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! ;)