aboutwhy redux?generation oneg2-beast erarid-moviesclassics-animatedafajapanese

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Charticon Aftershock, A Personal Look

Let me preface this by saying I know Flywheels is planning on doing a review of this figure if he hasn't already. Because I don't want to go over the exact same things I decided to make this post about my personal experience in creating this figure over the past ten months. This thing has been my "baby" and I am very proud to have such a nice finished product.

It is hard to even know where to start. When we first set up the idea of this convention there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to do an exclusive. And because I am very passionate about transformer toys in general, I decided I wanted to do an exclusive that would exceed all expectations, something that would literally be the best of the best. Did I achieve that?

Picking the character was very daunting in itself. Because of the Sharkticon theme of the show, I wanted to do something Gnaw or Quintesson related, but I couldn't wrap my head around any good ideas. As it would turn out, GetRightRobot would cover that angle for us at a later date. So I took a look at my Classics shelves and decided we needed more Decepticons, and they needed to be obscure characters otherwise there was a good probability Botcon or someone else might use them. Eventually I decided on Quake for two reasons. First, there were a large number of Generations Warpath figures available for cheap and Quake is a tank. Second, Mastershooter Collectibles had already committed to making Targetmaster partners for a non-existent Quake.  It seemed like a no-brainer to me.
No brainer.

Originally I wanted to create 100 figures, but it became apparent quick there would be no way we could churn out that many in time since we had to hand-create these figures. So we settled on 50. And I wanted to include the Targetmaster partners with the main figure in a nice box presentation, so I worked with Captured Prey and Mastershooter to make this happen. Originally I hired someone local do design the head, but that turned out to be a mistake so I had to outsource that to a well known designer in the community. I was a little gun-shy of what happened at Slagacon a couple years ago where (through no fault of their own) their manufacturer took their money and ran. I wanted to try and keep everything as local as possible, which in the end meant I ended up doing a lot of the work myself.

We could have kept the red on Warpath, but I wanted a fully repainted figure, so we went a little darker, more Decepticonish.

We scheduled weekends where we would disassemble and clean the figures. Then during my free time I would tape them up and paint them with an airbrush. The taping took forever as I would usually do six to seven figures at a time. Since I have no painting skills I couldn't detail paint any part of it, so I would mask off areas I didn't want painted, airbrush it, let it dry and then mask off another section to paint. Fortunately we only used five colors so I got a good system down where I could get six figures finished each week. Even at that pace, it took over four months since I was using my free time to get it done. Once they were finished, I sent the figures to my friend Gatchaman who would reassemble them. And then he would send them back to me, and I would do any touch-ups that were necessary before adding the heads. The whole process was rather tedious and I really never want to do it again.

The culmination of all my work
However, the most fun I had was in the design phase. I would design all day long if I could. I spent a solid month creating the box for Aftershock from scratch. Making sure each little element was perfect, each piece of text, each line. Anyone who has the box will notice it is a homage to a 1988 G1 Headmaster box (since the 1988 Targetmasters came on cards) with a bunch of other influences thrown in. The box designs from 1987 and 1988 are notoriously difficult to replicate since the employ a random color grid on the front of the box. It is really only noticeable if you look for it. I was able to recreate it with a macros random color generator and then adding some gradients on top to make the colors match. I also re-created the "explosion" pattern by hand. All of these things are subtle, but noticed if absent. And because there are no "double-targetmaster" boxes out there, I decided to take the American and Japanese Targetmaster box designs and merge them. You'll notice that the windows for each TM partner are different, one American, one Japanese. I also added in a few other easter eggs like the purple grid pattern on the top and the Japanese number on the back. I was also careful not to use any copyrighted words like "Decepticon" or "Transformers" on the box anywhere. I also had the art (which now adorns the top of my blog) commissioned for the front just like the good old G1 box art of yore.

I hand drew the back of the box image from a still of the 1986 Movie
Very few images of the bottom of boxes exist. Luckily I had a couple on hand to pull from.

Continuing on the design side, I completely created the instruction book, tech card, catalog and making-of booklet all by hand. I based the instruction booklet off of the 1984 books that used color photographs instead of isometric drawings of the figures. Taking the photos for that was not fun, let me tell you. And then trying to adjust them all to color match each other, ugh. But I threw in another easter egg on the instruction booklet: on the last panel that talks about the tech specs, I actually used our Allicon tech spec and those are my hands in the photograph :) The tech card was another fun project. I based that off the tech cards that came with the re-issues of the early 2000's, I was using 22 Starscream and 48 Astrotrain in particular. The back of the card has all the same info as the tech spec, it is just presented in a different manner. I also asked Flywheels if he thought I should have it all in Japanese, but he thought people might just think that was annoying and I tend to agree with him.

Paperwork included
I wanted to do a catalog as well since most G1 boxed figures came with one, obviously ours wouldn't be as expansive. Originally I wanted to put all 2013 convention exclusives on there, regardless of the convention (TFCon, Auto Assembly, etc), but as time went on it became apparent to me we had enough to keep it as our own. So I used elements from the 1986 and 1988 catalogs (since Gnaw came from '86 and Quake from '88). I also added logos of everyone who had a hand in making the exclusives for the show.

Amazingly, the hardest part about these was folding them all.
Finally the making-of booklet was just a fun little thing I threw together at the last minute as a thank-you to everyone who helped me and to give people a little insight into exactly how much work these figures took. Honestly, the primary reason I wasn't blogging from January to June was because all my time was spent on those figures! But I couldn't have been happier with the result. In the end, the boxes, figure and paperwork all turned out fantastic. I wanted people to feel like they were holding a G1 figure in their hands when they received them, and I even taped the ends of the box so people could keep them MISB if they so desired. I've actually received flak about that, lol!

Final Catalog, hmm, some familiar items on there.
There were a couple of hang-ups, some missteps, but in the end everything worked out great and I had them all boxed up and finished two weeks before the show. In fact, after a certain point I wouldn't even let anyone else on the committee help me with the figures because I wanted them all to be surprised when they received theirs as well. My only complaint is that we could only make 50 of them when I would have loved to make tons more. But, they all sold out, we kept the cost relatively low and I think we really raised the bar for future con exclusives.

Aftershock's Tech Spec for your viewing pleasure (pay no attention to the copyrighted name, lol).


  1. Thanks for the inside look. I had no idea that you did all of that by yourself, for some reason I thought it was all outsourced. Aftershock looks amazing.

    1. Thank you! That is the highest compliment you could give me since I wanted it to have a very "finished" look and I didn't want people to be able to tell we did it mostly ourselves.

  2. Hi there, any chance you could let us know what colours you used for the Aftershock? Those of us who just bought the head kit would absolutely love some guidance.

    1. Sure, here are the colors we used:

      True Blue Gloss (4657)
      Ocean Grey Supergloss (4866)
      Purple Pearl GP00356 (4643)
      Kandy Scarlett GP00364 (4646)
      Blue Angel Yellow FS13655
      Gloss Black FS17038

      To create the maroon we used 2 Parts Kandy Scarlett to 1 Part Purple Pearl.

    2. Oh and I forgot to mention they are all Testors Model Masters.

    3. Pretty much the awesome! I really regret I couldn't purchase a full package exclusive. It was only due to my own finances, as I certainly feel it was an "affordable" exclusive, especially given the fact you pulled no stops at all. This is beautiful work my friend!

    4. Thank you! It was a true labor of love, I'm not sure I could pull it off again!

  3. I'm glad this story was told. Now to get back to work on my review of Aftershock! ( =

  4. Dude you did a hell of a job on aftershock. I wish I had preordered one. thats my only regret at the con. Nice job . The moment I saw them I was amazed. I did get the head and thanks for telling us the paints. Now I need to learn how to paint. Thanks for what you did for the fans and the show man.

    1. Thank you, that really means a lot. As long as the fans are happy it was all worth it.