Wednesday, June 22, 2016

'Augmented reality' for collector pins? Yes, and more out now from FanSets—aka my old buddy Dan Madsen!

Some of just the first offerings from Fan Sets
It's the 50th! Everyone is looking for a new way to show and celebrate their Trekness... and now here's a cutting-edge spin on an old favorite from none other than my buddy and colleague Dan Madsen.

His new company FanSets just launched with Dan, founder of the former longtime Official Star Trek Fan Club and my boss-publisher for the late great Communicator mag, and two partners in a great new enterprise: combining official and beloved 2-inch Star Trek character and ship pens in a bunch of new ideas for wearing and display—including a blow-your-mind way to see and enjoy pins in a whole new way!

Wait, what? you're saying by now: 
Pins are kinda retro, old-school —and yet still fun for when you can’t cosplay and just want to wear a favorite ship or character. But what's cutting-edge about a pin?

My annual catch-up with Dan at San Diego Comic-Con
"It’s the Augmented Reality pins," Dan told me in an exclusive chat. "We are working with a company out of Indonesia that is one of the top three Augmented Reality companies in the world. Essentially, what this is, is—let’s take the Enterprise pin: You'll be able to take an app that we’ll provide and, when you see that pin on anyone, hold your smartphone or your tablet up to it for a second–and suddenly the Enterprise will come alive, out of the pin: it will literally be 3-D and move—shoot off into warp drive, with music and sound effects."

Or, say, point your app'd smartphone at one or more certain characters on a transporter pad and get a 3-D holographic beam-out effect, with voices and music. Or stand your Enterprise pin next to your buddy with her Klingon ship, and point again:  "The Enterprise will come out of the pin, the Klingon will come out of the pin, and they’ll have a space battle right there on your phone! Firing back and forth at each other."

Dan says he and FanSet partners Lew Halboth (28 years in the video game industry) and John Garrison(his industrial background backed by comics fandom) expect to have the first AR pin out by Christmas, and to demo the system for fans at "STLV"Creation Vegas Khaann. But long before then, there are lots of other lines coming—and an ever-growing batch of the basic pins are up at the website right now."The fun thing is, not only can you wear them, you can display them," Dan says. "If you decide today you feel like wearing Sisko, then you put Sisko on and wear him— then you come home and you put him back in your display."

They have "tons" of these pins planned—from basic character and ship pins by the "hundreds" of styles, where minor characters like M'Ress are just the start (she's in the first 50). "She's one of the coolest pins, to me," Dan says. "That’s just an example of how we’re going into more of the minor characters that you don’t see turning up on most merchandise, if at all."

But you can also look for everything from pins with moveable parts, to autograph pins (to get and wear your favorite actor's inking), to "alphabet" pins sporting a notable of that letter (S with a Spock!) ... to the AR pins and app. The autograph pins are slightly larger, but "not so heavy they weigh down your jacket!"—and take any pen used for signing regular photos.

"By Vegas in August, we will probably have 50-70 different ships and characters, and probably have some of the first autograph pins there for the actors who are appearing," Dan says. He's especially proud of the vibrant colors and the enameling on even the basic pins: "The website does not do these colors justice! The little Chakotay pin—it's only two inches tall, but you can see in detail the little tattoo on his forehead."

And by the end of the year we're going to be launching a collector’s club, so that people can not only get exclusive pins but get access to order first on our limited- edition pins—like a run of 1701 pins, and once they’re gone, they’re gone."

Look for a special FanSets display case coming, too. "The fun thing is, not only can you wear them, you can display them," he notes. "If you decide today you feel like wearing, you know, Sisko, then you put Sisko on and wear him— then you come home and you put him back in your display." You can collect them all, he adds—or maybe just the original series. Or Next Generation or Voyager, or just the ships, or the captains...and so on.

Dan was most enthused and insistent that his partners all came together with a business plan that took over three years to design and capitalize and, in a word, is not flimsy. They fully intend to "pump out" hundreds of pins, go deep into the Star Trek bench of characters, ships, and gear—and not be dependent on early sales to make the full line come to pass, including the high-end AR pins. "No, we're not launching with just a bare-bones line—that’s the reason it’s taken so long," he says. "None of us wanted to get involved if it was gonna be hanging by a thread, at first. We wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row, so as to have the biggest launch and rollout we could."

"We’re gonna have a huge collection in Vegas—our very first appearance at a convention, " he adds. "We hope to have an augmented reality demonstration there to show, and we’ll have a ton of pins there to buy. And at Mission New York a month later, and at Destination Star Trek Europe." The license includes many countries globally and covers all Prime Trek, with the Kelvin Timeline movies about to be added and the new Bryan Fuller TV Trek series dealt for as soon as possible.

FanSets also has a license for the same ideas with Harry Potter and DC Comics, and will be adding more franchises soon. "But I wanted to start with Star Trek because that’s where I started, with the Official Fan Club," Dan says, "and it’s still the closest to my heart. And to get them launched in time for the 50th anniversary!"

Timing did not allow FanSets to get a booth at massive San Diego Comic-Con—but Dan says they'll have a presence with two exclusives, available from either the Stylin' Online at the Official Star Trek booth or at the Stan Lee Comikazi booths at SDCC. One of the pins is a tribute to Nimoy, Doohan and Kelley on the transporter pad, the other is an Enterprise inscribed with the SDCC 2016 line—and both to be sold for that weekend only for $12.95.

Otherwise, the regular character pins sell for $8.95, the ships are $12.95, and the Augmented-Reality pins are $12.95 as well. The line of the moveable-part and larger autograph pins are not set yet, but everything the company sells will be under $20.

And, he proudly adds, no consultants were used in the choosing of these pins.

"We’re all Star Trek fans—we sat down and thought, who should we do?" Dan recalls. "We have to do the main guys, but once past that—who are the ones we don’t see very often that we ought to do? We don’t have to sell a million of each one—we’re selling to collectors, so we can do a smaller run and do pins that appeal to a smaller number."

Sure, that's great talk, I tell him—but have you thought about a Tellarite?

Dan knows me well: “I am absolutely proud to tell you that we have a Tellarite!"

I can't wait to see it.

FanSets also has a Facebook page.

1 comment:

simwave said...

One of the most amazing implementations of AR in medicine comes probably from one of the most simple uses of the technology, remote viewing.

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