A few days ago I had the luck of chatting up with MMC’s latest designer. You might have noticed her Facebook page,Jesslyn Makes Robots. Yes, her; women can also like Transformers!
Disclaimer: Like in my interviews with Griffith76 (here and here), Jesslyn speaks as herself and not on behalf of MMC.
Hope you enjoy!
How about you tell me how you got into TF?
Okay! It’s the cartoon’s fault; I loved it.
It was on every afternoon after school, and mum ended up buying me some of the toys, and they just were so different to anything I’d had before.
So you’re a geewunner? Any favourites?
This was around 1989? So I had Monstructor, and a few of the Seacons, and a bunch of Micromasters. I was at the tail end of g1.
Whenever I got a new one I’d arrange everybody in a circle to introduce each other like ‘hi! I turn into a manta ray! Oh wow that’s so cool, look at me I turn into a motor bike! Haha, they were all very peaceful and proud of themselves.
Peace through respectful introductions!
Then for Christmas I got Powermaster Optimus prime and that was my favourite forever, mum still talks about how excited I was.
You still have any of them?
All of them actually! I could never bring myself to part with them. I wish Ihad the shelf space to have them all out rather than suffocating in a crate, though.
Have you kept up with any of the series that came after G1?
Very much yes! I loved beast wars, and I’m pretty sure it was that and the episode where Megatron shot G1 Optimus on the ark that made me want to do 3d fanart.
So that was the spark that put you on the track you are now? From playing Hostess at Transformers introduction parties to playing creator god of Transformers!?
Haha! I hadn’t thought about it like that 😀
I have to credit Azim Venksta though, so much is his fault.
He saw your 3d work?
I’ve known him since I was 15. We were both doing 3d fanart way back in 99/00.
So you’ve been part of the TF community for a long time!
I pretty much had stopped by 2005 because the spark had gone; Azim kept going and started his Renderform business.
So one day he called you up to go at it again?
He has always been so supportive of my work and last year he wanted me to collaborate with him on some heads for Renderform, so you could say he pulled me out of retirement as far as this went haha.
Seeing Vulcan it was sure worth it!
So we did the head for Toyworld’s Orion, and some IDW style heads for Fansproject Code and Smart Robin, along with some others that will hopefully see the light one day one of which was for MMC’s Predaqueen:D
Ssshhh, we don’t talk about her anymore!
She was actually my first interaction with MMC. Azim had designed a head for her and I modeled it.
People expect to see her at Cons but they always get Seraph instead.
It doesn’t help that I have one of the prototype heads all the way down here in Australia haha.
You are full of scary predators down there; she must feel right at home!
Haha good point!
So MMC liked what you did and approached you?
Basically yeah. They even remembered some of the fanart I’d done ten years ago! I must have really made an impression.
I started off buying Feral Rex like anybody else and never dreamed I’d be working with them, let alone my first project being alternate heads for the Feralcons:D
They first popped up on display in Jaegertron’s trophy cabinet at the Singapore con.
And how was the transition from heads to full body?
Heads are often the hardest part to get right so it was like a holiday haha.
Vulcan was my first full project. I had the G1 toy of Inferno thanks to the gold box Australian/European reissues in 1990, so he was one I was fond of.
I spent more time thinking about fire trucks than I ever wanted to, haha.
So it was even more special for you then! Cool. Saw your explanations for the text on the side of the firetruck. It really shows that you went the extra mile to make it special!
Thankyou! I was so worried that fans might find it controversial given how much complaining and analysis went into, say Sphinx’s Citanes font or Goofyear branding. And that was just a tiny little letter change for copyright reasons and not a big splashy fire department deco.
If you want to piss off fans then let’s do it the right way: Toon accurate or Toy accurate?
Haha I have to say toon; though the cartoon is not even accurate to itself! Using it for reference is a nightmare when they look different from episode to episode. Or frame to frame, even! You have to sort of either pick one that is the best representation or average them out.
Wrong! That was a trick question. You should have said “OX Style, OF COURSE!!”
Haha oops XD
OX does a fantastic job of adding extra detail and heroic style to the cartoon designs. Imagine if the cartoon had been animated like that! I did the head for Sphinx, which seemed very divisive, but I think I captured a look that suits him, the proto just looked off with the paint being so thick, all the crispness was lost.
Good last minute safe. I’m sure MMC approves!
Speaking of fans, how has your interaction with them been?
Really positive! A few remember my old fanart as well, and no one has come to my page just to diss my work yet haha.
I don’t really interact much on the major fansites anymore but Ido lurk and read quite a bit.
Any offers from other companies?
Haha yes actually but I have so much work lined up already between MMC and Corbot-V
Corbot-V happened through Azim, again XD
That cool Allicon? (BTW, thanks Azim for getting Jesslyn into TF toy designing!)
Yeah! I’m proud of that one because I had to design the transformation and everything entirely from scratch. With the Vulcan and the other secret future OX figures I’ve worked on we have an expert transformation designer for the engineering who passes on a blocky model to be detailed and polished. So it’s very much a collaboration for OX.
Sounds like a tag team. How does that work exactly?
The transformation designer, who I believe wishes to remain anonymous, does his magic engineering the transformation in a really simple blocky fashion. So for Vulcan I had this as a starting point.
So along with detailing him up, I refine the look and add some features. I made the body of the truck as gapless as possible, made functional side stabilizers, the hand hose weapon swapping gimmick without detaching parts, a second knee joint, etc.
Do you have a dream project you wish to work on?
I’m actually working on two of them right now ;D
But for one I’m actually able to mention I’d love to do IDW Nautica; she’s so precious.
So you’re a IDW comic fan too?
So much, MTMTE specifically! It was the first Windblade series that got me into them, though.
Big fan I see! I would really love to see more sisters for Azalea on the Reformatted line!
Anything else you would like to say?
I don’t know! I just… I still can’t really believe this is all happening and that my love for a cartoon and years of poor financial choices with the toy collecting haha would lead to actually MAKING the toys I love so much. This is why my page says I fell accidentally into the world of toy design! I didn’t seek it out; and now, wow, I am so lucky <3
Sometimes out hobbies end up defining us. Very glad you’ve given me the chance to talkyou Jesslyn!
Thankyou! You’re welcome~
(All the 3D render you can see here were created by Jesslyn)