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...