Tuesday, September 4, 2012

KK Reviews: Stingy Jack by Circus Posterus x Tomenosuke-syoten

Stingy Jack is the first sofubi figure released through a collaboration between Circus Posterus and Tomenosuke-syoten. The making of Stingy Jack, a Brandt Peters character, involved an amazing design --> production development process involving top flight designers and artisans from around the world.

The process involved Brandt's original character design, as well as a 3D rendering by Circus Posterus's Teodoru Badiu, plus a resin prototype, followed by a new sculpt, waxing, test pulling, mask making, and many more steps until the figure reached the final manufacturing stage. For an exhaustive look at all the steps, check out the Tomenosuke blog and the Circus Posterus blog.

I'm thrilled to have the chance to discuss this toy, which blends western and eastern toy design and production techniques. Let's start with the packaging:
The figure is packaged in traditional sofubi style, in a clear plastic bag with a stapled header card.

Beautiful header front featuring an illustration and the figure's name in English + Japanese.

Here's where the packaging makes its mark. This debut version of Stingy Jack - called the Classic Edition (purple) - was a run of 120 pieces. Not only is the exact number of the figure stamped on the card, but each card is signed by Brandt. Really nice personal touch.

I shot the figure at my local park, which we might as well call KK Park since I do most of my outdoor toy shooting there.
More after the jump:

Let's look at the figure from all sides:
Stingy Jack stands at 6.5" (165 mm tall). The figure is made up of 7 parts: head, hat, body, two hands, and two feet. That in itself is quite interesting, as sofubi sculpts are typically separated at the arms and legs. I imagine the cuts were made at these points to retain maximum fidelity to the original design while minimizing the possibility of bubbling or tearing during the pouring/pulling process.

From the side you can see how bold the design is, with a long pointed nose and curving spindly stalk rising out of the figure's head. Pulling off feats like these is a testament to the sculpting mastery of Yohei Kaneko of Mirock Toy, who sculpted the figure, and Obitsu, which led the manufacturing stages.

In this shot we can look at another bold element of the character: its pose. Stingy Jack sort of rears back on his legs, while cocking his head forward in a semi-bow. At the same time, the collar (which is sculpted onto the body) is at a fairly steep angle. All these elements combine to create a physical theatricality that evokes the figure's character (here I go talking about bringing out a character's character again!) while preserving its balance and ability to stand. Impressive.
 Let's move on to the articulation:
Stingy Jack is articulated at the neck, allowing full 360 degree rotation on a smooth neck joint. In fact, as noted on the Circus Posterus blog, the heads for the different characters in the series are being designed to be swappable. I've got to tip my hat to the CP crew for this long-range series planning. Very exciting times ahead!

Speaking of hats, Stingy's hat is a separate part which spins around. I had a thought that this "appendage" could make for some very interesting possibilities down the line should they choose to make other parts in place of the hat.
The hands attach to the figure at the wrist and are articulated. Incidentally, a separate paint mask had to be made for the cigar. They really went to town on this figure!

Articulated left hand

Here you can see the feet articulation. They can each be turned completely front to back, yet the figure will only stand if they're turned outwards.
Next I'd like to talk about the paint. The colors were chosen using the Pantome Matching System.
The head and hat's base color is orange. The way the paint was applied strikes me as a very interesting synthesis of techniques. The head mostly involves "whole" colors - the hat is painted a solid brown, the eyes are painted using masks, and the rest of the head is unpainted except for a very subtle light brown spray encircling the bottom half of the head, creating a five o' clock shadow effect. There's also light brown spray on the tips of the nose and stalk. In a way, the head evokes elements of western toys, which involve pad printing and other applications that create solid color blocks and very clean lines.

Yet on the body, stronger purple spray is used, evoking traditional sofubi paint apps. Even better, the spray is applied not with laser like precision, but slightly off center, which is how traditional sofubi figures are often painted. I find this synthesis of styles both fascinating and compelling. It's another example of how the figure is a true marriage of toy making techniques.
Look at that beautiful clear purple body!
 Now for more shots of Stingy Jack in action:

Nice balance!

All posing and no fun make Stingy Jack long for some old school swing action.

Stingy wants everyone to pay attention to the park rules!

Stingy meets a fellow his own size...

...and wants to thank you all for joining us!
At the beginning of this review, I mentioned Stingy Jack is the first in a series of collaborations between Circus Posterus and Tomensuke. Indeed, the next figure, Kathie Olivas’ Calliope Jackalope, is already in development.

For the series, sales of the figure in North America will be handled by Stranger Factory:
Stranger Factory
109 Carlisle Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106 USA

While international sales will be handled by Tomenosuke-syoten.

I hope you enjoyed this review as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Down the line, I hope to have a chance to bring you more close-up looks at these really fun figures. Thanks for reading!


Unknown said...

Interesting information I haven’t been through such information in a long time.
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andy b said...

Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

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