This Tuesday, 4/27/21, at 1PM CST, the Mondo Exclusive edition of Alex Pardee's FUTURE ME Vinyl Figure goes on sale. Beginning its "life" as an original illustration by Pardee, Rocom Toys then took the artwork to the next level, turning the character into a 9" collectible soft vinyl toy.
"A dark comedic look at what the future holds", FUTURE ME is a great (and crazy) combination of a lifelong love of both horror and action figures that Pardee and Rocom share. FUTURE ME brings the nostalgia of creator-owned toy brands from the '80s and '90s to the traditional soft vinyl toy, and we're so thrilled to be the exclusive home of its TOXIC GLOW variant.
We also talked to both the artist and the designer of FUTURE ME, Alex Pardee and Rocom, who took us through the process of creating this figure, and their partnership.
Mondo: What led you into this world of designer toys?
Rocom: I’ve been an artist and illustrator my whole life, mainly focused on sketching and design. So many of my peers in the art world had produced their own toys, but it was only until I was hanging out at Quang Le's art studio (who is a sofubi painter) that it hit me that there was no excuse for me to not have my own vinyl toy. This lead me to producing and funding my first Kickstarter for “Death Jaguar”. I completely thought my toy career would start and end there, but here we are, three vinyl toy releases down, and many more on the way.
Mondo: How did you two first meet?
Rocom: I first met Alex at his Los Angeles gallery show. I had tagged along with a few friends that were fans, but I had never seen his work before. The line to get into that show was insane ... but I was blown away by the scale of it. He really puts so much care and detail into the presentation of his art shows. After that night, I would frequent his booth at Comic-Con, and we gradually became friends. Once he moved to LA a few years ago, we were thick as thieves.
Mondo: What is FUTURE ME, and where did the idea for it come from? What is the story behind the toy?
Rocom: FUTURE ME was a drawing of Alex’s that made me say “Haha, that’s so cool!” It's not just a depiction of what Alex will look like in the future, but how any of us will look in the future. I think that’s the fun part: it's literally the one thing we can all count on happening ... but being able to laugh at it, at the same time, is important.
I’m a big fan of dark humor, so this initial drawing hit that nail on the head.
Mondo: What made you want to turn it into a 3D toy?
Rocom: After releasing our first two vinyl toys, I knew I wanted to produce something for Alex next. A completely different illustration had initially caught my eye, so I was ready to go with that design, until I mentioned to Alex that “Future Me” would make an awesome figure. He immediately said, “Oh, well let’s make that. I didn’t even know that was on the table.”
I said, “Neither did I.”
We’re both big fans of horror, too, so it felt like a no-brainer when it came to something we wanted to produce together.
Mondo: Any interesting things come up during the creation of the figure? Did anything have to be changed to make it more production friendly?
Rocom: Yes, definitely. Alex’s artwork is always packed with tons of details and unique proportions. Skinny legs, long arms, tiny feet, amorphous bodies … it can be a nightmare for production. The final toy definitely has some adjustments from the art inspiration.
We thickened up the limbs, widened the feet, and the overall look takes a ‘90s Playmates-style approach to the toy. We thought, “What would a FUTURE ME toy look like if it were in the old TMNT line?” What we came up with still represents Alex’s character, but has a great retro vibe.
Most important of all: it can stand up (laughs).
Mondo: Alex, when doing toy design work, do you find the process to be way different than traditional illustration projects? Does thinking about the production process feel stifling, or do you enjoy designing around it?
Alex Pardee: I think I actually hate having rules (laughs)! But rules are understandable, when it comes to toy production.
For me, the creative process of designing toys is a lot different from my usual stream-of-consciousness-scribble-whatever-looks-interesting style of art. When I am creating something, I don't usually think in a realistic 3D space, so creating turnaround art from an illustration is a challenge for me. I would say it's a welcomed challenge, though, because as tough as it is, it feels pretty satisfying to create it all in "real life"!
Mondo: Alex, you always have your hands in so much amazing stuff. Anything you have on the horizon to share?
This year is different than any other year in my career because I'm neck-deep in BASEBALL CARDS! I am one of the participating artists in TOPPS' "Project 70", where I am creating 20 brand new, official baseball cards throughout the year, which is such a pivot from anything else I have ever done.
It's a challenge, considering that I rarely draw likenesses, and actually I rarely draw humans at all, for that matter. But it's been really fun.
I'm also working on a solo art gallery show in LA that will open in June, called "Alex in Shunderland". You can check all my work out at alexpardee.com.
Mondo: Rocom, we know you're a guy who is always making something new (from toys to pins to video games to music). Can you tell us about the Glyos Mighty Maniax line of figures you are doing?
They’re so cool. As corny as it is to say that about my own toys, I really have fun messing with these figures.
I only have the test shots right now, but Matt Doughty has created an amazing joint system with Glyos. I feel honored and very excited to have my own Glyos-powered toys to put out into the world. They’re so reminiscent of the toys I loved collecting as a kid, like M.U.S.C.L.E., Battle Beasts, and Army Ants.
I cannot wait for collectors to have them in hand. If you missed out on the Kickstarter launch, they'll be available at rocomtoys.com this summer!