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  • 05/03/13--07:22: Vote for OMFG! Series 4
  • October Toys is currently taking votes for OMFG! Series 4. There are 146 entries to choose from. You can go to the October Toys forum (linked above) and enter vote for your top 5 designs. Entries will be accepted until May 24th 2013.

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    Hugh Jackman, star of The Wolverine, stars in a video message supporting Free Comic Book Day 2013. Make sure you visit your local comic shop on Saturday, May 4th, 2013 to participate in Free Comic Book Day. For more information about Free Comic Book Day: http://www.freecomicbookday.com For more information about The Wolverine: http://www.thewolverinemovie.com  

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  • 05/04/13--04:37: ESC-Toy Saturday Release
  • Today, Saturday May 4th 2013, at 11AM ET the ESC-Toy Shop will be releasing three new limited edition items. The Mermadi 2 Villainous by Erick Scarecrow is a hand painted resin figure that's been signed and numbered by the artist. Limited to only 30 pieces worldwide, it includes one 6" Mermadi figure and one 2.75" [...]

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    Episode SIXTY TWO of the AFB Podcast is live at iTunes and is now available for direct downloadDownload and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes now! 

    Join Scott, Ben and Justin for Episode Sixty Two of the Action Figure Blues Podcast! The AFB Podcast is a weekly look at action figures, statues and other collectibles from the worlds of comic books and pop culture.

    This week our Toy of the Week is the Marvel Select Rhino Action Figure, and our discussion topic is Female Action Figures - we talk about the good, the bad and the frequently very ugly of ladies in toy form!

    If you can't use iTunes, you can download Episode Sixty-Two here now! Click on the link to listen, or right click to save the file! The podcast will always be available from the “Podcast” tab here - but if you can subscribe and give us positive ratings at iTunes, that will help us greatly! The AFB Podcast is also on Stitcher Radio!


    Have a listen, and please give us some feedback at podcast@actionfigureblues.com - we might even read out your feedback on the next show!

    Happy listening!





















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  • 05/05/13--06:09: Mirai Suenaga Doll

  • A month ago, I wrote an article on how to mass produce your own products. The post was rather popular and was picked up on many sites and social networks around the world - could have been because I posted it on April the 1st and folks didn't know whether it was true or not.
    Well as we say in these neck of the woods - "April Fools come true" ^o^
    I also learned through the traffic that that Taiwan, China and Russia are big markets for this type of doll.

    Today I want to talk about the progress I've made on the soft vinyl doll that I'm modelling after my mascot character Mirai Suenaga and share with you my learnings in the hope that you can avoid the mistakes that I made during my first ever attempt to design and manufacture a product for the masses.


    This is how Mirai looks so far ^o^


    She's not perfect but for a first attempt to make a doll I would say that she's pretty cute ^^;


    I love her kira kira eyes ^o^


    And for those who thought that the robotics part was an April Fools - well you was right back then but you are wrong now ^^; Read on and I'll explain more about the project.


    Mirai Ver 1.0 is modeled after an illustration of Mirai by Japanese illustrator Iizuki Tasuku-sensei. While some doll manufacturers go for printed eyes when creating a doll rendition of a 2D character, I decided to do my best using resin eyes. While the result is not perfect - I feel that its not bad at all.


    Before you read on, you may get confused if you have not read the previous post on mass production where I explain how we used 3D software to model the body and how 3D printers were used to print parts which were then duplicated to generate a wax clones. The wax clones were then copper plated using a process called electroforming.


    Going to start off by talking about the production of the head. Here are soft vinyl parts which have been freshly pulled from the molds.


    I called upon a comrade of mine who goes by the name RONRONSHUKA to help me do the make up for Mirai.
    This is one of the tools that she uses to sand down the inside of the eye hole after it has been cut.


    The eye holes are really difficult to cut but the handy drill bit sands down the rough edges.


    The drill bit is specifically for doll eyes and can be obtained from doll accessory shops like DOLK and Parabox.


    Time for the airbrush job to give Mirai cute blushing cheeks ^o^


    Here are some of the acrylic paints used for the makeup.


    There is a science behind designing a doll face and while I have not quite worked out what it is yet, what I can share with you is that the whole expression can change due to slight variations of make up - even though the head is the same shape. Combinations of the angles of the eyebrows, design of the eye edges, amount of blush and lip color can generate completely different faces. This is why its very important to try out different combinations like we did.

    And then there is the placement and size of the nose, shape of the lips, eye hole shape and position to consider too. Its important to make sure that both sides of the face are *not* the same. Many 3D modelers tend to just mirror the face - but just as a human with a mirrored face will look alien - so will a doll.

    The final thing is taste - while my 3D modeler may think a face sculpt looks good - I may not necessarily feel the same. The vital thing here is to have the face match the producers taste as s/he will be the one to make everything a reality - it is key that the producer believes in the project and in order to do so, s/he needs to be 110% satisfied with the look and feel of the product.


    One thing I get my illustrators to do is to add the "////" lines on the cheek - no exception for the doll version.


    Initially we prepare 3 variations of makeup - each giving a slightly different look and feel after placed on the body with eyes and wig. Next step is to make paint masks which are like stencils - one mask for each layer of paint. Paint masks are called "Tosou Masuku" [塗装マスク] and are needed for mass production as it would not be practical to hand paint each one.
    I'm visiting the mask factory this week and will take photos to show you the process.


    Once I'm happy with the makeup, Top Coat is sprayed over the face to protect the makeup and make sure it does not rub off. Until Top Coat is sprayed, we still got room to do alterations.


    Now its time to make the eyes. I'm still thinking whether to do Acrylic or Resign eyes. Acrylic eyes are cheaper for mass production. Resin eyes cost more but are more shiny and seem to look better and more lifelike.
    The black domes you see here are the sculpt for the eyes which are placed on some plasticine. The can pictured here is filled with silicon rubber.


    A hardening agent is poured into the silicon rubber. Its red but after mixing you hardly notice any redness at all.


    Then its time to mix the hardening agent and silicon rubber together. When thats done, its poured into the tub that contains the eye sculpt and plasticine.


    Once the silicon has cured, the plasticine and eye sculpts are removed from the tub to leave behind the silicon mold. Due to the nature of silicon, it can only be used a certain number of times (5-ish) before the material starts to degrade.

    The design of doll eyes are actually printed on paper - make sure you use photo paper and print using a high DPI setting. The eye design is another important factor for a dolls face and we need to consider the darkness of the gradient and size of the highlight. Its important to have decent sized highlights or your doll eye will end up looking like a yandere - which is fine if thats what you want ^^;


    Crystal Resin Super Clear is then poured in each pit and the printed eye is placed facedown on top.


    And here are the different variations of the eye design. One thing about resin eyes however is that there is a high chance that air bubbles will form in the resin as its poured from the can. The air bubbles could be removed using a deaerator but they are huge and not really practical to have around the house ^^;


    10 sets of Mirai just arrived freshly pulled from my molds.


    And here are some oppai parts which I need to do a lot of experimenting on ^^
    Slush Molding (casting) Soft Vinyl is one of the cheapest form of toy production with costs low enough so that many individual folks can afford to make their own stuff.
    Good Smile Company has been making some really detailed products of late using this form of molding and you can see the high amount of details that soft vinyl can yield.


    Anyway, as I mentioned previously, I didn't design the oppai to have the spout attached which is why it ended up looking like this. The problem is that no matter how you cut it...


    ...you are going to end up with a visible cut like this. The reason is that the cutting surface is the same as the surface of the oppai. When you are designing your own products, make sure you take into consideration the moulding method too which dictates where join lines or flash will end up - design your product so that they are hidden out of view.
    I'm not happy with this mold so its back to the drawing board.


    Luckily we done everything in 3D. We use ZBrush to modify the oppai part so that the edges that will be cut are behind the oppai. This is then re-printed in 3D where a wax copy of it is made via its silicon mold.


    And here is the wax copy with the spout attached - next step is to polish this down. This oppai will be melted after it has been copper plated to make the final production molds.


    Now to talk about the Smart Doll feature. I didn't have the resources to make it in time for April the first so whipped this together in 3D - nice rendering eh? ^^
    The reason why it looks so real is because we used the HDRi Light Probe technique. I had to buy two huge christmas tree balls for this project ^^;

    News of the Smart Doll generated a lot of buzz in the robotics scene in Japan and as a result I got to meet a few robotics experts who I hooked up with - we are now working to make this a reality ^o^


    Here are some of the smallest servo motors that exist on the market. These ones fit into the limbs but what we have also been able to do is make our own hybrid servo motors by mixing and matching the gears and motors.


    The Smart Doll will have about 24 servo motors, a CPU board, bluetooth and touch sensors. We are currently designing her so that she can dance to existing MMD sequences and move using Kinect - but that may not be ready in Firmware Ver 1.0.
    Power source will initially be external with a Ghost-in-the-Shell-like socket that fits in the back of her neck using an L plug. There will also be touch sensors in the head so that she will give a cute reaction when she is given a pat. I'm not going to attempt to muffle the motor sounds as I kinda like the whirring sound ^^

    You will be able to plug her into the mains where she will just do her own thing in Idle Mode (looking around the room, shifting body etc) keeping you company as you work - a bit like the animations in MiraiClock3.
    For mobility, I want her to be able to be charged via a USB mobile battery but depending on the power consumption, she may end up having to use one of those heavy duty laptop mobile batteries.

    Apart from Idle Mode where she does her own thing, there will be other presets too which she will perform at the press of a button as well as being able to control her via your Android phone (iOS comes later).

    We are currently designing her so that you can remove the arms and head too. The first version should be ready during of June.


    The Smart Doll version is looking to cost quite a bit but still cheaper than the price of standard dolls that can be found on auction sites.
    We are also developing a much more affordable standard frame version too and we've done that using a tool called Solid Works which enables us to do collision detection.


    Parts of the frame are also printed using a 3D printer. Once I'm satisfied with the frame, we need to make the parts using a process called injection molding which does end up costing a considerable amount more than slush molding ><


    Most of the frame however is made up of existing parts on the market meaning that we can reduce our development costs by buying in bulk as OEM parts. The skeleton you see here is made out of Polyoxymethylene (POM) - its properties are high strength, hardness and rigidity and strong enough to maintain various poses. The final version will be the same color as the skin.


    And then there is the wig - so many things to consider for one product ^^;


    I've currently taken an existing wig and am cutting it to my fancy. I'll either buy wigs in bulk as OEM or work with a wig factory to develop my own depending on costs.


    Going to take a closer look at the body now. The oppai part you see here is the old version - the new one will have toned down "rose buds" ^^;


    After the production process and line is fixed for Mirai Ver 1.0 - we will make a smaller oppai part. Some folks ask me why the oppai is so big but its only just a tad bigger than the L Bust on a Dollfie ><


    Clothes designed for 60cm dolls should fit Mirai well but not if they are specifically designed for a Dollfie as my Mirai has bigger oppai ^^;


    I didn't bother to censor any of the photos as its important for doll owners to check out the whole body - just as you can view them nekkid on other doll product websites.


    The next few photos of Mirai in her birthday suit.









    And this is what Mirai looks like with her clothes on ^^;



    This set of clothes that fit DD Yuki fits Mirai quite well though.



    And these last set photos are of Mirai in her Mori Girl gear done by doll steamstress Chun from Canada.















    I'm currently aiming to have both the Smart Doll and standard frame version up for pre-order within the year. If I had more staff then it would be quicker but I'm managing all aspects of production on my own at the moment ><


    Mirai together with the other girls.



    As mentioned the other day, one of my agenda items as a member of the Japanese governments Creative Industries Internationalization Committee is to revitalize the "Machikoba" [町工場[まちこうば]] which are small factories dotted around Japan who specialise in a certain craft or technique - it can be anything from making moulds, slush casting, making gears, leather goods and so on. In some cases, these small factories have been around for many generations where technology and know how is passed down the blood line.
    In some cases however, many of these small factories have shutdown either due to lack of people to pass on the know how to or due to the lack of new orders - many of which is being channeled to factories overseas.

    This is a slide from one of my decks. It shows how I'm going to pair up Japanese creators and the small factories together - the work of Japanese creators can then be developed with the help of the small factories. I will showcase the resulting products to folks overseas and in doing so I meet the goal of promoting Japanese technology and creativity to the rest of the world.

    There are many creators in Japan who just dont know which factories to use - many of which are not even listed on the Internets so you need to know somebody who does.

    Most Japanese figures and dolls are licensed from anime or games which is one of the reason why these products are kept in Japan - because of the previously mentioned licensing issues.
    If more individual creators made their own original character dolls or figures then these products should not have any of the said licensing issues and it will be easier to spread the Japanese technology and craftsmanship that goes into these products around the world.
    There is the issue of shipping but I'll hook creators up with my comrades at companies such as Tenso.com who specialise in shipping overseas.


    I've documented the doll production process up until now in the following posts - while they are specific to dolls, you can apply the knowledge to make your own figures and wot not.
    #Rapid Prototyping and You
    #How To Mass Produce Your Own Products

    For those who cant be bothered to go through those posts, here is a very very rough breakdown (skipping a few processes) of what you need to make your own dolls (or other products).

    1. Use Google Sensei to learn how to use 3D software like I did - if you cant afford the price tag of 3D software then there are free decent solutions like Blender.
    2. In our case, we used ZBrush for the modeling and tweaking using 3D Max.
    3. Prep data for 3D printing.
    4. Print 3D Data.
    5. Make silicon molds from 3D printed data.
    6. Make wax clone from silicone mold.
    7. Electroform the wax clone to make the copper mold for mass production.
    8. Pour soft vinyl into the molds to make the doll parts.
    9. Cut off flash and assemble doll.
    10. Make optical eyes.
    11. Do the makeup.
    12. Play with Mirai.
    13. Goal unlocked - proceed to boss level.

    If you want to make your own products then start consulting with Google Sensei - its free. Then once you are armed with knowledge, you can use that to start implementing your ideas.
    If you want to produce your products in Japan then I will hook you up with the people that you need to know who can oversee the production for you. If you are confident in your language skills and know enough about the production processes then I'll introduce the factories to you.
    If you dont have the cash to cover production then start off with what I did and work in a restaurant to save up. Stop giving yourself excuses and just do it.


    The line of Mirai Suenaga products continues to grow ^o^


    And this is Mirai in her Mori Girl gear. Read more about Mirai Suenaga >>>


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  • 05/05/13--06:51: Buildings Are Fun
  • It was either this or study for Finals … Tweet This Post

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    BOBA-FETT-SDCC-BOX-SET

    I've been pretty jazzed about Hasbro's recently announced Star Wars Black series, featuring 6-inch tall action figures, when this next announcement sent me craving for more! Witness the BOBA FETT SDCC Exclusive!

    Announced on USA Today, was this iconic scene seen in "Empire Strikes Back", where Han Solo was frozen in carbonate, as Boba watched on the side, ready to transport him to Jabba the Hutt. Kudos for Hasbro for making the two-figure set!

    Priced at US$44.99, this sweet set will be sold at the Hasbro booth at the San Diego Convention Center circa July 18th to 21st. Now I need me a mule!

    BOBA-FETT-SDCC-BOX-FRONT BOBA-FETT-SDCC-BOX-BACK
    BOBA-FETT-SDCC-BOX-OPEN

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    Check out these brand-new BATMAN items that are in stores right now. To be exact, it's clothing! 

    First, take a look at these extremely cool BATMAN AND JOKER Shoes for little kids. The shoe has a velcro flap on top that looks like Batman's cape and when it's raised you can see this "Batman & Joker" graphic that is shown in the 2nd photo. These are AWESOME!! You can find these at Wal-Mart.

    Next up, and shown down below, is this brand-new DC Comics BATMAN CHEST T-Shirt that makes you look like the NEW 52 Comic Book Version of the Caped Crusader! It's also sold at Wal-Mart and is only about $7.50, a good price. ( Thanks Melissa! )



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    Over at the BAT-BLOG FACEBOOK page ( Please feel free to JOIN! ) a very talented Artist who lives in Italy was kind enough to share some of her wonderful artwork. Her name is Camilla and here's a pencil drawing she created of Batman and Catwoman in a tender embrace... it's SO AWESOME! 

    Thank you Camilla for sharing your fun art and please keep up the good work.

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    Just a quick post to share some pics of some new BATMAN merchandise to keep an eye out for in the next month or two. First we have these 2 Prototype pictures showing a new set of products by Monogram. These are DC Comics' BATMAN and JOKER BUST Resin Paperweights. They plan on releasing these in June of 2013.

    Now, like we said, these are "prototype pics" showing what they will look like. Once we get photos of the actual products then they will be posted here at the BAT-BLOG. But these give you a great idea on the basic concept & personally, I like the retro "vintage look" of the characters.

    Then, in July of 2013, Monogram has plans to release this BATMAN "The New 52" Bust Bank! I'm not sure if it's made out of resin material or vinyl rubber but either way it's pretty cool!



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    We just wanted to give a quick shout-out to all the BATMAN TOY Collectors out there and let them know that Mattel has finally released some of their new vehicles in the 2013 Hot Wheels Toy Line that Fans of the Caped Crusader are gonna really really want!

    First, check out this photo of the Batman Hot Wheels BAT-COPTER (shown up above). You don't see this bat-vehicle as much as the cars so that's cool. 

    Also, another Hot Wheels BATMAN CAR to keep an eye out for is the re-released version of the 1989 Batmobile. We apologize, at the time of this post we didn't have a decent photo. But, this is the car they released back in 2004 and then again around 2010. Yes, it's the car from the Michael Keaton movie. Once we get a decent pic we will be sharing that here as well, so stay tuned.

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    WOLVERINE

    I posted my Draw A Jawa + Draw A Wookie sketches yesterday, and today I again shamelessly share with you folks a new sketch (above) which is my mashup inspired by #StarWarsDay x #FCBD, while the quartet of sketches below were done a while back, now presented with a tad photoshoppin' done … thank you for your indulgence and patience, folks!

    WOOKIE EWOK
    FETT GREEDO

    [All viewable on my dedicated Facebook and TOYSREVILART]

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  • 05/05/13--09:00: Marvel's Iron Man by 3A Toys
  • ironman_web_v2

    UPDATE: "Official" image released by 3A Toys posted above (Shown below was the initial showcase image posted earlier today).

    Ever wondered what a 3A Toy x MARVEL design looked like? Spotted on the ThreeA Legion Asia FB-page is a snap of The Invincible Iron Man, in 3A-style! "Gregory Prout" on ThreeALegion mentioned; "It's a teaser from the Goodsmile Booth at Harikore".

    What do YOU folks feel about this (unpainted) design? Is this what you envisioned the interpretation by Ashely Wood to be?

    IronMan

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    Do you have a trip planned that involves kids? If so; then you need to take a look at the Trunki suitcase from Melissa and Doug. This is the coolest suitcase on wheels designed for toddler to pull through an airport all by them selves. If you have been searching for a product that makes [...]

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    Spotted at Treasure Festa in Ariake 9 were Atelier Hiro's gorgeous Miku kits, along with his Girls und Panzer pieces. The two Mikus look particularly amazing; look at the detail on her hair! I especially like the one with the cake, for some reason dressed in a maid outfit, but looking like she's about to take a quick taste of the sweet. Gorgeous sculpt work and a great paint job combine to make an eye-catching piece.

    On the Atomic-Bom side of things, there was a gorgeous black Rei with matching scythe, and the Messenger Girl sculpt that got made into a figure by Kaitendoh was there with a new look ... and a new bike, to boot. I think she needs some pants, though. Just saying.

    [via Akiba Hobby]

    Treasure Festa in Ariake 9: Atelier Hiro and Atomic-Bom screenshot

    Read more...

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    Orca Toys appears to be a new name in the business, but their stuff at Treasure Festa establishes them as leaning toward the pervy side. Not all of the figures are explicit but some can cast off while others just have lewd poses.

    Starting with the most worksafe one, you can check out Ryo Sugamo from Tokage no Ou. She's just in an unassuming pose rocking a black swimsuit.

    Next up are a pair of To Heart girls with bunny ears: Manaka Komaki in red and Tamaki in white. Tamaki can cast off (sort of) so I'd expect the same from Manaka. Neither are my cup of tea; the Playboy bunny look just turns me off for some reason.

    Luckily for me, Orca will also be making To Heart girls in cat form. The standing one is Sasara Kusugawa, and the sitting one is Manaka once again. Moeyo has an extended gallery of this Manaka (NSFW!), and she's sporting some serious cameltoe.

    [via Akiba Hobby, Moeyo]

    [NSFW] Treasure Festa in Ariake 9: Orca Toys screenshot

    Read more...

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    Ques Q seems to love Touhou Project figures, but they do have their stylistic differences with Griffon. I enjoy seeing the odd Touhou figure every once in a while thanks to their whacky and elaborate character designs.

    The little lady in blue is Nitori Kawashiro. The green-haired one with umbrella is Yuuka Kazami. I really like this one for the sculpt and detailing on her skirt. The other three Touhou figures are ones we've seen: Flandre Scarlet, and the Helloween Flandre and Remilia Scarlet figures. They are still incredibly cute.

    The only non-Touhou figure to get a body shot was the school uniform version of Aigis. Since I got the Shigenori Soejima Works Aigis, none of these other Aigis figures float my boat anymore.

    [via Akiba Hobby]

    Treasure Festa in Ariake 9: Ques Q screenshot

    Read more...

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    Name Tattoo Ideas – Applying the name tattoo in your body is really interesting. However applying the name tattoo is too complicated and there are many things that must be observed. Name is easy to be written in your body but it needs carefulness. If a tattoo artist not careful in writing the tattoo name, [...]

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    Custom Temporary Tattoos – There are two kinds of tattoo (permanent and temporary tattoo). They can apply temporary tattoo if they afraid with the tattoo pin. Temporary tattoo also can be applied for them to avoid the risk. Everybody have the boredom feeling and if they use permanent tattoo they cannot overcome this problem. Well, [...]

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    This unfinished piece is your first look at one of two collaborative works by catmandru! and Loretta So. Loretta started drawing at young age and is heavily influenced by manga and anime as well as the Final Fantasy series. After … Continue reading 

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