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Creating our very own Pingdom hero – part 1

We want to create a Pingdom hero! Basically a company mascot, a superhero if you like, someone that fights for a fast web, a nirvana where sites load in a jiffy and there is no downtime. Timeouts, 500s, packet loss and other internet issues will be a thing of the past when he’s (and it’s most likely a he) in town.

Since we’ve not done anything like this before, we felt as we should share the process with you all. That includes all the ins and outs that go into creating a character, designing it, getting it manufactured, brought to you – our customers and readers, etc.

We want the process to be fun as well as educational, so hop aboard and let’s go.

Background

We’re hoping that going through this will get us to the point of having a Pingdom hero action figure  manufactured. Our hero mascot should be representing Pingdom and what we stand for, in various situations, like giveaways, events, photos, this blog, and more. Since we’re passionate about uptime and performance, our hero will be putting all his superpowers to good use fighting for what we believe in by educating users about the need for a fast and reliable web.

That also means our hero will be the champion for, and protector of all our customers, since you want your sites to be as available and fast as can be, and you use Pingdom’s services to make sure that is true.

Also, we want our customers and fans to be able to express themselves with the Pingdom hero. Once you have one, display it proudly on your desk on in the bookshelf, keep him with you in the car, etc. You get the idea; the sky’s the limit.

By the way, our hero will of course need a name. We will get back to that a bit later on when we’ll announce a competition (with some awesome prizes) through which you can suggest to us what he’ll be named.

After having thought about this idea for a while, we’ve now actively started the process of creating our very own Pingdom hero. Why don’t you join us on this new journey? There will be a number of blog posts about what we go through, the problems we face, what we’ve learnt, and more.

Design, concept

Especially since, as we mentioned, this is a new experience for us, this all has to start with a concept, an idea, and a design.

We tend to refer to our hero as an action figure, although it would probably be more accurate to call it a vinyl toy. At least we don’t see our hero looking like a realistic human figure but something more fantasy-like. But there doesn’t seem to be any firm distinction between what should be called what.

With regards to physical size and shape, we’re thinking the hero should be 7-10 cm high (that’s around 3-4 inches. Other points of articulation may also be considered, but that all links in with materials, manufacturing, and, let’s face it, cost.

We like the following shapes, and we’ll use them as a stepping stone to further discuss and refine the design. These figures are also in various stages of not being finished, so it gives us room to consider the shape without getting into paint and other aspects.

Photo by Charles Rodstrom.

Photo by Bee.

Photo by Kristine Oplado.

We’d like our hero to be able to express different kinds of emotions, fit in with different atmospheres, in part due to different accessories. So perhaps there’s a cape, an ethernet cable, a smartphone, or something else that he can carry.

Photo by kidjay.

Photo by Andreas Wieser.

Photo by Andreas Wieser.

And the little fella should probably also be put in a box or packaging of some sort.

Photo by Percy.

Photo by Percy.

Photo by Andrew Bell.

The process

Obviously we’ve done different kinds of design-oriented projects in the past, including web, print, billboards, posters, and more. But with the hero there are multiple steps involved of which we have no experience like materials and manufacturing.

Since we’ve never done this before, we’re really eager to figure out how to go about approaching it, what the steps we need to take are, who we can work with, etc.

Photo by [RoK].

That’s partly why we decided to share very openly with you all what we’re thinking and going through as we progress through this journey. Here are some of the things we’ll need to work through:

What material should our hero be made out of? There’s hard and soft, plastic injection molding, foam rubber, and many others. Which one we chose will of course affect what our hero will look like and what he can do. And often it seems like a catch 22: you can’t decide one without the other, so you’re stuck.

Where should it be manufactured? Once we have a design, seems like we need a 3D CAD drawing, where should it be manufactured? Price is an issue, of course, but so is quality, speed, and other factors.

Photo by Tom Carmony.

What about painting and packaging? Chances are our hero will come out of manufacturing looking rather naked, sort of like the character at the top of this article, so he’ll need painting. He should also be placed in a box, some kind of packaging, or at least we think so. Perhaps some should and some shouldn’t, depending on what they  will be used for.

Finally, what about logistics? We’re based in Sweden, and chances are the hero will not be manufactured here, so how do we get him to the Pingdom HQ, and what kinds of permits and fees (like customs) are involved in that? Then we need to figure out the best way to send him out to events, customers, but that’ll be a later problem.

But, most importantly: even though we’ve covered quite a number of issues above, what did we miss?

Photo by Andrew Bell.

Inspirational and informative resources

Here is a list of some inspirational and informative links we’ve found so far. If you have some others to suggest, let us know and we can add them.

  • dragatomi.com
  • blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/tutorials-for-creating-custom-designer-toys
  • dudebox.com
  • vinylpulse.com
  • www.vinylabuse.com
  • www.trexi.com.sg
  • www.bigshottoyworks.com
  • www.happyworker.com/make/toy-invention
  • blogof.francescomugnai.com/2009/03/inspiration-50-fantastic-vinyl-toys
  • www.noupe.com/inspiration/30-incredibly-beautiful-custom-designer-toys.html

We want your input!

Now that we’ve shared with you quite a bit of the background and some of our thinking going into this project, we want to invite you to give your input.

We need all the good ideas and suggestions you can throw at us, whether it’s with regards to design and materials, who to contact for help with various aspects of this project, manufacturing, or whatever else. Please send us pictures of vinyl toys and mascots that you like that may inspire us, links to blogs, designers and manufacturers you want us to check out, and anything else you think could help.

Leave your comments below, contact us on Twitter, or find the thread for this post on our Facebook page.

We’re all ears!

The picture at the top is of a Munny by Kidrobot.



9 Comments

Britt Salomonsson

July 19th, 2012 at 12:16 pm


And why is the hero a “he”?

 @DanSmith2 Mr Ninja hasn’t quite been retired yet but he’s certainly getting some good vacation time :) Thanks for the link!

Britt, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a “he” ;)

Britt, it’s not decided. Who knows what we’ll decide once we start working on this ;)

Britt Salomonsson

July 20th, 2012 at 4:16 am


Then You have to rub out that irritating “he” in the text ;)
By the way, I know a lot of heroes that can stand as rawmodels

So if it’s not a he (or a she), what is it? An “it”? Or perhaps the hero is not even human so that doesn’t matter…

Would be nice if the hero was “sustainable” (http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/), that it’s life cycle is planned for from the start, including packaging.
You can also have a look at the “mushroom packaging!” (like styrofoam, but all organic!)
http://www.mushroompackaging.com/

Hey Pingdom, I work at usbmemorydirect.com and we make custom Kidrobot shaped USB drives all the time! You guys ever consider making your mascot into a flash drive? If it tickles your fancy just message us and we’ll hook you up. (We are looking to gain internet exposure, so we can make an order at our cost for you) J

Hey Pingdom, I work at usbmemorydirect.com and we make custom Kidrobot shaped USB drives all the time! You guys ever consider making your mascot into a flash drive? If it tickles your fancy just message us and we’ll hook you up :) (We are looking to gain internet exposure, so we can make an order at our cost for you).