Interview

November 12, 2010

Must Have: Sleepy Robot

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We were so impressed with Lisastarchild's Sleepy Robot collection that we decided not only to feature her in our Holiday Gift Guide but to delve into her artistic psyche as well. She was kind enough to grant us an interview.

What inspired you to become an artist?

In the beginning it was always my mom. when I was growing up she was alway making various crafts, but she was really into ceramics. In later years the work of artists/toy makers Buff Monster and Luke Chueh really influenced my art.

How long have you been doing this?

I started sculpting when I was 8 or 9 and dropped it for a while when the real world started to take over, but picked it back up in late 2009.

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How did you come up with the name?

The first robot I ever made was a little bot nodding off to sleep. I liked him so much I named my shop/brand after him.

Which is your favorite?

That's tough because each one of my figures holds a special place in my heart, but if I had to choose... I used to sell a little robot drinking a beer that looked a little tipsy. I laughed every time I looked at it.

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Where do your ideas come from?

Just random things that come to me when I'm sitting around doing nothing or sculpting. I have an entire notebook dedicated to ideas for robots and figurines I haven't created yet. My mind never stops churning.

Do you attend art fairs?

Yes. I attend fairs around North East Ohio mostly. I'm hoping to travel a little more once my finances allow it.

What kind of material are the bots made of?

Polymer Clay. I use mostly Sculpey.

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What was the inspiration for your Zombie Toast?

A friend of mine has toast every morning for breakfast. Wanting to try something different one day, she put a piece of dark rye bread in her toaster. When it came out, the first thing that came to mind is that it looked like zombified toast. After that, whenever she made toast I'd ask her if she was making "Zombie Toast." A few weeks later I made my first zombie toast figure and gave it to her as a birthday gift. He still sits in her kitchen to this day.

Do you do special orders?

Yes I do. I make custom jewelry starting at $8 and custom figurines starting at $15+ depending upon details.

How about if someone wanted to personalize one?

All someone would have to do is contact me before purchasing an item via Etsy convo and let me know then additions they would like. I would update the listing accordingly for the custom. Personalizations are usually only $1-$2 more depending upon what a customer would like.

If someone orders one now could they get it in time for the holidays?

Yes. The cut off date for placing orders for guaranteed holiday delivery will be December 8th for Domestic and December 1st for international shipments. You can still place orders after these dates, but I cannot guarantee that the order will reach its destination by the holiday.

I would like customers to be aware that I will be out of town November 18th-December 1st. During this time there will be a delay in shipping. All orders received by 6pm EST, November 15th will be shipped before I leave. All orders placed after Nov. 15th will be filled and shipped in the order they were received as soon as I return.

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You previously told me that you are an animal lover. I saw several, including the one you made in a monkey costume and your Mad Cow. Will there be more Sleepy Robot 13 animals?

Definitely! I have a few in the works now and will try to complete them as time permits.

What are your future plans?

I am currently working on trying to get a small business grant so I can move into an artist space, with a studio that will be open to the public. I am currently operating out of my living room and bedroom...frankly its kinda driving my boyfriend nuts! I also hope to have one of my figures mass produced in vinyl by the end of 2011.

How can your fans get in touch with you?

There are many ways to contact me:
Etsy
Sleepy Robot 13's Facebook Fan Page
MySpace
Twitter
Blog
and via email (lisastarchild(at)yahoo.com)

Thanks, Lisa!

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 20, 2010

Must Have: U.R.I.-NAL 9000

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As promised, we couldn't wait to show you the work of Hauke Scheer and his company Scheer Imagination. This U.R.I.-NAL 9000 is astounding in its detail and we are so pleased that Hauke sent us one all the way from Germany to keep us company. Made of resin, this will surely be a collector's item.

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Because we suspected that Hauke was as much into robots as we are, we decided to ask him a few questions and found that his talent and sense of humor are certainly worth the read.

I understand U.R.I. is a limited edition?

Yes, this medium grey colored variant is limited to 50 figures. However if they sell well I will produce more figures with different colors variations. Those will probably have higher production numbers so the medium grey variant will be the most valuable over time.

Is there a real U.R.I.-NAL 9000?

Unfortunately, no. I designed this character simply to be a fun toy figure. However a lot of people have told me they would love to have a real working one. So if there is some robot company out there that would be interested in producing a real one, I would love to hear from them. :-)

Do you foresee one in the future?

Well, you never know. It would be fun having hundreds of urinals walking through town on a Saturday night.

What was your inspiration?

I actually made another toilet robot before. That one was just meant to be a spoof on those cute Disney characters that are made from household items, like the ones in 'Beauty and the Beast.' However, I was always a little dissatisfied with that one because apart from being funny, the design did not make much sense. I decided to give it another try and come up with something that would kind of work in the real world. So the idea for the U.R.I.-NAL 9000 was born.

Will you be making any future robot figures?

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Sure. I love robots and cyborgs and those will always be part of my work. The latest robot I created was the Flying Fridgebot from my Bionic Bjoern Figure Series. A prototype figure for that one is currently in development. The fridge will actually open and close and have some beer cans in it.

How did your career in the arts start?

I studied 3D modeling at the Vancouver Film School. Afterwards, I worked on a couple of small computer games as well as in advertisement. But during all that time I was always working on personal projects as well creating several of the characters I am now selling as figures on my website.

How long have you been an artist?

I have created science fiction and fantasy characters since I was in my teens. I started 3D modeling in my twenties when I was at university. My professional career started when I went to Vancouver Film School.

Do you make each one or just the first?

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All the figures are actually sculpted and produced by a professional toy company in China. I send them various pictures of my 3D art so they can sculpt the figures to my designs. I wrote an article on the whole process a little while ago that can still be found in the notes sections of my Facebook page.

How does one make something out of resin?

Basically you have to create a silicone mold from your original sculpture and then you can start casting away in resin. You can get both the silicone for making the mold and the resin for casting in most art shops. Since you do not need expensive steel molds like you do with plastic figures, resin is used both by large manufacturers as well as hobby modelers.

Do you still do work for video games and advertisements?

At the moment I am concentrating on my own work and getting my figure business up and running properly. However, I am always interested in cool projects in either the video game or the advertisement industry.

What will be your next creation?

I am currently working on a series of animations for my Bionic Bjoern figure series. This one and others can be seen here. I will create various friends and enemies of Bionic Bjoern for these animations. However most of them exist currently only in my mind. :-)

How can your fans get in touch with you?

You can buy my figures here.
My art can be seen on this site.
If people want to get updated on upcoming figures they can become a fan of my company Scheer Imagination on Facebook.
Or they can just email me at: contact(at)scheer-imagination.com.

Thanks for your time and U.R.I, Hauke. Best of luck in all your endeavors!

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 4, 2009

Pleo Resurrection Continues

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Robert Oschler at RobotsRule recently interviewed Derek Dotson, one of Ugobe's founders, on the tragic story of Pleo's demise. The good news is that the robotic dinosaur is back this year with these improvements:

* The problem with neck wires breaking which affected some Pleos has been fixed.
* The problem of the skin separating has been fixed.
* The premature wearing of the paint from Pleo's skin and teeth has been fixed. The new paint should last 3 times longer than the old one.
* The packaging Pleo comes in no longer uses Styrofoam and is biodegradable making it friendly to the environment.
* The battery chargers have a new switch with two positions, one for regular charging and another that uses a special charging mode created specifically for those batteries that don't charge properly.

Via Robots Rule

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 14, 2009

Must Have: Slobots

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We dig Slobots so much that we had to find out more about them. We got in touch with their creator, Mike Slobot (aka Heisler.) Needless to say we found them all so endearing that they earned our Must Have this week.

Tell us the truth, is Slobot your real name? How did you come up with that particular name?

Of course its my real name :) - Actually, the moniker "Slobot" was added to my real name, which is Mike, when I started making my robot sculptures. It just seemed appropriate as when I would send out my Slobots, invariably I would see Mike and Slobot together and it stuck.

How long have you been involved in robotic sculpturing?

I sculpted my first Slobots in 2004. The first Slobot was nothing like the current crop, being mostly paper mache, but the spirit was there. After that first one I started collecting bits and pieces of stuff and making new ones. It has definitely become something of an obsession.

You also paint them?

Yes, I paint with oil, acrylic, and also pastels. I have been painting for most of my life, being mostly an abstract painter fascinated with color and especially with the process of putting paint on canvas. Lately, about 90% of my creative output is focused on the Slobots.

What was your inspiration?

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My wife asked for the first drawing. I remember looking at the drawing and thinking that I should sculpt one of those, so I dug around the house for parts and made it. Compared with the way they look now, it was very primitive, but it has a special place in my heart, so I keep it around.

Your bots look so friendly for the most part. We are not so sure about Slofoot.

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The Slobots are all friendly, including Slofoot. I don't subscribe to the notion that robots have to take over the world and enslave all of mankind. I think we can all get along. Slofoot would never really hurt anyone, but he was definitely created to be protective of his trees.

Your SLOMiCRO-02 bears a striking resemblance to Elmo.

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Hmm, Elmo. That's funny. I have had several questions about why he didn't need arms, but that's the first one about looking like Elmo!

Each Slobot seems to have its own personality and story. Where does that come from?

It really just seemed natural to give them stories and a life of their own. Most of the time the story comes to me as I am making the Slobot, almost as if he or she is telling me about themselves as I make them. A lot of their stories are centered on very human emotions and experiences, loss of jobs, searching for meaning, love.

Which is your favorite?

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I think my favorite usually becomes the most recent one I have worked on. It seems like each time I make a new one, I learn something new or the slobot reflects something that I am feeling at the time. All in all, though, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Sloqee7b. He has four arms, a big LED light in his head, and I think the shape of his head is really cool.

What kind of materials do you use in your work?

I use lots of different things in the creation of a slobot, but may favorite by far is plastic. I try and take items that don't seem particularly robotic, like plastic cups, and use them to build a robot.

Tell us about the Munny.

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There have actually been 7 "Slomunnys" of various styles over a couple of years. I just did a post gathering most of them together for the first time on my blog. The most famous so far has been "Slomunnyv3". It made the rounds on the Net, at one site being called a "post-apocalyptic cyborg lemon." The base figure is a Kidrobot Munny, but I heavily modify it, add legs and extend the arms, so that it hardly looks like the a Munny anymore. There is a chance to purchase a custom made Slobot Munny in my Etsy Shop. It is a one-of-a-kind, made to order Slobot.

We understand that you were involved in the Stitch Experiment 626 project at this year's San Diego Comic Con.

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Yes, I did a custom for the SDCC leg of the show. Quite a few artists were given a blank Stitch figure from the Lilo and Stitch franchise and asked to customize it in their own style. I pulled the ears off, cut off the arms and legs, and added my Slobot touches. I really like the way it turned out. I didn't get to go out to SDCC this year, but I saw some pics from the show, and I think he really stood out.

Do you have any future showings coming up?

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Yes, there are 3 shows on the books over the next few months. The first starts off in Turkey at Milk and then travels around Europe. Everyone was given a base figure to customize in their own style called a "Robolucha". There is a show opening in Charleston, WV, USA on August 20. Info for that one can be found here, and I will also be participating in Toy Karma 2, a show centered on Japanese Toys and their influences on art. That opens September 5 at Rotofugi in Chicago. More info on the show is available at Max Toy. Also coming up next year in Japan is the Kaiju Comrades show. That one is in February 2010 and I am really excited about it. Robots are huge in Japan and that will be the Slobots' first trip to Japan.

How can someone get his or her own Slobot?

Custom and pre-made Slobots can be purchased on my Website and in my Etsy shop. I can custom make a Slobot out of pretty much anything, and am open to commissions. Just drop me a line and we can work something out.

How can people get in touch with you?

The best way to reach me is via my website.

Thanks for the time Mike, and good luck making your Slobots as famous as ASIMO!

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 17, 2009

Interview with Don and Alexis of Bots 4 Tots

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As promised, we provided some questions to the Bots for Tots program. The interview was recorded by founders Don Thacker and Alexis Nordling to give you all the details. It's a little lengthy, but is important because you really want to know who is going to teach you the finer points of soldering, don't you? The pair gives all the information you will need and gives a call out to help name their mascotbot, (although we think they should show the little bugger.) The workshops are free and the B4T project could always use donations.

Via Bots 4 Tots Interview

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 21, 2009

Interview: Giant Robot Builder Jaimie Mantzel

Jaimie Mantzel is building a giant robot. He believes the world needs more of them and we agree. When finished, it will be 12' tall and 18' across with room for him to pilot it. We were so fascinated with the concept that we had to ask for more details.

First off, let's take a walk down your long road traveled in Vermont. You built a dome, a road to the dome, a lumber mill, and a workshop. When do you get to the actual robot creating?

A lot of that stuff is related to the robot buildings. I've had the dome for years with no road. I started building the giant robot a year and a half ago in friends basements, garages, and outside at my place. It was a bit of a pain, so when I stumbled across a free steel airplane hanger style building (quonset hut).... I decided to take it and turn it into a workshop. That was where the road came in. I figured it would take about the same amount of time to carry a couple tons of steel as it would to make a road, so I spent a month and a half digging a road. I've got the workshop standing. I'm slowly getting it into a usable state. The robot is about 80% done. It may sound like a lot, but there's still plenty of work to do on it. I'm doing everything I can now so that I'll be able to devote the spring to finishing it.

What inspired you to make your Giant Robot?

Robotech...? Shadow Raiders...? Transformers...? Cartoons. Ya, basically cartoons.

How long do you think it will take?

I should be able to finish the thing in less than a month of steady work. ...of course... my workshop isn't insulated, and the Vermont winter is holding things up.

How will you get into it? How will you control it once you get in?

Kinda like a tractor or a bulldozer. Climb up there. Open cockpit that I'm sure wouldn't pass any safety standards.

Have you come up with a name?

Nope. It seems that I come up with names for things after they've proven their usefulness. I just recently named my wood stove "Mr. Burns" after 3 years of faithful service.

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Are Michael's renderings pretty close to what it will look like?

Nope, not even close. :-P The big robot is made of Aluminium, and it'll look quite a bit different than the little plastic prototype.

Do you have days when you just want to hang it up?

Nope. I have days when I'm tired. ...when I feel like I'm up to my eyeballs in ridiculous projects, and my brain is swimming with incoherent thoughts. Actually, there've been a lot of those lately. (ha ha.) When I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew, I see it as a sign that I'm living life the right way. When things are easy, I'm not learning anything, adventures lack their spark, and life in general is less exciting.

What do you intend to do with it once it finished? Do you have a cross country trip in the plans? We could call Guinness.

Uh.... if you asked me this before I starting building it, I'd probably have had an answer. At the moment, I can't see the forest for the trees. I'm swamped in tiny details, and subtle mechanics. All I see right now is a big robot coming to life, and me sighing a huge sigh of relief.... and laying down right there to sleep for about 3 days.

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Suppose for a moment that others were also building Giant Robots far up in the woods away from civilization. Do you think maybe they will contact each other and revolt?

The topic of "taking over the world" comes up a lot surrounding my giant robot. In reality, I could take a sledge hammer and reduce the thing to scrap without much effort. I also have absolutely no interest in "taking over the world". I have enough things to deal with without dealing with everyone else's problems! :-)

You draw, do animation, write, and build. What can't you do?

I can't become pregnant....? Hmm... I also can't just up in the air and fly. I do try that every now and then, though. ...just in case. Flying, not bearing a child.

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We understand that you have also written a book?

Jaimie- Yep, I've written a couple books. One called "How Big is the Universe?" It's about how big the universe is. I'd explain more, but thats why I wrote the book, and made all those nice pictures. I also wrote a book on parenting. The cover has a father punting a baby into a pit of alligators, and the scene has a big "X" over it, and beside there is a scene of a father happily holding a baby that is pooping on his shoe. That scene has a big "check" on it. That pretty much covers the gist of the book. I think its called, "Stuff to Remember.... and stuff .....about Parenting." You can read both of them on my website. I even read one of them on my YouTube page.

Tell us about some of your previous creations.

Previous creations. OK, my first fairly complex creation. When I was 12, I built a 2 legged walking thing out of Popsicle sticks. I built the entire thing from my head, and had no way of testing whether or not it would work until it was finished. I probably spend around a month gluing Popsicle sticks together, making a drill press, cutting up coat hangers, etc. I had an idea of what I wanted to happen but I was somewhat surprised when it actually worked. That was the point when I realized 2 things. 1. I love building things. 2. I was unusually good at it. Luckily those 2 things go together very well. :-)

What was your first motorized gadget?

It was a motor with a propeller on it, a couple "AA" batteries, and a little toy car. I was 5, and taped all the stuff together so the propeller propelled the car. It didn't work particularly well, but it did work.

Reading your main site bio felt almost like an intrusion because you got so personal.

Ya. I think its silly how people constantly hide things and lie in this culture. Actually, I think its worse than silly. I think it's terrible. I guess being open is my way of combating that particular tradition.

Where can people get in touch with you?

It's easy to get in touch with me. My website, Jamius.com, has my e-mail on it. It even has a "donate to the giant robot project" button. I'm easy to find on YouTube as well. My ID is JMEMantzel, although searching for "giant robot project" finds me pretty quickly.

We read that you tried to get a grant but it didn't happen. Maybe you could be part of President Obama's new stimulus program.

Ya, hook me up with 700 billion dollars, and I'll build the most awesomely awesome robot ever. uhh... ok, seriously, any time I try to do anything with grants or business world types, there's so much time wasted that it just isn't worth it. I am very open to a grant, however I'm not willing to jump thought hoops for 4 months of my life that could be used productively. I've found it much more beneficial to deal directly with actual people. It may sound strange, but just having a donate button on the giant robot page, and documenting the project has been much more beneficial than any grant, or job, or schooling has been. Financially yes, but even more... emotionally. It is inspiring to hear about other people doing similar things, encouraging me to do what I'm doing, or even having some teenager out there donating $5, and saying, something like, "if I had a million dollars, I'd send it to you." I have to say that without the Internet, I'd be a much lonelier person with my non-conformist attitudes. Ahh... did I just get mushy? Oh well.

Or the military. Put an Uzi in it and DARPA will snap it up.

It's funny how many people mention such a thing. My giant robot design is much more for traversing rough terrain. I feel that it would be pretty easy to destroy in a combat situation. It's all gangley with all these legs sticking out just waiting to be blown off by an RPG or a Bazooka. (ha ha.) Why don't people use the word bazooka anymore???

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How about donations? We suspect you are a starving artist.

I wouldn't say starving. I'm doing pretty well. I built my house to require very little maintenance and set up my life to be low cost. That way it's very easy to live cheaply. I 'spose that is how I manage to have time to build inventions. There is a bit of a problem when I need to buy parts or tools. The more of that I have to do, the more I have to work, and the less time I spend on projects. I've been getting enough donations on my website to almost cover the materials costs of the giant robot, so that has been an enormous help. There are a few more parts I still need to get, but I'm sure I'll figure out some way to make it happen between surprise donations, looking for deals, and getting lucky at the junkyard.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Break a giant leg and keep in touch.

Thanks! ...although I can think of a few giant robot parts that make me more nervous about their potential to break than the legs!

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Via The Giant Robot Project

(Thanks for the tip, Jim)

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 12, 2009

BaR2D2 - Bartender That Never Needs Tipping

This has to be one of the kewlest DIY projects we have ever seen. We dug it so much that we interviewed BaR2D2's creator, Jamie Price. Trust us, you are going to want one of these.

Jamie, thanks for chatting with us. You have your own business. How do you find time to create?

I have a typical office job Monday to Friday. I tend to work obsessively on a project for months, then take a break so I don't get burned out. I work in my garage during the weekends.

What inspired you to build BaR2D2?

My friend, Shaggy, showed up at a robot combat event (my other hobby) with a radio-controlled cooler. We joked about taking it to the next level and the idea grew legs and started really growing.

How long did it take?

The actual construction took about five months (keep in mind that it's not really done yet!). I sort of thought about ideas and designs for a year before starting.

About how much did it cost to assemble?

I had many of the materials on hand in the shop from other projects. I also combed eBay and craigslist for deals on the larger components. I didn't really track the cost of the final product.

BaR does so much! Did you add gradually or have a plan before building?

He was mostly planned out before building. Once I started cutting pieces and saw some of the dimensions, I did have to change one or two things. There was supposed to be one more level that contained a stereo amplifier, mp3 dock, and two 6.5" speakers. I had to eliminate that as it would have made the robot another eight inches taller and way too top heavy.

You control him by remote?

Yes, BaR2D2 is controlled by a six channel Futaba hobby radio. This controls - the drive, beer elevator, drawer, and sound effects.

Does he seem to have any glitches or navigational problems, i.e. if someone bumps into him in a drunken stupor?

BaR2D2 has been lucky so far and everyone has been really careful around him.

What kind of feedback have you gotten when you took him out on the town?

BaR2D2 made his debut at Dragon*con in Atlanta and the response was VERY positive. He attended several parties and robotics forums. You can see from the video the "wow' factor he brings to a party.

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Have you entered BaR in any competitions? Are you planning on showing him anywhere that our readers can come see him? Maybe you should trot him down to the MegaCon in Orlando that will be held at the end of February.

BaR2D2 is currently entered into The Craftsman Workshop of the Future Contest hosted at Instructables. The winner will get $20,000 in tools from Craftsman! Make sure to check out my entry and vote for BaR2D2! Note - there is also a video and tons of construction pics there.

As for future appearance, readers can check BaR2D2 out at Dragon*con 2009. A couple other appearances are in the planning stage.

Are you planning on upgrades?

Several upgrades are planned - The commercial shot dispenser is being replaced with a custom bottle rack that will hold six ingredient bottles and a pressurized air/regulator system that will electronically mix drinks from a computerized database.

How about teaching him to be a designated driver?

Maybe we can add a seat and helmet?

You said that you don't have any formal training, but this does not look like a simple project.

My dad was always building furniture in his spare time, so I picked up that from him. When BattleBots was big, I got into combat robots and learned a ton from that.

This is your latest project. What other ones have you come up with?

I built a 60-pound robot and competed in BattleBots season 4.0 and did well. After that I built a handful of others. I also build contest winning Halloween costumes and the occasional prop.

How long have you been building your creations? Do you have plans for others in the works?

I have been building crazy things for the last 10 years. As for future plans, I like to have a solid concept before I build something. I like projects that will keep me interested and that are out of the norm. Maybe I will build a friend for BaR2D2?

Do you have any interest in building one if someone asks?

If the conditions were right and there was enough creative license, I could be persuaded...

Maybe you can create one that would serve sandwiches and coffee. Conventions and large corporations would love that. Come to think of it, they would love BaR, too. Do you plan on taking him past the prototype stage?

I haven't really thought too much about its future as it really isn't complete yet.

Where can others get in touch with you for more information or help if they want to build their own?

jamieaprice@yahoo.com

Good luck and let us know when you decide to market him. And save us a t-shirt!

I may consider doing a run of shirts.

Via Jamie Price

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking


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