Monday, April 21, 2014

WONDERCON 2014 RECAP

WonderCon 2014 is over and done with and these were the new products I debuted at the show. I don't like calling things exclusives when I know I'll be selling them elsewhere, if they don't sell out at the show. I'll be putting the remaining items up for sale soon.


I didn't really plan on doing so many new things for WonderCon this year, but I managed to get a lot done. I've been planning on doing a new banner for a couple of years and I finally got around to it.


I even managed to get a new postcard done. Tying to have a cohesive look for everything. Now I gotta update the website, yikes.


Setup went pretty good this year. Chito A-Word (aka @kwestone) even helped out a bit.


After every convention you can see a ton of these banners on the ground or still hanging at the booths. I've always kept mine and I've been drawing on them almost since the 1st show we did. I guess it's my version of a souvenir.


 I didn't get to walk around the show much. So, these were the highlights of the show for me and they happened right at my booth. The kind folks over at Autodesk gave me a free copy of SketchBook Pro 6, and I can't wait to try it out. It's awesome when a young kid spends his money on a toy based on a console that was long dead before he was even born. Then, to top it off, he gets an Ultra Rare figure. Woohoo! @danialfleres also had is buddy drop of some original art for a trade. So nice.


I wish I could say WonderCon was an amazing show, or even a great show for me. WonderCon is the type of show where the vast majority of people don't know I exist. They have no clue who I am, or that I am the guy making the stuff that I'm trying sell. Building awareness and getting more eyes on my stuff is a major reason for doing conventions. But, there is no way I'd be able to continue doing cons, if it wasn't for all of the repeat buyers and supporters that stop by my booth at every show I do. I might not know all of your names, but seeing those friendly and familiar faces make a rough show less rough. I can't thank you all enough.

Monday, April 14, 2014

SO ANALOG KEYCHAINS

I've been planning on doing these keychains for years, and I finally got around to it. Once again, I had Mana Studios do the output from my digital Rhino files. Due to the small size, I'm finally able to start making some of the other So Analog figures. Atar-1, Atar-2, and Atar-3 are all based on different Atari 2600 cartridges.


I also had them do a quick silicone mold, so I did't have to give the originals to the metal factory. Not necessary, but I like having options.


These are the resin figures next to the raw Pewter samples. I like having samples from all the stages of production, if possible.


This was my 1st metal project and they're all made in Los Angeles. It was great being able to see the molds and how the whole process is done.


We switched from Pewter to Zinc. It's a cheaper metal, but also lighter and much more durable. I definitely didn't want the rings breaking easily.


The 1st batch of keychains weighed over 14 pounds. 


Images that I posted on Instagram. The filter made it tough to tell the difference between the Matte finish and the Gloss finish.


I personally gravitate to the Matte finish, but I like the Gloss too.  I couldn't decide which finish to go with, so I split the quantities 50/50.

I needed some form of packaging that worked with all 6 designs, and this is what I came up with.


 I had to punch 2 holes and cut a line in-between them for every card back. It took a while, but bagging them also took way longer than expected. 


These will be debuting at my booth #1145 at WonderCon 2014 starting on Friday April 18-20 in Anaheim CA. They'll be 10 bucks each. I'll have a few complete sets of Gloss and Matte available. So, you can get all 6 designs for 50 bucks. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

SQUIB AND SQUIB KID 2.0

The Squib and Squib Kid resin figures have long been sold out. For years I've been wanting to revise the Squib sculpts to look more like the way I draw Squibs. They've evolved over the last 5 or so years and I wanted to have a more cohesive look overall.


These control drawings were the 1st step in the redesign. I didn't finish the Squib Kid, because I just wanted to get started on the sculpting. 


I was hoping to sculpt the figure traditionally and thought I could use an existing Squib head as a starting point. Unfortunately, there was no way that would work. The changes were too significant. Another major factor is time. Having a digital sculpt that can be scaled and manipulated easily is very valuable. Traditional sculpture has become a luxury for me, it's simply inefficient.


Rhino is still the main program I use for digital sculpting. It works great for So Analog bodies and mechanical stuff, but not organic shapes. I was pretty happy with this head, but it still needed some refinement. 


The neck is a simple friction fit ball joint. The range of movement isn't a lot, but it is enough to get him a bit more personality.


 I also wanted the Squib head to be interchangeable with the Squib and Squib Kid bodies. My Rhino skills could only get me this far.


This really the 1st time I didn't fully sculpt my own figure. It wasn't easy for me to let go of that part of the, but doing the Rhino work eased that pain. This was Mana Studios 1st pass using my Rhino head and body. Just a starting point really.


This was what I provided for revisions and explained that he's supposed to be more like the image at the top of this post, and less like the original resin figure. I wanted him to be asymmetrical and have more gesture, not just be a standard DIY pose.


 I sat down with the my friends at Mana and really worked through the thing with them. I'm pretty sure that's called Micro Managing, ha. The top was the 1st pass on the Squib base. The bottom shows the revisions we made. The legs got much bigger in the process. 


 The Squib Kid body was pretty tricky. Lots of tough transitions and weird angles for the arms. It took a while to get it the way I wanted it. The black dots were for testing eye location. The concave surface is very tricky and does a lot of weird things from different angles. We had to reduce the concavity of the eyes in order for him to not look too crossed eyed and other prevent other weird things.


Printed in house at Mana Studios. It's always cool to watch things get printed and see how much support material is required.


That hole in the eye was a misprint. We tried fixing it, but ended up reprinting the head. Weird stuff like that can happen during printing.


 Some primer, then molding. That light grey guy on the bottom right is the 1st casting.


It took me a long time to post the 1st images of these guys. I'm sure I'll do DIY versions if I go to production with these guys. For now they'll be limited edition resin runs. I started with the blue version because he's going to be one of the main characters in the Squibs story. I hope to show more of that at SDCC this year. 


I've only done 10 Squibs and 10 Squib Kids for the 1st run. The 2 extras are Artist Proofs. Painting and assembly took a lot longer than expected. Hopefully, I can reduce that amount of work for future releases.


Each Squib Kid comes with 2 pencils that I used while I was school. They've been sitting around for 10 years, so I figured it was time to use them.


Sorry, no DIY versions for now.  


These guys are cast in blue by Mana Studios and hand painted by me. 


I'm really happy with how this sculpt turned out. It cost a pretty penny, but I have to pay until I get on Zbrush. 


With and without pencils. This is the 1st sample I painted. His pencils have changed since this photo was taken.

The 1st chance to buy these guys will be at Wondercon booth #1145 in Anaheim, CA starting April 18th. Squibs will be $40 and Squib Kids will be $75. Or you could buy them both for $100. If I have some left over, they'll be up on www.squidkidsink.bigcartel right after Wondercon.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

SEY-GAH!! WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN.

So, here's a little behind the scenes of what could have been and why it's not gonna happen.

I don't always sketch out So Analog figures before sculpting them in Rhino. I use a real cartridge as reference a go from there. This was the 1st pass and pretty close to the final. The arm location was the only real change I made. I wanted the 10-Doh! arms to be interchangeable, so I also needed to adjust some of the geometry.



At SDCC 2013 a lady from Sega America approached me and we discussed doing a So Analog figure for Genesis's 25th Anniversary at SDCC 2014. Of course that was very exciting for me. We discussed doing a Kickstarter to get the funding and these are some of the concepts I mocked up shortly after.


It seems that all submissions had to go through both US and Japan approvals. This image shows a couple of the compromises that had to happen for this project. 1st, I mocked up Sonic using contemporary eyes, they wanted to use "Classic" Sonic eyes. Totally understandable. 2nd, I knew I'd have to raise a huge amount of money for new steel molds, so I wanted to just reuse the arms and legs from 10-Doh!. Then have new arms and legs as a Stretch Goal. 3rd, Japan totally rejected these designs, so I would have only been able to make Sonic figures with "Official" label art. Either they hated it, or it conflicted with their other licensing agreements. Sonic is their baby, so I'm sure they have lots of restrictions on usage, but still disappointing. 


I still kept plugging forward. I needed models for the Kickstarter video, so I spent money having the arms and legs modified by Mana Studios, but never printed them. 



We did print, mold, and cast up the body, but I just used 10-Doh! arms and legs. I wanted to do 2 Blank versions for customizers.  The licensing agreement included 4 games to start, plus additional games could be added later.


 Altered Beast was a quarter thief in the arcade, but it was a no brainer to do as a figure. The figure on the bottom would have been a Black Chrome Kickstarter exclusive. 


Golden Axe was another no brainer. It's still one of my favorite classic arcade games. I know there weren't any "gold" Genesis cartridges, but I still thought it would work with Golden Axe as a Kickstarter Exclusive. 


I never owned a Genesis, so my only Shinobi experience was from the arcade game which I still love.  I would have to do Revenge of Shinobi, because the original was on Sega Master System. I wanted to do a Chrome version as a Kickstarter Exclusive.



The obvious choice was always Sonic. The Blue Chrome version might have been an SDCC 2014 Exclusive. I was also going to be allowed to do Sonic 2 and 3 in the future. 


I wanted both of these to be Kickstarter Exclusives. They have the "NOT FOR SALE" on the label, just like the games you got with the Genesis system. It would have been a good way to differentiate Kickstarter figures from regular Sonic figures.  

Then, the week of D-Con I heard back that the original deal of doing a Kickstarter, then paying the royalty wasn't possible. That means they wanted their money up front and I'd lose it, if the project didn't get funded. 
I told them, that I'd still show them at D-con to see how much people reacted. And people loved them, but that didn't change the fact that I don't have the cash up front. 

Soooo, it pretty much died there. I couldn't bring myself to risk that up front money, or borrow the money. I'd rather put that towards other projects that I have full control over. I didn't quit my great paying job to do more licensed product. I didn't do 10-Doh! to hopefully get the Nintendo license. I make these figures because I love my memories of them. The parody is what I like about them. If I wanted the "official" art, I'd buy the actual game.

It's also a great way for me to work with a ton of artists and help get their art and brands out there more. I really didn't want to have to submit their art for "Licensor Approval".  

I really didn't like that they changed the deal or might have wanted approvals over all artwork. But I don't have any hard feelings. They have their company policies and the way they want to do business. This project just wasn't meant to be.

I'm still only 1 guy making toys and I'd much rather focus on what I really want to do. It would have taken over my life and delayed other projects. Of course, I may be kicking myself later for missing an opportunity, but for now it feels like the right choice.