Amid a myriad of smaller figures, creature collaborations, and mashed-up monstrosities, The Return of Rampage!! solo exhibition dedicated substantial space to the Kaibutsuya (or Giant Monster Animal Shop) series by Rampage Toys (Jon Malmstedt). Focused on depicting man-eating animals, this line of predatory pieces are standardly accompanied by tiny “Snack Victim” humanoid figures, hordes of which appeared at this Clutter Gallery event. With only three designs encompassed within the Kaibutsuya series, it was truly inspiring to see the creative diversity of renditions they were represented by at this showcase.

Kesagake at The Return of Rampage!!

On December 9th of 1915, a reign of terror began for the settlers inhabiting Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa, Japan. Over the course of five days, a large brown bear that had awoken early from hibernation would repeatedly attack houses in the area, claiming the lives of seven people in the process. But this bear possibly had a nefarious history already, as an expert bear hunter, Yamamoto Heikichi, was certain that the beast was “Kesagake” (袈裟懸け), or “the diagonal slash from the shoulder”, which had previously been blamed for the mauling and deaths of three women. And this monstrous-sized bear would become the basis for Malmstedt’s Kesagake vinyl figure design, which debuted in 2014.

While a variety of this form were displayed at The Return of Rampage!! in one-of-a-kind vinyl versions, it was hard not to notice the above-pictured Cold Cast Bronze Kesagake. Featuring a dark tarnished finish, these were executed in an edition of three solidly poured metal pieces by Niall Anderson, sacrificing articulation of the parts while adding an intrinsic feeling of hardness to its already menacing and imposing stance.

Revenge Kesagake at The Return of Rampage!!

“Kesagake was hunted down and killed by a famed hunter,” Malmstedt states, referencing the real-life events of December 14th, 1915, when Yamamoto shot it in the heart and head. But then Malmstedt continues the tale, creating a fictional history for what happened to Kesagake next. “His parts were scattered to the far corners of the known world, only to be collected by a crazed and brilliant maniac! Replacing the missing claws and lower jaw with mechanical instruments of destruction, and reanimating the discarded carcass by means of black magic — this maniac sends forth his bestial homunculus on an errand of death, destruction and…. REVENGE!!!” And this backstory serves as the introduction to Malmstedt’s evolution of his Kesagake sculpture, creating the “robobear” known as Revenge Kesagake, which first was released in 2015.

For The Return of Rampage!!, Malmstedt included a variety of one-off Revenge Kesagake pieces as well as one edition. Of particular note was the Cyborg Mecha Kesagake, pictured above, that included the tubing representative of hydraulics on several of the hand-painted Revenge Kesagake works. While maintaining the claw hand with its articulating thumb, this rendition replaced the typical katana arm-blade (which has “Kesagake” inscribed on it in Japanese kanji) for a new weaponry option, a kettenmorgenstern (“chain morning star”).

Two Toed Tom at The Return of Rampage!!

As opposed to Kesagake, who died and had to be reborn within Malmstedt’s Kaibutsuya series, the third entry to the line was inspired by an alligator that is legendary for — in part — its undying nature. With reports pre-dating 1920 and made as recently as the 1980s, the story of Two-Toed Tom is a significant piece of folklore within the Esto area of Northwest Florida, as well as of parts of South Alabama. Described as demonic, this red-eyed, fourteen-foot-long alligator supposedly lost all but two toes on its left front foot to a steel trap, though it has survived numerous shootings and at least one dynamite explosion. Though only accused of one human fatality, that of a twelve-year-old girl whose half-eaten remains were found on a shore, this monster’s legend still lingers.

Immortalized as the Two Toed Tom (2017) vinyl sculpture by Malmstedt, this design was represented at The Return of Rampage!! by two small editions and three one-of-a-kind hand-painted versions, like the above-pictured Blue Skink Two Toed Tom piece. With lovely color fades and black dotted patterning covering the beast’s body, the intensity of its eyes and the depth of its toothy jaws is truly highlighted here. And always thoughtful of even the most minor details, Malmstedt gives the “Snack Victim” freckles, imbuing her with an added touch of uniqueness and personality.

Pictures from The Return of Rampage!!

 
Having had its opening reception on Saturday, April 8th from 6-9pm, all works in this exhibition will remain on display until May 5th, 2017 at the gallery’s physical location (163 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508).

View the gallery’s dedicated page for the exhibition

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