Monday, July 7, 2014

LOOK 4

What's shaking, kids? I figured another update was long overdue, so here I am with my usual flurry of announcements! First, y'all feeling the new look?? My main man, Larry of Minutia Studios helped a brotha out with the new logo design and overall visual philosophy. For a while now, I've been wanting to "downsize" the look of Brownnoize. And I think we pulled it off!

Anyway, let's get down to business! Local events seem to be a running theme around here, so let's kick things off with that. First up, a quick report-back from Super Robots Giant Monsters. We blew the doors off the hinges! For real, I forget the exact tally, but we had some 700 visitors for the event...and that apparently shattered records for the venue! I keep telling heads: us Massholes know how to throw down. ;) Not surprisingly, I didn't eat a crumb throughout the day--I was constantly bouncing back and forth between the vintage toy gallery I curated and the vendor table I was sharing with Prometheum5 and his Mini-Me, Mark. I barely even got to see the rest of the vendors' wares or the (2D) art gallery! Other highlights included seeing old buddies like Frankie B. Washington and Matt Doughty. All in all, it was a great time...and given the event's enormous popularity, I can't imagine there not being a sequel in the works! ;)

Naturally, as more of a social butterfly than a hard-hitting journalist, I leave event coverage to the pros! Check out DoomKick's round-up of the vendor tables here and his coverage of the vintage toy gallery here.

Okay, now for some upcoming event news! This Friday night, July 11th, you can catch me at FOE in Northampton, MA for the opening reception of the "LOOK 4" show. It should be pretty live...lots of locals will be coming through to show support and just to hang out. Many of us haven't connected since SRGM(!), so it'll be good to chill.

LOOK 4 isn't meant to be a dedicated toy show--more of a general showcase of several local artists--so it was a bit daunting to me at first to have been invited. To have my toys on display among all these talented artists' work is no joke! But Jim and Nicole at FOE have been great and are experts at encouraging artists and fostering the creative community. How could I refuse??

So what goodies am I bringing?

Well, first up, I'm gonna have over a dozen Shogun Voyager minis of the characters, "Scorpia" and "Gorgen". Ah, but these are NOT the same as the prototype figures I had at SRGM! These "2.0" versions feature two-color construction and much more stylized designs. These are NOT to be missed, as the format of this toy line is going to be radically changed later this summer. This may actually be folks' very last chance to grab Shogun Voyager minis with this articulation format...

Next, for the first time ever, I'm going to have the prototype versions of my Shogun Voyager ST "Gorgen" figures available! Yup, these are slightly tweaked versions of the test shot I had on hand at SRGM. Each of these "standard" sized (5-1/4") figures features durable ABS plastic construction, spinning shield blades, and of course, firing fists! In my opinion, among all my offerings at LOOK 4, these will be the stars of the show!

And lastly, I can't forget to mention the big boy, a Type B Powered Bio Suit, complete with a Microman pilot figure!

Before I hop on outta here, I gotta send a shout-out to Jesse of DoomKick.com. Stay tuned to his site for #RampagingRobots, a sick collab between me, Prometheum5, Mechazone, and Jesse himself! I know that barely qualifies as a teaser, but don't sweat it--when the time comes, there'll be plenty of info!

Oh, and lastly, this year's East Coast Chogokin Summit is August 9th. Look for it on facebook. And be there! ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Incoming: Super Robots Giant Monsters!

I know it's been ages since my last blog post, but things have been moving at a breakneck pace since Future Factory! The class went amazingly well--tons of local folks involved with the hobby or just interested in 3D printing in general came through to check out what we were doing. All eyes on us! And why not? What we're doing is kind of ground-breaking, after all. As far as I'm aware (and believe me--I've been searching!), there really aren't any other folks directly 3D printing complex toys and hand-finishing them in their own homes. I'm sure in a few years, this medium for custom toys will become as commonplace as resin/rubber casting...but it's kind of an amazing experience to be among its pioneers. And, of course, having all of you folks along for the ride to give us feedback and support is what makes it all worth it. So Thank You for letting us do our thing as independent artists/DIYers!

But like I said, we ain't resting on our laurels. Here's some big last-minute news, folks!

If you're actually reading this blog, I'm sure you've already heard about Super Robots Giant Monsters by now (via my crankin' instagram feed or via the other various social media outlets talking about such toys and events)...but I just wanted to make a quick post to talk about it a little more. I'm actually going to be involved on TWO different levels. First off, I'm sharing a vendor table with none other than the inimitable Ben "Prometheum5" Mininberg! Together, we'll be selling armies of 3D printed toys. Remember those 3D-printed super robot minifigs I teased about in my last blog post? Well, if you haven't been following my instagram feed, they're called the Shogun Voyagers...a rather obvious homage! ;) These micro figures debuted at Future Factory and every figure I produced for the class sold out before the end of the day! Well, these production-level, fully-packaged figures will finally be available to the public!

Also available for the first time publicly will be the mighty Powered Bio Suits! It's been a long time coming, but the production versions of these toys are finally ready for prime time. Go big or go home, Micro-fans! ;) I'll only have a few available at Super Robots Giant Monsters (since they're so time-consuming to manufacture), but I'm just looking forward to getting some in fans' hands after all this time.

These guys are enjoyable to mess around with, they're durable, reasonably well-articulated (given the source material), and they come with nice packaging and accessories. As I've mentioned before, I'm transitioning away from copying existing designs and doing more original stuff (like the Shogun Voyagers)...but damn if these aren't cool figures! I think they're a fun way to enhance your Microman/Micronaut action figures, and they simply make for excellent, high-end 3D printed offerings.

Oh, and lastly, I'll be debuting one more class of offerings at SRGM. I've only just barely teased about it on instagram, but something VERY dope is in the works...

But, yo, I mentioned I was involved with SRGM on TWO levels, right? Well, let's take a quick step back: Super Robots Giant Monsters is the first of, hopefully, a yearly sequence of small toy-collector conventions that focuses tightly on--you guessed it!--vintage Japanese robot and monster toys. We'd been talking about doing something like this for the past couple years...especially with how big the East Coast Chogokin Summits have been getting.

SRGM just seemed like the next logical step.

There are tons of folks who grew up watching the same cartoons and movies we did in the 70's and 80's--folks who have the same reverence we have for those classic Japanese characters and toys that were brought here during those years. But not everyone is connected to the organized collecting community. So JoshB of CollectionDX took it upon himself to organize this first-of-its-kind show to open up the hobby to more folks. And I'm saying, yo, it's gonna be EPIC!! A lot of the locals, of course, are involved, including Matt Doughty and the extended Glyos fam and Alen Yen, the Godfather, and his Incubot label. But they're not the only ones bringing the heat...

See, one of the focal events at SRGM is gonna be the vintage Japanese toy gallery...that yours truly is curating! That's right: I've been put in charge of melting people's eyeballs at this event. And TRUST: eyeballs *will* melt! We decided that we're gonna kick off this hopefully-yearly con with a bang. "Bring serious fire" was the mandate we set. So to that end, on display will be toys from my own personal collection, and those of Josh Fraser and Warren Schwartz. If you're familiar with those names, then you understand the gravity of what I'm explaining. If you don't...oh hell...if you don't, you will...

You.

Will.

So that's it for now, but I'll leave you with just one more little tidbit: stay tuned for a major site makeover coming soon! ;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Wrap-up

Wow. What a year.

First off, I gotta apologize to folks trying to follow my progress who're not on Instagram! I've been kinda AWOL on my own blog...but you know how it goes with constantly-evolving social media. IG has been a great space to share not only my day-to-day exploits in the world of custom toy-making, but also a little more about myself through pictures of the many amazing Japanese robot and monster toys I've accumulated over the years. And even a little hip hop music here and there. ;) It's so damn simple to post something fresh every day or two. Makes this blog seem clunky in comparison!

But on the strength, this blog is still my secret base of operations for whenever I need to dump a massive wall of text (like this one!) or mad pics that wouldn't be appropriate elsewhere. I can announce stuff on IG, but I'll always refer back to this blog for more info, contacting me, or buying something.

I just want it to be clear that even though my blog posts are sporadic as hell, that's definitely NOT an indication that my toy-making adventures are slowing down in any way! Word. Life. In fact, it's now been about eight months since I followed Ben's lead and bought an Afinia H-series 3D printer. And to call it a "game-changer" would be an understatement bordering on absurdity.

See, lemme explain something. I don't give a crap about 3D printing. I don't give a crap about CAD modeling. What I care about is making toys, y'knowmsayin? That's it. As it turns out, I happen to be kinda nice with CAD...given that I've been working deep in the CAD software industry for over a decade. And I've been collecting and dreaming about Japanese toys for FAR longer. But while collecting these things has hooked me up with a great group of people, once my creative side started to assert itself over my consumeristic nature, I knew I had to make at least some of the craziness dancing in my head real.

But I just never got into resin- or rubber-casting. You can make some dope little rubber guys...but the process is very slow and labor-intensive. $15-20 for a 2" non-articulated minifig that you have to wait in line for is a far cry from buckets of MUSCLE dudes available on eBay for a buck or two. No hate, of course--I love what cats like MUSCLEThings.com, Eric Nilla, and Tru:Tek/Zectron are doing. But that's not my path.

I don't wanna do vinyl either. There are some amazingly-beautiful Japanese slush-cast vinyl figures being produced by today's hottest artists, for sure. These are made using the same gloriously out-dated, inefficient techniques used in making the original Bullmark (and others) kaiju toys of the 60's and 70's. It's amazing to me that they're keeping this tradition of slush-casting alive--it's a small historical and pop-cultural treasure of Japan's, if you ask me. But this isn't the route I wanna take either. Spending $5k on a mold for a single figure isn't what I really want--especially when that means I'll have to request tiny batches of these figures to be cast in a million different colors, have them painted by...someone...and then sell them over and over to the same group of 50 people for $100+ a whack. That's fine for many others...but not me.

And mass production? Well, there's rotocast vinyl or injection-molded PVC in China...both viable options, as seen by what Onell Design has accomplished over the last six years. But again, extremely high start-up costs lock an artist into just a handful of designs that they're forced to push hard just to recover the initial investment. I want to be more dynamic. Keep releasing new material...never bogged down in marketing or politics.

Which brings me to 3D printing. It's kind of amazing to have had this brand new medium just fall into my lap. And THAT is what it really is to me: a medium for making custom toys. This is where I differ from so many folks I've met over the past six months in the 3D printing game: I don't care about 3D printing, in and of itself. Whether you wanna call me an "artist" or a "toy-maker"...it doesn't really matter to me. The point is that my passion is the toys--not the method used to make them. I get that 3D printing is this new, emerging technology, and that playing with a consumer-grade home printer is a fun hobby...but that ain't what this is.

...

2014 will be a big year for me. I can already tell. Seeds planted almost a year ago now are getting VERY close to sprouting! But before I get into that, I have some kinda somber news to announce: I'm officially pulling the plug on Foe-Gokin Gin Gin. I started this blog about three and a half years ago as a way to track the development of a locally-manufactured, Popy chogokin-style toy of Saucer Animal Gin Gin, my favorite villain from the 70's super robot anime, UFO Robo Grendizer. Those 3+ years saw a LOT of overhauled strategies, a lot of setbacks, a lot triumphs, and most importantly, a lot of learning. All in all, it was a great project to cut my teeth on, and even though I only made a couple official releases, I feel satisfied with everything this effort has taught me.

So why pull the plug? Well, it mostly comes down to economics. I won't go into the details of the manufacturing process, but suffice it to say that the resources necessary for a fully-painted release would have *forced* the price up to somewhere around $200. And while the end result would have been nice, it wouldn't have good enough for me. The heft of all that pewter content was fantastic, but without more articulation and gimmickery, it would have felt more like a painted statue or bust than a fully-realized chogokin toy. So the bottom line is pretty simple: if I were a consumer, I would NOT have bought one for that kinda money.

Oh, there's one more reason to abandon this project: HL Pro/High Dream has now made a fully-licensed Gin Gin toy of their own! Sure, it's not quite the format/style I would have wanted in a Gin Gin figure, but the whole idea of my "Foe Gokin" line was to create toys of our favorite hero robots' enemies--characters who previously were never made into toys. But now that there's a high-quality Gin Gin toy on the market, well, that itch has now been scratched!

But all that having been said, stick around. You may just see another shield-wielding super robot emerge from Gin Gin's ashes... ;)

Aiiyo, but before I finally send Foe Gokin Gin Gin beyond the veil, I just want to say one more thing. Homemade chogokin CAN be done. If the last three years have taught me anything, it's that this sort of custom toy *can* be realistically made. I've proven it. I already talked about why pursuing this project doesn't make sense for me...but I want to make it clear that if ANYONE out there wants to pursue making a custom chogokin toy, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. In all that time, I've learned a TON about this process, and I would personally *love* to see someone design and produce the equivalent of a homegrown "diecast" toy (well, a pewter toy cast in a vulcanized rubber mold). It would greatly honor the efforts of the past three years for me to help in any way I can.

...

Okay, now for the good stuff!

Looking ahead at 2014, there's going to be a LOT more direct 3D-printed toys coming from myself, Ben "Prometheum5" Mininberg, and David "Mechazone" White. We're forming a bit of a Getter team when it comes to spearheading this medium. And obviously, I'm Ryoma. David and Ben can brawl to figure out who's Benkei. ;)

But yo, check this out: this announcement may be a bit late, but I'm actually teaching a 3D printing class next month at Monster Kolor Studios.

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Ben and David will be assisting in this epic, first-of-its-kind event. We'll be talking a little about ourselves and how we got into this mess...but the meat of the class will be a *complete* breakdown of all the steps necessary for manufacturing a robot toy using a home/consumer-grade FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer. We'll cover the actual printing process, cleaning up the parts directly from the machine, and treating them with acetone vapor. And like the flyer above says, you make it, you take it! Yes, every student gets to select a robot toy design from one of us, and over the course of the class, prints it, cleans it up, and AVBs it (acetone vapor bathes it). And you take home the toy you just made. That's kinda hot!

Like I said, the announcement's a bit late because, well, the class sold out about six hours after announcing it! So *clearly*, there's some interest in this stuff! For now, we're telling folks to come on down even if they missed out--even if you're not a paying student with space on a printer, you get to watch the whole process and participate like anyone else. And we're most definitely planning on doing MOAR Future Factory classes and other events like it as time goes by. Our goal is twofold. We want to demystify CAD modeling and 3D printing, and ultimately, to get more folks involved in this medium for custom toy-making. But we're also trying to bridge the gap between the designer/custom toy people (usually resin/rubber or vinyl collectors who prefer the artistry and communal aspects of these toys) and the mass-marketed robot toy-collecting people (usually TF or vintage chogokin collectors who enjoy the accessibility and depth of the fandom).

2014 will also be the year of the Powered Bio Suit! Development of this toy has been frighteningly fast and relatively painless. Not to mention surprisingly inexpensive! The stickers are done. The packaging is about 99% done. The toys, themselves are pretty much ready to go. The production versions of these suits might just make their debut at the Future Factory class... Stay tuned!

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And lastly, here's a bit of a teaser for a new toy line I'll be producing next year (again, debuting at Future Factory):

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In fact, students of the class will be able to pick from among these characters to print--or mix and match body parts!

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That's it for now. Have a great New Year's celebration, enjoy the weather, and keep it gully. See you in '14!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Powered Suit Fake Type

At long last, it's time to unveil the Powered Suit Fake Type replica kits I'm offering through Shapeways! I had been planning on releasing the Type C suit last month, but because the Types A and B were so close to production, I just decided to delay the whole thing until all three suit geometries were ready. And to make things even MORE confusing, I'm offering these three Types at two different pricepoints. So read on...and pay attention! ;)

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When you first go to my Shapeways store, it can seem pretty daunting at first. There are TEN lots of parts for these figures...and the lead images are all in black & white (so everything looks the same!)...and all the names are kinda confusing. Trust me--even *my* brain turns to clay while staring at this stuff. But it ain't like filing your taxes, so don't get scrrd! This blog post is meant to walk you through the purchasing process.

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The first thing is to decide how much you wanna spend. See, there are two types of these kits: Standard ("ST") and Deluxe ("DX"), each with certain advantages and certain disadvantages. But before we get into those, it's important to point out that the ST kits will run you around $30, while the DX ones are around $85. Yikes!

Let's start with the ST kits.

Fortunately, these guys are pretty straightforward. They're 3D printed in a material called polyamide, in a process called selective laser sintering (SLS). Basically, thin layers of fine nylon powder is fused via laser, one at a time, to form a light, but super-tough solid object. This stuff's pretty great from a TOY standpoint. Very durable...and as you can tell from the blue and white Type C suit above, it's available dyed in different colors! Further, once you receive the sets necessary to build an ST suit, they're real easy to assemble. You just squeeze the parts together (though you may want a drop of superglue here and there), and you're ready to smash some Waruders. So super-durable, easy to assemble, and available immediately in different colors...at only $30-$35 (depending if you want a matching "Inch Lady" driver). What's not to love???

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Cue the bad news. Well, if you really scrutinize these pics, you can kinda tell the parts look a little...doughy. And grainy. See, that's the problem with polyamide: it's cheap, light, and strong...but the resolution is pretty crappy. Sharp edges are a bit softened and micro-scale details are almost lost entirely. Just look at the Inch Lady's face in polyamide:

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But here's the real caveat: tolerances. These models have essentially been *done* for that past several months. So why has it taken so long to release them to the public? Because 3D printing assemblies of several components--even simple ones like these--is asking a lot of the printing tech that's available today. There's a little tab that secures the feet to the bottom of the legs, right? I broke one foot last night taking these damn pics because the hole at the bottom of the leg printed too narrow! It happens. So after *months* of tweaking, I think I've got a nice balance of tolerances in my current CAD designs. And I have a graveyard of failed suits to prove it!

So when you order an ST PSFT (yup, start getting used to the acronyms! it'll make ordering from the website a MUCH more sane experience), dry fit all the parts as soon as they arrive. You want to check for any misprints as soon as possible. Trust--I get botched parts fairly often...so be comfortable with the possibility that you may have to log a complaint with Shapeways. I have three pending complaints in with them as I type this. No lie.

If all the parts check out, you still may need to file down some of the pegs or use a drop of glue to secure some bits. Don't trip--that's normal (especially with the feet and getting the black upper arms anchored into those shoulder pauldrons). Obviously DON'T glue the shoulder pegs, the wrists, or the main hatch...unless you seriously don't want those parts to move! You shouldn't have to...but if you find those connections too loose (or so impossibly tight that you actually *break* the pieces trying to assemble them), log that complaint. Shapeways makes mistakes often, but they're also VERY quick and friendly to deal with. They'll take care of you.

Now let's take a look at the DX kits.

What's special about these ones that makes 'em almost three times more expensive?? Steel. Cold, hard, magnetic stainless steel. This is baller territory, y'all. The original Diaclone Powered Suits had diecast metal (zinc-aluminum alloy) bodies. That made them pretty damn cool: chogokin power armor? Hell yes, I'll take three. And now...we have the technology to PRINT IN STAINLESS STEEL! Somewhat similar to the SLS process for polyamide, a simple organic glue is deposited on a thin layer of powdered steel. Another layer is spread, and more glue is deposited. Once the basic structure is done, they take the delicate, glued-together piece out of the vat of steel powder, and they toss it in a crucible. There, it's exposed to liquid brass, which soaks into the structure, while burning away the glue. The result is a stainless steel formula that's heavy on brass, but definitely responsive to a magnetic field.

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The other aspect that makes the DX PSFTs superior is the plastic that's used. This translucent stuff is a much more expensive photopolymer made by 3D Systems. These parts are made in the classic stereolithography process, where thin layers of liquid photopolymer are cured (solidified) using a UV laser. The result is a VASTLY higher-resolution print than is achievable through SLS with polyamide powder. Details are sharp and the plastic is still fairly tough (I'd compare it to model kit styrene: maybe not as flexible, but it can take some stress). Here's a quick side-by-side comparison between a DX (left) and ST (right) PSFT-A:

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But the best way to convince you of how nice 3D Systems' photopolymer is, take a look at a painted Inch Lady, along with an unpainted one...

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The upper arms and shoulder cannon mount of the DX PSFT are done in black polyamide because of its flexibility/durability.

But here's the most important note about the DX PSFT: YOU NEED MAGNETS TO MAKE THE SHOULDERS WORK. Yup, I use tiny neodymium (rare earth) magnets to hold the pauldrons onto the body. I get them directly from Fridgedoor.com nearby in Quincy, MA. Now, you're welcome to buy a whole 100-pack from them...but that might be overkill if you're just using them for these toys! Instead, if you order a DX PSFT from Shapeways, contact me via the link near the top, right of your screen. You Paypal me a buck ($1USD), include your address, and I mail you two magnets. Pretty simple...let's hope this system works out.

I just KNOW someone's gonna order a DX without reading these instructions...and then he's gonna complain to me about his arms falling off the damn body! :P

And the only other caveat with the DX PSFTs is that the 3D Systems photopolymer has a tendency to be a bit slimy when it arrives. It's not a big deal--just something to be aware of--so don't go spraying primer before you give these parts a thorough wash-down with hot, soapy water to remove that waxy slime. As you can tell from Mason's Gundam-themed DX PSFT-C from the Summit, this plastic paints up *quite* nicely!

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Probably the biggest factor in determining which format of suit you want--ST or DX--is not just about the money. It's also about what sort of collector you are. If you're looking for something very "toyetic" (i.e., something simple, durable, and doesn't require paint or too much glue...or magnets purchased separately!), the ST is probably the best way to go. The ST is damn close to a plug-n-play kit. On several of these that I've ordered, I've only ever had to file down a foot tab (and in another case, I just glued the feet on because the tabs were too loose!).

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The DX, on the other hand, simply feels GLORIOUS. Cold, hard, heavy, indestructible steel. And magnetic shoulder joints are just friggin' cool. There's no debate. Now, the translucent plastic looks a bit boring to me--though I've had folks mention that it's reminiscent of classic Henshin Cyborg! Your mileage may vary...but I prefer to paint these things. Again, check my last blog post for Mason's Gundam-style paint job! So if you're not as interested in hand-candy, but are looking for something that's going to look like a precious gem on your shelf--with the prestige of a solid metal design--you may wanna throw down for a DX.

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So just hustle over to the store, pick the suit Type you like (A, B, or C) and the format you want (ST or DX), then order the THREE lots you'll need to complete your suit of choice. So for example, if I want an ST PSFT-C, I'll need this, this, and this. Or if I want a DX PSFT-B, I'll need this, this, and this...PLUS I'll need those magnets! Just pay attention to the names of each lot (especially the suit Type letter and that bit about "(# of 3)"). The item's description on each page should help too.

I apologize for the wall of text, but please don't tl;dr me! ;) I wanted to explain this complicated (but necessary) ordering process...as well as set everyone's expectations of Shapeways' lack of consistency. Because of all this half-assery with magnets, glue, and Shapeways' quality control, you may decide this whole venture may not be for you. I respect that. But seeing as how these original Diaclone toys can easily break $200USD--IF you can find them--there are clearly a lot of collectors interested in these guys. So this is an opportunity to order as many as you like...and whenever you want them. They'll always be in my shop, ready to be made to order. And I ain't going nowhere!

Okay, that's about it for now. Feel free to hit me up with ANY questions you may have about these kits, the ordering process, or how to resolve issues with Shapeways. Next time...more Microman-scaled "Powered Bio Suit"! ;)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Whirlwind Summit

The East Coast Chogokin Summit 2013 is now behind us...and I'm *still* trying to catch my breath. As is typical for the Summit, I failed to take a single photograph! Yeah, I kinda suck like that. But if you make it to one of these events, you know how non-stop it is! There's a WHOLE lotta toy geeking going on; it's typical to get pulled in multiple directions at once because there are just so many great conversations going on that you wanna engage in. Thankfully, this year's incredible host, JoshB of CollectionDX has plenty of great coverage. In fact, there's an impromptu interview with yours truly early on in the Summit video! ;)

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There were plenty of new faces, as well as some long-time Summit-goers who'd missed the last year or two. And what was especially cool was to have so many folks who were actively making toys on hand. This bizarre hobby continues to promote creativity and camaraderie in impressive ways. There was even a rare public appearance of Matt Doughty of Onell Design, plus Grillo and Jesse Moore. It seriously doesn't get better than that!

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So earlier last month, we saw at least a sneak-peak of the Powered Bio Suit at MicroBry's and Bwana Spoons' My Friend the Micronaut show in Oregon (there are TONS of amazing toys still available from the show, by the way!). Well, since folks at Grass Hut were treated to the first ever assembled prototype of the PBS, Summit-goers were able to check out the very latest advanced prototype! The design was about 90% done and in fact was a full-color mock-up. See, the production toy will be printed in color, but I usually print my prototypes monochrome to save time. I knew I was bringing the latest and greatest to the Summit for people to mess around with, so I just couldn't abide it looking shabby--especially next to prototypes from my comrades-in-arms, Ben Mininberg and David White! Gotta bring the heat when those cats are coming to town, y'knowmsayin?

So...y'know...the night before the Summit, I busted out the Monster Kolor rattle cans and spray painted my plain white prototype PBS! After that gloss clear coat, I was feeling the look:

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Like I said in my post last month, the PBS project is all on me. I designed the toy (well, the mechanics, if not the aesthetics! ;) ) and I manufacture it in my own home. Sure, I certainly have backup--my homie, Larry of Minutia Studios, is helping design the stickers and packaging--but because this is the least collaborative toy development project I've ever engaged in, I'm actually free to reveal whatever I want...whenever I want. No secrets, no passwords, no need to be down to hear the latest gossip. Just real talk.

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So with that, I can say that the toy is roughly 99% done! I'm hoping to receive my color ABS filament by the end of the week so that I can start doing in-color prints to show off. The packaging and stickers will be next, but I won't be able to get to that stuff until later this month. Either way, I'm loving every minute of this process. Unlike the Foe Gokin Gin Gin project I started years ago (which may be comatose, but still breathes, by the way!), there are no external forces to get in the way of making this happen!

Unless, of course, Takara-Tomy swoops in and sues my ass off for bootlegging their Diaclone toy. ;)

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And speaking of bootlegs, I wanna switch gears real quick and talk about something real special. In honor of the Summit last week, my homeboy, Mason Fitch--painter of "The Foreman" Powered Suit Fake Type--dropped yet another one-of-a-kind masterpiece. This one is simply entitled, "Gundam":

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His work is absolutely stunning. The color scheme comes from the RX-78-2 Gundam prototype Mobile Suit from one of the first "real robot" or mecha franchises, Mobile Suit Gundam. A true classic of science fiction. Mason even painted up the Inch Lady faux-Diaclone driver to resemble Amuro Ray, the show's self-discovering hero and pilot of the eponymous mecha.

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And dig that sick Beam Rifle-colored Type C cannon! ;)

As usual, this "Powered Suit Fake Type" custom figure features 100% 3D-printed construction, a stainless steel body and shoulders, magnetically jointed arms, and a removable Type C main gun on the back. And to commemorate Labor Day, a day where we observe and honor the often-thankless sacrifices working class people in the US have made to make this country run since it's inception, we are putting this figure up for sale!

The price will be $125 plus shipping. Please hit up my Flickr for TONS of hi-res pics of this tiny gem. This will be the ONLY Powered Suit Fake Type custom-painted by us in this Gundam-inspired color scheme. This is a one-of-a-kind piece...and seeing as how the normal unpainted kits will cost about $90 from Shapeways (going live hopefully by the end of the month), it's not a bad deal for such fine paint work! :)

So if you're interested, please zap me a note using the contact form on the right! Support my buddy's art, all local artists, and even if you don't buy this figure, please take some time today to think about and appreciate some aspect of your life that would be a lot harder if not for the efforts of working class people everywhere!

And before I sign off, it just wouldn't be right if I didn't drop a teaser...

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Diaclone Powered Suit type A. Coming soon! ;)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I suppose I should start talking...

Now, chances are if you're following my blog, you're also following the blog of the Rhodey to my Stark, Ben Mininberg (hmm...that analogy didn't quite work the way I wanted it to...). Anyway, if so, then you probably have some idea of the grandeur that was the 2013 edition of Bwana Spoons' and Microbry's My Friend the Micronaut show at Grass Hut in Portland, OR! Ben's always been ahead of the curve when it comes to social media (at least when compared to a dinosaur like me!), so his coverage of our small corner of the show has been invaluable. For real, if you haven't checked his site lately, you NEED to peep his Buffalo Squad Allarounds and the epic, jaw-dropping Microman-scale Blockman. All 3D-printed in his own home!

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Last month, I mentioned that the PSFT (Powered Suit Fake Type), my tribute to the Diaclone Powered Suit Type C, was going to be debuting at the show...with special thanks to Mason Fitch, Lisa Fitch, and Dylan Gould. These three amazing miniature painters absolutely killed the figures I ordered from Shapeways specially for MFTM. Well, not only can these figures finally be seen online, but they're actually available for purchase!

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First up is Mason's figure, "The Foreman". Pretty obvious where the name comes from if you're a G1 Transformers fan! Devastator-style suit; Spike-style driver:

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Next, sticking with the Microman theme, Lisa's Biotron-tribute suit is piloted by a driver painted like a yellow Micronaut Time Traveler:

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And finally, we have Dylan's Real Type take on my Fake Type suit:

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These figures are truly works of art...but they're also fully-functioning toys. As I've covered in previous posts about the PSFTs, they feature magnetically-jointed shoulders, a shoulder mount for the cannon, and a bunch of other little upgrades over their vintage counterparts. Unpainted versions of these figures will be sold as kits through my Shapeways store towards the end of the month (the price will likely be about $90).

But the biggest surprise of all has been a project just a handful of people have been privy to. See, back in March, I picked up my very own 3D printer! The Afinia H-series has been the driving force behind the majority of my toy development for the past several months. It's been an amazing ride...the product of which is something I'm really proud of.

Behold. The Powered Bio Suit!

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This 100% 3D-printed titan comes from...well...downstairs. As you can probably gather, it's an ABS-plastic Diaclone Powered Suit C. But the real feat of this toy is that it's actually Microman-scaled! Yes, roughly three times the size of the original toy, this larger version is roughly six inches tall and has a peg inside the cockpit so that *any* Microman/Micronaut figure with a 5mm port on his or her back can be mounted inside!

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The variety of features include glow-in-the-dark cockpit panels, a clear plastic face shield, ratcheting shoulder joints with gloriously-strong detents, and full 5mm peg compatibility. Like any good Microman toy. ;)

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My hope is that the first production editions of this toy will be available at the East Coast Chogokin Summit held this year in Dracut, MA. From here on out, though, I'll be posting pics of these toys as their development progresses. The cat is out of the bag, after all! For those who can't wait for the first production run of this toy, you can always head over to Grass Hut's store to pick up THE very first ever fully-assembled prototype of this toy!

Oh, and 'cause I just can't help it, I had to post this adorable picture of CC of Onell Design stuffing keshigomu into a later iteration of the suit at Glyos HQ a little while back!

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Kid tested. Doughty approved.

;)