On behalf of all of the interested Disney Infinity Fans, we asked Tabaer some questions.
What is your real name? Country?
Tim Baer (USA)
What is the origin story of your Toy Box submission username?
Embarrassed to show how my complete lack of creativity before I began playing DI, but it’s just my first and middle initials with my last name.
What made you decide to buy Disney Infinity?
I don’t have a lot of time (or money) for gaming, but I was intrigued with the whole figures/game combo when I saw Skylanders, so I bought into it. When I saw Disney was coming out with a figures/game combo it was a no-brainer to make the switch. I am a huge Disney fan, and the combo of Disney figures to collect and gaming was too much to resist. When I first bought DI, it was for the figures and the play sets. The toy box looked cool, but I had no idea what to do. Once I started playing the featured toy boxes, and then trying to make some for the weekly challenges, I was hooked. It sounds cheesy, but DI has helped me become more creative. Just like the premise of the game’s intro (which is the coolest intro for a game ever) with the spark of creativity growing and growing. DI is currently the only game I own and will probably remain so until DI 2.0 (unless I meet a single rich woman).
What is your favorite play set and why?
I love them all even the Cars play set and I am horrible at it (it’s the only one I haven’t finished all the quests in). But if I had to choose, I’d say the Lone Ranger. I love the whole Wild West motif, and especially love the train. I was so disappointed that the train didn’t unlock in the toy box. All the train missions didn’t get boring to me. I liked riding the train to this place to pick up this item, then dropping it off somewhere else. And the world was so well laid out it was enjoyable to explore. Also, I’m one of the (apparently) few people who thought the movie was awesome.
Who is your favorite Disney Infinity character and why?
Without a doubt it’s Sorcerer Mickey because to me Mickey will always be the heart and soul of Disney. His figure looks so amazing in real life and in-game. His attacks are powerful and beautiful to watch. He is just the best.
Which character would you like to see included that hasn't already been and why?
Peter Pan. It is my second favorite Disney movie behind The Little Mermaid (Is it strange that they both have mermaids in them?). Although I would love an Ariel figure, Peter’s abilities would be awesome in-game. When they leaked Tinkerbell, I was really hoping to get a Neverland play set with Pan and Hook figures as well, but I guess that’s not happening this go round. I believe Dadi’s Never Neverland featured toy box shows that a Neverland play set could be an exciting place to play.
Your Little Mermaid toy box entry in the Movie Magic Contest was selected as one of the 10 First Place winners. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Movie Magic Contest Entry.
The Little Mermaid is my favorite movie, so I knew I just had to do something for it. I wanted to recreate key scenes from the movie using the toy box. So I made 8 scenes, each one in its own toy box. None of them were “playable” toy boxes, but existed solely for the purpose of this competition. Since we didn’t have an Ariel figure I had to use the townsperson, and since they are so small, I used the grow pad to make her bigger. I needed a way to get her to do what I wanted, but didn’t want an outside character to ruin the illusion, so I chose Violet because of her invisibility. The one scene that worked perfectly was the scene with Ariel on the rock. I had to set her there and get out of the way for it to look right. In a couple of takes she wandered off the edge and I had to do it again. But in the final take it is perfect, I even like the way she looks at the camera at one point. This video was also my first serious attempt at block art. I used pictures from the movie as comparison as I was building each piece. I built the palace for the first scene, Ursula for two scenes, the scene from Kiss the Girl, and the wedding ship. I only built one Ursula and made minor changes for her different scenes. The hardest was the Kiss the Girl Scene, but I think it turned out ok. I just wish I could have found a way to capture the video better, and that I had been more experienced with Movie Maker to make better dialogue screens and transitions. I am still very happy with my results and even happier with the Cap figure!
What is your favorite power disc and why?
I really like the obscure toys such as the Headless Horseman’s Horse and the Condor Wing Glider. It shows that the game’s makers really care about Disney’s rich heritage, and the super-fan as well as the casual one. But my favorite power disc is Mickey’s Car. I just love the way it looks, and I could listen to that music for hours.
When you hear of a new challenge, what steps do you take to make your idea for a Toy Box a reality?
I don’t have a lot of time to play, so I spend a lot of time thinking. Sometimes if the challenge is related to a movie, I will go back and watch that movie to brainstorm some ideas. Once I have a story line, I plan out what I want my game to do and how I can make it happen. I am a very visual person, so sometimes I will draw out the logic connections on paper to see if they would make sense in the game. This was essential for the combo lock in my Canyon City toy box. In the past, the terrain and decorations just happened organically, but now I am trying to spend more time planning that out as I did with my Midsummer Ball toy box. I think that was my best designed toy box, if not my most innovative gameplay. I have recently purchased a graphing notebook to help me plan block art. I love looking at some of the great pieces the other toy box artists create (your Kronk for example), but this has been my weakest area. Being visual, I thought if I could draw it out in a notebook until I get it right, then adding it to the game would be much quicker and easier.
How long did each of your featured Toy Boxes take to build?
I really don’t keep track of the time, but I typically binge play Friday nights and most of the day Saturday. Add to that only a couple of hours throughout the week, I’d say around 8 to 12 hours.
What do you consider to be your specialty when building Toy Boxes?
Luck? No seriously, it’s not the block art or level design, so I’d have to say…game logic? I only say this because I think the logic in my Canyon City toy box was pretty innovative. I don’t remember anyone doing something similar to that, although admittedly I didn’t start playing the featured toy boxes until January and by that time some had already been retired. So if someone else came up with that idea before me, I’m not trying to steal your credit.
What is your favorite Toy Box that you have built?
I love my Canyon City toy box. It was so disappointing to see that people on YouTube were having so much difficulty figuring it out. I usually don’t go back in and play the games I’ve submitted. I’ve already played them so many times testing them out, and I know where everything is so it loses some of its fun. But I still enjoy this one, and have even updated it by changing one of the tasks you need to complete in order to reveal one of the combo blocks.
Your Canyon City toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Wild West Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Canyon City toy box.
This started with the idea of a combo lock for a bank vault. I drew out the logic connections on paper and when I saw that it could work using targets, replayers, and power switches, I had to come up with a story on how to uncover the combination. So I thought of 5 wild west(ish) tasks to complete, and when you complete each task you uncover one block in the combination. The cool thing is, if you shoot the blocks in the wrong order, or shoot one of the wrong blocks, the whole lock system locks down and you can’t get into the vault so you have to complete all 5 tasks. In no particular order the tasks are: You have to fetch water from the well to open the “tub” at the Wash House, and then jump in to take a bath. Ride out to the canyon defeat three outlaws and then take them to the pen in the jail. Visit the mausoleum in the graveyard (next to the undertakers) to travel to the spirit world, ride the spirit horse and shoot the vanishing target. Visit the army fort to get dynamite to open the blocked up mine. Get more dynamite from the fort open up whatever that was I built on top of the butte in the Indian village. That was the only challenge I wish I had done differently, so I changed it in my toy box. In my toy box you get the crow wing pack on top of the butte and have to fly through 10 arches. Each challenge reveals one block of the combo, so after completing them all look at the combo, go into the bank and shoot those blocks in that order.
What is your favorite Toy Box that someone else has built?
Hands down Dadi’s Never Neverland (I’m sure you probably guessed that from a previous response). I submitted my own toy box for that challenge. Like Dadi, I made a (much smaller) replica of Neverland, and after seeing Never Neverland, I was embarrassed that someone actually had to play through mine. Dadi’s was amazing! It is one I can go back to over and over again.
What are some of your classic Toy Boxes that have not been a featured top 5 Toy Box?
I’ve entered 12 challenges: Winter Sports, Valentine’s Day, Aladdin, Underwater, Neverland, Toontown, Maleficent, Wild West, MovieMash-Up, Obstacle Course, Snow White, and Olaf’s in Summer. Out of the ones that were not featured, my Valentine’s, Aladdin, and Snow White will always be my favorites. I actually like them better than my Maleficent toy box. Valentine’s was my second attempt, my first was a complete flop (I couldn’t get the replayers right). But for my Valentine’s toy box I was inspired by MightyGitis. I liked the scavenger hunt concept of many of her toy boxes, so for mine you had to find 5 items needed for a Valentine’s wedding, then you had to rescue the princess. It was small and simplistic, but it was the first time I used an idea that would reappear in my Maleficent toy box, using a replayer to spawn a princess inside the dungeon. In my Aladdin toy box you had to make a wish either for riches or romance (a one-time-only rule-breaking offer). After you make your wish a path would open up to you and you could play through that adventure. This is probably my best toy box that wasn’t featured. My Snow White toy box I’ve talked about in the forum for that challenge so I won’t go into detail here. I had a great idea for the Movie Mash-Up challenge but I executed it poorly so it’s not one of my favorites. You flew around in Carl’s house to help the Rescuers save Disney animals from Madame Medussa and Cruella De Vil. You had to rescue Bambi, Dumbo, and Simba and return them to their environment, and if you did it in order of their movie release date then you opened up a bonus game. I may include the trivia angle in a future toy box.
Your Mal's Revenge toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Maleficent Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Mal's Revenge toy box.
I can’t believe this one made it. It is so not my favorite. It has a maze, and I hate mazes. It has platforming elements, and I’m not good at them. The only reason I included those two features is because it seemed a lot of featured toy boxes included them. Out of the two, only the maze made sense, It was supposed to represent the hedge from Sleeping Beauty (I hadn’t seen Maleficent at the time of the toy boxes creation). Mal’s Revenge takes place after Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is back and has kidnapped Aurora and locked her in her dungeon. You have to brave her castle to rescue the princess. Although it was not my favorite, i did have some features I liked. I like the idea of spawning the princess inside the dungeon, it’s simple, but the dungeon is one of my favorite toys, and this gives it a purpose. I liked the idea of the tower descending rather than ascending, and I think it made the platforming stage more difficult (just what I needed). The last thing I liked was the rhino topiaries coming to life as Rhino Guards. This was inspired by the plant creatures seen in the movie trailer.
What is your dream Toy Box challenge?
Well since my dreams were crushed by Dadi in the Neverland challenge, I’ve found it hard to dream again. JK. I missed out on the Pirates challenge, but I would really like if they did a sequel, I have some interesting ideas about buried treasure. I also have some ideas for a Super Hero challenge. I might have to try and rework the story to fit the Super Hero Training Camp Challenge.
Your Midsummer Ball toy box was selected as a featured toy box in the Olaf in Summer Challenge. Please give us some Inside the Toy Box details on your Midsummer Ball toy box.
Olaf’s cloud took up too much magic, so Elsa built him an ice palace to live in on the mountain. But Olaf wants to come down for Arendelle’s Midsummer Eve’s ball. You need to bring Elsa to him in order to do so, but just as the game is starting soldiers from Weselton show and disrupt the party. Now you must find Elsa and fight off the Weselton army before getting Olaf for the ball. This is the toy box I spent the most time on the design of the terrain and the castles, and because of that there are a couple of features I am really proud of like the one hiding place for one of the buttons. I think this is my most aesthetically appealing toy box. But my favorite thing about it is the Trolls. You’ve got to visit the Trolls!
Do you place any hidden tributes in your winning Toy Boxes?
So far I haven’t, but there is someone that is getting a tribute in my Galactic challenge toy box, so hopefully it will be featured. I have placed a “signature” in some of my toy boxes, but (I believe) it only made it in one of my featured toy boxes: the bear topiary, or should I say Baer topiary.
Share a story of adversity from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes that you had to overcome.
The toy box I built for the underwater challenge I had to rebuild three times (It was quicker than deleting each piece one by one). This is the perfect example of why I need to plan the level design more. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn that. I just couldn’t get the terrain to work out right where it would look good and be functional. I finally got something I was satisfied with, and then it didn’t make it!
Share a funny story from when you were building one of your Toy Boxes.
When I built my Neverland toy box, the premise was you had to carry three people to different locations on the island. You would drop them in a collection pen when you got them there. My problem was how to keep them from wandering off a cliff until the player found them to take them to the pen. I thought I’d solve the problem by spawning them above a different pen so they’d drop right in and stay there until the player found them. It worked in testing, but after I submitted it I tried playing it again and none of the three dropped in their pen, and one of them dropped off a cliff, or was otherwise nowhere to be found. I was just hoping it worked once for the person/people who had to play my submission, but then I saw Dadi’s Never Neverland and…well you know the rest.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Toy Box Artists?
“Keep moving forward.” If the only reason you are building toy boxes is to get a featured spot, then you are going to be disappointed… a lot. But if you build because you like to create, you enjoy the process, then getting a featured spot is just icing on the cake. Play around with the creativi-toys, and if you’re not sure how to do something ask someone (we have a great community) or watch how on YouTube.