Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Secret Project Reveal!

Warning: By continuing to read you are sworn not to laugh under pain of 50 lashes with a holowhip!


This may be the weirdest post I've ever done. You've been warned! So. Various of my friends and followers have had to put up with some teasing from me over the last few months. I've made numerous mentions of the secret project on social media. I've bewildered people with references of being unable to work on it due to bad weather, to insufficient or malfunctioning kit, and my certainty that there'll be a certain amount of WTF response to the final revelation. Well, I'm laying a fair bet none of you guessed what it was. And now you can quit wondering (if you were that interested).

Here's the big reveal. Let me introduce you to Keir...



Or at least a representation of him as closely as I could do it in the form of a self customized doll. What do you think?

And are you thinking "why?!" Okay, here's the story...

A long time ago on a social media site called Facebook, I was talking conventions. What to take, where to go, how to set up. A fellow author by the name of KM Tolan posted a picture of his centrepiece - a magnificent steam locomotive model to tie in with his steampunk novel Tracks.
I loved it! And I thought it was a fabulous idea - a display piece to tie in with a book that wasn't just the book. Something to help catch the eye and maybe prompt a discussion. But what could I do? There are spaceships in my stories, but while I did make Airfix kit craft and my own design spaceships out of cardboard, something like Gethyon's Spirit Drifter or the hawk-shaped Metraxian ships is a bit beyond my skills.


Then it hit me. I'm a huge fan of the Tonner dolls (extremely high spec designer dolls often modelled after characters or celebrities. I came across them while looking for pins about R from Warm Bodies on Pinterest). They're beautifully detailed and totally out of my price range.

Want!!!

I do have a couple of Dark Crystal character dolls (a birthday present from hubs), and an original Star Trek themed Barbie and Ken. I'd also seen a collection of Barbie or Pippa dolls that someone had made up to look like the Firefly crew. Could I do something like that and recreate my book characters?


Checking out a couple of doll customizing sites told me commissioning one was way out of my budget. But a Google search took me to several blogs about customizing vinyl dolls like Barbie. Problem - the character I really wanted to do was Keir, and unfortunately Ken didn't fit the requirements. Too smiley, too blond, and too plastic.

It was a complete accident that I stumbled across a doll called Invisi-Billy, part of the Monster High collection. He had the right face, the right hair, wasn't smiling, and was even already a shade of blue. You wouldn't believe the trouble I had actually getting hold of one having set my sights on it though. >_<



Anyway, after much time, experimentation and research, Invisi-Billy became as close to my image of Keir as is possible under the circumstances. I'm rather proud of him and pleased with the result. The project had its frustrations and expenses, but overall I've enjoyed putting my creative skills to new use.

You think I'm crazy, right? Well, maybe. But I think this was worth the time and effort. For one thing, how many authors never get more than an idea of the character in their head and a book cover? It's allowed me to be creative in another way that isn't writing, and it's given me a talking point for conventions.  And while I've never been the kind to play with dolls (mine were all spaceship captains or sword wielding goddesses or horse-riding explorers - stuff being a princess unless she was a star princess battling an intergalactic warfleet, lol), I will definitely being doing at least one more of these. After all, what would Keir be without Quin? ;)



Feel like trying it for yourself? I'll be posting the process over the summer holidays at my own blog. Sorry, I know that's a long way off but it'll take several weeks to go through it all, and makes good cover for a time when I have my monsters home! In the meantime, I'd love to know what character you'd like as a doll (psst, it doesn't have to be one of mine, although I'm curious if you'd pick one of those too).

Ping Pong

Huge congrats to Laurie and Donna on their publishing debuts! Check out their books by clicking on the images in the right hand side bar, or you can see my 5* review for Laurie's debut novellette on Goodreads HERE. Donna posted about her launch day HERE, and Laurie's post is HERE. Sharon, Laurie and Donna also did a collective discussion on the rise of SFR at SF Signal HERE. And yesterday I posted at the SFR Brigade blog about morality as I envisage it in my far future universe in my scifi romance adventure Tethered as part of the lead up to its print release on the 24th March.

16 comments:

  1. I don't think it's crazy, I think it's AWESOME, Pippa! And what a conversation piece for book signings or convention tables. So did you make the clothing, too? I'm really intrigued with that outfit. It's awesome. Looks like you have some of Keir's tattooing, too. I'd love to have dolls of all my H/Hs. Though I don't have your talent at customization, you've inspired me to go do some scouting around. :)

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    1. Thanks Laurie. Yup, I made all the clothing. I hunted down doll patterns and/or standards clothing patterns online and scaled them down to size. All hand stitched too! And he has the facial tattoos from the book cover, though they don't show up so well on the photo.

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  2. That's so cool! Also, glad to have it revealed - all the hints about this secret project were killing me!

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    1. Thanks! Lol, I know. I was dying to talk about it, but just couldn't bring myself to show it part done.

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  3. This is SO COOL!!!!!!!!!! What an awesome thing to have for your table, and he will definitely draw attention.

    You're making me want to track one down to be A'yen and see what I can come up with.

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    1. Thank you. Hmm, with all the ink on A'yen, you'd probably have to go for one of the more expensive and realistic types to get decent musculature. I'm lucky that Keir prefers to cover up, lol.

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    2. I know... I'd have to put him in pants and a short sleeve shirt to cover most of it up. That way I'd just have to worry about his arms. The hardest part would be finding the right face shape. Think Face of Boe.

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    3. Yeah, I think you're definitely looking at something more specialized. I did find a couple of companies that would put your own face on a doll but they were a bit out of my budget, and since I wanted someone more like Aidan Turner (Kili in The Hobbit) I thought there'd probably be a rights issue with that. There are people who mold resin faces/heads for dolls, but again - pricey!

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  4. Definitely awesome! I approve wholeheartedly. Of course, I suppose I'd have to - I'm busy making an Airfix-type kit of my heroine's triplane at the moment, also for use as a prop at marketing events - but I'd never have thought of making a figure of the character. I'm looking forward to seeing Quin!

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    1. Thanks! Yup, definitely think something that relates to the story as a centrepiece could be helpful. Quin may take me a lot longer because the doll will need a complete repaint and new hair and...the list goes on. But at least I have a better idea of what I'm doing now.

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  5. I love it! I think it's perfect :)

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  6. What a great job you did! It was worth the effort. I'm sure it will draw people to your table!

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  7. I think it came out great! I comissioned a wonderful artist from Spain to repaint a monster high doll after my character Candy. She did such a fantastic job that I'm hard to part with her (it was supposed to be for a contest). The artist name is Rachel Clemente and she's on facbook, flickr, tumblir, etsy.

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    1. Oh, cool! So I'm not the only one! Yeah, someone asked if I was going to raffle him off or give him away, and I said "hell, no!" He's a keeper. Maybe I'll do another one for a giveaway sometime, but not right now.

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