Thursday, October 14, 2010

A day at Cipher Studios

A couple weeks back I was up a Cipher Studios.I had my camera in tow as I thought it'd be pretty sweet to show those out there in minifandomland what a casting operation is like from the inside.  And for those of you who are fanboi's of the Anima Tactics line, this might be a little treat for you as well.  It's pretty sweet.

So meet the men behind Cipher -

On the left we've got Mr. Kai Nesbit - he's the guy who makes the decisions and tells peoples what to do  To the right is Dave Freeman - he works on development and other stuffs. These two can generally be found above the room they're standing in feverishly pounding away on a keyboard trying to get something important done.  Personally I think Dave needs to type faster, but hey...we've all got our faults right?

This fine young man is Joel Lehner...I stole this photo from the website as when I headed up to snap shots, Joel was working hard on getting a mold I didn't want to interrupt him for a glamor shot.  :P  Joel heads up all things mold related, handles the sales and marketing side of things and if you happen to be a Free Agent, well then this is the guy you report to...that's pretty sweet.

So after the sculpt is done, what process does that little model go thru before it gets to your grubby lil hands???  Well first the master mold has to be made - and this I didn't actually get shots of as Joel was working on making a production mold when I was there.

A mold starts out literally as a lump of clay.

Studs are added and it's build around a set of 'masters'

Hmm...looks like a horse...

After both sides are set, it's off to what I consider the kulest name machine on the planet....


The newly prepared soft squishy mold is placed in that giant iron pie pan and stuck into the VULCANIZER!!! which heats that thing up to 315 degrees and drops 1500 psi on it to make it a semi-flexible solid set of RTV molds.  It's pretty damn sweet.

After the mold goes through the VULCANIZER!!! it gets pulled out and trimmed up a bit, some extra flus are added to help with the smaller fiddly bits to make sure they get enough metal when spun and the details come out right....then they are handed off to the MIGHTY KJELL!!!

He's the guy that actually makes your figs.

So once the MIGHTY KJELL! has the newly vulcanized mold, what exactly does he do with it?  Well he gets to run a few tests...he has to set pressure, rotation speed and a couple of other things to make sure that the mold produces the figure the way it's meant to be.

A newly prepared mold ready for testing

On the left here is the spin caster, that thing on the right that looks like an industrial crock pot, pretty much's full of metal.  I didn't get any photos of the bars they melt down, but they look just like bright shiny bars of silver that you see in the's pretty sweet.

Here's a better shot of all the molds they have in current production that's a lot of parts!

So when running some tests, heres what we're looking for in regards to setting things properly.  It's really kind of a fine little art as the bigger figs tend to separate or split and the smaller models tend to not form fully...I gotta see's pretty sweet.

Here's the Iron Chef from Soda Pop and you can see where the cast doesn't quite come out right...back into the melting pot Mr. Chef!!

A lil closer for those of you who are vision impaired!

This one is for those of you who are just plain blind!

Now I'm not going to get into the packing it's just taking this part, that part, some tokens, a piece of foam and a card or two and sticking them into a blister, dropping half dozen into a box, a dozen boxes into a case and hitting them with a UPS label to send them off to parts unknown.  

So that's the process, it's by no means a detailed breakdown, but just a brief overview of what it takes to get those lil metal men into your and my hands!!  All in all's pretty sweet.

Make sure you drop by to see what's new, what's coming and even drop the guys a line, they're very happy to chat with their customers and fans!

Well I hope y'all enjoyed this little incursion into Cipher Studios, and I want to extend a HUUUGE thanks to the boys in the band for letting me interrupt their hectic day to show me around and toss me some really sweet swag...I'd show you guys, but they won't be released yet for a couple of months and was asked not to photo them yet...THAT'S MIGHTY SWEET!!!

Til next time!!!

keep your paint thinned and your brushes clean!

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