Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Eriagun by Bwana Spoons and Gargamel

    Bwana Spoons is an artist from Portland, Oregon. His paintings (which can be viewed at his own grasshut corp) have a style that is very recognizeable as his own. They are very organic and illustrative. I'm not sure when it happened, but Bwana moved into the world of toy production as well with figures like Steven the Bat and Edward the Gator I assume from his paintings, and then kaiju pieces produced with the help of Gargamel.

    Bwana has what appears to be a fantastic working relationship with Gargamel as he has released a whole series of figures with his unique coloring style including this figure, the Papastroyer, the Killer whales, Bakobas, the pet of Papa and Eriagun, and all the minis that correspond.

    I think there is a little story behind the series of Gargamel Hedoran colorways, which was a real drawing point for me. Each figure (except for the mini Pupstroyer) came with a print of an accompanying Bwana painting of the figure. The paintings themselves create characters out of these previously characterless toys. Not to say that these sculpts have no character... I mean that they lacked a story as far as I know.

    It seems that Papatroyer and his son Earth Restroyer live in this nameless swamp/forest. They have a pet (Pupstroyer) that Earthy rides around like a big sloppy horse once Pup is big enough.

    Papa is cool and laid back, smokes a big pipe and probably loves his son in his own way. He was a hippie as a youngster himself, and wants to teach his blobby little son a life of low stress and flowers. He might be more of a friend to Earthy than a father figure.

    Little Earth Restroyer, who is a bit wilder; a little rock star living in the swamps; unfortunately needs more discipline. Papa's lax parenting and excessive herb smoking leave Earthy sometimes bored and desiring something more loud and crazy. When Earth gets older and his sports fill out, he goes nuts and changes his name to the very rock star Eriagun. The swamp just feels too small for him, and we finally find Eriagun running away from home, leaving his Papa and now grown p
    et behind with a curse to the quiet life. Fuck you, dad. I'm going to rock in the real world...

    Honestly, I was not all that into the Bwana style when I first started my weird little hobby months ago, but on the advice of fellow skullbrain board members, I had to have one to make a true judgement. I liked his paintings in 2D better than the organic application on a three-dimensional vinyl canvas. And honestly, I still don't really feel it after I have owned it for awhile. But I definitely felt much more appreciation for this particular piece after I had it in my hands and was able to look at it from all angles... to see the paint application... to look at it catch the light.

    Header //4 out of 5//:
    This is a cool header. While it is not complex, I like that it has a homemade feel to it... almost earthy like much of Bwana's work seems to be. The font used for the title is fitting, and the red is a nice contrast to the green figure contained underneath it. The background texture is pulled from elements of Bwana's swamp painting in the Eriagun print. Also, while I do like a header with a do-it-yourself feel, the quality of the paper and print used feels like an older inkjet printer.

    Sculpt //4 out of 5//: 
    This particular Gargamel sculpt is not exclusive to Gargamel, but rather is one of their "updated bootlegs" so to speak of an old IKB Hedorah-style toy from the 70s. In my opinion, the original sculpt of this was a waxy mess. Hukkodo has since reproduced it, and judging from the photos, I just don't think it looks good at all. You can see all the old sculpts in the photo to the right here.

    The Gargamel sculpt(s) that came out a few years ago is a cleaner, more visually interesting form. It maintains the original feel and shape of the figure, while smoothing out the rough areas. This particular Hedoran form is the most human looking, and even has the added indication of claws on his hands and feet, a pretty cool feature not seen on smog themed monsters.

    Bwana has chosen a mostly-transparent green vinyl for all his toys in this line, which really adds to the overall sculpt in my opinion. The light passing through and bouncing off the flowing, organic forms really adds to the figure.

    Paint //3 out of 5//:
    I am evidence that the approach used in the paint here is an acquired taste. I guess I never acquired enough, however. I have found in my short kaiju life that I prefer either a very fluid, murky approach... or very clean. Bwana's paint application to the Eriagun can be described as cheery and organic. Dots! Many of his Gargamel releases are adorned with the dots. While this is quite a unique approach to the medium, ultimately it still wasn't for me.

    The application and execution of the style is fantastic, however. Bwana succeeds in taking a messy, pollution themed creature and making him a happier friend of the Earth! The colors aren't complimentary, but still work well together. The light blue on the cool green of the vinyl looks nice and is contrasted with the warm red down the belly and on the extremities.

    I really like the cool blue around Gargamel's trademark metallic eyes.

    The little tongue rules too

    Coolness //4.25 out of 5//:
    This is a standout piece, and there is no question where it came from once you know. Bwana has made this figure his own despite many other colorways of it existing, and he must be commended for this. While not my favorite of all time just due to my personal tastes, this figure is very nice. I am putting my personal bias aside and showing it for what it is: a unique approach to an established genre.

    Value //2.5 out of 5//
    It's going to cost you. While you do get a print and original header with and Eriagun, you can also get the same Gargamel sculpt for significantly less at this point.

    Overall //2.5 out of 5//:
    Positives: Unique, attractive, cool story, comes with a numbered print, has a cool tongue

    Negatives: Pricey on the after market, seems to target a more specific audience, didn't fit in like I wanted with my collection

    If you are feeling this paint job, then by all means I recommend this figure. It is fantastic if it is what you are looking for. I don't mean to shit on it in any way with my seemingly low overall grade, I just want to emphasize that I gave the figure a chance and still never felt like it was tops in my collection. I guess some things just aren't for me, and thus Eriagun has moved to a better home with a loving new pair of parents!

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Eriagun by Bwana Spoons and Gargamel

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