Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Dida Review from the good folks at We Are Small!

I've been a fan and booster of Jason deWitt at wearesmall for 10 years now, dating back to the earliest days at the Mego Museum. He's an artistic force of nature who has created an amazing world of original characters using Megos. He has almost no use for the original licensed identities of the dolls (with the exception of the Notorious Batman Brothers, but I wouldn't expect DC to be claiming them any time soon). So I was a bit surprised and very honored when Jason ordered a Space Command set and populated it with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and a host of Romulans! Here's Jason's review:

06/25/08 ::: Dida Displays and EMCE Star Trek

UPS usually just drops stuff over our front fence in a plastic bag if we are not home, and that's how I found my Dida Display Starship Bridge Playset this week! I pre-ordered the Bridge as soon as I could, and I have been buying and saving one of each EMCE Star Trek figure in anticipation of the playset, imagining a great future day when I would open them all together and become eight years old again. Somehow, I managed to keep from busting the Klingon open... until today!

The Dida playset is a jewel. The design is so simple that no instruction sheet was needed, and the materials are perfect. The original Mego sets were made with cardboard akin to that found on the back of a pad of paper, and sagging and bending were the norm. Dida sets are thick, sturdy, and built for warp speed. Gone are the cheap painted walls of the original Mego Enterprise set, now the crew has awesome 3D computer consoles on every wall with buttons and dials to operate! Mr. Spock would be deeply thrilled about it if he wasn't against that kind of thing.
My favorite feature in the set has to be the sliding red door. Again, going way beyond what Mego did, this door is the perfect red plastic and it slides in channels that are riveted together. It even sounds like the Bridge door when you slide it open.

The artwork that covers the set is luminous and vibrant, and since Scott has designed a playset that can be reversed we are treated to The Engine Room and Sick Bay sets for the first time in toy history. Each backdrop is stunning, and I hope that Scott will offer artwork sets to slip into all the groovy plastic sleeves that make up the computer monitors and Main Viewing Screen.

I'm impressed with the whole playset. Scott's thoughtful designs and awesome art are enough, but I think this set's strongest appeal is the way it combines nostalgia with innovation. It reminds me of how great Mego's old USS Enterprise set was when I was a kid, while at the same time it photon-torpedoes that set away. Get one today, and make your toys happy! (Niffty capt. chair and action figures in pics not included)

And in case you haven't heard, the good people at EMCE toys are making Megos again! These are faithful, super-cool reproductions of the classic action figures from Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and with any luck LOTS of other lines! All of these fine toys can be opened and actually played with by hand, and that's a proven fact! Buy a bunch now before another Dark Age sets in...

Oh, and another thing... I have added an 18 inch clear plastic half-dome to my Dida Bridge, because you know how corrosive and debilitating that space dust can be. I just happened to have the dome kicking around here as part of an old toy space odyssey feature we used to run, and as you can see it fits like a smooth orbicular glove. I got mine here!


Check out Jason's award-winning WEE WESTERNS!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Production Update

Here's an update on our progress delivering pre-orders. The bottom line is that both Stately Caverns and Space Command should be shipped within the the next two weeks.

Stately Caverns is going very well. The walls are almost all done, that's installing 28 snaps in three walls (15 times) and building the sliding door walls for the library and the support wall for the batpole entrance. The sliding door is the most labor intensive. It involves cutting the plastic track, drilling holes in the exact right location using a template, and then hand cutting the wall parts away from the display box so they can be riveted onto the track. It's a time consuming operation, but it was great to finally get a rhythm going and crank out a bunch of these walls.

The biggest remaining job is to finish the batpole boxes but I just got my new 1/2 inch hole punch so that is underway. I need to assemble the consoles and the batsignal window, and then get everything boxed up for shipping. The whole playset weighs about 19 pounds and it will be packed well.
The Space Command Center is also well underway. The walls are 75% done and are moving smoothly. This thing has been a headache for sure. In pushing so hard to make the outside art interchangeable I really made a lot of extra work for myself. The issue is the snap-on consoles. In order for the art to be removable the snaps in the walls cannot go all the way through the layers of vinyl. These means the holes must be punched carefully by inserting a backing piece under the vinyl so the punch doesn't pierce the outside vinyl. Then the snaps have to be carefully slid into the pocket and hammered closed. It's a delicate operation and I kind of wish I could have just punched the holes all the way through and set the snaps and that would be that. So we'll have to make sure there is cool artwork to change in and out of these sets in order to make it worth the effort!

The sliding door on this is the same crazy operation with the tracks and the rivets and the cursing and grumbling. But it's worth it, they look really cool. Of course, the big issue with these is that the factory put the door on the wrong side and if you are a stickler for accuracy that's a big no-no. A few customers want it corrected and that is doable, it just means the walls won't be factory sealed anymore since I have to cut open the vinyl to remove the art and put it on the other side. I've done one though and it looks pretty good and didn't take that much extra time. Still, cutting that wall open was kind of sad.

The navigation console is now the major project and it's a real labor of love. When I made my original prototype the base of this console was a real funky affair. I wasn't actually sure how I would pull it off in reality.

It's made from scraps that come from making the tri-boxes. Follow me here. The tri-boxes are made from the tower tool modified to have 6 sections rather than two. The tower has three 1.5 inch tabs on each side to secure it to a stacked display. These have to be removed to make a tri-box so I have all of these really nice black vinyl rectangles I can use. They become the main face of the base of the helm.

The sides are then made from the scraps that result from making the triangle roof/floors for the triboxes. The triangles are made from a modification of the basic displaybox floor and there's this great angled scrap piece that gets cut off...the angle just so happens to work nicely as the base of the helm. How I stitch this all together is another story, but the result looks really good in my opinion. Obviously, Mego did theirs in plastic and if this was mass produced that would be the way to go. But I love the shiny vinyl consoles and this helm really finishes the piece off nicely.

My preorder customers are getting a heck of a deal on these Space Command sets. They are taking forever to make but they have a lot of time and love put into them. I'd charge a lot more for them if I could! Ha-ha.

So I think these will be shipping in about 2 weeks, I may ship them in batches as I get the helms finished. Keep an eye on your inbox, I will email you when it leave dry dock.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Space Command Production Update

Consoles, consoles, consoles! I put a big batch of these together this week. It involves first inserting the snaps that will hold it to the wall, then folding the console together and closing it with rivets. Took me a while to figure out the easiest way to do it, but once I found vise grip pliers it was easy. Spent an evening watching TV and putting a big box of these together.

Wait 'til you see the navigation console! Oh my!

What's left to do on these. Snaps are in half of the walls. They are tricky because if the outside artwork is removable then the snaps for the consoles have to sit UNDER the clear vinyl, so it's not just a metter of punching a hole and driving a snap. Then the sliding pocket door. I spent time making a template for cutting and drilling the track. I think I can bang them out. Wish me luck.

Bonus Image: Check out how great the Diamond Direct Captain's chair looks in the new Space Command Set!

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