As many of you know, I will be returning the mold (used for making new ColecoVision casings) to Eduardo in about a month (on October 10th, to be exact), and I am currently waiting for Moldex to produce the last batch of casings for a few customers here. But my dealings with Moldex may not end after October 10th...
Just yesterday morning, I had a meeting with Sylvia at Moldex, and we discussed the possibility of producing new ColecoVision controller overlays. I showed her several samples: One original Mouse Trap overlay (which has the best plastic quality), one Smurf Paint & Play Workshop overlay and one Face Maker overlay (quality is a little less in those two cases, compared to the Mouse Trap overlay, but not too bad). I also showed her a custom overlay I created for Gateway to Apshai, which was printed on mylar by eColeco.com, a couple of years ago. It should be noted that eColeco does not offer this overlay printing service anymore.
The main problem with the eColeco overlays is that they printed the artwork on top
of the mylar, and the artwork tends to get scraped off while you insert the overlay in a CV controller, especially along the left edge. I speak from experience when I say this, and that's why I have actually refrained from using my eColeco overlays. Another problem with eColeco's overlays is that they were cut by hand, which did not always produce good results.
Moldex is not equipped to print the overlays themselves, but Sylvia has contacts with another company that can do the job, with laser cutting for great results every time. And the artwork would be printed under
the mylar, so it would be more durable and less prone to peeling off after repeated uses.
So we effectively have a brand new possibility of having new ColecoVision overlays produced. I haven't worked out all the details, but as you can imagine, there are certains issues and constraints that we have to work with. Sylvia measured the thickness of the Mouse Trap overlay with a caliper, and she came up with 6 "thow" (I don't know how to spell that). All the other overlay samples were 5 "thow". She told me she could offer me a thickness of up to 12 "thow", which would be quite durable, but I'm not sure if such double-thick overlays will actually slide inside the CV controller without problem. So there's some testing to do there.
The second issue is the artwork. When printing stuff like this, the number of colors becomes important. A basic printing job involves no more than 4 colors. If you require more than 4, it adds to the complexity of the job, from what I've been told. So it may be slightly less expensive to limit ourselves to 4 colors. I'm not sure if the 4 colors can be ANY color, or if there's a precise range of colors to choose from, I have to get more details about that too.
And of course, there's the issue of quantity versus price. Just like for cartridge casings, there's a fixed machine setup fee of over 100$CAN, no matter how many overlays are produced. Sylvia gave me a rough estimate that each overlay should cost between 1$ and 3$, depending on colors and total quantity produced, but that DOES NOT include the fixed machine setup fees. I do not currently know how many overlays can be printed on a single sheet of transparent plastic (it depends on the dimensions of the sheet), but it's clear that producing just a handful of custom overlays can be overly expensive, mostly because of the fixed setup fees.
On the plus side, this opens the door to several opportunities:
1) Create replacement overlays for legacy games (Mouse Trap, Ken Uston's Black Jack/Poker, Spy Hunter, etc.)
2) Create custom overlays for legacy games that did not have any (Gateway to Apshai, Quest for Quintana Roo, etc.)
3) Create overlays in higher numbers for upcoming homebrew CV games (Utopia and Space Shuttle immediately come to mind, where my own Team Pixelboy projects are concerned). For a run of 100 games, if two overlays are included with each game, then that's 200 overlays right there.
So what do you guys think?