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Saturday, 04 July 2015 13:52

Prototype Coasters

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Awhile back we did some 3D print tests with a 3rd print company to see how the EPCOT logos would look…we recently added our very own 3D printer to our arsenal of tools and we figured we’d print out a full and complete set as a prototype. While these are reliefs and made of plastic, we may make the final product with a rubber material and inset the logo. Further below you will find another experimental square coaster, this has the inlay into the familiar square sign from EPCOT Center.

We know these will generate interest. However we need to work with Disney to get these approved for mass production. If you have any contacts at Disney merchandising/licensing please drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Stay tuned for Kickstarter info once we have a green light from the mouse…

Prototype Coasters

Prototype Coasters

Friday, 20 February 2015 15:57

Trains, Trains and More Trains

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Trains, Trains and More TrainsSo things have been a little quiet around here, but it’s not because we’ve wondered off, we’ve been a little busy.

 Over the last year we’ve been super busy designing, building and shipping wooden toy trains for a certain large train transportation company. They shall remain nameless at this point due to NDAs but it’s a given us a lot of experience in the design and manufacturing process that goes into making those little wooden toy trains that everyone loves. As of this writing, we’ve designed and produced three locomotive engines, five cars, a train station and various accessories to go along with the trains. We’ve also designed and produced all of the packaging that goes along with them.

One day, as we were working, it occurred to us that we’d never seen Disney produce any wooden toy trains as souvenirs to sell in their theme parks. And hey, we just finished up a round of wooden toy train production…hmmm…I wonder what the Walt Disney World Railroad trains would look like if they were made into wooden toy trains…

So using the experience we gained developing the toys for our client, we set out to design wooden toy train versions of the Walter E. Disney, Lilly Belle, Roger E Broggie and the Roy O. Disney. This is what we came up with:



Trains, Trains and More Trains


We’d like to think these would make awesome toys. And we’re seriously considering making one-off prototypes to further refine the designs. We’d like to hear what you think about them. Would you buy one (or more) if Disney sold them in their theme parks?

We’re trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to get in touch with the right people at WDW for proper licensing and approval. If you have any contact information please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trains, Trains and More Trains

Trains, Trains and More Trains

Trains, Trains and More Trains

Trains, Trains and More Trains

It may have seemed to be have a little quiet around here in February, but I can assure you we were busy. In fact we were working on several projects at once. I was busy working on the Horizons model and both of us were working on developing a toy which ate up a lot of our time.

While developing the toy we realized we should try a smaller test on a less complicated subject. This way we could test our the workflow necessary and test out a couple different prototyping and manufacturing methods. I remembered having a Horizons hovercraft model that would make a great test subject so we jumped in with it. It needed a little finishing up first and below are renderings showing the model in progress and in the finished state.

While I was working on finishing up the model I noticed on the nose of the hovercraft was printed the make-believe manufacturer: Pegasus and under that was the word “hoverlift” So that makes the Horizons Mesa Verde hovercraft actually the Horizons Mesa Verde Pegasus Hoverlift. Just a bit of Disney trivia for you fellow Disney geeks out there!

Horizons Hovercraft / Hoverlift 3D Model - 3/4 View Horizons Hovercraft / Hoverlift 3D Model - Top view Horizons Pegasus Hoverlift a.k.a. Mesa Verde Hovercraft Horizons Pegasus Hoverlift a.k.a. Mesa Verde Hovercraft Horizons Pegasus Hoverlift a.k.a. Mesa Verde Hovercraft
Horizons Pegasus Hoverlift a.k.a. Mesa Verde Hovercraft
Horizons Pegasus Hoverlift a.k.a. Mesa Verde Hovercraft
Horizons Hovercraft / Hoverlift 3D Model - Side View
Friday, 31 January 2014 09:47

JII Logo 3D Print Test

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We thought you may like to see the latest test off of the 3D printer…


Tuesday, 14 January 2014 13:00

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 2

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In part 1 of this update, I discussed the changes to the landscaping I’ve made to the Horizons model to improve its accuracy. In this part, I’ll explain the changes to the Horizons pavilion building I’ve made so far.

Luckily, most of the changes I’ve made and plan to make to the model of the Horizons building are minor and are mainly adding more detail and optimizing the mesh for later use in the model making process.

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 2 Entrance showing the scale

As you can see from the little guy (6′ tall), the pavilion was huge. This is what will make it very difficult to adhere to most model railroading scales.

You can also see the rebuilt landscaping curbs and walkways around the building in the rendering on the left. I also rebuilt each of the walkway lights and included some light objects for a later night time rendering.

I’ve left most of the texturing off of the new model objects as it’s not necessary for the production of the prototypes and it’ll save time. After the model goes into prototype production I can go back and create material shaders to finish up the look of the model.

The Horizons Sign

Due to the size of the final physical model, some of the details found in the virtual model may not make it into the physical production version. The details would simply be too small to replicate. But because with the 3D virtual model I can zoom in as close as I want, I’ve included a good deal of detail. Some of these details, such as the concrete expansion joints are useful in determining the placement, size and orientation of other parts of the model so they serve multiple purposes.

Horizons Sign - Close Up Close Up of the Horizons Sign

The Horizons sign is one of those features where I’ve included detail in the virtual model that is likely to be not as detailed in the final physical model. But it had to be accurate and complete for any renderings to look right.

The Horizons sign went through several versions through its life starting with the version you see in the rendering on the left. This is how the sign looked when Horizons opened in 1983.

2nd version of the Horizons sign 2nd version of the Horizons sign

At some point after this the words “General Electric” was dropped from the sign. I’m not sure why, it may have had something to do with GE updating their logo in 1986. The version in our model is the 1969 version of the GE logomark – the one that would have been in use when Horizons opened.

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 2 Final sign version

And of course, when GE didn’t renew their sponsorship of Horizons in 1993 all reference to GE was removed, and the sign was once again changed.

And we all know the sign finally was laid to rest in 1999. A moment of silence please…


Entrance to Horizons Entrance of Horizons

Most of the work I’ve done on the entrance was to add detail to the framing surrounding the doors and windows along with cleaning up the geometry. As the model has been through a couple different software packages now, the objects had gotten a little messy and need some cleanup.

If you look really, really close you can see some of the concrete expansion joints along with the new pavilion lights. The pavilion lights were spotlights pointed up at the bottom of the pavilion roof and used to light it at night. These are new to the model and are there in case we want to light the physical model. We can add the lights to them and light the model exactly as the real pavilion was. I’ve even angled them and checked them with virtual lights to make sure they are aimed properly.


I haven’t done too much with the rest of the building yet as I believe it’s pretty accurate. There may be some tweaks to the backstage areas but probably not much as I don’t have a lot of backstage reference material. You can see a glitch in the roof on the South side that appeared somewhere in the export/importing process so that’s something I have to fix. I also have to rebuild the numerous lightning rods located along the roof.

South side of Horizons South side of HorizonsHorizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 2 Northeast side of Horizons (backstage)

And of course, I have to build the remote camera that was located on the roof.

What’s Next

So I plan to finish up the landscaping then finish up the work on the building. Then it’s off to Todd for building the prototype.

Keep an eye on the site, our page on facebook and our twitter account for update announcements.

Monday, 13 January 2014 13:00

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 1

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This is the first in the series of updates to the process of turning my 3D Horizons virtual model into a real physical model. In case you missed it, check out the post showcasing the History of the Horizons Project for more info.

As always, will have the latest project progress posts first.

After Todd contacted me about turning my Horizons model into a real scale model, I re-opened my files and began inspecting my modeling to see where I had left off. I immediately noticed some inaccuracies in the landscaping around Horizons along with some sections of the pavilion itself being inaccurate.

Originally, I had based my modeling of the landscaping from a Epcot master plan I had developed some years earlier. It was somewhat accurate considering the sources I had available to me at the time. But quite some time had passed since I first created this master plan. I have since collected a lot more reference material that now allows me to increase the accuracy of the model.

So my first step was to compare the existing model’s landscaping to some of my newer reference material. I quickly realized that while it was close, it wasn’t as accurate as it could be.

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 1 Horizons Landscaping – Old vs. New


You can see the old version was stretched and lacked overall detail. The stretching occurred because it was based upon satellite imagery. Lens distortion and the curvature of the earth often creates a distorted image. While these images are useful for some generalized reference, they too often lead to inaccuracies like the stretching seen in the old version. So they’re not very useful to build directly upon.

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 1 Overview of new landscaping


Since my original modeling sessions, I have obtained some orthographic reference materials that not only corrected these distortions, it also provided some additional details that were lacking in the original model. However, after consulting with some early photo references, I found that there was still a lot of detail missing.

Horizons 3D Model – Update 1 – Part 1 Initial Horizons Landscaping Master Plan

So I spent about three weeks gathering additional materials and carefully cross referencing and enhancing my photos to assemble a new master plan for the landscaping, lighting and other areas around the pavilion. I used the expansion joint lines in the concrete to help establish accurate placement of the corners and other major features of the landscape edging. I feel I got pretty close to how the landscaping was in 1983/1984 when the Horizons pavilion was brand new. At this point, I realized that it would be quicker to simply start over on all of the landscaping modeling rather than try to correct the old model.

There were/are still two areas where I’m “fuzzy” on however. It’s those two little pockets located North and South of the main path to Horizons where there were some benches formed into the landscaping itself. After I began modeling the new landscaping, I was able to figure out where some of the lines were more than likely located. Sometimes it’s easier to figure things out in 3D rather than 2D. I also discovered a few additional 35mm prints I had taken of this area back in the mid-nineties.

Future World  - Epcot Future World – Curves vs. Angles

The East side of Future World tends to be laid out in a very symmetrical, and angular fashion – a stark contrast to Future World West, and this made it easier to ensure things were being placed where they should be as everything tends to line up with something else.

So I’ll be working on rebuilding the landscaping in front of and around the Horizons pavilion for a while as there is some pretty complex geometry going on there. The curbing consists of compound angles – not many of which end up being perfectly vertical and at right angles. The curbing in front of Horizons all contains a slight slope which, depending upon its elevation, affects the exact placement of the concrete expansion joints.


Next Update – The Horizons Pavilion Building Updates. Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 13:00

The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward

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One of the goals of my original Horizons project was to one day make a physical model from the 3D “virtual” model. I had intended to possibly employ 3D printing or rapid prototyping as part of the process in making my own personal architectural model of this beloved EPCOT Center former attraction.

I started on it ten years ago (2003). And I made pretty good progress on it during the first couple of years – working on and off as time afforded. But real life has a way of interrupting those projects that you do just for the love of it.

I started with some pretty basic software and techniques and the model and its complexity and rending realism have increased as my skill has through the years. I’ve also gone back and improved its accuracy as I have been able to gather more reference material from publicly available sources.

Here’s a look at some of the early renderings:


The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2003The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2004The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2004


In 2005 I began to utilize a more realistic rendering technique that led to better lighting and shadows on the model & surrounding landscaping. I also transferred the model into a newer and different 3D modeling software package.

The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2005The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2005The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project circa 2006


Life can quickly sidetrack a project and around 2007 I had to let the Horizons project go into hiatus as more pressing priorities vied for my time. Occasionally, I’d open up the old files and render out a new shot. It was even transferred through a couple more packages during this time as I tried out new software. Each time I tired to make the renderings as realistic as I could.

I even fiddled a bit with importing the model into a gaming engine or two to see what it would be like. But when I saw what Chris had done over at Horizons Resurrected, I knew he had that well taken care of. :)

Here are a few random renderings I created during this time:

The Horizons Model – A Look Back Forward Horizons Project 2007 – 2013

2013 – A New Dawn

In 2013 Todd, the owner of this site and, contacted me asking if I might be interested in creating a series of scale models of former and current Disney theme park attractions. Seeing that we both had similar interests and a dedication to quality I joined him in creating this site –

Retro Replicas

We’re going to combine my 3D modeling skills along with Todd’s scale model manufacturing experience and we’ll bring highly detailed and accurate architectural scale models of beloved Disney theme park attractions to life in limited-edition models available for purchase. We are also looking into producing smaller, high quality models so everyone can enjoy a bit of that Disney Magic in their collections.

Now, the road to producing fully licensed, high quality products, especially ones of this complexity and intricacy, is a long and difficult one. And as I’m sure we all realize, Disney is bombarded on a daily basis with requests to license everything under the sun with their name on it. As such, they have a very rigorous process in deciding with which products to associate the Disney name.

Where YOU Come In

We realize the market for these models is not as huge as your average Disney product, but we believe it to still be a very viable one. Over the years I have had countless people ask when or if I was going to make one of my models into a “real one” that they could buy. So we’re going to produce a couple prototypes of the Horizons model and we’ll post updates on our progress here on first. I’ll post updates to my site & social outlets the next day. So to get the latest progress updates first, come here.

We’re going to need your help in creating a buzz for these models in the Disney community and on the internet in general in order to convince Disney to allow us to license them. They need to see that there are enough individuals out there willing to put their money where their mouth/tweet/likes are.

So if you’d like to see this project succeed and to be able to purchase highly detailed models of Disney theme park attractions, help us get the word out about and our progress.

If we can dream it, we can do it.


Monday, 06 January 2014 09:53

Retro Replicas is open!

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A few months back two confirmed Disney nerds collided in the ether of cyberspace. Each had expertise in areas that the other was looking for, and before you knew it, a partnership was formed. Since then they have been lying the foundation for a new and exciting venture that no one has tried before. Enter RetroReplicas, formed to bring your favorite theme park attractions to your very own home. Thousands of fans have fallen in love with the architecture and design of theme park attractions but sadly many of these attractions are long gone, never to be seen again. Our goal is to allow you to feel the magic again while you hold in your hand miniature models of the buildings that amazed you years ago. Imagine your favorite buildings recreated in miniature, produced in limited numbered editions.

So who is behind this venture?

All the gory details are in our Who We Are page but the short story is that we have a master of 3D models and a expert in product design, sourcing and distribution. Did we mention they love everything vintage/retro Disney?

This site will serve a few purposes

  • Initially this is our soapbox to get the word out about us; and it will always be the place to find the latest news and progress.
  • W will be posting screenshots of our 3D models to show you what we are working on.
  • Most importantly as we develop and bring products to market you our readers/followers will be instrumental in providing feedback and telling us what you’d like to see. Think of us as a crowd-imagination-product venture!
  • Once the products are ready to be sold we will offer an online ship, coupons, contests, etc.

Most importantly, we want your feedback!

Tell us what you’d like to see us make:

Follow us!

Retro Replicas is open!

Retro Replicas is open!


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