Liithos Team Spotlight: Colin Hodges, Artist & 3D Wizard

Colin Hodges and Mr. Potato Rant

The fantastic team at Liithos has been working tirelessly on projects that aim to revolutionize the entertainment and gaming industries. Although they usually work behind the scenes as unsung heroes, we thought it was important to peel back the curtain and give some of our team members a chance to share insight into their roles in the Liithos ecosystem. 

Meet Colin Hodges, artist, 3D printing extraordinaire, award-winning scale modeler, and the man behind Mr. Potato Rant.

Mr. Potato Rant, conceptualized at home by Founder and CEO Michael Mumbauer’s wife, Annie, instantly excited Colin. Before Michael could finish the pitch, he started getting to work.  

Join us as Colin talks about the creative process and technical challenges of prototyping a brand-new toy, as well as the intersection of creativity and technology, both digital and physical, that he encounters in his line of work.

Help us understand the rapid prototyping of toys using the latest in 3D printing and the iterations you went through to get the final version of Mr. Potato Rant.

As the No One Is Safe cards were being created, Liithos already had some stellar 3D assets for the character RantCPU, but they weren’t 100% ready for printing. So, I worked with Umral Ismayilov, a 3D Character Artist, to create a couple of versions of Rant that were ready to print. I ran them through a CAD program to make sure the toy would assemble and fit together properly. Then, I hit print. 

RantCPU 3D Face

For Mr. Potato Rant, I’m using a Bambu Labs X1C printer, and it’s changed the way we 3D print. Before this printer, our prototypes would have taken much longer to complete, and the quality would have been considerably lower. 

In the “before times,” printing something in more than one color was super challenging. It was possible, but less reliable and, again, lower quality. I had to do that for version 0.1: print, then paint everything by hand.  But with my Bambu printer, I can print in multi-color. I want to say the printer came out about a year ago, and it was super high-quality compared to everything else on the market. It was perfect timing for this project. It was a game-changer and an immense time saver to have a higher-quality color capability.

I worked with Michael on the look and mechanisms of Potato Rant. First, I had to get the look down. Once we had that, I iterated on the character's problems as a physical piece. I worked with mechanical parts like Potato Rant’s limbs, and I could work through my methodology and processes faster than ever before. I can iterate faster because I can do multi-color and almost final-quality prints all in one go.

I have higher-quality prototypes, getting me closer to a finished product faster. I’m currently working on 10 of these prototypes.

Why use 3D printing when you can render an image?

The goal was to build a physical toy that encapsulated the RantCPU character. Rendering can only create an image; ultimately, we need something physical. 3D printing allows us to get from the 3D computer design to the physical thing that’s in your hands that you can play with.

Row of RantCPU face plates

There’s something about holding Mr. Potato Rant. It’s the physical interactions—when you touch it, how it feels, how the pieces interact—is it a smooth fit? Do the magnets thump together in a satisfying way? This all depends on whether it will physically work as a toy. We can create the character’s story digitally, but the toy is meant to be hands-on and tactile, and we have to iterate with a 3D printer to get there.

Tell me more about Bambu Labs. Who are they, and why did you decide to use their printer?

I’m using the Bambu Labs X1C printer because of its speed and quality. It’s so impressive. It’s about 4x faster than your typical printer before this model, and the quality is out of this world. Bambu Labs took the latest technology and added a bit more tech to make it incredibly fast and high-quality. And they made color changing super easy.

I liken it to how drone technology took off (pun intended) – DJI took drones from a hobbyist base and made them mainstream because of their accessible technology. Bambu Labs has done exactly that. It bridged the massive gap between 3D printing as a hobby by making it accessible to a broader audience. Prior, the divide between printing as a hobby and as a professional was massive amounts of money. Now, you can create “out-of-the-box” and run small productions, something that was difficult, not very reliable, and not cost-effective to do prior. 

RantCPU Hair

What was your favorite thing about prototyping and giving life to Potato Rant?

[Smiles broadly] RantCPU is such a fun character that fits into the moment's zeitgeist. I’ve enjoyed bringing him to life and pretty much nerding out and exploring this new frontier on how to approach 3D printing craftsmanship. This entire project was a new experience for me. This was one of the first 3D printing projects that I have done where the artistic and mechanical requirements were equally challenging. 

Your career history from Disney and PlayStation shows you are a mix of technical production and 3D Art.

Yes! This project fits the theme of my existence! Most of my career has been spent building high-end digital characters, but this time, I get to bring RantCPU to life offscreen!


For more info on Colin Hodges, follow him on LinkedIn

Army of RantCPUs





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