JAMES GROMAN × INSTINCTOY original collaboration Kaiju project, second edition !!
To commemorate the release of Kaiju Killer 1st color “Eye of the Mountain”, we are releasing this blog entry, titled "Everything about Kaiju Killer", which details the whole process of production, from the planning stage to its completion.
Thanks to everyone's support, King Korpse, which was released in 2016 as our first project, has been very well-received worldwide. I wanted to collaborate with James on an even more exciting piece and started to talk to him about our second project during the summer of 2016.
I, the author of this blog and the president of INSTINCTOY, Hiroto Ohkubo, love how James creates his characters and their stories, and have always been very interested in the movies and comics that influenced him. James, who was born in 1960, has been creating his works for many years, influenced by good old American culture. I am always very eager to transform such creations into soft vinyl figures, and present them in fascinating poses. Because of this, I am always happy to collaborate with JAMES.
This second project was based on the concept of combining the best of both INSTINCTOY and JAMES GROMAN to make “the strongest and coolest soft vinyl Kaiju”. With that in mind, James proposed the name, “Kaiju Killer”, for this work. This character stands on top of the food chain in the Kaiju world, a true apex predator. However, he is not “evil”, but “just”. He is a legendary creature, a guardian god who protects us humans from evil monsters.
The backstory of this Kaiju Killer, mostly referred to as the “eye of the mountain”, is that he silently watches over the human world from the mountains.
After finishing our design meeting, two design proposals submitted by James arrived a few days later.
Concept 1 was fascinating from the start. It depicted a work that perfectly fitted the image we were expecting.
Compared to concept 1, concept 2 certainly seemed to encapsulate the image of a guardian god or spirit better. However, I had the impression that it lacked the sort of power needed to reign at the top of the food chain.
Therefore, we merged the strengths of concept 1 with concept 2, and combined the two designs.
The combination resulted in concept 3, which is the closest to the final form.
Based on the world Kaiju Killer lives in, we completed the weapon and armor design, and the overall design was basically established. That is when James started to create a handmade clay model, based on the design picture.
During this process, James sent me many progress pictures, and I was excited to see each and every one of them.
Along the way, at one point, James’ physical condition was not good, and prototype production was delayed. Nevertheless, in May 2017, a clay prototype of the main body and the mask was finally completed.
From then on, the prototype became the job of INSTINCTOY. After the clay model was finished, 3D scanning of the main body had to be performed, to accurately convert the three-dimensional model into computer data.
We repeatedly held meetings with James in order to keep improving the model, until the final version was achieved. We continuously worked on balancing the body, musculature, division of the different body parts, and detailed design adjustments.
Interacting with James is always a lot of fun. Because of our great chemistry together while working, we were able to get closer and closer to the ideal form of the image that we both had in mind.
Here is the model completed by INSTINCTOY after several months.
(※ left: JAMES GROMAN’s clay prototype model / right: INSTINCTOY 3D adjusted prototype model)
The keyword for improving the prototype, that we focused on, was “power”. Keeping the fact that Kaiju Killer has the power to be at the top of the food chain in the Kaiju world in my mind, while also not diverging from the world of James’ original design, I adjusted the figure in terms of both power and presence. I think if you look at the side-view image, the changes are obvious. I have repeatedly done research and verification on the volume and posture of the chest and back muscles.
As a major change to the design itself, I added "shoulder armor" to the left shoulder. In James’ original design, the armor was worn on the arm, but when I proposed the attachment at the shoulder, he agreed to my proposal and made the adjustment. I imagined that Kaiju Killer, who injured his shoulder in battle, dared to let a parasitic type of carapace mount his shoulder for the purpose of treatment, as well as reinforcement, benefitting both sides.
That is the story behind this redesign. In other words, in order to express the setting that the parasitical carapace monster on the shoulder is alive, the eyeballs are manufactured as different parts and the position of the eyes can be changed by moving them.
(※ left: JAMES GROMAN’s clay prototype model / right: INSTINCTOY 3D adjusted prototype model)
In addition, to symbolize the collaboration between INSTINCTOY and JAMES GROMAN on this work, I made LIQUID the “partner” of the new Kaiju Killer to express "coexistence", just like the LIQUID was the heart of our previous project, KING KORPSE, before. Story wise, LIQUID is Kaiju Killer’s partner in battle, where he helps Kaiju Killer as an erosive liquid monster that can rip into an enemy’s body and liquify there. Although it is based on INSTINCTOY’s original character LIQUID, I redesigned it to match the world of the Kaiju Killer. He has one eye, two horns and a more realistic liquid feeling to it than the normal LIQUID. It is a detail that can be attached to the hemp bag worn on Kaiju Killer’s left waist.
Now I will continue with the introduction of the other accessory parts. When James and I thought about the world Kaiju Killer lives in and about his accessories, many ideas popped up in our minds based on James’ original design.
The design of the Skull Collection, which has appeared in design sketches from <Concept 1>, has been modified. The story is that after Kaiju Killer kills a Kaiju, he collects their skulls as a hunting trophy. Since the product comes with a hemp string, it is a detail that can be hung from the neck as an accessory of Kaiju Killer.
The next accessory was the weapon. Various ideas came up, from an iron sword, to an axe made of a monster’s spine, to a huge crab claw. The big question was, what weapon design would suit Kaiju Killer best? Should he maybe have more than one weapon? After having many discussions with James on this topic, a sword made out of a dragon’s wing became Kaiju Killer’s weapon of choice.
The 4 different skulls introduced above can each be attached to the bone handle of the dragon wing sword.
Kaiju Killer swings this mighty dragon wing sword with a total length of 34.5cm at his enemies.
We also want to showcase the shield, made of the strongest shell, which is in no way inferior to the dragon sword.
The story of this shield is the same as the other accessories. It was ripped off an enemy that Kaiju Killer fought in the past and won against. The design has an iron handle attached to the back of the solid shell. The point of the design is to wrap the dry cloth around the non-slip part of the handle.
In order to grasp this shield, the wrist of his left arm is manufactured with a ball joint, which gives Kaiju Killer the necessary arm structure and mobility to wield the shield. The ball joint is hidden by a wristband.
Next is the introduction of the skull mask. A monocular "bone mask" was an idea that James came up with while making the clay model. The totem engraved on the mask resembles Kaiju Killer’s backstory, being “The Eye of the Mountain”.
This skull mask was designed to fit both the face and the right shoulder.
In order to produce the ultimate quality soft vinyl figure, we had to express the details of the model as best, and as realistically as possible. Here, we designed it such that multiple parts could be disassembled, including the joints, accessories and details such as the eyeball parts, the nose rings and earrings. With that, the 3D prototype was finally ready to be made.
Based on the 3D data, we produced the prototype. After that, we went from a wax mold, to a metal mold, to a mass production mold, resulting in the final figure you see today.
The eyes were carefully selected from dozens of designs.
We even used doll eyes. It is crazy how real they look!
As a side note, I used a crystal stone as the eye of Kaiju Killer’s partner, MONSTER LIQUID. This is the image of the finished product.
I decided to leave it to James to decide the colorway for the 1st color of Kaiju Killer. I sent the completed figure to America. James loved the actual Kaiju Killer he received, as it came alive as a soft vinyl figure.
When you put him side by side with KING KORPSE, even though it is only a blank soft vinyl figure, Kaiju Killer already seems as strong as King Korpse.
After a few days, James completed the design for the first colorway, which looks incredible.
Along with completing the original color, JAMES also drew illustrations of Kaiju Killer’s world. As you can see from the back story introduced at the beginning, he is a brave character who fights against many monsters to protect human beings.
As soon as we received the color sample for the main body from James, we asked our factory to thoroughly study the color sample. When it came to mass-production, we were aiming for the recreation of the amazing first colorway done by James as much as we could, while retaining the best quality, to finally deliver the best product possible to our customers.
It took about two months to produce 60 bodies, with 10 of the best painters in the factory to finish the product, as 97% of the whole body is painted by hand.
The right arm plus shoulder (except wrist band & hand parts) alone already has 82 spikes, and requires 584 steps in the production process. This is a mass-produced soft vinyl figure that requires a lot of labor and technology, and more than several thousand processes to achieve the final product.
At the end of June 2019, mass production of the 1st color was finally completed. Kaiju Killer arrived at the INSTINCTOY ART STUDIO safely in early July! It has been three years since the start of this project, so I was looking forward to seeing this scene.
I will thoroughly introduce all the details of Kaiju Killer 1st color “Eye of the Mountain” here, from the body, to the package, and also the accessories.
It is a captivating product and it was worth sticking to the goal of finishing it in the best way possible, regardless of the delivery date. The factory achieved a superb quality for the mass-produced figures in the end. At the time that team was working on the final assembly, no one could pick out JAMES’ colored sample from the rest. His sample had served as the original reference material, and was used as the template for mass production.
Standing at about 34 cm in height, this figure’s massive body can be equipped with a variety of weapons and protective gear to be in a class of its own, in its native world.
The skull mask with the engraved emblem can be worn on the face or the right shoulder, which really allows the mood of the whole figure to change depending on which position is used.
The "sword" is made of a dragon wing and serves as a weapon. It can be worn by replacing the skulls of the four monsters (skull collection), and attaching them to the handle of the sword.
The "shield" is made from an armored monster's carapace. Even the inner side of the shield is very detailed. Please pay attention to the way the handle was made.
The shield is designed in such a way that it can also be used as a weapon. The appearance of Kaiju Killer flourishing the shield is a sight to behold.
The shoulder armor attached to the left shoulder is a parasitical armored monster. After Kaiju Killer had been injured in battle, in order to cure and strengthen his wounded shoulder, he let this parasitical armored monster mount his left shoulder. In order to show that the armored monster is alive, its eyeballs are made with a ball joint so that both eyes are movable.
Above, I already introduced the 3D images of "MONSTER LIQUID", which has become the "symbol of collaboration" this time. Isn’t it cute, sitting in the bag that is attached to the left side of Kaiju Killer’s waist? It is lurking…
Finally, I want to introduce the product package.
Kaiju Killer’s package has been produced in the same design as KING KORPSE; specifically, the hemp bag. Due to the volume of the main unit and the many accessories, the hemp bag’s size is one size larger than KING KORPSE's.
A luxurious touch that would be familiar to those who purchased a KING KORPSE before, a leather serial number tag with Kaiju Killer’s logo and the first color’s name printed in gold has also been included. The serial number of the limited 60 pieces was engraved with a laser, one point at a time.
The metal pin attached to KING KORPSE's hemp bag was manufactured as a part of the strap. Kaiju Killer also has its own metal pin, but this time, it is a pin badge, so please attach it to your favorite position.
Kaiju Killer is a work that is packed with a rich story, and a lot of it is expressed through the details of the various body parts, the various dynamic poses, and the detailed accessories, such as the weapons and armor. When you get the Kaiju Killer, I hope you will experience and enjoy the world he embodies and lives in.
Spanning the course of three years, from planning to completion, we are finally able to present you with the latest work of JAMES GROMAN x INSTINCTOY, “Kaiju Killer”.