We would like to thank all of the fellow community who supported us in spreading the news on Nova Commander. It was great to see interest in the Mecha all over the Internet community.
We've been reading posts in various forums and there are some members who felt that we've stolen ideas literally and made Nova Commander. Thus we felt that as a group of designers, it's not within our ethos to "steal" ideas and reverse engineer them. As we had mentioned earlier, our focus is to look at design engineering concepts to test how they can be used in our products.
For Nova as per our earlier blog, as comic readers we were very intrigued by Nova the character, and also his mecha design. This was one of our brainstorming ideas, so we set out to scour the internet on available information on Nova besides the pictures from the IDW comic. We found pictures of Dak's custom, which was impressive. This would have been a start of a labourous process in seeing Nova come to life.
Our main obstacles were definately threefold. Engineering/ Mechanics as in visualizing how parts would fit or fold like a origami using a 3D application like Autocad. Design as in making sure esthetically Nova looked good. Production as in how to break up the parts such that the parts can be casted in resin. There was one more aspect which was cost. The issue with resin is that the mold can only take so many casts and if the mold is done badly due to poorly designed parts, then it's back to the drawing board.
One aspect which is also a difficulty is the engineering of joints. Resin is a type of plastic, however it is not applied with pressure unlike ABS. It can cure quickly or slowly but for the purpose of production casting, to have resin to take 2 hours to cure would be ineffective. Thus we had to apply trade-offs for strength, flexibility in our resin mix which we also had to test on the Nova joints especially those which would carry the bulk of the weight such as hip joints.
For nova we also incorporated some rubber supported joints which provided alot of friction and also to allow for some clicking within the joints.
So back to the initial steps, we came up with 3D schematics of the parts required for Nova to work, so the parts were rendered in 3D and combined to test fit in the computer. We've added two pictures here.
Then it was engineering prototyping with an actual model to test to see if in "real life" whether our 3D designs work. Our first ebay auction was an completed engineering model. There are still a few improvements to be made especially in the area of joints based on the first model. Then in all designs we'd see possible ways to make it more cost effectively by reducing parts, reducing production wastage and the number of mold required to produce a single Nova piece.
In this whole project, not everyone was in agreement on every aspect but trade-offs were part and parcel of our teamwork because ultimately we wanted to come up with a mecha that the mecha community would appreciate.
In short, designing a "toy" is not just mix and matching parts together. There is much much more work in conceptualizing, engineering, design and production before an actual product happens. We took at least 4 months of effort from the whole team juggling with our real-life work, and we hope that you'd enjoy the fruits of our labour.
Hope you enjoyed reading this.
J.C and the Mastercollectables team.