On behalf of all of the interested Disney Infinity Fans we asked Imagineer03 some questions.
What is your real name? Country?
Jacob Koeppe (United States). My friends call me Jake.
What is the origin story of your Toy Box submission username?
My Toy Box submission username is DizExplorer03. Diz is short for Disney, which I love, obviously, and Explorer because my philosophy in life is to explore the world and discover all its secrets, and 3 is for the three magic circles that make Mickey's head!
What made you decide to buy Disney Infinity?
Let's be honest--I'm a huge Disney fan and both Epic Mickey and Kingdom Hearts have been formative experiences in my life. When I learned that Disney Infinity provided me with the opportunity to play as different characters and to create worlds as part of a community, I knew that this was going to be something special and I had to be a part of it.
What is your favorite play set and why?
I have to say my favorite playset is Pirates of the Caribbean. I enjoy investigating the islands and fighting the Flying Dutchman's crew. Yo Ho!
Who is your favorite Disney Infinity character?
Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey is hands down my favorite character. I'm a huge Mickey fan and grew up watching Fantasmic! every chance I got growing up as a Passholder at Disneyland. Beyond the nostalgia, his magic based attacks are amazing and his smash attack is deeply satisfying to perform.
Which character would you like to see included that hasn't already been and why?
I would love to see Dr. Facilier from The Princess Frog come to Disney Infinity. Voodoo magic attacks and shadow powers would be awesome. In fact, I think an entire Princess and the Frog playset would be incredible. I hope Disney is listening and 2.0 brings with it a French Quarter complete with bayou.
What is your favorite power disc and why?
Power discs are so much fun and I think too many players don't take advantage of them . Alice in Wonderland's Terrain disc is my personal favorite. I mean who hasn't dreamed of going through the looking glass?
When you hear of a new challenge, what steps do you take to make your idea for a Toy Box a reality?
Ahhh, what is my process? I brainstorm in my sketchbook first, and write and draw as many ideas as I can. When I feel like I have a good understanding of my answer to the challenge, I start contemplating the limitations within my Toy Box. What discs and characters do I have? Do I need to get some new gear to make this idea become a playable world? When I make my terrain, I start with the size of the world, then I layout a path. I add special features (like enemies and fans) and then I complete the world by including the architectural flourishes that make it an immersive experience. If I need inspiration, I turn to my collection of Disney DVDs and art books.
How long did each of your featured Toy Boxes take to build?
To be honest, my Toy Boxes take several days to complete, and when I am working on one, I'm totally committed to it. The brainstorm is the easiest--I have more ideas than I have time to build. The special features take the longest. I try to balance them out and use them to their full potential so it takes me multiple placements before I feel like the special features are just right. When one Toy Box is finished, I immediately jump into the next Toy Box. No rest for the wicked!
What do you consider to be your specialty when building Toy Boxes?
I think my specialty is my dedication to the source materiel. I use photo references in order to best create worlds that Disney fans already know and love. For my latest Toy Box, I rebuilt aspects of Victorian London so that visitors to my Toy Box would feel transported to Cherry Tree Lane, and would feel the excitement of dancing with chimney sweeps on the rooftops of London. I love the challenge of using elements from different films to create something new and yet familiar.
Your Fantasia Curling toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Disney Cup Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Fantasia Curling toy box.
My Fantasia Curling Toy Box was my first featured Toy Box and I wanted to create a new spin on a familiar sport. I did some research and when I saw that curling required brooms I knew exactly what I was going to do. I enjoyed including details from Fantasia, such as the snowy forest from the "Nutcracker Suite," Chernabog's smoky mountain from "Night on Bald Mountain" and Mickey's Spellbound Skydome from the Sorcerer's Apprentice. The problem for me on this challenge was having so many possibilities to include but having to make smart choices that joined the sport with the film.
What is your favorite Toy Box that someone else has built?
There are so many amazing Toy Boxes it is almost impossible to pick just one as a favorite, but I am a huge fan of the Indian Jones Toy Box by crazybynick. The Toy Box Artist created a spot on recreation of the Indian Jones ride at Disneyland. The attention to detail was spectacular, and it evokes the fun and excitement of the real ride.
What are some of your classic Toy Boxes that have not been a featured top 5 Toy Box?
Building Toy Boxes has a learning curve to it. Every time I build one I learn new things. I recently submitted two Toy Boxes for the Snow White challenge. One was called 7DwarfsMineTrain and the other was Scary Adventures. The MineTrain placed, but I personally enjoyed the Scary Adventures Toy Box more. I put alot of detail into it,including an effect where the Evil Queen looks down menacingly from her castle. I also enjoyed my Disney Parks Challenge entry called Magical Map. In it, players shoot at targets with a paintball gun. I think it was a really fun idea.
What is your dream Toy Box challenge?
My dream Toy Box Challenge would be an Imagineering Challenge where I could stretch my creative muscles and create a ride never before scene at a Disney Park. There are so many rides I have dreamed of over the years and this would be my opportunity to bring some of them to life and share them.
Your 7DwarfsMineTrain toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Snow White Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your 7DwarfsMineTrain toy box.
7DwarfsMineTrain is the first racing world I created that placed. Interestingly enough, this Toy Box was a special request by a follower of mine who asked me to make a homage to the Disney World Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. I think I finally got down the mechanics of a good racing world and I'm excited to try another one soon.
Do you place any hidden tributes in your winning Toy Boxes?
I like my Toy Boxes to be accessible to all players, regardless of their knowledge of the source material, but I also like to reward true fans with little details that only speak to those that know the movies. In my 7DwarfsMineTrain I hid a tribute to the "Silly Song" in the cottage. At the end of Jolly Holiday, the sky is filled with Admiral Boom's fireworks. If you don't know the movies well, you might not catch the reference but that is ok because the tributes are fun additions anyways.
Your Kingdom Heart toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Disney Movie Mash-up Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Kingdom Heart toy box.
My Kingdom Heart's Toy Box is my favorite Toy Box creation so far. Surprisingly, Kingdom Hearts wasn't my first choice for this challenge. I started with a House of Mouse theme but abandoned it when I realized that Kingdom Hearts would be a better fit. Kingdom Hearts is a popular game series and I knew that I had to get it right because fans feel very strongly about it. I tried to include a good variety of worlds for the players and I was honored at the positive response to my work! When I tell people I am a Toy Box artist, I send them to my Kingdom Hearts Toy Box first and it remains my favorite world to play through.
Share a story of adversity from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes that you had to overcome.
Good question, I was really excited about the Neverland Challenge because Peter Pan is a personal favorite of mine. Unfortunately, I just couldn't fulfill the vision of the Peter Pan's Flight that I had in my heart because I didn't have access to the tools I needed to be true to the source material. Rather than compromise on my vision, I sat out that Toy Box Challenge. It was a hard choice but in the end I strongly believe a Toy Box is an artistic endeavor and its important for an artist to have integrity. I used the time wisely and got a head start on the next challenge and now I make sure I have all the tools I need to complete my Toy Box and I have a budget set aside for extra tools as needed!
Share a funny story from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes.
One of my earlier Toy Boxes was a race for the Wild West Challenge. I have a large family (6 siblings total) and before I was even finished designing my track, my brothers and sisters were lining up to race me! I knew the track from the inside so it wasn't exactly a fair competition, but we had a lot of fun as a family. It was one of those moments everyone is always talking about that is unique to Disney Infinity--its more than a game. Its a community and my Wild West Toy Box helped to open up that community to more fans because now all of my brothers and sisters have started playing the game, too.
Your Astro Blasters toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Galactic Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Astro Blasters toy box.
When coming up with an idea for this challenge, I knew I had to make a toy box dedicated to an attraction at Disneyland that's fun for the whole family. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters to me, was the perfect choice! So, right away, I was sketching layouts, gathering references, and coming up with ways to make gamers feel like they are actually in the attraction at Disneyland. Once I have completed the toy box, I submitted it to Disney and started to come up with more ideas just in case. Other ideas I had planned for this challenge was to make toy box missions themed around one of new favorite Disney Channel shows; Wander Over Yonder. Unfortunately, those plans would stay in "blue sky"....for now, because while I was working on my next toy box, I accidentally saved over my Astro Blasters toy box. So, I thought to myself, if I do turn in another one to Disney and have it better than my last one, I might lose my opportunity to have that toy box featured and lose that toy box forever. Remarkably, a couple of weeks later, I recently found out from you that my toy box placed first in the Galactic challenge. That, to me, was very surprising to me. I would have never thought my toy box would place first. Also, the best part is that I get to download my toy box and keep it safe from now on. That's one mistake I won't be making again.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Toy Box Artists?
My advice to aspiring artists is simple. Dream big. Don't be afraid of big ideas. Don't dismiss a great idea because the execution will be hard. In fact, those big ideas are the best ones to pursue!
I think you may stand alone wanting a Princess and the Frog playset. LOL. Decent movie though (cool music), but didn't like the bayou setting at all.
Totally feel you about the Peter Pan map you were working on not fulfilling your vision though... had the exact same problem with the Tron Challenge. After about... IDK... 10 hours working on my Tron map... just couldn't finish it... it wasn't living up to my own expectations because of how kinda sacred Tron is to me... had to junk the whole thing and skip the challenge in the end... it is tough indeed.
And I don't even know how you can play DI with so many siblings. LOL. One time when my 2 nephews and niece came over and they were playing around in the toy box and the two youngest ones kept jockeying for the controller the whole time. o_O Can't even imagine that scenario with 6 potential players and only 2 controllers. X_X LOL.