Jun 042008

I got, overnight, from Hong Kong via Nevada, the sample figures that will serve as the prototypes for the pawns in the game. These are basically made of sculpted hard clay. The Limited Edition idols served as the prototypes. Those are handmade and hand-poured, and have much more detail than could be done in a mass-produced (injection molded) version. These samples were sent to me for approval, and I’m nervous about opening the package because if the samples are wrong, or really screwed up in some way, I’ll be in trouble because any changes will automatically mean a delay of anywhere from a few days to a week or two. I need it done right, but I also need it done on time, as I have made time commitments. It’s a tradeoff I hope I don’t have to make, and at first all seems fine. I look at each piece closely and carefully. They look a lot like the reference originals (Ltd. Edition idols), except that they are thicker/ squatter and they have much less detail. They resemble large, high-quality green Army men. Still, they look pretty good and overall I am impressed.

The only real problem is the generic pedestal pawn (five of the figures are human-like figures, including Jesus, Moses, etc., but the sixth piece is a pedestal with a round blank disc on top, where players can stick on symbols or photos or whatever to make their own gods). The round disc on top is three-quarters of an inch diameter, while the stickers that come with the game are (and always have been) one inch in diameter. They put the wrong size disc on top. My mind races: Can I live with it being too small? More importantly, will it still work in the game? If I send it back to be fixed, will my delivery date get pushed back 6 weeks? Is it worth it, I pondered? (In my head I could almost hear a mouse’s voice asking, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”)

While I weighed this decision, I looked again at the Jesus figure. When I held it in my hand all seemed fine, but when I put them in a row for comparison, I realized I may have a problem. I had a Midget Jesus. (Or, to be PC, a “little people Jesus.”)

The gods need to look big and powerful, and well, godly. Jesus, who is in fact the tallest (and arguably most pissed-off looking) god among the Ltd. Edition figurines, looked kind of small and, well, elf-like or something. He’s mad as hell and got a cross raised above his head, ready to smack some Righteousness into an infidel. Alone the big JC wasn’t bad, but lined up next to the Big Bad Buddha and a Cranky Moses, Jesus looked like the runt of the litter. I gradually figured out what happened: the sculptor had kept the figures all in the same vertical scale. So that meant that the top of Jesus’s raised arms was the same height as, say, Kali’s head. So the sculptor shrunk the entire Jesus figure. All the figures are proportional to each other except Midget Jesus.

I hadn’t really thought of that problem, though in retrospect I guess I could have seen it coming. The Chinese sculptor—I think his name is Lee Ho Fook—didn’t really make an error, so I couldn’t blame him, in fact he probably did the right thing in terms of packaging. I was in no mood to lay blame or hurl accusations of stupidity or incompetence at anyone (myself). Spilled milk, etc. The question was, how bad is it? Will I get angry calls and letters from Christians who are upset that Jesus looks like a jockey? Would those sorts of people even play the game in the first place? Will it look weird?

I realized with a resigned sigh that changing the Jesus would require an entire re-sculpt. I’d have to go back to the artist, have him draw Jesus so that his hands are below his shoulders, then go back to my sculptor, Lasha, and have him do a whole new sculpt, then— No. I decided I’d have to live with it, at least for the first production run. Maybe I can fix it in the second run. Or, if I get any complaints, I’ll suggest he or she buy the Limited Edition idols, where Jesus is actually taller than the rest of the gods. Midget Jesus or no, the game must go on. So I e-mailed them and gave approval. One mile stone passed. Better than a kidney stone, I guess.

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