AFC Interviews Transformers Artist Kingbotz
This week, AFC has the pleasure of getting to know Transformers Artist, Kingbotz, in this exclusive interview:
AFC: Tell the fans about yourself
Kingbotz: Hi there fellow TF-artists & friends, I'm Shane aka "Kingbotz" from New Orleans, La, born and raised. I've been an artist all my life, starting with 2D pencil-art in my youth & building anything I could out of whatever I had. I grew up with plenty of educational building sets like Brix-Blox, Robotix, Lincoln Logs, Erector & Tinker Toys. A significant incident took place in '86 when my mom threw away all my TF & Gobot toys as punishment for something I did, so I secretly started making them out of paper & hid 'em under the dresser. Yep, they all transformed too. They had a simple panel-flip-technology on 'em but it worked! I even did a few combiners like Defensor, Superion & Devastator. I mean, they were more or less like little robotic paper-dolls that couldn't even stand on their own, but those and my imagination was all I had left after the "apocalypse," lol. Anyhow, that creative-entity was always there, it just took all the right elements & conditions to manifest itself in a much more profound way further down the road. Years of mechanical-experience, circumstances & timing was all critical to my development and establishment as a TF-artist/customizer. Anyone is welcomed to check out my previous and current work on my main website at www.Kingbotz.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Kingbotz
and my video-channel at www.YouTube.com/Kingbotz.
AFC: Why did you start making customs?
Kingbotz: It's a very long story to put in a nutshell, but it all started in early 2005 after I had surgery for a sports-injury. I was stuck at home, had a lot of spare time & started collecting old Transformers again that I found on eBay. It was fun, but there was STILL something major missing, couldn't quite pinpoint it. A couple weeks after surgery, I woke up one day and started brainstorming the possibility of building an oversized Transformer-character of my own. I began pondering what I would base this huge figure on, and what I could use to make it happen. One of the first ideas that hit me was a combiner using vehicles to minimize scratch-building, and suddenly Tonka-trucks got my gears turning about a huge "Devastator" and I wondered.... "just how many Tonka-trucks can I find at one toy-store, that are all in scale with each other???" I jumped in my truck, went straight to the store and spent the whole day there, shopping and getting all the trucks I needed. Went home with the haul, and the rest was history. Over the course of about 8 to 10 months, I built my first Transformer-custom, a 5-foot Devastator made out of Tonka-trucks that stored 29 other Transformer-toys all over the body. That was the custom that put me "on the map" sort-of-speak, which was only supposed to be a one-time thing that I was gonna list on E-bay and sell once it was done. After I came home from Botcon 2006 and displayed Devastator there, I had no doubt I was meant to do so much more. I've been pretty much on automatic since then with limitless ideas, concepts & drive to continue to push the margin and take it further & further.
AFC: When did you start making customs?
Kingbotz: Define "custom!" Lol Well I did a lot of building & mods to toys & stuff growing up, but my first official major Transformer-custom that came in with a bang was the 5-foot Devastator-statue in 2005. I believe towards the end of 2005 was about the time that I started experimenting with individually-transformable Tonka-prototype figures as I was wrapping up the Devastator project, finished all 3 around the same time in early 2006. Devastator came first though, so early 2005 was the start for me.
AFC: How many projects are you working on at any given time?
Kingbotz: Only maybe 2 or 3 at the most. It's so easy to get swamped by taking on too many projects at the same time, it just doesn't make sense. 2 or 3 at the MOST, but I tend to take on some pretty complex commissions for the most part, so really 2 concurrent projects are enough for me. I'd rather take my time & focus on the quality of the pieces that I'm working on and do a killer job. I want the "wow" factor and initial-impact when people look at my work, even if it means going above-and-beyond what I was paid to do. Quality over quantity.
AFC: What are some the customs you are most proud of?
Kingbotz: Hmmm....that's a tough one. As far as size goes? The 7ft "Bruticus." Complexity....the 5ft "Frenzy" Aesthetics....5ft Devastator (2008) and 4ft Shockwave. As far as originality goes though, I do have to say I'm particularly very proud of the new Transformers "Abstract" line I introduced a year ago, it's gone over really well. I was skeptical about the concept and how it would be received, but the reception and feedback has been fantastic. It's fresh & original with nothing else to compare it to.....all out of my head, my perspective. I look at how that small line is growing slowly but surely and the potential it has now and think, "wow, I did that," and that's something I'm proud of.
AFC: What is your favorite toy line to do customs for?
Kingbotz: Hands-down, the Transformers line. I'm an art & customs-enthusiast for most toy-genres across the boards, but Transformers are my specialty & where my passion is. I do have to admit I love the GoBots toys as much as TFs, but that's a line I haven't had the chance to explore just yet. All in due time. 😉
AFC: What customs or commissions do you have lined up for future projects?
Kingbotz: I'm currently developing a 2-foot G1-Devastator to offer TF Abstract-enthusiasts the chance to take their collection to the next level. I chose that particular size not only because it will display nicely in scale next to Generations Metroplex & G1 Fort Max, but it's also a magnificent centerpiece and serves as a fantastic next-level option for the Abstract-admirers as well. I also have a long-overdue commission in the final-stages that is sure to please, an old transformable robotic steel-mill Titan based on the Generations Metroplex figure. (Ogun Abyss) That project has been quite a journey & learning-experience, one of the most involved transformable pieces I've ever tackled. Keep an eye out for that one. As far as future commissions I haven't begun yet, I've got 2, maybe 3 NES (Nintendo) commissions I'll embark on soon, one of them is definitely a crossover of 2 genres. The consoles will still be playable, 2 of the pieces will involve the little R.O.B. robot that came with the original deluxe Nintendo game-set. There is another secret outlandish 3-stage project I've been working on here & there for roughly 5-years now. Can't say much about it, but anybody that grew up in the 80s will particularly love this one and be blown away. Lot's of crazy stuff in the works.
AFC: What was the most challenging custom to make so far?
Kingbotz: Without a doubt, the 5-foot "Frenzy" replica from the 2007 Transformers-movie. Good God, where do I start with that one. It was a total scratch-build, and all I had as reference were maybe 5 or six good pics that I could find on the internet. For decent part-scale reference, I actually had to get frontal & side-pics blown up to the approximate height I wanted the figure to be, and I worked off of that. What made it worse, you still couldn't see every spot, joint & body-part of Frenzy in the pics I had, so I was forced to improvise in a lot of areas. The customer also wanted it to be posable with 4 light-up eyes and a r/c controlled turning-head. All this within a 5-month time-frame. Yeah that one stressed me out a little....a lot....but I liked the challenge and sense of accomplishment when it was done. This project was a test & sum of all the skills & resources I picked up over the years, and it still pushed me beyond that. When it was finished I thought, "how can I possibly top THAT one?" It was both humbling and gratifying, but it removed any doubt I could do anything I set my mind to.
AFC: If you had one piece of advice for other customizers out there, what would you say to them?
Kingbotz: Excellent supplemental follow-up to question #8. 😉 My best advice to other artists & customizers new & old is- believe in yourself. I could say "work hard, stay humble, don't give up, be consistent, be original" & all that other stuff.....but if you first believe in yourself, everything else will follow.