Custom Store Displays

Custom Stony Store Display

** Disclaimer: I make these displays. They were not made by any company currently, or in the past, affliated with Marx. I do not make these for resale, but instead for my personal use. Any / all use of the Marx trademarks, wordmarks, logo's, etc. are just to preserve historical accuracy in my creation. **

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The Work...

I love Stony!
When I first saw this original display on ebay I was psyched! But alas, it went for more money than I was willing to spend at the time. That got me thinking... being pretty good with photoshop I wondered if I could somehow recreate this masterpiece for my own.

Starting with just this picture of the original, I cracked open Photoshop and started to play around. I quickly realized that I had to get some information first. For example, if I wanted this printed what settings would I use in Photoshop to ensure that the print came out looking good? Also, how big is the actual display??

After trip to a couple of local photo printing places I learned that for the photoshop image to print well I had to make the image using a 300 dpi resolution. OK, no problem. Now how to figure the size?

The only frame of reference I had to the actual size was the size of the accessories in the image. So doing some measurements of actual accessories and comparing them to the digital copy I was able to come up with a scale to work with. Turned out to be something like 3:1 ratio. For every inch in the digatal picture the actual size is 3 inches. Hmmm, break out the calculator... if the image is 8 iches wide... then the real one needs to be about 24 inches wide and 18 inches tall...hmmm, at that size and dpi then the image itself will be.... OMG - HUGE! Actually turned out to be about 150MB after all the art work was done.

It took me several hours for many days to reproduce in Photoshop all the elements of the display. For those of you who don't know Photoshop, it is a graphics editing/creation program from Adobe. One of the main features is called 'Layers'. Think of a layer as a seperate part that you just stack on top of each other to create the image. I like this feature, and so created seperate layers for: The yellow background, the brown dirt, the brown barbed wire, the green card background, the red banner background, the blue dot, the white title background and the medal ribbon shown above Stony, and the Marx X logo.

I then had to match up the Font style. Not as easy as it sounds. Fonts (letter styles) are not always free and to find that 'one' font that is correct amongest thousands of choices was hard. Add to that, not all the lettering on the display uses the same font. Actually there's five or six different ones.

After a lot of work I finally had the images created. I had seperate images for the overall background, the green accessory card and the brown figure base block. Off to the printer! First hurdle was to find a place that could actually print good quality images on a paper size of 24 x 20 (wanted to leave a one inch white border around the images so that I could trim them out). I finally found a local photo shop that could do the work. Several attempts later I actually walked out of the store with good prints. Some of the issues I had were that the store personnel wanted to enlarge or reduce one or more of the prints, I had to keep explaining to just print them at 100%! They all needed to fit together after I cut them out! The other issue was to calibrate their large photo printer (which was brand new) to print the actual colors I had in my images... Suffice it to say, the print shop was happy to see me go after messing up about 4 sets of prints. The cost of the prints was determined by square footage. At $17 / per sq ft. The two 24x20 inch prints were not cheap!

Alrighty! I had the prints - now what!?? Since I had no idea of how the original display was made I just decided to go the 'simple' route. "SIMPLE" I SAID!!!! Turned out not to be so simple but I learned some lessons along the way.
  1. What Materials to use. I decided to use plywood and matt board for my construction materials. Lesson: Plywood is too heavy!
  2. How to Construct: I decided to build the wood pieces first - So I cut the plywood for the background, created a little stand in the back out of more plywood, built the figure stand block out of pine. Lesson: Plywood is too heavy! hmmm, where have I heard that before?
  3. With this bare board in hand I retired to the basement (Bat-Cave) to figure out what to do next. Lesson: Plywood is still too heavy!
  4. I then decided that I needed to cut out the seperate prints of the pieces and glue them onto the matt board. So breaking out the steel ruler (as a cutting guide) and a new blade in my exacto knife, I went to town! Lesson: Don't do this with dirty hands - Doh! I left a smudge on one of the prints!
  5. More lessons: Don't use water to clean smudges off of an ink jet printed image!
  6. Next day back to the printer to get one more print of the one I messed up yesterday....Crap! They enlarged it again!!!! NO! NO! NO! - Just do it like yesterday.... Stomping out of the store I finally had my print (again).
  7. Now with clean hands I start cutting. Hmmm, haven't I heard something about 'Measure twice, cut once'? Nah! Just go for it... Lesson: Measure Twice, Cut Once! I actually cut the image a little shorter than the board I made. Back to the saw to cut the board down!
  8. I then cut all the matt board pieces to match the print cut outs.
  9. Finally, everything is cut out and dry fitted! Looking good. Now, how to glue the prints to the matt board? Glue, you say... Yep, good idea - Do you know how many types of glues there are!!!!????. Now, since I had a little difficulty with water and these prints (See? I learned) I didn't want to use a liquid glue. So off to the hobby store for some spray-on glue!
  10. I sprayed on the glue to the backing matt board and carefully placed the background print - Using a roller, I smoothed it all out and put it face down to let it dry. After it dryed (couple of hours) I picked it up and tested one corner - the whole print almost slid off! Lesson: Spray adhesive - no good!
  11. Being leary of the 'wet' glue I decided to try it anyway. I reasoned that a thin, even coat of elmers glue would be best - not too much to soak into the photo paper or matt board and ruin it.
  12. Using a foam brush I applied a thin, even coat of glue to the matt board, positioned the print, smoothed it all out with a roller and placed it face down with boxes as a weight to let it dry.
  13. I was concerned that I ruined the print but when I picked it up and examined it - it turned out really well! Everything was stuck fast and even the corners didn't come up. Lesson: Elmers glue is OK if used wisely!
  14. I repeated the glueing process to glue the background matt/print piece to the wood background. Now I could start to see how the display would look!
  15. The figure stand block and accessory card presented their own share of problems in cutting, shaping and glueing, but eventually I had all the pieces ready for final assembly!
  16. But WAIT! What do I do with the accessories? How do I mount them? The orginal has this plastic shield over the top, Can I do that?? Lesson: Take one challenge at a time and think before acting.
  17. The first thing I had to do was attach the accessories to the accessory card. I considered doing the 'Barbie - way' of tying them all on with string. But after a couple of experiments I quickly learned that it would take me a month of Sunday's to cut, thread and tie all those strings. So I stumbled upon some bare copper thin wire and gave that a shot - Worked great! Easy to work with and stiff enough to stay in place. Best of all it did not detract from the look of the piece. In today's world, Marx may very well have used wire. Lesson: 20 guage Copper wire is good.
  18. The way I did the accessories is that I placed the piece on the board where it was according to the original. Then I marked where I would drill holes for the wires using a small dental pick. This made drilling much easier because the drill bit would not slip out when put into this depression. I would then drill the hole using a very fine (small) bit - about the size of 20 guage wire. Lesson: Thin, little drill bits are fragile (and not cheap). I would then cut the wire to length, feed it around the accessory into the holes and then twist the wires together on the back side of the card.
  19. I decided to try to replicate the original display. So I experimented with many techniques to get a plastic film over the accessory card. Nothing worked and I then decided to leave it alone. Lesson: Cling wrap melts FAST when using a hot air gun!
  20. So Now I have the background, a figure stand block, and the fully accessorized accessory card (complete with lots of wire twists in the back)! How do I put this together? The card has to go on first.... Oh No! All those wire twists mean that it can't fit flush against the background! So out come the wire clippers and I trim everyting as much as I dare to and bend all the wire twists over to lay flat against the back of the Accessory card. A dry fit on the overall background and I'm ready. With staple gun in hand I position the Accessory card and THWACK!, zap in a staple (like the original) - Slam, the staple hits the plywood and doesn't go all the way in... Out comes my hammer and a couple of blows later I have a partially embedded staple! Lesson: Plywood is too hard!
  21. I continue on in this frustrating way until I have the card firmly stapled and restapled into place - Got to come up with a better way to do this! Still, it looks pretty good.
  22. The figure stand block is easy, all I had to do was position it, drill starter holes for the screws and screw it on through the back of the display. Stony goes on top and WHAM! I'm done....I have my very own Stony Store Display

Costs: About $80.00 for the prints, about $25 for other materials (Matt board isn't cheap), About 100 hours in photoshop work, about 8 hours in assembly work (takes a while to wire all those acc's).Lesson: Do not consider doing this as a business!