Friday, May 21, 2010


I've been a fan of Jim Woodring for years, ever since I picked up an issue of "Frank" at the local comic shop. I must have been around 13 at the time, I remember getting an issue of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and the latest issue of The Maxx, possibly Cerebus as well. The owner of the shop remarked to me that I had good taste, which for a 13 year old nerd was incredibly gratifying to hear. Anyway, over the years I continued to pick up more work from Woodring, including several graphic novels (which I read countless times), a t-shirt (that I wore until the print was cracked and faded), and even a used CD that had one of his original illustrations on the cover. The actual music was pretty mediocre, but for a couple of bucks I was happy to have another odd little collectible.

Woodring has actually designed quite a few toys, based on both his established characters, like Frank & Pupshaw, as well as a whole assortment of unique creatures made exclusively as vinyl collectibles. They are all awesome, but my favorite has to be Lorbo.

Produced by Press Pop and seen here in his orange variation (released during the '08 San Diego Comic Con, I believe), Lorbo is by far the most Japanese inspired figure that Woodring has released. He has an asymmetrical aesthetic that references classic monster designs while still retaining many recognizable Woodring elements. He's described as being a "Kaijin", which is "a humanoid monster whose size, unlike the "Kaiju" (who tend to be very large), is the same as humans. They share characteristics common to humans like walking on their feet, understanding human language, and having evil feelings etc." Originally intended to be part of a larger line of Japanese influenced monsters, he remains the sole inhabitant of the fictional world "Skuuvuunuum".

I love this guy. He's an excellent tribute to Eastern toy design, and he really does fit in great with any type of collection. He could stand comfortably next to a selection of contemporary Western vinyl toys, or look just as good surrounded by some old-school kaiju. Of course, most fans that collect genuine Japanese toys might not want something like this invading their shelf, and fans of the cute simplified look that western vinyl currently has might be turned off by the bizarre sculpt. I'd encourage everyone to give this guy a chance though, and he's actually perfect for any collector that tends to jump back and forth between the two styles (like I've been doing recently).

Lorbo Packaging

I should also mention the amazing packaging. In another nod to Eastern toys, Lorbo is presented in a clear, printed bag with a header card. Besides having an awesome illustration, the header also informs us that Lorbo, the "Transdimensional Stateless Prodigy", is in fact the "Catalytic Emissary of Skuuvuunuum." It's anybody's guess what exactly is happening in the little scene depicted here, but like most of Wooodring's cryptic work, that's part of what makes it so much fun.

Even though the most recent version of Lorbo was released a few years ago, there's a good chance you'll be able to find one online for around 50 bucks. If you're lucky you might even stumble across the unpainted glow-in-the-dark release...

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