Posted on May 28 2021
Some of you might have heard about, or played the game 'Stardew Valley'. We're interviewing Tony Kuchar who played an integral role in the creation of promotional merchandise for the game - including the wooden standees & pins from the Collectors Edition.
We had the pleasure of being chosen by Fangamer, as the manufacturing partner for this awesome piece of merch, check out the details below!
🎮 Who are you, and what does your company do?
Fangamer is a licensed video game merchandise company - we design, produce, warehouse, and ship everything ourselves here in Tucson, Arizona.
I’m Tony Kuchar, I wear a few different hats at Fangamer; graphic designer, creative/art director, project manager, and production management. I managed to wear all those hats at once while working on the Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition project. Not sure how I pulled that off...
🎮 Can you give us and our readers a bit of background about Fangamer & Stardew Valley?
We’ve been working with Stardew Valley and its creator for I think about 5-6 years now? Pretty much as soon as the game came out a ton of us Fangamers got really hooked on it and we wanted to make merch. I don’t know the full story of how we got linked up with the SDV folks but its always been a super chill and fun working relationship. For sure one of the best developers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with!
I am still obsessed with the game. I’ve got about 200 hours put into one of my farms and I’m still not totally done with it yet. The recent Ginger Island update was also awesome and got me back into the game after a bit of a hiatus. Love that game.
🎮 Why did you choose Zap! Creatives to help bring your vision to life?
A crucial aspect of Zap! that I was drawn to was your use of responsibly sourced woods. Stardew Valley is in many ways, a game about getting back in touch with nature and living an eco-conscious life. So I wanted the items included in the Collector’s Edition to reflect that philosophy as much as possible.
The extensive environmental policy included on Zap’s site was invaluable. Knowing that the wood materials used came from fast-growing responsibly sourced trees helped put my mind at ease and actually became a key feature that we highlighted in our product descriptions.
🎮 How did you use our services to achieve the desired result for your project?
We leaned on Zap’s expertise pretty hard. I’ve never worked on mass produced wood product before and wasn’t sure what the limitations of that material might be. Zap! was very helpful in educating me on how the process of making wooden standees and pins worked. Luckily they didn’t mind all my questions!
🎮 What's the creative process with a project as large as the collectors edition standee?
Like most creative projects you rough out what you want it to be, you edit the idea so it’s feasible, then you devise a plan to make sure everything lines up properly (as best you can at least), and then you just go full speed and will it into existence. There’s always bumps and hiccups but that’s normal. In the end it was a fun and extremely satisfying project to have completed. Plus it looks really cute!
From start to finish the project took close to 2 years I think. I oversaw most aspects during that timeframe but I had a lot of help from other folks. Of course the art team: Kari Fry did an amazing job with art and illustrations for the standee and packaging, Laura Verdin killed it on the pin design, and Chihiro Sakaida provided adorable illustrations for the comic book and cleaning cloth. I also relied heavily on Fangamer publishing crew leads Ryan Alyea and Chris Warriner to help wrangle physical game production. I can’t forget about my dude Noah Lane too, who facilitated communication with the SDV folks and made sure all the legal/contract stuff was in order. Big products like this are always a team effort.
🎮 What was the best thing about our service?
Outside of just overall top notch quality production the best things about Zap! are your communication and professionalism. You folks were always very fast to respond and humoured the hundred+ questions I must have thrown at you throughout the process.
Managing the international freight shipping alone was a beast of a task and Zap! totally stepped up to the plate for us. Our initial production run called for 16k standees and pins. Each standee consisted of 6 pieces so that came out to about… 112,000 individual pieces that needed to be produced, organised and ultimately shipped to another continent. Pretty mind blowing and Zap! pulled it off without a hitch!
The SDV Collector’s Edition project as a whole had a lot of moving parts. Keeping track of it all was at times tough but it was HUGE relief to know that Zap! was always on the ball and willing to go above and beyond my needs and requests. Zap! is one of my all time favourite manufacturing partners!
🎮 Would you recommend us to others? If yes, why?
Oh totally, 100% yes! I already touched on Zap’s excellent communication and production but I would also like to highlight how quickly you all managed to manufacture those standees and pins for us. I can’t remember exactly what the timeframe was but it was tight, like a few months tight. But Zap! did it, you somehow cranked out all those pieces, it was awesome! You don’t find a manufacturing partner like that everyday. One that is willing to do what it takes to get the job done right and in record time.
🎮 Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
No not really :) It was just such a pleasure to work with the whole crew over there. Special shoutouts to Ben and Dave for helping with the initial run and thanks to Karen for helping with our recent reprint order!
You can purchase a Collectors Edition of Stardew Valley here.