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March 2012

Archive for March, 2012

Round 2 Models: How The Magic Happens (Episode 1)

posted by JamieH 2:33 PM
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I recently asked for some ideas to post about and it seems one of the most requested bits you want to hear about is how things work here day to day at Round 2 Models. I decided to keep a log of what I did over a four-day period. Why four? Because I got too far into one day without taking any notes.

Keep in mind that more than anything, my job is to “art direct”- give thoughts on the progress of a sculpt, assemble and review test shots, review a tooling plan to make sure every part is accounted for, create or advise an associate on a packaging design or instruction sheet, give management an update on product progress, assemble documents to generate cost estimates and figure out what we are going to do next and who I can find that would best help with that, write these blogs and generally just keep all of the balls in the air or make sure they get thrown into the proper basket complete and on schedule.

I fear this won’t seem like the exciting time you might imagine it to be. All in all, things may seem to happen at a snails pace. I can assure you I always have too much going on to make daily dents in my “to do list”.  I’ll try to explain about some things along the way.


7:30 – Arrive at the office. I’m the third person in today. One other creative is usually here by the time I arrive. The other person is from accounting. Our day doesn’t technically start until 8:00. Most people are out by 5, but a devoted few tend to stay past that most days.

7:30-8:30 – Check email. This usually eats up most of my morning and it gets checked regularly during the day. Some days email completely distracts from actually getting the work done that I might have intended to do in a given day.

The majority of the email traffic is me answering questions or keeping balls in the air on various projects with a few factories and vendors (sculptors, digital modelers, etc). This particular morning covers hearing that pre-production samples of our upcoming Incredible Hulk are on their way. I’ll need to review them. If they look correct, the factory will produce the product exactly way I see it. I will need to note any corrections that might be necessary. I also reviewed the progress of laying out the 1:350 TOS Enterprise tooling. Answering emails such as these can be a huge time sink. I need to capture images and make notes of every problem I see. When reviewing a sculpt or mockup from the factory, this can take up the majority of a given day.

8:30- 9:10 –  weekly product development team meeting. With a few people out, this one is relatively short. They usually take 1-2 hours. Our department (10 full time designers) meets to review what we are currently working on. It is a time for the Creative Director to present anything to the department he needs to. We get a chance to see and hear about what each of us are working on and give critiques and pointers where needed. We are each generally pretty isolated to specific lines. As you know, I am the primary line manager for Polar Lights. Another designer splits his time between my line and the automotive line. We have a part time intern assist on the Polar Lights line as well. On the automotive side, John manages that line up. We have one additional designer splitting his time between automotive model product and our new line of model rockets. Everyone else is spread over our Forever Fun, slot car and die cast lines.

9:10-10:10 – I’m back at my desk and continue responding to email.

10:10-11:45 – We have two people out sick in the department and Forever Fun has a huge bunch of package mockups due by the middle of the week for a large retailer. Mockups are basically fake packages. Most of them need to look as close to the final product as possible, which includes putting actual product in the package. It is a huge pain and takes a lot of time. We have one part timer who comes in and does nothing but mockups. With one of the missing people being one of the Forever Fun peeps and the other person being one that would normally pitch in on such a crunch, the effort is short handed. So the rest of us are enlisted to help out. For my part, I cut out a few of the more complicated patterns and assemble the boxes. It is a pain and takes a sizeable chunk out of my day, but we gotta do what we gotta do sometimes. This situation rarely happens, but we are all prepared when the call comes.

11:45-12 – check more email. This time I answer some questions for one of our sculptors for one of the projects he is working on. (details for which will be announced at Wonderfest)

12-12:45 – lunch. I run to a local Meijer supermarket to pick up lunch provisions to cover me for the next couple weeks. Other than this, I rarely leave the premises for lunch.

12:45-1 – You guessed it, check my email.

1-4 – I do some research for a few new projects we have planned. This mainly consists of researching online, checking with consultants and in one case finding the answers in a book I already had on my shelf. I won’t get into specifics, but basically I’m looking for reference images for one kit, a beauty shot of another ship to use for our sell sheet for another project, and determine the length of a couple ships. Among my search I stumbled cross Steve Neill’s YouTube series about his 66” scratch built Enterprise. That ate up a good 20 minutes just checking that out. Fascinating…

4-5:50 – I work on an RFQ (Request for Quote) for a kit coming out in the fall. This document will be sent to the factory for them to determine their cost to produce the kit. The RFQ pretty much covers every aspect of the kit from the parts included, color and packaging. If a test shot is already in hand, tooling revisions or problems will be recorded to gauge the difficulty and cost for necessary tooling work.

5:50 – I’m out the door and on the road for a 40 minute drive home.


Here are a few pics I snapped throughout the day.

A look at my desk the morning of day 1. It would continue to accumulate more mass for an additional week before I break down and come in on a Saturday to clean it up.


This is our mockup area in the warehouse. Mike G. (American Muscle and Custom & Premium) and Ken H. (model kits) stand at the left of the pic. Monica (model kits intern) and Jen (mockup contractor) are seated at the table.


This shows the mockups that are complete at noon. I estimate that this is about half of what is required for one retailer’s request.


This shows a package mockup that has had all of the straight edges already trimmed down.


This shows what it looks like after I trim out the window. The box will go on to be assembled with an acetate window installed and have last year’s product put inside to give the closest indication possible of how it will look on the shelf.


This shows an overall view of a vintage copy of the Star Trek Exploration Set. This photo gets installed in the RFQ to show what parts are needed and an estimation of their size.


Whew. That is a mouthful. I guess I’ll have to write up each day individually. So, to be continued…

Round 2 Models: Whadaya Want From Me?

posted by JamieH 4:25 PM
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A few weeks back one of this blog’s voracious readers asked what I was up to. Even a photo of my desk would be enough to sate him. I obliged and readers had fun pointing out objects of interest around my desk.

A couple weeks after that, I posted some of the steps we go through when we clean up box artwork and it seemed like a few people were genuinely interested in the process. I’m in a place right now where what I am working on is new and exciting stuff, but I can’t talk about it until we here at Round 2 Models make a formal announcement about these projects. Stuff that I was working on months ago is almost ready to go out on the shelf for sale. It is all stuff that while at one point, I was excited about, but now I’m on to the next thing.

My question to you, dear readers, is what kind of behind the scenes insight would you like to see on this blog? There are things that I do (nearly) every day that I take for granted that you guys might want to know more about. So, I’m throwing this out there. If there is something you are curious about or would like more behind the scenes dirt on, give me your questions/suggestions and I’ll work through them as time allows. Want to know more about my battles with Batmobile model development? I got plenty to share. Want to see some old control drawings from the AMT and Polar Lights archives? We’ve got some things in a file cabinet that I could pull out. The only things that are off limits are the 1:350 Enterprise and future product announcements. Those will come when the time is right.