With Resident Evil 5 right around the corner (and I am still undecided if I want to play it, hate the way the characters move around) I'm pulling out the old Evolution Bit of Alexia Ashford, one of the figures we made at Palisades for our second series of Resident Evil action figures.
Alexia Ashford: Resident Evil Series 2
Resident Evil Series 2 will always have a special asterisk next to it whenever we look back on that project. Alexia, the bodacious bad girl from Resident Evil: Code Veronica was named Toy of the Month by ToyFare magazine in their latest issue. It was a big deal to all of us here at Palisades, and we quickly blew the article up, framed it and it hangs in a place of honor in the office. So it is only natural that we start with her in our newest Daily Bit feature. Here you will see some of the steps we take and all the people involved in the process of creating our products. From concept to completion, from factory to fan…it’s evolution, baby!
In this case, some of the reference came directly from Capcom, although the game got it’s fair share of play in the office and at the homes of some of our guys. The first pic shows Alexia in the two forms we ultimately decided to create…version 1 and version 3. Using these as a guide, we decided the best way to do both was to make them transform from one to the next.
You Might Not Know...
You may not know this, but there was some talk of doing Alexia Version 2 as well, the mutational stage in-between 1 and 3. Before the 3 version breaks off and flies around after Chris, she is attached to a giant mound of typical Resident Evil mutant stuff. Check out the rough concept we did to see if it could work. Basically it was taking a Capcom image of Nemesis Type III and putting parts of Alexia on it to see what stuck.
Ken worked up some concepts for the sculptor to go by and did some sketches to see how we might work out the transformation.
You Might Not Know 2...
The first sculptor we contracted to do the job turned in a completed sculpt. We did show the piece at Toy Fair, but when we got back from Toy Fair we were all sitting around discussing what we liked and didn’t like about the sculpt. Ultimately it was decided that although the sculptor, Chief, did a good job, we were looking for something a little more realistic. But check out the pics of the first sculpt in case you missed them before.
We needed a revision and we needed it fast. Whenever that happens Jerry Macaluso’s SOTA Sculpture and Design always is the first group on our minds. Ken called Jerry and he assigned Alexi Bustamente to go in and re-work the sculpt. What was going to be a general surfacing re-work turned into an entirely new sculpture. Ken, Jerry and Alexi worked closely together to get the piece that everybody would be happy with and that the folks at Capcom would approve. Check out the various stages of the revision sculpture in progress.
Final Sculpt and Paint
When the revisions were complete, the piece was handed over to Jerry’s painters who worked up an incredible paint master. After it received final approval from Capcom, it was off to the factory with the masters, the tooling patterns and the production notes.
Working Out the Kinks
At the factory, the engineering got more refined as we worked with the factory engineers to figure out the best way to get the Alexia I to work with the wings and tail. Check out a cool engineering sketch.
The tooling patterns are turned into gypsum or resin models that have all the final engineering worked out for the joints and any special material changes and so on. Ken reviews the pieces either by e-mailed digital files or if he is over in China he will review them in person. Alexia was reviewed while Ken was in China last year also reviewing Reservoir Dogs.
Tooling is completed on Alexia, and we used the test shots (unpainted factory samples) to work out the legal line placement and the pin placement of Alexia’s legs on the sculpted base.
After all that, you still gotta make the thing! Here are some interesting shots of the workers on the production line and David Hui, our factory liaison on this project, looking over some of the assembly process.
Here She Is...
Final packaged product, as it will look when it ends up on retail shelves. As you can see, getting here wasn’t easy and not without it’s share of ups and downs, twists and turns. But in the end it was all worth it. We were pretty happy with the final figure and from the reactions we’ve seen a lot of people were. Thanks to all of you who went out and picked it up and thanks to ToyFare for choosing her for Toy of the Month!
It is MONUMENTALLY creepy to write about yourself in the third person. Ken did this and Ken did that...but that was how we did it in those days, before it was sort of common knowledge that I was writing the actual website content on the Daily Bit, at least until Travis took over later on down the road as the workload for me was just getting to be too much.
Plus, looking back and hindsight being 20/20, there are a ton of things I would show that I didn't, a more detailed look I guess, the whole nipple controversy, the issues with working out the butt on the joint, the factory royally screwing me on the paint job, but at the time I think maybe there was just fear about how much to talk about, what to reveal, all that company type stuff.
Plus I was doing it at work and trying not to spend too much freakin' time on this and more on production stuff, though I think spening as much time as I did, along with Greg and Keith and Travis and anyone else who spent time on the website, turned out to really pay off because of the relationship we cultivated with our core consumer base. Those relationships, many of which turned into actual friendships, I still have after so many years since the Palisades site shut down.
But working on this new Evolution blog I have been doing bits and pieces of on the Swedish Kitchen Playset shows a real difference in perspective and a depth that you can only really get from true hindsight, no fear of being fired and lots of free time to tinker. ;)