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Archive for July, 2009

Model Kits: Drama on Altair 4 (in Glorious 1/72-Scale)

posted by BobP 8:00 AM
Friday, July 17, 2009

Here’s another sneak peek at our upcoming Forbidden Planet C-57D model kit re-release. We unveiled the Id Monster a few days ago – heightening the drama is the crew of the C-57D, laser rifles in hand; Commander Adams barking orders into his communications device and the lovely Altaira suitably distressed by the whole situation.

The figures, along with the ID Monster, really bring the kit alive by presenting a bit of the drama that is at the heart of the plot of Forbidden Planet, rightfully hailed as a masterpiece of mid-century sci-fi cinema. In addition, the small size of the in-scale figures really serves to highlight the massiveness of the C-57D. A true sense of scale is something we felt was somewhat lacking in the last release of the kit, in spite of the inclusion of Robby and the detailed interior. Adding the human element somehow really puts everything into context, and helps bring the story of Forbidden Planet back to the forefront.

As with the Id Creature, Jamie directed the creation of the sculpts, starting with a series of turnaround drawings for the sculptors to use as a guide, and then providing comments and further direction as the sculpts progressed. As with the Id, we received approval on the sculpts just last week, and gray resin castings were photographed, retouched and incorporated into the packaging graphics on the box bottom.

Model Kits: Forbidden Plastic

posted by BobP 8:00 AM
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

At long last, the ID Monster makes his styrene model kit debut! Here’s a sneak peek at part of our upcoming re-release of the Forbidden Planet C-57D Space Cruiser, which includes a few upgrades since the model kit was last seen on the market. The Id Monster is cast in clear plastic – which is the closest we can get to “invisible.” Included here are images of Jamie’s original turnaround drawings, the approved sculpt (a resin casting painted primer gray) plus a Photoshop simulation of the assembled monster, rendered as if tinted with a transparent red glaze (as if he is being made visible by the force field fence). At 1/72 scale, he measures a whopping 2” tall, which makes him 12 feet tall in “real life.”

Why a Photoshop simulation of the completed monster instead of an actual buildup? Well, it’s one of those weird cases where the packaging is due before we’ve even seen an actual test shot of the figure, as we just received approval from the licensor on the new sculpts last week. Our new packaging shows off a nice image of the buildup on the box bottom, so I felt it was important to have a semi-realistic representation on the package back. Tooling is commencing immediately, as the kit is due out in November – and that’ll be here before we know it!

Further comments upon data regarding Star Trek model kits… On we go.

Disclaimer: This post refers to survey results. We make no promises to produce any subject mentioned at any time. Be good and we’ll see what happens…

The next segment of our survey asked about repopping some grey area AMT kits. Grey area from the standpoint of “would they worth doing?”. I was interested to get some feedback on these because they seem like good subjects to us but the kits do have many issues with accuracy. We are trying to determine which can be released with some adjustment to detail and which should be started from scratch or is it possible that people want them with warts and all. We found that some had lovers and haters and some were kind of “myeh” across the board. One interesting one was the 1/2500 ships. This had the nearly the least amount of “no” votes and by a huge margin had the most “yes” votes. Another interesting result was the Enterprise Cutaway. It was pretty even from “no” to “maybe” then shot up to a pretty substantial “probably” ranking then fell again to land second to last in “yes” votes. The others rated highest in the “maybe” category. 70% of people said the kits would at least need some work. So, this tells us these kits we felt kind of lukewarm about might get a lukewarm reaction if released. One of them is on our 2010 plan and had been before the show.

Then comes the juicy part. We asked about some general ideas for “smaller” kits meaning kits that would fit in a normal size box or maybe a double sized box. These would kind of be our bread and butter kits that would ideally come out at $20 – $30 price points. The possible answers came from some poles I saw on modeling forums. I kind of picked some of the higher-ranking results from those polls. Then Bob and I kind of threw in a few ideas we hadn’t seen batted about that we thought might be interesting. So, in no particular order the top five were… 1/1000 Klingon BoP, Kelvin, 1/1000 Reliant, 1/1000 K’tinga and 1/1000 Romulan BoP. Here was another case where there was a head and shoulders winner and quite frankly I had no idea what to expect. The 1/1000 Reliant was way ahead of all of the others. By my (unscientific) calculations, it scored 100 points above all others. The next three scored within 40 points of each other.

There was a more than 100-point drop between #5 and #6 rankings. #6-8 scored within about 10 points of each other.

Moving along to the big guns. These would be kits that would need to retail at higher dollar amounts. These would be more 1/350 scale kits or larger ships in 1/1000 scale for the most part. From all previous indications, I figured the K’tinga would walk away with this one. I just wanted to be sure this was the case when other kit possibilities were offered side by side with that one. While the results weren’t as drastic as the smaller kits, the Reliant won again by a respectable percentage. So the K’tinga had to settle for second… well, not quite, more like tied for second. The K’tinga actually came in third for the most “yes” votes. What other option would give it a run for its money? The 1/1000 scale Enteprise D. What about the Akira? It landed behind an accurate K-7 at 1/2500 scale. I was curious about the exploration set. The original kit is tiny, made for kids hands and inaccurate. Yet we often get people asking for it. So I threw out the idea of doing a full sized set. I wasn’t hoping for much and didn’t get much. I’m guessing the best plan is to stick to the ships. Oh, I also threw out a 1/12 scale bridge. Not very popular either. I’m wondering if no one picked up on the scale which would be a perfect set to go along with your old Mego figures…

To wrap up, we had asked what popular ships were left off of our “smaller” ship list. Seems like the Excelsior/ Enterprise B and Defiant from DS9 were the leading write-ins.

I’m probably pointing out the obvious when I say that I see a bit of a trend in these results. Regardless of the outspoken few who crave ships from certain series, it looks like subjects from the early movies win out over all other “generations”. I can see the charm of the early films. They might be my favorite incarnation if I had to choose. But I see outspoken fans out there that declare their love for the original series and likewise there are fans of later series that are also outspoken. I see people wondering about the Vulcan Ring ship and the Andorian Kumari from ST: Enterprise. General consensus is that it was the weakest series but it had some decent ship designs in it. (I’ve been watching some episodes and I don’t think its all that bad other than the whole idea that everything looks newer than it should timeline wise.) Likewise, there are big fans of Voyager and DS9 that didn’t focus as much on a ship named Enterprise and other fans who want more adversary ships. Just for fun, I’ve posted a poll on Starship Modeler to gain more insight into this. Again, this won’t keep us from exploring all of the different series. It’s just an observation.

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So Wonderfest 2009 is kind of old news by now but it has taken me some time to examine the data from our survey that we handed out. Anyone who took the time was given a couple fresh Star trek tattoos. Seemed like some loved ‘em and some could have done without them. Oh well, you can’t please everybody… Well, that’s pretty much what the survey results told us too.

The majority, if not all, of the survey covered the ground of Star Trek model kits. I have to admit that as hard as I tried, this survey wasn’t all that great. I was in an incredible rush to write it. I didn’t structure it well and it was probably even biased towards certain subjects just in the way it was written. I’ll try to do better next time. So with that said, it couldn’t be considered scientific; therefore, I won’t consider the results scientific either. As with all polls like this, it’s just asking for suggestions. We won’t really be steering our ship from it. I’m not going to go into every ranking or specific winners and losers but I’ll point out what I thought were some interesting results. A copy of the questionnaire will be posted as one of this blog’s images if you would like to follow along.

I was fascinated that people who like bigger kits are so outspoken about it. On more than one occasion, the part of the survey addressing the “smaller” kits was left blank with a written note saying “I only like larger kits”. In the question that directly asked which size was preferred, “ALL” won out which wasn’t much of a surprise.

The majority of folks preferred decals but if an answer of “some paint with decals” had been offered, I’m sure it would have won out.

Now this next one was the biggest shock of all. Bob and I downplayed our announcement of landing the rights to the new movie because we had seen all of the online debate about whether the movie would be “accepted” or not. We were shaking in our boots at the thought of making the announcement to a group of rather outspoken fans. Turns out you guys overwhelmingly liked the film. We didn’t ask about the Enterprise specifically but just the movie itself. Quite a few folks said they “loved” it. Well over 100 people surveyed said they liked it, less than 5% said they didn’t like it. About 20% hadn’t had a chance to see it yet. No one said that they refused to ever see it. We were surprised that we didn’t really have any outspoken haters at the show. A few verbally said they didn’t like it and a few took the opportunity to debate with their friends. So, we are pretty encouraged with the new kit in development.

I was really interested to see what size people hoped the kit would be. At the time, the size was still under great debate and we had just gotten the “official” size a day or two before the show. It turns out that the choice of the larger kit won this debate. I guess this makes sense when you consider the aforementioned demand for larger kits as well as fans who want a consistent scale. The 28” kit would match our popular 1/1000 scale. We are proceeding with the smaller one at this point. Cost of tooling is a significant consideration but also the fact that we’ve had some success with placement of our smaller snap kits in larger retailers like Hobby Lobby and Toys ‘R Us.

Skipping down to the last two questions… What are we getting right? Well, everything apparently. At least that’s what 45 people wrote in. While I appreciate the compliment, that’s not realistic. We’ve got tons of room to improve and I seriously wanted to find out what we are doing so far that folks are digging. Some people did make note of the extensive decal sets and improvements to the kits. Twice as many people commented on our interaction with the modeling public whether that be responding to customers’ kit issues, being at the show or posting on message boards or maybe even this blog. (it was cool that I had more than one person say “Are you Jamie? I read your blog”. It’s hard to believe people are reading the rants of little old me.) People seem appreciative that we are making some effort to get modelers input. The overwhelming comment was our choice of kits that we’ve released. I’m not sure if that just means people are happy that we are doing Star Trek kits or that they truly like the specific kits we’ve brought back out and have in development.

On the other hand, we did want to learn what we could improve. We didn’t get a ton of feedback on one specific area but it seems that bringing to market quicker and offering newly tooled kits were answers given a few times. Believe me, I’d like to bring things out quicker too. I’ve said before that we’re still gaining momentum. I can say that our projected list of sci-fi/genre kits for next year is twice as long as our release list for this year… and there are new kits(plural) on that list.

More juicy discussion of the results next time.

Model Kit: Tidbits shmidbits Vol.3

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Monday, July 6, 2009

Bob posted a “special features” post awhile back about the Star Trek Enterprise E box art meant for the mass market. These would be larger stores to make sure the model kit offers a point of difference from the hobby shop version.

As he stated in that post, I was fortunate enough to do the hobby version box art. The Star Trek licensor has established a style guide to ensure the look of their brand that calls for us to use one of their supplied backgrounds. So I had a dilemma, do I just paint the ship or the ship on a background. I wanted a finished piece when I was done so I went ahead and did a full background too in hopes that someday the whole piece could be used somehow. The piece was a bear to do. 80% of it was a struggle just because I hadn’t picked up an airbrush in years. I didn’t start feeling good about it until about the last day or so as I worked on it. Looking back now, there are some things I wish I had done differently but overall it turned out pretty well. Here is a look at the entire piece with background and the lettering overlaid in photoshop.

Model Kit: Tidbits shmidbits Vol.2

posted by JamieH 8:00 AM
Friday, July 3, 2009

And a moment you’ve all been waiting for… a first glance at the 1/1000 Enterprise Refit model kit. Ahem… a little technical difficulty here… damn camera. Well, if I could, I’d show you a nice clear image. But I wouldn’t want anyone to be disappointed. Keep in mind that this is the very first draft. The overall shapes are good but many details need work.

The kit is being mastered from equal parts 1/350 kit and a set of Gary Kerr’s drawings (which are considerably more accurate, btw). We’ll see how much detail can be captured in a version of the ship at this scale. Whatever isn’t formed plastic will be supplied as decal. More images when the model kit gets further along.

Model Kits: Tidbits shmidbits Vol.1

posted by JamieH 4:31 PM
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sorry I haven’t posted recently. I’ve been super busy reviewing test shots for Forever Fun (Take a look foreverfunblog.com to check out new product coming down the pike later this year.), upcoming model kits and jumping in on some packaging to meet a deadline that managed to sneak up on us.

In the meantime, I’m gonna churn out a few quick hit blog entries. I’ve got lot’s of stuff to write about but not enough time. I still want to keep folks interested and coming back so even though my next few blogs may be short, they’ll be worthwhile. So here we go.

The first test shot buildup of the backdated Mr. Spock model kit. You’ll see a nice little detail we have added but may also find the little detail we missed. (It should make its way back into the model kit… hopefully… eek!)

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