains in the PayDay games. He was incredibly nice, and all for hanging with the fans. He also made the absolute best faces in all the pictures that were taken of him that night (see his twitter feed for more of these amazing faces).damion  We also chatted with Eric Etebari, the voice of Dallas, throughout the night as well. In fact, every time we turned around, there was either Damion or Eric. I’m pretty sure they wanted to be BFFs, but were too shy to say so (right? RIGHT??).

We were also greeted by shambling zombies everywhere. Since this event was the launch party for Overkill’s The Walking Dead, they made a point to really put you in the mindset of hanging with zombies. Now – I organized a large-scale Zombie Walk for years. We had some incredible zombies over the years, but none with the constitution of these Walkers. Never once did I see a single zombie break character, even for a second. One in particular made a point to sneak up behind various party people, waiting just inches from the back of their heads to notice him. The reactions were priceless.

zombie Next were the announcements.

Overkill’s The Walking Dead was obviously a huge one. There are a couple other TWD games out right now, but they’re both completely story-driven, not shooters. Since the Left 4 Dead franchise, I think we here in the gaming community have been itching for an awesome, new zombie-themed shooter. We saw a bit of the gameplay and graphics from the new TWD game, and it’s looking pretty badass. And it looks like there will also be a little crossover from the PayDay franchise. The game doesn’t come out until next year, but I’m already psyched for it. You can watch the trailer for it, and find out more details here.

Next was the announcement of PayDay 2 coming to consoles. In fact, they had several machines set up with PayDay 2 loaded up to try it out. I’m not a big console person, myself, so I asked some of the other folks in my group how it held up in terms of a console shooter. Since they were all fans of the PayDay franchise on PC previously, they were able to definitely say that the translation from PC to console was very well done. The controls are intuitive, and the game played just as well on console. So if you’ve been wanting to play PayDay 2, but just aren’t into keyboards and mice, look forward to that release.

 

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Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we were surprised with the announcement of the StarVR system. This entire thing looks amazing. The StarVR system is Starbreeze’s answer to the recent Virtual Reality craze. It’s a headset that’s lighter than the Oculus, and instead of smaller circles to look through that are straight-ahead, the StarVR system has a wide screen that allows for peripheral vision. This may sound like a small difference in systems, but in reality, the way the StarVR is laid out allows you to really, and truly immerse yourself into the game much more than most other VR systems that are announced right now. Granted – the StarVR is still in process, as are many other virtual reality systems, and some changes and competitors may still arise. At the moment, though, it looks like Starbreeze is on the right path with this one. Here’s a Hands-on view from the E3 conference:

Overall, there were a ton of unexpected, and fantastic surprises at the Pre-E3 party. Friendships were forged, and a ridiculous amount of fun was had.

The next day, we had dinner plans with the Overkill gang, but were free until then. Some heisters explored Hollywood, some hung out at the hotel and gamed a bit. I had some friends in town, so I joined them for a killer waffle brunch. Then we were all given an address to meet up at.

The address led us to the historic Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and the shopping center behind it. It was a little bit confusing to know where we were going at first, but once we saw that there was a Dave & Busters, we all thought ‘of course they’re going to take a bunch of video game nerds to the gaming place.’ We were right – and thrilled to be.

starbreezeWe were joined by Almir Listo, Simon Viklund (who composes all of the music in the PayDay games), and Karl Lakner (art director for Overkill). A relaxing dinner with great conversation was followed by a lot of selfies and group pics. We all got the chance to really talk with these accomplished fellows one-on-one, and ask any burning, heisting questions we may have had.

However, at the end of it, not all of us were ready to call it quits. Almir had to leave us, but Simon and Karl were dead-set on seeing a movie. We walked over the Chinese Theater, and all grabbed tickets for Jurassic World, but still had a couple hours to kill, so we went back to D&B’s to play some games. I got to shoot ridiculous amounts of aliens and terminator-bots with Karl, and then even more dinosaurs with Simon. A few of the other Overkill guys joined us for the movie – and were more than happy to talk about the weapons, explosions, and landscapes they designed for the PayDay games, and what went into them. The gentlemen we got to meet from Overkill were easily some of the nicest, friendliest, and most welcoming people I’ve met in a long time.

The next morning, I flew the 7 hours back to my usual side of the country.

It was a crazy, jam-packed, exciting, whirlwind of a weekend that I never expected to happen.

 

I cannot thank the guys at Overkill, and especially Almir and Karl (who were both incredibly friendly and accommodating) enough for the experience. You guys made 10 little heisters’ lives incredibly bright for that weekend.

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Rock Band 4?? Yes, Please!

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In case you haven’t heard the news, Harmonix announced today (at about 5:30 in the morning..) that they’re ready for their encore! The Rock Bands games 1-3 were once a staple in friendly-get-together fun for gamers for years. It seemed the project was all but abandoned after the market was a little too saturated with at-home music games a few years ago, but we’re very happy to hear it’s been revived!

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The new game will be released for current gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox ONE), however the good news is that if you have an older gen console of the same type, your DLCs and previous game codes should work for the new game and new console. This will not work for changing platforms (ie: going from PS3 to the Xbox ONE), but that’s pretty understandable. Harmonix is also working with Mad Catz to get older instruments working with the new systems/game, but no promises have been made there yet.

They will be introducing new instruments for the new consoles. Details have not been formally announced yet, with the exception of a Penny Arcade-themed guitar. This special guitar will be available for pre-order if you visit the Harmonix booth at PAX East this weekend in person, and reserve it there. Info on the PAX East pre-order as well as general info on the RB4 announcement is available here:

http://www.harmonixmusic.com/blog/rock-band-4-announced/

 

If you’re not able to make it out to PAX East, but still want to be able to pre-order the game or get updates on release details, they have a handy sign up here (note: pricing has not been announced):

http://www.harmonixmusic.com/games/rock-band/preorder-notifications

 

And lastly, they have released a FAQ on the new game here:

http://forums.harmonixmusic.com/discussion/257486/were-ready-for-our-encore-rock-band-4-coming-2015

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I hope this means that Rock Band competitions will start popping up again. I will OWN that with Somebody to Love.  And I think this accurate describes our excitement over the announcement:

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Book Review: Chicks Dig Gaming

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Book Review: Chicks Dig Gaming ed. by Brozek, Pearson, Smith?, & Rabe

Review by Prof. Jenn

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Books of this nature can easily fall into the trap of redundancy. Witness my review for Queers Dig Timelords, another anthology of this ilk, and indeed in this series. Chicks Dig Gaming does not, however, fall prey to the trap. The collection of essays span from wicked satire to sweet nostalgic memoir, to a celebration of gaming in general or certain games, a recounting of a particular gaming event, to analysis of a game or game trope, a recounting of the history of video games, to the ever-important discussion of the unfair and even dangerous treatment of women in the gaming world. This collection doesn’t only discuss video games, but board games, LARPing and pen-and-paper RPGs are discussed as well.

My problem with Queers…, as you recall, was that the essays all had the same tone and even the same subject matter (Doctor Who changed my life because…). This, especially read in big sections in one sitting, started to grate on the nerves, or at least became repetitive fawning. Chicks...doesn’t do this, as each essay has an author voice distinct from every other, and the topics at hand vary widely. I commend the editors for this, as it’s an entertaining as well as an informative read throughout.

Highlights of this collection include: a satirical look at the lack of boys in video gaming and what we can do about it, a paralleling of Mario to a bodhisattva and the Mario games to Buddhism, how one author who didn’t like video games at all tried Portal, and a delightfully written description of how another author learned to get cutthroat in Eve Online.

Bottom Line: this collection is highly recommended for anyone who loves any games.

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Project Greenlight: Sexy Superhero

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IMG_1248Superheroes are larger than life and mythic in scope. Their clothes play an essential role in conveying their power. The dark silhouette of an armored Batman strikes fear in the hearts evildoers. The red cape and yellow shield of Superman brings hope to the hopeless. Wonder Woman’s bustier gives a great view of her breasts. Well, maybe that last one doesn’t have the same “effect” as the first two.

There’s long been a double standard in superhero comics, dating back to the very first female heroes. This isn’t news to anyone who’s been a fan of comic books. The hero is dressed to inspire, and the female heroine is dressed (or undressed) to titillate. Powergirl may be stronger and faster than Batman, able to shrug off bullets and lift tanks, but her clothes (which literally have a cleavage window) have all the subtext of eye candy, not hero.

It’s a problem that comic books still struggle with despite a century of progress in gender equality. You only have to look at the recent kerfuffle with Spider-Woman #1’s cover with a “painted on” costume to know we haven’t moved that far from Wonder Woman being tied up and fired at by phallic objects in the 1940’s. The move to mass commercial success with Marvel’s films has only exacerbated the problems. Black Widow’s representation in the Avengers proved fertile ground for the Internet meme machine, with her impractical cleavage and ludicrous posing.

Sexy Superhero is my addition to the ongoing conversation on this subject. It’s a short film that pokes fun of the impracticality of accepted female costuming in superhero fiction. I’m a big fan of superhero comics and movies. I wanted to create something that showed my love for the subject matter and share it with a larger audience. There’s a reason why comic fans are so passionate–Superheroes are great fun, and can be monumentally inspiring. I think everyone should be able to identify with his or her favorite hero without a cleavage window shutting them out.

 

IMG_1218Luke Patton is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. Sexy Superhero, a short film he wrote and directed, is one of the top 20 finalists in the Project Greenlight competition. To watch Sexy Superhero and place your vote in the competition please follow the link below.

http://www.projectgreenlight.com

American Horror Story — Halloween parts 1&2

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This two-part episode packed in a lot of information, while somehow raising more questions than it answered. Look out for AHS Murder House spoilers ahead.

First, it’s time to celebrate, because I was actually right about something! One of my (many) speculations about Tate is true–he is Constance’s son! That small tidbit was overshadowed by the questions about him brought up in this Halloween two-parter. For example, in one of the scenes he was wearing the rubber suit. Does that mean he is always the guy in the rubber suit? I’m hoping not, because gross. There’s a weird discrepancy with him. He seems to understand the minutiae of the Murder House, and appears to be able to manipulate some of it to his will (as in the episode in which he scared Violet’s bully). But then we are introduced to the dead high-schoolers who claim to have been murdered by him, and he unravels into genuine bafflement. It’s difficult to reconcile these two parts of Tate. More importantly, is he one of the many walking dead on the show? (I’m guessing probably yes).

I was absolutely shocked by Addie’s death in this episode. Addie was mowed down by a car whilst trick-or-treating, in such a casual way it almost seemed an afterthought. I wonder if it will ever be revealed how the dead function in the show. Will Addie be able to come back because Constance pulled her to the Harmons’ lawn? If she can come back, it seems like it could be difficult to keep this secret from Tate.

Hayden returned in this episode. I find her storyline tired, but I did like her better as a vengeful spirit, and the scenes between her and Vivien were powerful and needed. Vivien is really starting to get on my nerves. I’m glad that she finally had the guts to kick Ben out, but SHE was the one who wanted to leave that house, and with good reason, so why was HE the one who left? Wasn’t that a good opportunity to get her and Violet out of there? Why do the characters in AHS have that typical horror-themed lack of good judgement?

Wild speculation time. Because I can’t take any normal people for granted, I’m going to say that there’s something off about the security guy who Vivien is becoming attached to. I fully expect everyone to die by the end of this season, but I still have my fingers crossed that Violet will make it out.

Addie and the dismembered baby delivered to the original house owners bring the House Death Toll to 16.

American Horror Story — Pilot, Home Invasion, & Murder House

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I’ll start off by saying that I was not expecting to like American Horror Story as much as I seem to. The first episode was suspenseful and exhilarating and seemed to pack a, well, mansion’s worth of story into 52 minutes. I was going to start out with two episodes, but ended up accidentally watching three. That’s a good sign.

(Obviously if you’re somehow like me, hiding under an AHS-less rock, you will have events from the first three episodes spoiled for you in this post).

I took notes as I watched, so here are a few samples of my immediate reactions to scenes:

– STUFF IN JARS ALWAYS BAD.

– “We’re the Adams family now,” was a perfect line. I love Violet.

– Tate is the boy from the crying GIFs! He’s already crying and I’m already happy.

– This guy is naked a lot.

– Masturcrying, this show is brutal.

I was completely mistaken when I assumed the show would be episodic horror stories, and I’m ecstatic that I was so wrong. Each episode does seem to have a loose theme of its own–the introduction to the Harmon family in episode one, the serial killer saga in episode two, and the backstories of a handful of other characters in episode three. But the show is ripe with underlying plot and momentum, with a slow burn of suspense rolling underneath it all.

Here’s how the characters are ranked in my estimation currently:

Violet Harmon – I can’t help it, I love her. Her sarcasm, blunt honesty, and unique style are great. She also won points expressing her preference for the East coast.

Moira- I find her incredibly interesting, especially that women see her as a strange old lady and men see her as an object of lust. The men “see what they want to see; women, however, see into the soul of a person,” line was perfect. I am interested to know what kind of spirit she is, and how that works in this universe, since it seems strange that she died as a young woman but now shows age. I hope that is explored later.

Tate- I can’t help it. I adore him. It’s not surprising. I have a thing for screwed up young dude characters. Most of my speculation has to do with him so more on that later.

Vivien Harmon- She’s ending up on the middle of this list and that seems about right. There are some things to like about her as a main character, but she’s a bit bland, too. She seems to have the best instincts out of all of the Harmons–but not quite good enough. The pregnancy story line kind of bothers me.

Larry- Idk I guess this show is great for me because I like all the psychos? I think he might actually be trying to help, so that’s nice, and he reminded me of Mr. Rogers in that sweater vest in the flashback of him killing his family, so points for that creepy imagery.

Adelaide- I don’t like her or really know what to make of her yet. Her supernatural connection to the house is appropriately creepy. I like that she tried to help the Harmons that one time.

Constance- What to say! I love to hate her? I don’t know what to make of her. Mostly I’m curious about why she was trying to poison Violet with those cupcakes. Unless she knew about the hostage situation and everything that would be happening? It would be neat if she has some clairvoyant connection to the house like Addy does.

Hayden- Glad that whole situation was taken care of quickly (thanks, Larry!) I felt bad for the situation she was in, but her unraveling mental state while trying to cling to Jerkface Ben was just awkward.

Ben Harmon- Are we supposed to like him? Does anyone root for this guy? I’m assuming there will be lots of people dying this season and I kinda hope he’s first.

So let’s throw out some wild speculation. Tate. All the supernatural elements are linked to the house, so I’m curious about his connection to it. When he attacked Leah in the basement there were flashes of a monster that looked a bit gobliny to me. That was the same monster that killed the twins in the first scene of the show. So, I’m wondering if he is that goblin-thing? Or perhaps has some control over it? I’ve also briefly entertained the idea that he is Constance’s son who was mentioned at some point, especially since they all seem to know each other.

I wonder if it’s possible to get through this season with a Harmon or two still intact. Since this is the Murder House season, I will leave off with the current House Death Toll: 14.

 

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The Her Universe Fashion Show at Comic-Con 2014

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Her Universe, Hot Topic and Nerdist Industries put on their very first “Geek Couture” fashion show last night at SDCC and it was fantastic. The Hyatt Ballroom was packed, the designers came up with some beautiful and unique nerdy outfits, and Her Universe’s very own Ashley Eckstein looked beautiful in a Totoro inspired couture dress, mainly because she was excited to announce that Her Universe has acquired licensing rights for Studio Ghibli merch to be sold at Hot Topic this fall! Yes, I’m just as excited as you!

My personal favorite designs of the night were Lauren Bregman’s “Effie’s Trinkets” worn by stunning model Adrianne Curry, and Andrew MacLaine’s “Regina’s Curse” which literally wowed the crowd. Regina herself, Lana Parrilla, even tweeted about it.

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Hopefully this will become an annual event, so you nerds can attend next time. And props to DJ Amanda for playing some sweet 80s jams during the Back to the Future and Metroid inspired portion of the night.

For more information on the event and where to buy cool geek fashion visit http://www.heruniverse.com/

 

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Interview: Nathan Hamill (Toy Designer, Artist, Nerd)

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It’s almost time for San Diego Comic-Con 2014 and, like all of you nerds, I’m trying to figure out what I really want to spend my money on because, holy crap, there are always so many cool toys there! So, in my quest to find all the must-have releases this year, I decided to interview one of my friends and favorite toy designers, Nathan Hamill. I already own most of his figures, and since he keeps coming up with even cooler ones every year, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next. So, if you’re one of the many lucky nerds attending the convention this year, make sure you don’t miss out on his awesome SDCC releases. Photos and info on where to buy below!

1) Most of us know you’re a ginormous nerd with a pretty solid toy collection that I often want to steal from, but how did you end up becoming a toy designer? What was your motivation to release Boris, your first vinyl figure?

I started with Boris when Patrick Geologo, who I once worked with at Toy Planet when I was in high school, was looking for artists to work with as U1Toy Arts was just starting out. Boris was originally a design for a cartoon called Animal Bandits. He’s a surly, suspicious little guy with a Napoleon complex. Like a Joe Pesci of the forest. And thanks for not stealing my toys. I know it can be hard not to.

2) What toys did you cherish most as a child? What are some of your favorite figures that you own now?

I carried a Darth Vader 3 3/4″ Kenner figure with me wherever I went. I had a vice like grip on that one. And currently it is Lavabear: Classic Ed., which I took all around Disney World on a recent trip. Some things never change.

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3) You have some really cool releases coming up for SDCC. In particular, I’m excited about Lavabear and can’t wait to get one. What’s his story? Where did you get the inspiration to create him?

His backstory is inspired somewhat by the Gollum of Jewish lore and even a little by Tik-Tok of Oz, who was a protector of sorts too. There are obvious pop culture elements in the design but there are some that are more subtle and some that were subconsciously incorporated. I have no control of my pop culture soaked brain.

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Lavabear: Classic Ed. Vinyl. 8 inches tall. Limited to 125 pieces. $80. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

4) What about Octopup? How did you decide on all the different colorways? Were you trying to make me angry because I gotta catch them all?

Making you angry is always just a happy accident. As my first sofubi, I just chose color ways that would really pop. Stay tuned for some custom pieces from others artists soon.

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Octopup: Octocrush Ed. Sofubi (Soft Japanese Vinyl). 2 inches. $10. SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

5) You also collaborated with Flat Bonnie and came up with a rad and squishy Octoplush version. Any future collaborations with her or other artists?

For SDCC, Flat Bonnie and I will have 3 Octoplush: Aquapup Ed. mini plushes as giveaways at the 3DRetro booth #5049. There will be 3 “Golden” tickets hidden inside the header cards of the Octopup: Octocrush Ed. sofubis. If you get a ticket, present it to 3DRetro and take home a free Octoplush.

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SDCC 3DRetro Booth #5049

6) Your toys are awesome, but you’ve also released some fantastic art. What artists do you admire? Is there anything in particular you think influences your style?

There are too many to list if we’re talking about admiration and even influence whether big or small. But I think artists like Kozik, John K., Tim Burton and others that juxtapose cartoons with darker themes or underlying messages probably influenced me the most. I like taking a cute, large character and adding something subtly sinister or off to them. A friend once called my style “cute macabre”, and I’ll happily take that description.

7) “My Father, My Lord” might be my favorite print of yours because I’m a dark, emo nerd. For those of us who can’t even draw stick figures, can you talk about the process of coming up with a piece like this? Is this how you usually work?

I don’t ever really work the same way from one piece to the next.  It really depends on what it calls for and the mood I’m in. This one in particular came together really quickly. Once I had the concept, the rough was finished surprisingly fast. It’s something very dear to my heart, so it just came naturally. Then, it was just adding bits here and there and refining the whole thing.

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8) Out of all the characters you’ve created, which one are you the most proud of?

Lavabear is my favorite hands down. It contains many elements that I’ve found myself using in other toys and resins. In addition to that, there are a few pop culture references too, one obvious and the rest were subconsciously incorporated. Bubbling up from my nerdy pop culture ladened brain.

9) What other exciting things can fans and collectors expect from Nathan Hamill in the future? Can you give us any spoilers?

2015 will be a great one. Lots to look forward to, but the one I’m most excited about will be very appropriate for the year. And, no, it’s not Star Wars!

Thanks, Nathan! And I’m totally getting one of your MimoPowerTubes while I’m at the con. So rad looking and practical!

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Mimoco’s SDCC Booths #5245 and #2913M

Visit www.nathanhamill.com for the latest news on his current and future releases.

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Interview: Ben Goretsky of 3DRetro Vinyl Toy Art Store (NOW OPEN!)

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After being a successful online retailer and vinyl toy producer for over a decade, the 3DRetro retail store has finally opened its doors to the toy loving nerd public in Los Angeles, and it was quite the opening party. There were delicious food trucks, impressive live paintings, and some awesome toy releases. Also, several well-known artists, such as Nathan Ota, Scott Tolleson, and Sam Flores to name just a few, were present to hang out and sign stuffs for fans. The event was packed, but I was fortunate enough to peek inside, geek out and drool on (sorry!) all of the beautiful toys, prints, and other collectibles, some of which you may not find elsewhere. And props to whomever designed and decorated the interior. I felt like I was in a super cool grown up version of Toys “R” Us, only I didn’t have to feel guilty for spending money on kids stuff. I even had the pleasure of interviewing its owner Ben Goretsky. So if you’re a toy collector or just like looking at pretty, shiny, nerdy things, check out what he had to say and make sure to visit 3DRetro soon! (Store details below.)

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Photo by Victoria Lara

1) For our readers who are not aware of your impressive resume, can you tell us about yourself, your background, and how you started your business?

I don’t know if anyone would call it an impressive resume, but I started actually as a collector. I originally collected Simpsons figures and started coming to SDCC for the latest figures. In 2002, when I was at SDCC, I noticed some figures at the Tower booth (of all places), which were coming out of Asia. I started looking into them after SDCC and, around the same time, the KidRobot company was opening a store in Santa Monica, and I was sucked in. I started looking into the figures and the different producers, and that got me into creating 3DRetro. I started carrying the figures that I would want to buy and started selling them online; at that time, there were only 2-3 other vinyl toy stores online. I worked with KidRobot and Frank Kozik to get an exclusive Dunny for my store, and that really put me on the map with the rest of the stores. I always wanted to produce my own toys, though, so in 2010, I started working with October Toys and some artists I had approached throughout the years to start doing that. For me, that was huge! Now, I am happy to say that with production going on, toys, and a new site for the online store, I am happy to finally open an actual brick and mortar store.

2) Have you always wanted to own a toy store? And, more importantly, have you always been a huge nerd who loves toys just like the rest of us? What was your favorite toy as a child? 

Yes! After about the first year of running 3DRetro online, I was always hoping to open a retail store. I just needed to wait for the right time and space. I have always loved toys and toy stores, but, as a little kid, I never had many toys given to me by my parents. Sometimes I feel I have so many toys now because I never had so many as a kid. I did love Legos as a child, and this was before they had the awesome Star Wars and other licenses. I did also love robot toys, I still do. I loved the small transformers toys when I was a kid, and I even had this little toy called a Hootbot, which I adored. I think that toy is still somewhere at my parents house.

3) What’s your favorite item in your collection now? I know you’re a huge Back to the Future fan. Is there something from that franchise that you’d love to have or already own?

It’s hard to pick a favorite; there are so many good toys from different genres. I could probably break it down into just a handful of item. I love my signed Simpsons figures; those are prized possessions for me.  I do love anything Back to the Future related maybe because there is so little out there for the movie. I did hear that Hot Toys will finally be making Back to the Future figures, which I would LOVE to see, so I am really looking forward to those.

4) Who do you currently work with as a toy producer? Any exciting releases coming up for Comic-Con this summer? What about DesignerCon in the fall?

In terms of artists that I am working with for future releases, I have projects with Greg Simkins, Gary Baseman, KRK Ryden, Juan Muniz, Ron English, Nathan Hamill, Joe Ledbetter, Silvia Ji and Jeremy Fish. I have also worked with Luke Chueh, Scott Tolleson, Brandi Milne, Ragnar, Jim Mahfood, The Super Sucklord and David Chung and will hopefully be doing more projects with these artists. For SDCC, I have a few releases coming from Nathan Hamill, Gary Baseman, Greg Simkins and maybe a few other surprises.

5) Who are your favorite designers? Is there someone you’d love to work with in the future?

I love all the people I work with. I kind of feel that, at this point, I don’t know if there are any artists that I love that I don’t already work with. I do still wish I could work with Shepard Fairey (OBEY) and some of the big street artists out there.

6) What would you say separates 3DRetro from other toy stores? 

It’s a different feel in the store than others, more of an industrial look and feel to it, but, aside from the aesthetics, the store, while focusing on the collectibles we all love and the limited edition figures the vinyl toy industry is known for, it also carries a lot of pop-culture toys from your favorite movies and TV shows, which suits to that audience. I think there is a big cross-over in our world regarding these toys.

7) What advice would you give to someone who wants to open their own toy store? 

I would say that it’s a lot harder than just running an online store, a lot more work. I would also say that you need to do something in your store to make it stand out, not just from the other vinyl toy stores out there, but stand out from the basic stores like Toys “R” Us; it’s gotta wow the person entering the store, make them remember the store and make them want to come back.

Store location and hours:

1851 Victory Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91201
818-630-7063

Monday-Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday-Thursday: 11am to 6pm
Friday: 11am to 7pm
Saturday: 11am to 8pm
Sunday: 11am to 6pm

www.3DRetro.com
store@3dretro.com

3DRETRO3

Photo by Victoria Lara

American Horror Story: An Introduction

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That is some pretty cool cover art right there.
I have a summer assignment. It’s to watch a show as if I’ve never seen it before. Because I haven’t.

The selected show is American Horror Story and I am proud (see: slightly ashamed) to say that I know next to nothing about it. Here’s what I know:

1. The cover art on Netflix is pretty sweet

2. GIFs on Tumblr?

3. A tip that each season is entirely different

With the disclaimer that I really, honestly, know almost nothing about American Horror Story, I will share some thoughts about what I expect. I’ve only recently started watching Supernatural, and I had previously lumped the two together. I was imagining two shows with episodic plots that revolve around rehashings of traditional stories of horror and mythology. Which is, roughly, how Supernatural started before it deviated from this formula and found its own plot-based momentum.

I’m expecting to be surprised by AHS, but what can one expect when one is expecting a surprise?

I’ve set a few goals for this blind watch-through of the show. Firstly, I am going to try, with what little willpower I have, to remain spoiler free. (I am expecting an inevitable decline into curiosity that I will be unable to quell, as I almost always spoil shows for myself, but I will try). If I can do that, then there is some hope that my speculations will continue to amuse long-term fans. I may catch myself up on the fandom’s thoughts midway, or once I’ve completed the season. I’ll be posting reactions a few episodes at a time.

I’m especially curious about the characters. Who will I get attached to? Who will annoy me? Who are the bad guys? Is evil in the show unequivocal or dynamic? I don’t even have the faintest idea who any of the characters in the show are, except for one teary-eyed youth whose scenes seem to end up as GIF-sets that I see around.

What will happen? I don’t know! And may my ignorance be ever in your favor, because it should be a little amusing at least.

 

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