Rotobox Vinyl Anatomica is the intersection of giant robots and custom designer toys. But this team isn’t just about the robots. Their customs are reinterpretations of classic Japanese and American pop culture icons from Gachaman to Ironman. With an incredible amount of attention to detail and extensive use of self-fabricated parts, Rotobox are at the top of the customizing scene.
Hit the link for our interview with Rotobox Vinyl Anatomica.
Introduce yourselves. Who is Rotobox Vinyl Anatomica and what do you do? How big is your team?
We are brothers Stephen and Spencer Ong. We do graphic design, toy design and custom figures. It’s the two of us with one assistant.
You show a range of influences in your custom work, but the most apparent one is Japanese pop culture, namely, giant robots. How did you arrive at this subject matter? Those types of designs are difficult to draw, let alone create custom toys out of.
We have always been anime fans since we were kids, and our favorites are watching super robots.
Are you guys fans / collectors of Jumbo Machinder figures? What else would we find on your toy shelves?
Yes, we are big fans. Stephen is the one that has the super robot collections. Spencer’s collection is more of a mixed up. You can see super robots, designer toys, Street Fighter figures, Saint Seiya and some other figures.
You’ve customized a range of platforms – Munnys, Celsius, Qees, etc. Which is your favorite to work with and why?
Celsius of course! We really don’t have a favorite as it depends on the figure that we are going to do, whichever ever platform we feel is right for a particular character.
Your customs tend to fall into two categories: Japanese-inspired (robots, Tatsunoko characters, etc) and American-inspired (comic book superheroes). Do you enjoy designing and working on one over the other?
Yes, we are also influenced by comic books that’s why it also shows in our customs. We love the challenges of doing customs.
Rotobox customs are very detailed and contain a lot of extra pieces not found on the bare platform toy. How long does it take you to wrap up a project, from concept to completion? What’s your workflow?
Usually, for medium sized customs, around three weeks to a month, depending on the work schedule, as we have office work. We start by doing a second draft, then we do the rough parts first like sculpting parts and finding parts for certain details on the custom, then sand parts that needed to be sanded – actually, lots of sanding! Then we paint with primer before painting and sticking decals if necessary.
Your customs are some of the cleanest I’ve ever seen, particularly the extra sculpting (the head of the Mazinger Z Giant Qee just for example). How do you fabricate these so well? Are they made of vinyl?
Thanks for your kind words. We use Apoxie Sculpt for the sculpt parts. We also use tamiya PLA plates for parts that need smooth surfaces. And of course, a lot of sanding for the sculpt parts.
You clearly have a lot of experience in customizing. How did you start? Any formal art training?
No formal art training. It’s more on trial and error. We learn along the way. We are still learning new things every now and then.
One detail I love about your customs is the logo design, both on the toys themselves and on the promotional graphics you make. What’s your process of designing these logos?
Thanks. We just start with an idea and experiment on the computer if it looks nice or not and we adjust along the way. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Most of your work is commission-based, often as one-offs. What’s the process of commissioning a Rotobox custom? Do customers ask you to recreate a character in vinyl form? Or do you start with your own ideas and shop the product around afterwards? Do you mind sharing the price range on your customs?
We do both. We do our own customs and sell them online and we also accept commissions. For commissions, clients email us which character they are interested in and we will confirm with them if we can do it for them. Each custom has a different price as it depends on the details of the custom. The harder the custom, the higher the price, as this will take more time to make. Our price range for a midsized edition of 1 custom is $450 USD to $800 USD or more if it’s really complicated. Jumbo customs pricing is higher.
Rotobox seems to have been expanding lately. You’ve been doing a lot of work with KusoPop / KusoVinyl. How did this partnership come about?
Kuso Vinyl has always been our partner from the start. We started out together. They are the ones that produced our first vinyl production toy. And Kusopop is an extension of theirs, which focuses on clothing lines / lifestyle products. We’re just not partners anymore; we’ve become good friends with them as well. They’re very nice and kind people.
If you could create a custom of any giant robot, no matter the scale, complexity, or budget, which would it be and why?
We honestly don’t know what to answer here! Probably a giant Mazinger SKL or Mazinkaiser.
What’s your secret weapon?
Loving the things we do and respecting other artists’ work no matter the difference in style.
What’s next for rotobox?
Still doing customs! We have pending customs that we need to finish. We have a couple of mini figures coming out soon and more tee designs coming too!
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Thanks for the interview and God bless.