Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MEGA-BIT KICKSTARTER PLEDGES

One of the great things about having this blog is that I get to explain things a bit more than on the Kickstarter page. Of course, sometimes I should probably keep my mouth shut. Ha. So, sit back and read some info on why these pledge levels are the way the are. WARNING: The truth isn't always fun, exciting, or what you want to hear, but it's the truth.

I have a love hate relationship with Kickstarter. It's an amazing platform for raising money, but it's also a ton of work that starts way earlier and ends much later than the ulcer inducing month that most campaigns run. 

I personally like getting backer rewards that remind me of my contribution to a project. That's why I used the "Funded with Kickstarter" for the keychain. So, why's a keychain cost 15 bucks? Well, just like everything else that's ever been made, it costs money. These are die cast metal keychains that are made in the Los Angeles area. It takes time and money to digitally model, output, clean up, mold, cast in resin, remold, cast in metal, clean up again, attach keyring, package, and ship. That's a lot of step to get to a simple keychain, that is really meant to raise money for the Mega-Bit figures.

Why do a blank figure? Because this is an "officially licensed" project, I'm not allowed to do parody or artist labels. It's completely understandable that Sega wants to promote their classic games with their own classic art. Blank figures still give people the chance to create their own interpretations of classic games or create a brand new game label.

Why do a white one? There weren't any white Genesis cartridges, but the majority of DIY figures come in white. It's a good base color to start with for customizing, even though you should still primer it. It also gives you a chance to put white arms and legs on a black figure, or vice versa.

I wanted to offer a version that would fit in with the all the Mini 10-Doh! Kickstarter figures out there. Sega was nice enough to let me do this, even though it's not a classic game. Of course, I also had to change the Sega Genesis logo, but that's fine by me.

Why does this have "NOT FOR RESALE" on it? The Sonic game that came bundled with the Genesis console came with a "NOT FOR RESALE" sticker on it. I originally wanted to have this version and a retail version of Sonic available during the Kickstarter, but Sega thought it was too Sonic heavy, and I agree. The regular version of Sonic will be available at retail, and the "NOT FOR RESALE" will only be available during this Kickstarter campaign.

I only played the original Shinobi in the arcade, but that came out on the Sega Master System, so we had to go with the sequel. Still an awesome classic game.

 My personal favorite. My dad, brother, and I spent a ton of time playing this in arcades.

 My 2nd favorite game, but so tough. This game was a quarter thief in the arcade. 


These 25th Anniversary versions are VUM (Vacuum Metalized) figures, that means they are super shiny. It's an additional expensive process, but looks great. They'll also have metallic labels and will only be available during the Kickstarter campaign.
 To me, this is the "Flagship" version of Mega-Bit. We're creating this product to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sega Genesis. Most people will gravitate towards their favorite classic game, but this represents the project as a whole, to me. 

Like I mentioned before, I like things that remind me of my contribution to a Kickstarter. This guy is green solely because that is part of Kickstarter's color scheme. 

Why blue? Cuz, Sonic is blue. 

Why silver? Cuz the guy is in a white ninja outfit, and shiny white is silver.

Why Gold? Uuuuummmm? This one is pretty obvious, like Sonic.

Why Red? Well I thought the red could represent blood, or the fire that happens during the transformation scenes in the game.

Here's the best way to get all the classic black versions of Mega-Bit. You can also add any one of these to any other pledge level.

This is the cheapest way to get all of the 25th anniversary versions of Mega-Bit. You can add the XXV Mega-Bit to any pledge, but all of the others have a strict limit, so you have to pledge for them individually.

I'm huge Robocop fan, so I include an OCP level in a lot of my projects. This level is for people like me, that just want everything and not worry about missing out on something. 

Add-ons aren't straight forward on Kickstarter. You have to "Manage Your Pledge", increase your pledge amount to cover the additions, then list your add-ons when the survey is sent out. 

A lot of people don't understand why these figures are so expensive, so I thought I'd give a little insight on that subject. 

Just like the Keychains, these figures take a lot of time and money to make. I modeled the figures, paid for output, clean up, molding, and casting resin out of my own pocket. All of that time, money, and effort has to be spent before I can even launch the Kickstarter. 

Working with Sega has been a challenge. They are a huge corporation, and I'm one single person. They have their processes and procedures, I don't. After one failed attempt and a really long dead period, we were able to agree on the basic terms for the project. Meaning, I only get to make the figures if the Kickstarter is successful, and I don't have to pay the royalty until after it's been successfully funded. 

Unfortunately, that "dead period" ate away a big chunk of 2014 (the Genesis 25th Anniversary), so I had to empty my checking account to pay for the tooling to get started in China right away. I felt that was the only way to be able to get this project done in time. A huge risk on my part, but I have to look at this whole project as an opportunity and not a risk.

Some people wonder why the figures cost so much and why I need so much money to fund the project. The 30K goal will only pay for the tooling, the royalty, production, ocean freight shipping, and shipping rewards. It doesn't cover any of my time, effort, or the prototyping expenses. I also hope to reach some stretch goals to improve the figures even further. 

I've said enough for now, except Thank You to everyone that has already contributed. Thanks for supporting the project and please keep telling people about it.


Monday, July 7, 2014

ANIME EXPO 2014 RECAP



This was our 6th time exhibiting at Anime Expo in Los Angeles Convention Center. AX was the 1st con we ever exhibited at. I'm not sure why we chose that one 1st, but we did and this year will be our last year.


It always takes place over 4th of July weekend, which is good and bad. Most people get a 4 day weekend, so that's more time for them to enjoy the con. Unfortunately, it also means we haven't had a nice 4th of July weekend in 6 years. We're already looking forward to relaxing next year.


One of the reasons for releasing Squibpool at AX was because red and black are the colors of AX. Unfortunately, my resin stuff is pretty pricey and most of the attendees don't understand why. 


 I finally launched my Mega-Bit Kickstarter campaign on setup day of AX. Doing both was hectic, but it was a good chance to show off the prototypes and explain the project to people. You can check it out here and hopefully back it. 


For years AX was one of our best shows, but last year it took a heavy dip and this year wasn't much better. It's sad to choose not to do a local show, but I think it's probably for the best. I'll definitely miss the friendly faces and long term supporters. Hopefully we'll still see most of you at Wondercon, SDCC, and Dcon. Maybe we'll return once I'm able to develop Squibs more. The crowd seems a bit young to really appreciate what I'm trying to do with So Analog. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

WONDERCON 2014 RECAP

WonderCon 2014 is over and done with and these were the new products I debuted at the show. I don't like calling things exclusives when I know I'll be selling them elsewhere, if they don't sell out at the show. I'll be putting the remaining items up for sale soon.


I didn't really plan on doing so many new things for WonderCon this year, but I managed to get a lot done. I've been planning on doing a new banner for a couple of years and I finally got around to it.


I even managed to get a new postcard done. Tying to have a cohesive look for everything. Now I gotta update the website, yikes.


Setup went pretty good this year. Chito A-Word (aka @kwestone) even helped out a bit.


After every convention you can see a ton of these banners on the ground or still hanging at the booths. I've always kept mine and I've been drawing on them almost since the 1st show we did. I guess it's my version of a souvenir.


 I didn't get to walk around the show much. So, these were the highlights of the show for me and they happened right at my booth. The kind folks over at Autodesk gave me a free copy of SketchBook Pro 6, and I can't wait to try it out. It's awesome when a young kid spends his money on a toy based on a console that was long dead before he was even born. Then, to top it off, he gets an Ultra Rare figure. Woohoo! @danialfleres also had is buddy drop of some original art for a trade. So nice.


I wish I could say WonderCon was an amazing show, or even a great show for me. WonderCon is the type of show where the vast majority of people don't know I exist. They have no clue who I am, or that I am the guy making the stuff that I'm trying sell. Building awareness and getting more eyes on my stuff is a major reason for doing conventions. But, there is no way I'd be able to continue doing cons, if it wasn't for all of the repeat buyers and supporters that stop by my booth at every show I do. I might not know all of your names, but seeing those friendly and familiar faces make a rough show less rough. I can't thank you all enough.

Monday, April 14, 2014

SO ANALOG KEYCHAINS

I've been planning on doing these keychains for years, and I finally got around to it. Once again, I had Mana Studios do the output from my digital Rhino files. Due to the small size, I'm finally able to start making some of the other So Analog figures. Atar-1, Atar-2, and Atar-3 are all based on different Atari 2600 cartridges.


I also had them do a quick silicone mold, so I did't have to give the originals to the metal factory. Not necessary, but I like having options.


These are the resin figures next to the raw Pewter samples. I like having samples from all the stages of production, if possible.


This was my 1st metal project and they're all made in Los Angeles. It was great being able to see the molds and how the whole process is done.


We switched from Pewter to Zinc. It's a cheaper metal, but also lighter and much more durable. I definitely didn't want the rings breaking easily.


The 1st batch of keychains weighed over 14 pounds. 


Images that I posted on Instagram. The filter made it tough to tell the difference between the Matte finish and the Gloss finish.


I personally gravitate to the Matte finish, but I like the Gloss too.  I couldn't decide which finish to go with, so I split the quantities 50/50.

I needed some form of packaging that worked with all 6 designs, and this is what I came up with.


 I had to punch 2 holes and cut a line in-between them for every card back. It took a while, but bagging them also took way longer than expected. 


These will be debuting at my booth #1145 at WonderCon 2014 starting on Friday April 18-20 in Anaheim CA. They'll be 10 bucks each. I'll have a few complete sets of Gloss and Matte available. So, you can get all 6 designs for 50 bucks. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

SQUIB AND SQUIB KID 2.0

The Squib and Squib Kid resin figures have long been sold out. For years I've been wanting to revise the Squib sculpts to look more like the way I draw Squibs. They've evolved over the last 5 or so years and I wanted to have a more cohesive look overall.


These control drawings were the 1st step in the redesign. I didn't finish the Squib Kid, because I just wanted to get started on the sculpting. 


I was hoping to sculpt the figure traditionally and thought I could use an existing Squib head as a starting point. Unfortunately, there was no way that would work. The changes were too significant. Another major factor is time. Having a digital sculpt that can be scaled and manipulated easily is very valuable. Traditional sculpture has become a luxury for me, it's simply inefficient.


Rhino is still the main program I use for digital sculpting. It works great for So Analog bodies and mechanical stuff, but not organic shapes. I was pretty happy with this head, but it still needed some refinement. 


The neck is a simple friction fit ball joint. The range of movement isn't a lot, but it is enough to get him a bit more personality.


 I also wanted the Squib head to be interchangeable with the Squib and Squib Kid bodies. My Rhino skills could only get me this far.


This really the 1st time I didn't fully sculpt my own figure. It wasn't easy for me to let go of that part of the, but doing the Rhino work eased that pain. This was Mana Studios 1st pass using my Rhino head and body. Just a starting point really.


This was what I provided for revisions and explained that he's supposed to be more like the image at the top of this post, and less like the original resin figure. I wanted him to be asymmetrical and have more gesture, not just be a standard DIY pose.


 I sat down with the my friends at Mana and really worked through the thing with them. I'm pretty sure that's called Micro Managing, ha. The top was the 1st pass on the Squib base. The bottom shows the revisions we made. The legs got much bigger in the process. 


 The Squib Kid body was pretty tricky. Lots of tough transitions and weird angles for the arms. It took a while to get it the way I wanted it. The black dots were for testing eye location. The concave surface is very tricky and does a lot of weird things from different angles. We had to reduce the concavity of the eyes in order for him to not look too crossed eyed and other prevent other weird things.


Printed in house at Mana Studios. It's always cool to watch things get printed and see how much support material is required.


That hole in the eye was a misprint. We tried fixing it, but ended up reprinting the head. Weird stuff like that can happen during printing.


 Some primer, then molding. That light grey guy on the bottom right is the 1st casting.


It took me a long time to post the 1st images of these guys. I'm sure I'll do DIY versions if I go to production with these guys. For now they'll be limited edition resin runs. I started with the blue version because he's going to be one of the main characters in the Squibs story. I hope to show more of that at SDCC this year. 


I've only done 10 Squibs and 10 Squib Kids for the 1st run. The 2 extras are Artist Proofs. Painting and assembly took a lot longer than expected. Hopefully, I can reduce that amount of work for future releases.


Each Squib Kid comes with 2 pencils that I used while I was school. They've been sitting around for 10 years, so I figured it was time to use them.


Sorry, no DIY versions for now.  


These guys are cast in blue by Mana Studios and hand painted by me. 


I'm really happy with how this sculpt turned out. It cost a pretty penny, but I have to pay until I get on Zbrush. 


With and without pencils. This is the 1st sample I painted. His pencils have changed since this photo was taken.

The 1st chance to buy these guys will be at Wondercon booth #1145 in Anaheim, CA starting April 18th. Squibs will be $40 and Squib Kids will be $75. Or you could buy them both for $100. If I have some left over, they'll be up on www.squidkidsink.bigcartel right after Wondercon.