Monday, 5 August 2013

The First Draft!

It's been a while! Sorry for the lack of updates over here - there's a lot more going on over at our facebook page but I prefer to stick to only more important updates on the blog proper. Today, I've got a doozy for you!

There's been a few things which needed doing on the figure before it could be sent off - I realised the torso joint would expose the mechanics the second it was moved in any direction, so we had to completely redo the torso joint. He's now got a more standard ab crunch found in figures like Marvel Legends and DC Universe Classics. To keep it possible to disassemble for sculpting work, it moves around an M3 bolt and has a handy hexagonal fitting to keep the nut in place. The twist is now handled by a seperate joint at the waist, around the level of the belly button. We would have loved to have had it lower on the belt line, but there's not a lot of room to play with inside with the working bits.

Nick and I have been pretty busy of late so these changes took a while to implement, but a couple weeks ago we reached the point where we were happy to sign off on our first draft of the figure! We sent him off to the good fellows of shapeways and had him printed in their standard white strong and flexible material, and he arrived at the end of last week! Naturally the first time Nick got to see him was during a fancy dress party...

I'm the robot, Nick's the frost giant!

We're absolutely chuffed to bits with him. There are a few issues we've discovered, but they're little housekeeping issues for the most part, which is really encouraging! Hopefully we'll have more progress soon!

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Sketchbook

So this has been concept reveal week! I've been posting up a design a day for some of our current crop of concepts. Monday's was one of mine:

Harabec is an elite soldier of the future. Expertly trained in jetpack flight, he can rain fire down on his enemies from the skies!

Tuesday saw one of Nick's ideas! I love this guy:

He's a tiger warrior, a prince of a forgotten kingdom! Really love this guy. 

Wednesday brought us another of my designs, the Bladesman.

He's a noble swordsman, an expert fighter from a fantastical realm.

Thursday's design was another by Nick:

The awesome Tech Ninja! Good or bad? Assassin or hero? You decide!

Friday's design was another of mine!

Spriggans are mischievous tree spirits, apt to steal children and replace them with changelings yet fearful of anyone wearing their clothes inside out!

And finally (for this round at least) Nick brought us:

Why? Because red pandas get no action figure love! 

Thanks everyone so much for keeping tabs on this post all week. We're nearing completion on the first draft of the body, and are hoping to send it out to get printed this week! I AM EXCITED.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Body Language

This has been on the facebook page for a few days, but I think its about time I brought it over here! Here we have the current WIP shot of our base buck. There's still work to be done on him, and we're going to get a test print soon to check he actually functions as we want him to, but he's getting there!

This isn't the only shot we're going to be posting over the next few days. Starting Monday, I'll be posting a character concept each day. How long for? No idea, we'll see when we run out. We may not make all of them straight away, some we may never make, but we want to show you guys some of the figures we want to make, and hopefully inspire you to get thinking of some ideas yourselves!

Also, I can't remember if I've actually mentioned this yet, but if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can! @A_HedgehogToys 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Announcement Season!

Lots of news today! I've had some stuff bubbling under the surface for a while now, and I'm ready to tell you some of it! Firstly, I'd like to introduce Nick Whitmore to you all. Yep, AH is now a dynamic duo!

Nick is a digital sculptor for a toy and product developer in Windsor. I've known him for years, he's one of the few people as mental for toys as I am, and he has TEH MAD SKILLZ. We've wanted to collaborate for years on a line of figures, and it's about damn time we actually did something about it!

We spoke about Toycon and how we wanted to see more articulated indie toys, and fawned over the amazing communities of indie toymakers and action figure customisers. We want to bring all that together. So, that brings me on to that lil teaser picture I posted the other day; you may have noticed the various shapes are laid out in the shape of a person. That's because the picture shows the articulation plan for our figures! We're using Revoltech joints, so these guys will be hella poseable. And because of the way Revoltech joints connect, they'll be able to be completely disassembled and reassembled however you like.

We're putting a big focus on customisation. We're working on a base body, and will at some point offer that for sale. What we'd love you to do is sculpt on top of that figure and make whatever character you'd like. We're not stopping there though - we're going to be sculpting characters ourselves, in a bunch of different styles, and offering those for sale too. We've got plans beyond that too, but hey, let's not get ahead of ourselves! We're incredibly excited about this project. It's a huge undertaking but I've completed the engineering side of the figure, Nick's currently working on the digital sculpting of the body and it looks IMMENSE. We're well underway! 

I'll be posting some more about this in the coming days, keep an eye out!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

I'm such a tease...

So this'll be what I've been working on then. More information soon!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Teaching! Customising a Designer Toy

My days at the University of Hertfordshire were some of the best of my life. Being able to learn awesome skillz whilst being surrounded by likeminded people, and working on your own projects? I'd go back any day. I'm a visiting lecturer now, having given a seminar on getting into the modelmaking industry for the last four years. This year, for the first time, I was asked to lead a turbo (one week) project with the current second years.

I came up with a project which would teach and test them in a number of ways. I wanted to get them to focus on achieving a high level of surface finish, with a classy paint application. Usually, students (myself included, during my time there) will use spray cans to paint their models and leave the finish as it comes from the can. I wanted to show them how much an even sheen achieved with a lacquer can improve the quality of their models. On top of this, I wanted to get them thinking about how to get parts moving without being sloppy, and I also wanted the project to leave them with something that they might feel happy enough about to include at their degree show next year.

Well, it'd be a shame if I didn't do a toy then, wouldn't it?

With only a week, it needed to be something simple. I figured I'd need to supply the toy for them to work on, or they'd run out of time. I set about designing a simple base figure in the vein of Munnys and Dunnys, with rotating joints at the neck and arms. I designed it in Rhino, and machined the master.

I assembled it, only doing the bare minimum of sanding before tooling it and casting. Usually I'd complete the finishing on any model before casting it, but then the students wouldn't have had enough work to do!

I had 20 students, so 20 casts were made, plus one extra for me. The mould was on its last legs by the end, as was I having only had three weeks between coming up with the project and starting to teach it! The students were great, coming up with interesting design ideas and taking on board the advice I offered. It was a pleasure to teach such a great bunch!

My 'demo piece' (yeah, I just wanted to do one myself).

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Angry Hedgehog on Facebook

For those on facebook, I've now got one of those fancy pages on there so I can annoy you while you're trying to be sociable/stalking people!

Erts Mehr Berfdehr!

Today is my birthday! I have successfully passed into the realms of the next age category on forms. My friend, housemate and all round bro Ben Tobitt has gifted me with this awesome painting of Spectre!

He's a pretty slick artist, illustrator and animator. You should check his work out here.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Toycon UK - The Write Up

So last Saturday the very first Toycon UK was held in good old Londinium. The designer/vinyl/art toy scene is not one I’ve really followed – a lot of what I see out there doesn't interest me in the slightest. Often the toys are very simple with little or no articulation, and for me, articulation is a huge part of what gives a toy character. I’d always been a little surprised at how many art toys exist, and how often they get written about on blogs like Tomopop and Toysrevil. Why were people interested in these more than production toys?

When I gave a lecture at my old uni last year, a student told me about Toycon. I looked into it initially thinking I’d be able to get some work together to showcase, maybe sell a few pieces. It didn’t happen – I still haven’t really got anything to sell anyway, and had very little online presence at the time – but I got a ticket anyway to see what the fuss was about. See if there was anyone else out there making things along the same lines as me. It was totally worth it.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Striking Scorpion from Warhammer 40,000

This post brings the blog up to date! This is my most recently completed project, a 1/12 scale figure of an Eldar Striking Scorpion from Warhammer 40,000. Warhammer was definitely an important step on my road to where I am today, and although I don't play or collect the figures I'll always have a soft spot for the universe. The Eldar were my favourite race, and the Striking Scorpions my favourite Aspect Warriors. I nearly made a full-size Scorpion helmet whilst at uni, but decided on the Bubble Bomber instead.

I actually started this way back in 2009 at the same time as the Wesley figure - he was a great way to use up leftover magic sculpt. Once I got my job though, my time spent commuting stopped my working on it and he was stuck in the WIP box for years before I dug him out in 2012 and decided to finish him.

I went all out, took him way more than any other figure I've done. The base figure is a Spider-Man, chosen for his lithe frame and great poseability. The armour is sculpted, as always, with magic sculpt. Where he deviates is on some of the details - the mandiblasters, weapons, runes, wargear and dreadlocks were all drawn in Rhino and 3D printed by Shapeways. This allowed me to get a crispness of detail I wouldn't be able to achieve with sculpting by hand. My hat goes off to those who sculpt at 28mm, I don't know how you do it! The dreadlocks were paired up, moulded in silicone and cast in rubber, so they flex around very nicely. I bought gold links to connect the runes and wargear to his belt, and printed custom waterslide decals for his thigh armour and kneepad.

He isn't entirely accurate to the mini. I'm never usually very fussed by complete accuracy, I believe entirely in artistic licence. I'm also a fan of practicality, which became tricky when I was considering his pistol, the pouch/holster, and the cable connecting the pistol to his arm. None of that seemed to work together, so I compromised and went for aesthetic appeal.

First time I've used pigments to simulate mud, I'm definitely doing that again! Once the weather warms up a bit, I'll take him into a forest and get some shots there. I'm chuffed to bits with him, and the best bit? I get to keep him!

Wedding Cake Toppers

Gonna combine two projects into one post now. I've had some good friends of mine get married, and jumped at the chance to create unique cake toppers for them.

Nicole and Gary went for a traditional look, and I was able to sneak a peek at the dress she'd chosen to represent it accurately. Sculpting her dress really limited her poseability, so I went for a full statue (though their heads can still turn) and was able to get a really tender pose as a result. Once upon a time, he was a Quicksilver figure, and she was a Witchblade.

Hannah and Jonathan went off-piste, going for a superhero-inspired theme. It was really fun interpreting Hannah's dress in a way which didn't impede her poseability, and meant I could incorporate things like her garter and her 'something blue'. Yep - she wore blue shoes at the wedding! He started out as a movie Joker figure, while she was a Wonder Woman.

Before anyone asks, right now I have no plans or desire to do any more cake toppers. They take a very long time and there's an awful lot of pressure to get them right!

Wesley Gibson from Wanted

Fresh out of uni and looking for work, I had a wonderful email asking to commission me to make a custom figure of Wesley Gibson from the graphic novel Wanted. I love that comic - the film doesn't exist in my eyes - and Wesley is a great character with an awesome look. I was commissioned because of an older figure I'd made in my second year at uni of him... I'm not even going to post the side by side shot, he's so bad. It was so damn hard letting this guy go - he has an interchangeable head, his pistols can be stored in his holsters, and the knives in his backpack are removable so you could even replicate his fantastic finishing move from the book. If you haven't read it, I'm not going to spoil it for you. But trust me, this guy is badass.

I converted a Marvel Legends New Goblin figure, used a Captain America head, and swapped the hands from a Nick Fury figure. The rest of the detail is all hand sculpted, as were the knives. Aside from the four clip pouches on his front, all the pouches and pockets are removeable and can be placed in any of the holes across his webbing, to mimic the various ways he's kitted out through the book. I supplied him with a veritable arsenal of weapons and waved farewell as he departed.

Spectre MK.IV

Hoooooo, so, this is a big one. In terms of the work that I've done over the years, Spectre is what my friends know me for. I've been designing this guy since I was 16 (I'm 25 now. Crikey, he's almost due an anniversary...) and have revisited him a bunch of times. I guess when the ten year anniversary comes I'll post a retrospective piece and go through the history, but this isn't the time.

What Spectre is or means or stands for has changed a couple times. I'm not really sure what I want his/their story to be yet. Originally he was one robot. The first 3 iterations were all of him as one specific character. I knew from before I started uni that I would revisit him for my final major project at the end of the course, my final hurrah, but I wanted to do more than just one. I came up with three variants on the Spectre blueprint:

The Wolf is the guerrilla combat variant. He fights close range, a brawler, utilising speed and surprise (along with a short-hop jumpjet) to spring upon his targets.

The Rhino is the heavy support unit. With longer range weapons and thicker armour, he lumbers into the fray cutting down enemies with withering firepower.

The third was the Hawk. An airborne sniper, he would keep far from the battle, picking off choice targets and communications arrays. Except I ran out of time. I had made the parts, they were moulded, but the time I had planned in to cast them ended up having to be devoted to writing my dissertation. It's always bugged me that I never got to finish the project, but I have something in the pipeline that will remedy that for mark V.

As for his construction - I drew him in Rhino, and he was 3D printed by Stephanie Wood Design, who were super helpful. I sanded the parts, moulded them in silicone, and cast them in resin. Each model has over 85 individual parts and has a number of shelled, interlocking parts. I had originally intended for them to be fully poseable, but time constraints coupled with the need to ratchet all the joints to cope with the weight (these are 15 inches tall and weigh a ton) ended that. The joints are glued into position. The light piping in the eyes works a treat though!

Lost in Space Bubble Bomber

I'm gonna post a bunch of older work first, I'd like to keep it chronological! This is a piece of uni work from my second year. When I was a kid, I loved the Lost in Space movie. I still love the ships, both the designs of them and their action sequences. I had a toy of the Bubble Fighter, which I loved despite it being lumpy as hell compared with the on-screen version. I wanted to expand the universe a bit - ok, so they had Bubble Fighters. It really works as a design for a ship. But what if they had a bomber too - what could that look like?

So I built one.

It's a full toy prototype - the cockpit bubble rotates, the turret bubbles rotate too, and the missiles fire from the rack. The ships in the film had fantastic paint jobs, so I followed suit with a look inspired by the P51 Mustang. That chequered pattern on the big gun? Painted by hand. Ugh...never again.


Hello and welcome to Angry Hedgehog! My name's Sam, and I make toys. Toys have been my passion for years now, and I'd love to worm my way into the industry. Currently I'm employed as a modelmaker for a product design consultancy in London, working on my projects after hours and on weekends, and I think it's about time I set up a page where I can share with the world what I've been doing!

Thanks for visiting, feel free to leave any comments or critiques!