Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Wrap-up

Wow. What a year.

First off, I gotta apologize to folks trying to follow my progress who're not on Instagram! I've been kinda AWOL on my own blog...but you know how it goes with constantly-evolving social media. IG has been a great space to share not only my day-to-day exploits in the world of custom toy-making, but also a little more about myself through pictures of the many amazing Japanese robot and monster toys I've accumulated over the years. And even a little hip hop music here and there. ;) It's so damn simple to post something fresh every day or two. Makes this blog seem clunky in comparison!

But on the strength, this blog is still my secret base of operations for whenever I need to dump a massive wall of text (like this one!) or mad pics that wouldn't be appropriate elsewhere. I can announce stuff on IG, but I'll always refer back to this blog for more info, contacting me, or buying something.

I just want it to be clear that even though my blog posts are sporadic as hell, that's definitely NOT an indication that my toy-making adventures are slowing down in any way! Word. Life. In fact, it's now been about eight months since I followed Ben's lead and bought an Afinia H-series 3D printer. And to call it a "game-changer" would be an understatement bordering on absurdity.

See, lemme explain something. I don't give a crap about 3D printing. I don't give a crap about CAD modeling. What I care about is making toys, y'knowmsayin? That's it. As it turns out, I happen to be kinda nice with CAD...given that I've been working deep in the CAD software industry for over a decade. And I've been collecting and dreaming about Japanese toys for FAR longer. But while collecting these things has hooked me up with a great group of people, once my creative side started to assert itself over my consumeristic nature, I knew I had to make at least some of the craziness dancing in my head real.

But I just never got into resin- or rubber-casting. You can make some dope little rubber guys...but the process is very slow and labor-intensive. $15-20 for a 2" non-articulated minifig that you have to wait in line for is a far cry from buckets of MUSCLE dudes available on eBay for a buck or two. No hate, of course--I love what cats like, Eric Nilla, and Tru:Tek/Zectron are doing. But that's not my path.

I don't wanna do vinyl either. There are some amazingly-beautiful Japanese slush-cast vinyl figures being produced by today's hottest artists, for sure. These are made using the same gloriously out-dated, inefficient techniques used in making the original Bullmark (and others) kaiju toys of the 60's and 70's. It's amazing to me that they're keeping this tradition of slush-casting alive--it's a small historical and pop-cultural treasure of Japan's, if you ask me. But this isn't the route I wanna take either. Spending $5k on a mold for a single figure isn't what I really want--especially when that means I'll have to request tiny batches of these figures to be cast in a million different colors, have them painted by...someone...and then sell them over and over to the same group of 50 people for $100+ a whack. That's fine for many others...but not me.

And mass production? Well, there's rotocast vinyl or injection-molded PVC in China...both viable options, as seen by what Onell Design has accomplished over the last six years. But again, extremely high start-up costs lock an artist into just a handful of designs that they're forced to push hard just to recover the initial investment. I want to be more dynamic. Keep releasing new material...never bogged down in marketing or politics.

Which brings me to 3D printing. It's kind of amazing to have had this brand new medium just fall into my lap. And THAT is what it really is to me: a medium for making custom toys. This is where I differ from so many folks I've met over the past six months in the 3D printing game: I don't care about 3D printing, in and of itself. Whether you wanna call me an "artist" or a "toy-maker" doesn't really matter to me. The point is that my passion is the toys--not the method used to make them. I get that 3D printing is this new, emerging technology, and that playing with a consumer-grade home printer is a fun hobby...but that ain't what this is.


2014 will be a big year for me. I can already tell. Seeds planted almost a year ago now are getting VERY close to sprouting! But before I get into that, I have some kinda somber news to announce: I'm officially pulling the plug on Foe-Gokin Gin Gin. I started this blog about three and a half years ago as a way to track the development of a locally-manufactured, Popy chogokin-style toy of Saucer Animal Gin Gin, my favorite villain from the 70's super robot anime, UFO Robo Grendizer. Those 3+ years saw a LOT of overhauled strategies, a lot of setbacks, a lot triumphs, and most importantly, a lot of learning. All in all, it was a great project to cut my teeth on, and even though I only made a couple official releases, I feel satisfied with everything this effort has taught me.

So why pull the plug? Well, it mostly comes down to economics. I won't go into the details of the manufacturing process, but suffice it to say that the resources necessary for a fully-painted release would have *forced* the price up to somewhere around $200. And while the end result would have been nice, it wouldn't have good enough for me. The heft of all that pewter content was fantastic, but without more articulation and gimmickery, it would have felt more like a painted statue or bust than a fully-realized chogokin toy. So the bottom line is pretty simple: if I were a consumer, I would NOT have bought one for that kinda money.

Oh, there's one more reason to abandon this project: HL Pro/High Dream has now made a fully-licensed Gin Gin toy of their own! Sure, it's not quite the format/style I would have wanted in a Gin Gin figure, but the whole idea of my "Foe Gokin" line was to create toys of our favorite hero robots' enemies--characters who previously were never made into toys. But now that there's a high-quality Gin Gin toy on the market, well, that itch has now been scratched!

But all that having been said, stick around. You may just see another shield-wielding super robot emerge from Gin Gin's ashes... ;)

Aiiyo, but before I finally send Foe Gokin Gin Gin beyond the veil, I just want to say one more thing. Homemade chogokin CAN be done. If the last three years have taught me anything, it's that this sort of custom toy *can* be realistically made. I've proven it. I already talked about why pursuing this project doesn't make sense for me...but I want to make it clear that if ANYONE out there wants to pursue making a custom chogokin toy, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. In all that time, I've learned a TON about this process, and I would personally *love* to see someone design and produce the equivalent of a homegrown "diecast" toy (well, a pewter toy cast in a vulcanized rubber mold). It would greatly honor the efforts of the past three years for me to help in any way I can.


Okay, now for the good stuff!

Looking ahead at 2014, there's going to be a LOT more direct 3D-printed toys coming from myself, Ben "Prometheum5" Mininberg, and David "Mechazone" White. We're forming a bit of a Getter team when it comes to spearheading this medium. And obviously, I'm Ryoma. David and Ben can brawl to figure out who's Benkei. ;)

But yo, check this out: this announcement may be a bit late, but I'm actually teaching a 3D printing class next month at Monster Kolor Studios.


Ben and David will be assisting in this epic, first-of-its-kind event. We'll be talking a little about ourselves and how we got into this mess...but the meat of the class will be a *complete* breakdown of all the steps necessary for manufacturing a robot toy using a home/consumer-grade FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer. We'll cover the actual printing process, cleaning up the parts directly from the machine, and treating them with acetone vapor. And like the flyer above says, you make it, you take it! Yes, every student gets to select a robot toy design from one of us, and over the course of the class, prints it, cleans it up, and AVBs it (acetone vapor bathes it). And you take home the toy you just made. That's kinda hot!

Like I said, the announcement's a bit late because, well, the class sold out about six hours after announcing it! So *clearly*, there's some interest in this stuff! For now, we're telling folks to come on down even if they missed out--even if you're not a paying student with space on a printer, you get to watch the whole process and participate like anyone else. And we're most definitely planning on doing MOAR Future Factory classes and other events like it as time goes by. Our goal is twofold. We want to demystify CAD modeling and 3D printing, and ultimately, to get more folks involved in this medium for custom toy-making. But we're also trying to bridge the gap between the designer/custom toy people (usually resin/rubber or vinyl collectors who prefer the artistry and communal aspects of these toys) and the mass-marketed robot toy-collecting people (usually TF or vintage chogokin collectors who enjoy the accessibility and depth of the fandom).

2014 will also be the year of the Powered Bio Suit! Development of this toy has been frighteningly fast and relatively painless. Not to mention surprisingly inexpensive! The stickers are done. The packaging is about 99% done. The toys, themselves are pretty much ready to go. The production versions of these suits might just make their debut at the Future Factory class... Stay tuned!


And lastly, here's a bit of a teaser for a new toy line I'll be producing next year (again, debuting at Future Factory):


In fact, students of the class will be able to pick from among these characters to print--or mix and match body parts!


That's it for now. Have a great New Year's celebration, enjoy the weather, and keep it gully. See you in '14!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Powered Suit Fake Type

At long last, it's time to unveil the Powered Suit Fake Type replica kits I'm offering through Shapeways! I had been planning on releasing the Type C suit last month, but because the Types A and B were so close to production, I just decided to delay the whole thing until all three suit geometries were ready. And to make things even MORE confusing, I'm offering these three Types at two different pricepoints. So read on...and pay attention! ;)


When you first go to my Shapeways store, it can seem pretty daunting at first. There are TEN lots of parts for these figures...and the lead images are all in black & white (so everything looks the same!)...and all the names are kinda confusing. Trust me--even *my* brain turns to clay while staring at this stuff. But it ain't like filing your taxes, so don't get scrrd! This blog post is meant to walk you through the purchasing process.


The first thing is to decide how much you wanna spend. See, there are two types of these kits: Standard ("ST") and Deluxe ("DX"), each with certain advantages and certain disadvantages. But before we get into those, it's important to point out that the ST kits will run you around $30, while the DX ones are around $85. Yikes!

Let's start with the ST kits.

Fortunately, these guys are pretty straightforward. They're 3D printed in a material called polyamide, in a process called selective laser sintering (SLS). Basically, thin layers of fine nylon powder is fused via laser, one at a time, to form a light, but super-tough solid object. This stuff's pretty great from a TOY standpoint. Very durable...and as you can tell from the blue and white Type C suit above, it's available dyed in different colors! Further, once you receive the sets necessary to build an ST suit, they're real easy to assemble. You just squeeze the parts together (though you may want a drop of superglue here and there), and you're ready to smash some Waruders. So super-durable, easy to assemble, and available immediately in different only $30-$35 (depending if you want a matching "Inch Lady" driver). What's not to love???


Cue the bad news. Well, if you really scrutinize these pics, you can kinda tell the parts look a little...doughy. And grainy. See, that's the problem with polyamide: it's cheap, light, and strong...but the resolution is pretty crappy. Sharp edges are a bit softened and micro-scale details are almost lost entirely. Just look at the Inch Lady's face in polyamide:


But here's the real caveat: tolerances. These models have essentially been *done* for that past several months. So why has it taken so long to release them to the public? Because 3D printing assemblies of several components--even simple ones like these--is asking a lot of the printing tech that's available today. There's a little tab that secures the feet to the bottom of the legs, right? I broke one foot last night taking these damn pics because the hole at the bottom of the leg printed too narrow! It happens. So after *months* of tweaking, I think I've got a nice balance of tolerances in my current CAD designs. And I have a graveyard of failed suits to prove it!

So when you order an ST PSFT (yup, start getting used to the acronyms! it'll make ordering from the website a MUCH more sane experience), dry fit all the parts as soon as they arrive. You want to check for any misprints as soon as possible. Trust--I get botched parts fairly be comfortable with the possibility that you may have to log a complaint with Shapeways. I have three pending complaints in with them as I type this. No lie.

If all the parts check out, you still may need to file down some of the pegs or use a drop of glue to secure some bits. Don't trip--that's normal (especially with the feet and getting the black upper arms anchored into those shoulder pauldrons). Obviously DON'T glue the shoulder pegs, the wrists, or the main hatch...unless you seriously don't want those parts to move! You shouldn't have to...but if you find those connections too loose (or so impossibly tight that you actually *break* the pieces trying to assemble them), log that complaint. Shapeways makes mistakes often, but they're also VERY quick and friendly to deal with. They'll take care of you.

Now let's take a look at the DX kits.

What's special about these ones that makes 'em almost three times more expensive?? Steel. Cold, hard, magnetic stainless steel. This is baller territory, y'all. The original Diaclone Powered Suits had diecast metal (zinc-aluminum alloy) bodies. That made them pretty damn cool: chogokin power armor? Hell yes, I'll take three. And now...we have the technology to PRINT IN STAINLESS STEEL! Somewhat similar to the SLS process for polyamide, a simple organic glue is deposited on a thin layer of powdered steel. Another layer is spread, and more glue is deposited. Once the basic structure is done, they take the delicate, glued-together piece out of the vat of steel powder, and they toss it in a crucible. There, it's exposed to liquid brass, which soaks into the structure, while burning away the glue. The result is a stainless steel formula that's heavy on brass, but definitely responsive to a magnetic field.


The other aspect that makes the DX PSFTs superior is the plastic that's used. This translucent stuff is a much more expensive photopolymer made by 3D Systems. These parts are made in the classic stereolithography process, where thin layers of liquid photopolymer are cured (solidified) using a UV laser. The result is a VASTLY higher-resolution print than is achievable through SLS with polyamide powder. Details are sharp and the plastic is still fairly tough (I'd compare it to model kit styrene: maybe not as flexible, but it can take some stress). Here's a quick side-by-side comparison between a DX (left) and ST (right) PSFT-A:


But the best way to convince you of how nice 3D Systems' photopolymer is, take a look at a painted Inch Lady, along with an unpainted one...


The upper arms and shoulder cannon mount of the DX PSFT are done in black polyamide because of its flexibility/durability.

But here's the most important note about the DX PSFT: YOU NEED MAGNETS TO MAKE THE SHOULDERS WORK. Yup, I use tiny neodymium (rare earth) magnets to hold the pauldrons onto the body. I get them directly from nearby in Quincy, MA. Now, you're welcome to buy a whole 100-pack from them...but that might be overkill if you're just using them for these toys! Instead, if you order a DX PSFT from Shapeways, contact me via the link near the top, right of your screen. You Paypal me a buck ($1USD), include your address, and I mail you two magnets. Pretty simple...let's hope this system works out.

I just KNOW someone's gonna order a DX without reading these instructions...and then he's gonna complain to me about his arms falling off the damn body! :P

And the only other caveat with the DX PSFTs is that the 3D Systems photopolymer has a tendency to be a bit slimy when it arrives. It's not a big deal--just something to be aware of--so don't go spraying primer before you give these parts a thorough wash-down with hot, soapy water to remove that waxy slime. As you can tell from Mason's Gundam-themed DX PSFT-C from the Summit, this plastic paints up *quite* nicely!


Probably the biggest factor in determining which format of suit you want--ST or DX--is not just about the money. It's also about what sort of collector you are. If you're looking for something very "toyetic" (i.e., something simple, durable, and doesn't require paint or too much glue...or magnets purchased separately!), the ST is probably the best way to go. The ST is damn close to a plug-n-play kit. On several of these that I've ordered, I've only ever had to file down a foot tab (and in another case, I just glued the feet on because the tabs were too loose!).


The DX, on the other hand, simply feels GLORIOUS. Cold, hard, heavy, indestructible steel. And magnetic shoulder joints are just friggin' cool. There's no debate. Now, the translucent plastic looks a bit boring to me--though I've had folks mention that it's reminiscent of classic Henshin Cyborg! Your mileage may vary...but I prefer to paint these things. Again, check my last blog post for Mason's Gundam-style paint job! So if you're not as interested in hand-candy, but are looking for something that's going to look like a precious gem on your shelf--with the prestige of a solid metal design--you may wanna throw down for a DX.


So just hustle over to the store, pick the suit Type you like (A, B, or C) and the format you want (ST or DX), then order the THREE lots you'll need to complete your suit of choice. So for example, if I want an ST PSFT-C, I'll need this, this, and this. Or if I want a DX PSFT-B, I'll need this, this, and this...PLUS I'll need those magnets! Just pay attention to the names of each lot (especially the suit Type letter and that bit about "(# of 3)"). The item's description on each page should help too.

I apologize for the wall of text, but please don't tl;dr me! ;) I wanted to explain this complicated (but necessary) ordering well as set everyone's expectations of Shapeways' lack of consistency. Because of all this half-assery with magnets, glue, and Shapeways' quality control, you may decide this whole venture may not be for you. I respect that. But seeing as how these original Diaclone toys can easily break $200USD--IF you can find them--there are clearly a lot of collectors interested in these guys. So this is an opportunity to order as many as you like...and whenever you want them. They'll always be in my shop, ready to be made to order. And I ain't going nowhere!

Okay, that's about it for now. Feel free to hit me up with ANY questions you may have about these kits, the ordering process, or how to resolve issues with Shapeways. Next time...more Microman-scaled "Powered Bio Suit"! ;)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Whirlwind Summit

The East Coast Chogokin Summit 2013 is now behind us...and I'm *still* trying to catch my breath. As is typical for the Summit, I failed to take a single photograph! Yeah, I kinda suck like that. But if you make it to one of these events, you know how non-stop it is! There's a WHOLE lotta toy geeking going on; it's typical to get pulled in multiple directions at once because there are just so many great conversations going on that you wanna engage in. Thankfully, this year's incredible host, JoshB of CollectionDX has plenty of great coverage. In fact, there's an impromptu interview with yours truly early on in the Summit video! ;)


There were plenty of new faces, as well as some long-time Summit-goers who'd missed the last year or two. And what was especially cool was to have so many folks who were actively making toys on hand. This bizarre hobby continues to promote creativity and camaraderie in impressive ways. There was even a rare public appearance of Matt Doughty of Onell Design, plus Grillo and Jesse Moore. It seriously doesn't get better than that!


So earlier last month, we saw at least a sneak-peak of the Powered Bio Suit at MicroBry's and Bwana Spoons' My Friend the Micronaut show in Oregon (there are TONS of amazing toys still available from the show, by the way!). Well, since folks at Grass Hut were treated to the first ever assembled prototype of the PBS, Summit-goers were able to check out the very latest advanced prototype! The design was about 90% done and in fact was a full-color mock-up. See, the production toy will be printed in color, but I usually print my prototypes monochrome to save time. I knew I was bringing the latest and greatest to the Summit for people to mess around with, so I just couldn't abide it looking shabby--especially next to prototypes from my comrades-in-arms, Ben Mininberg and David White! Gotta bring the heat when those cats are coming to town, y'knowmsayin?

So...y'know...the night before the Summit, I busted out the Monster Kolor rattle cans and spray painted my plain white prototype PBS! After that gloss clear coat, I was feeling the look:


Like I said in my post last month, the PBS project is all on me. I designed the toy (well, the mechanics, if not the aesthetics! ;) ) and I manufacture it in my own home. Sure, I certainly have backup--my homie, Larry of Minutia Studios, is helping design the stickers and packaging--but because this is the least collaborative toy development project I've ever engaged in, I'm actually free to reveal whatever I want...whenever I want. No secrets, no passwords, no need to be down to hear the latest gossip. Just real talk.


So with that, I can say that the toy is roughly 99% done! I'm hoping to receive my color ABS filament by the end of the week so that I can start doing in-color prints to show off. The packaging and stickers will be next, but I won't be able to get to that stuff until later this month. Either way, I'm loving every minute of this process. Unlike the Foe Gokin Gin Gin project I started years ago (which may be comatose, but still breathes, by the way!), there are no external forces to get in the way of making this happen!

Unless, of course, Takara-Tomy swoops in and sues my ass off for bootlegging their Diaclone toy. ;)

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And speaking of bootlegs, I wanna switch gears real quick and talk about something real special. In honor of the Summit last week, my homeboy, Mason Fitch--painter of "The Foreman" Powered Suit Fake Type--dropped yet another one-of-a-kind masterpiece. This one is simply entitled, "Gundam":


His work is absolutely stunning. The color scheme comes from the RX-78-2 Gundam prototype Mobile Suit from one of the first "real robot" or mecha franchises, Mobile Suit Gundam. A true classic of science fiction. Mason even painted up the Inch Lady faux-Diaclone driver to resemble Amuro Ray, the show's self-discovering hero and pilot of the eponymous mecha.

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And dig that sick Beam Rifle-colored Type C cannon! ;)

As usual, this "Powered Suit Fake Type" custom figure features 100% 3D-printed construction, a stainless steel body and shoulders, magnetically jointed arms, and a removable Type C main gun on the back. And to commemorate Labor Day, a day where we observe and honor the often-thankless sacrifices working class people in the US have made to make this country run since it's inception, we are putting this figure up for sale!

The price will be $125 plus shipping. Please hit up my Flickr for TONS of hi-res pics of this tiny gem. This will be the ONLY Powered Suit Fake Type custom-painted by us in this Gundam-inspired color scheme. This is a one-of-a-kind piece...and seeing as how the normal unpainted kits will cost about $90 from Shapeways (going live hopefully by the end of the month), it's not a bad deal for such fine paint work! :)

So if you're interested, please zap me a note using the contact form on the right! Support my buddy's art, all local artists, and even if you don't buy this figure, please take some time today to think about and appreciate some aspect of your life that would be a lot harder if not for the efforts of working class people everywhere!

And before I sign off, it just wouldn't be right if I didn't drop a teaser...


Diaclone Powered Suit type A. Coming soon! ;)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I suppose I should start talking...

Now, chances are if you're following my blog, you're also following the blog of the Rhodey to my Stark, Ben Mininberg (hmm...that analogy didn't quite work the way I wanted it to...). Anyway, if so, then you probably have some idea of the grandeur that was the 2013 edition of Bwana Spoons' and Microbry's My Friend the Micronaut show at Grass Hut in Portland, OR! Ben's always been ahead of the curve when it comes to social media (at least when compared to a dinosaur like me!), so his coverage of our small corner of the show has been invaluable. For real, if you haven't checked his site lately, you NEED to peep his Buffalo Squad Allarounds and the epic, jaw-dropping Microman-scale Blockman. All 3D-printed in his own home!


Last month, I mentioned that the PSFT (Powered Suit Fake Type), my tribute to the Diaclone Powered Suit Type C, was going to be debuting at the show...with special thanks to Mason Fitch, Lisa Fitch, and Dylan Gould. These three amazing miniature painters absolutely killed the figures I ordered from Shapeways specially for MFTM. Well, not only can these figures finally be seen online, but they're actually available for purchase!


First up is Mason's figure, "The Foreman". Pretty obvious where the name comes from if you're a G1 Transformers fan! Devastator-style suit; Spike-style driver:

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Next, sticking with the Microman theme, Lisa's Biotron-tribute suit is piloted by a driver painted like a yellow Micronaut Time Traveler:

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And finally, we have Dylan's Real Type take on my Fake Type suit:

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These figures are truly works of art...but they're also fully-functioning toys. As I've covered in previous posts about the PSFTs, they feature magnetically-jointed shoulders, a shoulder mount for the cannon, and a bunch of other little upgrades over their vintage counterparts. Unpainted versions of these figures will be sold as kits through my Shapeways store towards the end of the month (the price will likely be about $90).

But the biggest surprise of all has been a project just a handful of people have been privy to. See, back in March, I picked up my very own 3D printer! The Afinia H-series has been the driving force behind the majority of my toy development for the past several months. It's been an amazing ride...the product of which is something I'm really proud of.

Behold. The Powered Bio Suit!


This 100% 3D-printed titan comes from...well...downstairs. As you can probably gather, it's an ABS-plastic Diaclone Powered Suit C. But the real feat of this toy is that it's actually Microman-scaled! Yes, roughly three times the size of the original toy, this larger version is roughly six inches tall and has a peg inside the cockpit so that *any* Microman/Micronaut figure with a 5mm port on his or her back can be mounted inside!


The variety of features include glow-in-the-dark cockpit panels, a clear plastic face shield, ratcheting shoulder joints with gloriously-strong detents, and full 5mm peg compatibility. Like any good Microman toy. ;)


My hope is that the first production editions of this toy will be available at the East Coast Chogokin Summit held this year in Dracut, MA. From here on out, though, I'll be posting pics of these toys as their development progresses. The cat is out of the bag, after all! For those who can't wait for the first production run of this toy, you can always head over to Grass Hut's store to pick up THE very first ever fully-assembled prototype of this toy!

Oh, and 'cause I just can't help it, I had to post this adorable picture of CC of Onell Design stuffing keshigomu into a later iteration of the suit at Glyos HQ a little while back!


Kid tested. Doughty approved.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Public debut of the Powered Suit Fake Type

Okay folks, I can finally start spilling the beans about something I'm real excited about--something that's been taking up most of my time for the past few months...but that I haven't been able to breathe a word about. Until now.

Starting August 1st, our buddy and esteemed Takara SF super-fan, MicroBry, is joining forces with designer vinyl/custom toy magnate, Bwana Spoons, for a Microman/Micronauts-themed art show at Grass Hut in Portland, OR. This show is called My Friend the Micronaut 2013, and will feature Micro-themed artwork and toys from over a dozen DIY toy makers...including yours truly!

Yup--my first art show...that I'm not just crashing! :P

But I won't be repping Brownnoize by dolo. Oh no. For a show like this, I've enlisted some local talent in order to come up with some VERY special offerings. First off, Mason, our bacony-good cohort and host for many East Coast Chogokin Summits in years past, has organized a team to hand-paint a trio of Powered Suit Fake Types--my Diaclone Powered Suit replicas--exclusively for the event. Yes, these are the Shapeways-printed offerings I've been blogging about for a while now. Stainless steel bodies, magnetic shoulder joints, 3D printed "Inch Lady" female Diaclone driver...and all 100% compatible with the original toys!


But most definitely *unlike* the photos of Shapeways prints I've shown before, each of these figures will feature a unique hand-painted color scheme in keeping with the show's theme! Mason is an experienced wargaming miniature painter and he and his team will be lovingly transforming these toys into true one-of-a-kind works of art. I haven't even seen them yet--other than the teaser pic above--but I'm just honored to have such an established painter painstakingly work his magic on my humble replicas!

Oh, and like the post title says...this is also a big deal: these will be the first Powered Suit Fake Types available to the public!

And on a related note, I did get a chance to take a photo of one of the Inch Lady female pilots, primed and ready for paint. Finally we get to see a decent shot of her!


Because of the translucent plastic she's made of, matte primer is pretty much the only way to see the detail on the print--even looking at the figure in person. So Mason showing me the primed figure was the first time even *I* got a sense for the print resolution. It's pretty wild! Even primed, to the naked eye, those print lines are all but invisible on such a microscopic figure. But now, of course, I'm dying to see her all painted up!

Next up, we have some 2D artwork that is sure to melt some eyeballs! Once again, Larry from Minutia Studios comes to the rescue with his absolutely mind-boggling skills! If I'm nice with 3D CAD, Larry is godlike with 2D software. Whether vector or raster, I've never seen anyone work like him!

Larry took my 3D CAD model for the Powered Suit Fake Type, developed a pose, photorendered it, mapped stickers to the surfaces, and got it all gussied up...before my very eyes. And the result? Brilliant.

I can say that this magnificent artwork *will* be available at the show in one form or another...but I can't give away ALL my secrets just yet! There's one more homegrown surprise in store that I think will go over well. Stay tuned. ;) In the meantime, y'all should check out Bry's Tumblr page for the show and peep the previews for some of the truly AMAZING toys and artwork that will be on display at Grass Hut!

Til next time, I'm out!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Spinning Head Sunshine update!

What's shaking, folks?

I just wanted to post a quick update mostly regarding Spinning Head Sunshine. Well, my Shapeways store is up and running and it's ready to take your monies. :P Seriously, I did what I could to keep the prices down--you shoulda heard the swearing as I tried to hollow out the 3D Systems version...but what can ya do? They charge--a LOT--by volume. :/


Still, there is good news! As it turns out, the SLS polyamide version is not only affordable (from the perspective of a custom MUSCLE-style minifig anyway!), but they actually look killer in the different colors available! Peep this:

IMG_20130620_113551_892 IMG_20130620_113910_838

I was honestly SHOCKED to see how well these came out. I just assumed with the polishing, all the detail would be lost. Sure, the surface still has a very fine grainy texture, but you can still clearly make out the ridges between the "bricks". Even my logo on the bottom of the feet is easy to see!


So, naturally, I've been plastering this stuff all over my instagram...and I definitely recommend following me to keep up with my misadventures! You'll get WAY more timely instagram updates than the usual walls of text over here. :P I won't be abandoning my blog anytime soon, though, because it's critical for posting details that just aren't appropriate for a quick photo caption...

And before I jet, here's a couple pics I already instagrammed. ;)

A couple weeks ago, I was up at Minutia Studios HQ, purveyors of dope skateboard decks and apparel designed by my buddy, Larry. Well, Larry has joined the Brownnoize family to help a brotha out with Gin Gin stickers and other graphics-related stuff.

At @minutia HQ working on stickers for #gingin. Larry's a master at Illustrator and can fabricate just about anything! #Brownnoize #diy #diy4life #arttoy #arttoys #customtoy #customtoys #Japanesetoys #3dprinting #Grendizer #Goldorak #goldrake #Grandizer #

Well, let's just say for now that with Walker in charge of paint and Larry in charge of stickers, Gin Gin is firing on all cylinders!

@Minutia HQ part 2. Progress! Flexible vinyl decal on a conic surface. Not a simple task to predict the distortion of the LOTS of test fitting...  #Grendizer #Goldorak #goldrake #Grandizer #forcefive #uforobogrendizer #shogunwarriors #Brownn

Sunday, June 9, 2013

DIY twerp

Heh...that's the term I used to describe myself on TBDX the other day. A bit of self-deprecating humor, to be sure--and certainly NO disrespect meant to other independent artist, toy-makers, and DIYers--but it was simply a statement comparing myself to Yamato (now known as Arcadia), purveyors of rather controversial Valkyrie toys from Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. The point I was making in that thread was that there are myriad in's and out's when it comes to bringing something from product idea through resource allocation, licensing, design, iteration, approval, packaging, distribution, etc.--things that we, as fans, are often 100% oblivious to.

I wasn't trying to "apologize" for the flaws in Yamato's VF-1 Valkyrie or make excuses for their numerous bunk releases leading up to the current iteration. I was just offering possible explanations for the junk they've pulled. Sure, they may have done some unsavory things from a fan's perspective...but my point was simply that it's likely that other factors we can't possibly know about were the cause of these questionable practices--NOT that they're bad or lazy engineers. Clearly, that's not the case. They're making licensed goods, so they have extremely tight schedules to meet licensor and retailer agreements...

Which brings us back to me, the DIY twerp! The stuff I'm making does NOT require expensive tooling. The stuff I'm making does NOT require licensor approval (*ducks!*). I don't have to worry about deadlines and whatnot. I have the luxury of taking my sweet-ass time with everything I do. Sure, I still have to iterate the hell outta designs even as simple as my Foe-Gokin Gin Gin--and you lucky kids get to hear me complain about it all right here!--but ultimately, I can afford to take all the time necessary to make my baby "just right" before releasing it.

^^Those are just some thoughts that've been on my mind as of late.

Anyway, what the hell happened to May??? Yeah, I went two months without a blog post. Not good. But what can ya do? I spent a week in Costa Rica with my girlfriend and some new buddies...good times, but that didn't exactly help with my crazy schedule. And speaking of crazy, who'da thunk...but I've actually up and registered my ass on Instagram! Yup, I've pretty much bypassed facebook, and I'm going straight for the jugular with this significant upgrade to my onlineness. Oh, I'm still gonna maintain my blog--it's the only way for me to post more detailed updates. But now, I'll be able to post a LOT more teasers a LOT more often via Instagram. I've only been on for a couple days, but I've already seen some incredible stuff. Most definitely recommended for the DIY crowd...

Okay, you want more crazy announcements? Well, I think June will make up for May's doldrums. How's this grab ya?


Wednesday night, I finally got a chance to head down to Dead Pre$idents Designs new Monster Kolor shop down in Middleboro, MA. That's a LOT of room...for toys, artwork, events--you name it. With FOE Gallery in Northampton, Murda Mass is becoming the spot. Of course, *we* always knew that...and we're used to waiting on the rest of the world to recognize. ;)

But back to the topic at hand, Walker's got a couple events coming up quick that I wanted to put on blast. First up, on Saturday, June 22nd, head over to the shop to Paint Your Own Tripus. For the price of admission, you get one of Mark Nagata's Tripus kaiju toys, some genuine Monster Kolor paint, and hands-on instruction from the Man himself on how to liquefy people's eyeballs with your custom-painted creature! On the strength, it's a pretty amazing deal.

Next, on Saturday, June 29th, Walker will be hosting his first gallery event at the shop: Locals Only, featuring Brian Mahony (Guumon), Todd Robertson (Mechavirus), and Will Long. All awesome dudes...and all will be there in person. I'm most likely gonna miss the Tripus class, but I definitely want to be there for Locals Only. Should be a killer event!

Okay, I have some more event announcements, but they're for later this summer. I'll hold off until my next post (maybe that'll force me to be a little more timely, y'knowmsayin?)...

I think that brings us to our usual progress reports! SOOOO much good stuff cooking. Don't worry--I wasn't sleeping last month! Pretty soon (hopefully), I'll be unveiling a new source for Foe-Gokin Gin Gin plastics. I'm in the process of testing things and playing around with options, but if this pans out, it could amount to one of the most significant developments in the years-long process that has been this toy project! It could potentially be higher quality and vastly cheaper than printing parts out via Shapeways or some other online 3D print shop. As this vetting process continues, I'll be sure to update you guys, but for now, here are some pics I took today:


Yeah, I know he's missing the middle horn. Working on that... :P


Looks pretty damn good so far though, if I do say so myself!

Meanwhile, I have a new sticker source who is extremely unlikely to screw me over. I know where he lives. ;) And with Walker having the paint mixed and ready to roll, we're almost set to make these things happen. Finally!

And now, the most exciting news of the month...remember my second keshigomu collaboration with Alec at, Spinning Head Sunshine? Well, if you were following along, Alec was able to make just a few of these figures before the first mold collapsed...and unfortunately, the geometry was just too complex to re-mold the suit portion without causing him some serious injury. It's a miracle he was able to mold it the first time without losing a fingertip to the X-Acto gods!

Well, peep this!

Alec has been diligently casting up *just* the Spinshine tops that he'll be selling directly through his site. Yup, genuine hand-cast rubber from one of the true masters in the hobby! But remember: this figure was born out of 3D printing and my "digital sculpting". Well, with this offering, we're bringing it full circle.

At some point this week, I'll be posting a 3D printed SHS suit in my Shapeways store! The suit will be offered in 3D Systems (Shapeways' so-called "Frosted Ultra Detail") because it has the best resolution while still maintaining a nice, sturdy figure. That's the strongly recommended material, anyway. Unfortunately, it's also the *most expensive*! While the original hand-cast rubber suit from Alec was $20, this Shapeways version will likely be about $40.

It sure looks pretty, though...

Anyway, I'll also offer it in different colors of polyamide ("Strong and Flexible") for those who want one but can't deal with Shapeways' steep middle-man markup, but I fear the low resolution may make the polyamide version kinda suck. Choose it at your own risk.

Flip the script entirely, I may also offer the suit in the different stainless steel finishes. That's for the true ballers out there! Hey, there was demand--albeit not that much--for AshuraShine in why not the SHS suit???

You've probably noticed by now that this new Spinning Head Sunshine suit is different from the one Alec originally cast in rubber. Well, since we're not planning on molding or casting this version, I could alter the design in ways that would make it even less feasible for molding (but that 3D printing could easily handle). Hence the gada, a traditional Indian mace! I wanted to add something that would differentiate it slightly from the original. Now, even if you already have Alec's original rubber version, you can also get this Shapeways figure for some dome-cracking fun!

Of course, 3D printed materials are usually rigid, so I had to get a little creative with the design. See, Alec's rubber version was simple: you just flexed the shoulders on Spinning Head Sunshine (the suit) apart, and pop in either your Spinshine (top) or the original #195 Sunshine F top...and you were off and running. Can't do that anymore. So this time, I just chopped a wide opening in the back of the suit so that you can press either top figure in! Pretty slick.

Anyway, I'll post again once I've got the figure finalized and available in my Shapeways store. I'm looking forward to seeing how folks feel about this offering. If there's enough interest, we might arrange the same sort of thing for #107 Sunshine E at some point in the future.

Well, I think that's enough for now. I have a couple more things brewing, but they're either super-secret collaborations or just way too early in the conceptualization phase. All part of the game when you're a DIY twerp! ;)