Wednesday, January 28, 2015

SKI x LOOT CRATE = AWESOME!

 The guys form Loot Crate approached me at WonderCon 2014. This is a "little behind the scenes" of this project.
This is essentially a brand new Mini 10-Doh! figure. New hands, new shoes, and they include an accessory for the 1st time ever. This image shows how some of things changed throughout development.


Here are the mockups I did to show Loot Crate what I was thinking of doing. I wanted the labels that I created to be based on Zapper games. The Gumshoe/Bladerunner got replaced with Drx. Who, and the Gold one hadn't been thought of yet.


We also decided to do some new packaging. It's based on the original 7in 10-Doh! figure packaging. I'll probably continue to use this shape for future Mini 10-Doh! figures.


I made one trip to China to do final approvals for this project. I'm never there during actual production, so I always ask the factory to send me some photos. These images were amazing to me. Sooooooo many pieces. Ha. 


Here are a just a few of the steps in the process like assembly, applying labels, and packing. It's always cool for me to see progress shots of my products.


Most people aren't aware, but there's been huge delays importing stuff for a variety of reasons. My stuff got delayed and flagged for a US customs inspection. The image on the right shows all of the products in January's Rewind Crate. Due to the delay, it has a red "X" where a Mini 10-Doh! should be. It was crazy stressful, but it all worked out.


This was by far the largest project I've ever done for one of my own products. It was crazy to see all of these boxes in person at the Loot Crate warehouse. 


This label was done by my good friend Chito Arellano, aka @kwestone on Instagram. I have a ton of his work hanging up at home and I wanted other people to see it as well. He's obviously a fan of rabbits and Back to the Future.


If you couldn't tell, this is a mashup of Wild Gunman and Mars Attacks. This one is probably my favorite.


I wanted Loot Crate to design a couple of the labels as well. They know their fans well and I would have never done a Dr. Who mashup. I've just never got into the show, but I do like Dr. Mario. Ha.


Firefly is one of my favorite shows of all time, and almost everyone owned Duck Hunt. It wasn't easy to make Serenity all pixelated, but I think most people get it.


The Fifth Element is a polarizing movie. Some people love it, others hate it. I happen to love it and when I looked at the Hogan's Alley label, all I could see was a Mangalore from The Fifth Element.


 I left the gold design up to Loot Crate. I've already designed at least 3 gold 10-Doh! figures, and nothing popped into my brain right away. It's a great fit, even though there are 2 BTTF designs in the assortment. You can never have too much BTTF. Ha.


I also subscribe to Loot Crate. This was only my 3rd time receiving one, but I thought it would be cool to open it up on a Toy Brief with my friends at Toy Break. You can watch it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpLfZFrG80o

It's been a crazy experience working with Loot Crate and getting these figures made. Overall, the response has been very positive. Of course, there are always people that don't quite understand what I do or why I do it, buuuuut who cares. I like what I do, and I plan on doing it as long as I can.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

1 YEAR OF DAILY SKETCHES....YIKES!

I started doing daily sketches half way through Inktober/Botober in October 2013. I was mainly doing Botober considering I only drew robots, Ha. I always draw in ink, so using pens for Inktober isn't much of a challenge. I can't remember the last time I used a pencil. It had to be back in school, so 10 years ago. 


I would have loved to have a consistent set of sketchbooks, but it was simply impossible. I love the small brown sketchbooks in the picture. Unfortunately, the manufacturer completely changed their paper quality at some point. It's now super smooth and has a fake texture. I'll never use them again, boo. 

I used a range of pens through out the past year. My stock pile of my "old" favorite Jimnie Light pens ran dry, but I moved on. I currently use Tul pens, which are completely different and unforgiving. Sharpies are also fun to use. I really like the range you get out of them as the die.


These are essentially the 1st and last batches of Squib sketches for now. I started with the 4x4 recap image, because that's how the Botober sketches worked out. I quickly changed to a 3x3 recap, because I thought over 2 weeks between recaps was way too long. It has bugged me this whole time, and you'll see why in the images below.


In addition to the daily sketches I tried doing some ink paintings on some scroll paper I bought on a trip while in China. I've never been a painter, and ink is even more unforgiving than paint. It's such a hard medium to control, even if I wanted them to look sloppy. Ugh.


I decided to participate in March of Robots to help support Dacosta's Kickstarter for his March of Robots book. These are the 31 sketches I did, but part of me wishes I hadn't. Only because I later realized I really wanted to reach 365 Squib sketches, and this ate into that total by 31 sketches.


After March of Robots I wanted to see a group shot of all my sketches so far. This is really a 4x4 square of the batches of 9 sketches. Of course the 1st batch of 16 Squibs throws off the perfect 12x12 square look, but I couldn't leave them out. I did leave out the 1st 16 robots though.


This is a 5x5 of the Squib batches of 9 sketches. I only wanted to include Squibs in this square, but it took a long time to be able to do it. You have to add 9 batches of 9 to increase from a 4x4 to a 5x5 square. That ends up being 81 sketches, or almost 3 months. Yikes. 


 I have this thing with numbers. I want them to line up, or work out, or make sense, or something. I didn't really plan out this year long challenge of daily sketches at all. I just wanted to be able to complete it. At some point that changed, like I mentioned. I passed 1 year, but I only had 316 Squibs. I didn't have the desire to do an additional 49 sketches. I kept sketching to reach 365 Squibs, but 365 wouldn't make a perfect square anyway. So I created this 18x18 square of my 324 Squib sketches. I arranged them chronologically from left to right, then top to bottom. It allowed me to rearrange that 1st batch of 16. It also satisfies my weird numbers thing, even if it leaves out the robots, ink paintings, and a couple at the end.

This year has flown by and it's great to be able to reminisce through these sketches. Some people wish I would have done some more variety, other just Squibs. Buuut, that wasn't what I wanted to do. I did want to start telling more about the Squib story, but that didn't really work out. It's tough when most of these sketches were done late at night, just before passing out. I do plan on starting a new weekly challenge in January with almost daily teasers. We'll see how that goes, Ha. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

KOZIK-SMASH THE STATE BLACK 10-DOH!

I first talked to Frank Kozik about doing a new version of his Smash the State 10-Doh! figure last November at Dcon. This image shows how it changed over time. The middle image is the one I showed him for approval.


We agreed to do 50 figures total. It doesn't sound like a lot, but doing anything 50 times is very tedious. Especially when you have to do 50 different things 50 times. Unpacking and repacking is just one of several things that I didn't take into consideration when planning this project. Little things like that add up quick and take more time than expected.


I never made any large black 10-Doh! figures, so I had to paint all of them. I don't have a paint booth set up yet, so my back porch had to suffice. 


I originally tried doing a 3D printed mask, but you can see the results were fuzzy and problematic. Unfortunately, I still have to pay for that mask. It's all part of the trial and error that goes into each project.


Carlos East of The Beast Brothers was kind enough to help out by creating these masks for me. I picked out all the eyes, X's, and stubble, while he painted them all. He totally saved my butt on this one.


I thought a real pixelated cigarette would be a great accessory to match the label. I did this model in Rhino and I Photoshopped the colors in for the mockup.


 Mana Studios did the output, molding, and castings. I had to trim, mask, and paint all 50 cigarettes.


 I was originally planning on drilling a hole in the body and using the peg on the cigarette to secure it. Carlos recommended that I use magnets. It was great advice, but a lot more work. I ended up drilling all of the cigarettes and bodies, then gluing in the magnets. It wasn't easy, but the results were well worth it.


This shows the mockup next to the 1st finished sample, and I'm really happy with the results.

These debuted at SDCC 2014 and sold pretty well. It's not a cheap figure and hopefully this blog helps explain why. I have some that are signed by Frank, so order soon to get those ones.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MEGA-BIT KICKSTARTER PLEDGES

One of the great things about having this blog is that I get to explain things a bit more than on the Kickstarter page. Of course, sometimes I should probably keep my mouth shut. Ha. So, sit back and read some info on why these pledge levels are the way the are. WARNING: The truth isn't always fun, exciting, or what you want to hear, but it's the truth.

I have a love hate relationship with Kickstarter. It's an amazing platform for raising money, but it's also a ton of work that starts way earlier and ends much later than the ulcer inducing month that most campaigns run. 

I personally like getting backer rewards that remind me of my contribution to a project. That's why I used the "Funded with Kickstarter" for the keychain. So, why's a keychain cost 15 bucks? Well, just like everything else that's ever been made, it costs money. These are die cast metal keychains that are made in the Los Angeles area. It takes time and money to digitally model, output, clean up, mold, cast in resin, remold, cast in metal, clean up again, attach keyring, package, and ship. That's a lot of step to get to a simple keychain, that is really meant to raise money for the Mega-Bit figures.

Why do a blank figure? Because this is an "officially licensed" project, I'm not allowed to do parody or artist labels. It's completely understandable that Sega wants to promote their classic games with their own classic art. Blank figures still give people the chance to create their own interpretations of classic games or create a brand new game label.

Why do a white one? There weren't any white Genesis cartridges, but the majority of DIY figures come in white. It's a good base color to start with for customizing, even though you should still primer it. It also gives you a chance to put white arms and legs on a black figure, or vice versa.

I wanted to offer a version that would fit in with the all the Mini 10-Doh! Kickstarter figures out there. Sega was nice enough to let me do this, even though it's not a classic game. Of course, I also had to change the Sega Genesis logo, but that's fine by me.

Why does this have "NOT FOR RESALE" on it? The Sonic game that came bundled with the Genesis console came with a "NOT FOR RESALE" sticker on it. I originally wanted to have this version and a retail version of Sonic available during the Kickstarter, but Sega thought it was too Sonic heavy, and I agree. The regular version of Sonic will be available at retail, and the "NOT FOR RESALE" will only be available during this Kickstarter campaign.

I only played the original Shinobi in the arcade, but that came out on the Sega Master System, so we had to go with the sequel. Still an awesome classic game.

 My personal favorite. My dad, brother, and I spent a ton of time playing this in arcades.

 My 2nd favorite game, but so tough. This game was a quarter thief in the arcade. 


These 25th Anniversary versions are VUM (Vacuum Metalized) figures, that means they are super shiny. It's an additional expensive process, but looks great. They'll also have metallic labels and will only be available during the Kickstarter campaign.
 To me, this is the "Flagship" version of Mega-Bit. We're creating this product to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sega Genesis. Most people will gravitate towards their favorite classic game, but this represents the project as a whole, to me. 

Like I mentioned before, I like things that remind me of my contribution to a Kickstarter. This guy is green solely because that is part of Kickstarter's color scheme. 

Why blue? Cuz, Sonic is blue. 

Why silver? Cuz the guy is in a white ninja outfit, and shiny white is silver.

Why Gold? Uuuuummmm? This one is pretty obvious, like Sonic.

Why Red? Well I thought the red could represent blood, or the fire that happens during the transformation scenes in the game.

Here's the best way to get all the classic black versions of Mega-Bit. You can also add any one of these to any other pledge level.

This is the cheapest way to get all of the 25th anniversary versions of Mega-Bit. You can add the XXV Mega-Bit to any pledge, but all of the others have a strict limit, so you have to pledge for them individually.

I'm huge Robocop fan, so I include an OCP level in a lot of my projects. This level is for people like me, that just want everything and not worry about missing out on something. 

Add-ons aren't straight forward on Kickstarter. You have to "Manage Your Pledge", increase your pledge amount to cover the additions, then list your add-ons when the survey is sent out. 

A lot of people don't understand why these figures are so expensive, so I thought I'd give a little insight on that subject. 

Just like the Keychains, these figures take a lot of time and money to make. I modeled the figures, paid for output, clean up, molding, and casting resin out of my own pocket. All of that time, money, and effort has to be spent before I can even launch the Kickstarter. 

Working with Sega has been a challenge. They are a huge corporation, and I'm one single person. They have their processes and procedures, I don't. After one failed attempt and a really long dead period, we were able to agree on the basic terms for the project. Meaning, I only get to make the figures if the Kickstarter is successful, and I don't have to pay the royalty until after it's been successfully funded. 

Unfortunately, that "dead period" ate away a big chunk of 2014 (the Genesis 25th Anniversary), so I had to empty my checking account to pay for the tooling to get started in China right away. I felt that was the only way to be able to get this project done in time. A huge risk on my part, but I have to look at this whole project as an opportunity and not a risk.

Some people wonder why the figures cost so much and why I need so much money to fund the project. The 30K goal will only pay for the tooling, the royalty, production, ocean freight shipping, and shipping rewards. It doesn't cover any of my time, effort, or the prototyping expenses. I also hope to reach some stretch goals to improve the figures even further. 

I've said enough for now, except Thank You to everyone that has already contributed. Thanks for supporting the project and please keep telling people about it.


Monday, July 7, 2014

ANIME EXPO 2014 RECAP



This was our 6th time exhibiting at Anime Expo in Los Angeles Convention Center. AX was the 1st con we ever exhibited at. I'm not sure why we chose that one 1st, but we did and this year will be our last year.


It always takes place over 4th of July weekend, which is good and bad. Most people get a 4 day weekend, so that's more time for them to enjoy the con. Unfortunately, it also means we haven't had a nice 4th of July weekend in 6 years. We're already looking forward to relaxing next year.


One of the reasons for releasing Squibpool at AX was because red and black are the colors of AX. Unfortunately, my resin stuff is pretty pricey and most of the attendees don't understand why. 


 I finally launched my Mega-Bit Kickstarter campaign on setup day of AX. Doing both was hectic, but it was a good chance to show off the prototypes and explain the project to people. You can check it out here and hopefully back it. 


For years AX was one of our best shows, but last year it took a heavy dip and this year wasn't much better. It's sad to choose not to do a local show, but I think it's probably for the best. I'll definitely miss the friendly faces and long term supporters. Hopefully we'll still see most of you at Wondercon, SDCC, and Dcon. Maybe we'll return once I'm able to develop Squibs more. The crowd seems a bit young to really appreciate what I'm trying to do with So Analog.