To many of you it can´t be a surprise that The White Rabbit has a ¨weakness¨ for Black & White (B&W) art and obviously… Battle Beasts! Last year (2022) a special custom project was completed it resulted into two awesome Surreal Beasts.
As a Battle Beast (BB) collector you´re nowadays confronted with many BB inspired or mash-up custom creations resulting in awesome new Beasts made by fellow collectors and artists. Most of those artists are familiar with BB or are even collectors themselves so it´s always interesting to see creations showing up from artists who are not familiar with or haven´t made a BB so far yet.
Last year, or actually in 2021 (because (good) artists are busy people and often have a waiting list), The White Rabbit started something special…
A Legendary Artist
For years The White Rabbit has been admiring the Black & White creations by @JonPaulKaiser (Instagram) a very talented and Internationally known artists especially when it comes to his amazing B&W vinyl art toy paints. And the more awesome creations were posted via his account the more a certain itch started to develop because how awesome would it be to have a legendary artist like Jon-Paul Kaiser, imho one of the best when it comes down to Black & White creations, make a version of The White Rabbit?
In 2021 The White Rabbit had gathered enough courage to reach out to this, in its eyes, legendary artist who has clearly mastered the skill of bringing B&W creations to life with ¨just¨ some very well thought out accentuated lines in a very strong contrasting pallet of Black & White.
¨True art doesn´t require color to be understood and felt. Only few artist really master this talent¨– The White Rabbit –
Without any expectations at all and bit by bit, after discussing whether the paint would attach to the material of the BB or not, it started to look like it would actually be possible to have Jon-Paul Kaiser create The White Rabbit!
But why have him paint one BB why he could also do two… Based on his work and knowing which Beast in the BB line is the undisputed number 1 Beast the choice for the second Beast to sent along with the Rabbit was easy. And so it happened and two Beasts with (serious) condition issues, all custom BB within the Beastformers Collection have damaged or Beasts in less condition as a base in order not to remove any Beasts from the BB Community which can still be enjoyed by other collectors and to give the damaged (less condition) ones a new life.
These are the Beasts that were sent out to Jon-Paul Kaiser (JPK) in July 2021. The Pirate Lion, aka White Leo, had been fooled around with with color marker which had damaged the figure permanently in a way that couldn´t be undone. The Hare Razing Rabbit, aka Rabbit Kid, is probably one of the better figures that´s been ¨sacrificed¨ for a custom project but that´s for obvious reasons since the JPK White Rabbit is not a figure you´d like to get returned with damaged ears or anything else that would be visible after JPK has worked his magic. This Rabbit only had a few scuffs of paint loss on the head and mainly the backside of the arms but it´s also a little crooked in a way, with the right shoulder being a little higher than the left one.
(More about this ¨Crooked Rabbit¨ issue in a future post on the Beastformers Blog)
Those artists, and fellow collectors, who´ve been doing custom project for The White Rabbit and the Beastformers Collection know that it´s not the easiest client you can have as it always demands to stay updated during the artistic process and (often) commissions come with strict instructions, so future artists be prepared ;). With one of these Beast actually becoming The White Rabbit this commission was no exception and once the two Beasts had been received by JPK a loooong email with strict instructions was provided in order to maintain and protect the feel and appearance of The White Rabbit. One of the uncertainties that´s been the reason for holding back to reach out to JPK earlier was exactly this point because often artists don´t like instructions or they´re not used to it and might feel attacked or disrespected and even though that´s obviously not the case at all it´s a thin line to walk on once sending out a commission while at the same time there´s an image/expectation in your head the artist has to live up to. With a legend like JPK who´s hugely respected staying so strict wasn´t easy, to say the least…
The White Rabbit.
You would think that the instructions for The White Rabbit were pretty simple because what can go wrong with a White Rabbit with a Black armor color? Well the power of the ¨design¨ and idea behind The White Rabbit is that less is more. So especially artists are tempted to overdo it, which also turned out to be the case for the JPK Version initially. More about this later. With the strict instructions also the picture on the right was send along as a reference. For those who wonder why the eyes of The White Rabbit are not colored it´s because it´s in an eternal state of contemplation and therefore it has its eyes closed creating a more serene look. Making/creating the closed eye lids on such a small scale figure is ¨just¨ one of the challenges to overcome when it comes to The White Rabbit.
¨The White Rabbit always has closed eyes, this gives it a peaceful and harmonious look while at the same time it shows it´s contemplating. It represents the friendly character but also the deeper thoughts that go into the passion for this line looking into it from various perspectives.¨One of the many lines that´s part of the instructions sent to JPK for the creation of the JPK White Rabbit version.
Despite the control and influence The White Rabbit likes to have during the progress and the importance of a figure like the Lion within the BB line here a complete ¨freedom¨ was given to the artist with the remark that a reference image was added for inspiration. This reference was the White Leo that can be found on the Secret Sunburst (Japanese exclusive) card. Hence the reason it´s been referred to as White Leo from the beginning instead of Pirate Lion. Similar to The White Rabbit figure the idea of this figure turning out pretty badass as a JPK version wasn´t a weird thought. But with ¨freedom¨ comes uncertainty especially considering the fact that JPK didn´t know about this line let alone about the history end special versions, like this Lion.
With the figures and the instructions provided the waiting game could begin because magic doesn´t happen overnight which in this case translated into being on a waiting list of an estimated 8 months. Patience is key but when after 11 months there´s been no update it´s time to check in and the reply learned that the Beasts were almost in front of the waiting line. It took another 3 months but in September 2022 there suddenly out of the blue was a first picture of a FINISHED White Rabbit. The artist had been to focused on painting that he forgot to document it and to update on the progress along the way as requested. Artist… they´re a weird breed 😉 Luckily the picture was rather convincing, to say the least;
Needles to say there´s a moment of awe when this picture was shared by JPK, don´t think the serene look and vibe of The White Rabbit could´ve been expressed any better. And despite all the restrictions it clearly is a JPK version of The White Rabbit!
With the White Leo being a complete surprise it now became a waiting game for the package with both Beasts making it back to the Beastformers Dungeons.
A Mysterious Black Box
Luckily not long after the first picture of The White Rabbit was shared a package arrived at the Beastformers Dungeons and it clearly was THE package. After carefully opening it The White Rabbit was confronted with a mysterious black box with a golden JPK seal on top.
This black box made the whole experience even more exiting and special. Wrapped and very well protected were two small packages. 50-50 chance on which figure would come out first… Obviously, even with the blind pick it was:
The JPK White Rabbit version!!! In hand for the very first time.
BUT the figure looks different compared to the picture that was shared before because it now has whiskers. A subtle added detail which does change the look in a significant way…
Let´s take some time to let this ¨surprise¨ sink in.
Time for the second little package, how would the JPK White Leo version look?
Here´s the post JPK posted on his Instagram account (@JonPaulKaiser) of the original JPK White Leo;
Wow, what a Beast, SURREAL! From our perspective, as a BB fan, and with the reference in mind you´d expect the hair to be yellow/orange but of course it´s not because it´s a JPK White Leo version and it pulls all of the focus towards the awesome facial expression which is created by ¨just¨ placing a few very subtle lines. The work of a wizard! BUT as cool as it is also here a subtle detail is added that changes the feel of the figure, a skull within the rubsign square?! Maybe something else that needs to sink in?
That Mysterious Black Box housed two awesome Beasts, but also Beast that required some thoughts.
This is something you can leave up to The White Rabbit. But the more and more the figures were reviewed the more the AWE feeling turned into an AW feeling. An AW feeling of how great would they have looked if the whiskers weren’t added and if there would´ve been no skull. These are not just some custom Beasts and this clearly isn´t just an artist who made them… Now what?
It really took a few days after opening the Mysterious Black Box before The White Rabbit had made up its mind and gathered enough confidence to reach out to JPK explaining the ¨issues¨ that had occurred. IF the JPK White Rabbit would have been send the way it was initially pictured, without the whiskers, there´s a big chance the urge to chance something would have been less. But the few simply dots representing the whiskers created a whole different feel and took away the focus from the serene and contemplating Rabbit with the closed eyes, a complex detail which is present so successfully.
There´s no way around it the whiskers had to be removed and with that thought of having to return the package to JPK also came that the step of changing the White Leo was easier. Skulls or anything like that simply doesn´t connect to the BB line in any way and even though its a touch by the artist who does process skulls in his creations every now and then it´s just something that felt out of place in this particular case.
And so it happened that after a reassuring and understanding reply from JPK and after being at the Beastformers Dungeons for only a few days these two Surreal Beasts were carefully wrapped up again, placed back inside the Mysterious Black Box and sent back to JPK.
What had to be changed?
It´s not been easy to reach out to JPK with the request to change things on figures you know he´s been doing a lot of effort for painting at such small scale and resulted in certain artistic choices. The White Rabbit didn´t want to be rude or disrespect his work because all in all it´s a legend and that´s something he´d clearly proven to be with these two creations as well. Both were undeniably JPK creations and wouldn´t asking him to change/adjust certain things take too much away of that?
Having the confirmation that the requested changes would be fixed it´s hard to not interfere too much because maybe the hair of White Leo should have been yellow/orange as well, etc. In the end the conclusion came down to this;
The White Rabbit: Remove whiskers (back to White) + Black rubsign square.
The White Leo: Remove skull (Black rubsign square)
The choice of what to do instead of the skull for the Leo was an easy one because a black colored square is simply part of the design of the BB line and making it Black would simply pull the focus back to the other awesome paint details on the rest of the figure. With this decision that same choice was made for The White Rabbit because also there the artwork created within the rubsign square was a ¨disturbance¨ in the balance of the whole figure. None BB fans will probably not understand this but the majority of the BB fans and collectors will probably agree. It are the Beasts and the armor details that make the BB line so well balanced and that black square, when the rubsign sticker is still present, they have on their chest is simply part of that design, undeniably.
The return of the Mysterious Black Box!
Luckily this time it didn´t take months and JPK was able to make the requested changes fairly fast resulting in that fact that a package which held the Mysterious Black Box was received within the Beastformers Dungeons again in the middle of October 2022. After 15 months, also due to the hiccup with the figures being sent back, it was no time to face the final JPK Versions of The White Rabbit and White Leo. And this is how they appeared from the Mysterious Black Box:
There they are, two surreal Beasts, never expected it´d be possible to have such a legendary and internationally known artist actually create such awesome Battle Beasts.
A few words from the artist JPK
It was clear that from the start this also was something new for JPK since he´s completely unknown with the Battle Beasts line so when he´s asked how he experienced it he came with the following words;
¨I found the scale of them and the amount of detail in the sculpt a little restrictive, which made it difficult to really put as much of myself into it as I would want.¨– JPK –
A completely understandable raction from someone who didn´t know about the Battle Beasts because we all know the amount of detail in these little figures is remarkable. And compared to the vinyal art toys which are normally at least double the size of a BB but often much more it really must have felt like miniature painting for JPK. But he´s more than proven that he also owns this skill.
¨I love the sculpts and it was great exploring them and ¨bringing the character out¨ with my painting.¨– JPK –
True artists recognise true art so this is a compliment to the designers at TAKARA in Japan back in the days from JPK. And with his remarkable, outsanding and unparalleled paint skills JPK really did these beautiful sculpts justice turning them into surreal Black & White JPK Beasts!
For those who´ve seen the BEFORE and AFTER Post of the JPK Version of the White Leo on Instagram and Twitter (@Beastformers) back in October 2022 you now know that this post was only 50% of the Magic because in the end it´s all about getting a JPK version of The White Rabit for the Beastformers Collection.
And this is the full image of the BEFORE and AFTER ¨Swipe image¨ that´s composed for Instagram of JPK Version of The White Rabbit:
To be clear the original very first custom version of The White Rabbit by PlasticPlayhouse (2013) was NOT the base figure for the JPK Version it´s just showing how it looks compared to the old school version.
360 View at the JPK creations
Enough has been written now it´s time to show these Surreal Beast!
After reading and seeing all this what´s your opinion on the call of The White Rabbit to have the initial JPK Versions of both Beasts sent back and changed, would you have done the same?
Ending this, too(?) long. post about the two Surreal Beasts made by the legendary Jon-Paul Kaiser (JPK) with a huge word of thanks to the artist himself. For the willingness to first of all accept the commission working on and with unknown figures, the reassuring and understanding reply when it came down to the ¨complaints¨ and fixing this but above all showing and once more confirming that you are a true Wizard when it comes to Black & White art. The very well thought out and placed limited number of lines you need to give a piece the right character is unprecedented imho.
You Sir are truly a LEGEND, thank you!
The figures came in a Mysterious Black Box with a Golden JPK seal on it and these definitely are Golden figures! All custom figures within the Beastformers Collection are special and appreciated but when it comes to ¨holy grail¨ pieces these two clearly claimed their spot. You can rest assured that both of these Surreal Beast have found their forever new home within the Beastformers Dungeons where they will be displayed with the honor and protection these pieces of art deserve. And there´s no way these two will be leaving the Beastformers Dungeons again 😉
Who knows, maybe more JPK Beast Versions might follow in the future because this has been amazing!
2022 hasn´t really been the easiest year for The White Rabbit so these Surreal Beasts are also a little gift to itself. And what´s better to start the Year of the Rabbit with a new look? Because with this JPK look The White Rabbit is good to go for another few years!
Enjoy the Beasts!
– The White Rabbit –
Please respect the originality of the figures you´ll find within the Project and Custom area of the Beastformers Blog created by friended artists and based upon the original ideas of The White Rabbit and/or the Beastformers Team and the input of the involved artists. All of these figures are one of a kind because of that and creating exact copies of the figures shown here is NOT appreciated. If you have an idea to make a custom Battle Beasts, or to have one made, please feel free to be inspired by the ones shown here and come up with your own ideas and executions instead of having a similar figure or close to that made.