Don Figueroa will be a familiar name to Transformers fans – he’s worked on numerous TF comics and packaging over the years, as well as helping design some toys for the TF Titanium and Classics series. Several years back, Don met Valent Wang and the two created their own toy company, the Mecha Workshop. Their first project is the creator-owned independent toy line Armarauders.
1.) For my readers who may be unfamiliar with the project, what is Armarauders?
DON FIGUEROA: In a nutshell, Armarauders is about Humans getting involved in an intergalactic war of liberation on a distant world using Battle Mechs. but unlike most alien invasion fictions where humans must fight to liberate Earth. we came up with the story where Humans takes the war to the enemy away from Earth.
2.) How did this project get started?
VALENT WANG: I actually started out from the video gaming industry, from there it led me to toys. I had a combiner toy project in mind to begin with and many years ago, I initially approached Pat Lee with the idea. We met at a Hong Kong event he was doing for
Ecko Unltd [correction: Diesel].
Fortunately, I Googled him before proceeding, which led me to TFWiki and the whole story. See…I’m based in both Singapore and Hong Kong/China. And over here in Asia, Pat Lee was pretty popular back then, even after DW’s demise. Not many people here knew what really happened…especially me, since I wasn’t too much of a comic fan back then (I’m more of an anime fan).
Anyway, from the wiki, I learned about Don. I first approached Don with a toy Combiner concept. However, Don wanted an original mech (like the very first Gundam) to start things off. From there, other mechs will be designed and developed off the first mech, Bellerophon. Later designs will be much more radical, ranging from combiners to triple-changers, and all with working cockpits and pilots!
3.) Please describe the Armarauders universe a bit. What other races exist? What is humanity’s place in the Armarauders cosmos?
Don: The backstory involves two main alien races, the Runerians and the mysterious invaders who they refer to as “The Wasters.” Runerians are highly evolved humanoids who at the most part, are very peaceful. we clued it in that they ‘may’ have had a hand in human development long ago, but because humans are inherently violent in nature, they have since cut ties with Earth, deeming humans as barbaric creatures. and the Runerians are eventually forgotten.
But then the Wasters came along. while Runerians pride themselves as enlightened, intellectually and technilogically superior beings, they have no idea to defend themselves when the Wasters arrived. their society fell quickly and those lucky enough to escape the onslaught, headed for the closest developed planet, Earth.
By this time, Earth is a powder keg, ready to erupt into yet, another World War. over-population, and decreasing resources have made relations between nations very tense. the Runerian’s arrival put things way into perspective. and that a far worst threat is coming, The Wasters. The Runerians thought that the only way to repel one violent race is to pit another violent race against it.
The Runerians’ more advance FTL drives got them to Earth years ahead, and gave the Humans enough time to plan a counterattack for the incoming invaders. including reluctantly bolstering human weapons with Runerian technology. the Waster’s expeditionary force that was sent after the Runerian refugees where soundly annihilated as they arrive years later.
The decisive victory gave Humanity the confidence to take another step. this time, adding the Enemy’s mech technology with their own. and to go and take back Runera for their alien benefactors. in exchange, ofcourse, for resources and advanced technology.
4.) What are some of your influences and inspiration for the development of Armarauders?
Don: The idea was actually influenced by the first and recent Gulf Wars. I was in high school during the first and it’s where I came up with “what if Kuwait was like an alien civilization who where invaded and they asked Earth for help in exchange for resources?” I always figured the only way the world would really get together is if a much worst threat is on the horizon and we have no choice but to work together if it means our survival.
For years, I’ve held on to this idea but was unable to get it realized, until now. I’m not much of a wordsmith, especially when it comes to technological lingo and whatnot. but I do have a lot of ideas. It just took a while for someone to actually listen to me 🙂
5.) What are the specs of the toys (scale, articulation, accessories etc.)?
Don: The original plan for the toys is actually to be big enough to accommodate 3¾” pilot figures and I actually built a prototype by hand. But the cost would have been astronomical, both in producing it and in retail. Valent and I decided we should go smaller, first at around 12″, but it was still too big. especially since the first toy would have been technically the smallest of the line – the later toys would have to be enormous compared to it. And as a collector, limited shelf space is something that concerns me as well. Only the coolest toys get the prime real estate.
Articulation and poseability for me is a high priority. I’m not too fold of “bricks,” especially with today’s toys. but I was also concerned with durability and how the joints will hold long-term. I’d like my toy to be able to keep its arm up while holding a weapon and be able to stand on its own unsupported. and of course Valent and I want accessories up the wazoo.
Poe’s Note: See the bottom of this interview for a more in-depth look at the articulation, accessories and other specs for the Bellerophon mech.
6.) What made you decide to produce the toys independently, instead of bringing the property to a company like Hasbro or ThreeA?
Don: Throughout the years I worked on other robot properties, I never really had the chance with an audience with those who are in charge. In fact, I’ve never even been to any of the studios (Toronto, San Diego or Pawtucket) for any kind of creative meeting to toss in my two cents. I just sat at home and was sent scripts or directions on what needs to be drawn and I do it.
Once in a while, I would try and send an email telling them I have an idea for a story or character, but never hear back from any of them. But sometimes they’d say “there’s no budget for it” or “we already have plans years ahead” and that was that.
7.) I’ve read that T-Rex and Action Toys are aiding with the development of the Armarauders. Who are these companies and what is their role in the process?
Valent: T-REX is in-charge of the toy mech/docking base development. They are a bunch of Japanese guys who are very well versed in toy Mech/Robot designing. If you collect toy mechs, Super Robos or anything robot related, you will most likely have a toy designed by them in your possession.
Action Toys is in-charge of the toy Pilot development. Noticeably, they are known for producing FEWTURE‘s toyline.
Both companies are well versed in diecast toys.
8.) Will Armarauders be available via any retailers, or just your own site?
Valent: The toys will be available on your preferred online specialty toy store. We are also hoping to get this distributed on Diamond Comics and Amazon.com as well, making them readily available in your local comic stores.
However, if any fan is having trouble purchasing one, just join our Facebook Unity Group, Armarauders: Unity, and we will personally “customer care” you until you get one!
9.) What media are you producing alongside the toys?
Valent: We hope to produce an Anime/Cartoon series and a video game in the (far) future.
Single issues(printed copies) of the comic can only be obtained when you buy the toys. Single issues will include variant pages different to what you see online, making them “collectible” even though they are free-to-view online. For example, issue #1 will come packed alongside the first toy (Cam’s Full Gear Bellerophon); issue #2 will be packed with the Pegasus Drone, which is an add-on to the Bellerophon; issue #3 with the Command Chiron, and so forth.
If you are just interested in the comic, you can just wait for the Story ARC-01 trade paperback (Issues #1 to #6), which will essentially be an encyclopedia of sorts containing additional artworks and lore to the Arma-verse.
For now, feel free to view our free-to-view comics and motion comic (in PDF format).
High-resolution downloads along with Italian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese translations all available on our Facebook page. And if you are kind enough, please support us on comiXology, 0.99 cents for the Guided View reading technology. On the other hand, if you’re too lazy to read, you can also just watch the motion comic on YouTube.
10.) Any chance of minicomics being included with the toys, Masters of the Universe-style?
Valent: Full issues will be packed alongside the toys.
Also, Don did not point this out, but he will be paying homages to both ThunderCats and MotU. He has already designed a mech that has two alternate modes, one of a tank (Thunder Tank anyone?) and the other an animal. And just recently, one of the writers for the recent ThunderCats revamp (2011), Brandon Easton, has joined our team. We are really disappointed that ThunderCats got cancelled…hopefully, he will bring back that little missing piece.
Also, a He-Man homage is coming up in ARC-01 (Issue #4). It’ll be part of the toyline as well. You’ve to read the comic to find out what kind of toy it’ll be…
11.) What’s the best way for fans to follow the latest Armarauder developments?
12.) What’s your current estimate for when pre-orders will go up, and when the Bellerophon will be released?
Valent: We doing up the actual toy right now (colors, packaging and everything) and will only release the pricing and release date with the actual product pictures. There will also be a run of 300 pieces blank(non-colored) toys made specifically for customizers. These include DVDs that will teach you how to disassemble and repaint the whole toy.
For More Information about Armarauders:
- Official Facebook Group
- Official Facebook Page
- Official Site
- Link to Armarauders: The Last Battalion comic on Comixology
- And be sure to check out The Daytime Ninja, who has been covering Armarauders since the beginning.
Bellerophon (Mech) + Pilot (Cam) + Docking Base (Section A)
Docking Base Gimmicks
A) Platforms swivel and are detachable/customizable for future add-ons.
B) The Platform Pillars are detachable/customizable for future add-ons.
C) The Platform Pillars are symmetrical so you can swap them around.
D) Switches to raise and lower the Platforms. The height can be adjusted by 9mm(x5 clicks) and can be extended up to 45mm, reaching the Cockpit’s height.
E) Height of the Docking Arm holding the Bellerophon can be adjusted.
F) The Platform’s Center Panel can be extended or retracted.
G) The Docking Arm itself has an extension gimmick too.
H) Yellow Lines will be Black-and-Yellow-striped(Caution stripes).
• Docking Base A can be used as a Flight Stand as well, all you need to do is to remove all the customizable parts.
• Every disassembled part is customizable and replaceable.
• Docking Bases A are interconnectable on each sides, along with a connection point to the Pegasus Drone’s Mobile Stand at the back (Docking Base B).
• Docking Base B can be combined with Docking Base A.
• Docking Base B will come with the Pegasus Drone toy add-on.
• Docking Base B has rubber tank tracks.
Full Gear Bellerophon (Cam’s Custom)
• Mech Toy – 9 inches / 23cm (Head to toe).
• Detachable armors and weapons with universal slots for future add-ons and customization.
• Pegasus Drone add-on ready.
• Has a functioning cockpit.
83 Points of articulation in total (Armor/Add-on Ball Joints included).
• Head – 3 Points (x1)
• Chest – 1 Point (x1)
• Cockpit – 1 Point (x1)
• Waist – 3 Points (x2)
• Back – 4 Points (x2)
• Shoulder – 3 Points (x2)
• Arm – 5 Points (x2)
• Hand – 15 Points (x2)
• Leg – 6 Points (x2)
• Foot – 3 Points (x2)
• Tri-Blades (x2)(Cam’s Custom Exclusive Only not available with Blank Toys)
• Medium Rifles (x2)(4 Ammo Clips)
• Ammo Clip Holder (x2)
• Short/Medium-Range Shoulder Missile-Pods (x2)
• Medium-Range Mounted Shoulder Cannons (x2)
• Heavy Duty Shoulder Shields (x2)
• Elbow Shields (x2)
• Leg Shields (x2)(With Compartments)
• Knee Shields (x2)
• Back Heavy-Thrusters (x2)
• Anti-Gravity Movement Thrusters (x2)
• Waist Medium-Thrusters (x2)
Bellerophon Basic Pilot – Cameron Knox
Pilot Toy – 2 Inches / 5 cm with 12 Points of Articulation.
P.A.C – Personal Artillery Component
Anti-Wastermech Cannons and Jetpack with 2 Points of Articulation.
D.A.R.C – Dual Assault Rifles Component
Anti-Infantry Rifles that combine to become Pilot’s Backpack/Component.
• D.A.R.C stackable on P.A.C. The D.A.R.C can be plugged into Pilot’s back directly as well.
• Pilot and all his Weapons can be stored inside the Mech’s cockpit.