Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series Action Figures
Created by David Silva
Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsians- a line of scientifically accurate dinosaur action figures with elaborate detail and articulation
Latest Updates from Our Project:
A look at the Metal Tooling Molds, first Package Design Layouts, and more!
2 days ago
– Mon, Jun 01, 2020 at 11:54:58 PM
Hi All, I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying this time with your families. I have for you now all the latest news with the Ceratopsian production, but I just want to begin by confirming that we are still currently on-track for a September delivery of Wave 1. Here's a look at all the latest progress!
Metal Tooling Molds
The metal tooling molds for all Wave 1 figures (and some of Wave 2) have now been completed and the first parts have been shot in plastic. If you recall the fine-cut figures that I've shown in previous updates, those figures are made of a very hard ceramic-like resin and are the the parts used to create these molds. Each mold block consists of several smaller molds that plug into it. Here's a look at some of the finished tooling molds.
'What's up with the red?' you might ask. This is just the mold release that is sprayed onto the metal (no, the workers did not have a horrible accident). The release is red so that it's easy to see but it does not effect the color of the casted parts .
Each mold is made of two halves and are placed in a large machine that pushes the molds together and injects liquid plastic into the mold. Once the plastic cools, the parts are removed from the mold and the process continues as needed.
After the smaller molds are created and inserted into the larger steel blocks, track ways are then carved into the block at specific points to allow the parts to all be injected with plastic at once.
These track way paths can be blocked off if only certain parts are needed or if some parts need to be injected in different colors.
I did a thorough write-up about the injection-molding process for the Raptor Series in which I documented my experience visiting the tooling factory in 2017. Click here for more on that.
A few more tooling molds.
The joints all have their own mold because while most of the parts are cast in a more flexible PVC, the joints are cast in a very hard, durable POM (similar to ABS). POM is different than PVC in that it doesn't flex, keeping it's shape under stress, but this also means that it doesn't accept paint very well. PVC on the other hand can sometimes be used for joints, mainly non-weight bearing joints, but it's best for detailed areas that require paint.
First parts castings in plastic
The molds are currently being tested for any injection issues, hence the term 'test-shots'.Many parts have already been shot.
Once the injection issues are debugged, they'll use the shot parts to assemble the first set of test-shot figures.
All of the parts have sprues attached due to the injection process along the mold track ways. Initial castings such as those shown here are kept as a record of what parts belong to what mold without having to look inside the actual molds.
The final parts are then removed from the sprues and kept under a warm lamp to be assembled with the appropriate joints. I'm expecting to see the initial set of test-shot figures, the first fully functional versions, in just a few weeks! The range of motion on these plastic test-shot figures will be improved over the more rigid fine-cut figures that I've shown previously and will be a good indicator of what to expect for movement on the final products.
Package design layout preview
While the tooling and test-shots are being worked on, I've begun designing the look of the packaging. Here's a look at a design layout that I created for the Chasmosaurus figure. This design will be the basis for remaining regular release package designs. (the guidelines will be removed for the final.)
I wanted to keep the main design consistent with that of the Raptor Series, while giving it a distinctive box color and footprint. I also added a 'window' on top around the logo, which will allow for a nicer in-package look at the figure .
In keeping with the design theme of the previous releases, these will have a checklist on the back for Wave 1 consisting of the color designs, depicted in scale according to toy size.
And here is the final box back design with the sleeve on showing the stats and package art, by Shannon Beaumont in this case. Like the more recent Raptor Series releases, each of these will also include unique collector cards.
There will be more package design reveals in the coming weeks on my social media so stay tuned for that!
Catalog photo gallery
I've recently completed a collection of catalog photos for each of the Ceratopsians, which depicts them in front of their environment insert photos, to be included with each figure. Here are a few select shots from this photo set.
The catalog was originally planned to be printed to hand out at San Deigo Comic Con, but that's been cancelled unfortunately, so my plan now is to make the catalog available as a download on creative-beast.com though I may still do a short run of a physical catalogs later if there's enough interest.
And just a reminder, the Ceratopsain Series can still be pre-ordered here.
Stay healthy and active everyone, and until next time!
Tooling begins! Final Fine-Cut Improvements and Galleries
about 2 months ago
– Tue, Apr 14, 2020 at 07:07:10 PM
Hi All, I hope this update finds you safe and healthy. A lot has happened in the world since my last update which inevitably raises concerns about the production schedule. I want to assure everyone that as of this writing, the Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series is still on-track with Wave 1 withdelivery expected to begin in September of this year.
So what's been going on with the project lately, you ask? Let's take a look.
Fine Cut Improvements
Since thoroughly going over the Wave 1 fine-cut bodies and shipping them back to the tooling factory in the latter part of February, I've been working with them via email on how to improve the figures before we begin the metal mold tooling process.
It's extremely important at this stage to fix any issues with the sculpts, assembly, and articulation. There were a few minor issues that I had them address, such as an incorrectly keyed left brow horn on Medusaceratops (above) and some jaw gapping that I'll get to later, but my main concerns had to do with the shallow detail on the Psittacosaurus, Protoceratops, and sub adult Triceratops. All three had scale textures that looked too subtle overall, and in some cases, was missing altogether. No doubt my inexperience with digitally outputted sculpts contributed to the details not being deep enough on the initial 3D prints , so it was an interesting challenge to get the details on these figures to the same place as the hand-sculpted figures. For the most part, these fine-cuts still looked very good, but my main concern here is that if the details aren't deep enough, they will get filled in with the paint on the final product.
Luckily, the skilled workers at the tooling factory were able to go into the existing details and deepen them so that this won't become an issue later on. In some cases, they even added missing details. It's a very involved process done by hand which requires skill and precision, but I'm happy to report that they pulled it off brilliantly as you'll see.
'Taco' here actually looked pretty darn good in it's initial fine-cut form, but it was also obvious to me that the scale detail would become washed out with the paint deco unless they were enhanced, so that has now been remedied. The final version here has the deepened scale detail throughout. (Note: the hands are switched, but don't worry, I'll be keeping an eye on this when we get to production and I don't expect it to be an issue.)
For comparison, check out this close-up of the fine-cut and the reworked version below.
As you can see, the enhancements were essential for maintaining the detail for mass production. Even with only a thin layer of grey paint on the fine-cut, the scales seemed too subtle. Imagine one or two additional paint applications and a lot of that beautiful detail would get lost.
Here's another comparison.
It's also worth noting that the tail quills have been adjusted with as much material removed from in between the quills as possible without compromising the structural integrity. Also, the quill section will be merged with the tail so that there will be no issues of the piece popping out when the tail is moved around.
I asked them about adding a wire in the tails, but they said it would not work since it tapers down so thin toward the tip. The wire would likely tear through the tail when being moved around, so we've opted to do without it.
Proto here had much of same issues as Taco as far as detail goes. Basically they just went in and deepened all the details that were already there.
For comparison, here's how it looked on the original fine cut figure.
A lot of work went into enhancing the facial details as well, with extremely tiny scales in areas such as the nasal cavity. This would have surely been covered up by paint on the final product.
Now this is the one that really needed some help. This young Trike here was not only suffering from shallow details, but was also missing some details as well! But as you can see below, that is no longer that case.
To really see where this one was at originally, you have to get a close up of the body without the legs. Now it becomes apparent not only how shallow some the detail was but also how much was missing. It's easy to miss this in the regular photos thus far, but this is something I've had my eye on for some time.
In order to communicate to the tooling factory what details needed to be added back, I had them reference of the original digital sculpt to follow and highlighted the areas that were missing details. With this reference, they were able to go back into the figure and add the details by hand.
And now we have a very healthy-looking Triceratops hide.
...with every angle is now accounted for.
And here you can also see the improvements made to the head and neck detail, before and after.
It probably goes without saying that we'll need to do this process on the adult Triceratops later on as well, but it's good that we now have this one to follow as an example.
As of Thursday, April 9th, the fine-cut parts and final tooling plan have been approved for all except the Body 4 and 5 types, which I'll get to later.
Additional Adjustments- Jaw Gapping
In addition to the more significant adjustments, several of the Body 3 figures also had some jaw gapping when the jaws were pulled open.
This has now been resolved by adding additional material to the 'cheeks'.
And if you're concerned about the mouths still closing, yes they do.
There were also some other minor adjustments made such as open jaw stops for the body 1 and 2 heads, and sharpened detail on the Chasmo head, but these were such minor fixes that they aren't really worth going into detail here.
Overall, I'm confident that these fine-cuts are are now in optimal condition and I'm very glad to have the tooling process underway. It won't be long now until we see some of the first fully functional test shot figures!
While the factory has been working diligently on most of the fine-cut figures lately, I've kept the Body 4 and 5 types here in the studio with me for now as they won't need to be tooled until later this summer. So that gives me some time to show off these big boys in all types of cool poses- something I couldn't do with the painted prototypes. Check out the full galleries for each by clicking on the photos below!
I expect to have new galleries up for fine-cut Bodies 4.5 (Utah and Penta) and then Body 5 (adult Trike and Toro) in the coming weeks!
And for those interested, the Ceratopsain Series preorder store can still be found here.
Stay safe everyone and until next time!
An In-Depth Look at the Package Art Process for the Ceratopsian Series!
3 months ago
– Sun, Mar 01, 2020 at 02:16:39 AM
I've been planning this for a while now and it's finally time to take an in-depth look at the creative process behind the package illustrations for the Ceratopsian Series!
If you followed the Raptor Series, you're likely very familiar with the amazing art created for the line by Jonathan Kuo. While I was hoping to have him return for this second series of Beasts of the Mesozoic, he was consumed with his other work and wasn't able to commit unfortunately. However, this led me to working with several new inspiring artists and I'm very grateful for how everything has turned out. With all of the talent involved this time around, I felt it would be a great idea to show you all what went into creating the masterful package art for the Ceratopsian Series!
This update will focus solely on in-progress work and the process involved. If you'd like to view the final versions of each piece, you can find them here.
Warning to those hoping for a short update- There is a LOT to look at here, possibly my longest Kickstarter update to-date. So prepare yourself... here we go.
Shannon is an accomplished wildlife illustrator living in Germany, and very good friend. I had her tackle the package art for many of the Chasmosaurines of the series. A lover of animals, Shannon really got into the work and it shows with the lush environments and additional smaller wildlife which can be seen in several pieces. What I love about her approach is how each scene feels like it's part of a larger story. You can tell that she really lives in each piece while she's creating it.
This was the first piece Shannon did for the project. A variety of 3D reference was used to get that large head frill into proper perspective, from Raul's Chasmosaurus head sculpt to similar figurines.
Shannon was also a big help with designing the head frills for these dinos. Working from my side view color designs, she would come up with several possible options for me to choose from. This helps her with the illustration and also ended up informing the final look of the figure as well. For this one I went with no. 4.
Shannon had the idea for a night scene, incorporating the 'cosmos' and it worked really well. The lighting on this piece makes it very unique.
Here you can see the references used for getting the right look for the lighting along with the head frill design options. We went with the 1st option.
The idea for this one is actually quite charming- this Spiclypeus has an itch and needs a whole tree to scratch it. Great character development here, and again, it completely feels like one part of a larger story.
This one arguably has the most interesting frill design. Here are the options Shannon created. I chose no. 2 because I loved those eye spots.
For this one, Shannon went with a sunset which is a very effective setting. She was also inspired by Brian Engh’s piece of Utahceratops in which he used a prehistoric bird (Mirarce eatoni) as a contrast to the large animal.
Frill designs were actually inspired by the Gila Monster- not Darth Maul. We ended up using a modified version of no. 4 (bottom center).
I think the idea for this one was always a 'stampede' theme. A lot of action and kicking up of dust. The additional Pentaceratops in the background makes you wonder how many more there are 'off-screen'.
After choosing thumbnail no. 2, Shannon created these options. no. No. 3 was selected.
For this frill design, I ended up using a slightly modified version of her no.1 design. In any case, seeing the frill design options for each piece was one of may favorite parts of working with Shannon.
In order capture the proper atmosphere and overall look of the piece, Shannon used Bison reference as inspiration. Both are large animals kicking up a lot of dirt- reminds me of the old west.
I've worked with Shannon on a number of pieces now between these and the small Raptor Series 2-packs,and each time she creates a new piece, I feel like I've gotten to know these animals a little better- they somehow seem more real in a way that goes beyond the visuals.
The artist duo Jacqueline (Jax) Jocson and Carlo Arellano are illustrators/ concept artists for the entertainment industry with a heavy emphasis on creatures and animals. They were the first artists I worked with on the Ceratopsian Series way back in early 2018, well before I had any prototypes made. Together we would work toward establishing an overall look for the series.
Xenoceratops (original version)
Some of you may remember the initial announcement for the Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian Series a couple years back with Jax and Carlo's Xenoceratops illustration. Here are the original thumbnails.
This final version was originally intended to be the package art for Xenoceratops, but the prototype wasn't completed until later and this look was only based on my color design. Once the final figure was done a few months later, I felt I'd gotten too far away from this art to match it up.
As a kid it always bothered me when the package art didn't represent the colors of the product (I'm looking at you Dino Riders T-Rex). So I eventually decided to recommission the art later on with Raul Ramos, as Jax and Carlo were unavailable by that time. Despite this piece not being used for the final packaging, there were some design elements from it that helped me with developing the final look of the figure such as the striping on the back and tail.
By the time we got to the second piece, Zuniceratops, I felt we were getting much more into a flow. The swampy environment along with the downward camera angle was perfect for this little fella.
Early color render
One of this things that we did here that would become a standard moving forward was the emphasis on vibrant colors. The first piece (Xenoceratops) was good, but darker overall than I wanted for the line. We bumped up the colors on this one and it then looked like the lively dinosaurs I had imagined.
One last-minute change that some eagle-eyed followers may have spotted was how the face of the Zuni changed from the original version to the final version. Again this was due to us not having a physical model to look at when the piece was commissioned. The final adjustment was made later on (right) to better resemble the actual figure.
By the time we reached Styracosaurus, we were off an running. Styracosaurus is my favorite of the Ceratopsian family so I was really happy to see this come together so well. C was selected from this set.
Here's an early rendering before color.
I would say more about this, but it was a pretty straight-forward development from here. The end result really breathed life into my very 'ambitious' color design. Only after seeing this art completed did I know for certain that the colors would work for the actual figure.
For this one, we wanted to play around with the sun as a strong lighting element. I came up with a thumbnail D which is just mash up of A and B. We would end up adjusting the neck position to a more realistic pose, but it seemed to be a good solution. It was also important to me that we saw the face as well as those famous tail quills.
Here's an early version of the piece. We ended up adding in more purples along with a few other tweaks for the final.
This guy always had a lot of character. Of all the 'ceratopsians', this is the one I'd want most for a pet.
Centrosaurus was an interesting one as Jax and Carlo had the unfortunate task of working from my failed color design, which I would later redo.
For this one, I went with 'A 'and on the right is more developed version.
The thumbnail would be refined a bit more and we were good to go. A muddy theme emerged during this process and I think that worked really well. Birds were originally going to be in the background, but this was dropped for the final version.
The first pass while more blue than I'd imagined, was leaps better than my color design which actually was also more blue than green. With a few adjustments, like adding in more green, not only was the art completed, but we had the true basis for the figure design. This is the only instance were the final color design for the figure was developed from the illustration.
Centrosaurus is a great example of how many steps are sometimes involved with the figure design process. It's good to have a method, but it's also important to be flexible and go with the flow of the project. Centrosaurus ended up becoming one of the most popular designs of the line.
Going into this Kickstarter, i'd become a big fan of RJ's work from the Saurian video game Kickstarter which happened around the same time as my Raptor Series Kickstarter back in spring of 2016. I'd been in touch with RJ on several occasions after that, and I eventually asked if he'd like to be a part of the Ceratopsian Series. Despite his full schedule, I was able to get him for one piece, and it was a very important piece. As I've gotten to know him, I've become so impressed with his passion for creating realistic natural history-inspired creatures, real and fictional. We share a lot of similar interests and are currently discussing our next collaboration.
Triceratops horridus (adult)
I did very little art directing with RJ as I really just wanted to see what he'd come up with. I provided a color design and left him to do what he does. Here is the very first work-in-progress image.
I was shocked to see that he included a T-Rex head, adding an additional complex element to the composition, but man, what a cool idea!
His initial pass at the head colors for the Triceratops were a bit too involved to translate into a mass-produced action figure, so I had him simplify the look a bit.
This is close to final. Now you can see much of the detail in the T-Rex head and there's more of an orange-brown look to the head. The final figure ended up being an amalgam of this art and the original color design, which I think worked out really well.
And the most brilliant part is the 'teaser' for the Tyrannosaur Series. It was totally RJ's idea- I can take no credit.
What can I say about Raul... he's simply amazing. He's the only person who is credited as both illustrator and sculptor for the Ceratopsian Series, a skill set that I can really appreciate being a toy designer/ sculptor myself. Raul has been my go-to guy since we began working together in 2018. Not only did he do the lion's share of the the Ceratopsian Series package art, but he also sculpted the Chasmosaurus head and many of the skulls used as the base for Ceratopsian head sculpts. In addition, he's responsible for cutting the articulation into 3D models for both Triceratops figures as well as Torosaurus, Psittacosaurus, and Protoceratops. Raul, I couldn't have done this without you, buddy.
Since Raul did so many pieces for this line, I'm going to go through most of this just showing the initial thumbnails. Still, there is plenty to appreciate as it was always a struggle for me to choose just one thumbnail for the final illustration. Enjoy!
Triceratops horridus (sub-adult)
Early color render.
Early color renders.
It's interesting to note that for many of these, Raul will create his own 3D model of the dinosaur and pose it according to the thumbnail. Here's one he created for this piece.
Early color renders.
As mentioned, Raul will usually work from his own models, but since we had just worked on the articulation for Jake Baardse's Triceratops/ Torosaurus, Raul used Jake's model for the Torosaurus thumbnails which ended up giving us an illustration that is very accurate to the actual psychical figure. My only request was to have two of them engaged in battle, an idea I loved in the original 'Walking with Dinosaurs' documentary.
Original sketch and early color render.
So far, I've only given a brief overview of how this process works, but for the full story of the amount of work that goes into just one of these illustrations, I highly encourage you to watch this video that Raul made showing his entire process from start to finish for creating the Avaceratops art. It is quite impressive!
Ezra Tucker... Legend. I'm still shocked that this even happened.
As many of you are aware, Ezra was one of the artists who worked on the original Tyco Dino-Riders toy line back in the late 80's. He's also done a ton of work in the entertainment industry (some of you may be familiar with the movie poster for The NeverEnding Story? That's Ezra). After describing my idea to him for creating a new illustration for my Dino-Riders homage Monoclonius figure, he was very interested. He's been working on his own personal wildlife art for the past twenty years or so and had gotten away from commercial art completely. But he was willing to come back to it for this project and it was a huge honor to work with him. We're talking about a man who's art inspired me as a young boy, so it goes without saying that this piece is very personal to me.
After discussing the composition, Ezra gave me a few of options for the general pose. In our conversations, I'd described that I wanted something that reminded people of the old Monoclonius package art but also works well on it's own. My only requests were that the colors and mood were similar and that there be a volcano in the background. I was very adamant about there being a volcano. Of the two sketches shown here, we went with the second option.
Here is the very first rendering I'd seen and I was immediately blown away. It was pretty much done aside from pushing the contrast a bit more. The only notable difference here is the toenail on the right outside digit, which was changed for the final version. This was hand-painted with acrylic on illustration board.
Ezra was an absolute pleasure to work with. His style was exactly what I'd pictured in my head, capturing the wonder of 80's paleoart with modern day accuracy. Simply fantastic. I liked the piece so much, I bought the original painting.
Whew, that was a lot! I'm glad Kickstarter is allowing for an update this long. Before I go though, I just wanted to mention that printed items featuring the Ceratopsian Series package art are now available in the 'Additional Items' section of my web shop. The remaining stock of Ceratopsian 2020-2021 calendars, plus the post cards and a small supply of prints have recently been added.
If you've read this far, thank you so much! This was a very important post for me to share as I wanted to express my gratitude for being able to work with such a talented team of artists. Even though the focus of Beasts of the Mesozoic is about the action figures, the package art has always been just as important to me.
That'll do it for now- I hope you all enjoyed this.
Until next time!
Credit Cards to be Charged for BackerKit-funded Items Tomorrow, All Printed Rewards Shipped, and More Fine-Cut Figures!
4 months ago
– Thu, Feb 06, 2020 at 05:03:25 PM
Credit Cards to be Charged Tomorrow for BackerKit-Funded Items
Wow, can you believe it's already February? And yes that means it's almost time for credit cards to be charged for the orders containing BackerKit-funded add-on items (Feb. 7th).
If you've already paid with Paypal this will not effect you, but for those using a credit card that have added items funded in BackerKit (you can check the preorder store to see which figures this applies to), please be sure that your payment information is correct as this charge will be essential for funding the manufacturing of the figures.
The Ceratopsian figures will remain available to pre-order on BackerKit at the current pricing until they are in-stock, however preorders will be charged within 24 hrs as of tomorrow. Once in-stock, the items will be available at creative-beast.com at the regular retail price.
All Printed Rewards and Pins Shipped!
I'm happy to announce that as of today, all of the printed rewards and pins have shipped to backers!
In addition, all of those who ordered calendars should have them by now. The final shipments are on their way so if you don't have your rewards yet, no need to worry as they should be arriving within a week or so. If you'd like to know the status of your shipment, please private message me.
There are still a few calendars, post cards and prints left and these will be added to my creative-beast.com shop soon.
More Fine-Cut Posed Figure Photos
I'm still in the process of going over all of the fine-cut figures prepping them for tooling. Here's a look at some more exciting poses!
BotM Styracosaurus Skin Now Available for JWE PC Game
Kickstarter backer Nicolas Alt Sabin has created this amazing skin of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Styracosaurus for the Jurassic World Evolution PC game, done on a great model by 'Blackfrog'. Click the image below for the download link!
Later this month I'll be posting a look at the process that went into the incredible package art created for the Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series. You won't want to miss all of the fantastic art that went into creating these illustrations!
That will do it for now- until next time everyone!
New Fine-Cuts Photos, 1st Articulation Video, and Printed Items/Pins are Shipping Now!
5 months ago
– Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 11:57:23 PM
All fine-cut figures for Wave 1 and part of Wave 2 (Body types 1, 2, 3, and misc.) are now in-hand and they're looking great! I'm still in the approval process with the factory and will be making some slight modifications to articulation, but I'm happy to say that everything is looking very promising overall!
I'm still in the process of taking photos and videos of these figures before sending them back to China to be used for the tooling molds (stay tuned to my social media for all of the latest on that) but for now here's a sampling of what I have so far.
And for an example of how the articulation will work with these figures, I made this short video with the Zuniceratops fine-cut. I plan to follow this up later with videos of the other body types as well.