September 12, 2007
SANDTROOPERS INTERVIEW WITH ACME ARCHIVES (PART 1)
Off on the corner you will see a life size Alien, on another corner you see a signed Harrison Ford Millennium Falcon, and on the coffee table in front of me the Premium Format General Grievous. Not to mention crates with ACME stenciled across the side around the room. Am I in a cartoon? If you told me I would be sitting here in a room like this 20 years ago, I would have called you a liar. I think I have just arrived at animation/sci-fi geekdom!!
Peter and Sean arrive shortly and we say our greetings. We conduct the interview in their conference room. This room is also filled with more artwork, but this time they are mostly Acme Archives pieces. These items are new or soon to be released products used for new concepts discussion or for finishing touches. Now on to the interview.
OD = Odie
OD: Peter, I know you worked on the Tarkin and Sandtrooper Keys & the Red Squadron Giclee, what other products did you work on?
PF: I worked on Leia, Tarkin, TIE Fighter Pilot, & Sandtrooper Character Keys.
OD: How long does it take to develop a Character Key? Can you walk through a development cycle from concept all the way through out the door product? What kind of work goes into making a real life character into an animated version?
PF: Once the character is chosen for the next Key, I start researching for poses and likeness. I begin the drawing process with a pencil outline. This is scanned into the computer to help streamline the lines. Then I start adding ink for color and shading. We start work on the backgrounds of the cell. Once this is completed, we send the concept out to Lucas Licensing for approval. The TIE Fighter design took about a week or two to complete. Once it reaches a stage for review, then it depends on the green light from Lucas Lic. After that it goes to the printing company for mass production.
OD: Will we get a chance to see future Sandtrooper Character keys? Pauldron variants etc?
PF: While the concept of producing different Sandtrooper Keys having pauldron variants was discussed, it was not easy to do it production wise. There maybe future production which could have this, but nothing is certain at this time.
OD: What did you reference when doing the artwork for the (Sandtrooper) SDCC Exclusive?
PF: I did various research online. Sandtroopers.com and DentedHelmet.com by Devin Felts was used for reference on the design for this key.
OD: The Character Keys product is a nice tribute to the traditional animation. What inspired you to create the Keys product line?
SM: Acme Archives has been producing limited artwork for years, but at convention little kids would see our products and wanting to take them home. The parents got a sticker shock when paying for the items. At $30 - $35, the Keys are an affordable piece of artwork which kids, or anyone, could take home.
OD: What was the first licensee to get the Character Key treatment, in what year?
SM: The Clone Wars Animated Series Character Keys were the first ones produced in 2006.
OD: Since cells tend to be manufactured with carbon and nitrogen based chemicals, degradation may occur; just like old films crumbling off the reels after 20 – 30 years. What is the best way to store and display these Character Keys?
SM: The cells produced by Acme Archives are not nitrate based, so they should last a while. But the ink can gas out. Older cells from other sources will have the problems mentioned. The problem is when the artwork is sealed the gases from the materials are trapped. This will led into warping, discoloration, and other damaging effects to the cells. It is a good idea to remove the seal and release the gases every once in awhile. The best way to take care of your cells is to keep them away from direct sunlight and maybe have lights turned down a bit in a well lit room. Keeping the artwork at 70 – 80 degrees Celsius would slow down the damaging process. Even with well a maintained environment the Character Keys will start to degrade in about 100 – 120 years.
OD: The Skecthplate concepts R2-D2 & X-Wing are nice pieces of artwork. What was the inspiration for this product line?
SM: Skecthplate of new aircrafts are manufactured and given to test pilots when milestones were reached. The concept artwork from Star Wars was used for the first 2 products.
OD: What is next for Skecthplates?
SM: The next item in the product line has not been determined yet. But we have had plenty of requests from fans for Death Star 1 & 2, Star Destroyers, Millennium Falcon and other ships from Star Wars. The larger ships like this might use a larger Sketchplate, but again this is in the planning and concept stages so nothing is defined.
OD: There are a few sources on the net that a Clone Wars Durge Character Key is to be released, but I have not seen an official statement from Acme Archives. Is this true?
SM: Yes, the Durge Key will be released soon, a preview will be on out webpage soon, if not already.
OD: Why the name Acme? What is it inspired by the generic company names in Warner Bros cartoons?
SM: Acme is a generic company and no one has license on that name itself. So many cartoon studious would use Acme as the name of a business that was being used in a scene. Take a look back Warne Bros. may have been known for it, but Disney and other studios used it as well. We chose the name because of our animation background.
OD: Are we going to see more OT Character Keys in the near future?
SM: Yes we will continue with the OT characters, in fact Peter is working on Han Solo right now.
PF: I just finished work on Boba Fett and Obi Wan.
OD: What are the chances we'll see some PT characters like Darth Maul?
SM: We would love to do that, but these characters are not our map yet. Some of the PT character are in Clone Wars; we are trying to avoid doing a re-hash of characters.
OD: Out of the different keys you have done, we're going to ask you to "pick your favorite child" and why?
SM: This is such a hard question. I like them all.
PF: Same here, it difficult to choose a favorite. But Slave Leia was the first Key I did.
OD: What exactly is the process in determining which characters you'll produce? We also notice you aren't afraid to go away from the main characters, do you plan that or is it completely random?
SM: We take a poll here in the office to see what we want to do next. Then take this list and verify through fan sites, to see what the customers want. Then we make a decision. Some times it follows the fans, sometimes it is something completely different. We try to go with the fans. Take for example Durge. Out first concept piece had a few issues, which did not match the animated show. The fans gave us input that this was wrong. So the final product was modified to suite the Durge character.
OD: Will Acme be delving into the EU characters? People like Revan or Malak maybe Thrawn?
SM: We would like to do this too. Again if the fans really want it, we will try to find some way of developing this product. Right now we don’t have any plans.
This interview was a good one. I was able to ask all the questions I prepared and the ones from the forums. Peter & Sean are very nice gentlemen and were more than happy to answer each question. Due to the amount of material, the Q/A portion will be broken up into a few segments. The next segment will be published soon.
At the end of the interview, Sean and Peter gave me a tour of the studio. Thank you Peter, Sean, and Acme Archives for giving Sandtroopers.com and me the opportunity to conduct this interview and visit your offices. United We Find!!!