Of Pixels And Peecols: An Interview With eBoy

it took me quite a while to come up with an intro (took me a coupla weeks! :p) for this post, as i felt i couldn't accurately categorize the new eBoy X Kidrobot PEECOL figures, but mayhap i was trying too hard to fit them into current collector-labels (ie: urban vinyl, kaiju etc) ...

.. and while personally i doubt that they are specifically produced to be the next platform toy, so too are the possibilities of them being one, but not necessarily of a particular genre, becoz essentially they are/can be virtually limitless in their ability to be the EVERYMAN, anyone from white to blue collar, from the suits to the handyman, and becoz their forms are humanoid (and not your garden variety 'designer vinyl-form'), their aesthetics may appeal more to the design-in-crowd (practisioners of the trade, as opposed to the general urban vinyl-collecting crowd) - very much like Groovision's Brockmann-figures, or even a mass-market-appeal of Playmobil (as opposed to Legos) without the (for the sake of argument) 'banality' of a fixed form, like Bearbricks or Qees (which whatever designs or colors go on their surfaces, they still retain their original form and 'identity') - IMHO, of coz.


what struck me most when i first saw PEECOL, was the memory of PLAY, of a time when innocence of playability was not hampered by a fixed in-grown perception of price-point-value, for sure as heck i would not 'play' with my designer-vinyls, (with the exception of taking pictures) as much as i would only display them ... but with PEECOL, i could imagine bringing them out for some fun in the sun and generally mucking about, and if time permitted, build dioramas for them! the size is generally handy and can be shoved in the pocket etc.


and while i leave the decision and opinions of toy-collectors at large to their own devices, i bugged Steffen Sauerteig, Svend Smital and Kai Vermehr; collectively known as eBoy, for a lowdown on their new PEECOL-line of figures /// CLICK HERE TO READ

TOYSREVIL: what does PEECOL stand for? (i thought PEECOL was a font? :p) what was PEECOL's genesis?

eBoy: The original peecol concept was to take reusable 36x36 pixel image bricks and build images with them. The idea was to save bandwidth because one transmitted brick could be used several times on a webpage. We started to make sets like and ambulance set or a terrorist set and used them in pictures. Basically it was a simple modular concept -- something we always have been interested in.

At some point we had the idea to make fonts with these bricks -- the result were the ff-peecol series with lots of b/w bricks that are distributed by Fontshop. Each letter triggered one brick -- you could build images by recombining letters.

Now as we worked on a concept for a toy series, we soon realized, that again we wanted it to be modular. Not as atomic as LEGO -- we wanted it to be really really simple, and it turned out that our existing PEECOL pixel people were exactly of the grade of modularity and simplicity we were aiming for. So we look at it as a new chapter in the life of PEECOL -- now on real toys.


TRE: could you describe PEECOL as a toy? what's it's playability-factor? im not really sure, but im guessing the bodies/heads/legs are removable and can be interchanged with each other?

eBoy: Well the main idea is to make people -- a combination of generic and weird people. Also we wanted to make a sturdy *playable* and simple toy. The toy has a joint on its waist (like the pixel PEECOL people) so you can "break" each figure into upper body and legs and the re-combine these parts inside the series. It's a very simple concept but it means that there is some playground for the user to explore. And for each new figure added to the series, the options become more.

eBoy: There was some discussion about taking off the heads too, but at the end we decided we wanted to avoid too many small parts and we wanted to keep the basic character of each figure. After making some tests we decided to just offer this single joint at the hip of the figure.

I think the series will evolve over time ... most of characters will probably be available all the time and some will be limited collector stuff only.

TRE: personally, im liking the the modular-aspect and adaptability of PEECOL - how big is the figure actually?

eBoy: They range between 70 and 90 mm of height.

TRE: why was PEECOL created? what was it's principle message?

eBoy: We wanted a beautiful character based toy that would be playable and extendable.

TRE: when PEECOL was created, did you imagine it would be turned into a designer toy? or were they created specifically to be toy-figures?

eBoy: No it evolved as described above -- but the underlying concept is modularity, and that has been one of our main interests right from the beginning.

TRE: i've seen some event-images of your Pictoplasma-presentation in 2006 - are the designs still relevant? how much as changed / evolved thru the period? are you all happy with the evolution of the final toys?

eBoy: It evolved in details, but the basic concept was there already at 2006. And yes we are very very happy about the toy now. Kidrobot has turned out to be wonderful people -- you never know this at the beginning of a project like this. They are very proactive in every aspect -- and at the same time respect our work. It's turning out to be a very inspiring partnership.

TRE: 2D pixel work versus a 3D toy - how does it feel to have your creations given a 3-dimensional form?

eBoy: The second stage in drafting was done by using Illustrator (a vector tool we had not used for years) and after that we worked with Douglas Lassance on the 3D models which he ported from our 2d designs into 3d. We had to re-learn some 3d modelling in order to communicate ideas with Douglas and that again was something we had wanted to do for a long time. It is exciting as your designs become things ... the only problem might be that you can't stuff away your toys on your harddisk.


TRE: too true! is this your first toy? and how do you feel about this new series?

eBoy: Yes it's our first physical toy -- besides some small prototype stuff we made previously. I hope this series will last -- the concept is open ended -- there will never be shortage of ideas for characters.

TRE: i've 'noticed' a catalog-image on your PEECOL-flickr group, featuring more characters! = what are they about?

eBoy: Yes you can already see the second series, and there will be more later ... very sweet stuff to come ...

TRE: and also NUKE is slated for a Oct 11th-drop while the rest drops Oct 25th - why is that?

eBoy: Nuke will be a limited edition figure and will not be sold. "Only friends" will get hold of him -- I think Kidrobot is planning a couple of events around the introduction and give him away (for free?) ... if you are a collector, I would try to get hold of him as he is the first of a hopefully huge series! ^^

As far as I know 11th of October is projected for him. 1st run will come to the market on October 25th and 2nd run will follow in November. And we are working on 4th run already ...

TRE: oh man, you guys gotta let me know how to get me a NUKE! ... also can we expect any chase figures? and would they ever come with accessories and vehicles?

eBoy: Well again for simplicity's sake we decided against accessories at this point -- we wanted to avoid small parts flying around our desks -- but on the long run this might change ... but there are no specific plans, so don't waste any time waiting for accessories yet! :)

TOYSREVIL: personally i reckon we shouldn't wait too long to grab this PEECOL-series! LOL - cheers for your time and trouble for this interview, Kai, Steffen and Svend! here's looking forward to more toys from eBoy :) - in closing, could you guys please share with the readers here, WHO IS EBOY?

eBoy: EbOY is Steffen Sauerteig, Svend Smital and Kai Vermehr. We create re-usable pixel objects and take them to build complex and extensible artwork. And we make toys.

meanwhile, peep these nifty-online locales for more PEECOL-goodness:
- PEECOL flickr-group [images via]
- PEECOL on Kidrobot Forum
- PEECOL on Kidrobot (individual features and wallpapers)
- PEECOL drops October 25th while NUKE drops Oct 11th - so watch out for them :)
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