I just spent a good 15 minutes perusing the internet for a quote that said something poignant about overcoming an obstacle or taking up a difficult challenge head on. “No guts, no glory”, that sort of thing. I was searching for something to set the tone and portray a sense of how I felt about winning the Shadow and Light set. A one liner, a “zinger”, a single phrase that could fulfill the entire needs of a proper article introduction. Instead, everything I came across had been tirelessly plastered as off-the-cuff Facebook status updates or otherwise publicized to death, thus sucking all the marrow of meaning from the words contained within. After reading dozens of these once-were-so-inspiring/my-how-cynical-I-must-be-to-feel-otherwise quotes, I decided to scrap the idea and instead go a more traditional route by giving a possibly over wrought rundown of the events leading to me winning this coveted set.
When Ashley Wood/3A announced the animation contest for the Shadow and Light set I almost didn’t enter it. The thing about 3D.. anything, is that it takes a lot of time to do. Exspecially if you’re doing it all from the ground up. I’ve been working as a character artist and animator for years, but my free time to devote to such an undertaking like this wasn’t (still isn’t) at all what I felt it needed to be. Given the one month deadline, my first thought was that I wouldn’t have the time to devote to it in order to pull off something I’d be really happy with..
My saving grace was that the day following the announcement, I had an idea that seemed a lot like a genuinely good and unique one. Something that I felt would go the opposite direction of the competition and hopefully set my work apart from the rest of the crowd. It was simple, cute and most importantly, something I knew I could get together in the given time-frame.
I’ve never been one to ignore inspiration.
I kissed and hugged my supportive wife goodbye, knowing well that in order to get everything together I wouldn’t be seeing her much over the remainder of the month. Every ounce of free time available to me was dedicated to the project. I set to work on modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, rendering, picking music, creating sound and the final post effects for the project. From the day the concept hit, right up to the last (original) day of the contest, I raced/worked.
Ash decided on the last day of the contest to extend it another 2 weeks. While a good thing for some, it definitely took a bit of the wind out of my sails. I was tired and felt all the momentum I’d experienced up to that point completely lapse. I’d pushed myself and put in some seriously long hours to complete the piece in the given time. Now with this extension in play, I simply had no more time or frankly, energy to put into it. I’d put off actual paying work, time with family and personal hygiene (joking!) for far too long. As a steady stream of some very strong animation submissions started to come in, I knew competition was going to be stiff. The best I could do at that point was to cross not only my fingers, but also all my toes and simply wait it out.
Well, you know the end of this story.
along with 4 others. A surprising, but awesome gesture by Ash to spread the Shadow and Light love, if only by a little.
I spoke to Ash at SDCC about the set and he not only shared how excited he was about how awesome the set turned out, but also how humbling it was for him that anyone would take their time to contribute artwork/animation based off his creations. He was really proud of that and rightly so.
Skip ahead several long months later and my set has finally arrived.
Before I jump to the review I want to give full marks to all that took the time to enter the race and heartfelt fist bumps to those who also won a set. A big thank you to 3A! Thank you Mr Wood! I love these guys and feel honored to be included amongst the winners circle!
I’m the proud owner of a one of a kind Shadow and Light TK set.
“But wait! There were other winners!”, I hear you exclaim!
It’s one of a kind because it has my name written neatly across the box in black sharpie. I have no idea who at the hatchery did the honors. I’m also unaware if it bothered the other recipients to have their set “defaced” by such cruel permanent markings. But me, I’m for it. It makes it feel personal.
One small difference between this set and previous 3A toys is that it was not shrink-wrapped. Just boxed, labeled and sent. Score one for the environment..
As you can see, the box sports some cropped photography of the pair on one side and a cool stencil style 3A logo (plus me given name) on the other.
Two TKs. One black, one white. The dynamic duo come with two of their own color coordinated long swords.
I don’t feel I can really “review” this set in the truest sense of the word simply because one does not “review” or “judge” a reward/gift. If Grandma gave me brown socks for Christmas this year.. again, I’d smile, kiss her on the cheek and thank her. They’d most-like be thrown in the bin with the rest of the collection, never to be worn or seen again, but Memaw would be none the wiser.
That’s how it should be.
Of course you could argue that it’s not like I didn’t do anything for these guys. I did put in a ton of hours and toiled over the particulars. I’d certainly paid in time for the set many times over. But I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as a gift.
Simply put, it’s not polite to gripe about the gifts you receive. Not to say I have any gripes. Just if I did.. in this case, I wouldn’t tell you.
My reaction of the set right away was a sort of quiet “stun”. I’m not sure if it was the months of anticipation bubbling forth or what, but when I opened them up, I just starred at them for several minutes before even touching or removing them from their plastic packaging. I’ve never been very interested in the negro or blanco color schemes 3A puts out, however sitting in front of me as a set I can comfortably say they look amazing.
Light and Shadow are basically the same character top to the bottom as 3A’s 7bones member, Kyoku. The only real difference being the obvious color, or lack thereof. Shade, to be precise.
The head sculpt all 3 figures share are actually from last year’s Slicer Tomorrow Kings, Baka and Kyuuketsuki. Scar and all. It may not be my favorite TK head sculpt, but it’s dynamic and fun to pose.
One thing that really stands out to me is how squeaky clean the TK’s themselves are. Not a speck of dirt on their “skin”. Their clothes on the other hand, have a light dusting of weathering throughout. At SDCC this year, Ashley Wood told me that the set would have been done earlier, but he felt that the clothing needed a “touch of weathering to feel finished”. I’m sure some would argue that they’d look better sparkling clean top to bottom but for me, I really like the contrast.
It’s like they take showers, but can’t wash their clothes. Poor guys.
The Oya jackets are the usual high quality, impressively sewn articles. They look fantastic on and offer a wide array of dramatic pose possibilities. While I love the jackets, I’m considering setting these guys up jacketless as I have so many Oyas already littering my shelf.
We’ll see. I’ll let balance/aesthetics ultimately decide.
I really like that the teeshirt decals work best when you place the pair next to each other to form 3A’s logo. It’s a simple thing, but well thought out and melds these two together.
As I posed them for the various shots, I came to realize that despite their simple color scheme, these figures have plenty of character.
My take on them comes from a clichéd or otherwise well worn part of my imagination which seemed to dictate every pose I put them in.
Shadow is quiet and brooding. When he strikes it’s exact and efficient, not showy. He stays in the background and tries to go unnoticed. Light on the other hand seems as though he’d be much more animated, quick to act and stylistic in his motions. He stands in the front, brash and ready to lunge into action.
They are Yin/Yang and completely inseparable. Like their names, you can’t have one without the other.
THE FINAL WORD
That’s about all I have to say about this lovely set. A more in depth review of the particulars of this type (TK Oyabun) of figure will come in the form of my upcoming Kyoku review, but for now understand that I have some new favorites in my collection.
I will say that shooting the pair together had it’s own challenges thanks to my camera’s apeture trying to favor one figure or the other. I had many shots that I felt were going to turn out awesome that, once loaded on the computer were completely blurry and unusable. Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed the few I’ve put together here. Eventually, I’ll post even more on our Flickr and Facebook pages.
I’d want to encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to get involved in the next contest 3A comes along with. I had a ton of fun in creating my animated short, despite it’s challenges. If you’re passionate about different things like drawing, design, photography, animation, toys, etc.. and they somehow correlate and come together in the form of a world wide contest, why wouldn’t you?
I’ve heard some who claim that these type of contests are a grand waste of time, or a matter of all us collectors jumping through hoops simply so 3A can gain some sort of free marketing. A bit of “dance monkey, dance”, “lick dog, lick” or whatever animal to mind controlled robot comparison is in fashion now. My thing is, if you enjoy doing it, it makes you happy and there’s an opportunity to get rewarded for your efforts, why should it matter to anyone else?
You know what? Screw those guys and their negativity. They certainly don’t have a Shadow and Light set..
nor should they.
- An amazingly lovely set that’s a true treasure in my collection