Category: Interviews

Interview: US Army Soldier

Where are you stationed?
Within the Baghdad city limits.

How long have you been stationed in iraq?
A couple of months now.

Where are you originally from?
Good old Indianapolis Indiana.

Most of indiana is influenced by Christianity, how does it feel to be in a country that is influence by another religion?
Huh? I didn’t know the christianity part haha 🙂 but to answer your question its really not different to me. The citizens we see and meet love us and ask us for different things like food water and soccer balls, really all smiles and friendliness, so its not to bad really.

Have you ran into any civilians who are not happy with the military presence, and if so, how do you deal with them?
I personally have not, I’ve only been out a few times and every time its been a pleasant experience we have protocols with those who respond negatively though.

Over here whenever we see anything to do with Islam often the worlds fundamentalist or extremist are used in conjunction with Islam. Islam claims to be a religion of peace. Being in a Muslim country do you feel that they are peaceful or more fundamentalist/extremist?
I’m not sure honestly, I don’t find out the religious views of any of the people I meet here. The language barrier makes it kind of hard to communicate but everyone i have met have been friendly and peaceful.

Some people say there’s no such thing as a just war. How does your unit feel about the iraqi invasion and occupancy?
It would depend on what time frame being deployed here now we are ready to come home we don’t do anything but supervision for their police and army to make sure they can hold on their own but also this wasn’t any conventional war.

You say it would depend on the time frame you asked that question. What are the different time frames? Incursion, Securing Iraq, and Occupation?
Those would be the different types of warfare. I think that it varies with each sometimes the initial invasion is unjust, with securing is neutral, and occupation is just. Take now for example we have occupied, our job now is not to destroy in any form but to rebuild, and improve we have built numerous water treatment facilities, waste management, power generators that make life easier, and the countries citizens much happier.

Where you saying that’s how it is with this war?
Mostly for any war in what I’ve seen and read initial invasions there are no rules, a lot of innocents get killed securing is focused on just us entrenching ourselves and occupation is the rebuilding part.

What advice would you give a person who is about to join a branch of the military right now?
Hmm, that could be a long list actually haha. I guess make sure its something you can dedicate yourself to the military is time consuming especially on a deployment, you are gone from home a lot so it can be extremely tough if you aren’t dedicated to it.

If you could a different military branch which would you choose and why?
I think i would choose the army again, I’m good at my job here.

If you can go back again and choose whether to go back and enlist would you?
The air force was my original plan but they kind of fell through, and the army was always open.

Why the Airforce?
To be a pilot, but with any branch you can almost choose any job you want. I’m not sure if I would re-enlist or not, i enlisted at 17 haha. It would depend on if i had a girl or not i guess.

What would you send from the states to a friend of your’s serving in Iraq that you know he/she would definitely appreciate?
Hmm, it would depend on what that person likes everyone is different someone might like one thing, and hate another, and that be the complete opposite from the next. In general things here now are pretty just like back home we have internet, running water, everything I guess any form of entertainment now books, magazines, and such.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and is there anything that I may have missed that you’d care to share with my readers?
Haha, I’m not sure at all haha first interview myself feel free to ask more when you want to.

Thank you again for your time.

This was a rather impromptu interview if you guys have any questions you’d like to ask our soldier friend I’ll forward them to him.

Saucernauts Jeff(green) and Teddy (blue)

Before creating the Saucernauts did you have any other experience in vinyl toy industry?

My toy experience before launching the SaucerNauts line was mainly relegated to customs and blank figures like Qees, or Munny’s being done for fun. I’ve always enjoyed design, be it web design, print layouts, skateboard decks – it all interested me. Something just clicked one day and I decided to pop some of my own characters and designs off the page and into 3D.

What type of research did you do and are there any good sources, that you know of, that would help people who want to make their own vinyl toys come up with a popular product.

My research was mainly listening to what people had to say, and keeping an open mind.

I had been playing around with the Geoff character for a while, just drawing him doing different things, when I decided to make a sculpture of him. My wife came home and saw the little green guy sitting on a table and decided to make one herself. She then added to the character, putting some of her own style into it. Those first sculpts were definitely a team effort between the two of us.

From there I took that hybrid sculpt with concept art, and showed it around to friends and people I knew, asking if they thought it would make a good toy. My research was mostly just word of mouth, asking people what they liked and what they didn’t like about the character.

As far as resources for assisting in gathering feedback, check out the forums on designer toy sites. There’s a great community of collectors and creators out there. Take your ideas by your local shop if you have one. Here in Baltimore, MD we have a great shop called Atomic Pop, where the staff is really approachable and always willing to just talk. If you’re fortunate to have a similar shop, don’t be afraid to share what you’re working on with them.

I think that if you have a concept that you feel would make for a good toy, that you should step up and give it your best shot on your own. Then take that concept and show it around, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just taking that first step is the most important part.

Any design tips that you’d care to share?

Keep things true to what you enjoy. Don’t make something you wouldn’t be interested in yourself. I think everything turns out better if you stick to what you like.

Are there any things a person who wants to make vinyl toys stay away from. Like famous flops in the industry.

I don’t really want to call anything a “flop” b/c someone believed in it enough to take a chance on making whatever particular toy that would be. I would say, stay away from doing something just b/c you think its easy, or something that directly bites off someone else. Develop your own voice, don’t just jump on whatever happens to be hot that month. Also, don’t beat a dead horse, always be open to expanding the scope of what you think your ideas can achieve.

How did you choose a manufacturer?

There are a lot of places that are willing to take your money. For series one it was about building a relationship and actually making some friends. I was pretty fortunate to be able to work with like minded guys who understood what I was trying to do with the first figures. The guys over at Onell Design were really instrumental in making series one happen. They were hands-on and patient with me (this was after all my first attempt!). They guided me through the process, and together I think we put out a great little line of hand-crafted guys.

For this first plush line, I was looking into overseas production, so I mainly went off who had the best quality product, customer service, production timeline, and who could deliver those three things within my budget. It took some time, but with the power of the internet its not too hard to find people that mesh well with your vision.

There are a TON of domestic places in the US that do rapid prototyping for short runs, or overseas factories that do full runs, so finding a production source isn’t the hard part. The hardest part is coming up with a concept.

What type of expense can one expect to spend on vinyl toy production?

Ha! A lot…seriously, it’s an investment. Open some credit cards and keep your day job. For individuals that haven’t gotten to the point where the larger manufacturers are interested in helping out with costs, I would liken it to an unsigned band self-releasing a CD. To do it right, it’s going to be a struggle.

Was there any business model that you followed to achieve such a successful product?

Baby steps. Things can look overwhelming at times when you’re trying to get started. Personally, I try and focus on one task at a time. Of course it’s great to daydream about production runs with tons of characters, or getting your own blind box assortment, but at the end of the day if you can put out even just one of your ideas, you’re a success. After all, how many people actually take the initiative to do it and follow through?

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

You can find out more about the Saucernauts at their website:
or at his blog here on blogger

%d bloggers like this: