Archive for the ‘Polar Lights’ Category
We announced our plans last year at Wonderfest to do a 1:144 scale model of the C-57D flying saucer and the project is nearing completion. Here is a behind the scenes look at some of its development.
Everyone is aware of our larger 1:72 scale kit. It is legendary for its difficulty in finding a place to display it, measuring in at 28” in diameter. We knew that the smaller kit would be rather simple and that the interior detail that the larger model presented would not be featured in this one. We did want to maintain the opening landing ramps and offer both the central landing pillar was well as a lower dome cap to replace it to display in a flying position. Other than that, we put no faith in anything found in the large kit. We knew of the upper dome profile so we didn’t trust that and figured the rest of the kit’s proportions would be just as unreliable.
In the early stages, we strongly considered using a system of three pie wedges for each of the upper and lower saucers in order to keep tooling costs in check. We could then use three copies of each part drawn from a smaller tool. Every modeler we mentioned this to hated the idea and after taking another look at things, we determined to go the extra mile and do it right with solid upper and lower saucer parts.
As with most sci-fi subject matter, the first thing we needed to decide on what size would the “real” ship be and what size would we want to make our model kit? We had a ballpark size in mind based on the tooling budget we had allotted. We just needed to figure out what logical scale might fall within our range. The first thought was to go to half of the scale of the larger kit and shoot for 1:144. With a 28” diameter being cut down to 14”, the kit was going to be too big. My second inclination was to use 1:200 scale based on the saucer diameter I had found in a set of plans that stated a 162’ 9” diameter. That would have provided us with an approximate diameter of around 10”. I also looked into 1:144 scale at that scale and found that to be over a foot in diameter. This was a bit bigger than we had planned, but we decided it would make the most sense, but further research would be needed to nail down that size.
We enlisted Jim Small to do the research and to draw up a set of plans for the kit. As we explored figuring out what size the kit would ultimately be, we found that the proportions of the measurements we had found did not match those of the filming miniature. We felt pretty beholden to the height measurement of 38’ 6” that was based on the movie set which had pictured real men standing under the ship. If anyone wanted to do a diorama using 1:144 scale figures, the height would need to work with that in mind. We then took that consideration and used photos of the large filming miniature to determine the diameter would end up around 144’ which presented a handy 1-foot diameter for our kit.
Jim used screen grabs and photos of the filming miniatures to draw up the plans based on our final measurements. As he worked through the kit, he engineered a simple spring mechanism that would hold the ramp doors open or closed without having to glue them in one position or the other. Besides the detail the ramps present, the other interior detail we added to the kit is the inner motor “cage” that we see rotating in the lower dome when the ship is in flight.
As usual, the factory created a digital version of the ship for us to critique. Thanks to the quality of Jim’s blueprints, we only found a few minor matters to correct. Eventually they supplied a physical mockup that, again, had few things to complain about. The tooling was cut and test shots were sent. We tidied up a few things here and there. Jim did the buildup for us and the product is on track to be released this Spring. Here are a few images from along the way.
I’ve said many times before I’m a lifelong comic book collector. As a young kid, I was into the standard Superman, Batman and Spider-Man fare. I loved team books like the Justice League of America and the Avengers. If I already had the current issue of my favorite solo characters, I’d buy the book that had the most costumed heroes in it. As I grew older, I started actually READING the books instead of just looking at the pretty pictures. One day I stumbled across a comic I hadn’t eve noticed before and picked up X-men #136. My fellow readers can probably tell you that this was at the point where the X-men were growing in popularity among readers due to the classic work of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne whose run on the title was building to a crescendo. No one outside of comics really knew about the X-men. They could point out Superman or the Hulk, but they wouldn’t be able to tell you who Colossus was. This issue hooked me and I loved every character in the book. A few years later Wolverine was got the spotlight treatment in his own mini-series and the story presented him as a deep, but savage and ruthless character. Over time, the X-men and especially Wolverine continued to grow in popularity until the rest of the world caught on. I still read Wolverine and X-men comics and they are all in incredibly different places now, but some of my fondest comic book memories are of the guy that claimed, “I’m the best there is at what I do… but what I do isn’t very nice…”
So it was with those fond memories in mind that I began our Polar Lights Wolverine model kit development. I wanted to keep him in his 70’s/80’s era look and landed on the yellow version of the suit mainly because that’s the one he started gaining popularity in. I also figured that anyone wanting to see a later version costume could omit the shoulder cuffs and with a little putty filling and sanding could make the brown suit version or with further mods create a more contemporary look. My goal was to make a great looking kit in his classic costume and keep it in reach to make any other version a modeler might want.
For the base, I originally considered making it out of a mass of dead Hellfire Club goons or ninjas. I felt ninjas would, by design, cause too many trapping problems on the tool. After thinking about how much more it would probably costs to sculpt several figures lying in a pile, I abandoned the Hellfire Club goons pretty quickly. Besides as villains, they weren’t terribly recognizable by anyone but longtime X-men fans. I landed on doing a Sentinel head. Even though they aren’t considered Wolverine’s arch foe, they were the villains in the classic “Days of Future Past” storyline in the Claremont/Byrne run in which Wolverine played a key roll. They would return to battle the X-men on several occasions. Besides, robots are cool and anyone who isn’t a die-hard would accept it as a normal occurrence for Wolverine to have taken down a big one.
So here I show my original control drawing of the model. I wanted to capture a pose with plenty of movement for plenty of great views in the round. It was important for m to have the Sentinel look like he had lost a fight and supply plenty of room for additional detail in the eyes, mouth and other wounds. (I can’t wait to see someone add some fiber optic spark effects) We’ll be including the unmasked head, but the second set of claws has gone by the wayside.
We hired Erick Sosa to sculpt the kit for us. If you are familiar with the many licensed resin statue products on the market, you may know his work. He has sculpted some great ones including iconic Punisher and Deadpool figures. Erick sculpts digitally in Zbrush and works on the look of the figure before posing it. This shows his initial sculpt which I deemed to be too contemporary for what I intended for this kit. The look of the character was too close to how we see him in comics today rather than his “bronze age” appearance. I wanted to stylize him slightly to make him look more like a character from a comic book rather than a real guy in a suit. We had to weigh the realism we can achieve today with the flavor of an Aurora-style figure. I think we ended up striking the perfect balance.
Here is a look at the Sentinel head before getting battle damaged. Figuring out the “waterline” was no easy task. As with all comics, the drawing allows any number of cheats, but translating it into real life gets tricky. I had designed it with an exact angle in mind that would result in a clean pull from the steel tooling. Conceptually, besides the rectangular shapes around his head and the structural damage protruding from the eye socket, it could be made as one piece. Whether or not this will be the case remains to be seen.
A look at the sculpt and images of the factory’s digital mockup next time…
Hi all. I know all of you 1701 Club members are anxiously waiting to find out what is going on. Update #8 is finished and should be sent out soon. Many have been asking when we will ask for payment information and you may be assuming the worst that delivery has been delayed… and unfortunately it has a little bit. Fear not though. All development is complete and the kit is currently in production. Details will be in the update.
This blog post might not fill the void left from the above statement, but still we must carry on.
Hopefully you have had a chance to review our Wonderfest video that went live as of my last post. If you stayed tuned in until the end, you found out that the winner of our poll was the 1:32 scale Galileo shuttle! It seems that the Galileo benefited from a grassroots movement that made it the clear winner. I was surprised, but not shocked by the result.
All of the candidates were strong contenders. Some have made the point that with so many great subjects to choose form, some kind of cannibalized the votes of others. If, say, either the Reliant or K’tinga had been left off the ballot that the remaining 1:1000 scale craft would have drawn the votes of the other and therefor put it over the top. I purposely tried to stay out of the nomination process. As long as the winning kit would fit what we had in mind for the size and budget, I knew whatever won would do well. But, I didn’t want to limit the choices in any way. Why? Because I wanted the modeling public to get a taste of the decisions we have to make when it comes to our product line. Our range of choices are also nearly unlimited. Whether it is another Star Trek kit or any other license there are tons of great subjects deserving of being made into a great kit. Figuring out where to start is the trick.
You might wonder if any of the other contenders could get made someday. I threw out several ideas at the presentation covering several types of kits from many properties. In the perfect world of my mind, they would all get made some day. The disappointing truth is that I doubt that 100% of them will get done, but they are all on a list of kits I pull out each year to determine what we will do next. I’ll need to weigh our tooling budget and licensing responsibilities against popular demand.
When it comes to creating brand new kits, we need to hit a home run every time. With reissues, if something doesn’t sell well, we are only out the time it took to create the packaging, etc. But if a newly tooled kit fails, the chances of getting another one made lessens. We have heard the demand for NEW kits and we are putting a plan into action to create new tooling. It will be up to you guys to vote with your wallets to tell us you want more.
Getting back to the Galileo, Gary has already begun digging into the project. As you know getting the interior set to fit within the craft as seen on the show is impossible so our work is cut out for us. We have already started discussions on what kind of details we hope to include in the kit. We will do our best to get the kit finished and on store shelves by the end of 2013. I’ll keep you updated as we progress.
Next week… Wolverine…
Believe it or not, I’m still here working away on Round 2 Models of all kinds. Just like you I wish I could have posted sooner than this. Many people have been clamoring for a 1701 Club update. Of course so much time and work has gone by that I have a lot to write about. So much so that as I’ve been writing it, I’ve come to the realization that I will probably have to find a way to break it up into two reports. Besides the 1701 Club, many people are waiting with baited breath to hear what ship won the poll I talked about in my last blog post. More on that in just a bit…
I have a sliver of time this week where I think I can write up several blog posts showing progress on some of the projects I mentioned at Wonderfest. I’ve already got some test shots on the Motion Picture Cadet kits, a few versions of the Wolverine kit digital files and I’ve have reviewed he mockup for the Robby the Robot kit featuring Altaira. I should also be seeing the 1:144 C-57D mockup soon. I look forward to sharing some behind the scenes looks at these kits similar to what I’ve been sharing in 1701 Club updates. I’m not sure I’ll have time to get quite as in-depth as those reports have been, but there will still be plenty to share. Once I get them written, I’ll schedule them to release once or twice a week.
Back to the poll results… as you may know, we recorded video footage of this year’s Wonderfest presentation just like we did last year. We had hoped to get it finished and posted some time ago (like before the poll went live) but as things usually happen, other fires got in the way. That isn’t to say we haven’t been working on it all along. Modelman Tom is well known for his Youtube model kit reviews and he has been putting in all kinds of time on our video to make it extra-special and much more entertaining than last year’s edition. As production on the video has wrapped up, the poll has also come to a close. So like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, two great things have come together. So as they say… WITHOUT FURTHER ADO… Check out the 2012 edition of our Wonderfest presentation video to find out the poll winner!
After you’ve viewed it, give us some feedback and let us know what you think.
I gave a quick overview of our iHobby booth last time and touched on several Round 2 Models products that will make their way to workbenches in 2012. I’ll give a more in depth product preview of some of our early 2012 sci-fi and genre kits.
First we are offering up something we consistently get requests for- our Universal Dome Base. Though not a groundbreaking achievement, many have found it to be just what we intended, a nice clean method for displaying a model. It is suitable for pretty much any space ship or aircraft model. The dome is a perfect sphere section that can be painted as a planet if desired. The metal rod and ball joint will also be included. It should be available in January. If this one sells well, we’ll look at bringing out our larger version.
Next, a few Star Trek favorites are returning. From the old three piece Adversary Set, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and Ferengi Marauder return in their own mini ship set. We are adding widow decals for the Marauder that will also include clear orange engine parts. Though there aren’t much to them, once built, they make a couple sharp looking little models.
Also from the old Adversary set comes the Romulan Warbird in its own box. The kit includes a dome display base and new window decals. The engine parts will come injected in regular clear and glow-in-the-dark options. The buildup Jim Small did for us is very striking.
Those knuckleheads, the Three Stooges are coming back again. Why so soon, you ask? We are starting an initiative to bring some model products to market that give some decent results to more casual modelers that don’t have the time or skill to put all the work into them that most of our core consumers do. So this time, the Stooges will come prepainted in shades of gray. Facial detail like eyes etc. will have enough detail to give a nice look with no paint required. They will be great for beginners and just require some glue to hold them together.
These Round 2 Models products will kick off 2012 for us. We’ve got a few others in the works too. More on those as we get further along. Some exciting new projects are in the planning stages and we should be moving into development with them very soon.
Hi guys. It’s been too long (again). I wanted to take a few minutes to give you a 2011 iHobby recap. This was the national hobby industry show where companies of all kinds displayed their wares with everything form trains to remote controlled vehicles to models. We always have a big display of all of our hobby lines of 1:18 scale American Muscle die cast cars, Auto World slot cars and of course our Round 2 Models line.
I’m sure more details are available elsewhere, but I’ll give a real quick recap of our automotive products before delving more deeply into our sci-fi/genre stuff. Our display case was filled with a ton of great buildups and box proofs and mockups. On display were…
’76 AMC Gremlin X is being brought back as the first in our line of Original Art Series where we are scanning original box art for our packaging.
The Meyers Manx buildup arrived bruised and beaten (thanks to a customs inspection) but John and a friend or two helped put it back together again. The kit is also part of the Katch the Kat program and also includes a cardboard backdrop.
1:16 Street Charger is being brought back for a limited run under our 1 Run of Fun program. After one production run of the kit, the tooling will be backdated to turn it back into the Petty Charger kit that modelers have been asking about for a while.
Chevy 100th Anniversary collector’s tins bring back the ’51 Chevy Fleetline and ’57 Chevy that will be struck from the Mueller-era Pro Shop version of the tool. The kit features an opening trunk. The kit includes detailing foil, engine wire and photo-etch parts.
The Dirty Donny Vantasy Chevy Van offers several decal mural options.
The Diamond Rio Tractor was on display continuing our line of popular big rig kits.
Looking ahead to 2012, the Hot Curl and his pals will be back riding the waves. The AMT version of the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 will be coming back as will the Monkeemobile, Arnie Beswick’s Super Judge GTO, Superwagon and Vantom Ford Van. The AMTronic makes a comeback as well. It will come in reproduction packaging and include the original cardboard backdrop and clear green and crystal clear window options.
Outside of kits, one exciting product was Auto World’s new line of men’s apparel including classy button up shirts and vintage looking racing jackets. I’ll need to see what I can do to get one emblazoned with a Polar Lights logo. I think everyone that saw them wanted one. They will be available exclusively through autoworldstore.com.
Across the booth, our lineup of Polar Lights model kits was on display.
U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-C will be available in December. A printout of the battle damage decal sheet was on display as well.
2 piece Adversary Set will be offered with glow in the dark engine parts and window decals for the Ferengi Marauder. Like the cadet series model kits, these little ships will not include bases. This set will be out early in 2012.
The Klingon Battlecruiser with all of its revised parts was on display. The version of the kit in cardboard packaging will be out by Christmas.
The Yellow Submarine kit will be out in early 2012 in a tin package. Reproduction box and prebuilt versions will follow later in the year.
A lunchbox tin collector’s edition of the 1:1000 scale Enterprise will be out in early 2012. The box graphics will be reminiscent of vintage Star trek lunchbox decoration.
A big hunk of gray resin had its unveiling. Most things look good. Some things need work. For more info sign up for our 1701 Club to get updates. We have around 350 spaces left to reserve your kit.
Romulan Warbird previously of the 3 piece Adversary Set gets its own release. New window decals and dome base will be added to the kit.
Deep Space 9 will be a late 2012 kit. It will be injected in clear plastic for lighting and also include window decals for those that don’t want to bother. We are looking into another extra add on for inclusion in the kit. More on that whenever our plan for it is finalized.
MPC Hulk and Spider-man kits will make their way back to modelers workbenches. Most people that saw them confessed to having never seen them before. They must have had very short releases back in the day. Though some parts seem wonky, they are nice sculpts overall. They will come injected in color with spots of prepainting. They are snap together kits so they will be great for kids.
Bigfoot is another snap together kit. He, along with the Strange Change Vampire and Strange Change Mummy model kits, will be part of our 1 Run of Fun program and these three kits were made here in the US. They arrived in our warehouse last week so look for them on store shelves soon.
Psycho House will be another in our line up of pre-built models.
Strange Change Time Machine will be out in 2012.
Also on display was our Captain Action lineup. Or first release of was represented, as was a preview of our second release, Thor and Loki.
Our iHobby display of Polar Lights model kits might not have offered many surprises but check us out at Wonderfest where we hope to have several new projects to announce.
Prepping for then working the booth at iHobby is always a lot of work. I’m still dragging a few days later. But, it is always good to get a chance to talk to modelers and get a sense of their excitement for the product. That is reward in itself.
The delay has been inexcusable, (sorry, it was out of my hands) but the 1701CLUB T-shirts started shipping out this week. Something was discovered as they were being packed up though. It turns out that we received 500 blue shirts from the printer instead of 250. I’m not sure why, but it is obviously too late to go back now. So congratulations to members 101-600 on getting the blue shirt. The last of the blue shirts will go out today and bundles of red shirts will be shipped out daily until we get caught up with the most recent members.
We’ve still got slots open for anyone who hasn’t signed up yet. We haven’t reached our goal of 1701 members yet but the number of people who have indicated they want duplicate kits is getting within striking distance of a sell out. We will continue to take memberships until we have 1701 members though.
I am planning on sending out the next club update in early September. We’ve got some exciting news to report.
Our first 1701CLUB update has been sent out. If you signed up for the club but did not receive it, just drop us an email through the contact page of our website. Please be sure to check your spam filters. In a few cases, we have had members’ correct email information in our system but they did not receive the update. We will still be able to show the first update to them using an alternate method but we will not be able to do that every time going forward.
If you haven’t seen it yet, we finally got our Wonderfest presentation set up on our Round2ForYou YouTube Channel. Be sure to check it out! Thanks to Modelman Tom for putting all the polish on the clips.
Thanks for all of the feedback to my last post. It will really help us decide what to do next in our Star Trek Cadet Series line. Feel free to keep responding to that thread with more comments or suggestions.
I was going through my bookmarks the other day, doing some house cleaning and organizing and came across the Polarpaedia page. Someone had pointed it out to me way back at our first appearance at Wonderfest. It was a site I thought would be a good reference about the history of the Polar Lights Model Kits brand. I knew there was a lot going on the PL message boards back in the day and had heard some of what went on back then from some of the folks that carried over from PM to R2. As I looked at the site again, I took note of traditions that had been begun but had fizzled through the years. I know bringing back the glory days is impossible but I’m wondering what little things can we bring back that were worthwhile back then? What are we missing? What can we bring back? The one particular thing that I took notice of was the Golden Frankie awards given out each year at Wonderfest to celebrate one individual’s impact on the hobby. Though we don’t currently have the license to pop a Frankenstein, maybe we could do something similar. I’m open to any thoughts or ideas.
Sorry for the delay in posting once again. We are just beyond the peak of a hill of changes going on around here at Round 2. In the last two months, we have moved the entire creative team into one central area, added two new creatives and a creative director, a creative department intern and two staffers for our new marketing department along with a couple more interns to help them out.
So how will this affect us and me and the sci-fi model kit development specifically? I have been able to hand off marketing responsibilities so I don’t have to sink time into advertising and the marketing people can assist in copywriting for packaging. They have also taken over all publicity and handle some of the execution of the 1701 CLUB stuff too. I will continue to write blogs, check in on message boards and supply content for our newsletters and 1701 CLUB updates. In addition to the marketing help, one of the creatives and the intern has been assigned to work on the model kit lines. Between John and myself we’ve got plenty of stuff to keep them busy. This brings our total number of people working full-time on model kits to four (not including the intern). The end result will be better quality, on time product and more product releases. Thanks to the influx of talent, I’m nearly caught up with my workload. I haven’t been able to say that in well over a year. The new workspace seems to be working out great too. I had to sacrifice an office of my own to move into a cubicle but I never needed that much privacy to begin with. We still have some settling in to do and work to do while we do it.
Let’s run down some product updates so this post has a little bit of news.
Barnabas Collins- Tooling adjustments have delayed the release but the changes made ended up being a lot nicer than I had envisioned. Both Barnabas and the werewolf should arrive in August or September but not necessarily at the same time.
Leif Ericson- I need to finish up the packaging and as soon as it is done, it’ll be on its way. All of the tooling adjustments have been made and it looks great.
Batmobile (Glue Kit)- I’m refining the decals a bit today. Otherwise it is done and should arrive on time.
We’ll be adding more kits to our website soon like the Enterprise C and some returning kits like the Strange Changes and Bigfoot (finally).
I should have my first update out to 1701 CLUB members by the end of the month as well. If you haven’t signed up for the Premiere Edition 1:350 TOS Enterprise kit yet, don’t delay. Slots are going fast.
So, how was your weekend? If I can count my day off after Wonderfest as my weekend, I can say mine was restful. The week of the show was incredibly busy working day and night to prepare for it. As always, it was a good show. I really get an energy boost from it by being able to talk to all of our customers out there that enjoy the product I pour so much time and effort into.
This year, we had our usual display of buildups and our annual survey. This year’s version had quite a bit less of letting us know what you want as far as specific model subjects go (we have a pretty good handle on that by now) and focused more on your process.
On Saturday at noon, we held our panel in Theater A. Everyone that had come to the booth asking what our big announcement would be, attended the panel. I was happy to see all of the familiar faces. I hate the idea of getting up in front of a crowd and speaking but I stumbled through the first part where I talked about all of the more boring stuff about the company without losing anyone. After a very short Q&A I read a letter from Tom Lowe. Those who weren’t there can read it here.
So we will be producing a 1:350 sale TOS Enterprise and we’ll be presenting it a couple ways. I will summarize our plans here.
1:350 TOS Enterprise Standard Edition
This will contain everything you need to create the production version of the ship including shuttle bay and will be available through all of your usual model retailers for an SRP of $124.95.
TOS Enterprise Accessory Pack
This will include weathering decals, photo-etched parts and a light kit including motors to turn the Bussard fan blades. We have a target price for this but will announce it once the time comes to take orders on it.
1:350 TOS Enterprise Premiere Edition
This was the kit we were talking up the most and for obvious reasons. It includes everything in the standard version plus parts to make the 1st & 2nd Pilot versions. It comes in a commemorative box and includes a serial-numbered certificate of authenticity. The kit is a limited edition of 1701 pieces for the price of $149.99 and is scheduled to arrive before the standard version hits stores. The kit is really aimed at all of you Star Trek modelers who have been waiting patiently for the kit to come out. It is available exclusively through Round 2 and we started the pre-order sign-ups at the show. As an added bonus, everyone who pre-orders is invited to join what we are calling the 1701 CLUB. Membership in the club gets you a t-shirt to wear as a banner to tell everyone that you were there on the ground floor of this kit. The shirts themselves are also limited editions. We have 100 gold, 250 blue and the rest are red. Members will be sent email updates about the development as well as some interviews and a few never before seen pics of the filming model. This will be the ONLY place we will be giving out development updates. So past this post, this blog will be mum on the subject until the standard kit is ready to hit the stores.
I’m sure you’ve got questions. Hopefully these are the answers…
The kits will be out sometime in 2012. It could be anytime between March and October.
You can reserve up to 5 Premiere kits right now but if we have 1701 members, 1701 people will get kits. If we fall short of that number we will come up with a system to allocate the rest.
Only one shirt per member regardless of how many kits you want to buy.
We still had some gold shirts available after Wonderfest but the people who have found the sign up page have taken us well into the blue ones.
If more than 1701 people register for the presell, anyone over that number can still signup and may be offered the chance to buy a kit if someone else decides not to buy their kit.
We will likely release the pilot parts separately once all of the Premiere Edition kits have been sold out. The combined SRP for a standard kit and the extra parts will be no less than the price of the Premiere Edition.
We taped the whole presentation and hope to have it edited to put up on You Tube. It wasn’t much of a site as far flashy graphics goes. It was just me and then me and Gary Kerr talking. I did show the first images of the digital mockup from the factory. They made some pretty glaring mistakes but they also got a ton of it right to my surprise. I credit Gary for that one. So here are the pics of the mockup in its current form. I’ll let you know when the You Tube video goes up and then it will be radio silence. Go sign up for the CLUB, if you please.