Saturday, 28 May 2016

Mortal Kombat Keshi, more Double Dragon stuff, conventions... Too much fun I guess. More 3D printing evangelism.

Got a shipment through from Shapeways. Proof-copies of my Mortal Kombat-style ninja keshi, and treated myself to a Spinning Head Sunshine keshi from Brownnoise in the same shipment. Gotta love 3rd party production. I bought something someone else designed and something I designed made in the same factory and shipped in one. 3D printing in toys (aside from the mech/ MOTU community) isn't really believed in yet. I understand. Why buy something that's still got a reputation for being rough in finish from before various polishing and smoothing techniques were invented, when people are pooping out really nice chunks of resin using gimmick resin pigments - that stuff looks nice! Even a rubber ball looks pretty swish with enough glitter in it. I feel the reasons behind the apprehension!



3D printing has its limitations. Definitely. But if you approach the design from a practical toymakers' perspective ... are you still reading? ... If you do that, you can sculpt and optimise the figure to look good in its designated format. Same as vinyl toys vs PVC. The material matters to the sculpt.

So I picked up the first 3D Printed figure that I saw and thought "This is legit!". Brownnoises' SHSH.
First off, the spinning top (blue) fits MUCH better into the 3D printed part (orange) than it looks here. The plastic is flexible and after taking this pic, I fit it in super tight. Still poseable, no sign of potential damage at all. REAL sturdy. More than most resin, definitely.

Also - and I know this attitude of mine won't win me many friends outside the community of fellow toymakers - for the cost of Shapeways production and a tiny cut for the sculptor, you're buying a legit art piece. No, it isn't endorsed by a rapper who wants to make money from Kidrobot collectors, but this was designed really REALLY well.  That's hours of sculpting, trial, and error. It's not an old MUSCLE figure. Pretty revolutionary if that's not too dramatic. Isn't it? I think that's worth the price of a handul of old MUSCLEs you can get any time.

 That spinning top - the same one I've had since '89,  has a body now. Thing looks like a beast. If I get another top, I'll likely get another sometime.

Onto my stuff. The Mortal Kombat keshi. I sculpted it to be 3D printed. Making sure there were no points less than 1mm thick. I dunno, I think it's pretty sick, isn't it? Looks pretty cool to me, anyway. I'll keep buying them for myself. They're available in my Shapeways store in every available color for not much at all.
I spent at least a thousand hours having mass MUSCLE vs Ninja MITE wars as a kid. Effing loved ninjas. Still do. Incorporating characters inspired by video games into the design mix was definitely fun.




Toy blogs aren't big hyping 3D printed keshi it would seem. There's enough of them out there that have had no coverage to suggest as much. Maybe it's a debate of how artistic it is to design, and have a machine make something, vs casting it by hand, whether you designed it or not. Probably being too analytical. Not cool, man.

Been invited back the toy convention with heart, Roll Out Roll Call, as a guest again. Really happy about that. It's in London this time too. If you have a legit interest in toy history and behind the scenes in how all your favorite lines were made, I can't recommend it enough. Plus, FLOORs of Takara, Hasbro, Mattel, and even stuff by little poopers like me.





Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Tanks and statues. 3D printing is the pajamas!

Been a while again. Counter says I've got 42 thousand visits. That can't be right? I'm calling bot shenanigans, unless people are genuinely interested in what goes on behind the scenes of an indy toy-making house.

Been busy as flip here. Actually decreasing time in the resin room to focus more on sculpting, and got a better paid day-job with more hours so I can drop some skrilla into mass production. Also talking to some people about getting big stuff done with some legit licenses. Not sure if it'll happen but I'll definitely give it my best shot.  If I can put in 30 hours a week on TOP of my day-job to to make hordes of resin toys that may or may not sell well, I can definitely graft the role of project manager and marketing on a crowd-funding project,which may see affordable PVC toys of my favorite horror characters to the masses. Think MWOTR but with horror and game characters.

So, I'm basically making the art I want to make project-by-project on the weekends and trying to work on bigger, long-term projects in the background. I am DONE casting other people's sculpts. I'm not "dissing" the bootleg scene at all. I am a customer and fan of it, with the exchange rate being what it is (me being in England and most collectors being in the States), casting and sanding for a living is no lark, I can tell you.

So here's a little info on two recent projects I have started. Might make more down the road, but for now it's been a labor of love seeing how far an imagination and a 3D printer can take me.

SKELETANK

I sculpted this to see how big I could go, how sturdy a 3D print of this scale could be, and because I like to do something original. 

I got Ralph Niese to help with gimmicks, such as having the idea of pivot-able axe-cannons on the sides. I was mostly sculpted as one big piece in Z-brush, then cut into sections with pegs added, and finally printed out bit-by-bit, and assembled using an ABS and acetone mix as both glue and filler. Sanded it to hell and coated in acetone to smooth the striations. Already one of the best things Ive ever made.


I took a lot of inspiration from The Action Force Roboskull I had as a kid, and Skeletor's head, of course. This thing is STURDY!! Really amazed with the quality of it. Gonna be proud to have it at a few shows.


MYSTICAL WARRIORS OF THE RING STATUE. WOLFROM vs SABRE.

 As I learned quite a bit about how to re-pose and kitbash models in Zbrush, I was pretty sure I could come up with something cool using Simon Grell's original MWOTR minifigure sculpts.
I got in touch with Mark Vasquez and run the idea by him, he sent me the STL files for the figures, and I got to work!

One thing I love about sculpting in 3D is that without an armature, you don't have to think too much about supports. The ABS material I use is pretty tough and you can adjust the density of parts. On this statue, which was printed in sections and assembles with ol' fashioned garage kit skills, the legs are much heavier than the top. To make sure it's nicely weighted and that the bottom structure can support the top easily.
 Wolfrom is hitting the "Wolfpack" (double underhook powerbomb) on Sabre. After drawing 4 issues of the comic, I know the characters well and as these two fought in the first issue, they have stayed in my mind the most as the alpha hero and villain.

Later versions, if they get made, will hopefully see full color paint jobs. But in case you couldn't tell, Wolfrom's standing with one foot on a ring mat, and the other on concrete. Thought it'd be more interesting that ring canvas, or gridiron.

Right. Gotta get painting. Dropping a select number of Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, and Puppet Master ONE OF A KIND pieces in the Bigcartel shop this weekend.

Cheers!








Sunday, 13 March 2016

New Puppet MUSCLEs, Fugg the Slayer flesh edition, Double Dragon figures and 3D printing.

New Puppet MUSCLE rubber keshi, Pinhead and Leechwoman, will finally be available in my Bigcartel store from March 19th, Midnight London time.









I don't mind telling you, Leech Woman has been a pain to make. Her thin legs combined with the cold conditions in my casting room have been making life difficult to say the least. But I've finally got a good workflow on and enough of a buffer to deal with demand in good time.
The variants of these two I have in my Shapeways store have been available for a little while  and happy to see people people picking them up, but I understand the purist's desire for super high detail rubber minifgures so will keep them coming.

Also, available in the Shapeways store as a print-to-order figure, I've added Jack Attack from Demonic Toys as an adversary for the Cyber Puppet variants you can order there. 

Also been adding more stuff to my Shapeways shop. I have a 3D printer now but it can't compete with Shapeways on small scale figures. I've worked out a way of getting full playsets to customers through Shapeays for little more than the price of a single figure. I attach a sprue. It reduced the price by about a 1/3, and I also include large but hollow accessories like the oil drum and the log.

Each set comes with a Billy/Jimmy/Jeff/Sonny style character so you can pick what colors you want to match the characters they represent. Really happy with how they came out. Especially the hair styles - real nice.

Finally, I've taken the plunge and got a 3D printer (got once in a lifetime deal on it too!). As someone who spent a bit of time as a kid putting together garage kits, printing out models in parts, assembling, smoothing, and painting took no learning at all. 


I don't want to sound like a negative Nelly Furtado,  but the past couple of years have seen the bootleg resin scene get huge, and kind of a price-point competition for who can churn out the most one-part-mold pieces for the least money. So... you know. I'll definitely kitbash and do customs and collabs with 5.5 guys from time to time, but when it gets to being a an exercise in stir and pour labor, I'm kind of pulling back a bit. Not saying it's not fun, cool, and an art form, it's just become tough for guys like me who've gone part time in the day job and want to at least pay rent without worrying. I'm a big fan of bootleg resin and own a lot of other people's work, but the bottom line is I enjoy sculpting more than casting.

Speaking of which... Made a small run of Galaxxor's Fugg character in flesh rubber and resin that'll be available at C2E2. Always an honor to work with Ben, and never been disappointed with the outcome of our collabs.


So the Z-brush sculpted keshi will keep coming, but I'm moving to larger, original pieces now. I've had a week with my 3D printer, and this is some of the stuff I've come up with so far.


Friday, 22 January 2016

Abobo minifigure! Free DIY Toulon's Chest for Puppet MUSCLE figures.


Buildin' up my Shapeways store bit-by-bit. Really happy to see people aren't shy of plastic 3D printed figures and what a great format they can be for minis.
Abobo is my first fully-exclusive 3D print mini. I modelled him in Zbrush to look like the NES version. The flesxible plastic feels really good in hand and Shapeways' polishing is very impressive - especially at the price! Will hopefully get some time to do more figures in the line soon. He's already available at my Shapeways store, in a ton of colors.

I played Double Dragon at the local leisure centre as a kid so much, my mum got me my first console to play it on - the Sega Master System. I know it probably wasn't as playable as the NES version but I think it had nicer graphics. I can honestly say over the course of my life, including other platforms, I've played Double Dragon through about 100 times, and played it many more.

I've also made something fun to accompany the Puppet MUSCLE figures. TOULON'S EFFING CHEST! This is completely free to download and make, and really pops a Puppet MUSCLE display. Have a look, will you?


video
And here's the one-sheet printout you need to make it, with a step-by-step guide here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.933203013422722.1073741856.351655254910837&type=3



Other than that, yeah, the resin side has been quiet. The landscape of the "art-toy" scene has changed quite a bit since I started making stuff. I'll never quit but definitely sticking to my guns on making stuff I want to. Whether that means it will be considered less "art" despite having more craft to it or not, is not something I've never made enough money to worry about. Got a couple of toys (one as BMT, and another I just designed the character for) going into mass production this year which will hopefully take the heat off my need to spend tons of time casting, and focus more or using my imagination, sculpting, drawing etc.
New issue of Mystical Warriors of the Ring I can't wait to get started on too!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Shapeways store is open! Puppet MUSCLE exclusive variants available NOW!


After handling the first batch of Fake Baron and Puppet MUSCLE test-shot 3D prints from Shapeways, I realised that even the more affordable plastic is not only really durable, but also provides good detail. Not as super sharp as the prototypes I use for casting rubber minis, but if the sculpt was is given deeper etching and less bitty details like shoelaces, and small locks of hair, they come out great.

Action-pose Leech-woman and Tunneler are available right now!

WHAT YA SELLIN'?

So here's a chance to offer collectors (including myself!) the best of both worlds - I'll still be producing MUSCLE-style rubber keshi with super high details on the sculpts, but there will also be the option to go to my Shapeways store and pick up variants and exclusive figures that have been modified to look great in lower resolution flexible plastic
Details like the protruding leech which are almost impossible to accomplish with a two part mold.

WHY?!


As a collector myself of most minifigure lines, I like the classic pose of MUSCLE figures and the durability of rubber (and the fact I can send rubber toys overseas at little cost to the customer), looking at figures like Brownoise's Ashurashine, there's no getting around the fact that the lack of need to make a mold means the structure and pose of the figures is limitless. Some people just prefer MIMP and Gormiti with all their variety, and dynamic poses, which are often tough or impossible to replicate with a silicone mold. Also, the colours on these bad-boys are gorgeous.
Cyber-pinhead is available now!


HOW'S IT WORK AND WHAT CAN I EXPECT?


In case you're not too familiar with this, my 3D models are uploaded to Shapeways. They will create the figures to order for the customer, and the price is based on their work, material volume, and a tiny mark-up on my end. Shapeways will make the figure, and deliver to you either from North America or Europe, depending on where you are. Orders normally take about 10 days to make and ship via UPS. It works the same way as any online store :)
I was expecting these to be brittle and feel cheap. I've dropped them a ton of times, flexed the limbs a little, and can tell you these are sturdy! Definitely more toy than model!

... All the pics in this blog are the actual products you can get from Shapeways. As I shift more and more to digital sculpting, the exclusives in this store will expand and I'll try as always to find ways to keep them as affordable as possible.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Whoo-hoo!

Fake Baron Keshi AND Puppet MUSCLEs  are in my store now.

 I'm massively satisfied with the project for 2 reasons - It's doing well, and it's my first run of figures I've sculpted digitally and cast off a 3D print. Being highly self critical, unless I spend crazy hours on something, I'm never sure if I've done a good job. I wasn't even going to make Treegarr until Ben Spencer (Galaxxor) encouraged me to.



... but I just love these figures. I would buy them!!

The limited neon run of Tunneler and Blade are very low in number now, and the flesh variants I'll keep doing until the molds die.


 Sculpting digitally is the most exciting move I've made since buying a pressure pot and learning how to cast nicely. It really gets your imagination pumping when you know what you can do. 3D printing has become awesome and affordable already. I love it!
 Being able to sculpt with CTRL+Z as an option is awesome. I'm sure there are many that would argue that it takes the "soul" out of it. But to be frank, some of the most artistically accomplished indie toys I've seen have had no love given to them, because they weren't pitched quite the right way, or they didn't get endorsed by the right people. I feel like going digital has given me freedom to work in more ways, and do more with the sculpts - print them in different scales/ materials, edit them, and so on. The term "art" in art-toys is thrown around willy nilly anyway. Popularity schlopuratity. Making what I want and people buying it anyway is the best reward I can hope for.




Friday, 16 October 2015

Toys I've made/am making. Wanna read about 'em?

Holla.

Hello to all the Russian bots that loyally check out my blog. It means a lot me.

Sorry as usual for people who like a bit of insight and/or aren't huge social media users for neglecting my blog. Here's what's been happening.

SHOGUNASTY.

He's in my store.

AND

For US customers wanting cheap shipping and to get him alongside other figures in the Unbox Industries Strange Monsters line, you can get him at the LITTLE RUBBER GUYS store.

We had enough made that I knew they'd last but numbers are now getting very limited, with numbers getting very low at the LRG in this military green.

When something's hard to make and you don't want to charge much, it's puts you in a spot. That's the point where art toys get expensive, or else people make themselves a one-off and leave it there. That's the small dilemma I have with this destroyed Nagoya diorama base I've made.

I know mini figure peeps like stuff that looks like a classic MIMP or MUSCLE, not a statue or a model. So i'll probably set up a pre-order for this fully painted version down the road when I get time. I dunno if anyone gets as much of a kick out of cracked roads and sections of river with a yellow speedboat on a base as I do.

DAY OF THE SLUG 3.


The slug invasion continues with 2 evil portal invaders by Jimmy Rommel, and 2 heroes by myself. Sir Slythe has chased the demon slugs through a time portal a-la Ash from the Evil Dead to the present day and been joined by the drill-nosed Miner Disaster in an attempt to thwart the growing evil slug invasion.

his time around, it's a purely pre-order system. I like making the one offs and if no one bought them, I'd be happy to fill my own shelves with them, but due to the cost of printing the cards and the amount of time I put into the artwork, it's been a labor of love I never expected to make any money from. However, for the hardcore that collect them, I will continue the line as promised for at least 4 waves.

PUPPET MUSCLES!!!

I cannot stress how effing happy I am with this project. Got rubber copies cooking in the pot right now!

Let me start by telling you how deeply ingrained Puppet Master movies are into my psyche and how deeply I link them with MUSCLE figures.

Picture this - 1989. A weird little boy with a fat head, Hawaiian shirts, neon socks and laces, and a skateboard with a torch taped to the front ventures a mile from his house to the video shop where him mum's best mate works. She's a nice lady but has no concept of rules, laws, or what's suitable for kids. She let me take out any video I wanted for free. Puppet Master was my favorite film. I didn't really get the story - I just liked how creepy the puppets were. I always had fantasies about going to the toy shop and seeing ANYTHING to do with Puppet Master in there. Minifigures would have been perfect. I played with MUSCLEs in my little shoebox city I made with Puppet Master on pirated VHS in the background, between playing in the woods, playing Double Dragon at the leisure center, and trying to be inappropriate with the girls next door.

I have distinct memories of using Screw-kid as a stalker in the Puppet Master style, for my larger figures in horror scenarios.

Anyway, enough waffle. Here's what I've been doing.

I learned Z-brush. It is the future. I don't think I could ever sculpt this much detail on a mini with the skills I have.



I printed some test shots in  plastic from Shapeways to see the scale/standability. They were a bit small.

I printed super high detail copies at 20% larger and made molds.



I am making rubber copies. These will be available as soon as I have enough of a buffer to meet demand. These are 100% unofficial! Not endorsed by anybody other than me - just a genuinely loving tribute to 2 things that are dear to my heart.


FAKE BARON KESHI


I was asked by Awesome Toy in Hong Kong if I'd like to make a toy based on his Fake Baron vinyls. I was just getting to grips with Zbrush at the time and saw it as a great chance to learn some tricks and make something cool. There were molded from a high detail print and cast in red rubber. So far only available in East Asia at conventions, but I hope to be able to make flesh runs, neon runs, etc down the road soon. Awesome Toy is a legitimate and busy company so how long that takes is down to when they get time to market it I suppose. Hope it's soon! To all the people that already know about this and have been asking re: availability. I won't leave you hanging - just out of my hands right now :)

TREEGARR MINISTATUE

One of these left. Only for the hardcore! My first 3D sculpt, kindly printed by my good friend and fellow pervert Fernando Rijpkema, and smoothed and painted by me. The Treevil one stomping across the bloody rocks of the Fright Zone!



ROLL OUT ROLL CALL (the UK TF, GI JOE, and MOTU convention)

I know it doesn't do me any favors, but I can't help but be put off by any element of elitism in the arts. Especially indie arts. And especially toys. It has to be fun and friendly or I'm just not interested. I've met enough charlatans to know nothing matters but the work. And insincere sycophancy has been rife in every endeavor I've been involved in.

Which is why I had an amazing time at this year's  RORC as a guest. I was in a room with a bunch of absolutely stellar toys designers/makers. I was happy to be representing Mystical Warriors of the Ring on my table too. Made some legit friends that I know I'll stay in touch with.

I didn't get to go to any of the presentations as I was manning the table, but I had enough fun chatting to people who buy my stuff, people who are just starting out with toymaking, and perving on cosplay girls. The free coffee and excellent banter made the 2 days fly by. Good times!