Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Prototypes - what are they and why are they important?

In my brainstorming for Club Zeton - and my desire to make it something actually CLUB-LIKE and not just "give me money so you can maybe sorta buy everything unless it sells out!" like some other clubs - I thought about things that would actually give you a good experience for your bucks. Of course, it had to be something I could ACTUALLY provide to you. It sounds fun to own a chunk of a steel tool, until you realize they are hundreds of pounds and it would be impossible to get a good, recognizable part.
"Chuck, why do you have a shard of metal in your display case?"
But that was a good line of thinking - what can I get people from the production process that would normally cost them big bucks, without going through a secret underground network of dealers and friends? Not that I know anything about all that... #shiftyeyes
After checking in with HQ, one thing became apparant that we could get to you - a "test shot."

In the picture above, you see seven different things. From left to right:

- a "pre-paint" sample of the Geihoza Mordle. This is from the actual production run, just without any paint applied.

- orange Maxx bits. These are scraps from what is called a "first shot." the tooling is created, and then a small sample run (less than five) created to make sure everything works properly. You'll note this orange was from something else being made at the time - a stronger Glyos historian than I could tell you specifically what it was from. Now, first shots are important because they aren't always reflective of the final product. At times, a product makes it all the way through the process of being sculpted and parts make it into the intial tooling, but some issue is found with the parts and they are removed from the final product. Or it may be that the details change a bit - there is actually a small series of differences on the first shot Maxx in the tread area where some of the sculpt detail was changed.
Additionally, in some circumstances, products are canceled at the first shot stage, so these are the only way to ever get these figures. One example that comes to mind is the Napoleon from Kenner's Bill and Ted line which was floating around on eBay for years at a ridiculous, near $1000 price.

- Gi Joe Extreme test shots. As I don't own Kenner, I can't say 100% what stage these figures are from. I know they are very similar to the final production figures, just without paint and in strange colors. One thing to note: the tooling may have had multiple limb sets in one block, as the arms on Stone and Metalhead as shown are the exact same color. This can be done efficiently if the limbs are all needed in the same color; otherwise you'd be throwing away parts.

- green and red test shot Mordles. The green Mordle is a pre-paint sample from the normal run, where the red Mordle is a first-shot. Fun fact - we tightened up some detail on the Mordles from first-shot to the finals, so the red Mordle is a little softer in detail.

- pink Manglor egg. The Manglor eggs are actually created from the original 1980s tooling!
They may have been used as easter eggs for children south of the border, but I have not been able to confirm this for sure yet. So, the pink egg - I asked the factory for a sample run, and they ASSUMED I wanted them for easter eggs. I have a bunch of never-to-be-made eggs in blue, yellow, pink...a full pic is on the Toyfinity Instagram for those interested.

The process is an interesting one. This was one potential Maxx Zero from the drawing phase...
...before we arrived at the Maxx you all know and love.

There are hidden modes in Maxx that we considered building more pieces to accentuate...

...but were perhaps too "out there" for Robo Force.

Concept work is done just to see if things will work in a variety of directions...

....that never come to fruition in those forms.

With all of this in mind, what Toyfinity will provide as part of the Club Zeton membership fee is a "first shot" to every club member for the figure we intend to create this year. Potentially the figure will never be released beyond the first shot - if I get hit by a cement mixer, for example. There's a chance that parts seen in the test shot won't make it to the final figure without changes, if not outright deleted.
 As it is still in development (and based on the information I've shared above), there isn't something concrete to show you right now...but I can tell you that it is from the Zeton franchise that includes Robo Force, Zeroids, and S.T.A.R. Team and is not a "head pack" for the existing Robo Force figure.

Thank you for your indulgence. I'm really hoping the Club goes forward so I can provide you with the experience of the first shot. I've been lucky - my figures so far have come out very close to what was sent to China. But you never know what you might get back...imagine you went through the whole process and THIS is what you received back:
More on the Mystery Modules this week.

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