A Snake in the Grass


Careful where you walk……

Photo by Kara Rasmanis.  Pattern from makecnc.com, cut on a Torque 9060 CNC using 1/16″ router bit from toolstoday.com

Toy Story

I have often been critical of just how little imagination is needed by kids to play with modern toys.  They come with all the bells and whistles – dolls that talk/cry and have all the bodily functions, dinosaurs that walk, and roar all on their own.

But kids don’t, and shouldn’t need such props to be able to have fun, and treasure the toys they have.

A few visual clues are really all they need, and their imagination fills in all the additional details.

My folks took these photos in one of their recent trips, of some kids playing

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There is an obvious attachment to that toy car.  But when you look closely at it, you realise that most of the details are being filled in by the child’s imagination, not with photo-realistic modelling of the real thing (let alone sounds, lights, remote control etc etc)

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As far as toy cars go, that is awesome.  That is a real toy.

I was over in NZ last week for a bit of a break, catching up with family. I took a few of the CNC models over – a couple for my brother who is a teacher, as I thought his kids would appreciate them.

Unexpectedly, he had the idea that I visit his class, and build the models with them, in person.

The kids were really taken with them, and the experience of putting them together.  We all had a lot of fun.

NZ-1

NZ-3

We made a dolphin and a velocirator in the session, and they are getting painted up at some stage by the class.

NZ-2

If you were wondering about the school uniform – it was a couple of days after the rugby world cup final, and it was “all black dress day”.

There is no fate

At least not till next year, as the school fete has come to an end.  After 8 or so hours, a bit weary, but it was fun.

Quite an interesting learning curve – got a lot right enough, but there is always more than can be refined, if I ever intend to do this again!  I do have one other planned fete coming up in November, but that is about it.

Fun seeing the kids’ reactions.

The display stand with the black cloth covering it, is the Centipede XL which I just got back after lending it at the start of the year.  It is perfect for this sort of thing.  I made a top from 6 panels of MDF which were cable-tied together to create one overall top.  This allows me to take the top off and fold it up for storage/transportation.  I made it from 3mm MDF as that is what I had to hand, but 6mm or 9mm MDF would have been better.  As the MDF only has a few holes drilled right at the extremities for the cable ties, I can still then use the pieces on the CNC machine 🙂  It worked very well – easy to transport, easy to set up, and stable.  (Does that make it a stable table?).  In comparison the vacuum-formed tables are reasonably easy to transport (they weight quite a bit more but have much less surface area) and quicker to set up (if you factor in attaching the top).

That gets me thinking – I could come up with a segmented top for the Centipede, which engages with the holes in the leg caps.  That would remove the need for cable ties and make a really rigid (crossbraced) system.  Make a good way to use it as a workbench as well.  Alternately, I could recess out the area where the top of the leg touches the top, so the whole top piece can still be stored perfectly flat.  I’ll work on that, and let you know what I come up with!

Sales were ok, not unreasonable, not as high as I would have expected.  I did a quick gender comparison – ie assuming some models would appeal to one gender more than the other (and those that would appeal more to both).  It is a really rough tool – for example, I chose a swan to be oriented towards girls, and a cobra to be something that would appeal more to boys, and a turtle to be neutrally biased.  That might infuriate some people, but the reality is that if you got a bunch of primary school students and gave them the choice (with no observers, or chance that classmates etc would ever know the choice made), that certain toys would be selected disproportionally higher for one gender over the other.

The analysis is very loose – I did not record the gender of who was making the purchases, or who they were purchasing for, so already there is a lot of interpretation built into these stats.

Toy Variety

Girls liked a lot less variety than boys in the toys chosen.

Of the total variety of girl-oriented toys, sales were concentrated around 41% of the range available.
Of the neutral toys, 53% of the variety available were purchased.
For boys, 75% of the range had at least one sale made.

Kits vs Preassembled models

This data is not very relevant, as the models were only able to be collected at the end of the day, whereas kits taken straight away.  Additionally, there was only one of each type assembled, and between 0 and 10 kits available.

Girls’ purchases were 71% kits
Neutral purchases were 53% kits
Boys’ purchases were 78% kits

Total Sales

Of all the purchases available:

Total sales of girls-oriented models: 20%
Total sales of neutral-oriented models: 23%
Total sales of boy-oriented models: 56%

As very few types sold out completely, this data was not heavily influenced by particular models becoming unavailable.

Other interesting observations – quite a few people looking (kids and adults) – “Wow, these are really cool”, then after checking the price “Wow, these are really cheap” (the vast majority being around the $5-$7.50 mark).  However even after uttering both those comments, the person looking around would then wander off.  Interesting that something that is regarded as “cool and affordable” still does not necessarily result in a sale.

I would have sold more if there was no restrictions on whether the person could buy and take the pre-assembled model, so having two or three of the most popular kits pre-assembled would be beneficial.

It may also be better if there was less variety of kits available, and so people could select the ones they want for purchase, rather than having to ask for them.  While this makes perfect sense (and is how we shop most of the time), it is a lot harder to do this in a market-like scenario with limited space.  Especially with bulky products that have a degree of fragility to them.  Again, if I was doing this on a regular basis, I would be able to justify the additional investment in the multiple storage containers needed to keep everything sorted.  For a one (or two) off, that is less practical.

All in all though, it was a fun evolution, and I’d do it again.

Occasionally!

Oct / Nov of The Shed is out

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Latest issue out has my waterwheel (as seen in the thumbnail pic on the cover), and there is a 1 pge article in the back about Amana Tool/Toolstoday.com which I wasn’t aware of, discussing their products and availability down under.  Turns out, I’ve been quite influential in opening up the Australasian market.  Who’d have thunk it?!

We didn’t have enough time to get the waterwheel plans into the magazine this time (ran very close to the wind for submission dates), so instead, here they are: (click on the image for the PDF).

waterwheel

 

Episode 118 Lancaster cut video

A quick video of the Lancaster Bomber being cut out.  I don’t want to think how long it took this video to actually get done – so many delays, so few windows of opportunity to work on it!  I decided to cut my losses and just put together what I had, rather than stress too much about really refining it.

Plans from MakeCNC.com

Uses the 45705 V-Groove 60º x 1/2″ Dia. x 1/4″ Shank Router Bit and the 46200 Solid Carbide Spiral Plunge 1/8″ Dia x 1/2″ Cut Height x 1/4″ ShankDown-Cut, both from Toolstoday.com

For better or worse, here ’tis.

Imperial Walker

My favourite vehicle from the Star Wars universe – the AT-AT, (All Terrain Armoured Transport), or Imperial Walker.  Standing 22.5m high, and capable of moving up to 60km/hr.

“Judge me by my size, do you?”

The model plans comes from MakeCNC.com, and the model cut from 3mm MDF stands 360mm high.  If you want larger, doubling the material thickness doubles the height (and so on!)

Cut with my 1/16″ 2 flute straight cutter 45190 from Toolstoday.com, and the engraving done with 45780 – a 7.5o solid carbide engraving bit.

ATAT_02Photo by Kara Rasmanis

From the MakeCNC website: Starwars are owned by their respective Trademark and Copyright holders. No copyright infringement is intended. All such content is protected by intellectual property laws and any use other than private, non commercial purposes is strictly prohibited. Unlike our other patterns, you may NOT make and sell kits of these patterns to the public. This is a Pattern Only! It is NOT a completed model or kit. We do NOT take liability for what you do with it, the pattern.  Starwars and its characters are protected by copyright. This pattern is for Personal Use Only!

Voyager

I don’t think there is any craft or vehicle that captured my imagination more as a child than the Voyager spacecraft.  Launched in 1977, the two identical probes were sent on a journey that to date has taken them 1.97×1010 km away from Earth, past the gas giants of the solar system and then way beyond.

800px-Saturn_(planet)_large

There is a lot of information about them on Wikipedia these days, so if interested you can read up more there.

What I was excited about recently, is that the Voyager probe is one of the models on the Makecnc.com website.  So I made it.

Over 200 individual parts, cut from 3mm MDF, using the 45190 1/16″ router bit from Toolstoday.com (which is still going strong).  Cut on the TorqueCNC.

It took me 2 nights to assemble the model, and a lot of hot glue (which I have been finding to be an excellent way to assemble these models).

I had my friend Kara Rasmanis take a couple of photos of the model, suspended in front of a green screen, and she has then inserted in some royalty-free backgrounds, for a truly stunning result showcasing the model from the front, and back.

Even made from 3mm MDF, it is 900mm across.

FromSpace AboveEarth

For a model, cut from MDF, that is awesome!  Currently sits in my office – when I can part with it, it will be off to my daughter’s school science classroom.

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