Not only is PapaEcho a skilled Toy Box artist, he also has a special way with building block sculptures. The DisneyInfinityFans.com INF Toy Box logo was kindly created for us by PapaEcho.
On behalf of all of the interested Disney Infinity Fans we asked PapaEcho some questions.
What is your real name?
Patrick E (USA)
What is the origin story of your Toy Box submission username?
The name comes from my initials as said in the Military Phonetic Alphabet. It dates back to my college days - my group of college buddies always spoke in code, which came in handy for things like top secret prank operations.
What made you decide to buy Disney Infinity?
They had me the moment it was announced at the El Capitan Theatre. It's like they made my dream game: It combined my desire for a level builder like Little Big Planet, my fascination with the technology behind toys like Skylanders, and then they covered it with 8 layers of Disney nostalgia. I had the whole thing prereserved and was playing it day one.
What is your favorite play set and why?
This is a tough question for me. I enjoyed all of them, though my opinion may be skewed. I originally bought the game for the Wii U and the 3DS (we won't talk about the latter). I played through Lone Ranger, Monsters U, and half of the Cars play set before my console died. I had to send it in to get fixed and they had to wipe the memory. I then got the game for the PS3, and played through every play set, including the three I had already done. That being said, some stick in my mind more than others, so I'll give it to the Lone Ranger, since it was my 1st (and 7th) experience with Disney Infinity. It reminded me of Red Dead Redemption - one of my favorite games of all time. I loved building and improving the city/train and how it integrated into the story. It also made me , reminisce of the VHS Lone Ranger set I once got for Christmas when I was seven, while it simultaneously got the bad taste of the movie out of my mouth. My only critique would be that it needed a few more horses, because this game is sorely lacking in the equine department .
Who is your favorite Disney Infinity character and why?
There are a lot of runner-ups, and you know I like the crystal figures, but that honor goes to Mike. I have a lot of great family memories attached to the Monsters franchise, plus he's the only character who periodically reminds you that you have other work to do!
You are a big fan of the Infinite Series (Crystal) figures. Who is your favorite crystal figure? Why?
Sulley. He is the most radically different. He looks like the Abominable Snowman. I hated it at first, but it grew on me. Sulley was picked by Disney Interactive to showcase my first and most recent Toy boxes.
Which character would you like to see included that hasn't already been and why?
The number one essential figure I would include is Donald Duck. He would help satiate the cry for more classic Disney, and would just feel right running around any toy box. He's been thrown into a ton of different universes and settings before (Three Cabelleros, Philharmagic, Fantasia 2000, Kingdom Hearts, Math Magic Land, that World War II cartoon no one talks about) so he's perfect for the kind of mix ups this game creates. He's also suited for the kind of punishment the toy box can bring. It's always a little weird and slightly off-putting for me when I see some characters take a frying pan to the face or step on spikes, but who wouldn't want to hear a Donald Duck tantrum after getting hit?
When you hear of a new challenge, what steps do you take to make your idea for a Toy Box a reality?
It starts with brainstorming. I typically will try to come up with 2-3 ideas per box. I usually eliminate the first idea I come up with, under the assumption that if it's my first idea, it is probably the first idea of many, many people. Once I have settled on an idea, I open up a blank toy box, scroll through the items, and lay down every possible item that could tie into the theme. I also recommend looking at the terrain power discs and seeing what they can turn the various "plants" into. From there, I usually try to come up with one or two possible structures that I can create with blocks. From there, most boxes follow this procedure: -pick the terrain, sky and music -put the main pieces in place -form the terrain so it doesn't just look like one rigid block. I always make sure the "edges" of the map are defined by either trees, terrain, decoration, or some blocked line of sight. -connect the logic toys - fill the remaining space with plants and trees. They don't always follow that order, and I'm not sure I'm aware most times of what "phase" I am in. For me, I feel there's an element of controlled chaos to the whole thing. When a new idea or addition pops onto my head, I usually stop what I, doing and try to incorporate it. I should also say that most of my work is done via the iPad, and then I do the final testing and submission on the console.
How long did each of your featured Toy Boxes take to build?
I have honestly made an effort not to figure out how much each one has taken. I remember playing Pokemon Red back in the day, and those games would always keep track of your total cumulative play time right at the start screen. The whole thought of it bummed me out. Just know that if I have free time to play video games, it goes to Infinity!
What do you consider to be your specialty when building Toy Boxes?
I suppose it has to be block building. I don't think I can do a single toy box without making some giant block creature or structure.
What is your favorite Toy Box that you have built?
That's a tough call, since they all have a lot of good memories attached. MegaGizmoduck has a special place in my heart for being my first submission and winner, but I think I was most satisfied with how Blackbeard's Map turned out. For me, I feel like it was the most polished box I have made.
Besides Fantasmic!, what is your favorite Toy Box that someone else has built?
I think for me, the most influential boxes were the ones during the "Disney Movies" challenge, which featured boxes from fellow forum members SorcererMickey, Father, and MightyGitis. It was during that week that the community-made boxes caught my attention, and I started to consider creating and submitting a toy box. I was amazed how these boxes could create movie scenes from resources that featured little to nothing from the source material!
What are some of your classic Toy Boxes that have not been a featured top 5 Toy Box?
Test Track - My first real-deal box modeled after the original version of Test Track. The idea came to me as I was unlocking items the Cars play set. My original plan was to just build boxes based on park attractions and forego the themed competitions. That obviously changed somewhere along the way. It was entered into the Disney Parks Challenge, but sadly it didn't make it. I guess it needed a redesign like its real life counterpart.
Main Street - I feel a lot of people have some recreation of this on their systems. Mine was built for the Parade Challenge. It was going to feature a Magic Kingdom parade, where you had to corral park guests to the viewing areas so the parade could march through. Unfortunately, the Marching Order toy was driving me nuts and I had to abandon it in the eleventh hour. I'd love to use it for something else, but the dang meter is almost full!
Small World- I built it for the Disney Parks Challenge as well. Apparently the judges found it to be about as exciting as the ride itself (joking!)
What is your dream Toy Box challenge?
I think everyone would love to see a few more rounds of the Disney Parks Challenge, but I think the neatest challenge would be an "Anything Goes" Challenge. (Maybe reword that to the "Infinite Possibilities" Challenge.) You know there are so many people who have made that one toy box that is special to them, yet hasn't fit into any particular challenge. I think this would be an awesome one for the final challenge for DI1 before DI2 comes out - make it the Super Bowl of toy box building!
Do you place any hidden tributes in your winning Toy Boxes?
If I ever had room, I would definitely consider it. Sadly, most of my boxes are right at the tipping point! I suppose the closest thing I have as a tribute would be in my pirate map challenge. I modeled the lighthouse after some of the lighthouses in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I vacation there a fair share, and it's my home-away-from home. (not counting the 'World, of course!)
Your most recent Toy Box submission had a Marvel's Avengers theme. What made you chose this theme? Which Marvel character is on huge top of your wishlist for a future iteration of Disney Infinity?
I chose to do a Marvel toy box because I, like the general populace of Infinity fandom, have been clammoring for some Marvel content. When I heard of the "Ultimate Battle Challenge," my mind went instantly to the Ultimate line of comics that Marvel offers.
I would chose Captain America, though I think the Hulk would make for the most interesting interaction. Can you imagine him interacting with the Disney characters? "Hulk like talking mouse. Hulk no smash him."
Share a story of adversity from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes that you had to overcome.
Most adversity comes from my own lack of planning, testing or foresight. Sometimes my toy boxes have filled up before I anticipated. Other times, a logic toy doesn't work as you would expect. All these could be avoided by testing them in advance, yet I haven't learned my lesson - I enjoy diving straight in! I feel that when you hit a bump of some sort in your creation, that is when the real creativity sets in! How do you work with these new limitations and parameters? With MirrorMirror, it was never originally an obstacle race. It was a 2 player "paper-rock-scissors" simulation of sorts. When the logic toys didn't work as I intended, I looked at the map and attempted to repurpose it.
The only time I had to start all the way back from the drawing board was with my original idea for the 2014 Fireworks competition. My original idea was Tron-based - I was going to take the theme from the angle of the Y2K bug, and the player would have to go into the grid to save New Years. Problem was, my Toys R Us didn't get the Tron Terrain disc in on time. I had to abandon the grid, but the arcade is still built, just waiting to find a challenge to be recycled for. On the way home from the store, I came up with the time traveling idea that turned into BlastFromthePast.
Share a funny story from when you were building one of your Toy boxes.
Let's see... I can think of a few. On Blackbeard's Map, I had a mermaid made of blocks that I was afraid would be interpreted as topless, yet every time I tried to fix the problem it only "accentuated" it.
On SochiSlaloms, I think I submitted my box about three different times because I kept finding things wrong with it. The description on the third submission simply read "Final edit, super serious this time. Did I mention I am really sorry?" Those testers have a ton of patience, and I know I am appreciative of it!
It wasn't while I was building, but I remember waiting in line at Target the morning the series 2 power discs came out. I struck up the conversation with the girl behind me, who turned out to be zer0tobackdown, the winner of he racetrack challenge I believe. Granted, it was before I started submitting toy boxes, but what are the odds of meeting another Toy Box Artist randomly in real life?
@PapaEcho - the description of your SochiSlaloms v3 was hilarious. Once I submit my toy box I won't touch it again until it either gets rejected or accepted. If it gets rejected I can play with it some more or try to improve it. If it gets accepted I never edit it again even if I find mistakes that will probably haunt me forever later on. LOL.
Also... IMO it is utterly stunning that you would accidentally meet another winning toy box builder in RL. I mean it is not that odd that you would meet another toy box builder since there are only so many places that sell DI at retail in any given area... but one that actually had a featured toy box... the odds must be astronomical considering how few people actually win. I remember I stood in line at TRU one time to get the Tron Terrain disc... pretty sure a lot of those other people in line were toy box builders too... I was like Maverick in Top Gun... I was looking around and wondering... who's the best?