Religious Orders

category icon Latest Tiko 3D Kerfunkle

Posted: Tuesday July 19 2016 @ 6:10am

Religious Order: Toys

Well, unfortunately, the Tiko 3D printer Kickstarter is looking more and more like a clusterfuck. They shipped (with a reasonable delay) the first 100 printers. Those printers are, well, just not working great. Then, they dropped this little policy bombshell: They're collecting usage data from the printers and there's no way to opt out. Here's the relevant text:

In terms of the data we collect, it's practically everything. Everything from how long it takes you to progress from one step in the printing process to another, slicing times, printing times, print sizes/volume, scaling/re-orientation, how often you load/unload filament, what time of day prints are started, what brightness you change the LED to, etc. Just tons and tons of raw, completely anonymous data. We use this data for everything from improving workflow (ie where do people get stuck), to improving auto-level, optimizing the slicing engine algorithms by looking at what takes longest, and even something as seemingly mundane as the average favorite LED brightness. Every single piece of information can tell us more about how well Tiko performs and how good of an experience it is, and so we collect it all. Again, completely anonymously. Also, full disclosure, Tiko stores all of this in offline mode, and will sync it with our servers upon connection to the internet. So even if you only connect to WiFi once in a while, we'll still get the data. We hope that doesn't come across as big-brothery, we're just out to make the best product and experience ever.

Don't like? They'll refund your money, then. Seriously, that's the only other option.

Of course, backers are trying to point out how stupid (and potentially illegal) this is. Tiko's responses aren't helping. For example:

We reserve the right to, but generally speaking we're not interested in selling data, but we may share some high level statistics with certain types of organizations.

Look, folks, when you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging.

Well, maybe they'll reconsider?

We're happy to explain what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it. However, we're just going to be completely brutally honest here and say that we will not deviate from this path. All we can do is ease the discomfort of not knowing the aforementioned information.

Idiots.

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category icon Markdown Testing

Posted: Friday July 15 2016 @ 7:40am

Religious Order: Toys

Well, let's do a test of the various formatting tricks in Markdown to see how Parsedown handles them!

Level One Heading

Level Two Heading

Level Three Heading

How those actually look will depend on the CSS I have in place. Normally, post titles are done as H3 tags. So the above might look stupid. They probably all just look similar.

There's also an underlining style of headers, which I don't generally use, but let's try them anyway:

Level One

Level Two

Hopefully that worked!

This ought to be a blockquote. The CSS does some fancy quotes around the whole thing, but I'm not at all sure I like that anymore. In any case, I'm really just typing in enough stuff to make this block wrap around a few times, to show the actual blockquoting.

Unordered Lists

Ordered Lists

  1. So
  2. Are
  3. Numbered
  4. Bullet
  5. Lists
    1. With
    2. Sub-lists

Code Blocks

You can designate text as blocks of code and have them formatted appropriately, as below:

function Code_Blocks_are_Important() {
    echo "although ";
    echo "this ";
    echo "is ";
    echo "obviously ";
    for ($1=0; $i<10; $i++) {
        echo "really ";
    }
    echo"just made up1\n";
}

You can also specify the language used and often get language-specific color coding, but not here, I think. The following is tagged as PHP code.

function PHP_Code_Blocks_are_Important() {
    echo "although ";
    echo "this ";
    echo "is ";
    echo "obviously ";
    for ($1=0; $i<10; $i++) {
        echo "really ";
    }
    echo"just made up1\n";
}

Tables

Header 1 Header 2
Tables are
nice but
I don't
know how
to fix
that left
margin !!!

Inlines styles

Markdown supports a bunch on inline styles, so you can italicize things, or make them bold. You can even strike text out or say something should be rendered as code.

Linking

There are a few ways of doing links in Markdown. One way is to put the link right after the text being linked. So I could link to my Github Repositories that way. Another way is to put the actual link elsewhere in the document and refer to it. When rendered, you don't see anything different, so here's a link to my model for a QR code for this blog. These should look the same in the blog, but in the source, that hyperlink for the second one is at the end of the source.

You can also do internal linking in a document. So I should be able to make a link back to the top of the post. I don't know if this will work, as I'm doing a Github specific formatting for it.

HTML Entities

Markdown also does automatic replacement of HTML entities like < and > and " and &. These should all be replaced by the appropriate codes.

Horizontal Rules


Above this should be an horizontal rule. I have no idea how the formatting will make it look. I use these to separate posts, so it's not something I would normally put in-post.

Images

And, finally, images! Here's one:

Attention Orgasm

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category icon Code Update

Posted: Sunday July 10 2016 @ 8:35pm

Religious Order: Toys

Every few years, I decide that I need to add a feature to PolkaDot, the software on which this blog runs. It's a home-grown system I wrote long ago simply to see if I could write a blogging platform in an evening. Turns out I could!

It's not great software. If this blog received any real traffic, the processing load on the server would surely be noticed by GoDaddy. Luckily, no one really comes here!

For those who don't know, the software works like this:

  1. You write your post in a text file.
  2. You upload the text file to the server.
  3. PolkaDot turns it into a blog post, using the first line as the title and the file date as the posted-on date.

That's it!

Categories are simply directories on the server. Drop the text file into whichever category you want.

The problem is that if you want to actually do any formatting, you're stuck embedding HTML into the text. Need a table? Gotta make an HTML table. Need a bullet list? Gotta make an HTML bullet list. It's a pain.

Lately, I've fallen in love with Markdown. It's such a nice middle ground between plain text and things like HTML. I've been using it extensively at work because it's easy to generate it from data, then use existing rendering software to make it pretty on a variety of targets.

So, let's add Markdown to PolkaDot!

Luckily, I didn't have to do much work. There's a great PHP module called Parsedown that let's you convert Markdown to HTML with just a function call. All I had to do was make some modifications so that PolkaDot looked for both text and Markdown files, then handed the Markdown posts to Parsedown, while routing the text posts through the existing raft of search-and-replace madness that turns those into posts.

And that's exactly what I did today. The ordered list above is actually in Markdown. The hyperlinks are Markdown. That's, really, all the Markdown in this post, other than the italics just then.

The only problem right now is that handling both text and Markdown files changed the naming convention for the comment files. (Yes, all the data in the blog is held in simple text files.) I've renamed some, but a bunch remain. So older posts might not show their comments yet.

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Kickstarter Update

Posted: Wednesday November 11 2015 @ 8:09am

Religious Order: Toys

So, I was reading about yet another failed crowd-sourced project. It was some sort of dragonflying contraption. I mentioned on Facebook that I had really only had one project I backed fail, out of forty. That's a pretty good success rate.And then, literally 5 minutes later, I received a message from the failed project that it was still going on! Of course, it was estimated to be delivered in 2012, so I'm not overly excited.

Anyway, if you're curious about what sorts of things I've backed, here they all are!


ProjectEstimated DeliveryComments
The National Park Poster Project - Centennial CollectionDec 2015WPA-style posters for National Parks! His goal is to eventually produce posters for each and every park. This is the second collection. Each time, we pick up posters for the parks we've actually visited.
Our Super AdventureOct 2015Our Super Adventure is an adorable diary web comic about a cute couple with four cats. As part of a couple with four cats myself, about a third of these strips have happened here as well. The project produced a very nice hardcover book of strips.
Tiko - The Unibody 3D PrinterFeb 2016The gist here was to produce a delta-style extrusion 3D printer at low cost by incasing it in an extruded tubular body. I don't usually back projects like this. Even a low cost 3D printer is up near $200. Plus, crowd-sourced 3D printers fail left and right. These folks seemed to have their act together, though. Also, they did something I really liked. Instead of accepting a butt-load of backers to all get their stuff in the same timeframe, they staggered blocks of backers. The very first backers were scheduled for delivery in November, the next group in December, and so on. That sort of forethought impressed me. Of course, they just announced that they wouldn't be able to start shipping until January.
STRAFEJun 2016Remember old first person shooters where the main goal was to race around and shoot stuff? These folks do and they're creating a new game designed to bring back that style of play.
Exploding KittensJul 2015Card game by the Oatmeal guy. They raised like $10 million or so. Crazy! Anyway, the game is actually fun to play, with more depth than the simple rules would suggest.
Notes on a Case of Melancholia, Or: A Little DeathJul 2015The Perry Bible Fellowship guy is making a book in the style of Gorey. The whole thing is manually etched. It's running behind, but looks so sweet I don't think anybody minds.
The National Park Poster ProjectDec 2014The first collection of WPA style posters of National Parks.
Comic Chameleon: The ultimate webcomics app, Android versionMay 2015Comic viewing app for your phone/tablet that doesn't rip off the strip creators! That said, there's a lag between a new comic showing up on a site and it showing up in the app. I often find myself just going to web sites for strips that update every morning.
The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: A Hero For All SeasonsJan 2015Book version of The Non-Adventures of Wonderella web comic.
Uncanny Magazine Year OneDec 2014Short story collection!
Lemon Jail: 'Mats Tour Diary 1983-1986Dec 2015So, this guy toured with the Replacements and wants to write a book about it. The bad thing here is that he hit his goal, but there have been exactly zero updates. Estimated shipping date is next month. Maybe he's been hard at work? Maybe he ran off with about eight grand?
HEROES! A Diverse Superhero AnthologyDec 2014Short story collection!
Oh Joy, Sex Toy, The BookNov 2014The OJST web site in book form! There's also a second volume, which I didn't back, for no particular reason.
IAmElemental Action Figures for GirlsDec 2014Female action figures without gigantic boobs? Why, that's lunacy! Well produced figures. Decent articulation. We need more toys like these!
Smut Peddler 2014: LADYPORN CONQUERS EARTHAug 2014Woman-produced comic erotica!
The Intergalactic Travel Bureau TourJul 2014A set of postcards showing various locations in the solar system as travel destinations. There was some sort of education aspect to the project, but I just wanted the sweet postcards.
WOMEN DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION!Jun 2014Short story collection!
MODARRI CARS: Feel the RoadMay 2014You can find these in Barnes & Noble stores now. They're modular model cars. You can mix and match pieces to get different looks. They're loads of fun, and I often find myself fiddling with them.
757Electronica Compilation Album Volume 2Feb 2014Locally produced electronica.
Athena's Daughters: Women in Science Fiction and FantasyMay 2014Short story collection!
Kano: A computer anyone can makeJul 2014Child-oriented Raspberry Pi kit. It's very nice. Easy to put together with an OS designed to get kids into coding. I haven't used it for much myself, but it's always good to have a Raspberry Pi around the house just in case.
The Electric Loog GuitarMay 2014An electric version of the 3-string acoustic guitar described further down. Frankly, build quality was a bit shoddy. The neck wobbles from side to side. One of these days, I'll stick some sort of shim next to it to stabilize it.
Pressy - the Almighty Android Button!Mar 2014This is a wee button that sits in your phone's headphone jack with software that triggers actions when you press it. All I wanted was for it to fire up the camera when the phone was sleeping. Alas, it couldn't do that. I always hated the delay when trying to take a photo with a phone. Hit the power button. Swipe to unlock. Start the camera app. Take a photo. Maybe the software can do that now, but my latest phone can immediately fire up the camera with a quick double flick of the wrist. So it's pretty useless to me.
Permanence: The New Album By DeathmoleJan 2014The guy who writes and draws Questionable Content also records instrumental metal albums. He wanted to record one in a read studio. It's not really my kind of music, but I love the comic. If he wants to record in a real studio, then Imma gonna help him record in a real studio!
OMNIVORE SALT - A family recipe that makes food taste betterDec 2013Seasoned salt. Tasty, but I don't use much salt when I cook, so I still have most of it sitting in the pantry.
Devil's Panties Devil Girl Plushie!Mar 2014Plushie version of a character in a web comic. Cute, but now I'm kinda wondering why I thought I needed one.
NapAnywhereSep 2013A funky alternative to a neck pillow for long flights. The final product was quite nice, but I haven't really had a chance to try it out much.
ModiBot Mo: DIY Action Figures with 3d Printed accessoriesOct 2013Are you a fan of the old Stikfas and Xevoz toys? Then ModiBot will fill the bill for you! I love these things.
LibraryBox 2.0Dec 2013Takes a micro-sized wifi hotspot and turns it into a book repository. Take it to the library and provide eBooks for everyone!
Next Generation LiveCode (Open Source)May 2013This is a cross-platform development tool on which I once spent entirely too much money. (It was for a project. I eventually used Adobe AIR and JavaScript instead.) Anyway, they decided to go open source and needed some funding to do so. I went with it just in case I wanted to use it at some point in the future. Interestingly, the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative project, just a little below this, is using it to write the text adventure.
Cristoforo: Victorian Cthulhu fonts revived (again)Feb 2013A sweet font from a Lovecraft-themed RPG. He's been chucking out continually refined versions for a couple years now. Frankly, the early versions were fine, but it's nice to keep getting incrementally improved ones, too.
The Historical Williamsburg Living NarrativeAug 2012Want an Infocom-style text adventure set in colonial-era Williamsburg? This is one of those projects so loony I backed it simply for the chutzpah shown. I thought this project was dead, but I just received an update a couple days ago!
Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and AndroidSep 2012Yes, I have an original Pebble watch. Mine is in the bonus orange color. I thought it would be a deep orange. Instead, it's more like safety orange. I rarely wear it. It's cool, but I just don't need to be that connected.
C 299,792 km/sApr 2012Short science fiction film with all practical effects. The final result was quite watchable.
The Dollyrots :: New Full Length Album is GO!Jan 2012The Dollyrots dumped their label and crowd-sourced a very good album.
Brick Bending 1.0 This guy wanted to make videos showing how to make curved objects by putting Legos under tension. They're neat techniques, but I suspect this was really just an excuse to amass Legos. (Note: I realize the official plural of Lego is Lego. I just don't care.)
SMBC Theater Goes TO SPACE! The Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal folks wanted to make a pilot for a proposed TV show. This was the result. Amusing, but I found it less funny than most of their fans.
HexBright, an Open Source Light The best flashlight I have ever owned. Arduino-compatible. Yes, you can program the flashlight. I made minor changes to the stock software.
The Loog Guitar An acoustic guitar with only three strings for kids. And for me, apparently. Works fine, but I don't really use it.
The Citizen Science Quarterly Strange little science magazine, most of which was over my head.
COLOR ME OBSESSED, the potentially true story of The Replacements - phase 5 (mixing) This was my very first backed project, a documentary about the Replacements that featured no footage of the band at all. The resulting movie is very, very good.

Go ahead, add a comment, don't cost nuthin'...


Fun With 3D Printing

Posted: Thursday September 17 2015 @ 6:47pm

Religious Order: Toys

So, let's talk a little about comics. I had been getting a little bored with my pull-sheet and shook things up. (This will get around to 3D printing. Just hold on.) I stopped any of my usual books that no longer thrilled me and added a bunch of women-centric ones, be it creators or protagonists. Frankly, it's rekindled my love of comics. That's where much of the intersting stuff is happening.

Easily my favorite is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It's goofy, fun, and hilarious. I'm also a long-time Squirrel Girl fan. The most recent issue involved Asgard. Loki offered to do impressions and Cat Thor was requested. Loki spent most of the remaining pages dressed as Thor, with a huge cat head. It was glorious! At one point, he struck down a foe with his mighty hammer Mewnir! Mewnir is Mjolnir, with cat ears and a cat face drawn on one of the long faces of the hammer.

Here's where we get to the 3D printing. I was pushing up against a work deadline, and was feeling a little fried. So I took a bit of a break and whipped up a 3D model of Mewnir, suitable for 3D printing. I tossed it up on Tumblr, brought it to the attention of the creators of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and was rewarded with a couple hundred notes, which is a couple hundred more notes than posts of mine usually garner.

I also ordered myself a few Mewnirs from Shapeways, to make sure the model actually worked. It did!


To be honest, the facial features get a little lost in the graininess of the objects. My solution was to color the raised features just a bit. At first, I was going to try some paint Sharpies. I've used them before on 3D printed objects. The problems are that the paint spreads a little too much and one wrong move indelibly marks a piece.

My solution was to get some colored pencils, which worked great. It was fairly easy to just color the raised sections, which made them stand out much better.

So I set up a Tumblr blog solely for Mewnir-related information as well as a web page on the blog site with links to all the STL files and related pages on Shapeways.

The next step? Order one in steel, to use as a pendant! Luckily, Shapeways had a sale on metal a couple days back, so I ordered one!

(Although someone else has already done the pendant thing with some plastic ones.)

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Writing Machine

Posted: Wednesday July 08 2015 @ 2:41pm

Religious Order: Toys

I've been trying to find an appropriate pure writing tool for a while. I haven't written any fiction lately and part of that is the easy distraction of the Internet. I've been trying to find a suitable tool out of my own vast store of old computers. (While I tossed most of them, I did keep a few small laptops.) My requirements are:

  1. Full-size (or nearly so) real keyboard.
  2. Long battery life.
  3. Easy file transfer to the desktop.
  4. Lack of distractions.

Here's how it's going...

White Polycarb MacBook

The old MacBook is what I've been using up until now. It has a new battery, so is good for 2-3 hours. Dropbox/SugarSync keep files updated on the desktop. But, geez, it gets hot on my lap and is packed with as many distractions as the desktop.

Even with wifi turned off, the MacBook isn't ideal. It's heavy and gets hot. The battery is only good for a couple hours. It has a lengthy start-up time. The keyboard is okay, but doesn't have full-height keys.

It's a great laptop, for its time. It's not a great writing machine.

Tandy WP-2

I pulled the old Tandy WP-2 out of storage. It really is a dedicated writing too. It's thin and light and runs for weeks on four AAs. It still worked, too, but the contrast on the screen has faded over the years. You can barely see the text. That alone makes it a non-starter.

Tandy 100

So I tried the Tandy Model 100. It still works like a champ. It runs weeks on four AA batteries. It has a great keyboard.

Alas, transferring files is a chore. I can do it, mind you. All I have to do is hook up a 25-pin-to-9-pin adapter to a serial-to-USB adapter. Then make sure the serial driver for the desktop's USB port is running. Then fire up an actual telecom terminal application. Next, ensure the settings match between the app and the Tandy 100. Then send the file, capturing the text in the telecom app. Then save that text out to a text file and load it into something else.

Yeah, that's all. I mean, it's not that onerous a task, but it's just onerous enough that it's keeping me from actually doing any writing on it.

Apple eMate 300

Other options? I have an old Apple eMate 300. It's a sweet piece of technology, basically a backlit double-screened Newton in a curvy netbook casing.

The keyboard is slightly smaller than full-size. Plus, the home row is way off-center. I hate that in a laptop. I need G & H to be centered with the screen, dammit! Also hurting it is that I'd need to run Newton syncing software. The official Apple software doesn't run on Intel chips. There's third-party stuff available, but it's a fragile situation.

The final nail? The battery pack is old and doesn't hold a charge. You can build one if you're handy with a soldering iron and have the desire. I'm not and don't.

Lexbook MB-15

Another option is the Lexbook MB-15, sitting upstairs. It's a DOS machine, so I could run SpeedScript on it. (I loved SpeedScript. I had the Pascal source code, so I could add features, and fix a page eject bug.) Decent keyboard. Can run on six AA batteries, in place of the long-dead battery pack.

It suffers from the same problems as the Tandy machines. Gotta engage in serial-to-USB silliness to copy across files.
(Oh, looking at the entry for the Lexbook, it's no longer working anyway.)

Nexus 7

One final option was to pair my first gen Nexus 7 with a cheap, but nice, Bluetooth keyboard I picked up for $5. Needs a case, though. I keep meaning to hollow out an old book for this, but I just haven't yet.

Alas, the tablet provides tons of distraction and I'd have to remember to keep both the tablet and the keyboard charged.

So, with all these options not up to snuff, I'm left with having to buy something...

MacBook Air

A MacBook Air would be a (pricy) option. Also, the keyboard gets worse with each iteration. Typing on a shallow keyboard is just wrong. Not really an option here.

Freewrite

The Hemingwrite, now called the Freewrite by Astrohaus, looks really sweet. Mechanical keyboard, continual back-up to the cloud, and a sharp ePaper screen for long battery life.

But it's also $400, only supports three documents, and you can't edit at all!

What!? I understand that there's a difference between writing and editing. My biggest hurdle when writing is to stop myself from word-smithing on the fly. But, dammit, sometimes you need to go back and fix something.

Alphasmart

So I decided to pick up an Alphasmart. These are keyboards with small LCD screens. They're basically the same idea as a Tandy WP-2.

They are, however, new enough that some models support USB, acting like a keyboard. You plug them in, fire up a word processor or text editor, and the Alphasmart literally types your document out on the desktop.

The Dana line uses the old Palm OS. Palm syncing on OSX is a big bag of hurt. The screen is larger than other AlphaSmart models and is backlit. The battery life is much shorter than other models. They have SD card slots, but the files saved there aren't plain text; they're Palm's proprietary format. So, nope.

There's the Original/Pro/2000/3000 line, with insane battery life, getting up to 700 hours on three AAs, but they have really small screens. Only the 3000 supports USB. The 3000 would certainly work, but there's a better option!

The Neo line! Same insane battery life. A bit more memory. Larger screen. Includes a USB connection! I've heard a few rumblings that the USB stuff can be flaky with a Mac, but, oh look, they also have a PS2 port! (And I have a very nice PS2-to-USB adapter I use for my old Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite fetish.)

The only downside is that the screen isn't backlit. I can live with that.

Found one on eBay for $25 with free shipping! We'll see how it works out!

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Wee Tardis

Posted: Wednesday July 01 2015 @ 6:35pm

Religious Order: Toys

I love 3D printing. I've been playing around with it loads the past year or so. I don't have a 3D printer of my own, yet, so I rely heavily on Shapeways to actually print out things I design.

I've been getting into the old Tom Baker/Elisabeth Sladen Doctor Who episodes that I loved as a kid. So I designed up a wee Tardis for myself to 3D print. It's a shade over 2 inches tall and looks like this:

Small model of a Tardis

Like it? You can print your own, too!

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Modibot Review

Posted: Saturday January 11 2014 @ 6:28pm

Religious Order: Toys

I back a fair number of things on Kickstarter, but rarely do I love the resulting product as much as I do this one. It's a toy, called a Modibot. The guy making them used to work on Xevoz at Hasbro, I think. The concept is simple, but ingenious. Basically, let's make a Stikfas-esque base figure via traditional injection molding, then provide 3D printed accessories. (I think it's injection molding. Maybe it's some other traditional molding technique.) The Kickstarter project was a combo of figures and 3D parts. None of the 3D parts thrilled me that much, so I just went for the base figure. Later on, I ordered a few accessories directly from Shapeways. Now I can talk about the full product.

The figures themselves are much like a larger Stikfas figure, not exactly, but very similar. They're actually a little more abstract than Stikfas, plus the pieces have tons of holes for mounting accessories. Size-wise, they're considerably larger than Stikfas figures, and a little smaller than all but the shortest Xevoz figure. To me, the size is, well, perfect. Stikfas were always a little small for my clumsy hands. Xevoz figures are on the unwieldily side. Modibots are just right.

Modibot Xevoz size comparison
Flanked by the Hyper Guardian and Skull Jack
Modibot Stikfas size comparison
Next to a standard Stikfas figure

They come in a rainbow range of 6 colors, namely red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Plus there are white and gray versions. Strangely, not in black. The colors are rich and well-saturated, but not garish. (They're brighter than my crappy phone camera shows.) Still, I wish they also came in black.

Modibot made with all eight colors
A rainbow of available colors!

As with Stikfas and Xevoz, they utilize standardized ball and socket joints, so you can mix and match parts to your heart's desire. Speaking of mixing and matching, you can use Xevoz accessories with them, to a point. Xevoz accessory pegs will fit nicely into Modibot mounting holes. However, the hole spacing for back-mounted things is a little different. Rubbery back-mounted things can be made to fit, but not rigid things. However, the most important thing is that Modibots can hold Xevoz weapons! The ball and socket sizes are very close, but I wouldn't say that they're interchangeable. You can force a Xevoz ball into a Modibot socket, but it appears to put a ton of added stress on the socket. You can easily put a Modibot ball into a Xevoz socket, but the part will dangle loosely. Just think of any compatibility between the two as an added bonus.

Modibot with large fists
Hyper Fists!
Modibot holding large sword
Hyper Sword!

Build quality is simply excellent. The plastic chosen is perfect. Stikfas figures suffered from a wide range in plastic quality. The glow-in-the-dark and the yellow plastics were both notoriously brittle. Modibots are made of sterner stuff. Xevoz, on the other hand, was also quite durable. My only complaint there is that, with play, the balls and sockets would form a white residue from wear. I have seen no sign of this in the Modibots, which have received extensive testing. The plastic also feels good in the hand, with a very subtle matte finish. The joints rotate with just the right amount of resistance. Again, perfect.

I also have more than a few female Stickfas figures with broken sockets, due to thin brittle plastic in that area. That's not a concern with a Modibot. The sockets are considerably beefier. This does give the figures the appearance of having knobby joints. I find the look charming and more than worth it for a longer toy life. I should note that there are female torso/hip pieces available.

So, the final verdict on the figures themselves? About as perfect as can be. The only complaint I can lodge is the lack of black figures. On to the accessories!

I went simple with the accessories. I bought a pack of alternate hands. (The stock hands are simple C-hands, as on a Stikfas figure, or a Lego minifig.) It included pointing fingers, thumbs-up, karate hands, and rock-n-roll devil horns. I also bought two packs which work together to form shoes, Converse All-Stars basically. One pack is the sole with a peg to represent the laces, the other is the remainder of the shoe.

Modibot with devil-horn hands!
Freebird!

One potential problem with the accessories is that the colors don't exactly match up to the colors of the figures. You can get accessories in white, black, blue, purple, red, and hot pink. (And in alumide, which is a sparkly gray.) White pieces are actually very close, close enough that it's difficult to tell that they're not stock. I ordered the shoes in the classic red/white combo. The red is also good, although deeper than the figures if you look closely. That isn't necessarily a problem. I don't think the colors need to match exactly, I just wanted folks to know that they didn't.

The accessories have a slightly grainier feel to them, but it's very slight, barely worth mentioning. I was actually very impressed by the quality and smoothness of the pieces. They compare favorably with the traditionally molded pieces. The fit of the ball and sockets was also excellent. They snapped on as if they came with the figure. This was my main worry with them, and I worried in vain. That said, pushing together the two parts of each shoe took some serious effort, but at least I know they won't fall apart.

One final note about the Kickstarter project as a whole: I received my Modibots precisely on time. If you've backed Kickstarter projects, you know how rare this is. (Some folks received their stuff a wee bit late due to 3D printing delays, but even the worst cases were delivered in a timely manner.)

In short, this is what Stikfas should have been all along. I'm delighted at the success of the product.

Modibot with thumbs-up and pointing hands
Who's awesome? You are, Kid Mechano!

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Sweet Custom Moonie

Posted: Thursday October 10 2013 @ 1:03pm

Religious Order: Toys

I just wanted to point out this custom Moon Knight figure.

Normally, Moonie doesn't attract enough interest to garner really nice customs. This is an exception.

Still, ninety-nine bucks? That's a little steep for my blood.

But, still, damn that's nice!

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The (Sorta) Return of Stikfas and Xevoz...

Posted: Saturday July 06 2013 @ 4:47pm

Religious Order: Toys

(This is gonna be a short post. Gots me other things to do tonight.)

Okay, neither Stikfas nor Xevoz is actually returning, but there are a couple folks trying to do something very similar. The idea is to mass-produce bare-bones figures, then augment them with accessories that are 3D-printed on demand. Pretty sweet idea.

They have a KickStarter going. As of this posting, they have less than a week left and they're not quite to their goal. If you aren't as awesome as me, it's likely you never had a chance to try out Stikfas or Xevoz figures. This is truly your loss, but now you have another chance. I strongly urge that you back them. (No, not you... to the left... no... a bit more... yes, you!)

The downsides, as I see them are two-fold. First, there's really no indication of the exact scale. What I want to know is whether I can connect these up to my vast collection of Stikfas and Xevoz parts. They seem to have a second line available on Shapeways that is explicitly compatible with Zevox, suggesting that the model on Kickstarter isn't.

The second downside is that much of their selection of accessories via the Kickstarter consists of, frankly, reproductions of old Stikfas sets. There's loads of potential in the concept, but I would have liked to see more of that potential realized right up front.

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