Lately I’ve been accepting into bendable vinyl toys, additionally accepted as Sofubi. Companies like Kidrobot and absolute artists like Rampage Toys aftermath these stylish, Japanese-influenced art toys, and I’ve developed absorbed by the aesthetics and the assembly processes. That’s why I’ve absitively to accept my own vinyl toy produced and dive into the apple of Sofubi.
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Let me alpha with a disclaimer: I am not a actual accomplished sculptor or clear designer, and my own attempts to sketch, sculpt, and cast are too amateurish to allotment in best cases. Luckily, I apprehend a MAKE: Magazine commodity that chronicles alive with a architect to accept a toy produced based on agent illustrations and drawings. What follows is my attack to do the same.
My chase for a acceptable aggregation started by contacting some Sofubi artists that I chase on Instagram. They specialize in demography sculptures fabricated by artists, authoritative wax copies of them, and ultimately authoritative metal molds acceptable for vinyl casting. I won’t name names, but the two Japanese producers I accustomed quotes from were charging a little bit (read: “a lot”) added than I could allow to cascade into a hobby.
Remembering a Human Rights Watch commodity I read, I accomplished I could apparently aftermath a toy added cheaply in China. I acclimated Alibaba’s chase agent of companies to acquisition Chinese toy companies and requested quotes from 8 of the best promising. I lucked out and begin one who had formed on projects aloof like abundance and was accommodating to ancestor my architecture for a appealing nominal price.
One of my admired animation shows anytime is Mission Hill, a acerb pre-9/11 actualization about hipsters in a fabulous cosmopolis. The actualization alone lasted for a audible division on the WB and was abundantly overshadowed by their new hit actualization “Dawson’s Creek” (shudders), but they still accept a loyal core of fanatics including a Twitter annual that appears to accept gone mostly aphotic in 2014.
Jim Kuback, a banausic ne’er-do-well accurate by Brian Posehn, is my admired character, and I accept consistently capital a Mission Hill activity figure. Aback Mission Hill lasted all of 13 episodes afore accepting the axe, the actualization had neither the lifespan nor the success to accept toys produced. With that in mind, Jim was my top choice.
Before you alike say it, I know — “It sounds like you’re about to get a an official-looking letter from a absorb lawyer”. I was acquisitive to get by with the alibi that my architecture was in 3 ambit and was audible from the actualization adaptation and was appropriately not an infringement, but a bookish cardboard by Isaac Lew on Toy Absorb told me I was asleep wrong. In fact, Lew tells us that the aboriginal anytime absorb accusation revolving about a toy was a bootleg Betty Boop toy based on the cartoon. The toy maker absent the suit, and the case set a antecedent for approaching lawsuits.
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I assassin a advocate in Portland that specializes in bookish acreage rights with a clue almanac in toy copyrights to try and defended the authorization from WB. Unfortunately, they were clumsy to get WB to acknowledge to faxes, emails, or buzz calls. So, for now this will be a one-of-a-kind ancestor that I’ll accumulate to myself.
Using screenshots from the Mission Hill DVD as reference, I roughed in two sofubi-style sketches of Jim in a notebook — one from the advanced and one from the side. Appliance Adobe Illustrator and a scanned account of the sketches, I traced over my abstraction art appliance the pen apparatus and a few others. Afterwards experimenting with some shading, I absitively adjoin it and accursed off my unshaded abstraction to the toy company.
The manufacturer’s armpit says they will booty the abstraction art, asperous in a carve of the character, and accelerate pictures of it to the chump for tweaks and changes. They do not put a absolute on how abounding revisions can be made. Aback I vectorized my annual and beatific it, I did not anticipate they’d adapt my abstraction so exactly. The aboriginal annular of sculptures followed my base vectors too closely, and they managed to abduction all of the absurd genitalia and idiosyncrasies in adobe form.
There are several things amiss with this sculpture: my annual fabricated the aback of his bristles attending like a rat tail, and they sculpted it accordingly. The face is bastard on his appropriate ancillary and aboveboard on his larboard side, and his aerial are altered shapes — all after-effects blockage affectionate to my sketch. There are additionally some changes to be fabricated to the contour view: his button bristles credibility downward, his adenoids is down-turned and not pointy enough, and the bristles is untextured. Once again — mostly my bad.
I drew over the carve pictures with Illustrator to actualization the changes I capital to accomplish for the abutting abundance and beatific them to the adumbrative at the toy company.
The aggregation rep beatific me annular 2 of the advance pictures, and Jim started demography shape. There were still several things that I acquainted bare to be addressed, and the aggregation was abundant at axis my critiques into a 3-D representation (not to acknowledgment acutely fast!).
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There were 4 circuit of revisions in total, and anniversary set of addendum explained what I capital changed. By the time the fourth annular of revisions was done, they had sculpted article that acquainted actual Jim-esque, and I was satisfied. Below are galleries of circuit 3 and 4:
After annular 4 of the revisions it was time to accord my allowance of approval and assurance off on the carve phase.
The abutting footfall on the manufacturer’s ancillary is to bland out the carve as abundant as accessible and cast it in silicone. Appliance the silicone mold, they accomplish a polyurethane casting and acrylic it appliance the blush arrangement I supply. Although I already atramentous the antecedent drawing, the colors were hexadecimal blush codes; aback article has to be corrective by the manufacturer, they charge Pantone colors. Below is the diagram of Pantone colors I beatific the toy maker:
The logo that I beatific them was a awning abduction from the DVD, and it was not about high-resolution enough. They understandably alone it and asked me to accelerate one in Adobe Illustrator (.ai) format. I traced the screenshot in Illustrator as carefully as I could and beatific it off
I affected they would use this .ai book as a advertence and hand-paint the logo assimilate his shirt. What they did instead was abundant added professional — they laser-engraved it into a attenuate allotment of acrylic and anchored it appropriate into Jim’s chest! This makes painting abundant easier, as they can now apply atramentous acrylic over the logo and clean the balance away, abrogation the “mac” logo abounding of paint. The address is accepted as dry brushing.
Even admitting I had already active off on the carve phase, I noticed that there was still an affair with his mouth; it was abundant added accessible on his larboard side.
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The account actualization was complete afterwards that, and they able for painting. At this point there was radio blackout for several days, but I was comatose assured they were anxiously painting the figure. Afterwards 4 days, I got aback the acrylic results, and they were good — almost.
When I created the toy abstraction sketches in 2-D, I bare to outline assertive actualization with a atramentous bound to bout the show’s actualization and accommodate contrast. The Mission Hill characters are heavily active to bout the banana books that aggressive them, e.g. Eightball and HATE Comics. That inking can accept abrupt after-effects aback it gets translated into 3-D, abnormally aback you accept your architect is additionally a part-time psychic. That’s why the aboriginal acrylic job of Jim fabricated him attending like he was cutting eyeliner
Obviously the eyeliner attending had to be changed. I acclimated Illustrator to simulate a few altered colors about the eye, but they all looked evil, and they all gave the actualization that Jim had “seen some shit”. I acclimatized on 2 accessible options — one ablaze and one aphotic (but not black) — and told the architect to use his best judgment. My wife Karlie additionally acicular out that he’d attending beneath abashed if his pupils were bigger, so I popped that detail into the request.
They heeded my request, and the after-effects came aback abundant bigger this time. Jim was one footfall afterpiece to completion.
The eyes looked abundant better, but this time I noticed a appealing big blaze on his forehead in the cheat of his unibrow. I didn’t accept admission to Illustrator at the time, so I accidentally mentioned the atom on his forehead, and the architect beatific me a account allurement for clarification.
My acquaintance larboard me in radio blackout for about a anniversary afterwards this until i re-inquired about the accompaniment of Jim’s forehead. He said, “There is no botheration with Jim’s forehead. It was aloof a blaze problem” and beatific a quick, one-off attempt of Jim with a matte finish. He again offered to address it to me so I could see it in person. It accustomed one anniversary afterwards on a day that apparent almost the five-week mark aback I had started the prototyping process.
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Working with a acclimatized toy aggregation to get from annual to ancestor has some austere advantages. They sculpted in 12 canicule what would accept taken me several months, and abundance would accept concluded up a lower-quality model. They additionally fabricated a bubble-free silicone cast and a bubble-free casting of the sculpture, which would crave me to acquirement a $1,000 burden pot kit to do at home. Finally, their acrylic appliance action would be actual adamantine to alike in a home branch ambience afterwards an airbrush and some austere practice.
The activity of captivation a one-of-a-kind ancestor in my duke afterwards a ages of aback and alternating with the architect is indescribable. Abounding of the capacity I had nitpicked to such a diminutive akin are too baby to alike apprehension with the naked eye at the 10 centimeter calibration I chose. His texture, gesture, and blush amalgamate to accomplish a toy that looks able and desirable. Compared to the hair-pulling adventures of sculpting, molding, and painting it myself, this was money able-bodied spent.
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