Ashley Wood is Having Fun With Nostalgia at ThreeA [SDCC 2016]
Though the floor presence for ThreeA was much more condensed at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, there were still some very nice surprises hidden away in the Lucite displays. During the show, ThreeA announced new partnerships with Hasbro, Geof Darrow, and Giannis Milonogiannis, as well as debuting an all-new Spider-Man figure for Marvel. The 2000 AD license is still rocking and rolling as well, with new products digger deeper into the British comic magazine's history. ThreeA is still focused on its own original ideas, but the injection of these outside brands has given the company some new ground to explore with its signature style.
"The bottom line is it’s fun. As ThreeA grows, it’s fun to bring people in," said Ashley Wood, co-founder and designer at ThreeA. "Geof Darrow, Paul Pope, even the Hasbro stuff, it’s all exciting. This is my way of being a fanboy. The nostalgia of the Hasbro stuff is exciting, and I’m a fan of the artists. I know them. I’ve known them for years. To be able to create these totems, these 3D abstractions of their ideas, it’s a very difficult process, but it makes it fun. With the Hasbro stuff, the idea is to twist it, maybe push it to the edge a bit."
While the new Optimus Prime figure based on the Generation One incarnation doesn't differ as drastically as something like Michael Bay's designs, it definitely has ThreeA's handiwork all over it. The tweaks aren't just make for the sake of making them; this figure stays true to the classic Prime while offering a new perspective on how he may look in the modern day. That's something you'll notice with ThreeA's products. Nothing is done just because it can be. Everything serves a purpose.
Take the new Spider-Man, for instance. While the larger, more robotic toy was seen last year, it went through some changes in development to give it more purpose and thoughtfulness in execution.
"The cool thing about the Marvel figure, nothing is just done for the hell of it," Wood explained. "Nothing is just done for the hell of it. When I talk to [Marvel], they always ask 'Why? Why would he have a robot?' And you have to extrapolate, why would he have a robot? Unfortunately you can’t put it into the ads or onto the box.
"We tried to get a comic done, but it’s just too hard for us to publish a Marvel comic. He’s a 16 year-old kid, he’s not going to be jumping into buildings that are on fire, or fighting villains. So he has the semi-autonomous robot that he can control or can run by itself. He can take cool photos. He’s not fighting Green Goblin, he’s got this cool 9’ Spider-Man robot to do it. That’s what Marvel wanted. They wanted that dialogue, not just a cool robot."
Okay, but it is a cool robot and a cool Peter Parker, too. The bigger figure has a sense of style about it that you usually don't get in a Spider-Man collectible, but it's the Peter Parker that really sells this set. There's a great amount of detail in the costuming of this kid, but there's also all those nifty lenses and camera accessories. It's the little things like that which make ThreeA's version of this icon so focused and believable.
ThreeA's plans don't just stop with Optimus and Spider-Man though. The Hasbro crossover will also see GI Joe and Rom make the leap, and some other Marvel figures are in the planning stages as well. Though none of the Darrow, Pope or Milonogiannis were on display, we do have some teaser art for a few of the pieces. I for one can't want to see what ThreeA does with Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot or Hard Boiled, and whatever they've got in store for Paul Pope. We've gotten very few collectibles in his style, and literally any toy based on Paul Pope would be a dream I don't think any of his fans thought possible.
We'll be waiting a while for what ThreeA has in store --- the company takes its time with releases --- but based on just this year's small sampling, the future is very promising.