Materia’s Creative Minds Provide a Sample From Behind the scenes

 

 

If you go back and watch the original Materia Kickstarter video, the outro gives you a sense of synchronicity and precision.   Some people might assume that our projects come to fruition after the first couple of tries.  How could they not with two professional fellows like this?

 

The truth is we work hard  to live up to our professional personas.  However, we strive to have fun in everything we create.  That’s why we created the video below.  Even though the original clip is less than 30 seconds long, we had to commit nearly 2 hours of our time just to get it filmed.  We’re obviously tripping over words and making adjustments to the script on the fly.  What you can’t see are the technical difficulties like the camera deciding to stop filming or a mic not cooperating  with a phone.   With most challenges there are going to be obstacles that test the limits of your frustration.  That’s why achieving your goals provides such a  sense of satisfaction.   Take it from us.  You’ve got to keep trying until you are happy with the results.

Thanks for making it through my After School Special moment.  Here’s a little backstory on how the Materia Outtakes came to be.   Recently Ben was gracious enough to teach me some of the basics in video editing.   I chose to practice on Materia footage because it was still recent and there was plenty to work with.  After a lot of time going back and forth from viewing, reviewing and splicing my favorite highlights together, I showed Ben the rough draft.  He was obviously pretty impressed with his teaching skills because once he added some music and polished the rough edged, we had ourselves an outtakes video.  

So hopefully you enjoy watching the Materia outtakes video as much as we enjoyed making it.  I’m sure you will.  I mean, whose favorite special feature is anything but the outtakes?

 

 

A Pawnbroker’s Guide To Shopping Maximizes A Pawn Shop Experience 

Tips and Insight from the other side of the counter

Before I started designing games at Brass Engine Productions I was a pawnbroker.  I’m always amazed at how many people tell me they’ve never been into a pawn shop.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.  I’ll even provide you with a pawnbroker’s guide to shopping to make it easier.  Whether you’ve never been into a pawn shop before, or if you’ve been and just want to know more, here my suggestions on how to get the best bang for your buck.

 

Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

“Pawn brokers are in customer service and prefer honey as opposed to the common vinegar.”

Rule #1 at the pawn shop: Everything is negotiable.  Now, I’m not saying to expect to offer less than half and get the deal.  Most pawn brokers won’t take you seriously if you do. Generally, most items you can get up to 30% knocked off the top if you use any sort of charm and charisma.  Pawn brokers are in customer service and prefer honey as opposed to the common vinegar. Plus, the longer an item has been on the shelf the more motivation there is to sell.  So be sure and look for stock dates on price stickers.

 

He who speaks first, loses.

Although you don’t want to get into a Mexican standoff waiting for a bid, a little bit of stubbornness can pay off.”

There’s a manager that loves to repeat this.  As much as I try, I can’t argue how true it can be.  Although you don’t want to get into a Mexican standoff waiting for a bid, a little bit of stubbornness can pay off.  I can always tell in someone’s face if I made the first bid and it was cheaper than they were going to offer by a long shot.  But I’ve also been prepared with a string of bidding offers and the person would simply ask me to cover the tax. (By the way, even if something just hit the shelves you can almost always get tax covered.  Even 8% is better than nothing.)

 

Do your homework.

The internet is a blessing and a curse for pawn shops.  With today’s technology you can use your phone and browse the same search engines we do to bid on items.  This is why the goal is to have desirable items on the shelf with an optimal price to sell quickly. The more dust an item collects the more chance it’s being replaced with the new and improved model.  Don’t be afraid to use this to your advantage. Price fluctuation comes with the territory and even if you don’t make the deal, politely informing a pawn broker can get you bonus points. Regular customers watch for price drops.  Helping an item sell faster gets you in good graces.

 

What does a pawn shop want to buy?

Pawn shops will make a bid on anything they think they can sell.  However, items that are guaranteed to get a bid are going to be gold and guns.  Gold and guns hold their value above all other products you’re going to find. They are also the most competitive market and so the buying margins to actual pricing points are much tighter.  Now don’t stop what you’re doing and run to the shop with all of your jewelry or any custom modified rifles yet. You may want to brace yourself here.

 

Gold – The buying point for gold is based on market value for the materials (spot price).  Ready for a little math breakdown? Between 2017 and 2018 an ounce of pure gold ran around $1350. Karat determines the purity of the gold (10K is 41.7%, 14K is 58.5%, 18K is 75.0%).  Your average ring is going to weigh between 1/10 and 1/20 of an ounce. Somewhere around 75% or more of jewelry bought by the pawn shop is sent to a refinery for scrap. So unless the pawnbroker is 100% certain they can offer more because it will sell for more, your average 14K ring is going to get you around $30-$60 cash.  Selling an item on your own as a piece of jewelry will net you more money in the long run, if you’re willing to do the leg work. But it never hurts to get an offer and have gold content verified first.

 

Guns-  With firearms the condition is everything.  Both the buyer and the seller will want to use their best judgement for where the condition falls on a Blue Book percentage scale.  A pawnbroker is always going to err on a conservative percentage in case there is anything missed on the primary inspection. Accessories rarely bring any more to the table.  If you think you can use them on another firearm, you’re best off leaving them home. The next person wanting to negotiate with the pawnbroker will likely try to negotiate the price down by getting the accessories left off anyway.   

 

A quick anecdote: Some of the most lucrative items I bought for the store had other pawn brokers thumbing their nose at my purchase.  Someone had a box of decorations in good condition that they wanted to be rid of for next to nothing. Low and behold, all of the items sold for nearly ten times what I’d paid for them and were gone in just over a month.  

 

Judge for yourself.

Hollywood has painted a dismal image for pawn stores.  In my experience, it’s extremely rare to find one as sketchy as those in movies and on television.  In truth, a lot are Mom ‘n Pop shops that want to run an honest business. We actually lose money if we accidentally purchase stolen goods.  No one likes having something stolen. That’s why if an item is located we work closely with local law enforcement to have the item returned.  It’s extremely rare that we ever see the original money or compensation for such items. So don’t believe the hype that pawn shops are fencing operations.

 

I hope my little pawnbroker’s guide to shopping motivates you to have your own pawn shop experience.  It’s never the same two days in a row. It definitely requires a person to do regular research and retain information.  But it’s great for someone like me, an game designer at heart, that sees the act of negotiating as a friendly competition.

 

For the most recent convention we attended, I created some DREDD replicas and a custom helmet to take with us.

Dredd Helmet (Steampunk Style): Not Available

Steampunk style Dredd helmet - EVA foam
Steampunk style Dredd helmet – EVA foam

The helmet was made from JF Custom’s foam pattern files, but the files were modified to be cut on a laser. The EVA foam was cut on a laser and then assembled. I tried using a new sealant, and it left a weird texture on the surface of the foam. Not wanting to throw away the piece and knowing I couldn’t make a replica prop, I chose to paint the helmet in a steampunk antique style for artistic effect. I quote individual prices for helmets, because of individual tastes and fit.

Lawgiver Mk II (2012 version): $50

Lawgiver Mk II, EVA foam and acrylic
Lawgiver Mk II, EVA foam and acrylic

I built the patterns for this Lawgiver with Illustrator, building it up layer by layer. I cut the individual layer pieces on the laser in EVA foam, 1/2″ and 3mm. Some additional carving was done for the grip area, then sealed and painted. It is extremely lightweight, and easy to carry all day at a convention. This version is heavily weathered, but other pieces can be customized to specification.

DREDD Badge (replica): $25

DREDD Badge made of ABS plastic, primed and painted. Magnets on back for attachment.
DREDD Badge made of ABS plastic, primed and painted. Magnets on back for attachment.

I created a pattern for the DREDD badge from the 2012 movie in Illustrator, building it up in 3 layers. The parts were cut on a laser from ABS, a high impact plastic that will not break or chip when dropped. They were then assembled, primed, and painted. I epoxied magnets to the back of the badge for easy temporary attachment, but the back is left unpainted in case the client would like to attach it permanently. I can customize for different names for an additional art setup fee of $10.