On behalf of all of the interested Disney Infinity Fans we asked Sonicphoto some questions.
What is your real name? Country?
My name is Noel, and I live in Puerto Rico, Territory of USA
What is the origin story of your Toy Box submission username?
I am a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan so I decided to combine that with “photo”, because in my family we are all photographers and have been working in that industry for quite some time now. I have been using sonicphoto for everything, since my very first email account, so any time you see a sonicphoto on the net, there’s an 80% chance it could be me!
What made you decide to buy Disney Infinity?
My cousin received Disney Infinity 1.0 as a Christmas gift and I was curious to play the game and the toy box. I really enjoyed the time that I spent with the toy box. Even though the toy boxes I created were a complete mess, it was fun to create platforming levels. But since the game was not mine, I didn’t have the time to polish and theme properly the toy boxes. I wanted to get the game, but it was too expensive for me back then.
Later, Disney Infinity 2.0 got announced and I was super excited about it to see the marvel superheroes in the game. So I decided to prepare to buy the game as soon as I could, and I did and it was great!
What is your favorite play set and why?
I sadly still haven’t gotten a chance to play the 1.0 playsets, but from the 2.0 playsets I think the Guardians of the Galaxy one is the most fun one because it plays with different gameplay rather than too much combat like the avengers one, and I love the overall visual design. Ronan’s ship from the inside looks really neat!
Who is your favorite Disney Infinity 2.0 character and why?
My favorite character is Hawkeye. I was really happy they brought in all the avengers characters, including Hawkeye who usually gets ignored in merchandise and promotions, same thing with Black Widow. Hawkeye is my favorite Avenger, and I was happy with his move sets with the different arrows he could use. I also like the design of the figure and pose they chose.
Which character would you like to see included that hasn't already been and why?
Well from Disney I would like to see Flik from A Bug’s Life, one of my favorite films from my childhood and one that I used to have toys, for just about every character on the film. From the marvel side, I would like to see Vision. I loved him in the film.
Which announced Disney Infinity 3.0 character are you most excited for?
I am most excited for Master Yoda! He is my favorite Star Wars character overall. He is a great wise character that despite being so wise, still goes through an evolution from a warrior in the prequels clone wars era to a more spiritual character on the original trilogy. I love how he jumps around and swings his lightsaber and his strong abilities with the force. I’m excited to see all those abilities and powers transition into 3.0! From the non star wars ones, I’m excited the most for the Tron characters, I always wanted to have figures from that movie and never had before. But in general, looking forward to all 3.0 characters, very awesome lineup.
What is your favorite power disc and why?
Sky and terrain discs are my favorites in general, but if I have to pick one, it’s the Frozen sky and terrain discs. I don’t get tired of using them and I like how it really helps making your box feel like winter, even if it’s not a Frozen themed box. I also love the detail of Elsa’s palace in the background.
What is your favorite toy in the toy box?
Wow, a bit tricky to choose but as a film student, I love playing with the camera to make cutscenes, or make the gameplay be played through a different perspective like side scrolling. It helps create a more fresh experience and decorate in different ways due to the change of perspective the player can see things. I also love the text creator to make those cutscenes have a dialogue. Recently, I love the replayer as well; it really is a tool that’s magical for doing so many things.
What made you want to build toy boxes for challenges?
I started building for myself on 2.0, then tried the first challenge “Avengers Assemble”, after not placing I moved on to working on my own non-challenge boxes. I did this because I really wanted to polish better my toy boxing skills before returning to do challenges. I decided to return doing challenges during Cinderella Challenge because challenges really help you decide a theme for a box. For example: I had a Maleficent box that during the Cinderella challenge; I decided to theme it to Cinderella instead. Yet, my real return was for the Stark Industries challenge, where I specifically built from scratch just for the challenge. That box placed in the top 5 (first placing box!), and I got really excited and decided to work more on challenges since then. Achieving this was all thanks to the great community on this forum that always provide help on improving and becoming better toy box artists.
When you hear of a new challenge, what steps do you take to make your idea for a Toy Box a reality?
What I do first is brainstorm, I usually do this by putting the sky, terrain, decorations and more that are related to the theme of the challenge in an empty box placed around. I also go back and look at my old non-challenge boxes and see what ideas I could remaster for a challenge. Another thing I do is to think what creativity toys I have not used before so I can try it out and bring a new fresh take on my next box. Always looking for ways to make sure my boxes don’t feel too similar from each other.
So my order of steps would be brainstorm, then I start decorating or creating the block art, and then I fit in all the logic. This is mostly for the more story driven boxes. For the boxes that are about creating unique gameplay with logic and such, I have to start playing with the logic first to make sure its possible and then I go to decorate and finish all the logic later. And of course lastly, testing like crazy making sure it all works and runs as smoothly as possible. Also thinking how would other players play, will they know what to do on it, will they cheat on it, all those questions you have to ask each test.
What do you consider to be your specialty when building Toy Boxes?
Well I had a specialty at building racetracks. I’m still pretty good at doing them, but I try not to rely on doing them often. Another specialty I have is making big story boxes, I like narrating a story with varied gameplay that can include collectibles, combat, platforming, etc. Yet my goal right now is to keep trying new things, and not focus on just one particular specialty.
What is your favorite Toy Box that someone else has built?
One of my favorite boxes is The Lion King box by Erdadi3; it was simply jaw dropping the level of detail done in the movie theater portion of the toy box. As a fan of films in general, it was a pretty magical experience to see. There are many boxes that are also favorites, but in general the Disneyland project rides are amazing, like Star Tours, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, and if I continue I’ll just name-drop all of them. I think this great community overall does really impressive toy boxes, everyone is always coming up with different ideas despite having the same theme, that’s what I feel is my favorite thing of all.
What are some of your classic Toy Boxes that have not been a featured top 5 Toy Box?
I think my Elsa’s Ice Quest for the Pick a Character challenge because I finally used various frozen boxes that I have been developing for months and I integrated them together in one box that features 3 boxes and a hub with minigames. I really enjoyed the racetrack I did for it and the platforming game inside the Ice Palace. I still believe strongly in that box so I might remaster it a bit and add more gameplay to it for a future challenge.
Another one is my Baymax Math Care box for the puzzle challenge, it was a pretty different box compared to all my previous work. It was like a maze box with multiple paths, but you only know which path is the correct one if you solve the math problem correctly. I guess not everyone is going to have much fun with math though, hehe. I might still bring it back in the future.
What is your dream Toy Box challenge?
Pretty much any Star Wars themed challenge, I’m really excited to do a Star Wars challenge. Currently from 2.0, I have been wishing for a Tron challenge as well because I really want to use those terrain textures and red Tron texture on blocks, all combined nicely.
Share a story of adversity from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes that you had to overcome.
Recently I had a lot of trouble when building my Pixie Hollow challenge, I was trying to do 3 different gameplays but I was having problems with the meter limit that was causing trouble to my replayers and collectibles. But the mini ride I made in the box was working pretty smoothly and looking pretty nice so I decided to eliminate the other gameplay and expand the ride. In the end it was the best choice, because I ended up with a more unique box than expected.
Share a funny story from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes.
Well when I was doing a toy box using Hawkeye, I accidentally pressed his super move and break a ton of stuff in my toy box. Luckily I had a recent save but it was funny to see how one button made just everything blow up. Also working on the collabs we had a lot of funny moments where would just get tired and battle each other and see rocket raccoon carrying hulk, and another character all with his bare hands!
Your The Stark Life toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Stark Industries Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your The Stark Life toy box.
I’ve wanted to achieve a big box with multiple doors for quite some time, offering different gameplay for players in one box but I always had glitches and errors with them. It wasn’t until I started to ask fellow community members MightyGitis and CCrunner524 what could be the problem that I got it solved. It turns out I could not save them as toy box games. I also followed step by step the toy box doors tutorial done by Jose Abalos on the Disney Infinity youtube page.
Once I figured out the doors, I started working on the boxes. The first one I had made was a racetrack called Stark Expo Race because my initial idea was to do something about the stark expo. After that, I started to work on an action platformer box, which is the Stark Industries level, which I was happy with that I was able to combine platforming, collectibles and action in one box for the first time. After I had those 2 boxes done, I wanted to use the “Inside the Suit” sky so I did a training level of collectibles that you can fly and battle enemies. Once I was done, I felt I wanted another action level, so I took my first challenge box from the Avengers challenge called Rooftop Battle and remastered with my newly learned skills which was very exciting to do, as it was a way for me to see how much I have learned since then.
Your Jungle Journey toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Jungle Book Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Jungle Journey toy box.
For this one I wanted to try for the first time doing some block art, and I first started doing block art of Kaa, it was a bit stressful and took me a lot of days to polish the block art, as it originally looked like Jar Jar Binks instead of Kaa! Ironically I also did a Shere Khan block art in another level and that only took me a day and it turned out better looking in the end.
In terms of gameplay, the main thing I wanted to create was a sidescroller platformer, which also meant the first time I would use cameras on a toy box. That’s the one I themed to Shere Khan, Shere Khan Lair. It was exciting to create sidescrolling as we were all born playing games that way. Yet I felt I needed more variety to it so I made some portions sidescrolling, a portion top down view, and a normal point of view parts for the combat sections, to create a better pace as well. The other box was an old racetrack I did for the Battle Race Challenge called Jungle Risk, so I remastered it and placed it. And lastly I did a collectibles box that I wanted to specifically do just for flying characters. All of them placed in one hub with the Kaa block art.
Your Thor's Destiny toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Asgard Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Thor's Destiny toy box.
For this one I wanted to create a story driven box from top to bottom of 3 chapters, 3 toy boxes. One of the things I wanted to do on the box was to have Lady Sif on it, and so she became the first chapter on my box. I wanted to see how to create a cutscene with moving characters, so I enclosed Lady Sif in terrain blocks and made sure she would always stay in visual when she walks on the cutscene. Another thing I wanted to try was using other creativity toys like pressure plates that I had not used before. And I really worked harder also in decorating this one, really wanted to make sure people felt they were running through the halls of asgard.
For the second chapter I wanted to do something sidescrolling at first, but I accidentally put the top down camera used on Brave Siege and Escape from Kyln and I instantly loved it. So I decided to stay with that one. But again I also wanted to keep the variety so I played with target cameras and creating different angles throughout the chapter. I also put in the collector inside a ship, I wanted to try recreating the inside of a ship and putting it there.
For the last third chapter box, I wanted to create a big scale war against Loki, which is why I ended up doing a Loki block art for it. I wanted to create a box where you protect Odin from Loki’s frost giant army but I wanted to have a big sense of war scale so I made sure enemies would spawn in and when they died, it would trigger another generator that would spawn even more enemies. Yet I wanted Thor to have some backup so I put in a couple of sidekicks to help in the battle and create that sense of two sides in the battle.
Your Widow X Stunts toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Stunt Track Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Widow X Stunts toy box.
I always wanted to do a box with motorcycles, but I wanted to make sure you could earn points by doing stunts on them. It was a tricky to pull off because you can’t do that by spawning them from a generator. You have to normally place them and the only way to do that is by placing them and then save. You can’t step on the motorcycle at all before saving or it will spawn in a different place in the box. I had problems with this on my other stunts submission; which I also discovered you can’t have stuff below the terrain where the vehicles are. Once I got done, I worked on the art itself, and I always wanted to theme a box to Black Widow so I block art her symbol and also added a shield logo. As for the stunts I wanted to make sure there was different ways to earn points by jumping fire rings or just jumping in the air and performing them, always trying to think on giving choices to the players.
You did a collaboration with some other Toy Box Artist friends on a Space Mountain toy box that was features do for the Disneyland Project. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on the Space Mountain toy box.
It was a very interesting project, as I recently had bought a PS4 and Modeltrainman and CCrunner524 invited me to see them start working on their space mountain. Meanwhile, I was working with King of the Tunas on Autopia. King of the Tunas was also doing a Space Mountain on his own, so we talked about it and say, well why don’t we join with Modeltrainman and CCrunner524, and then it happened. It was a very amazing experience to work on; everyone had their own task to work on. King of The Tunas started work on a ride system; CCrunner524 was working on creating two different versions for it, while Modeltrainman and I worked on all the decoration like in the main lobby of the ride, putting up planets, and a ton of locators that would become stars. There were a lot of locators to work with in a crazy way but the results were really pretty and worth it. It was a sweet experience and I am glad I was part of it, especially for the Disneyland project.
You did a collaboration with the same group of Toy Box Artist friends on an Avengers toy box for the Age of Ultron Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on the Avengers toy box.
For this one we joined forces the same team, but this time everyone was working on their own separate box. It was great to see how everyone would come up with unique set ups and gameplay on each box. We also helped on each other’s boxes to make sure they were all were decorated and working as properly as possible. About my box, the first level stopping Baron Von Strucker on his castle, I tried the replayer for the first time. I got very excited to use it and was very impressed by the results. The first thing I worked on the level though was the castle, it was very big, and the first time I build such a big castle. I wanted to make sure I could fit in stuff inside of it while also having an interesting design. One very ambitious idea then came up, and it was to do a giant shield covering that castle, because in the movie that castle has shields at first. So I did it, and crossed my fingers it would work, and surprisingly it worked on the very first try and very smoothly! I was very excited and crazy for everyone to see that. For the beginning I wanted the player to feel the big scale war that opening scene has on the movie, but then for the inside of the castle gameplay I wanted to have a bit variety while staying true to the movie elements. It was a great challenge to work on and it was also fun to compete with the Sith lords!
Your The Pixie Ride Tour toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Pixie Hollow Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your The Pixie Ride Tour toy box.
As I mentioned in one previous question, I had a lot of problems with my original idea of 3 gameplays so I went with a full ride. I wanted to do a ride on my own after practicing for so long, I wanted to challenge myself. So for this one I wanted to highlight the beautiful flowers of Pixie Hollow and how they look pretty in the dark. I also wanted to play with the "subtle sparkle" effect of the effects generator as pixie dust. I then researched the first movie, and I integrated a bit how Tinker Bell was born in Pixie Hollow. Originally it was going to be riding along trees but it didn't look different enough, so I opted to close in the full ride for a dark but lighted colorful look.
One neat effect I wanted to do and was able to do so, was to make the player feel floating by using the scalable barrier as a floor. It was super tricky to combine it with the floors. In the end, I think I tested the ride for like 2 full days to make sure it was as smooth as possible. The amount of variables you can get by doing rides is huge, from floor affecting vehicle, the vehicle itself, the effectiveness of a turn, the speed on the weather vanes, there's many things you have to keep track off. Granted, this can happen with all boxes, but I think rides are some of the most tough ones on that when using weather vanes.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Toy Box Artists?
My best advice is to never give up and always try submitting a box for a challenge or you can submit non-challenge boxes as well. The important thing is that you submit and give yourself a chance, even if you don’t think your box is as good as other artists. You only learn and get experience every time you give a try; every box is a new learning experience. Another thing is, try new things, and don’t stick to the normal gameplay you know. For example, if you do a lot of races try doing a platforming level instead for a change, and viceversa if you do boxes with platforming/combat, try something with racing then. And if you are having a lot of trouble with something, just ask, the community will gladly help you!
This is a great interview @sonicphoto @piratesteven! It's nice getting to know members of the Disney Infinity community.
I had some A Bug's Life toys, but one of my favorites was an ant tent with little ant toys (about the size of Polly Pockets). The tent was a bit of a pain to keep up, but oh it was so much fun! I still have the pieces of it, all packed away. Did anyone else play with that one?
Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed the interview. Big thanks to piratesteven for the interview!
@infinityapprentice, I don't remember that one but sounds cool! The one I had was a big Flik action figure that comes with the machine he uses to cut down plants at the beginning of the movie. The other ones I think were fast food toys lol but I collected all of them and went crazy asking for all of the characters.