Before delving into Retroband’s MEATS (2015) and GRISTLE (2015) vinyl figures, let’s take a moment to recognize the amazing artistic achievement these pieces are for Retroband’s Aaron Moreno.

Moreno’s designer toy career started in 2013 when he started sculpting, casting in resin, and hand-painting limited edition action figures based on cult movie classics — especially those deemed horror films. Packaged just like the Star Wars and G.I. Joe pieces of my youth, the backing cards were as perfectly executed as the action figure art they contained.

These immediately found a strong base of dedicated collectors. Having explored this action figure format thoroughly — from collaborating with Alex Pardee to being commissioned by Adult Swim — it made perfect sense that Moreno would push himself to the next level: a completely original, self-produced vinyl figure. Which brings us to MEATS.

My Impressions of MEATS

Retroband - MEATS & GRISTLE Review
I love the simple bagged packaging, with header card art that truly accentuates the horror theme of the piece. And putting the accessories in a smaller bag alongside the 12” tall figure is a perfect way to make sure that neither bangs into the other while in transport. But to really examine this piece and the accessories, we’re going to have to open this on up!

Before we get to the main course, let’s check out this meat cleaver and denim apron. The meat cleaver has been cast in resin and hand-painted, specially sculpted to fit right into MEATS’ hand, while the apron is made from real denim and I love the worn aspects that make this seem broken in.
MEATS himself is presented in the original version, which was limited to an edition of 30 pieces. While this was produced in vinyl at Unbox Industries’ manufacturing plant, each one was completely hand-painted by Moreno himself. Normally I’d worry about moving the limbs on a hand-painted piece, myself being too concerned about damaging the paint application, but that’s not the case with this guy as he was painted with V-Color.

So you might be wondering what V-Color is. It’s a special Japanese paint that actually chemically bonds with vinyl; it doesn’t need primer, it doesn’t need a finishing clear coat, because it becomes part of the vinyl. So you can adjust and play with a V-Color painted piece without worrying about the color coming off, which is great news as MEATS is packed with details that you’ll want to touch.

Loaded with mottled flesh, stitched up wounds, a self-amputated hand, and even a metal head plate, this piece is includes sculpting in the one place most artists ignore: the bottoms of the feet, which is really striking when you place this piece on a high shelf in a glass Detolf case. What I especially love is the head on this guy… the torn off ear, the completely sunken eyes, the sneering mouth, and the upturned, pig-like nose. And speaking of pigs, let’s not ignore MEATS’ creature companion: GRISTLE.

My Impressions of GRISTLE

What is better to go with a cannibalistic monstrosity than a pig. And, once again, the vinyl figure is packed with some stellar accessories: a trough and a severed hand.

This debut version, GRISTLE THE MAN EATER, was limited to a run of 25 pieces, each coming with the resin accessories and the vinyl again was hand-painted with V-Color. As you can see on the bottom, it bears the Texas state outline symbolizing Retroband’s involvement, but it also includes the stylized Z of the artist Zectron.
Retroband collaborated with Zectron on GRISTLE, though the initial design and sculpt were Zectron’s. Instead of being a straightforward pig, this piece was given a more sinister direction by incorporating a wolf-like sneer and boar tusks, but it is the overly defined musculature on his flanks that I think really push this beast into the stuff of nightmares.

Editions of MEATS [show]

Editions of GRISTLE [show]

For more information on Retroband:
website | tumblr | shop | instagram | twitter | newsletter

For more information on Zectron:
website | instagram

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