Making the Moth City I

& Creation.

Those of you who have trawled through Moth City’s facebook page may have seen some of the shadowy origins of Moth City. I’m going to elaborate on them here, in a short series about the creation of Moth City.

Like all good ideas it started years ago in a completely unrelated manner. I was working at Weta Productions, on a children’s animation show, having finished my Design Degree. I was earning my first real money and I spent a lot of it on Designer Toys to perk up my desk. They also kept me company during the long animation-hours that creative industries are known for.

I came up with an idea for a character, a horribly disfigured killer who nevertheless had all the soft spots of a hero. Jun, as he’s known now. He was to be a vinyl toy that I would 3D model in Maya, print using Weta’s 3D printer before manufacturing.

Here’s what he was to look like:

After a process that involved a lot or re-designs, he was modelled by moi, and rigged by the disgustingly talented Stephen Lambert. I posed him in a suitable bit of contrapposto, printed him, sanded him (yup, sanded him) and painted him in the same workshop that makes all your favourite Middle Earth creatures and monsters.

Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.

Then I realised that this little fellow needed friends, a whole cast of miscreants. I had always been interested in Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro. Perhaps a pseudo Cuba could be the setting of my story. I wanted an island, it would allow events to occur on a small restrictive stage, forcing the story back in on itself, compressing the tensions. I called it ‘Moth City.’

So Moth City all started as a Vinyl toy line (Wha???) with a Cuban backstory (Huuhh?). Read on as I’ll show you what happened next and name drop an Oscar winner who supported it though it’s next stage of evolution.

So at the same time as I was disrupting the talent staff of Weta Workshop from their important Hollywood work to make 2 duplicates of my figurine, I was working hard on expanding my universe.

I knew there needed to be pulpy elements. I love old horror and crime comics, and the 1930 held a lot of opportunity for genre fun. The audience of the time had a burgeoning interest in Science Fiction, Ghost stories and creepy tales where capturing the imagination of the world, and the worlds politics were in turmoil in between the two World Wars.

I created an American Tycoon to play the foil to our heroic killer, the tycoon was given a daughter, the killer a love interest, and there were two rival scientists. There were some other strange characters, eight in total, but I’ll keep them under wraps for now.

McCaw, with design help from Leri Greer and Andrew Shaw

At the same time as the scope of my world was expanding, my research into collectible manufacturing was providing me some wake up calls. Vinyl figures needed to be manufactured in a process that involved creating a custom metal mold, injecting liquid vinyl inside, and then spinning these molds in all directions, causing the liquid to settle on the outer shell of the mold and leaving the centre hollow (basically using centrifugal force). And it was really expensive.

At the same time, my multi-Oscar winning boss, Richard Taylor, was kindly offering the use of his facilities and his staff to help me make my prototypes. He was taking a bit of an interest in the expanding world of Moth City, and I decided that I was going about it all wrong. Moth City should be an animated series!

A good idea? Find out next time –


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