Saturday, July 24, 2010

Report from Comic-Con: Jacob and the Man In Black

I had a fantastic trip to Comic-Con! I reported on all the new Mego goodness for the Mego Museum, met the guys at BifBangPow! who are bringing us Lost Megos, hanging out with Dr. Mego, and meeting Jay and Jack from the Lost Podcast!

The first thing I did when I arrived was march to the Entertainment Earth Booth and pick up Jacob and Man In Black! It was a thrill to see the new Mego style figures so prominently displayed at the Con. MIB scowls down on the crowd along side Bobblehead Crazy Claire!

It 's been a rough start for Lost figures. There were questions about costume choice (ABC's decision), prototype heads looked large (a common problem--the heads shrink a bit when manufactured) and first wave character selection (Also ABC's call). But preorders were strong enough to go forward with the line and at last we have them in our hands!

I am overall very pleased with these figures and incredibly excited about the future of Lost Megos. But I do have quibbles.

I have to be honest and say Jacob did not turn out as well as it could have. The prototype sculpt was very spot-on, a great likeness of the actor/character. Too much of the detail dropped away in the final product and the likeness is not as strong. Additionally, people often think the heads are slightly translucent, but it's really that the color of the vinyl is a bit paler and yellower that it should be.

I say all of that and then notice that Jacob photographed beautifully for me, and in profile the likeness is really good. I feel like these two figures are growing on me the longer I live with them. I love Megos and I love seeing a show that I am passionate about come to life in Mego form.

I spoke with BifBangPow!'s Jason Lenzi and Jason Labowitz (pictured to the left with Dr Mego--the man who brought Mego figures back from the grave). They recognized that improvements can be made and are optimistic that the rest of wave one coming in August will look great.

The guys at BBP! are clearly dedicated to producing the best product they possibly can and of the nearly two dozen figures that they are currently offering only Jacob and MIB seem to be a bit off. If future Lost release look as good as their Twilight Zone or their Big Lebowski Dude, we are in very good hands indeed.

MIB has the same head color issue, but for some reason his likeness seems to have translated better from the prototype. I think both figures could have used a better paintjob, the eye's iris seems a little small, the eyebrows are a little thin perhaps. Despite paint on them the lips still get lost, I think this is where the detail of the original sculpt really disappeared.

Both figures have highlights painted into the hair, and I like that. They did a nice job painting the beard stubble, which will be a factor in almost all of the Lost figures. It's not just a paint-job, either, there is some surface texture on the cheeks.

The clothes are well made, the seams are thin and tight and the weight of the fabric is perfect. The costumes on these particular characters are not that exciting to begin with, but they did a good job translating them. My biggest complaint is the decision to go with shoe-feet. MIB is not wearing removable sandals and it's not a look I care for. I noticed Hurley has the same thing with his slipper feet and I suspect John Locke is also not wearing removable boots, though I wasn't able to confirm that. So we will be having to do a bit of customizing to these guys to get them where we want them. More on that later.

I understand why ABC chose to push for these two characters, as important as they were in the mythology of Season 6, and there is a certain logic in making them the Comic-Con exclusives. It may be a weakness to start the line off with two of the less popular choices. On the other hand, if you are going to have any manufacturing problems at the outset best to not have that happen with Jack or Sawyer.

Speaking of which, I was given a look at the prototypes for the upcoming Wave 2 of LOST! They had the prototypes in hand at the Con but chose to hold off revealing them until later. I had to promise not to take pictures or reveal specific details. What I can say is they look FANTASTIC! The characters had been listed on the back of the Wave1 card: Jack, Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, Claire, and Sayid. The sculpts all looked amazing--Sawyer and Miles were the real standouts, but they all looked very good. I had no complaints whatsoever on costume choice, each one was iconic and perfectly appropriate. They seemed to have a slightly higher level of detail overall, and some of the costume choices were more intricate than the first wave.

Photos will probably be up in August for preorders on Entertainment Earth.

I hope and pray that preorders are strong enough to ensure these figures get made.
BBP! was quite clear that weak preorders would doom Wave2, and it would be a shame if this line died with less than half of the main cast produced. A Wave 3 with Jin and Sun and Desmond and Charlie may be too much to hope for, but let's at least get Jack and Sayid and Sawyer on board this plane!

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Jay Glatfelter of the Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack who turns out to be a fan of Megos and the Mego Museum. I didn't get a chance to say hi to Jack, unfortunatly. I went to their party Friday night but couldnt stay very long and the podcast panel on Saturday had a huge turnout. I Love their podcast, I don't think I could have stayed with Lost as passionately as I did without them. Listening to their show after an episode and then later in the week in preparation for the next episode was an important part of my Lost regimine.

BBP! sent some free figures and a Claire bobblehead along for Jay and he was as happy as a kid at Christmas with him. I suspected he was a Mego fan, and I had a great time chatting with him about it.

Jacob and MIB sat together at the panel, but didn't speak to each other the whole time, it was kind of sad.

The rest of the con was spent catching up with old friends in the toy and animation worlds, covering the new Mego-style offferings for the Mego Museum, and in general trying to not get overwhelmed by all Comic-Con has to offer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oceanic Airlines: Roomy Seating and Comfortable Headroom

Updating my tests on building airline seats and solving the scale problem on the Barbie plane playset...I'm building a platform floor to raise the seats so the headroom isn't so extreme. Then it has an "aisle" that slides out like a drawer so when the set is open you have an aisle to walk down that you can slide away when the set is closed. I think it's a pretty nifty solution.

The seats I am making myself with a jigsaw and PVC board (I have a ton of scrap left over from all those Stately Caverns ledges...) The cushions are craft foam, I think it's a beautiful solution to making seats...I got quotes to do it lasercut, which would be nicer and with more detail, but it's just too expensive and I don't want to spend a ton on this one. Since I have no plans to make multiples of this I don't need to worry about mass producing seats. I may make a sticker to go on the outside of the chair so it has some more details, but this pretty much works for me. I have to make 12 plus a pilot's chair....

Still some adjusting to do: The headrest is too high and the platform is a bit too tall, I need it to be in line with the door. Like a dork, I built this before I removed the Barbie seats and kitchen so my measurements were totally brainless.

Still need to work out how to do the baggage compartment--the doors may be printed and won't actually work, but maybe that sucks, I don't know--I do kind of want to have oxygen masks to drop down in crash mode...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Let's make an airplane!

My primary custom work the last few years has been about PLAYSETS. Playsets in the 1970s for Mego, Barbie, and other figures were often illustrated vinyl carrying cases that opened up into playsets. They were easier to make, sell and store than a large molded plastic playset and the aesthetics really appeal to me. So much so that I designed and manufactured snap=together vinyl boxes called Dida Displays that can be customized to create Mego style playsets. I've done playsets for Mego Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Batman, Superheroes, Knights and Monsters and more. So of course I can Lost playsets planned using that system.

This next project, however, uses an existing playset--Mattell's Barbie Friendship Airplane, one of the classic playsets of the 1970s. I've been obsessing for while about how to convert on to an Oceanic 815 Mego playset. These videos below describe the playset and discuss various strategies I've come up with to do the job. Come back later to see how the project progresses.