Foldabots is a series of cardboard robots that kids can create. It was created by Jomike Tejido, an architect and artist based in Manila, Philippines. The first Foldabot was published in May 2006 in K-Zone Magazine (Philippines) and has been going on ever since, with a new character pattern every month.
The name Foldabots was inspired by Tejido’s childhood hobby of creating toys out of old folders, and other cardboards re-used from school materials. He enjoyed making his own toys based on his favorite 90’s robot cartoons since 2nd grade. In 2004, he unearthed an old notebook that still had his pencilled plans for an uncut toy. Coincidentally being a TV host at that time for an arts-and-crafts show for kids called Art Is-Kool (2004-2006), he used the toy pattern as the inspiration to revive his hobby. Now armed with a computer and a desire to make his own folder-made robots for the world to build and collect with him, Foldabots was created.
The first set of robots were still made with brightly-colored folders, decorated with hand-inked robotic designs. These were intended to make kids confident with their own skills, as anyone can take a pen and some scrap cardboard to make their own toys. These were the first characters to be used in Art-Is-Kool’s opening billboard http://www.probetv.com/index.php?option=com_probetv&view=video&layout=program&vi=530&Itemid=8 , where they were they appeared as life-sized robots animated along with Jomike Tejido himself. Later, some videos of assembly stages were shot for the show. Unfortunately, the show got cut off in 2006 after shooting only around 3 characters.
Still optimistic of the Foldabots’ potential for Filipino kids, Jomike presented the Foldabots idea to another form of media: a monthly kids magazine called K-Zone Philippines (Summit Media, Philippines). The editors liked it and gave it a shot. In May 2006, the first issue of Foldabots was published. It featured Buhawi, printed on paper stock and drawn in its traditional pen-and-ink format as Tejido did as a kid. The only difference is the digital coloring which made the final art more robotic and attuned to its time. Considering that the magazine had paper pages, Tejido had to reconfigure all the 40+ pre- engineered patterns into simplified and geometric forms for the product to work in its new form. Also, it helped to cater it to a wide range of kids that can appreciate and gain success in building them. A grand (and wishful) masterplan of having its own comic story was already in mind, having each Foldabot possessing an “agimat” or mystic charm that gives them life. The pollution- causing villains were also projected (though not yet introduced) in the plan.
From this point, Tejido made open calls for kids to e-mail Foldabots ideas to see how the series works. As he hoped, kids started sending fan art, and instantly grasped the idea of nationalism and a sense of environmental awareness with their submitted drawings. As fan art started trickling in, kid-writers also submitted fan-based stories and plots.
In June 2008 (Foldabots’ 26th issue), K-zone editors reviewed Tejido’s work and let him convert everything to fully digitally-rendered patterns to make a more robotic and metallic look. This was first applied with Foldabot Ramo, a warthog (based on “baboy ramo”) (part of a sub-group called the Gubabots, or forest-protectors)
In October 2008, the villainous Lu-Sho was published. He is a monstrous mask based on Filipino northern tribal wooden masks put in traditional nipa huts (bahay kubo) believed to ward off spirits. Tejido often saw this in his trips to Baguio souvenir shops (fondly called the summer capital of the Philippines in the 90’s), and had one conveniently hanging in his room’s wall.
Also in 2008 was the first Foldabots comic installment in K-Zone Magazine. Teamed with scriptwriter Jill Arwen Posadas and colorist Joel Chua, who still remain the creators of each month’s issue.
The Foldabots comic story is set in a future city called Neo-Republika, where a new age of heroes are summoned to defend the earth from the pollutant monster, Lusho, who later builds his own Lutabots- villainous robots powered by toxic waste. The Foldabots’ and Lutabots’ names are based on Filipino words and relate to each character’s personality or alternate mode. The leader of the Foldabots is Buhawi (Tornado), who folds into a Philippine eagle.
In January 2009, the Foldabots page was granted a cardstock pattern page, making the characters more formidable, thus inspiring Tejido to make more intricate patterns and do things that were too flimsy if done on paper. This was first applied with Sapotron, a spider (sapot = web/spider’s silk) who was part of the sub-group of combiner robots called Mikrobots.
To this day, there is one new Foldabot or Lutabot in every issue of K-Zone Philippines. Each year also makes a new compilation of characters called Foldabots Toy books Volume.1, 2, 3 and 4 (Latest was Oct 2011).
A comic compilation, Foldabots Chronicles issue 1 is an independednt publication of the Foldabots comic team , and was released in 2011.