SykoGrafix
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September 25, 2023

I saw BABYMETAL.

I’m not the kind of person who loves music the way most people seem to. Sure, there’s music that I like, but mainstream music isn’t a big part of my life. As a teenager, when most people were making big statements about what music they were into and using that to forge their identities, I didn’t really care. Over the years, I’ve found more fondness for music as I became aware of genres and artists that spoke to me, especially when I felt I needed something to listen to while working on art. So I have a pretty eclectic playlist of anime theme songs, movie music, video game covers, some classic rock, and of course, ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic.

But there is one music act that stands above everything else: BABYMETAL! Ever since “Gimme Chocolate” went viral, I have been a massive fan, and my admiration for this band continues to grow exponentially with every new song and video they release. From their wide variety of twisted musical styling to the incredibly precise execution of the music and dancing, Babymetal has got me hooked. And most importantly, they are fun to watch and listen to!¬† I don’t go to very many concerts, but seeing Babymetal perform live and in person has, for years, been at the very top of the list of things I’ve wanted to do during my lifetime.

On September 18, 2023, I got to make that happen! Babymetal performed a concert in Toronto, my old stomping grounds, and so I returned home after far too lengthy of an absence, just for one day, so I could see my all time favorite musical act for real. It was an incredible, overwhelming experience that has left me shaken. The girls put on an incredible show, their band tore up the stage, and the Toronto fans absolutely stepped up to show our appreciation. They played a good mix of songs from their 4 albums, with a balance between their newest songs and the early hits they became known for. It was an outdoor venue, close to the water at RBC Echo Beach, and it was a bit chilly, but Babymetal brought the heat!

I recorded the entire concert, though I was a bit too close to one of the speakers and so the audio wound up quite distorted. Oh well, that’s part of the fun. I hope to do something with the recording someday, like use it in a video project, but for now, here’s one complete song from the show, Headbanger!!

What struck me the most about attending this show and seeing them in person is how I could see, first hand, how happy they are on the stage. They’ve been performing at a high level and going on tour since they were kids, and this particular tour seems particularly grueling. I can only imagine the hard work and dedication that been put into Babymetal. It doesn’t come across in my recordings, but watching them from the audience, I could see on their faces how incredibly happy they are singing and dancing and doing their thing for everyone. I wasn’t prepared for how seeing that would make me feel. I was truly moved.

Babymetal came to us as part of the Babyklok Tour, along with Dethklok, the band from the Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse. I didn’t stay for that performance, as I was looking to wander around the streets of Toronto a bit while I was in town. I was at the show for Babymetal, and that was enough for me.

Well, actually, no, it wasn’t enough! I need more Babymetal! Now that I’ve seen Babymetal live and crossed that off the bucket list, now I want to see them again! I want to see them more than once during the same tour! I don’t really like to travel, but I am willing to travel more, as long as wherever I go there is a Babymetal concert! I want to see Babymetal in England and/or Scotland! And then, of course, it would be amazing to have the chance to attend one of their gigantic shows in Japan. A ninja can dream.

So, besides the show, I got to spend a bit of time downtown and check out some cool Toronto places. The city has certainly changed a lot since the last time I was there. Things have certainly become more homogenized in many ways, and there are less really unique places with the kind of stuff that I’m interested in. But I miss being close to the action, especially when something extraordinary is happening in town. I wasn’t going to miss seeing Babymetal there, no matter how far away I was from home. It was the perfect chance to see my favorite band in familiar place. I imagine I’ll see them again, either in Toronto or somewhere else, sooner or later! When will that be? Only the Fox God knows!

Sayonara.

August 25, 2023

The TFcon 2023 Report

It’s been awhile since the event ended, but for posterity’s sake, I feel like I really need to put a cap on my experiences at Toronto TFcon 2023. The past 2 years were good, especially considering the world was still reeling from the pandemic, but 2023 was a fantastic weekend that signified a return to form. It was a good time without any major compromises and felt like TFcon I love. And unlike last year, the Internet wasn’t dead, so that was a plus!

It maybe almost didn’t happen for me, though! Earlier in the week, I suddenly got really sick! I was obviously in a panic about the possibility of missing TFcon if it was serious, as I was not going to mess around and put other people at risk if I needed to stay home, but I tested negative for covid. Thankfully after some rest it just went away after a couple of days as if it never happened at all. I got to the hotel a day early, which gave me the chance to (at least try to) get my act together and finish everything I needed to get done for the show. But I realized that in the chaos of getting ready, I had forgotten to pack my pajamas. What a calamity. Thankfully I was able to get some new ones before the day ended.

Right off the bat, I went to work! I presented a panel on Friday evening about obscure Transformers media from around the world. It was jam packed with Transformers clips, commercials, and other video from all sorts of different countries, spanning the entire history of the brand. I love uncovering Transformers videos that are different and/or weird compared to what we’re used to in North America, and panels like this are when I get to share this stuff with an audience and enjoy their reactions. I really enjoy Transformers theme songs from other countries, and I showed a number of those with subtitles that I added myself. In previous panels I tried to organize what I was showing into topics or show things chronologically to tell a story, but this time I wanted it to be all over the place and whiplash people from one and time and place to another. I think people had a great time with it. There were a few technical gremlins, but I knew that was going to happen so I just made it a part of the show! There were other presentations on Friday, and having more panels before the charity auction this year was great. It certainly made the Friday more fulfilling.

Speaking of the charity auction, it was wild! A Kingdom Ark that was customized into a Titan class Cosmos sold for $1000!

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

A wide look at the dealer room on Saturday.
Some awesome costumes!

As usual, there was a great group of guests from many aspects and eras of Transformers. I ran into former Hasbro designer Aaron Archer on Friday night shortly after buying the new Legacy Evolution version of Armada Megatron from a room sale, a character he pretty much created back in the early 2000s when he worked for Hasbro, prompting the photo om the left. Voice actors Venus Terzo and David Kaye were gracious enough to pose while I took their picture before their panel on Saturday. David got into the posing, as you can see.

The dealer room was full of cool toys and merchandise from all eras of Transformers, and plenty of other franchises too. Here is a video I took around the edges of the room on Saturday.

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For me, the main event of the convention was my presentation of the completed Secrets of the Ninja Transformers video on Sunday. I think a lot of other people were also excited about it, because there was a buzz about it all weekend. It had been a long time coming and there was a good turnout to watch the debut of this documentary that I put a lot of hard work into over a number of years.

I knew nothing about film making when I started, and now that it’s finished and people have seen it, I can honestly say that I know even less. But the audience seemed to love it and gave it a big round of applause when the credits rolled. No, it’s not available to watch online at this time, but here’s a few screen shots to give you a taste of what the final product is like.

I’m very happy with the final product and how well received it was. But for now, it will be sealed away, as it is only meant to be shown at conventions and can’t be uploaded to YouTube due to all the copyrighted material I used to make it. But working on this video did light something in me, so it’s possible that even though I won’t be sharing it on the Internet as it is, it could be the beginnings of something else. Stay tuned.

I think the main take away from the weekend for me was the feeling of being treated as a peer by people I respect. That’s a big deal for me, as it means I might be doing something right. I had some great conversations and even appeared on some podcasts. I sold some stickers too! I didn’t keep track of how many I sold, but the number was way more than zero so I count that as a win. And with all the great stuff that happened at the show, there was still plenty that I didn’t get to see or do, so it was pretty busy!

So, here’s some stuff that I bought. I did not hold back this year! I caught up on a number of recent releases and picked up a few figures that I missed out on from years ago. You can click on each picture to see more details from my Tumblr.

It has been a few weeks since the event ended and it took me awhile to write something about the experience because I didn’t know how to sum it all up. Even after writing all of that, I’m not sure if I have adequately expressed what a great time it was or what it was like to be there. TFcon was definitely the highlight of the summer for me, but in all honestly, that comes as no surprise because it always is. There were a few hiccups, like issues with the hotel room and rain during the Slurpee Run, but nothing bad enough to stop me from having fun. And even when the show officially ended on Sunday evening, it didn’t really stop until I left on Monday morning. It was the best time as a Transformers fan you can possibly have in Canada.

I’ll see you there next year.

Sayonara.

Hey, it’s been awhile around here, hasn’t it? I swear I didn’t mean to go for so long without updating. In fact, I did work on a post for a long time but didn’t like it so it’s still in the vault. I had all these plans and other things got in the way. I was especially delayed earlier in the year when I got incredibly sick, which was probably not from covid because I tested negative the day before I started feeling bad. That lingered for a long time, and as soon as it cleared up, I started a new teaching job that kept me pretty occupied for a number of months. That has ended (for now?) but I’m right into the next thing, which is TFcon!

I will be at TFcon Toronto this weekend (July 14-16), hanging out, buying toys, and presenting panels! The tentative schedule sees me presenting “Obscure International Transformers Media Rarities” on Friday at 6pm, where I’ll be showing various clips of interesting and/or weird Transformers stuff from around the world, like commercials and cartoon theme songs in other languages. Then, on Sunday at 2pm, 3 years in the making, the long awaited serious documentary about robots who are ninjas makes its debut!

Secrets of the Ninja Transformers, a project I started back when we couldn’t leave the house, is a film by me about all the known and confirmed Transformers ninjas! This is a 56 minuite video, not a live presentation, and making it a video allows me to, shall we say, indulge in certain specific stylistic qualities inspired by the material I am referencing, if you will. One might call this a labor of love, but it would be more accurate to call it a labor of destiny. However, I do not believe in fate, so I don’t actually know what this is. At any rate, for whatever reason, I did make this movie and you will be able to watch it at TFcon! It will not be on Youtube, you will have to be at the show to see it!

Hope to see you there!

Also, I did update the site recently. I added the Store page, which contains links that will take you to other platforms where I have stuff for sale based on my artwork available to order. Right now there are a few print on demand services, and I’ll just add to that page whenever I undertake any new ventures.

But if you are going to TFcon this weekend, I will have some custom stickers on hand and available to purchase from me directly. They are 2 for $5 or $15 for the set of 7, and buying all 7 will get the first 10 or so customers an exclusive secret bonus sticker.

After TFcon I’m hoping to get this place back in order with more artwork that I need to upload. Then it’s back to the grind of making new artwork! Look forward to it!

Sayonara.

July 27, 2022

The Return to TFcon!

After 2 years of pandemic pain, it was time for the long awaited return to a proper real life summer Transformers convention with TFcon Toronto 2022, which happened July¬† 8-10. The virtual conventions were fun when we couldn’t go out, and the December TFcon was welcomed (though it occurs to me now that I did write much about that one except a post on my Tumblr to talk about the toys I bought),¬† but this was more like it! Great guests, lots of stuff to see and do, and of course, plenty of stuff to buy. I’m so glad that I got to experience it, and that I got to contribute again.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t completely without issue, as this weekend happened to coincide with the gigantic Canadian Internet outage! Luckily, things still went incredibly smoothly all things considered as far as registration and administration with the convention and the hotel. But not having Internet access for much of the weekend sometimes made it feel like we were back in the stone age. Eventually, things mostly got back to normal. But with all the chaos, it didn’t occur to me to take a lot of pictures. This is the only shot I took of the dealer room, and it’s all blurry. Too bad.

One of the guests was Mr. Laurie Faso, who preformed the voice of Orion Pax in the original Transformers TV series. A friend of mine commissioned me to make a piece of artwork featuring Orion Pax so that he could have Mr Faso sign it. Everybody was impressed with it and you can take a look here on my DeviantArt.

Comic book artist Andrew Wildman was there for the first time and did a panel where he went through his process and showed some unused artwork of Grimlock fighting Beast Wars Megatron.

Former Hasbro designer and current awesome guy Aaron Archer was back and did another panel where he talked about the creation of Transformers Armada. Actually I think he was mostly there to sell some art and hang out with people. I’m lucky enough to say that I was one of those people!

Transformers production coordinator Paul Davids had an amazing panel about working on the original TV series and the rest of his amazing career in show business. Voice Actor Greg Berger (Grimlock) returned to Toronto and Canadians Doug Parker (Terrorsaur in Beast Wars and Tidal Wave in Armada) and Sharon Alexander (Arcee in Engeron) made rare convention appearances. All the voice actors took part in a live script reading, which is tradition, and this year it was a fast paced whirlwind!

It was a huge thrill to have Vince DiCola, the musical composer of the 1986 Transformers movie, attend the show, as that is a guest I’ve been hoping would come to Toronto some day. On the Sunday morning, he even graced us with an impromptu piano concert, which I was luckily able to capture a bit of!

 

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I did a panel too! I presented “The Most Obscure Transformers Shows“, which was all about rare oddities in Transformers media. I showed a lot of wacky stuff that which doesn’t get talked about very often and many fans might not have thought about in a while or ever seen before. It was a fun presentation to put together and I had a blast being up there talking about all these weird parts of the Transformers universe. There were a lot of big laughs in this one! Way more than I ever expected.

I bought toys! Well, of course I did. After the past few years of spotty distribution and not being able to go out very often, I took advantage of the opportunity and filled in some of the gaps in my collection. I haven’t opened anything yet (saving the unboxings for Twitch) but I did get a few loose items. I even won a couple of things from the charity auction. You can read about everything I bought (and some other stuff I bought after the convention was over) on my Tumblr.

So, this was the 20th anniversary of TFcon! I did not attend the very first TFcon in Hamilton, Ontario, but I did hear about it and attended the second show, which was only a few months later. TFcon has been an important part of my life ever since. On one hand, it’s hard to believe it’s been this long. On the other, I do believe it! I pretty much remember every single one. I’ve made great friends and been witness to some amazing moments over the years. It was great to do it again after not being able to for so long, especially since I didn’t get to do much during the December 2021 show.

You can see more images on the TFcon Toronto 2022 Photo Album. I nicked a few images from there for this post.

Overall, TFcon 2022 was a blast. It was well attended, but not as crowded as 2019. I feel like it was a comfortable number for this time. If more people were there, maybe I wouldn’t have thought so. The guests were great, there was plenty of stuff to do, and if I had any complaints (outside of the unavoidable Internet issues) if would be that I was sometimes too tired to experience everything when it was happening, which is my own freaking fault. Though, at the feedback panel at the end of the Sunday, I did state my list of complaints that TFcon was too much fun, there were too many toys to buy, and that I bought too many toys, so they should all be ashamed of themselves. But hey, there is always room for improvement!

See you next year!

Sayonara.

February 15, 2022

The Best Stuff of 2021

On thing you can say about 2021, is that it was a year that certainly occurred. Or did it? Sometimes it felt like watching an excruciatingly long movie that wouldn’t end, but other things seemed to breeze by us so quickly that’s it’s hard to remember what happened. Well, it’s time again to try to remember. The world is still in chaos, but I’m going to try to find things that I liked about it anyway.

Favorite Game – Monster Hunter Rise

No big surprise that this was my favorite game. It’s the game I spent most of the year playing and had a great time streaming it on Twitch. Rise has many familiar elements for Monster Hunter veterans like me, but plenty of new additions that make the game more exciting and appealing. The way the game combines new and familiar elements with its ninja aesthetic is great. It’s exactly the kind of Monster Hunter I wanted. The downside is that after awhile, there seems to be less to do, but the upcoming Sunbreak expansion should remedy that.

Favorite Book – The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I have multiple collections of different things like toys, games, and movies, but I don’t have all the money or all the space to collect everything that I’m interested in. That’s why I love to collect books like this. I can’t collect all the MotU figures, but I can own this book that has everything I’d every need to know about them all right there. It’s full of great photos and comprehensive info, so it fills the gap for me and is a lot of fun to leaf through.

Favorite Toy – Shogun Masters Skeletor

Well, I just said that I can’t own every Masters of the Universe thing, but of course I had to own this one! It wasn’t cheap, but I knew there was only going to be one shot at this, and it seemed like it’d be wrong if I didn’t buy one. They combined two of my most favorite things together, Skeletor and Japanese robots. It’s like they made it especially for me, and other people who know me have said as much. In fact, I have to wonder if perhaps I manifested it into existence myself. This large figure is now my pride and joy, and I can’t imagine my shelf without it.

Favorite TV Series – Squid Game

What can I say? This was the show of the moment, and I was curious enough to check it out. I was hooked, and if you saw it, you probably were too. It’s intense, with graphic violence and high stakes, life-or-death scenarios, and it’s truly captivating. The performances were certainly heightened in a way that I wasn’t used to as someone who has only seen a few Korean productions, but I enjoyed that. Everyone in the cast had a very unique, expressive, recognizable face, which made it feel like watching a cartoon, but in a good way. It helped to soften the harsh subject matter.

Favorite Anime – SSSS Dynazenon

Coming from the Gridman Universe, Dynazenon combines the trials and tribulations of being a young person in modern times with robots fighting monsters over the fate of the world. Truth be told, it leans much heavier on the drama, with most of the mecha action lasting but a brief moment. But the characters were interesting and the story had some unfolding mysteries that kept up the intrigue every episode. And when we did get that mecha action, it was very cool and dynamic, with a finale that paid off and delivered the goods.

Favorite Movie – Godzilla Vs Kong

A long awaited rematch decades in the making, delayed numerous times, released during the pandemic, featuring two of the most iconic characters in the history of film, carrying the weight of the future of the Monsterverse franchise on it’s back. This movie had a lot of live up to, and on the day it was released I certainly felt the collective relief from the entire world when people found out that it was actually a good movie. This became my comfort film for the year, the movie I watched when I just wanted to feel better. I don’t care what insipid complaints the critics had about this movie, the characters were great, and the fights lived up to hype!

Favorite Person – Mark Hamill

From the heights of the stars themselves to the depths of Arkham Asylum and everything in between, Mark Hamill has seemingly done it all.¬† You never know when he’s going to show up next, and it’s always a pleasant surprise when he does. We even heard him as Skeletor in 2021! And he has proven himself to be a big hearted, down to Earth guy the entire time. He clearly loves his fans and uses his status to have fun. But when it comes to the not-so-fun realities of the world we live in today, Mr. Hamill always keeps it real. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I can’t imagine not wanting to be on the same side as the guy who played (and sometimes still plays?) Luke Freaking Skywalker.

So that’s that. I still look back at 2020 as the dumpster fire I said it was, and while 2021 certainly had many of the same challenges, I feel better in general about it than 2020. There were plenty of things worth enjoying, and I am very lucky and grateful to have been in a position where I could keep up with a lot of what I was into. Clearly we’re all still struggling with the way the world is today, but at least this kind of stuff gave me something to look forward to, or at least offered a bit of inspiration.

Sayonara.