Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Neglected child

That's what this blog feels like sometimes! I'll bring home a present or something to smooth things over...but *know* that junk ain't gonna work! Heh...oh well...

But enough about that! The East Coast Chogokin Summit was last Saturday, and as usual, it was glorious. I'm not going to dwell on it too much here, but if you get a chance, look it up on facebook (and soon on CollectionDX). There ought to be plenty of pics out there...along with some suitably embarrassing video of yours truly!

Suffice it to say that a great time was had by all. Every year, the number of attendees keeps on growing, and it's just exciting to watch this crazy thing evolve!


Anyway, let's get back to business. First, if anyone was interested in how last month's Lament Configuration turned out...well...the news ain't so good! See, the whole impetus to design the damn thing was that the hand-finished ones online cost $400 and up. Ouch! Well, even with 1.5mm walls, it's still $175 in polyamide from Shapeways! Guh. Yeah, not so fantastic. So I dunno...maybe I'll make a chisai keychain version or something. Who knows. At least the mechanism worked beautifully!


Gin Gin news? Well, things are accelerating in the right direction. I met with our intrepid paint master, Matt Walker, last week to go over some things. We're definitely on the right footing to get an actual working, properly-colored figure within a reasonable time frame.

I don't have any pics to show, but two major things need to be settled at this point. First, the production parts: I'm sending my local metal caster a new body made from polished alumide this week. Hopefully, this will be *it* for the body. The head is something I'm actually on the fence about. We can either continue to have it cast in pewter...or we can go with polished polyamide--the same stuff the arms will be done in. The latter would be more "authentic", because classic chogokin always had plastic heads...but the irony is that casting it in metal may actually be cheaper than 3D printing! We'll see. And finally, the aforementioned arms will be printed in polished polyamide coming from either Shapeways or i.materialise. It's a coin-toss right now because Shapeways' customer service is horrendous and their polyamide quality has been questionable as of late. On the other hand, i.m can only become remotely price-competitive IF you buy in bulk (~10-20 sets of arms per order). Again, we'll see...

And second point to settle is the paint itself. Some of the colors on the paint master were off. Blues were too light, greens were too dark. Y'know...that sort of thing. The biggest issue was actually the color mapping. I guess there was some miscommunication at some point, and the color map we were looking at was an older, more complex version. I had since redefined the map to 1) cut down on work for us, and 2) bring the toy more in-line with the clean, simplified look of Popy ST's. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we're going to iron out all these details while I tighten up the packaging details with my printer.


AshuraShine is still going strong. The end of the LRG preorder tunnel is in sight: once Alec and I get to the end of the list, I'm going to start advertising and selling on other sites.

Again, I don't have any pics to show yet, but I got some special figures from Alec to show off some fantastic colors! Among them are crystal clear and hot pink...and lemme tell ya: they're absolutely killer. I sold some of each at the Summit, but I've got a few left. I'll probably photograph them and post them for sale soon!


And now for this month's big news! My next MUSCLE design, Spinning Head Sunshine (SHS)! Now, this requires some 'splainin', so check this out. Above, you see good ol' MUSCLE #195, Sunshine (f) or "Spinning Top Sunshine". As y'all know, I've always loved Sunshine and all the weird shapes he could morph into. Well, the problem with this particular version of him is that, well...he can't exactly stand on his own.


In fact, he looks kinda like a doofus just sitting there on his ass. So the idea was to give him a bit of an upgrade! Peep this:

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Yes--basically brick power armor for your #195! As you can tell, it's super-chunky...and I kinda dig that. What's cool in my opinion, though, is that it's actually no taller than your average MUSCLE. Anyway, these suits will obviously be cast in rubber by Alec. As such, the shoulders can flex apart as you stuff your Spinning Top Sunshine into the central cavity. The effect should be pretty killer!


But wait! There's more!

See, when I was talking to Alec about this design he brought up some important caveats. First of all, he'll be casting SHS in the same color and consistency across the board, right? Well, people's #195's may vary quite a bit. Remember--these toys are close to 30 years old! Some have been left out in the sun, some of them have been microwaved, some of them have been up kids' butts (yes, look twice at that lot of loose MUSCLEs you just scored offa eBay!). The colors--and sometimes, even shapes--may have changed with age. Or who knows: maybe it was a bad day at the factory and the color mix was off for that batch. Or maybe the figure was yanked from the mold before the PVC could set properly.

Either way, there's a chance your pink MUSCLE may not match Alec's pink SHS perfectly. And, hell--what about folks who don't even have a #195 but still want the suit??? So Alec's suggestion was actually to offer a replacement Spinning Top Sunshine! Thus, the birth of Spinshine:

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SHS and Spinshine basically comprise "part 2" of my Sunshine trilogy, but honestly, I'm already getting a little sick of all these bricks! :P So with Spinshine, you can see that I decided to stretch my CAD muscles a little bit further than usual and come up with something more creative. Those familiar with Spinning Head Ashuraman--my source of inspiration with this toy--can immediately see the similarities. Spinshine's tri-face/symbol design is quite a bit more complex than AshuraShine. Check it out:

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He's designed to fit SHS perfectly, and obviously, Alec will be able to match the colors precisely. AND we'll be able to pull off crazy colors/effects, instead of being stuck with folks' stock #195's. Like, can you imagine a crystal-clear SHS with a glow Spinshine in the center?? Dope.

As you may have noticed, Spinshine's head (heads?) is a bit bigger than the stock #195's head...but I think it fits in better with the combined Spinning Head Sunshine look:

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These images will likely find their way to LRG soon, but let me know what y'all think! I can't wait to get feedback on this figure. As for taking orders, we're still a little ways off--the master prints from Shapeways (in 3D Systems' hi-res polymer) will probably arrive in a week or so...then off to Alec for molding and review by me. Stay tuned, of course, for more info! ;)