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.
A month has gone by since Wonderfest and this is the first sliver of time that I’ve been able to quickly jot down some vital info to recap. (as usual, things are super busy in my wing of Round 2 Models) I know everyone has been waiting to hear the details of some of our announcements. Right now, I’m going to give a quick rundown. I’ll be able to go into more detail later on as the kits progress. So without further delay away we go…
Dirty Donny’s Two Much – As announced in our last enewsletter, we will be producing a kit based on this Kar Kulture artist’s character design. He’s a crazy-kewl creature that will include several decal options to decorate him with.
Forbidden Planet Robby the Robot Movie Poster Edition- This kit will recreate the classic poster. It will consist of several parts from the existing kit, but with new legs, Altaira (as depicted in the poster) and base with cardboard standup.
Forbidden Planet C-57D 1:144 scale- We are happy to offer the classic flying saucer in a size that will fit on your bookshelf. The model is based on all new research and will not be based on our 1:72 scale kit. It will feature parts for a landed or flying pose including opening and closing landing ramps.
Marvel Comics Wolverine- The fan favorite character gets the treatment he deserves in a plastic model kit. He will be offered in his yellow costume as depicted in the early days of the character. He comes with two head options, masked and unmasked.
Star Trek TMP Cadet Series 3 ship set featuring new tools of the U.S.S. Enterprise Refit, U.S.S. Reliant & Klingon K’tinga as 1:2500 scale snap kits. The Refit and Reliant will come with the surface decals just like previous Cadet kits. The hope is to release at least one kit or themed set like this one each year to expand on the Cadet Series.
Elvis- Yes, he seems to have returned to the building. We are exploring an HO scale Graceland and possibly figural kits. We will see what the future holds for the king.
Wizard of Oz- The first kit we will look at doing is the Wicked Witch of the West in 1:8 scale. Depending on the reaction to this kit, we will take a look at doing the rest of the cast of characters from the iconic film.
DC Comics- Our approach to the Wolverine kit should give some indication into how we plan on creating new figural kits of some of the most widely recognized characters in the world. They will be well posed and detailed, but with a hint of nostalgia mixed in. Our initial ideas are for Superman and Batman kits inspired by some classic comic scenes and artists.
Iron Giant- Though this isn’t technically a new license for us, it was the first we had announced the possibility that we could do a kit form the animated film.
What comes next?
Our biggest announcement is that we are reaching out to the modeling community to decide one of our 2013 kit releases. The audience in attendance at our presentation took an active role to determine who the candidates will be. Everyone is eligible to cast their vote. Go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6HFNN6Zto answer a few questions for us and vote for one of the following kits
1:1000 scale U.S.S. Reliant
1:1000 scale Klingon K’tinga
1:32 scale TOS Galileo shuttle
1:2500 scale U.S.S. Akira
I2” tall Iron Giant
We are putting the finishing touches on our youtube video of our presentation. We have a lot more in the mix this year so please be patient as we get it all tidied up. We hope to have it ready in the next couple weeks. I’ll let you know as soon as it is finished.
Sci-fi and figure modelers everywhere are scrambling to finish their entries for the annual sci-fi modeling contest at Wonderfest and it is no different for us here at Round 2 Models. The show is being held May 26 & 27th in Lousiville, KY and we have our work cut out for us as we prepare. We won’t be entering the contest, but we are sponsoring a couple model contest awards this year and that is just the beginning of the fun!
We will issue special awards for the best use of a Round 2 brand model kit by an adult and another for the best use by a junior/teen. Any AMT, MPC or Polar Lights kit can qualify. We know you guys do a lot of kit bashing and modifying. To qualify, the use of our kit has to be easily recognizable.
On top of that, we will have our usual display of product, our annual modeling survey and have a special little giveaway. But wait, there’s more…
First test shots of our new 1:350 scale TOS U.S.S. Enterprise will be fresh off the press and we will be making two available to the public at the show. Members of the 1701 Club that attend the show can enter a drawing for one set. The second set will be available to anyone through the show’s silent auction. Take home an Enterprise before anyone else and support a great charity at the same time! But that’s not all…
Come to our presentation at 12 noon on Saturday to hear about the progress of the big E, be the first to hear about other new kits coming by the end of 2012 and find out how you can help us decide the next new kit we will put into development. That’s right, the crowd in attendance at our presentation will have an opportunity to help us decide what brand new kit will be added to our 2013 release list!
We look forward to seeing you there!
I’ve been hinting at new Round 2 model kit product announcements from time to time. I don’t take any joy in being coy or secretive. I’d rather let you guys know what we are up to, but history has shown we are better holding off on announcing development plans until we have something substantive to show for it. Generally, we like to hold off on making most of our major announcements for shows like Wonderfest or iHobby where we can see your immediate reactions. Wonderfest is just around the corner (May 26 & 27) and we can’t wait to reveal some pretty exciting plans for later this year. We’ve decided to let one small tidbit out now to give you a taste of things to come.
I asked a while back for some input about the scale of the Deep Space 9 kit. We have already let it be known that the kit is coming back and we are looking at a Fall release for it. The kit will be injected in clear ABS plastic and will come with window templates to benefit modelers that feel like lighting it up. For those that don’t want to take that step, window decals will accompany the kit for the first time. That might all seem kind of “ho-hum.” That is the kind of treatment we give all of our re-releases. The exciting news is that we will also be including a 1:2500 scale U.S.S. Defiant this time around! (and not just a glow in the dark copy of our U.S.S. Enterprise kit) This will be a brand new snap-together model of the Defiant as featured in the Deep Space 9 TV show. It will measure approximately 2 5/8” long and will be comprised of 6 pieces. The images show the first look at the digital model the factory will use to cut the tool.
Like I said, this is just a taste of things to come. We will have plenty more to talk about at Wonderfest. We made one of the biggest announcements in modeling last year. What are we going to do next? Let me just say, you will want to be sure to attend our panel session this year. I’ll be talking more about that, as we get closer to the show.
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…
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.
Have you ever had news that you wanted to shout to the world but you couldn’t? That’s kind of where I’m at right now. Things are getting exciting here in Round 2 Models-land. We’ve got a couple great shows coming up.
We will be setting up at C2E2, in Chicago, IL April 13-15. I’ve attended the show the last couple of years and I love it personally. The show focuses on comic books, movies and pop-culture of all kinds. We are looking at a show exclusive to sell at the show. We’ll see what we can do. Besides model kits, we’ll be displaying our other lines like Forever Fun seasonal products, Captain Action and Silver Screen Machines die-cast cars as well.
We are also gearing up for Wonderfest in a big way. I cant wait to unveil this year’s product announcements. I’ve stated that I don’t want to announce anything that we don’t have a sculpt or mockup for. I’m working hurriedly to be sure I don’t have to bite my tongue about anything. If all goes well, we will have more new kits out by the end of the year than just the 1:350 scale U.S.S. Enterprise™! I really, REALLY wish I could say more!
A lot of our development team’s time is spent on our product packaging. It is a key marketing and sales tool and in some cases, it makes the kit much more desirable. If you read our blog regularly, you are probably familiar enough with our products to know what to expect from us in this regard. I figured I would show you some of the steps we go through and what we encounter as we work.
For this example, I’ll be using our upcoming release of the Incredible Hulk. In the case of this kit we started with what we had, a tattered copy of the kit released in 1978. The plan was to ditch the old packaging style completely and shift it more towards an Aurora style long box but keep a modern sensibility about it. Comparing the proportion of the art board to the long box style, I found we could center more in on Hulk and let the rest of the scene actually wrap around one side of the box to give the effect of “okay, here is the Hulk. He is mad” then as you turn to the side of the box, you get the reveal of “oh, this is what he is mad about”.
In order to start, the old box featured a giant violator that covered a major part of the background. An image of the buildup cut into Hulk’s knee. All of this is besides the fact that our box is nice and worn with plenty of cracks and stains in the image. The decision was made to break it down to just the line art and recolor it as I had done on the Spider-man and Captain America kits. This would give it the updated look I mentioned. The instruction sheet featured the same line art in pure black and white so I figured this would be a great head start. The problem was that the art on the instructions did not perfectly match the box lid. It wasn’t a complete redrawing but a few embellishments had been made to the artwork. A few lines were thicker here or there.
Once I broke it all down and mixed and matched the parts of the line art I wanted from the two illustrations, I set to filling in the gaps created by the violators. The only clue I had to the contents were an overturned car and smoke coming from it and who knows what else. There were also a few building tops peaking up from the behind the legal line on the instruction sheet. I found the look of the TV news style helicopters to be a little ridiculous and decided to embrace that a little bit. I decided to shift their color scheme to a more military look and drew in one of General Ross’ “Hulk-buster” tank on the ground to give him something to really get angry about. Filling in the rest of the cityscape background was logical to complete the rest of the scene.
So here it is, a sneak peak at the upcoming Incredible Hulk packaging. (All images are currently under licenor review and are subject to change) we will feature a build along article by Mark McGovern covering both the MPC Incredible Hulk and Spider-man kits on our website when we approach the release dates.