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"Blue Destroyer"

Afghanistan Assemblage
by yo go re

Both our blog post and our review of Rupert Valero's ridiculously impressive designer toys have proved to be very popular, so we're running a contest where you can win a "Valerobot" of your own. Today, we're reviewing that robot!

Unlike the Boogie Man, this robot doesn't have a name. He (or one of his relatives, at least) only appears in this photo on Flickr, getting punched out by Hellboy - so either he's evil, or he just went berserk. Make up your own mind. We call him the Blue Destroyer, for reasons we'll get into later.

While Boogie Man was mainly built from a bottle, and only used bottle caps for his limbs, Blue is like a YouTube comments section: he's ALL-CAPS! (This joke brought to you by the Fat Albert writers room.) [You should be ashamed of yourself, yo. --ed.] He manages to look like more than just a stack of loose bottle caps, though, thanks to clever design work. He's not made from just one kind of cap, but rather two sizes: the same big ones as Boogie Man, then smaller ones for variety. For instance, his legs are all one size from the hips down, but his feet are larger, for stability. Meanwhile, his arms are the large size until they get to the shoulder area, so it looks like they're blending into the body naturally. Nifty! On Boogie Man, the caps ended up looking like gears - on this guy, they look more like the bands on Bender's arms and legs.

Blue's head is a special piece - it's made from the nozzle from one of those "twist-open-spout" bottles, so it's already distinct from the rest of the body. He has triangular plastic eyes, and 20 pointy white teeth. Yes, teeth. Who says robots can't have teeth? He certainly looks intimidating, and the overall proportions of the body seem realistic.

His chest is made from the bowl of a plastic spoon, so he looks a bit more armored than just a stack of bottle caps would. He's got a really cool logo on his chest, too, which is why we're refering to him as the Destroyer: it's a skull, like the Marvel character has. It's actually done as a stencil, too: this graphically interesting skull with three lightning bolts above the head looks like it was outlined by spray paint, which is definitely more interesting than if it were just slapped on normally. And we've seen professionally produced toys where the paint isn't as crisp as this.

Between the dark blue body and the bright red logo, this really ends up looking like a robot that Cobra would employ. You can imagine a horde of them stomping across a battlefield, like oversized BATs, or the city-invading automatons in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The robot stands about 8" tall, so you can decide what scale you want it to be: is it towering over GI Joe, looming above DCUC, or nearly meeting the eye of MOTU Classics?

The "Valerobots" are assembled from items found on an Army base in Afghanistan, and there's no denying that's a rather unusual pedigree for a designer toy! It sure beats some chump charging $90 for a mold he made in his basement, right? If you want to buy one, you can visit Valero's Etsy store, where he keeps updating the stock as he makes more. Thankfully his deployment is almost over, which means there won't be too many more available that were made "in-country," so you'd better act fast.

Of course, you can also enter our contest, and win one of these guys for almost no effort. Valero's artistic creations are good fun, and if you put one in your collection, you'll have a piece to talk about for years.

-- 04/17/11

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