Welcome to an InfiniteHollywood.com exclusive! Today we’re speaking with Hauke Scheer of Scheer-Imagination.com who has gone through the process of creating his own toys from scratch and actually having them manufactured in China. Hauke is living the dream and not only does he have some great figures planned out for his own benefit, he’s also going to be letting others get in on the action.
First off thanks for joining us here Hauke and sharing with us a little bit about your creations. I think it’s every kid’s dream to make his or her own toys. What started your fascination with figures and what toylines did you enjoy growing up?
I had a love for action figures for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Germany and unfortunately we did not have the same wide selection of figure lines as the U.S. Therefore I could only collect Star Wars, Masters of the Universe and a little bit of Transformers. I was only able to collect most of the other famous 80s lines like Super Powers, Secret Wars, Thundercats or GI Joe when I was on holiday in other countries that had a better toy selection then Germany. But ultimately this was a good thing because it brought me into customizing and later sculpting my own figures.
Your Facebook page has been dealing with the creation process from sketches to actual prototypes. As I understand it you actually used to make some figures yourself before going the full length with these. Did you make customs or mostly just model type toys?
I started by doing custom figures when I was about 12 I think. I bought some Secret Wars figures on a holiday but there were a lot of figures I could not get at that time. So I started painting the ones I had into other marvel heroes. Even at that point I did some original characters like “Slime Man” who was basically a Secret Wars Iceman covered in glue.
Some years later I started sculpting my own figures. I started out with doing movie and superhero characters but soon switched to making my own creations. Nowadays I work exclusively with 3D programs. It is much faster for me to design a character like this. The actual sculpt of the figure is then done by a Chinese manufacturer based on reference art I send them. I quite enjoy it when someone else is sculpting my figures. It is very interesting to see how another artist is adapting my design into an actual figure.
You’re not an industry professional, you’re just a regular guy (albeit a talented and creative one) who has decided to get some toys made by your designs. How hard was it to break into the scene as it were? By that I mean, we often heard Mattel or Hasbro lament about the issues they face with the Chinese manufacturers. Did you find it hard to contact and work with them?
Well apart from this being quite an expensive undertaking it was not that hard. I just looked for figure manufactures on Chinese business portals and contacted them. I had to try out a couple before I found one that suited my style and quality expectations the best but I never had a really bad experience so far. It was more a question of whether the experience was excellent or just good. But then my figures are made in very small numbers from resin for and therefore a lot easier to produce then the thousands of plastic action figures from Mattel or Hasbro.
Take us through the process a bit, obviously you’ve went into some detail about this on your Facebook page, but what are really the key steps in getting a project like this to completion?
1. Finding the right manufacturer: I really cannot give a lot advice to avoid mistakes here because as I said above this has been a pretty good experience for me so far. However I can recommend trying out a few manufacturers to see who suits you best. So I would suggest starting with a figure that is easy and cheap to produce and give it to a couple of manufacturers to find the one you are really happy with. This might cost a little bit more in the beginning but will be worth it in the long run.
2. Design: Already think of the figure when you are designing your character: Will he be able to stand? Does he have a lot of parts that might break easily? Will the detail on your character work at the scale of the actual figure? Does the design of your character go along with your budget?
3. Sculpting the prototype: Give very detailed reference. Try to communicate visually as much as possible. It really helps to have some basic knowledge in applications like Photoshop to get your point across. Also be patient and polite. Sometimes it just takes a while before the sculptor really „gets“ your design. Just point out your changes as long as it takes for him to see what you mean and don’t panic.
4. Paintjob: This part can be quite difficult. Either if you created your reference art in 2D or 3D the coloration might not adapt as easily from your reference to the actual figure as it is the case with the sculpt. It took me the longest to find manufacturers who could provide good paintjobs that fitted the style of my reference. A good idea is to provide the manufacturer with examples of existing action figures that have a paint style similar to what you want for your own figures and ask them if they can do something like that. Or even better check out some of the other work the manufacturer has done and see if his paint style fits your own ideas.
On your website, Scheer-Imagination, you’re now taking preorders for the first sets of figures. When is the target date for your first release? Is there any particular order in which you plan on releasing the other designs?
The first two figures are currently produced and should be available around the end of the September. If the first figures sell well I will start releasing the other designs. At the moment I can only afford very small production runs of about 50 copies of a character at a time. However I plan to rerelease figures that are sold out again at a later time.
I really want to make these small production runs for people who enjoy my designs. So if people would like to see a particular figure to get released next I would love to hear from them either via email or through my Facebook site.
What scale are these figures?
I use different scales for some of my lines according to what I think works best for a particular line. The “Ragnarok Veterans”, “Dick Satisfaction” and “Ulrich von Ulster” lines roughly use a six inch scale. The “Deep Sea Trouble” figures are closer to a seven inch scale. The “Snea Grant” line is closer to five inch scale.
I have listed the individual size for each of my figures on my website.
Obviously these figures are resin static figures as opposed to articulated “action figures” but have you ever considered making figures with articulation or is that something that’s just not cost effective? Many of your designs are very creative and I would imagine they’d be really cool toys. I love that you have complete backstories for all of your lines. You have sites set up at Deep Sea Trouble, Ragnarok Veterans, etc that explain all of the storyline elements with each set of figures you’re making. It’s really incredible.
I would love to produce some actual action figures at some point. Action figures are what brought me into this business in the first place. However getting an articulated plastic figure made is so much more expensive then getting a resin statue produced. Getting the molds done for something like this is just way outside of my current budget.
The closest thing I can do right now is to incorporate some “action features” in my figures. For example there is a figure called “Snea Grant” (http://www.scheer-imagination.com/snea.html) that has removable boots to reveal blade-stilts and a character called “Young Ulrich” (http://www.scheer-imagination.com/young_ulrich.html) who has an exchangeable head and exchangeable legs that simulate his feet transforming into wheels.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to let people know about your figures, upcoming projects or anything you’d like to plug?
I hope that people got curious about my figures and want to check them out at: Scheer-Imagination.com I would also very much like to hear from people who enjoy my work. They can reach me by either becoming fans of my Facebook site or by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again for letting us pick your brain and I think plenty of people are going to be following your story on Facebook as you get those first batches of figures made as well as looking forward to the inaugural runs of the Scheer-Imagination toys.
Thanks for taking so much interest in my work. I really appreciate it.
Be sure to check out Scheer-Imagination.com and as always check back here at InfiniteHollywood.com for all your exclusive toy news, reviews and interviews.