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May 2009

Archive for May 1st, 2009

I’ve got lots of ideas in mind to write about, but occasionally I’ll have to deviate from my plan every now and then to talk about current developments. This is one of those.

Late last week and just this week I received test shots of two long lost kits, the old AMT Spock (with snakes) model kit and the UFO Mystery Ship. Many speculated whether the tools still existed and what shape they were in. We were excited to hear about six months ago that the tools had been found. (We knew they existed but their location in the Dyersville warehouse was not documented) We received photos of the molds themselves about three months ago and went through the task of having them shipped to our factory in China.

UFO Mystery Ship

So the great mystery was “will we find the clear engine parts intact? Or possibly as an insert?” Unfortunately, the answers were “no” and “no”. However we did find the other long lost parts like the nose cone, scout ship landing gear and the opaque parts that were to go between the clear parts. The tool showed no signs that there was a place to put an insert for clear parts. Also missing was any remnant of the original base. The only trace of the previous base is two holes in the bottom of the ship where the base may have been connected. (My best guess having never had the chance to study the underside of a Leif kit)

One significant revelation was seeing how the forward neck section had been divided from the back section. I wondered why the break was made right in the middle rather than at the more logical seem where the neck connects to the body of the ship. The reason for having the break at all was just to fit in the smaller square box style. We’ve speculated why these kinds of decisions were made. We figure it was to make all packages a smaller standard size to fit on retailers shelves or to purely to remove the air from inside the box. Anyway, the split is very even and we can see that this may be a simple thing to reconnect the neck. We haven’t decided whether we should do that at this point or not. If we find any demand at big box hobby retailers, they want everything in standard size model kit boxes. The kit will fit that style as is but definitely wouldn’t if we restore the neck. Whether or not we do it for this release or for the (hopefully) eventual back dating needed to make it a genuine Leif Ericson remains to be seen.

The test shots arrived in fine shape and a quick buildup went smoothly. All of the shots did have a few issues with the 4-pronged nose cone. One of the prongs was bent and the cone had a pretty significant sinkhole in it. The timing of the arrival of the kit was perfect as we are planning our Wonderfest presence. We’ll have a professionally built copy of the kit there. I have to admit as I was building the kit, my attitude towards it went from really like to LOVE. It is such an elegant, believable design. Although it would be great to have engines filling their spots, the ship looks great from every angle. The scout ship is a great design as well. It is prime to be upsized and detailed out into a kit of its own. Even the flimsy base did its job adequately without taking anything away from the design.

AMT Spock

We were really biting our lip on this one. What would be in the tool and what wouldn’t be? Everyone can see that the re-release done for the motion picture was a half-ass job. It had butchered the kit and who knows why such a significant change was made. Sure it made the character the same style as the movie. Why cut the base and eliminate the snakes? Just because they weren’t in the film or maybe they were perceived as hokey? We thought that maybe it was done to fit the standard square style box but found that the kit would have fit that box anyway.

One day we received a DVD full of documentation. We had someone onsite in the warehouse, researching, documenting, photographing the test shots on record and cracking open tools to find kits to potentially re-release whether it be Trek or other possible licenses. I started thumbing through it and with baited breath double clicked the folder named “Mr. Spock”… And what to my wondering eyes should appear but the snake sprue completely intact on the photo of the test shot on record. Hooray! However the base was still the butchered half… Bumpum badum. (like the Price Is Right)

So a couple months pass and we received photos of the actual tool and saw that a section of the original base was ground out and replaced by an insert cutting the base as we know it today. The good news about this was that we can create a new insert to put in its place. That saves us a considerable cost to backdate the kit. Work on the backdating is underway. I’ll post an update once I get revised test shots.

The parts as they exist fit fine. I was heartbroken not to be able to put the snake heads on their spot on the base though. Strangely enough, it would make a great kitbash to have the snakes growing out of the top of Spock’s head…