Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Post-Christmas Quick Crappy Reviewapalooza 2017: Mondo Madballs Slobulus, Skull Face and Horn Head*

Welcome to the Post-Christmas Reviewapalooza, which will be spread over the whole of January this year due to delivery times, various illnesses and how much I can be arsed.

First up is Mondo’s first set of vinyl collector’s Madballs, which they actually managed to send to me in less than 6 months. Hmm, this is the first thing from Mondo I’ve reviewed so I should probably get some stuff out of my system, just quick like: prior to subscribing to their TMNT figures I’d previous lumped Mondo into the ‘art toy’ category: high priced low print run items with delusions of grandeur, so far they’ve lived up to my first impressions, they’ve also become completely unreliable in my eyes: their TMNT figures are getting on for a year late and while buying these I said aloud (no one was in, I’m insane remember?) “Meh, they might turn up, or I’ll get a refund and buy some Head Poppers off eBay”, yeah I said ‘meh’, I do these sort of things when no one’s around to me hear me, I even said brah once. So you can imagine (if you’re dull) how surprised I was to see, just before Christmas, that these had shipped and how much more surprised I was when, just before New Year, they turned up.

These there make up the entire first wave of Madballs from Mondo, an online retailer of collectables, apparel, music and posters and are based on three of the vintage Madball characters from the first incarnation of the franchise; in fact they’re all from the first wave of toys from 1985. They were supposed to ship ‘approximately’ third quarter 2016 but ended up shipping late fourth quarter because Mondo have this ongoing issue with actually sending the things you order. Honestly they were quite fairly priced, it’s $55 dollars for all three, plus postage and while not as cheap as, say, eBay, postage was still way better than some (including Super7, seriously, fuck Super7) and again I’d like to point out that they got these to the UK in around two weeks, over the holiday season and during a strike. Each ball is a hard vinyl and I imagine would sting like fuck if you threw one at someone, fitting as AmToy had to change materials of their original Madballs because they hurt like buggery when kids inevitably threw them at their sisters. I’m sure Mondo would strongly recommend you do not throw their Madballs and that they’re for display purposes only but they feel pretty damn sturdy so go on, throw one at a loved one, just not one who can divorce you.  

Mondo’s process for making these seems to be: scale up each Madball so they feel the same size in an adult male hand as they did in a child’s hand in the 1980s, resculpt them with increased detail and make everything more 3D, basically make them look like how we imagined them to look when we played with them. I’m voting Skull Head as the biggest success, he’s managed to remain the most spherule while having all of his necessary elements given ‘realistic’ depth or 3Dness of whatever you want to call it, his metal plate has worked particularly well with a nice curve and some very realistic looking screws that lead me to believe the sculptor just screwed four real screws into his prototype, if true I have no issue with that, in fact I think it’s ingenious. This might simply be a side effect of Skull Face’s design, after all he has no googly eyes or horns or ears to cause issues with his shape. Skull Face also stands up straight, his jaw helping prop him up perfectly, Slobulus’ slob has the same effect and they look great face on, Slobulous’ shape issues almost completely unnoticeable. The skull loses points on one front though and this is by falling for the ‘Spawn Fallacy’. Yes I have just made that up, the Spawn Fallacy goes like this: better paint apps = a paint wash, that giving something a paint wash makes it look more ‘realistic’ and ‘adult collectible’. I disagree: paint washes don’t automatically make something look more realistic they automatically make something look like a garden ornament, a paint wash can really help to add texture, age something, make it look like stone, but  paint washing the whole toy with a random darker colour and thinking ‘it looks realistic now!’ is the Spawn Fallacy. Skull Face just looks like I haven’t washed him since the mid ‘80s, still now I think about it that does kind of fit a Madball. No, no quarter for toys falling into the Spawn Fallacy and toy companies that subscribe to it, do not paint wash your whole toy and if you must, don’t do it like Skull Face has been done here, do it like Horn Head.

Horn Head and Slobulus are a lot more 3D’d up and Hornhead looks fucking amazing; he’s closer in style to the Art Asylum 2007 version which is why I’ll more than likely be buying KidRobot’s Hornhead Vinyl when it comes out later in the year, so I can have a more vintage feeling version of the ‘ball too. God damn is he badass looking, he’s also the right way to use a paint wash to improve something, a subtle darker purple has been spread over him and gives an added sense of depth, of realism and makes him catch the light better, and doesn’t make him look like a garden ornament. He’s the hardest to stand up though, and frankly there’s no reason for this, he has a beard that could have been utilised just fine like the slobber and chin of his lines-mates. I have this suspicion that the sculptor was trying to do something along these lines and you can (as shown in my delightfully high quality National Geographic level photography) use the beard to get him to stand up straight but it’s fairly tricky and not very stable. Of course this wouldn’t be an issue if they came with stands, which is my biggest complaint with the balls, Kidrobot are including stands with their blind boxed mini figure Madballs, would it have killed you to have included one with your collectors art toy vinyl versions Mondo? You don’t have to make a unique one for each ‘ball, just a generic black one with the logo on would have done, or are you planning on making them and selling them separate? Hmmm, I don’t trust you Mondo.

Slobulus is my least favourite of the three, and I can’t believe I’m saying that about an undead baseball with its eyeball hanging out that’s oozing slime. The least effort has been made to keep his spherule shape to the point where he almost doesn’t look like a ball at all, but just a cartoon zombie head, in fact he if he was slightly light you could easily confuse him for some new spin-off from Zombie Zity… wait, Zombie Zity is still going, and there’s bouncy ones now? He does stand up so complete sincere praise to the sculptor for using the slime to achieve this, that’s cool, but his hair, the swollen side of his face (which I can’t even make out as being on the original toy) and the slightly off sloping of his head by his still-socketed eye all add up to a wonky, rotten apple looking shape that I suppose you could argue fits an undead ball but it looks more ‘badly done’ than ‘stylistic’. Other than that there’s just little niggles sculpting wise, like how his hair meets his eyeball or how his other eyeball lays on his cheek/nose, it looks awkward. HOWEVER he’s probably my favourite in terms of paint, Horn Head’s paint is objectively better but Slobulus’ is the most Madball feeling, specifically it’s very close to the paint on the Super Madballs. The third wave of Madballs were not baseballs but a full size football, basketball and American football (that I grew up thinking was a rugby ball and my dad once accidentally knocked me out with) and they just had a similar style of paint apps to this Slobulus, it’s not a long story. This is especially true on his underside, where his slobber, staples and chin folds are painted in such a way they make him look like a forgotten fourth Super Mabdall prototype, the one who was supposed to be a rotten apple, people used to throw rotten fruit at sporting events right? Or was that theatre? Fuck it.

So these were the Madballs I thought I wanted, Madballs given the Masters of the Universe Classics treatment, now I have some I’m not convinced I was right, but I’m not convinced I was wrong either. For my complaining about wonky zombies and paint washes the balls look fucking great, especially together or at a slight distance where nit-picks disappear and you can see only awesomeness. They do have one very important thing going for them as well: they feel very good value for money, after postage they were around £17 each (Kidrobot’s upcoming Madball vinyls, though larger, are going to be £40) and for that you get a unique tool, shitloads of paint apps, a nice little box and an art toy with a good bulk to it, you don’t get a stand and that’s pretty inexcusable but the good still outweighs the bad. Would I buy a second wave? Well I’ll buy anything with Madballs so that might be a bad  way to judge their quality, that said – absolutely, I’m very keen to see how they tackle other ‘big guns’ like Screemin Meemie, Dust Brain, Oculus Orbus or Swine Sucker and favourites of mine like Wolf’s Breath, Aargh or Lock Lips and getting these to me less than a year after they were supposed to has helped give me a little more confidence in ordering from Mondo, not much, but enough that if I buy something else from them, I’d do it actually expecting those items to turn up. Ta for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Horn Head reminds me of the Mighty Max Outwits Cyclops playset, itself modeled after the cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.