Monday, 1 November 2010

Sonic Screwdriver and Master's Ring - The ElvisGump Special Editions

Due to popular and persistent demand I have caved in and release two limited editions in tribute to fandom's favourite simpleton. May I present the ElvisGump edition of the sonic screwdriver:


And here's the ElvisGump edition Master's Ring:




These are in strictly limited runs of 1 and are priced at a very reasonable ten bazillion squillion dollars each.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Wow! At last....

A couple of months ago I posted first pics of the much hyped Wow Stuff! prototype die-cast sonic that was announced early this year: http://celestialtoystore.blogspot.com/2010/08/wow-what-piece-of-shit.html

Let's face it, it looked like shit. Designworks of Windsor had obviously recycled the CO design and the end result was somewhat plasticky:



The good news is that in the interim the design has been jiggled around with and the final production versions began hitting UK shops this week. They have got rid of that stupid looking coupler in the middle of the cage section and given the emitter bulb a green tint. All good.

The bad news is that the fucking thing still looks plastic. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this, I'm told. That's because only the lower half is metal and the upper part is plastic. Size wise, it's about 10mm shorter than the toy and about 10mm shorter than the actual prop. Here's the moneyshot:



And here's the Wow Stuff pen which should send Elvisgump running to change his pants. It's actually a hell of a lot better than the dildo pink monstrosity seen in  the first official picture that was posted on the Argos UK site:


Here's the real deal:


The pen is actually not bad. Very shiny and quite cute in a novelty sort of way and should provide Elvisgump's right arm enough whack-off action to last him until Xmas.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Twat Alert


Those of you that have been following the boards the past few weeks would have noticed the antics of the hirsute tool pictured above who is known as Mike 'Elvisgump' Jackson  (as an aside, what the fuck is an 'Elvisgump'?). This cheap bastard has been boring the RPF with his desire to own an accurate metal sonic screwdriver with a pen and with sound. Unable to afford one, this prat has decided to build one but due to lack of money and skill, has ended up embarrassing himself with his  increasingly comical and desperate attempts to obtain parts for next to nothing. His latest endeavour has been to obtain a sound chip.

I'm not going to blow smoke up your ass and say that a soundchip is difficult to get hold of or make. It really isn't. However, getting one made small enough to fit inside an accurate sized sonic screwdriver is. In fact, it is a two fold problem involving miniaturizing both soundboard and speaker. CO made one that was pretty small but even the CO soundboard was a little too big for a 1:1 sonic and ran on larger batteries. I ended up developing a custom soundboard from scratch that was 40% smaller than the CO version. This was neither cheap nor easy and meant my sonic was delayed for a year but I felt it was worth it.

So what has this got to do with this prick Elvisgump? Having pleaded with everyone and anyone to magic up a soundchip for him to buy and drawing an unsurprising blank, he decides to bite the bullet and try and sweet talk me into selling him one. So cue the following exchange on my Youtube account (Elvisgump is called 'Mentalpix'):

mentalpix (3 weeks ago): Actually I'm interested in a sound chip, if you sell those seperately. I made a couple of custom sonics, not reproductions, but variations on the idea and would love to have sound for them. Would you sell just the sound chip and what would the price be? Thanks in advance.


celestialtoystore (3 weeks ago): @mentalpix No chance.


mentalpix (3 weeks ago): @celestialtoystore Might I ask why? I'm noodling around as a hobbyist and like the challenge of trying to come up with a design. It will probably be a long time if ever if I could ever come anywhere near the craftsmanship of your replicas, but I'm trying to give it a shot just for fun. There's a lot of us that want do variations, our idea of what the 'next' Sonic might look like. I hope to have enough money one day to own one of your replicas, but in the meantime I'm just doing it for fun.



celestialtoystore (3 weeks ago): @mentalpix Because I spent a lot of money and time creating this chip. It is mine, it is proprietory and it's not for sale. If you want one, you buy a sonic screwdriver and disassemble it. Imagine if you went to KFC and asked them to sell you their secret blend of herbs and spices because you wanted to recreate their chicken at home. What do you think they will say?



mentalpix (3 weeks ago): @celestialtoystore Oops accidentally deleted my post. I was going to add there are a lot of kids or overgrown kids like me that would build a sonic not be your competition but just for fun. No offense was intended. I'd just love to know the 'how-to' to make stuff like that, even a chip I could record stuff on. If there were tips you could give that didn't give away your proprietary stuff hobbyist would love to hear it. Good luck with your business though. Yours look great.


Note the sucky-uppy tone, the fake respectfulness,  the sheer toady, brown nosing slimeyness of Mr Jackson. All because he wants to buy one of my soundchips off me! Also note however that in my exchanges with him that whilst I have been terse, I wasn't rude or abusive (this is very important as it has a bearing on this cockknocker's argument later).

Anyway, a week after the above exchange, Elvisgump posts in this RPF thread the following:

"Since you are such a wizard did you come up with a way to have sound too? I even bit my lip and messaged that horrid CT guy (what a dick!) to inquire about buying one of his chips and he frothed that he wasn't about to give up the enormous 'secret' of his chip, comparing it to asking KFC about their secret recipe of herbs and spices. As if someone interested in reverse engineer his chip or KFC's chicken couldn't just buy it and reverse engineer it to their hearts content. At least CT didn't tell me to shove my money up my hinder region like he had the previous person which I guess counts for some politeness.


I have two other customs in addition to the two I made earlier this year I'd love to have sound for if you know a way to do it for less than the price of cannibalizing a C.O. toy one.
Anyway Eddie, your work looks fantastic on the mill. I wish I lived near enough to be your sorcerer's apprentice."

Ok, so having politely said 'no' with a perfectly valid reason, this cocksucker then proceeds to call me 'horrid' and 'a dick'. Note that in my original knock back to him I neither 'frothed at the mouth' (whatever that means in an online context) nor was I rude. However, what pissed me off was that he admitted he 'bit his lip' to ask me to sell him a sound chip thus implying his faux-respectfulness was just that and he only did it to try and butter me up. The sense of entitlement shown is both shocking and utterly out of touch with real world values. It flys in the face of acceptable conduct. I get the feeling that he feels it is somehow his right for me to sell him my soundchip and when I told him I would not do that, he spat his dummy and started calling me names! That I really don't mind as I've been called worse, but when a person has the brazen cheek to ask something that is obviously out of order and then is surprised and offended when knocked back, that just makes me incredulous. Yes, my soundchip is proprietory and not for sale but I've actually given away a few to my customers and friends because I like them and because they asked nicely. I don't give a shit about it being reverse engineered as there is no one out there who can do it. I just don't give away for next to nothing, my property to two faced beardy cunts who bad mouth me behind my back.


On a more general level, Mike 'Elvisgump' Jackson is a snivelly two-faced weaselly little fuck who brown noses in the most cringeworthy and undignified manner if he wants something from someone. Just read some his sycophantic attempts at flattering Eddie and Dan Stokes. They are painful reading as he's just so fake.

Such banal and shameless suck-up's  as this:

"With your level of skills I say we'd marvel at any cheese sandwiches you've made in the interim, much less your Sonic build."


"Anyway Eddie, your work looks fantastic on the mill. I wish I lived near enough to be your sorcerer's apprentice. "


"Man, if you know how a to make or teach us how-to make some sort of sound chip that I could connect to a USB port to load custom sounds on for use in custom Sonics or other prop doodles, well I know I and many, many others here would beat a path to your door and call you hero."
"If I had $200-300 to spend I'd rather it go to someone who is pleasant like Mr Starkiller than CT. With a name like Starkiller he has to be good. Doesn't he?"


Amazing how little self respect some people will show  if they think they can get something they want on the cheap, ins't it?

Anyhow, having read his little piece of two faced scumbaggery I reply back to him on YouTube:

celestialtoystore (2 weeks ago) @mentalpix Elvisgump, you're such a two faced cunt. I just read your post on the RPF. If you have something to say, you say it here to me directly. FYI, I don't really care about anyone attempting to reverse engineer my sound chip but at least have the decency to buy a sonic from me. Instead you're are all sucky-uppy on here but slag me off on the RPF. You cheap beardy fuck.

mentalpix (2 weeks ago) @celestialtoystore Well I am beardy. I'm cheap because I live in Mississippi. [sigh] You are a sad man CT. If I or anyone else WANTED to reverse engineer your chip they WILL buy one. I don't have hundreds to buy a TOY. I want to make a custom strictly for myself with my own hands that has a built-in ink pen, and suggests a new Sonic but also is a functional flashlight and can make the sonic sound with a colored LED. If you did any research on my past RPF posts you'd know that since I joined.


celestialtoystore (2 weeks ago) @mentalpix If it makes you happy for you to think I'm 'sad' and 'bitter' then bully for you. But cut the two faced shit as you come over as a total cunt. I really don't care what you want the sound chip for but if you can't shell out $20 for a CO toy to cannibalise, then yes you are a cheap fucker. Personally, I wouldn't go through this shit over $20 and have to suck up to someone I purport to despise as much as you obviously do me. Show a bit of pride for fuck's sake.


mentalpix (2 weeks ago) @celestialtoystore Again, you're the one calling me names. Everyone who is rather pleasant that I've made friends with on RPF said "Don't bother" when I suggested perhaps you aren't a bad person. I would rather have supported a craftsman of your caliber instead of cannibalize a C.O. toy. I don't know if your chip costs you more than $20, but I thought I would rather my money go to a person rather than a corporation. I don't know why you are so bitter, perhaps the project has taken a toll on you.


mentalpix (2 weeks ago) @celestialtoystore But here's the thing; that person here who asked you 'send me one' could just be a kid who didn't know any better & you dusted him up with profanity. Or telling the guy to shove his money up his backside. You are the one provoking people, not the other way around.. I'm not trying to rip you off, I asked & you were insanely rude. In my book that is sad and bitter. I really DO wish you luck because you are clearly a great craftsman who could learn manners. Set a better example.

So after I had torn this fuckstick a new asshole, he decides to take a new tack and adopt a 'woe is me' holier than thou attitude to suggest that somehow I was unreasonable and called him names first! However, the timeline says otherwise as do the basics of common sense morality. He even starts to suggest that I am somehow in financial trouble! I'm in such financial trouble I have an overflowing orderbook, a healthy waiting list and new products in the pipe. Well Mr Jackson, if you email your Paypal, I'll send you $20 so you can double your weekly welfare check. I hate to see anyone down on their luck, even reprehensible two faced scum like you.
 
In this RPF thread some of my friends, customers and even former enemies call him out yet he still somehow tries to argue the moral high ground from a totally untenable position! Him and his buddy, that walking Penis Daniel 'Risu' Pawlik, even suggest I have a sockpuppet on the RPF! Now why would I need to do that when I can read the board without an account and blog and Tweet replies with impunity? That is the famous  last desperate fingerpointing  gasp of those with nothing to argue with. There are some real gems in that thread but my favorites are from a former detractor of mine, NakedMoleRat, who wrote:

"His blog is 'colorful' but getting past that, he has posted some REMARKABLE insight into the prop. I am tempted to strip my MFX and use his paint guides, which he gave for FREE, STEP BY STEP on his blog! KNOWING he would not get paid for it.

And early on, he had cut me up on his board too, but it was because of my big mouth! When I swallowed MY pride and apologized to him, he accepted and pulled up a chair and gave me a good seat at club CT!

But yea, it is pretty crappy to ask to buy a COMPONENT of his sonic. It would be like asking for just the center ring of an arc reactor. "I can make everything else, but I can't get that right, so how about you take all the R&D you did, months of working on it, and just give it to me for a couple bucks so that I don't have to spend MY time working it out!"

That sort of is an epic [thumbs down] if you really think about it! "
 
Thank you Darren for that!
 
As a final laugh, allow me to share something that Elvisgump wrote as it is unintentionally, one of the funniest things I've ever read. He's the sort of Doctor Who fan that gives Doctor Who fans the often undeserved stereotype of being socially inept retards who in their own heads are zany, eccentric and interesting but to the rest of the world are just irritating weirdoes in need of a shave and a bath.
 
Here's what that twat wrote (and worryingly, it's probably true and I'm sure he wrote it in all seriousness too):
 
"Ever since I larked and I mean went on a lark to make one or find something to mod, all I wanted was something a little more durable than the C.O. and something I could shoehorn a pen in. That's my favorite thing about having the C.O. in my pocket. It delights people who have no idea what Doctor Who is.
Maybe I'm just a beardy old c*nt perhaps, I'd like to think of myself as a silly eccentric. I have minute variations on this same conversation so many time at registers.

I like it when people go "What is that?"


"My pen."


"Where do you get a pen like that?"


"Gallifrey."


"Where's - Galli-what?"


"Gallifrey."


"Yeah where's that?"


"Turn left at Kasterborous."


"What?"


"If you come up to Calufrax you've gone too far."


"What?"


"Missed your turn. At Kasterborous."


Usually at this point just give them a trill from the sonic, you've surely had enough time to finish signing whatever you were at the register for. End with a cheerio and leg it out of there.

 
All that said, cheers!"
 
Er.....right. What he thinks of as a 'silly eccentric' is more commonly known throughout the world as a 'cunt'. If someone gave me a trill from a sonic and then said 'cheerio' I'd punch their fucking lights out.

I'll leave you with another Elvisgumpism: "If you consider his blogging about me having "my backside handed to me", I chuckle in your general direction. "

Well Mike, I think many will agree you don't need me to hand you your backside: you're perfectly stupid enough to hand it to yourself. The consequence of which is that we are all 'chuckling in your general direction'.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I couldn't resist it....

This has been an odd week. Last Friday the entire country has closed down for a week for the 'National Day' holiday to celebrate ostensibly, the moment when China effectively became a Commie police state. All well and good, but coming so soon after the Mid Autumn Festival it effectively means that China has suffered a second consecutive week of, I'll put it frankly, bone idleness. I can only apologise to my loyal customers since I have back orders to fulfill and although I have performed my end of the bargain with considerable aplomb, I am at the mercy of the sodding post office, whose vagaries are well documented and whose work ethic is so arbitrary that nothing short of a supercomputer running chaos theory algorithms can predict it.

So, in this interregnum between Summer and Autumn, I took time out to move home (precisely 20 doors down the road in fact), helped the old man relocate part of the existing factory to nearby Anhui Province and get on with some much delayed design work. Having done all of that, I did what any self respecting man would do when surrounded by temporary systemic national indolence, I joined them and went out to get pissed.

This evening I went for a beer with my mate, the paint chemist, we'll call him 'Bob'. Inevitably the conversation turned to the subject of the industrial crackle that I had him develop for me a couple of months back. I have been getting A LOT of mails regarding this stuff and I have had to say NO to all of you who asked. I have tried to ease the pain somewhat by revealing the Perfetto crackle technique and process but the industrial coat has gnawed at me for the past few months and my reluctance to offer it is mainly economics. I won't bore you with the details of it but needless to say, this stuff is NOT cheap and has to be implemented on an industrial scale (based on dead weight of the material to be painted) in order to be economical.  You see, this stuff has its roots within the automotive industry and has to  be, ideally, applied by robots and setting up the process is expensive and time consuming unless you have the clout of a major car manufacturer. Which I don't.

However, never one to take no for an answer, I proceeded to blag, bullshit and bully Bob, with the aid of copious amounts of Hennessy XO and the memory of an incident involving a Thai ladyboy, a large daikon radish and some live prawns,  into doing a small run in his test lab. Rotting in hell not withstanding, I am now quite please to offer a small limited run of sonics in this wonderful industrial crackle for the price of £250 each.

Absolute numbers are a bit up in the air but depending on how many I can be bothered to strip down, I will say no more than 20 of each model MAXIMUM. Probably less, as Bob simply did not make enough of the stuff to paint more than that.

The initial test piece has been chucked around quite a bit and has not suffered in the slightest. It's more durable than the powdercoat and is virtually indistinguishable from the Perfetto coating. Considering a spare body will cost you upwards of £50 and a Perfetto repaint £30, having a totally ready painted one for £50 premium on top of the standard price is a nice little deal for a quite groovy upgrade.

Some of you have emailed me asking if I can repaint your sonics in this. The answer is categorically NO. This is mainly because it is not *just* the body that need repainting but the slider plate/button too. It is a lot of work to remove the slider plate/button for repainting and can and will destroy the electronics requiring a total rewiring. I am keeping this run separate and exclusive with a price tag to reflect this. If you want one and have purchased a standard one prior, I suggest you do what everyone else would do and Ebay it ASAP and use the proceeds to purchase one of these :-) Who knows, maybe you might sell it to someone who is gagging for one of mine but can't bring themselves to buy one from me.

So, if you want one, email me as these things will go quick and I don't forsee them becoming available again until 2012 at earliest. Since I tweeted this a couple of hours ago, I have 5 takers of Tennant versions so they are going...

Here's a reminder of what you are getting:



Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Allahu Akbar, I've been hacked!

In the past two hours visitors to my site will have encountered the following:


It appears the ragheads have taken time out from blowing up buildings and stoning women to drag themselves into the information age. Anyway, it is not my site alone that has been affected, but the entire server of which my site is one of hundreds. My host is on the case and full service will be resumed soon. Inshallah.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Friday, 1 October 2010

CT Aztec Universal TV remote - opinions needed


What you see above you is the 1st Season Aztec sonic as used by Christopher Eccleston. As you can see, it is a handsome beast.

The good news is that I shall be using this as the basis for my long rumoured universal TV remote control. And the good thing is, that in addition to light and sound and the ability to control TV sets, it will look identical to the above, albeit without the ability to extend.

However, a small snag has come up. In order to make this without extraneous buttons and thus accurate to the prop above, I can only realistically put in5 functions without compromising the aesthetics:

1. Power on/off + search
2. Volume up
3. Volume down
4. Channel Up
5. Channel Down

The optional function will be a mute switch but will need one of the other functions to be given the shove.

The question I want to put to you lot is whether you want the mute function and if so, which function would you ditch?

Opinions mucho appreciated.


On a final note: The fiscally challenged tightwads who find my prices onerous have a new champion called Dan Stokes who goes by the rather bellicose moniker 'Anakin Starkiller'. This deluded carpetbagger somehow thinks he can produce an accurate machined metal sonic for $100-$200 and has been actively courting business on the RPF.  It seems that this tool has harvested the wisdom and observations from this blog yet has missed out some of the more pertinent gems that I have let slip. That is, it is simply not possible to create a CNC'ed machined, accurate sonic with custom sound chip for less than what I charge and I'm in China where prices are less (but going up rapidly). Any less and I'll be doing it for charity. Dan will learn this the hard way and his little sycophants will have their hopes for a £60 sonic sadly and hilariously dashed.

Anyway, this fuckstick has now roped in Russ Brown to help him machine this and we already know that Russ and his old man were responsible for the infamous MFX. Indeed, Russ has been selling unofficial MFX's for quite a while now, both above and below the counter, so maybe he will shift a few more of his 'overrun' MFX's via Dan Stokes? Who knows...maybe even QMx might use Russ too. It's very chummy little world we live in, eh?

...but I ramble. Let me get to the point. Let's consider the following pic:



According to Dan Stokes, there were two Aztec props. One static closed and one extendable. The alleged static closed one is the one pictured at the beginning of this blog and the extending one is the one shown above.

Actually, they are both of the same prop. The crackle pattern, especially in the troughs of the ridges give it away.

None of the Aztec props were truly static as popular belief would have it. Both extended and indeed one was fixed into the half extended position during Season 1.

If Mr Stokes cannot see such a basic thing as this, what hope does this bode for his would-be run?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sonic Screwdriver Vs Bus

As you well know, I don't sell my sonics with any kind of warranty against abuse, stupidity or just sheer bad luck: I just build them to the best of my ability and let nature and serendipity take its own course.

However I would like to share something that happened last week that amazed me no end and as with all good tales, this one also involved a sonic screwdriver.

I was down south last week on business and decided to pop over the border to Hong Kong to catch up with some family and friends during the Mid Autumn Moon Festival.

As some of you who have visited already know, Hong Kong is an odd place and is one of the few places in the world where jaywalking is still an offence punishable by a stint in the stocks. Ok, I was kidding about that bit, but it is still a crime where your collar can and will be felt if the strategically placed Rozzers at the pedestrian crossings catch you at. The result of this crackdown on pedestrian waywardness is that everyone (and I mean everyone), only crosses the road at designated pedestrian crossings where the metronomic tick tock of the lights suddenly speed up to sound the all-clear for vast swathes of humanity to run the gauntlet in 20 second intervals every 3 minutes. And god help you if you aren't possessed of the swiftness of foot of Usain Bolt and don't make it across in the alloted window, as time and Hong Kong traffic wait for no man. In fact, Hong Kong traffic waits for no one. Me included. 

Which brings me onto my little tale. There I was, walking along in the early autumn sunshine, minding my own business when I felt the overwhelming urge to cross the road. Spying the nearest pedestrian crossing I saw the green 'safe-to-cross' light flashing and heard the rapidly increasing tick-tock cadence signalling the rapid evaporation of my allotted 20 seconds. So like any decent amber-gambler, I legged it.

About halfway across, the vigor of my less than graceful sprint caused my sonic screwdriver to fly backwards out of my breast pocket and in a graceful arc, land onto the tarmac where it bounced once and then lay at rest in the middle of Nathan Road. The realisation of this made me turn my head and my eyes traced its flight through the air, in slow motion, and I screamed 'nooooooooooooooooooooooo' (again in x0.2 speed so it sounded, in my head at least, particularly deep and manly) before making a pitifully futile attempt to pluck it out of the air with my hand but as I was pegging it with all the urgency of a black slave from a Klan lynch mob, momentum and time was not on my side and no sooner had my foot reached the opposite kerb then the lights changed and the waiting traffic accelerated off.

My sonic screwdriver was then run over by one of these:


My poor sonic disappeared under the wheels of this beast. The next three minutes were amongst the longest of my life and as I waited for the tick tock to speed up again so I could run to the middle of the road and inspect the damage. Truth be told I didn't expect to retrieve anything but the earthly remains of one pancaked Eccleston sonic but for no other reason than I think someone upstairs is well keen on me,, not only was sonic intact, but it was still working!!!!! Here's what it looks like:




Minor dint in the bulb:



The head has taken a couple of dings, but trust me when I tell you the original prop is in far worse shape:


...and here's the how the Perfetto faired. Not bad considering it's been run over by a bus:



I'm going to leave the battle scars on as I feel they add a certain character to the prop. Not many props can say that they've been run over by a bus and survived in full working order. It was certainly an eye-opener for me.



Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Wow! What a piece of shit

At the London Toy Fair at the beginning of the year it was announced by Wow Stuff that they would be producing a die cast metal replica of the Eleveth Doctor Sonic Screwdriver claimed to be 'screen accurate' by Wow Stuff staff manning their stand and embellished by some pretty outlandish lies as well.

I poured scorn on these claims as well as the claimed price tag of about £20 in one of my blog entries earlier this year and I gave some pretty good reasons why economics and common sense would make it impossible  for them to produce what was promised together with a prediction as to what the finished product would be like. As time went on, insiders who had seen the product grumbled that this much feted 'cheapskate's sonic', is actually not all it was cracked up to be with rumours that it would be static and the dimensions and build being heavily compromised. Now, as we reach the fag butt end of the summer, some pictures are finally emerging of this so-called 'screen accurate' sonic.

Thank you to one of my readers Mark for sending me this pic as it really does make for a real eye opener and, at the risk of sounding like a smug fucker, reinforces the fact that I know what I am talking about.

So, without further ado, here is the Wow Sonic:
...and what a piece of crap it actually is. I don't know what the fuck happened but how did they manage to make a die cast metal replica look more plasticky than the plastic toy? I'm not one to disparage a good effort irrespective of my own personal opinion of the maker, but this thing sucks in a very big way. In fact, I am astonished that despite everything, they seem to have gone out of their way to make it look cheap and nasty especially after touting it as a Hero prop grade replica that was used on the show. Which leads me onto something else I find quite annoying: the ill informed bullshit and deliberate misinformation that is fed to the punters at Tradeshows/Fairs/Conventions by the cocktards that man the manufacturers stands. This is no fantasy: I have seen and heard it first hand. Indeed, during the Toy Fair earlier this year I was told by the rather enthusiastic twit manning the Wow Stuff stand that the replica would be 100% accurate and many prototypes were given to the production team for use as the actual props on the show. And we now know what a bunch of hairy gonads that turned out to be. This even extends to the QMx stand at the recently held ComicCon where bullshit was bandied around so freely I thought I was on a farm. So it appears that the lesson of the day is to take some of these claims with a healthy dose of Sodium Chloride and actually think about the logic of these claims, especially from beardy weirdies waving around sonic screwdriver prototypes. Oh, and a pair of wellington boots wouldn't go amiss either!



Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Comparison Shots of the Perfetto Vs Powdercoat

I finally got round to painting one of my sonics in the Perfetto. Here's how the Eccleston sonic looks in the current powdercoat and next to the screen-accurate Perfetto crackle:


The difference is highly noticeable and makes a marked improvement, I think.

On a related topic, I had previously repainted the MFX in this screen accurate crackle and it has made it an altogether different and better beast. I wasn't happy with the crackle size so I stripped it down and repainted a second time in order to get the crackle more screen accurate and here's the result:


The result is, I'm sure you'd agree, freakily simlar to the finish on the DK sonic pictured third down.

Friday, 6 August 2010

A new kind of crackle

I've had some good news this morning. Remember a couple of weeks back when the QMx sonic news broke I decided to look into replicating their paint? I succeeded, as my findings have shown. However, in addition to my own experiments here in the workshop I also pulled in a favour with a chemist buddy of mine and we have been looking at developing a whole new industrial coating with industry leading figures for hardness, durability and substrate adhesion.

Well, this morning he delivered the following:


No, your eyes do not deceive you, this is an industrial coating that has the highest ratings for adhesion and hardness possible.

I am in a quandary now. The Perfetto solution is perfectly acceptable from the point of view of results but they are more random and less predictable as many factors can vary the outcome of crackle size, shape and distribution but it is that randomness which this type of finish is all about. The issue is the cost of handpainting all of them. It is incredibly labour intensive.

The industrial coating however is much more uniform, predictable and standardised. It can also be applied via automation with an exact amount of paint applied to each sonic and in a coating thickness that is identical from one sonic to another.

Do I invest more money, money I have already put into the powdercoat, into this new experimental coating? Indeed, will existing customers pay for the ungrade? I need to think about this and discuss the options with my chemist friend and see if I can economically put this stuff into production.

Polishing a turd

've done it! Crack out the cigars and pop the champagne. I'm in a bloody good mood. The reason being I've performed a feat that even I, the Zarathustra of Sceptics, King of Doubters hitherto thought was impossible. I have managed to polish a turd. Wait! That's not all. I haven't just polished it, I have managed to clad it in shiny, spanking translucent cracked porcelain goodness.

You see, I have finally managed to make an MFX sonic look amazing. Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration but I have managed to make it look better than it did. I achieved this frankly biblical feat of cosmetic chicanery by doing two things:

1). Polishing the metal using a Cape Cod cloth  to even up the finish and remove the tarnish
2). Applying my cracked porcelain crackle finish I revealed in my last blog.

I also milled a new lens cap as the previous one was frankly, shit. I knocked the corners off the slider plate using a hand files and I re-profiled the ridges to remove the sharp edge (you can actually do this through hand sanding). I removed the hex grub screws and replaced them with two 3mm cross head machine screws to make it more screen accurate.

So here's the results:



As you can see, it has totally transformed this piece into something that though still flawed, is actually a pretty decent sonic in its own right. If you can forget the way it looked originally with that stupid bright yellow paint job, you could be forgiven for thinking it's actually a QMx. For MFX owners this is a cheap and easy upgrade to making the piece a very attractive and sturdy replica and not a single bit of 'heritage gold' in sight. I'm actually thinking of calling this new color 'boot polish grey'.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Crack addict

First of all, many apologies if things have been a bit slack in these parts the past month or so but this has been in no small part due to the launch and subsequent fulfillment of the Tennant sonic orders which have taken up most of my waking hours. Most of the backlog has now shipped and I'm slowly getting my life back much to the relief of my long suffering wife, thank fuck. However, I have developed a severe addiction to crack. More about this in a minute.

So what has happened in the past few weeks? Well, ComicCon came and went and along with it was the announcement of QMx's licenced sonic, something I've known about (and dropping hints on) for some months now. More about this project later but I will say this: it's an outstanding piece of work, on a par with my own obviously but with some subtle dimensional differences that I can ascertain. The biggest difference is the paintjob, where QMx have done an outstanding job in accurately duplicating the cracked porcelain look of the original prop:


I must admit, this paintjob was the best thing about the QMx and spurred me to try and recreate it and hopefully, surpass it. I believe that I have succeeded in both.

However, before I reveal exactly how I did it, a bit of background.

Until this point it was widely and erroneously assumed by many people that the prop used PlastiKote CrackleTouch (or Valspar in the USA) two stage spray paint. Sadly, this was a falsehood that was perpetrated by MFX and others, including myself to some degree.

The simple fact is that the original prop did not use Plastikote (except for perhaps a single stunt prop). The easiest way to see this is the crackle patterns differed fundamentally. Quite simply, the prop had paint that cracked in irregular polygonal blocks and the PlastiKote exhibits tiny capillary-like tears.

Compare the following:



with this:




The second picture resembles the screen used sonic finish as can be seen in this shot from the DK Visual Dictionary:



It is fairly obvious once this has been pointed out that PlastiKote cannot achieve this kind of cracking despite Daniel Pawlik claiming otheriwse. So what was used on the prop?

To find the answer to this, you need to put yourself into the mind of the propmaker and actually look at what was available to them. Aside from PlastiKote, there really is only one other commercially available crackle finish (excluding obscure specialist finishes) that was readily obtainable from 2004+. This stuff is Tim Holtz brand Distress Crackle Paint by Ranger Inks:

This is what I strongly believe was used on the original props and I did drop some serious hints back in 2007 as to this but when the MFX said it was PlastiKote I decided I must have been mistaken as this stuff is notoriously fragile and I doubted that the propmakers would use something so shoddy. However, ever since the Heritage Gold Vs Colony Cream debate started I found myself in a state of doubt once more. What sealed it was reading that David Tennant had a habit of picking the paint off the sonic with his thumb: something that it is impossible to do with the Plastikote!!!!

So what does the Tim Holtz stuff go on like? Well, let me show you the paint and its shortcomings:

This is the Tim Holtz 'picket fence' painted onto a properly primed piece of copper pipe:


and after some minor scraping with my thumbnail:


As you can see, this stuff is terribly fragile. Zero adhesion, brittle and will remove even the primer from the bare metal. Granted, I did lay it on pretty thick and I did not seal it with lacquer which would help durability somewhat but it is obvious that the finish is pretty piss poor.

As for the color of paint used, there are three candidates: Picket Fence (white), Antique Linen (a creamy 'greige') or Rock Candy. As 'Rock Candy', which is a clear crackle similar to Giclee varnish, was not available until last year I suspect it was one or both of the former. QMx,  I am almost certain, used the clear variety 'Rock Candy' over a white basecoat using a similar technique that I am about to reveal. (Indeed, you can try it yourself using the Tim Holtz Rock Candy as it is not bad: more durable than the pigmented versions and certainly more forgiving to apply but nowhere near as good as the stuff I am about to show you).


So what did I do? I did some research into why paints crackle and I did a quick experiment using giclee printing varnish and PVA glue. By painting a wash of diluted PVA glue over a white primer then going over it with a thinned giclee varnish, I did this:


Ok, the result looked good. It was glossy, the cracks were delicate and fine and it had a toughness that the Tim Holtz lacked.

I did further experiments using various combinations of compounds including table tennis rubber cement and thinned cellulose yacht varnish over a white primer basecoat and the results were astonishing:



As you can see, the results are virtually indistinguishable from aged cracked porcelain and the toughness even without sealant is astonishing.

I spent the past few days searching for commercially available analogues that mimic the result above that I achieved using Chinese products and I believe I have cracked it.

The product you need is this:


These two pots are your key to an accurate and durable sonic finish.

The clear crackle is available here: http://www.metallicmart.com/product_p/cc-2100-2020.htm
The crackle size is avialble here: http://www.metallicmart.com/product_p/3100-675.htm

8 Oz is the smallest size and will probably last an entire lifetime.

Anyway here's the breakdown:


Materials:

White automotive primer spray
Perfetto Crackle Size
Perfetto Clear Crackle
Heavy Duty Polyurethane Lacquer (either automotive or heavy duty floor varnish)
Black shoe polish
Foam pads/blocks

Method:

1. Rub the bare metal with a medium/fine grit automotive abrasive paper 200 grit or finer is perfect.


2. Spray several fine coats of white primer onto the bare metal until an even opacity is reached. Allow to dry (depending on your paint it could be 1 hour to 12 hours)

3. Take a foam block and dip it into the crackle size and stipple over the body evenly until a nice even coating is achieved. Don't worry if it's not perfectly even, as it will self level. Allow to dry for at least two hours, preferably overnight. When ready, the crackle size will result in a thin, even, glossy surface that is slightly tacky. Do not thin this stuff out as thinning it out results in very small cracks:

4. Take some of the clear crackle and place it into a smaller screw lid pot and add 10% water to it to thin it. The clear crackle is a very thick gelatinous white substance so you really need to shake it hard to get the water to mix properly. By adding 10% water it gives the desired smaller cracks and the thinning helps it to self level during application. Too thick a consistency or too thick a coating results in large cracks:


Once it has been thinned, take a foam pad and stipple the clear crackle over the surface in a layer about 0.5mm thick. Don't worry too much about evenness as the surface should look like orange peel:


Under no circumstance must you brush this stuff on! The reason why is that the crackle will follow the direction of the brush stroke and you end up with linear rectangular blocks of crackle like this:


5. After an hour or so the clear crackle would have levelled and the crackle would have started to develop and the surface will become hard and glossy:


Wait a further 2 or 3 hours for the surface to fully cure and then you can begin the process of highlighting the cracks.

To do this you take your finger or even an old toothbrush and work a light coating of polish onto the surface making sure that the polish is inside all the cracks. This what you should have once this is done:


7. Now take a soft clean duster or cloth and give the surface a good rub, removing all excess polish from the surface but still keeping the polish inside the cracks:


If you prefer a greyer, less high contrast look, you can substitute ash for the shoe polish: this will work just as well. Just make sure you work the ash into the crack using a fine soft brush.

8. The surface as it stands is very hard and extremely durable. I bashed it around and it barely made a mark. However, I recommend a few coats of polyurethane lacquer on top for added protection. Personally I prefer automotive spray lacquer used to protect alloy wheels but a good PU floor varnish will also be suitable. I recommend Polyurethane as it is extremely abrasion resistant and once cured, is very hard.

So, there you have it. This should be pretty self explanatory and so easy I doubt even Risu could fuck it up. For those existing customers who wish to strip their sonic bodies down, they should soak it in a methanol based paint stripper to remove the existing paint. If there are any further questions, please email me.

I have been asked if I will be implementing this on my production sonics and the answer is no. The reason being is that it is not economically viable for me to do so. I have invested an immense amount of money in replicating the PlastiKote finish in a durable industrial powdercoat and they are now done. The personal and financial investment precludes stripping these sonics and essentially burning many thousands of dollars in order to set production back months whilst I repaint them all. I am often in two minds about revealing information such as this. There comes a point when a replica is about as accurate as one can make it and to keep changing something in light of new research when another piece of research can easily come to light which refutes that is both soul destroying and economically crippling. By revealing this information and the exact method of achieving it at minimal cost, I hope I have reached a compromise and will leave it up to you, the customer, to choose whether you wish to take advantage of it.