Monday, November 7, 2011

Patience starting to pay off...

And I don't know who's been more patient: y'all or myself! Heh...well, a couple weeks ago, I dropped some science about Matt Walker's In Living Kolor - Boston custom toy show. That shit was the bomb and it was fun being able to share the experience with those who couldn't make it. Thing is, I didn't mention any of the big news going on behind the scenes at Broinnoize HQ. I promised an update soon, and well, here it is!

I'll start with the high-profile stuff first. Unicron stands are in! A fleet of hundreds of these things descended upon BBTS last week. They should be shipping from there soon. In fact, from what I've heard, a few went out prematurely without inserts. Don't fret! The inerts are in BBTS' hands and I have no doubt that Joel will send them out immediately to anyone who got a preemie.

But anyway, I'm excited because I've been getting more and more accolades recently from folks who really appreciate the product. As I've mentioned before, it's not a mind-blowing or life-changing item, but it's something practical that really improves an already popular toy. To be able to offer something like that, and have it be received so favorably, is pretty humbling. And who needs humbling more than I do?? ;)

What that also means is that I finally got my own small order of stands in, so those who've preordered directly with me will get their stands very soon (they shipped this morning)! These will likely be the last Thrones of Chaos I'll be handling myself. I have about five left in if you want in, just let me know!

And lastly, the success of these stands means profit. I'm making it rain like Aaron Hernandez, motherfuckas! Aiight...not really. I made a little scratch offa these, and while I'm far as FUCK from being a capitalist, it's nice to have the "legitimacy" (for whatever that's worth) of getting paid for a good idea. But I think the important thing here is that all of the proceeds are going back into the game. Commercial successes like the Throne just make pipe dreams like the Foe Gokin all the more tangible.


Next up, the minifigs. Yup, the MUSCLE-style figures...remember those? Well, because of the top-secret nature of what's going on, I'm under a gag order. Let's see...what can I leak to the public? Well, first off, I'm abandoning resin casting. At least for this project. More on that later. But what does that imply? I'm definitely not abandoning these maybe I'll just let y'all ponder that shit! Big stuff is in the works, though. Potentially the biggest ever for Brownnoize.

AshuraShine was a fun ClawShine-inspired side project to fucks with, but I don't think he's going into actual production. I may just make him available for print via Shapeways or something. Anyway, despite having just said that, rest Gin Gin will NOT be alone for long!


And now the biggest news I've got for this week: Foe Gokin Gin Gin arms may finally be a GO!!

Aiight, so I mentioned above that I'm done with resin casting. It's not that I don't have faith that what I want can be done in the's more about getting there. See, in previous posts, I've mentioned working with various resin casters in the US. Well, the problem is cost and reliability. Resin casting is a fantastic medium for up-and-coming independent toy makers doing their own thing. The shit's mad labor-intensive though. The geometry I'm after is pretty tricky...and to get clean, unwarped castings that are free of defects (bubbles), a lot of work is involved. That means loot.

The benefit of resin is that it's got pretty low start-up costs and usually no (or low) minimum orders. That's great for low-run stuff, of course, but the price per unit can be pretty damn high. The alternative would be injection molding overseas. The problem with that is the extremely high start-up costs involved in getting steel molds made. Of course, the unit price for injection molded items is just pennies...but to make that initial investment back, you have to sell MAD units. That ain't happening if you're just doing low-run stuff. Well...I may have found a middle ground. And y'all ain't gonna believe this shit!


On the strength, I can't even make this shit up. For real. The much maligned motherfuckin' Shapeways to the rescue! Think about it: ZERO start-up costs and ZERO minimums...and even if the unit price is high, pound for pound, it's still not nearly as high as resin-casting. Just print-to-order. One unit or one hundred. No difference. You're getting extremely dimensionally stable parts that are essentially flawless by nature. And even if Shapeways is habitually behind schedule, you're still gonna get your shit in about a month...which is a LOT more fucking reliable than some resin-casting outfits out there, y'knowmsayin??

I know I've voiced my concerns about Shapeways in the past. I look at it this way: initially, they promise you the world...and it ain't until you start getting models rejected, or awful prints, or annoying service, etc., when you realize that that promise comes with a lot of fucking fineprint. But here's the thing: once you get used to those caveats, you can play within their rules a bit better and optimize your experiences with them. And I think that's what I've managed to accomplish.

But let me back up a minute. [Right...'cause this story isn't fucking long enough already!] Peep this shit:


The black arms you see are resin castings from an older sculpt of Gin Gin. [You can see all the 3D shield detail included above--if you recall, the original plan was to paint that shit...but more recently, we decided to smooth-out those details so that we can apply stickers.] Now, these are HIGH quality castings. Yeah, in other words crazy loot. They look tight though...and in fact, the Yojimbo Gin Gins, the Tohoku Gin Gin, and the galvanic plated ones from the last Summit are all based on this sculpt.


Well, at the Summit itself, none other than the benevolent Uncle Warren (if you don't know, you better ask somebody) took me aside and praised me for how gorgeous the metal-plated exclusives looked. He went on to mention, however, how dope it would be if the blades could actually spin. Aiight, maybe he didn't say "dope", exactly...I'm just paraphrasing here. But it got me thinking...

Spinning blades involves a mechanism, rather than a dumb lump of material...and in designing a mechanism, the utmost concern is dimensional stability. Well, guess what medium offers that by its very nature!

Aww shit...look what Sanjeev done did:


Jeah...these photographs are 100% straight legit! Free-spinning, Grendizer-shredding weaponry! Printed in polished polyamide (what Shapeways calls "White Strong Flexible Polished"), this material is super strong and extremely lightweight. Pretty much perfect for toy mechanics. And this isn't the first time I've rocked domes with Shapeways' polyamide: those missile-fire Cosmic Squadron figures Walker and I were showing off at the Summit? Yep...Shapeways to the rescue.


The detail is tight, the action is smooth. Really can't ask for much more. It'll cost about $35 to produce two complete arms to dress up a single figure (which, ironically, is pretty damn close to how much the raw pewter costs for a single figure's head and body!). Still, I can't front: resin is inevitably going to be more per unit--even without the start-up costs--and injection molding in China just isn't realistic unless I'm turning these out in the thousands.

So what we may be looking at is a final production Foe Gokin Gin Gin, albeit a naked one. With the packaging essentially complete, all we have to do is get more arms from Shapeways, design the stickers, mix the paint, and get to work! Light at the end of the tunnel, folks...


Til next time...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Living Kolor - Boston

Dang, it's been a minute, huh? Well, I'm back, y'all! Lots of fine-tuning going on behind the scenes, but I'll tell ya what: I'ma wait a bit before posting a full report on what's going on with Brownnoize. But don't worry--the update will be well worth the wait. Power moves on the horizon. For right now though, I wanna throw down on behalf of my boy, Matt "Dead Presidents" Walker. On Saturday, October 8th, Boston was treated to Walker's custom toy extravaganza, In Living Kolor.


In Living Kolor is a series of modern (mostly designer) kaiju-centric custom toy shows organized by Walker and sponsored by a bunch of independent toy makers such as Ultra-sensei, Mark Nagata. Sure, there was a lot of Mark's Max Toy Co offerings on display, but there isn't any one particular toy maker exclusively featured. In fact, the show isn't really limited to Japanese vinyl. Sure, it's mostly kaiju, but there was some wild diversity at the show.


So what's the unifying factor? Well, the toys sent in by various artists on display at the show are customized using Walker's versatile Monster Kolor paint. The paint is formulated for soft vinyl toys, but these cats put the shit through its paces. I saw all types of resin toys painted up in MK...hell, I even saw a ill hacked-up G1 Slag. Pretty crazy stuff.


The first In Living Kolor show took place in Japan, and was incredibly popular. Mad top-shelf Japanese kaiju toy makers such as Dream Rockets, Sunguts, and Real x Head showed up for the live-painting segment of the show. Yes: Matt actually sets up airbrushes for folks to use on the various free toys available at the show or anything else they want to bring! So while some truly off the hook customs sent in by artists are on display, the Monster Kolor flows like water for attendees...and everyone gets a chance to get in on the artistic action!


Like I said, this particular ILK show took place in our own backyard: Boston! The venue was Lot F Gallery right in the financial district...and very close to the Occupy Boston protest. Kinda surreal, but it was just nice to honk my horn in support of the folks standing up to this inhuman economic system. Anyway, a bunch of the massholes came out to represent and show support for Walker. And that's what was probably the best part of the show for me: the people.


Not only was it good to see folks I have regular contact with, but it was INCREDIBLE to reconnect with folks I haven't seen, literally, in years. More on that later. And finally, it was cool to meet heads from the area whom I'd only heard of before--people into the same geeky shit that drives us!


^^ Walker, himself, with JoshF and Regan--good peoples and great artists in their own rights (though not toy-related). They always come out for local
events so it was no surprise to see them come out to support our boy, Walker.


^^ For once, Ben didn't fuck up the he did with the Summit. In fact, he drove some seven hours to get his ass to the show. Good on 'im.


^^ Nekrodave, my boy and kingpin, was in attendance, of course. Like JoshF and Regan, he always comes through for local toy happenings.

But ultimately, what blew my fucking mind apart was seeing Matt Doughty of Onell Design and that whole crew! Now, I hadn't seen Doughty in a good year and a half. Motherfucker! Well, my man was looking good and while we didn't talk for all that long, it was great to renew the friendship and commit to seeing each other more.


As for the rest of the crew...


^^ The inimitable Jessie Moore of RawShark Studios and, of course, I love Jessie. The man is a beast--yet another incredible artist and toy maker. One of the funniest, sweetest bastards I know; again, it was fucking great to see his Gimli-looking ass again after all this time!


^^ Boris Savic of Planet Banimon. Another great guy I met through Doughty and Jessie., Boris, and Jessie always talk about playing basketball together, but we're just a bunch of old fucking men! :P Boris is the shit, though. Nicest guy ever and, in fact, he just had his second child, so I'ma take this moment to wish him a big Congratulations!

And while I didn't get a shot of him, the crew's enforcer, Grillo, was there too. Another good cat who's always in attendance for the big events, Grillo provides muscle when it comes to QCing Glyos figures prior to shows, bagging and tagging stuff, boxing and preparing toys for shipment, etc...


So anyway, besides long-standing friendships and renewed old ones, I got a chance to meet a couple cool folks. James, the host of Lot F, was mad cool. It was good to get to know him a little bit and even if we didn't have a ton of time to talk with all the action going on, I look forward to doing more shit with him in the future. I mean, who knows, right? Maybe someday, I'll be hosting some kind of Brownnoize Productions toy show there!

Also, I got to meet one of James's boys and Monster Kolor forum contributor, Todd Robertson. Todd's been blowing up the spot lately with his mechanized customs, but I had no idea how down to earth he was. He's just a pure, straight up and down toy fan. Zero pretense. Couldn't give a shit about "the scene" or being a big personality on the internet (*ahem*). All love for the toys. I look forward to following his work more. And speaking of which, check this shit out:



Well, besides Todd's amazing customs, there were some other cool toys on display, of course. I've given you a little taste above, but you should check out my photobucket for more pics of a bunch of random shit. Here's a couple more quick highlights before signing off:


^^ Walker's legendary custom Jumbo Machinders. These guys (straight from my collection, by the way! :P ) are absolutely rock-solid. That paint ain't going anywhere. Those who're familiar with trying to refurbish or customize Jumbos knows how notoriously difficult it is to get paint to adhere properly to polyethylene. This super-secret MK formula Walker used on these things is no joke. It's a game changer.


^^ And some jerk had a bunch of special edition metal-plated Gin Gin toys for sale. In fact, some may still be available here! ;)

Anyway, that's it for now. JoshF will be posting more coverage on the TBDX Brog soon...and I can't wait! He was painting like a machine at the show. And, damn, wait'l you see the custom projects he and Walker have cooking.

Like I said before, check back soon for another post with a big update about what's going on with Brownnoize. Stay tuned, kids!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Reverend sells out!

Aiight well, not really! But anyway, I'm back from my West Coast adventures. Been back for a couple weeks now, actually. And, oh, have these couple weeks been busy!

For real, yo, this is some BIG news. Y'know, it's one thing to continue striving towards the dream: a 100% locally homegrown chogokin. But with such a lofty goal--and with so many fundamental changes and setbacks along the way--it's easy to lose focus, y'knowmsayin? Well that's where all the side projects come in. They're great creative outlets. They don't demand too much of my time and resources. And they help me keep my edge.

The highest profile--by far!--side project has clearly been the "Throne of Chaos" Unicron display stand. Besides using TBDX as a focus group, it was a solo effort. Since there were no collaborations involved, I could make the process completely transparent and share my progress in real time. And to see the project go from concept, to CAD design, to fabrication, and ultimately to final product for's wild feeling, yo.


So what's with the "sell out"??? Partly thanks to the wild popularity of the exclusive 2011 Unicron, stand sales have hit a critical mass in terms of popularity. They've been discovered! And now, y'all can purchase the Throne of Chaos directly from! Can you dig it?? As of right now, I'm out of the retail game for these guys.

Over the last nine months or so, these stands have blown up the spot. Nah, hardly the highest-selling 3rd party TF accessory out there, but I've turned around about 100 units. That's a lot for one chooch from outta nowhere on the internets! And the folks who threw down have raved about their purchases. It's gratifying to know that you've created something that people are actually feeling...let alone having added a quality item to the far-reaching Transformer toy pantheon.

Of course, for those who've already paid for preorders from me, I'll certainly honor those orders. Everyone else, I'll refer to BBTS or any other retailers who decide to pick these up (naturally, I'll be sure to announce any new retail deals here!).

So Joel at BBTS posted his preorder offer for the stand last Thursday, but there hasn't been an e-mail newsletter mentioning it since then. Hell, it hasn't even shown up on their front page yet. But y'know what? Joel's already taken more preorders than stands I've sold in my entire time producing them! That's some hardcore shit, right there. I'm big-time, baby! ;)

Well, that's it for now. Again, I'm really proud of this accomplishment...and even more pleased with all the love TBDX cats and other TF fans have shown since this ride began. And, hey, just because BBTS is taking over the public show, I'm still running shit behind the scenes. I still wanna hear feedback (positive or negative) from y'all. Get at me via the "Contact Brownnoize" link on the right!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brownnoize is officially on vacation!

...And not entirely by choice! :P

But more on that later. For now, Summit highlights.

Aiight, so last weekend was the East Coast Chogokin Summit, and didn't I tell you it'd be tight?? Oh, no question. Widely considered the greatest Summit to date, a grip of toy collectors, artists, toy-widows (and widowers!) converged on the Godfather's crib north of Boston. I knew I'd be spending the night there, so I went to town on two 40's (Private Stock this mu'fucking 8-ball) and assorted other boozy treats...all mostly on an empty stomach! It was epic. I dunno if there's any official Summit coverage on the internets yet, but there ought to be soon...I'd recommend keeping an eye on CDX because JoshB always rocks the most comprehensive coverage.

I was WAY too busy partying to take any pics of my own, but between Mike's mini Jumbo Villains, Walker's eyeball-melting custom Jumbos and missile-fire Cosmic Squadron, and my own metal-plated Gin Gin exclusive release (YES), there was plenty to see other than the usual Summit treasures for sale! Even CDX's Leonardo Flores provided the nerd-beats with classic anime hits from Macross, Yamato, and the like. Damn. And that's not even mentioning how great a time everyone was having. Words can't even come close to describing everything. Sorry if you missed it [Ben! MAN, did we break that kid's balls for having fucked up the dates!]. Only until you see actual pics can you really grasp how far we've come as a community and as artists. I know I was there getting lit with homeboys I hadn't seen in a ill minute, but it was TRULY special to be a part of the whole thing.

And y'know something? It didn't even *start* for me on Saturday! Wednesday night, Hillsy (of TBDX and skullbrain fame) flew in from Seattle. As soon as he arrived, did he wanna drop his stuff off at the crib? Maybe freshen up...or even crash after a long day of travel? Fuck no...we hit up the Fours in Quincy and fucking drank. This marked the beginning of the demise of my liver. The next morning, Jim M (ALSO from TBDX and skullbrain fame) had taken the red-eye in from Oregon and got a rental whip. During the day, we just chilled, ate some good food, and hit up some local comic book stores. That night, though, Mason was having a chill get-together at his place. And Mason's is always a fresh time--the man is the embodiment of hospitality...and an amazing cook.

Ah, I did not join them, I had plans to meet up with a very special lady who was flying in from Oakland just for a short while. Yeah, INSANE fucking timing--what with buddies from out of town staying over and the Summit to prepare for! But like I said...she's special. Oh, what an evening. Walk in a park. Drinks. Long drives. Late night walks in a field and on a beach. Chased by cops(!). Yeah...the Rev's in love. ;) Anyway, LONG after Hillsy and Jim left Mason's and came back to my place, I snuck back in at around 5AM and slept blissfully!

The next day was Friday, and me and the fellas headed into Cambridge to hang out at Harvard Square, one of the few spots around the Bean where there are a few decent nerdy things to do all in the same place (while having bars in close proximity, of course). From there, we headed straight to JoshB's for pre-Summit tailgating at HIS place...and that was just a blast. Josh's spot is a great place to converge in larger, more diverse groups...and it did not disappoint. We headed back to Brownnoize HQ fairly early, drank a bit more, and talked til around 4AM while I put together Summit exclusives and got packed for the event in the morning.

After hitting up a local package store (hence the 40 oz's) early on, we got to Alen's...and the rest of the day was magic. Besides getting hammered--much to the delight of the Usual Suspects, who'd mostly only ever known me to be a sober dude--there was so much great hanging out with new folks and reconnecting with old buddies. One treat I was looking forward to was meeting Frankie B. Washington and James Biggie, creators behind Robot God Akamatsu. Again, adding more talent and drive to the community.

Anyway, long after most heads had split, me, Jim, Mark "machinesoldier" G, and Chairman Erik stayed up late having a great heated-but-honest discussion about race and class. HA! You know how we do! Wouldn't have it any other way. But it was just a great thing to be able to connect with these cats and for us all to listen to each other, y'knowmsayin? Anyway, we dropped one by one like flies, and even after two 40's, I somehow closed the place down. RIGHT before I crashed (around 2AM at this point???) though, I got a call from my lady friend back in Oakland. ;) We just chatted for about fifteen, but it was SUCH a lovely way to end the evening!

The next morning, Sunday, we awoke from the dead and a good 15-20 of us all met up for dim sum north of Boston. A few of us, still standing, then headed down to the South Shore to see Josh "C10" F's incredible toy collection and Japanese tea garden at his parent's place. Ridiculously, the place is only about 5-10 minutes from where I'm living now...yet I'd NEVER made it over there before! A very special treat for me, indeed. Anyway, after that, we all headed to Brownnoize HQ, where everyone was delightfully horrified to see the hilarious squalor I've been living in lately! ;) It's like half packed-up, recently-moved toy collector shit...half UNpacked, completely disorganized toy collector shit...half mad scientist toy factory. It's like man-bear-pig...only a place, not a monster Al Gore is hunting. Totally fucked up...but still great to show Erik and the other out-of-towners. There was plenty of ball-breaking about "Extreme Home Makeover: Toy Edition" and the like! Classic. Anyway, we were all pretty beat to shit at this point, so we capped the visit off with a gathering around the Goldrake kiddie ride. Afterwards, I had to say goodbye as I was about to drop fucking dead.

Folks dispersed and eventually headed back to their respective coasts and continents...and the memories and inside-jokes live on behind knowing smiles. Good fucking times. I really wish everyone were as fortunate as to have such a tight crew they can share their ridiculous passions with, y'knowmsayin?

And incredibly enough, this wall of text ain't even over, motherfuckers!

Remember that special lady friend I've been been mentioning? Well, her birthday's coming up and she treated herself to two ILL seats at Sade in San Jose this past Thursday night...and guess who that other ticket was for... BOOYAKA!! Yo, so I flew out Wednesday chilled with some of her friends that night, and just spent the most amazing time with her. Do y'all really wanna hear the sappy shit? Nah, probably not...but suffice it to say that it's been a fantastic time. Yo, the Sade seats? Right down the middle, dead center in front of the stage. She was so close, I coulda beaned her with a wiffle ball. And lemme tell you: that woman is EVERY damn bit as sexy and talented as she's EVER been, word is bond. Not only has she not lost an ounce of power in her voice, but just the amazing audio-visual production of each song was so off the fucking hook. I'm really glad I got to see Sade...even if only once in my life. And to have seen her with a lady I'm completely smitten with was nothing short of magical. ;)

So remember how I said this vacation ain't exactly by choice? Well apparently, there's a fucking hurricane about to decimate the Bean. Holy fuck. It figures I'd be out in gods damned California...when Mother Nature decides MASSACHUSETTS should break off and sink into the fucking ocean. My flight was for tomorrow morning. Back to work on Monday. Yeah, right. Get this: I'm stuck in Oakland until NEXT weekend!! And, of course, this is brilliant timing with the 2011 Amazon-exclusive Unicron having JUST come out...and me getting floods of orders for stands. Well, for those interested, I ain't getting back to the world until September I'll reply to any inquiries then. And I'll also get my Summit exclusive leftovers photographed and posted here for sale (y'all SERIOUSLY gotta see this shit!). But for now, I'm going off the grid. I guess it could be worse. I mean, I'm in rather nice company... ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summit Rumblings

Okay, a couple weeks later and about three days away from the Summit. Where you at?

Well, this year, shit's gonna be off the fucking hook! I know, I know...I KEEP saying that...but I'm saying...something big's gonna happen this year. I have a feeling the Godfather (Alen, founder of TBDX) has some big announcement he's keeping close to the vest. Meanwhile, I have the honor of hosting Jim M ("vintagevinyl" from skullbrain) and Hillsy (from...everywhere). Weep for my liver... ;)

As for me, I've got some custom exclusives that will definitely melt some fucking eyeballs...but no standard production toys as yet. Don't worry if you're not gonna be at the Summit: you're not gonna miss Gin Gin's official drop or anything huge like that. Anyway, the exclusives will be in the same vein as the Yojimbo: very limited treats for those keeping up with my crazy adventures in toy-making.

Oh, not sure if I'd mentioned this before, but Matt "Dead Presidents" Walker, insane mastermind behind Monster Kolor, will be attending. He and I have a couple surprises that should definitely shake some shit up. And trust me, that's a significant understatement.

Anyway, one small bit of bad news: the now-legendary Goldrake coin-op kiddie ride will sadly NOT be making the trip up to the North Shore this weekend. Heh...last time we worked on it, we kinda left it in a somewhat-organized pile of parts. The motor cowling is in place, but isn't bolted down. The cockpit ring is completely disassembled, even if the parts are back where they should be. Basically, it's good for photo-ops, but no one can sit in it. As such, we're leaving it at the crib. Plus, with such a big social event going on, does anyone actually wanna button this thing back together, rent a pick-up, and schlep it all the way up to Beverly? Nah...fuck that shit.

And it ain't like it's ready to toss our fat asses around anyway. :P Yeah, we got the running lights working...but not much progress since then! We've got to track down a motor that works...and is fucking metric! Roughly .8 Horsepower...and I guess the bolt pattern on the mounting flange is in fucking millimeters! Anyway, I think we're gonna be busy working on this thing for the next year or so...and if we're lucky, it'll be making its public debut--fully functional--at the next Summit!

As for updates on the major projects, everything's kinda on hold because of the Summit. When things pick back up again in a couple weeks, it all comes down to our resin-casting resources. All those details should shake out soon and by then, I should at least have some idea when we'll have resin-cast arms for Foe Gokin Gin Gin, as well as "baby" MUSCLE Gin Gin. In the meantime, I've gotta get off my ass and push through the next Foe Gokin (and MUSCLE) design. always...there are a few other side projects that are either too embryonic to mention, or they're collaborations where I'm not at liberty to divulge the 411!

Which basically means you need to hit me up at the Summit, feed me some beers, and listen to the tirade spew outta me! Aiight, I'm out...til next time.

Oh shit--one quick thing I almost forgot: Guess who's going to see Sade next week in San Jose! Mm-hmm...that's right!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 Will Smith

Mad locals like to complain that the summer is too short in the Bean. It's kinda true. But at the same time, it forces us to appreciate it more...and that's what's up. I mean, sure, I could use a winter that's a month shorter, and a month-longer summer. But it is what it is, and ya can't have everything.

Anyway, just putting my mind on what's happening outside these air-conditioned surroundings (at work...never A/C at the crib) helps me keep my head screwed on straight, y'knowmsayin? Yo, I spend long hours hustling these toy designs--half the shit I'm on I can't even bring up here because it's all collaborative work I'm doing with other heads, or it's ill experimental shit that's just too out-there to be blogging about publicly. But the late nights and coming into work on weekends is cool as long as I can maintain balance.

Lately, I've been doing that barefoot-running that hippie motherfuckers get excited about. No, not literally barefoot--but with "minimalist" running shoes, and running in that "Pose" style that's more biomechanically efficient and natural to how humans evolved. Don't worry: Reverend Brownnoize hasn't lost his shit and gone all New Age on yo' asses. I'm just trying to do whatever's in my means to live more healthy. No more high-fructose corn syrup, y'knowmsayin? Fuck that shit. Brown people need longer life-expectancies.

Aiight, enough with the PSA. Let's get back to the trill shit. As always, I'ma start with Foe Gokin news. My gods...Shapeways finally came through. Haha--I thought it'd be at least another month before I got the arm pieces back from them! Well, they're here and they look pretty good. I'm working with the resin-caster now to get these produced. I'm not in a big hurry because I want these done right, of course. As always, as shit progresses, I'll keep y'all posted. Who loves ya?

Remember last time when I mentioned that "alumide" material from Shapeways? The plan was to print up a Foe Gokin Gin Gin head in alumide, then send it off to my metal-caster to see if it's any good. Well, I got that joint too. Yo, it looks MAD weird. There's sort of a sparkly, sandy texture to it, but the basic geometry's tight. Check this shit out:

PhotobucketPewter on left; alumide on the right

I have no idea if that sandy texture's gonna fuck up the mold, but being so damn cheap and being able to withstand up to 350 degrees F is pretty tempting. I've already sent this thing to the metal-caster, so we'll see soon enough.

Anyway, like the title says, it's summertime...and that means East Coast Chogokin Summit! Plans for this year's Summit are coming along nicely. It'll be nice to rock the Beantown hospitality--yeah, we can be curmudgeony assholes, but we know how to treat fam! Make no mistake, Gin Gin will be making an appearance! Oh, and speaking of dope appearances, it looks like Boston's own Frankie B. Washington will gracing the event! That's some exciting shit, right there! Frankie is a professional illustrator who grew up watching Force Five and playing with Shogun Warriors like the rest of us Massholes, and besides having done tons of work in comics, he's got his own robot property called Robot God Akamatsu along with writer, James Biggie. Damn if that ain't some exciting shit right there! Will toy-production in Akamatsu's future? Well, you're gonna have to come to the Summit and see! ;)

Next up, let's talk about what's cooking in the world of MUSCLEs. I probably won't have the Gin Gin MUSCLE in production by the Summit...but gods DAMN, wait'll y'all see what we've got cooking! There'll definitely be some ill shit as far as "baby Gin Gin" goes! And speaking of whom, I wanted to show you some side-by-side shots of three different prints of him. The washed-out white figure is "White Detail" from Shapeways (again, their term for Objet VeroWhite), and the yellow-ish clear one is "Frosted Ultra Detail" from Shapeways (3D Systems polymer). And finally, the orangish pink joint was printed on an EnvisionTEC Multi Mini machine by my legit prototyper. Try not to drool on your keyboard...


By comparison, the Shapeways offerings are almost a joke. The EnvisionTEC print actually looks like a finished product. Need more convincing? Just click here and scrutinize. THIS is a fucking prototype:


And don't sweat ol'AshuraShine--I've got plans for him. I still want to do two more MUSCLEs to go along with him, but I've got something different up my sleeve for his companions that I think heads will dig. Once I've got some drawings properly made, I'll post. They'll be worth the wait!

Anyway, for sure, I've got other dope shit cooking--including stuff as diverse as designer vinyl accessories and Transformers upgrades--but it's all hush-hush for now. Catch y'all later.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


The post from earlier this week was a little light on actual news so I wanted to drop some info (y'know...for the three people who follow this blog...whom I already talk to on the damn phone! hahaha). Well, first up, Foe Gokin news. Right about now, the only thing I'm waiting on is prints from Shapeways. Shocker. Well, what can ya do? Once I get those arm pieces, it's off to the resin-caster, and once the castings are ready, it's off to Walker for stickering and painting. Meanwhile, one of my homeboys is hooking up the box for the production figures...some ill shit in the works.

So the end is in sight. Sorta. I mean, this is kind of a weird position for me: like, I've used the phrase, "hurry up and wait" before...but this is wild, man. I'm basically chilling, waiting for all these elements to come together. I guess it gives me time to work on other shit, though, right? Staying creative--staying creating--is clutch. And the key to maintaining.


Here's an interesting development: "alumide". This shit's basically aluminum powder mixed with polyamide (basically, plastic) powder. A process called laser sintering is used to zap portions of a reservoir of the powder mix to fuse it. The result isn't normal, everyday solid aluminum, but you get a part that can resist almost 350 degrees Fahrenheit! It's a bit brittle, has a sorta grainy/porous texture, and the detail's not gonna blow your damn mind...but the shit's cheap as fuck. I went ahead and printed up a copy of Foe Gokin Gin Gin's head in this stuff (cost me $8!)...and, naturally, I forgot to photograph the fucking thing to post here! Anyway, I'ma send it to my metal caster to see if she can make a better vulcanized rubber mold out of it. The vulcanizer can get up to 300 degrees, and we've seen that take its toll on resin-cast prototypes. Maybe this shit can survive better and ultimately yield better castings. Hey, ya never know!

Next up, MUSCLEs.

Check it. I was thinking [that's never a safe thing]: Baby Gin Gin is an obvious product for me to make. It'll make a slick pack-in with the Foe Gokin, and they'll be pretty damn hot sold on their own. Naturally, I'll be making MUSCLE versions of all my Foe Gokin designs from here on out. Anyway, the AshuraShine is a bit of an odd man out, y'knowmsayin? I mean, he's just a fun side project that turned into a cool little figure. But it's kinda weird to have him as a stand-alone guy from outta it dawned on me the other day: why not make more "sunshined" versions of my favorite MUSCLEs?

Well, I just doodled these fuckers up...BOOM!



Black Killer becomes "SunKiller" and Buffaloman becomes "BuffaloShine"! They look kinda hot, y'knowmsayin (especially the pixelated look of Buffaloman)? These two dudes were my favorite MUSCLEs growing up, along with Ashuraman. So...if I end up designing these guys, I'll have a nice little trio of alternate reality Sunshine-versions of my favorite characters! They'll make a tight three-pack (or at least singles with a common theme), I think.

Anyway, one last teaser for now: today, I started working on the next Foe Gokin. Heh...I've told a couple heads in the inner circle who the character is, but I'ma keep that shit a secret until production Gin Gins are ready. Hey, come to the Summit and see if you can needle the 411 outta me! ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yo, can't beat this weather...

...So you know I had to pop outside with my camera for a minute to take some dumb pictures in the sunshine!


^^I love this shot! I noticed the other day that I have a *bunch* of Gin Gin MUSCLE prints laying around from various material tests, design tweaks, and other goofy experiments. So...why not pile 'em all up!

This guy's extra special:

This is a "transparent detail" (Objet) print from Shapeways...but I had Walker hit 'im with his heavy duty clear-coat. Heh...the shell's probably tougher than the material inside, but just check out that ill gloss!


The coat was probably too thick, overall--it's actually obscuring a bunch of the minute detail...but whateva, man. It was fun to mess with.

Next up, I just wanted to take a shot of AshuraShine next to one of the legit Ashuraman figures:


Heh...I have no idea how this never occurred to me before, but showing them off side by side just seems natural! Obviously, y'all can see how I tried to keep the position of the arms kinda consistent...even if the hand gestures are different.


And just assembling some Gin Gin figures today (yes, the actual Foe Gokin joints!). I never got around to gluing the Tohoku version properly, so that's all set now...and what you see is the very last of the Yojimbo versions (sorry, it's long been spoken for...I just need to hand-deliver it to a special fan)!


Don't worry--more Foe Gokin are coming. And in a big way.

In fact, I've got plenty of cool stuff in the works. Watch for another news update real soon...I'ma get back to chillin' in this heat! ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Constant elevation

Damn...has it REALLY been almost a month since my last update??? Heh...I've been meaning to drop some news for y'all for the past couple weeks, but on the real, it's been SO nice outside--I'm not even trying to fuck with computers any more than I have to, y'knowmsayin? Good thing it's raining today! ;) Plus, nothing particularly earth-shattering has really gone down as of late. But as always, there is constant elevation, so let me hit you with the latest. No pics this time around for y'all...but don't sweat it. Lots of shit's in the works.

First, a little bad news. The Blazing Sword for the Jumbo Dairugger appears dead in the water. Yep. Basically, the problem is that the shoulder joint on the actual toy is just too damn unreliable. Apparently, the warmer it is, the weaker the joint. And it's summer. So you get the idea...

I tried heating up the shoulder with a hair dryer, removing the arm, and putting a rubber band around the shoulder flange to tighten the fit and add friction. All that succeeded in doing was making the arm sink down slowly, rather than just flopping down. Yeah, I know I can come up with a solid ratcheting joint that I can implant inside the figure...but we can't expect people to perform surgery on their toys. To me, that's no fun. The goal is an out-of-the-box solution, dig?

I'll still probably make the STL file for the sword available to anyone who wants it. If other heads want to print out their own swords and customize their figures' shoulder joints, that's real.

What I'ma try to do now is get the 8" Toynami Voltron I vinyl and just scale down the sword for that toy. Of course, the fists are filled in, so I'll have to chop out the extra vinyl. I know: more toy-surgery. Again, I'll make the STL file available to anyone who wants it, but that basically means no Blazing Sword will be produced for the standard-sized vinyl either. :/

Anyway, on to more happy shit.

The MUSCLE figures are developing nicely. Right now, I'm just tweaking some details here and there just for aesthetics. Freshly dipped when they step on the scene...that's the goal, right? As you can tell, I'm psyched to get these joints made. Just like with the Foe Gokin Gin Gin, these will be done locally. American craftsmanship, baby, and low carbon footprint! Meanwhile, my prototyper just rolled out a brand new 3D printer they just acquired that ROCKS even the 3D Systems joint Shapeways has. It's obviously for small items only, but it boasts some sick resolution. In the next couple weeks, my prototyper will be running some tests on this machine and eventually, I'm gonna get some dope prints of my boys.

As for Foe Gokin Gin Gin, himself, I'm just waiting on a couple elements to come together before dropping this magnificent beast. The arms are being printed as I type and once they're in-hand and the resin castings are made, we'll paint them up and fit the stickers. Obviously, I'm leaving out a bunch of details because I want them to be a surprise! Suffice it to say, shit's looking lovely!

Oh, and I'm sure some of the TF heads out there have clocked that new Masterpiece Unicron coming out! I gotta admit, it's looking kinda fresh. It's mostly the same as the "Welcome to 2010" version that Takara dropped last Fall, but at less than half the price! Looks like the right hand will be opaque grey plastic (which I down with), but I hope the eyes light up green this time. Oh...and most importantly, I hope they did some retooling on the molds. The "Welcome to 2010" version had a lot of sloppiness in parts fit and in the joints. Sure, shit stays tight on it, but the tolerances are just off a tiny bit everywhere. When you handle it, it just doesn't feel as crisp as the original Armada drop.

Well, either way, the news is rocking bells...and that means my stands are flying off the shelves! :P For real, since this new version was announced, I've taken about a dozen or so orders. Pretty cool! So...get 'em while they're hot, folks!

And lastly for now, I just wanted to plug the 2011 East Coast Chogokin Summit to be held on August 20th in Beverly, MA. Kinda hard to believe these have been going on since the late 90's! I've been going since '05, and I even hosted in '07. This year is looking kinda nuts--we got heads coming in from the West Coast, down south...and even Belgium! For real, it's gonna be hot. Check the thread or peep the shittalk on facebook!

I'm out!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Shapeways shenanigans

So last night, I got two separate packages from Shapeways. Yeah, I don't really get what the hell they're doing over there. UPS handles all their shipping, and since Shapeways seems like a small company, I guess it makes sense to step back and let UPS manage everything. But instead of, y'know, putting everything into one fucking box, they'll ship multiple items the size of a fucking thimble in separate boxes. Whatever, long as the shit gets here, I guess I can't complain.

So anyway, just a couple news items this week--all stemming from printouts received. First of all, the Dairugger blazing sword prototype is looking mad tight with the latest modifications. Peep the images below [and again, sorry for the shittier and shittier my camera slowly makes its way across the river, Sanzu]. Oh, and just like before, I had to cut the blade off (and even hog out a bunch of material from the sides) because the shit's just too damn expensive.


Now, I just took a sharpie and scribbled all over different surfaces of the menuki (heh...a throwback from my Japanese swordsmanship days: menuki are hilt ornaments that function to improve your grip by providing a little extra ergonomic bulk for your hands). The result of the marker ink is pretty damn good, I think!


And just taking a step back, I think the scale and feel of the entire hilt is pretty on point.


And, of course, now the bad news: I just don't think this is gonna fucking work! The "white, strong, flexible" (WSF) material I printed this part in is already crazy-light, but it was still causing the arm to flop down at the shoulder. Can you imagine the full-length sword...done in a denser material?? I dunno. It's gonna be a tough one. We'll see what happens...

Anyway, next up is the "frosted ultra detail" (FUD; 3D Systems) AshuraShine. Yo, this shit is off the fucking hook!



Keep in mind, the toy above is 1-3/4"!! You can just barely make out the layer striations on the upper chest (because there's a subtle non-vertical slope to that surface). Pretty fucking wild. I mean, just look at how damn SHARP that Om and BN logo came out! This shit is real-deal. Click here for a nice close-up.

And just for comparison, here's a "transparent detail" (TD; Objet) printout of the Gin Gin MUSCLE:


This is just about the best Objet print I've ever gotten from Shapeways. Unfortunately, I've gotten other "detail" parts from them that looked aiight...but felt like they were made out of used chewing gum. Pretty fucked up. I'm not sure what they're doing wrong. I presume there's some post-processing step they're skipping or just doing wrong. Most TD parts definitely have some weird "gunk" all over them--whether it's just a slimy sheen or some actual clay-like crap that you need to scrape off yourself (the Gin Gin above was mad slimy, but after about five minutes with soapy water and an old toothbrush, it was straight).

Well, either way, that Gin Gin looks like money, but you can sorta tell the striations are less consistent and the edges and details are a bit softer than on the AshuraShine.

Anyway, there'll probably be another series of tweaks on these MUSCLE CAD designs before going to final FUD printed prototypes. More soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Situation normal: all fucked up

Well, some fairly big news for the Foe Gokin project this I'll get right to it. We are actually converting to resin cast arms! So why the change? Well, the process of going from resin prototype arm parts to vulcanized rubber mold (for pewter casting) is an extremely hot one: at least ~250 degrees F. The prototype parts can't really withstand that for long, so the thin arm shields start to warp a bit. Those of you who picked up the Yojimbo Gin Gin release might have noticed a very slight wobble in the shields if you look at them directly edge-on.

The warping is mad subtle and hard to notice at all. Normally, I wouldn't give a shit...but here's the problem: that wobble is fucking the stickers! The stickers for the shield detail obviously need to lay down flat on the conic shield surface, but with the warping, the straight edges of the stickers now need to be scalloped a little to fit properly. That sucks.

So now, we're investigating getting just the arms produced by a local resin caster. Resin is dimensionally reliable, and all the shit will get painted the same way, of course. There should be no visual difference...except, I guess, for the lack of wobble. One nice benefit is that resin is MUCH lighter than pewter, with lighter arms, there'll be a lot less stress on the shoulder joints (not that there was any arm-sagging with the all-metal figures...but whateva). But anyway, the stickers should be straight and ultimately, if ya think about it, the Popy STs had plastic arms, now Gin Gin will be even more like his forefathers! Br-r-r-r-RAPP!!

Oh, one more quick thing: I've finally settled on a packing system: I'm going with a memory foam blanket to cradle the figure inside the box. It's dope as hell! VERY classic Popy-style. Stay tuned for final packing images as they become reality...

Anyway, moving right along, check it out: Wave 3 of the mighty Throne of Chaos has arrived! I'm already in the midst of processing preorders, so they should be going out by the end of the week. Thanks to all who've ordered, of course, and THANK YOU for your patience. I understand these things take quite a bit of time to do right...and I've heard nothing but good things from those who've bought them!

So, get 'em while they're hot!

Next up, Blazing Sword news! I think I mentioned last time that I was getting a 3D print made of just the handle to test its fit in his hand. Well, I got the part last week...and, yo, it's pretty sick! Check out these pics!


The fit is CRAZY-rock solid. Even if this were somehow produced in diecast metal(!), it would be stable in Jumbo Dairugger's hand. Heh...who knows if his shoulder would be able to take the strain! Anyway, as it turns out, there's actually a tiny bit of expansion from CAD to 3D print (I used Shapeways' "white, strong, & flexible" or "WSF" material). Granted the expansion is only .22%, but it's there.


I had to tweak some dimensions and round some edges in the CAD model for aesthetic reasons, but this proof of concept makes this little project a LOT closer to reality. I've ordered another print, but this time with more of the hilt (actually, the complete sword guard and the first inch or so of blade). To keep shit cheaper, I hollowed out a lot of the part so it won't kill my wallet. Even with that, the updated handle costs $60! well. All this shit's for fun!

Let's see...all that's left is MUSCLE news. Well, as always, constant elevation, but not a TON to report. I'm actually waiting on some new prints from Shapeways using their new "frosted ultra detail" material (FUD)--which boasts a tolerance of .1mm (thus beating out their Objet "white detail" material's .2mm tolerance). This is that joint from 3D Systems I mentioned last time. Anyway, once I clock that FUD shit, I'ma go to work with the local resin casters I mentioned above and see what we can come up with for baby Gin Gin and AshuraShine!

There's a LOT more MUSCLE stuff in the works...but it's all conceptual at this stage. If shit pans out, I'll spill it here, of course. But that's all I've got this week. Easy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stuff is brewing

Okay, I'm trying to get back into a weekly update rhythm to prevent each post from becoming a fucking wall of text. We'll see how poorly I fare! :P

Aiight, so what's new? Well, a bunch of shit, as it turns out. And just for the fuck of it, I'm not keeping anything secret this week! So first off, I've made some progress in getting MUSCLE Gin Gin produced. I've had a chance to sample some custom resin MUSCLE figures on the market today, and I gotta say, them shits is tight! So like I said last time, for the sake of my homeboys I grew up with, I've decided I wanna pursue getting him done in resin just to be able to offer some shit heads can afford, y'knowmsayin?

A quick tidbit in terms of prototyping: Shapeways has rolled out a new machine (a ProJet HD 3000, I believe, from 3D Systems) that prints with better accuracy and supposedly smoother surface finish and stronger final product than Objet. Of course, the price has gone from $13 to $19, but that still ain't too bad. I've already ordered a MUSCLE Gin Gin 3.0, so we'll see how it looks in a week or so.

Now, on top of that, I've been working on another, more-traditional MUSCLE figure. Now, this may seem like a bite on The Godbeast and Jason Frailey's ClawShine--and I apologize for that--but I've always loved Sunshine and I've always loved Ashuraman. Sunshine is just a killer design--and I love how he can shape-shift into all sorts of other stuff. And let's face it--it's MAD simple to CAD him up and make him look legit! And Ashuraman? C'mon...y'all know I'ma throw down for my South Asian heritage. So peep this:


An Ashura (more properly Asura...or even Ahura if you're a real cunning linguist) is a class of demigods in Hindu mythology. The opposite of the Devas (who were sorta the "good guy" demigods), the Asuras were materialistic, egotistical pricks. Just like Ashuraman in Kinnikuman! ;)

So this is my Sunshine version of him. I've replaced the sun emblem on his chest with an Om (while keeping the sunshine mark on the foreheads).

And yes, I said foreheads, plural! I gave him three faces to go with the six arms, in keeping with how Asuras like Ashuraman are depicted:

I think it's kinda fresh, and would make a dope companion to the Gin Gin MUSCLE. Plus, it may win over some hardcore MUSCLE-heads, y'knowmsayin? ;)

Right now, I have the lower right hand in an open palm facing forward, as is traditional for depictions of divine character in Indian artwork...but I think that's gonna play havoc with molding this beast. We'll see what the experts think when I start looking into resin casting...

Okay, next up, FORM BLAZING SWORD!!

Oh fuck yeah. Toynami Jumbo Dairugger in the house. And peep this shit:

For all intents and purposes, it's a scaled up version of the Kikou Gattai sword (with the sharp tip restored). Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? The original toy's sword was dope, so why fuck with it? This shit's fire, yo! I'm getting a prototype of just the handle right now to test the fit.

Oh, all that weird shit on the handle is filler to accommodate the figure's hand geometry, which was obviously never designed for a sword. It looks dumb as hell separate, but if my CAD skills are worth a damn, it should make for a rock-solid fit that doesn't look bad at all when held in his hand. Prints have been ordered, so keep an eye out for my next update!

Unicron stands...yeah, remember those? Heh...the next batch should be en route, actually. I've got a lot of preorders to process, but other than those, they should be up for grabs!

And finally, that other toy I've been spending some time on: the Foe-Gokin Gin Gin! Y'all have been patient with this chooch, huh? :) Well, painting of the first couple figures has begun, and sticker fitting is almost complete. I'm hoping in the next week or two, I can at least show y'all some progress pics of this beast coming to life. MAD heads have been asking me about it...and I hate saying "a couple more weeks", "a couple more weeks" over and over again! So believe me--if y'all are psyched about this shit, imagine how I feel! ;)