Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Combatron: Full Circle

 Sometimes when you are writing and you leave something that makes the reader wonder about a possible future you never really thought that it would actually become true.

Case in point: I contributed some comic art pages and an article from my college friend's indie comic last 2009. I wanted to write something to make the reader be nostalgic about the "good ol' days" of komiks. And what better subject to talk about than Funny Komiks' Combatron?

For those who don't know about Comabatron, he is the "killer app" of Islas Filipinas Publishing Co.'s Pilipino  Funny Komiks. The character that kids want to buy to their folks the komiks. Combatron was created by Berlin Manalaysay for a period spanning almost 6 years ( 1992-1997 ). Although Combatron is a rip-off of Capcom's Megaman, he is in a league of his own, fighting planet-sized god-like robots, Space Warriors, Transforming robots and, being a kid's book, enemies of the environment.

I loved the character. I remember my mother going to the wet market to buy some fresh meat and veggies and the latest issue of Funny Komiks. She would get it out of the plastic and it is usually rolled up in a torn newspaper. I would read the whole komiks and be greatly inspired by the dynamic art and storyline of Combatron.

Combatron has a very huge following, as can be seen in some artwork that I "picked" up from social network for artists deviantart.com:

Heck, I even made some artwork myself:

There's even a dedicated blog showing scans of almost all of the Combatron issues called PROJECT COMBATRON.

Here is the link HERE:

Now, going back to my rather ominious article from my friend's indie comic. I made a "last-words-of-a-sort" to my article. Here is what I wrote:

"Last I heard from a blog entry a few years ago, Berlin Manalaysay is working at a company as a graphic artist. He expressed interest in reviving the character or making a new character w/ the same characteristics as Combatron....Who knows, Combatron might make a comeback. Someday...."

And that someday has an indefinite date. Thanks to Facebook sharing, I was able to heard news that Berlin Manalaysay will be making a "definite" ending to his revered character. While Funny Komiks made an ending to the series, it was made by another artist and did not live up to the expectations of fans. As of now I still haven't seen what that particular ending looked like.

But nonetheless I am really stoked to see and read this Combatron ending... after 16 years.

exclusive preview of the "ending comics
Read the full story HERE.

Here are some choice bits from the interview from the website to get you stoked:

What was the inspiration behind doing the ending?

BM: Four answers for that question: (1.) Closure (2.) I want to know the real ending! (3.) I owe it to my readers and to myself and (4.) When you leave something behind. It has to have an ending.

We’re curious why so long to do THE ending? 
BM: I fell in love with Advertising! Seeing my commercials on tv! I get a kick out of it! But i always knew i’ll go back to finish it myself. The time is right. The story is right. My hand is itching to draw. My brain cant stop thinking about it. And Yes the Friends that keep asking… Like you. It’s loud banging noise you just can’t ignore.
What should we fanboys expect from this Combatron ending?
BM: All the pages will look like a poster. Less small frames. Uber details. Photoshopped coloring. Hope you guys like it. I wont stop till i like it. The story… It has to be a story i love. A story that ends it. And hopefully… worth the wait for more than 10 years.
Even if the ending would be sub-par to our expectations, I'm just happy that the creator went full-circle. 
- "the king"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

War of the Choc-Nuts

filter and text by me. 

Everybody loves chocolate. Whether it is dark or mixed w/ almonds, nuts, caramel or even peanut butter it is a very sugary delicacy that you would often treat yourself after a good job or just want something to chew on other than a piece of gum. The sweet and satisfying taste can almost be compared to an illegal drug, although many can debate that.

Chocolate has a rich history. It came from Mesoamerica from cacao beans grown on trees. It was fermented, roasted and ground and served as a beverage. It was used by Mayans and Aztecs for royal and religious events, often offering it to their deity and even ordered them to pay them as a form of tax. It was only the Spaniard's expedition to the "New World" that bought chocolate to the outside world and added milk, sugar and even nutmeg to make it sweeter. Then in the 19th century a British proprietor made a technique that solidified the chocolate beverage into the ever-popular chocolate bar by none other than John Cadbury, from the famous Cadbury chocolates.

from deviantart user lette
The Philippines has it's own version of the chocolate bar in the from of choc-nut. While many Filipinos know choc-nut (or often called "tsoknat", "tsoknut") as a bite-sized bar usually wrapped in a silver foil and paper and sold in packs in supermarkets or individually in Sari-sari stores, it is said that a certain Pedro Palautuot mixed chocolate w/ coconut in the early 80's and people started calling it choc-nut but have yet to confirm it as there no further evidence confirming this piece of history.

I remember back when I was just 4-6 years old when we were still living in Malolos and buying choc-nut called Chocobots from a nearby Sari-Sari store. After eating them I would save the paper wrapper because there are robots drawn on it and at that age, they would spark your imagination. The only robot that I fondly remember is the Generation 1 Optimus Prime. Too bad I've already lost or disposed of the paper wrappers. Many pinoys have several stories and experiences like mine about the choc-nut. The sentimental value adds to the reason that there are still people buying it, besides the signature taste.

Today there are several tsoknats that are sold in market, often viewed as a "100% Pinoy product" or even "poor man's chocolate" because of it's mass-market price, sentimental value and easily available everywhere. Many manufacturers around the Philippines make tsoknat and while they all taste the same there are subtle differences.

So for the tsoknat-loving reader, here are all of the tsoknat bar products available to the market, reviewed by yours truly. Enjoy!!!

King Choc-Nut

This is the grandaddy of all the choc-nuts. This was where every choc-nut was based on. The logo of King Choc-nut is very iconic that I have seen it printed on T-Shirts and even parodied the font on a 2005 independent movie.

 The packaging is simple, w/ red and gold lines streaming the package. Before it was very difficult to remove the wrapper on the choc-nut, as you'll have to rip the paper and unfold the foil tediously. There are also numerous occasions that the choc-nut crumbles upon removal from the wrapper. However, a recent purchase of the King Choc-Nut and the whole wrapper that was once in paper is now in plastic. Whether they have been hearing complaints, to save the environment or cost-cutting measures, it works. There are still some crumbling of the choc-nut, but the choc-nut itself is very, very tasty. Very milky and the big difference here is it very chewy than the other competition. They've become a little smaller than they used to be, though.

Annie's Hany

This is my favorite of the batch. I have been eating these for a couple of years now and I simply love it. Granted the packaging is pretty simple, w/ the HANY logo decked out in a 50's-style font and almost copying King Choc-Nut's package. But it makes up for in the choc-nut itself. You can easily remove the wrapper and swallow it in whole, although there are times that they crumble probably of age or not having the right mixture. It has a very milky, sweet taste. And just when you're looking for something small or big, HANY offers HANY jr. and HANY SP. HANY jr is a little bit smaller while HANY SP is double the ordinary HANY ( although I'm not sure what SP means. SuperPowered? SuperPatok? ) The HANY SP is the biggest choc-nut that I have ever seen but I would like to commission them to make a super-large choc-nut for a function or Facebook bragging rights. Something like 2-feet long. Hey, I can dream. 

Choco Fighters

This one was just recently released to the market. The one thing that would catch your eye is the packaging. Just when you thought that no one is coming up with new ways to present a product you get Choco Fighters. The front of the package has what looks like
3 viking warriors ready for battle. Each choc-nut piece is wrapped w/ a videogame, western and eastern animation characters named differently to avoid copyright infringement. Heck, even the logo looks like the number "5" in roman numerals from Mortal Kombat 5. It looks like the head of the marketing
took his son's videogame magazine and scanned some pictures for the product. Very clever. There's even a cardboard included on each package that looks like game cards, or "teks" which has the characters on it that you can also play around with. 

As for the choc-nut itself, you could easily remove the wrapper and the choc-nut does not crumble, which makes it swallowing in whole possible. It has a milky taste and you could taste the nuts mixed on it. All in all it's good but could have been a little sweeter. 


The packaging is pretty simple, w/ a cartoon ant carrying a realistic photo of a choc-nut. This is the cheapest choc-nut in the market, amounting to less than 20++ php. But the catch here is they're very small. They're almost a fraction of the usual choc-nut bar and has a darker color than other choc-nuts. However, the wrapper is easy to remove and they taste pretty solid and pure for a choc-nut. But what can you expect for a small choc-nut?  

And there you have it. Every choc-nut available reviewed. So go out there, abandon your Hershey's, M&M's, Snickers and even Nutella sandwich spread and devour some Pinoy chcocolate.

Now excuse me while I check my blood sugar on the hospital.

- "the king"