If you caught the past few weeks of the “Four Horsemen O’Clock” show on our YouTube channel, you got to see some of the “fine cuts” we recently received from our factory for the Cosmic Legions – Hvalkatar: Book One wave. What exactly are fine cuts and where do they fit into the process of toy creation – we will cover that in this “Behind the Scenes” article - and we will also get a better look at some of those awesome fine cuts Chris, George, and Jeremy showed off on the videos!
What are “Fine Cuts”?
There are many stages of the toy creation process, and the “fine cut” stage is one of the earlier ones. The images shown in the initial promotional shots and when we do our “reveal special” videos are handpainted prototypes we create at the studio. The bodies of those figures are a mix of repainted factory pieces (when we are creating figures that use existing parts of our library) and 3D-printed pieces for any parts that will require new tooling.
“Tooling” is the term used for the steel molds that are created in order to produce the final figures. Cutting the steel for those molds is expensive, so before that work is done, the factory wants to make sure they have the parts dialed in for how they should be produced. This is where fine cuts come in.
The factory makes examples of the figures, which we call “tooling masters”, by making less expensive molds of the pieces, often using silicone. These molds are meant to be temporary, and only used for this initial testing phase as the factory determines how the figure’s parts will actually be molded. Oftentimes we send the factory solid pieces, and after they mold a copy they deconstruct them in absolutely ingenious ways. Breaking apart solid pieces allows the factory the flexibility they need to ensure that none of the parts get stuck in the final molds due to deep pockets in the sculpture called "undercuts". They often also separate pieces to make painting easier. All of these changes are made in this stage, and sample parts are cast out of those silicone molds to assemble a test figure. This is the “fine cut.”
The factory sends us images for a simple review, to make sure everything looks like it is on the right track. After approved, they then send the fine cuts to us for a thorough in-hand review, where the team inspects both the fine details as well as all the articulation and functionality.
Fine Cuts are NOT Test Shots
Our fans are very familiar with the idea of “test shots”, in large part because we have sold single-color, test shot figures for many of our previous waves! Test shots are made using the actual production molds, and they are used to test out those molds before final production begins. This happens later in the toy making process. Fine cuts, on the other hand, are what is tested before those steel molds are cut! As such, there are always going to be changes needed at this stage since it is so early in the process.
Test shots use the same materials that the production figures will eventually use, albeit in random colors of plastic. Most test shots are done in whatever plastic is lying around, and it is why you will often see prototypes of action figures in all kinds of wacky colors. We actually request to see test shots in the grey plastic our fans know and love. We find that it allows us to see the sculpture better. Now, fine cuts are NOT made using the same materials as production figures. In fact, the material used is incredible fragile – so much so that handling these pieces is a nerve-wracking experience and we admit that we have broken our fair share of fine cuts over the years!
Once we have reviewed the fine cuts and made our notes, the figures are sent back to the factory so the process of toy creation can continue. Changes are made as needed until the pieces are approved and the steel molds can be made.
Cosmic Legions Fine Cuts
The fine cuts we received for the first Cosmic Legions wave looked great. There were some changes needed, but by and large they were excellent! Here are some photos of these pieces:
Highwarden Slogg – the beefiest figure in the first Cosmic Legions wave, the fine-cut for Slogg is a hefty piece to handle! The single-color of this piece really allows you to appreciate all the elements of his complex suit of life-sustaining technology! We also love how the “dome” on his head looks as an opaque piece (the final version will still have the transparent dome).
Kraggnar – the 4-armed brute is another figure that looks amazing in one color, really allowing the details of all those scales to show! One very interesting thing the factory did for Kraggnar is on his chest armor. That armor was a single piece when we sent it over, but as you can see in the final image, the factory separated the piece in the middle of the chest area. This will actually allow us to create different “insert” pieces for that in the future if we choose or to produce it in new finishes like chrome or clear, and it will allow the factory to more easily paint that piece in the final product!
Sphexxians – the bug-like Sphexx are another highly-detailed pair of figures due out in this first wave. The factory really had their work cut out for them on these figures, and they came up with a wonderful way to engineer the carapace and head pieces for these figures. Below you can see these pieces. The first image shows the heads broken apart – with a top piece, a bottom part, and the mouth as all separate parts. The second image shows these same parts assembled.
Thygar – the final figure we will look at in this article is Thygar, specifically the Gravering version of this character. You can see an example on the photo of Thygar’s head how the factory breaks pieces apart (the horns) so that they can be molded separately for production and then glued together for the final figure.
Other Images – we couldn't leave off without sharing a few more awesome images. Below you will see some of the weapons that are parts of this first wave of Cosmic Legions, some of the head sculptures (including many of those “unlocked” extras), the array of hand options these toys will have, and more!
Want to learn more about these fine cuts? Check out the videos below:
Published on 02.22.22