Sunday, March 20, 2011

Get Up! You've Got Work To Do...

Now that we know Wave 2 of BifBangPow's Lost will be coming to us this summer it's a great relief to just go back to having fun with Lost customs. I'm especially eager to go forward with my large playset ideas now that I know I will have the cast to populate them. The Flight 815 playset was placed on hold until I knew for certain I'd be able to fill most of her seats with actual Losties and not just civilians. I'll be back to that soon, but first things first: The Swan Station.

Click on the image to see a much larger version that easier to read....

A little background: I'm a huge fan of the illustrated vinyl covered playsets that Mego and other 1970's toy companies made---so much so that I designed a customizable vinyl display system and had a small run of them manufactured in the U.S. as Dida Displays. The idea was to be able to use any artwork you wish--I'm an animation background artist by profession so that's right up my alley. Just slide the art under the vinyl and then snap the box together. By making a few key parts I was able to come up with a bunch of different playset layouts for Star Trek, Superheroes, Planet of the Apes and more and sold them to a handful of Mego collectors. Visit to see everything I made.

Sadly, I am now pretty much sold out of my inventory of Dida Display parts and probably won't be ordering more--they are expensive and time consuming to make. So the Swan Station will likely be my Dida Displays "swan song"...It won't be available for purchase, it will be a one-of-a-kind.

I went with the sections that were most interesting and had play value to me: The center section has the geodome room, naturally, and a hatch on the roof (with an attached jungle backdrop showing the hatch excavation) that opened into the hallway with the Jack Bender mural. To the right is a three part section: The stereo wall, the couch area with that odd Joshua Tree photograph, the gun locker. To the right is another three part section with the dinette and it's distinctive oval window, the pantry with a sliding door, and the double Dharma door exit. I opted out of the bunk beds-not that interesting or fun to me, but I can always come back and add another section. I think making a kitchen island at some point will be a fun project.

Usually, a Mego style playset might rely more on illustrated elements--the stereo wall might have just been a drawing, for instance. I'm trying to make this one more real on the inside--the stereo wall will have a recessed shelf filled with record sleeves and a miniature record player (a refrigerator magnet, actually, that I've had in my parts box for years). It will be possible to place my video iPod behind the movie screen so you can see the Orientation film as well as hear music on speakers hidden in the walls. The pantry will be partially illustrated but will have a section of real shelves with real products on them. The goal is not to make a scale model of the Swan station, however. It's a compromise between authenticity and what fits within the limitations of the vinyl playset pieces.

The outside of the display (CLICK ABOVE TO ENLARGE) is a panoramic jungle mural with lots of fun easter eggs in it: The Black Rock, the 815 cockpit wreckage, Christian Shephard, a polar bear based on the comic book image, a Virgin Mary statue, the Nigerian drug plane and right outside the Dharma doors a Palette Drop. The opposite side of the Hatch backdrop will be Smokie in the jungle. (I'm excited about that one, it looks cool.) You can see more of the art panels on the Lost Mego Survivors Tumblr Page.

This took me forever to finish, working in little bits in my free time. I wanted the art to have a somewhat artificial (toy-like) feel and to be as rendered as possible without using to much vague painterly techniques or blurry atmospherics. It's like a theatrical backdrop more than it's a true illustration, if you know what I mean. So I did some detailed renderings of a few different bushes and trees and then used them repeatedly and shamelessly so everything is at the same level of focus and detail. It's sort of painstaking...sort of lazy.

My original plan was to do a big group portrait of the cast similar to the Season 2 poster on the large playset door. That may be what I do one day, but I wanted to get this set going and doing a good job on over a dozen character portraits will take a lot more free time. I haven't done much portraiture since art school...I look forward to the challenge, but in the meantime it made sense to repeat the pallette drop and Dharma doors to complete the enclosed playset case.

I've been fiddling with Swan playset designs for a long time. It's always a goal when I design a playset that the entire set be able to fold up into one carrying case. With so much going on in the Swan this was a challenge....but based on these rough mock-ups using scrap Dida parts I think it will all fit inside and still have maximum play value. We shall see. I've only now finished up the art and sent it for printing.

Check back in a few months to see how it's going. Assembling the boxes will be one thing, constructing all the practical props will be another...


  1. Holy cannoli, MegoScott! There are no words. Well, that's not true. This is fantastic. Are you saying that these will be available for purchase?

  2. Alas, no, I am pretty sure this will be a one of a kind. I will have some simpler backdrops for sale, but nothing this extensive, it's a beast and I'm on the last of my playset parts.

  3. Wow! Truly amazing and exciting stuff.

  4. Awesome! I think you meant 'Black Rock' instead of 'Black Swan' though... unless you'll be doing a Natalie Portman custom too! :)

  5. : ) Swan Rock Swan Rock Swan Rock

  6. Want! sniff sob. My LOST Megos live in a plastic bin.

  7. Wow, this is simply astounding. I hope you make a video tour of it when it's done.