Help create a monster or two

Toy designer Todd Broadwater of New Freedom needs help launching his new toyline for his Nevermore Toys company. The action figure set is called Legendary Monsters. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Toy designer Todd Broadwater of New Freedom needs help launching his new toyline for his Nevermore Toys company. The action figure set is called Legendary Monsters. (Todd Broadwater photo)

A York County man is laboring to give birth to monsters.

Not Hollywood monsters, but honest-to-goodness folk monsters. The sort of monsters with tales travelers shrug off and laugh at while the locals warn and nod and stay in after dark.

The Jersey Devil. Mothman. The Missouri Monster, aka Eastern Bigfoot. Chupacabra.

Meet Todd Broadwater, a 40-year-old toy designer with a serious business plan and a fledgling company.

 Todd Broadwater, 40, of New Freedom,  is a toy designer who has worked on action figures and video games. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Todd Broadwater, 40, of New Freedom, is a toy designer who has worked on action figures and video games. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Legendary Monsters “is the first toy line for Nevermore Toys,” he says in a recent phone interview. The idea for the monster-themed action figure line came to him several years ago. He put it on hold when he changed careers from toy to video game design, but he couldn’t stop hoping he’d find a way to make the dream a reality.

“It wasn’t until I found Kickstarter that I realized the potential to get it out to the public,” he says. Kickstarter, one of several online crowdfunding sites, helps artists, designers and inventors of all kinds bring their ideas straight to people who directly fund the projects in exchange for special perks.

Started early: Broadwater’s love for action figures began in childhood, in the years before video games and technology became the all-consuming obsessions of childhood they are today.

“I spent a lot of time playing with action figures,” he says, describing how he and his friends grew up on toys from Star Trek, Star Wars and G.I. Joe. “We would travel in packs and take our toys with us. … They let me push my imagination and escape into a place that made me happy.”

As he got older, collecting action figures became a hobby that kept him out of trouble,Broadwater says. His love for toys led him to pick a career path in industrial design and work for the industry on toy lines big and small, including some he’d played with as a child. But there’s only so much room for a designer’s imagination when the characters are as well-known as Batman or Captain Kirk.

Authenticity: When he went to work on his own toy line, Broadwater knew he wanted to keep that sense of free, creative play while staying true to the folktales.

The monsters are designed with both adult collectors and rough-and-tumble child’s play in mind. Each will come with a human action figure and a small playset to showcase the spooky encounters described in the eyewitness accounts.

The Jersey Devil, for example, stands amid the fallen trees of the Pine Barrens while an old man swings his lantern and clutches his hunting rifle. Will he make it out alive? In the world of imagination, only the person holding the action figures knows for sure.

Get the toys
Buy-in levels for Legendary Monsters start at $1 and range all the way up to $5,000 for a complete set of toys, original drawings, original toy prototypes and more. A set of all four monsters, with their humans and accessories, will run investors $90 plus shipping.

The toys are expected to arrive in buyers’ hands around Halloween. To pre-order a set or see all of the available buy-in levels, visit

Creator Todd Broadwater is working with manufacturers to drop the project’s overall Kickstarter goal of reaching $350,000 to cover factory costs, shipping and warehousing, and other production elements.

Learn more about Nevermore Toys at

Reported by MEL BARBER of The York Dispatch. Reach her at 854-1575 X458 or at

Original story here:

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Paintings merge art and science

One of Shoshanah Dubiner's amazing paintings.

Creatures that are too small to be seen with the naked eye are the central characters in Shoshanah Dubiner’s dramatic, colorful paintings.

Her imaginative worlds of microscopic bacteria, DNA and protozoa — blown up into large-scale paintings — are going on display soon at Southern Oregon University’s Thorndike Gallery.

“The real trick is to not be just a scientific illustrator, but to bring in my personal feelings and associations,” Dubiner said. “I want to create another vision, another world.”

The Oregon artist has made a career out of merging art and science ever since she began designing exhibits for different departments at the California Academy of Sciences in the 1970s.

“I was always learning something new, and then I got to do something artistic with the information,” said Dubiner, who has designed exhibits for different institutions exploring everything from petroleum to Arabic advances in math.

She had a fairly traditional approach to painting until she began experimenting with “process painting” — a spontaneous, intuitive method that eschews planning out compositions in advance.
Her vivid paintings now have a fluid, organic feel.

Shoshanah Dubiner likes to create a fluid feel with her paintings.

Learning: But Dubiner hasn’t shifted away from learning about science. In 2007, she took a cell biology college course that still informs her work.

“The pictures and diagrams in the textbooks just blew my mind,” she said. “It was amazing. I used drawing as a way of learning. For example, I would draw a diagram of algae, but I would transform it through color. It took on a life of its own.”

For added inspiration, Dubiner also looks to microscopic photo competitions put on by microscope makers such as Nikon.

“Microscopic images are becoming more and more beautiful. Scientists are adding phosphorescent proteins to light up the cell,” she said.

For all: Dubiner said she wants to portray microscopic life in a style that is accessible to the general public — beyond what people see in textbook illustrations or in photos taken with the aid of microscopes.

“What you have a hard time finding is a playful, exuberant and aesthetic depiction of the hidden world of the tiny,” she said.

Reported by Vickie Aldous of the Ashland Daily Tidings from ASHLAND, Ore. (MCT)
Visit The Ashland Daily Tidings (Ashland, Ore.) at

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Get creative, make a hat

Making a bucket hat probably isn’t on anyone’s bucket list, but maybe it should be.

Check out these three reversible bucket hats made from patterns included in the book "Oliver+S: Little Things to Sew," in Bedford, N.H. The reversible bucket hat in the book is classic, cute and comfortable. And author Liesl Gibson maintains that making it is a treat for grown-ups as well as the young recipients. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

The reversible bucket hat in the book “Oliver + S: Little Things to Sew” (STC Craft, 2011) is classic, cute and comfortable. And author Liesl Gibson maintains that making it is a treat for grown-ups as well as the young recipients.
Sewing, for Gibson, is “almost a luxury.”

It “buys you some time — time to do something creative with your hands. When so many of us are working on computers and not doing much with our hands, there’s a real satisfaction in making something.”

Gibson, a former clothing designer, began designing patterns for children’s clothing several years ago, for her young daughter. When others started asking for her patterns, she launched her Oliver + S line of patterns, and followed up with the book.

It includes new takes on classic items such as a messenger bag, art smock, baby bib and tutu. Gibson designed an “explorer vest” with lots of pockets after watching her daughter and friends gather stones, twigs and other little treasures.

Gibson said she’s been encouraged to see many women learning to sew when they become mothers. But she also believes her patterns and projects have a broader appeal, to anyone interested in sewing for children because it doesn’t take much fabric and doesn’t involve the fussy fitting issues that make sewing adult clothes difficult.

“I think the big surprise for me was that it wasn’t such a small audience,” she said.

Each project in the book is rated by difficulty using a 1-4 “scissor” system. Projects marked with one pair of scissors are suitable for beginners; those with 4 scissors are for advanced sewers.

While children likely would find some of the toy projects more appealing, the classic clothing and accessory designs lend themselves to experimenting with a variety of fabrics. The bucket hat, for example, can be customized by using a patterned fabric featuring a particular child’s interests. And a child who might otherwise balk at wearing a hat might embrace one that he or she had a hand in designing.

As with many of the book’s projects, Gibson designed the hat with her daughter in mind. But it works just as well for boys.
It’s a great project for summer — the wide brim offers sun protection. “I became very particular about the fit. I wanted the brim to be at a certain angle,” she said.

The hat is reversible, so you can choose two favorite fabrics, or you could put a pocket on the outside.

It is rated “two scissors” because it requires sewing curved seams and topstitching, but no one step is complicated.

“It’s small enough that you can make a bunch,” Gibson said.

To download the bucket hat pattern and directions go to:

Reported by HOLLY RAMER of the Associated Press.

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Meet a 7-year-old artist

Alissa Shue, 7 of Manchester Township, is an accomplished artist for her age.


Working in watercolor, acrylic, and oil based paint and using an assortment of sponges, brushes, her fingers and sometimes even her feet, Alissa creates abstract paintings that her father Jason describes “look like a kid’s imagination poured out on canvas.” Several of Alissa’s paintings are in the hands of fans, family and stranger alike and two of her paintings have been donated for charity, one was auctioned to raise money for educational programs for children in the Everglades, the other for a young boy who was in the hospital. The painting was raffled off and the proceeds helped cover the cost of the patient’s medical bills. Alissa now has her own website where a portfolio of her paintings are on display.

See a video of Alissa below.

Tell Junior Dispatch about your art by e-mailing us your story and a few samples of what you have done. And we’re not just talking art on paper. If you’re a writer or performer, we want to know about that too.

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