I recently posted a link to a new obsession of mine, namely the Cubeecraft website that produces and hosts easy to follow patterns for creating your own paper-crafted toys. After putting together three or four of the figures, I got in touch with Christopher Beaumont, the talent behind the toys, and was able to talk with him about this marvelous site he’s assembled.
Mechazilla: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’m a big fan of your site, but can you give a brief description of what Cubeecraft is for folks who might not be familiar with the site and these kinds of toys?
Christopher Beaumont (CB): Cubeecraft is a website featuring paper toys that you can build by simply downloading, printing, and folding. The toys are designed to be built without the need of tape or glue.
Mechazilla: When and how did you first get into paper crafts, and what brought you to designing the Cubeecraft figures?
CB: My earliest papercraft memory was an Arwing from Star Fox that came with an issue of Nintendo Power magazine when I was little. Otherwise I have always liked crafty stuff.
I had built a number of papercraft models over the last few years and often was not happy with the need for glue (especially when I didn’t have any) or I felt they were unnecessarily complex.
I’m not sure exactly when I got the idea for Cubeecraft, but I think it was stirring in the back of my mind when I was taking a packaging design class my last year at Pratt.
I wanted to create something that people could easily put together without any adhesives and still looked good when it was done. So, inspired by the forms of a number of designer toys, I built the first Cubee. I made a list of characters I’d like to make (it’s really long…) – just things I’m into or thought would be cool – and I set to work. I found that I could generally turn them around pretty quick so I decided to challenge myself by doing at least one a week and created the site so I could easily share them with friends.
Mechazilla: About how long does it take you to make a new character, and what’s your usual process for doing it?
CB: The amount of time depends on how complex the design is. Even though there is a template there is a lot of little detail that can go into one or a likeness or what have you. The first thing I do is sketch out what I think the finished product should look like. If I’m happy with the sketch I set to work in Photoshop. If the figure requires an extra piece or other template modification I usually hand draw it then scan it and clean it up in Photoshop.
Mechazilla: The characters you’ve featured come from a huge variety of sources, including movies, comics, and anime. What are some of your own favorite fandoms?
CB: I like so much stuff it would be impossible to list it here. I’m sure there is stuff I’m into that hasn’t shown up on the site yet.
Mechazilla: What has the feedback been like since you went live with Cubeecraft?
CB: The feedback has been extremely positive for the most part. I think the only disappointments so far have been people who don’t have their favorite character(s) on the site to make.
Mechazilla: There’s a section on your website where users can submit their own designs using the Cubeecraft template. How many submissions do you tend to get from creative fans?
CB: I get at least 1 a week. It doesn’t seem like that much but they add up pretty quick.
Mechazilla: Do you have a favorite figure among the ones you’ve made?
CB: I couldn’t pick just one.
Mechazilla: I noticed that your site links to some external sites, including 4Kids, that have some of their own characters represented as Cubeecraft toys. What companies have you been able to work with like this, and how did those relationships come about?
CB: I have worked on a few animated shows here in New York, and the animation “scene” here is fairly small – so a lot of the studios that are around share the same talent. I’ve made some connections over the years and some friends have been interested in what i was doing. 4Kids (their studio produces Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles amongst other things) had recently re-launched their web site and they were looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the other kids cartoon sites. They saw some of the early papercraft I did, thought it would be good for the site, and that is that. I have a number of other projects coming up that are pretty exciting but I can’t talk about yet.
Mechazilla: Any hints as to characters we can expect to see on the Cubeecraft site in the future?
CB: I am looking to put up more original designs. You can also bet that if a character has appeared on the site, then another character from the series/movie/game will likely pop up at some point.
Mechazilla: Thanks again for the interview, and keep up the great work!