Below is an email I got this morning from a customer in Canada that ordered a few Riders for a comic-book project he’s working.
He goes over a lot of details, from shipping to tariffs, things he likes and dislikes about the Rider armatures and more.
I asked him for permission to post his email because I think it might be helpful for others to read.
My response to his questions are at the bottom
wanted to let you know that I have the lovely little mannequins, and I’m putting them to good use. I’ve tried to link to your site on each page where I mention your product on www.somertonman.com. The last couple of weeks since I got the items, my workflow has been all about using them, and I think I’ll be doing a posting, and perhaps a video about how I’m using them, in themselves, and in conjunction with the software I’m working with.
I’m all about workflow, and I’m trying to make my blog about the role thinking through workflow has on a big scale project like this graphic novel. A central story is the way that the mannequins play a crucial part in maintaining good throughput. I had hoped this would be the case, and it has turned out to be. So thanks for the well thought through product.
My original impetus to email you was to tell you, that despite dire warnings, the 3 mannequins I got only had $15 of Canadian duty on them. I think from your site and maybe emailing you I had expected something much worse, so I was pleasantly surprised. Might be useful to pass on to your customers as information about what they might expect, and perhaps something to take up with the Canadian import people.
The stands are a great feature, the flexible arm stand is also. I got just one with three dolls. Is that intended? I would use them for some things if I could – for instance, posing the mannequins with a leg extended while walking, and the foot just above the floor can be problematic, when the magnet takes over and pulls the foot down. Also posing to be shot from below. The worst is when a leg is flexed beside another one, mid stride, and something I often want to use to convey motion but not extend the figure too far in space.
I used the figures to pose a guy who is gunned down in one of the scenes in my book. For that, because he was lying there, no stand needed. and having the flexibility to move him around gave me something really good – I wanted to have him contorted, the way a body falls in a confined space, where the position of the limbs is quite unexpected. A bit like the crime photos that Weegee took in the 40’s. Since I have 2 or three panels where the body is seen, from different vantage points, having the posed figure that I could then put in front of my camera and move around is great.
One of the things I’m really pleased with is the way the figures allow me to think out where I want to see them from, to convey the message the panel communicates. I had considered 3D models (I use them for my backgrounds as reference), but decided that the physical moving around of the pose would be better, as long as I could match the perspective reasonably well. That has turned out to be true, which is a huge help.
My modest criticisms are mostly about the tendency for a few joints to flop around. The head in particular, at the base of the skull is unreliable, although not so it can’t be used, just something that I have to be aware of. I know injection moulds are costly, and I’m sure that you’ve looked into it, but perhaps more experimentation with materials? It seems that the base ABS (or whatever it is) is flexible and durable enough, but not rigid enough to keep certain joints as reliable as I would like. The elbows are another – but the shoulder joint is very stiff, sometimes too much so. I have three, so these are observations that are generally true.
I’ve thought of packing some of these joints with a compound – maybe a slightly sticky wax, like the kind used on cross country skis in cold, slick conditions. Any ideas here?
Also, since you’re in the business of 3D printing some of the parts, do you have an easy way to provide customers with 3D printed faces? I’m creating a few heads that I will be using. Right now I plan to pose them on screen, and then composite them in, but a custom face on these units would be amazing.
The only other critique I want to make is about shipping. Customs didn’t take all that long, but the delivery time for my units was over a month from order. I get the hand-assembly issues, but when the shipping is surface, it going from one corner of the continent to another doesn’t need to be exacerbated by this delay. If there’s some way to expedite shipping I think it’s a good option. I don’t know if I declined a faster option, but if I did it was probably because I anticipated very high duties. Since that wasn’t the case, if I had had some sense that duty was more in line with other stuff, I would have spent money on the faster ship.
I can see that some of these ideas and suggestions might be less important on the larger, Ranger figure. But I have to say that I am glad I got the smaller figures. They work better with my lighting and camera set up, right beside my work station. I think the larger figures might be harder to work with , especially for overhead shots. I’ll maybe order one later and see. There are times when the small ones are a bit limited, but for the most part they’re great.
Finally – I like the hands, and I find them useful, but there are times when their size makes some poses tougher to get. Snap-on hands along the lines of the Body Kun units would be a good thing sometimes. And taking this further, a separate, posable hand (I can always flip it in the computer, so handedness wouldn’t be a huge issue, in something like 1:3 or 1:2 is something I’d love to have, as if you didn’t have enough to do.
I never write emails like this to suppliers of products, but yours is really a great thing, and I like the inventiveness and effort and design solution approach to what you’ve made. So I hope some of this feedback is useful.
As I said, I’m thinking of putting the experiences I’ve described into a post or video. If I get that far, would you be interested in having it as something on your site? LMK. You can always link in to me if that’s better.
Below is my response:
Thank you for this incredibly detailed email. Would you be ok with me posting your entire email as a blog post for others to read? Along with the link to your website? I think many would benefit by reading this review. I also really appreciate the criticisms. I’m aware of all these issues except for the bottom of the neck flopping around. Something you might try is putting a couple drops of super glue into the neck socket, then inserting the neck and moving it around so the glue spreads nicely around the socket. Then remove the joint again and let them both dry separately. Once you re-insert the neck into the torso you should experience a slightly tightened fitting (if it’s too tight then rotate the neck inside the socket while firmly holding it in place to wear down the socket accordingly).
The Riders don’t come with clip stands but I included one for free as a courtesy for the delay with your shipment. Normally they don’t take more than seven days for me to turn around (manufacturing plus assembly) but your order took especially long for which I’m very sorry. So you’re right, it’s really far too long to wait. Most customers wait a week or less before their item ships.
Expedited shipping via UPS and Fedex is something we need to look into for sure. I’m pleased to hear you paid so little in tariffs though. It’s a lot less than I expected! Hard to keep track of this stuff because it seems these laws are changing all the time from one country to another.
We do make custom heads and even bodies for customers. If you have the 3D model already made simply send that to me and the cost of manufacturing is the same as buying a spare Rider head. So in essence all you have to do is purchase the head size you want here: http://a9rig.com/create_onetwelve.html
And email me the file you want used. If you want us to model the file for you then there’d be a labor charge for that which starts at $80 and goes up from there if it’s unusually complex.
If you do get around to making a video about your process, I’d love to share that with our community so please stay in touch.
And if I missed any questions let me know.
One more thing, regarding the questions about larger hands, yes, this is ACTUALLY in the works. More on this later 🙂