Home Channels Toonzone @ MCM London Comic Con October 2014: Vidfest UK Ashens/Quest for...

Toonzone @ MCM London Comic Con October 2014: Vidfest UK Ashens/Quest for the Gamechild Panel

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Stuart ‘Ashens’ Ashen took to the Vidfest stage alone, explaining that friend and long-time comedy associate Dan Tomlinson had fallen ill with mysterious food poisoning (which despite his Chef Excellence role was clarified to most certainly not be ‘Excellent Food Poisoning’) and so had to return home early. After taking a photo of the assembled audience, Ashen opened the floor to questions.

Sticking with food poisoning. Ashens was asked if he’d come down with any following his recent hot dog taste sampling. He revealed that the secret to enduring such videos is to take only small bites of the food in question, just enough to get a sense of flavour. Another question about the worst food he has ever eaten for his channel offered them as the answer, revealing he expected their tinned nature to have better preserved them but sadly found otherwise. As for why he continues to subject himself to it, they’re popular videos which he believes is due to the fact people watching can’t really predict what the featured foods are likely to taste of, giving the videos an air of mystery.

The next question concerned the origins of the iconic brown sofa, revealed to have been purchased by Stuart’s father from a second hand store some three or four decades ago. Asked what technology he used to film his reviews, the camera is either a Panasonic SD-90 or 900 (being unsure, he clarified whichever model was the cheaper one), preferred because the placement of the microphone at the front of the device as opposed to the top allows him to record without the mic recording pops or hisses. Lighting consists of 3-point LEDS, after unsuccessful experiments using standard lightbulbs.

Stuart’s favourite piece of received tat is the infamous Engrish violin (wonderful sound strange shape), the packaging of which was so bad he had to make a second attempt at a review after the initial recording reduced him to fits of laughter. Asked if fans have taken to camping the Norwich Poundland in hopes of meeting him, the idea amused him as by his count the city currently hosts a Pound World, two 99p stores and a four Poundlands making for quite the challenge. In the most bizarre case, he cited two of the Poundland stores are literally on opposite sides of the same road from one another yet both continue to stay open and profitable.

Who Stole My Sofa?’, the recent Dr Pepper sponsored ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ featuring Ashens matching wits with other British YouTube stars was revealed to have not been the first time he had been contacted with offers for sponsorship but a rare occasion where the conditions suited him. Many companies/products have strict rules or showcasing of their product in mind (woe betide anyone would use his image for a gratuitous endorsement) , but Dr Pepper gave him creative freedom and were willing to allow him to make fun of the sponsored nature of the product. The script was another collaboration between Stuart and Riyad Barmania, in addition to Yiannis Vassilakis (who had been a script supervisor for the Gamechild movie).

Continuing the Gamechild connection, Warwick Davis involvement wasn’t difficult to secure as the film was partially funded by the new defunct YouTube channel ‘The Multiverse’, for which Warwick served as the ‘face’. Things then switched to an impromptu food review when one fan offered Ashens a bag of candy ‘Unicorn Poops’. Much snarking at the questionably safe levels of sugar within followed.

Asked if there were any other YouTube creators he’d like to collaborate with, he initially joked he’d like to work with ones with many subscribers in the hopes they’d follow him in turn. In general though he likes doing collaborations where possible, with current plans to do some more with KickThePJ. Questions then swung to darker aspects of his job. Asked for the worst thing he had received to his donations PO Box he revealed he had once received a stuffed baby duckling. Not being a fan or taxidermy or dead animals he really hadn’t cared for it. As for the scariest item he’d received, someone once played a prank by sending him a pair of realistic latex rubber feet in a parcel. After the initial shock, they swiftly went into the bin. Concerning YouTube comments, he doesn’t read them as most are generally so negative he quipped they make him want to die while specifically calling for that result anyway. The last such question asked for the creepiest fan he’d ever met, which was quickly and humorously turned on its head- “Are you a fan?” “Yes” “You!”

On the chances of a sequel to Quest for the Gamechild, there is nothing specific to report currently but the overall success of the film means initial brainstorming of ideas and pitching to potential sponsors has begun on a sequel. He’ll reveal more news when possible. As the initial film focuses on a quest for his fictional self’s most sought after piece of tat, is there any such piece for the real Ashens? He admitted most of what once qualified has come into his possession, so currently it’s a variant of the Quickshot Supervision he reviewed back in 2009. His favourite scenes in the film are those where he got to work with Robert and Warwick, highlighting the surrealism of performing these comedy scenes with actors he’s used to seeing on the screen.

No videos for his channel have been shot in or around MCM but the week following has been scheduled to focus on Halloween tat. The recurring Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of series is planned to return, although Stuart admits that sadly not many people tend to watch them. The unnamed game he is working on an episode for currently requires so much research that he’s had to read an entire book related to its subject.

A fan who had also attended one of the public screenings of Gamechild asked about the Silver Skull’s mask appearing at Tesco stores, a fact many fans have been reporting over social media. Ashens revealed that the mask in fact originated from 99p stores and that this is why the bushy black moustache was eventually added, as otherwise the legality of using the mask for the character was in dispute.

Regarding preparation for a video he answered that for series like Terrible Old Games he of course needs to do research but for general reviews he does as little as possible as he feels going in blind and discovering the details as he goes makes things more interesting and amusing for both himself and his audience. There are no current plans to do an advent calendar series this year, mainly because they are filmed daily rather than all at once and as such it gets in the way of his ability to work on other projects. He is interested however in the possibility of doing one using a fake LEGO advent calendar he’s seen mention of.

Things came full circle and repeated on the panel with the final question asking what was the most disgusting thing Stuart had eaten away from his channel. He recalled a lobster which had been delicious at the time but had led to much vomiting later, leading him to joke that possibly Dan had secretly been keeping lobster dinners in their hotel room.

Ashens and the Quest for the Gamechild is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combi from Amazon UK. It can also be watched online in HD on YouTube.