Interview: Ceno Kibble & Cassy Sark from Mayhem Mekanics
Mayhem Mekanics is a new up and coming toy company currently in the process of trying to launch its first toy line: The Unrustable Ba$tards! Imagine a robot biker gang with transformation, awesome sculpting, weapons everywhere and unique designs and you have the Unrustable Ba$tards! BWTF interviewed some of the minds behind the line. Check out the interview below:
1. What inspired the original concept for this gang? Why bikers instead of army guys or martial arts robots?
Ceno Kibble: There are many inspirations for the Unrustable Bastards, but I suppose the high concept summary would be Sons of Unicron.
Cassy Sark: Yeah, I was really into Sons of Anarchy at the time, and with so much of my time taken up doing freelance design for 3rd Party companies, it just struck me as a really cool idea to redo the motorcycle concept in a way that hasn't been done before. Something a bit different, rather than trying to balance a huge robot on top of another like with CHUG Wreck-Gar (which is a great toy), and this gave us the chance to take a little GI Joe influence and add that to the Powermaster concept, sort of the next logical step for the "didn't really go anywhere" Human Alliance concept. Nothing exists in a vacuum and I'd love to say everything we do is completely unique, but the truth is, everything is a remix of a remix.
Ceno: That's true story wise too. We started laying out concepts for the story and we wanted to get away from the simple black and white "good vs evil" idea. After all; why do Stormtroopers exist in the Star Wars universe? The clone idea is way too clean and tidy, it's much messier, grey and real world once you realise that some Stormtroopers are doing it for food, some are doing it for the money to send back home, and some are doing it because of the sense of power that comes to belonging to something bigger than yourself. That's the sort of thing we want to touch upon with the antagonist's of the Unrustable Bastards story; with the Enforcers, who are like a corrupt SWAT team who serve the will of the Central Planets when normal policing fails, it's a question of personal freedom vs security.
To that extent we've taken story cues from Jason Aaron's excellent "Scalped" comic series, "No Hero" by Jay Dobyns and a whole bunch of other influences.
Cassy: But this wasn't the first idea we had for the Robo Dominion Saga...
Ceno: No that's true, we've wanted to launch our own Intellectual Property for a while now.
Cassy: The first concept we discussed was far too big a story, with far too many unique molds to assemble just the core cast. You have to walk before you can run so we came up with something a bit smaller, with more obvious repaints available to fund the first production molding and ensure we don't lose too much money on the first run.
2. Can you talk about the process that went into designing the motorcycle and driver figures?
Cassy: Probably the hardest part for me was putting aside the obvious Transformers influences and looking outside the box. It's not that hard for someone of my generation as it sometimes feels like our entire lives have been researching pop culture, and I already have masses of art books from movies and design studios to look through.
I took influences from everything really; Iron Man, Cybermen, all the kookiest humanoid robots from TV and film. I looked at the bikes from Akira, Gears of War, Final Fantasy, stuff that dared to break the mold a little. It's hard to do transforming motorbikes without taking a little influence from Mospeada, but I hope we did something different than the usual Junkions or Arcee figures.
Ceno: There was also the extra component of looking for interesting battle mask designs too. I think Halo: Reach was an influence for that.
Cassy: Yeah, it was. But then we felt we needed extra heads to more strongly link the Rider robots heads to their combined mode heads and battle masks.
Design wise, I work straight into Solidworks which is a great engineering programs. I don't do sketches or anything, I just start to build as I work quite quickly, so if something isn't working I'm happy to wipe the slate clean, you might have noticed these changed A LOT from the initial 2013 announcement designs.
Ceno: How long did it take to design?
Cassy: It's impossible to say really, as it's been an ongoing process over the last three years, I've had to do this whenever I've had a quiet day here or finished another project ahead of schedule, or if I've been waiting for a client to get back to me about another design.
3. The figures include a transforming motorcycle and driver figure. Are both meant to be sentient characters or is only one the "character" and the other is non-sentient?
Ceno: With the Unrustable Bastards biker gang, the bike is completely non-sentient, like a transtector to keep with the fandom vernacular. Only the rider is sentient, and fully controls the bike as both a rider, and as the chest component of the combined mode.
Cassy: This will vary for the other characters in the universe. The Yama-Zuki biker gang are a similar sort of deal, where they just use bikes to race, as a symbol of their street-cred, and they will bond with their transtector vehicles in a different way to the Bastards. The Enforcers who work for the Oligarchy - the controlling government of the central planets - are completely different, having upgraded their smaller frames into entire vehicles which they inhabit directly in both modes.
4. Were there any ideas that you really wanted to include in the initial offerings that you had to drop? If so, which were the best and which were the worst?
Ceno: Other than the initial story concept we had being put on the back burner in favour of this project? Haha.
Cassy: Obviously the ideas we kept were the best, and the ideas we dropped were the worst, hah. Initially we wanted to do helmets for the riders but it didn't quite work with the scale and the way we wanted the Riders to transform to become the central chest section. Plus there is the question; why would robots need a helmet? It just didn't make sense.
Ceno: One thing we should have done early on was realise the huge potential and fan-base for the 1/18th scale collectors. But we are planning a 1-2% scale increase which will be barely noticeable at a glance, but will enable 1/18th figures to interact with the motorbike mode slightly easier, and will put the small Rider figure exactly at that scale.
Cassy: Live and learn. You have to be adaptable. We pushed for rubber tyres and got them, and made the decision not to go for any die-cast parts; paint-matching to plastic, chipping / wear issues... and not to mention potential joint wear, so that was a conscious choice to move away from die-cast.
Another thing I wanted to do was base the Burley character on Ron Perlman, but with more robotic features, and that's very hard to do in an engineering program. Luckily we have an amazing zbrush designer for a friend, Tom Malin, and he worked on the more humanoid heads which we then imported into Solidworks for final tweaks.
Ceno: Overall, we're very happy with the project at this stage, the hardcopy resin holds together amazingly well and everything works as we planned it to.
5. Is there any prose or comic book style fiction intended to go with this line?
Ceno: Yes. Totally. That's one of the huge driving forces behind this project, at least for me.
The plan is an initial four-issue storyline set in the Bastards universe, telling a story from Iride's point of view, the first 11 pages of which will be packaged with the first Unrustable Bastards release which we're currently seeking funding for on Kickstarter, it will be drawn by the talented Justin Holman who has worked for both Marvel and Zenescape. Hopefully the rest of the series will be serialised in future toy releases of the Yama-Zukis and the Enforcers, but we're also seeking a comic publishing house to publish the series for Direct Market release through Diamond Comics.
6. You mention before that you've worked for 3rd Party Companies, what makes this different to any other 3rd Party Figure?
Cassy: Well, for one thing, when I work as a freelance designer, it's just that; freelance. I don't own anything, and rarely see any back-end profits.
Ceno: Ownership is a huge deal for us. We've gone into this with a handful of trusted partners, and the idea is to build something bigger than any of us. World building. Universe building. Not just working on the back of someone else's IP. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of all the work I've done with profiles and pack-in comics for 3P companies, and I'd still love to do a legit Transformers comic one day, but with this it has the potential to be so much more. Because it's ours. And because we own it, we can do something no other toy robot company is doing.
Cassy: Yeah, we truly feel the sky is the limit with the Robo Dominion Saga universe, it's a broad universe with unlimited story-telling potential.
Ceno: That's why we're opening the door to the incredibly creative fans we see in the toy community. With Unrustable Bastards we're offering people the chance to design and create the back-story for their own Unrustable Bastard club-member, and the ones we like the most will get officially "patched in" and become actual members of our story-telling universe. We hope to have chapters of the Bastards springing up all over the world, and these will be recognised on various planets throughout the Robo Dominion Saga universe. We're encouraging people to get creative; draw, animate, write, customise, design, paint, and the best of these will be shared on a portal on our website.
Cassy: That's what makes us different to 3rd Party Companies, but it's also what makes us different to Hasbro, Mattel or any of the big corporate toy companies.
Ceno: We just need people to get involved, and one of the best ways they can do that is by getting involved now and pledging to our Kickstarter. We need to succeed at this point to be able to continue with all our plans for this story-telling universe.
If you would like to support this project, check out the Kickstarter page for Mayhem Mekanics!