Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nothing serious

First snowfall of the season today in Waltham, MA...and thankfully no more gods damned political commercials to ruin my Celtics games! ;)

In celebration, I'm just gonna post a bunch of random stuff I've been messing around with lately. For the past month or two, things have been mostly quiet as far as toy production goes. It's not a bad thing: I've had more time to spend with my girl, my friends, and go on trips and see new things.

At the risk of starting off on a sour note, though, it's looking less and less likely that Foe Gokin Gin Gin is gonna come out before the end of the year. I know that it's been almost two years of developmental hell...but the delays seem to be piling up all of a sudden. The box printers--despite their promises--have failed to follow through. The latest body masters from Shapeways (for pewter casting) have had weird surface distortions. I can't quite seem to get the shield design "just right". And the god of paint, Dead Presidents, is too busy with other projects to come through these days... :/

Hate to sound pessimistic--especially after all this time sounding optimistic--but that's where we're at. But on the strength, I'ma still keep crashing the boards to get this project done. Failure is not an option.

But enough moping. I've got tons of mini-projects going on...and they're funner'n hell!

First, peep this madness... gold-plated stainless steel AshuraShine!!

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This thing is straight up and down nuts! It's the same exact dimensions as the rubber ones MUSCLEThings is casting for everyone...only it's just a gold-finished stainless steel print from Shapeways (see my last blog post for some more info on the stainless steel printing process).

As you can see, the detail is a little muddied and weird. Like, the partition lines between the bricks are barely visible because of the lower print the highly visible print layers interfere in a really wild sorta way. But it's Sunshine, damnit. And he's he's supposed to be! When I was showing it to a coworker this morning, I dropped it...and the wang off his desk could be heard all around the office. Not a damn scratch on the figure, but it sure left a welt on his veneer! ;)

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I'm not even sure what I'ma do with this thing. I kinda made it with that "because I can" mentality, y'knowmsayin? The figure costs a little over $80, so I might just offer it to the LRG folks to see if anyone would be interested. Could be cool, right? If anyone's actually interested, I'll probably tweak the model a bit to optimize the print (increase the depth/size of the brick partition lines, and enhance other details to prevent them from getting lost). We'll see how heads respond to it...

The next cool thing I've been playing with these days is brass from i.materialise. This is a little pricier of an option, but it's something that my young ward, Ben, from Prometheus Rising Studios put me on to a while back. It's actually kind of a fascinating process: these cats actually print your object in a sort of wax or wax-like substance (don't know anything about the specific print process/technology), then they actually use the age-old lost-wax casting process to make a pretty damn sharp brass piece from the print! Pretty slick, if you ask me.

And the results are killer. Click on that Prometheus link above for Ben's Bounce Tortoise power armor done up in brass. And here's some shots of a brass MUSCLE Gin Gin next to one done up in Shapeways' stainless steel:

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I love what I'm seeing with this brass, yo. The details are almost as tight as they are with the stainless. And there's a tiny, tiny bit of geometric distortion with the brass. But at the end of the day, the surface finish utterly dominates the stainless prints.

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Just looking at the shields above, you can sorta tell that the stainless is a little sharper. The fidelity of those details is just a bit nicer than on the brass casting.


And that ain't no sloppy posing: both Gin Gin figures are equidistant from the camera. The brass one IS, in fact, shorter by a small amount--I guess you lose a little bit of size with the lost-wax method. Will have to remember to factor that in...

But if you look SUPER close, you can kinda see that the silhouette of the back of Gin Gin's head is a little flatter on the brass piece than it is on the stainless one. The stainless head is perfect, but somehow, the brass casting got flattened out a bit. That's kinda what I meant by "geometric distortion". You can see the same type of thing here in a pic Ben took comparing his Bounce Tortoises. If your eyes are sharp, you can see that the top, flat surfaces of those vents above each shoulder are perfectly level on the polyamide and stainless steel prints. On the brass casting in the middle, however, those surfaces dip inwards just a little bit.

But remember: besides resolution and distortion, there's also surface finish to consider. Since my last blog post, I've been gushing about the surprisingly high resolution on those stainless steel prints. True indeed, I was and still am impressed given the tiny size of these figures. And in terms of distortion, there simply is none with stainless. I think the brass castings from i.materialise come in a close second in both of these categories. Even though they cost twice as much as stainless from Shapeways.

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But that third category...oh damn. I think it's pretty safe to say that the surface finish on the brass piece kills it. I mean, as far as metal-printing options go today, brass is optimal. But what about that price?? This little brass MUSCLE Gin Gin cost me about $100. In my opinion, that's just too much for an end product. So here's my plan: do more minifigs...print them in brass...use the brass pieces as mold masters for local pewter casting. BLAO!

Oh yeah...production has already begun...


Oh, one more quick thing before we get off the MUSCLE Gin Gin tip. My CAD-cohort, Ben, also just copped himself an UP! Mini 3D printer. I've never been a huge fan of FDM machines in the past, but they've been getting a lot of positive press lately because their prices have always been lower than SLA or SLS...and now, they're finally starting to offer competitive resolution and smart break-away support material. Anyway, he tried his hand at printing a couple MUSCLE Gin Gins:


It's a good experience for him to learn about print orientation, how to partition models, etc...and once he's optimized these prints, he's gonna start painting them up just for the hell of it. It's always fun to see Ben's stuff evolve. Even if he can't figure out how to use a damn calendar... ;)

Anyway...what else is cooking? Oh--some folks may remember that I CAD-modeled a late version Popy GA-01 Mazinger Z. Well, along with offering a gold-plated stainless steel AshuraShine print, I decided to print up a MUSCLE-ized version of that GA-01 for the hell of it. A couple folks have expressed interest in getting hit me up if you're looking. Unfortunately, they're about $50 a whack...and I'm guessing around $100 in brass from i.m. They're pretty tight though...


As for my MUSCLE collabs with MT, I promise to get on the ball this weekend! I'm back from vacation this week and my priority has been getting this blog out there...and doing laundry. Oh man. Anyway, check it: Spinning Head Sunshine sets ARE IN. Unfortunately, I've just been gone for so damn long, I only got around to ordering the header cards this week. They should be in soon, so I'll start taking official orders this weekend so that I'm ready to go when the cards arrive.

AshuraShine sales keep coming in from every angle. Alec hit me up with a bunch of those in his latest shipment as well. I'ma offer the traditional MUSCLE-pink ones to the tail-enders on the LRG list...then it's a free-for-all. Anyone who hits me up for one get a choice of whatever's in stock. Then I finally might be able to offer these things to folks on other damn boards! ;)

And last but not least, meet Lou:


I first saw him on the wall a couple weeks before I left for vacation...and I just sorta left him alone 'cause he was so big and cool-looking. Then, when I got back this weekend, there he was. Flossin'. Standing in his b-boy stance. So I had to take a pic. And name him Lou. Just 'cause.

Aiight, I'm out.


  1. How would the Sunshine look as brass I wonder? I've always wondered what Muscle figs would look like in metal. AWSEOME!

  2. Y'know...the brass *really* does look amazing, brotha. The problem is the price! I just checked, and the base price for a brass lost-wax casting is $ it would ultimately be about $200 for one damn figure. Clearly for high-rollers only! ;)

    Still...I should put that option out there. I mean, why not, right??? If one or two heads are interested, I'd be happy to place the order for them. Of course, when the figures arrive, I'll take tons of pics before shipping them out...just to see if they entice anyone else!

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