The Making Of A Small Star

The Making of a smALL-Star

An in-depth look at the hand craftsmanship and attention to detail adopted by every single member of the new NBA-Edition smALL-Stars

Making smALL Stars

Licensing:

Before the smALL-Stars product line can begin we have to acquire all the proper licensing. To create and use player likenesses we need permission from the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association). To use the uniforms and team logos we must have permission from the NBA’s licensing arm NBAP (National Basketball Association Properties). We will be required to submit all smALL-Stars related items and materials to both entities along the way for their approval prior to any products reaching store shelves in the marketplace.

Player Selection:

The process starts with identifying the players that will part of the product line for a given season. With so many great players young and old this is always a difficult process. There are over 450 players in the NBA so making the call on who to include and who to leave out is tough.

Modeling

Once the player is selected, the facial likeness must be sculpted. Since we produce stylize versions of the players we select we start by collecting a variety of images of the player to determine which of their features we want to try to capture to represent their specific look and feel. Our talented artist then set about sculpting a virtual 3D version of the players head on the computer (we use Maya and Z-brush). The player’s body is created using the same methods.

3D Printing & Approval

Once the player’s head and body are sculpted, the files are converted from the virtual world to real world. They are then sent to our 3D printer so we can see

Once the head and body sculpting are considered complete, they are sent off to the NBPA for approval. If they are approved we can move forward. If not, we will need to make the required adjustments before we can move forward.

Uniform Selection

While the player sculpting is being approved we will make the decision on which uniform the player will wear. Once selected we will submit a request to NBAP to get the okay to use the selected uniform and logos. (The player name for the uniform must be approved by the NBPA)

Paint Master & Approval

Once player sculpture and uniform have been approved we move forward with producing a painted prototype of the selected player’s Small-Star. Here the figure is painted up to resemble what it will look like once we go into production. 

Once complete, the pre-production sample of the packaging can be sent off for approvals from the two required licensing entities.

Package Design

While we wait for the SmALL-Stars figure approvals we will try to finalize the packaging designs. Packaging usually includes player names and numbers, team colors and logos, as well as all league and player association logos and legal language.

Packaging Samples & Approvals

Once designs are complete a mock-up prototype sample of the box/packaging is produced.

Once complete, the pre-production sample of the packaging can be sent off for approvals from the two required licensing entities.

Production

After all of the pre-production work is completed and approved, we can finally go into production of the real product that consumers will own.

Uniform Labels

To get the uniforms as accurate as possible, clean digital files of all the details are created. This insures the high quality of stripes, numbers, names, and logos will be maintained on every figure produced. Special permanent decal labels are created that will be meticulously applied by hand to each and every figure.

Molds/Molding

Steel molds are created for the figure’s body and heads. These are special steel molds produced for high heat, injection molding. This process insures each figure produced will maintain the consistency of our stylized look and feel in our unique player sculptures.

Painting & Assembling

Once pulled from the molds and allowed to cool, the painting process can begin. Each player head features hand painted detail that brings the player likeness to life. Attention to detail must be paid to ensure the quality level remains high on each piece.

Since some parts of the smALL-Stars figures require more hand painting than others, the painting is completed first. Then the assemble can begin. The last step before slipping the figures into the packaging is making sure each piece is put together properly and inspected for quality.

Packaging

Finally, the smALL-Stars figure can be carefully placed into the its box. Each figure is snapped into the specially molded clear vacuform clamshell pieces that securely hold the figure in place for safe transport and shipping.

We are glad to know so many people like the smALL-Stars product line and appreciate the support you have shown us over the years. As you can see it is a long process to produce a smALL-Stars figure from conception to completion. It takes a lot of time and energy to bring them to market. We like to think we are producing high quality collectible art for the those who love and follow the NBA and its stars.

Hope you enjoy them as much we enjoy making them for you.