Text Master for Creatures Coin Die
Text was added to the Power of the Force coin dies via a tooling master like the one you see above.

It's basically just a slab of zinc which has been etched with some text and a rough version of the imagery featured on the Creatures coin.

Kenner generated this item using an acid-etching process whereby a piece of zinc is treated with a photo-reactive emulsion, covered with a mask designed to block out the desired image (in this case the Creatures coin text and art), and exposed to a strong light source. Then the zinc is submerged in a bath of acid, and the portions that had earlier been exposed to the light (i.e. the portions exposed through the mask) are etched into the surface of the zinc. This process allowed Kenner to transform a two-dimensional rendering--in this case, meticulously printed text--into a three-dimensional design.

As you might already have figured out, the mask used in this engraving process was created by taking an early conceptual drawing of the Creatures coin (similar to the ones seen here) and replacing the rough text with a more finished version. The text and rough image were likely then copied onto transparent film in a negative version and re-sized to fit the zinc plate. When the mask was placed over the emulsion-coated zinc and exposed to a light source, only those portions of the zinc below a transparent portion of the mask would be affected. Since we're talking about a negative image here, the black lines of the Creatures drawing, as well as the text, would be transparent. So that's what shone through the mask.

Still following me?

The light hitting the exposed portions of the emulsion-coated zinc caused them to become "soft"--that is, vulnerable to the acid in which the zinc was soon to be submerged. The non-exposed portions became "hard," or protected from the acid. And when the treated zinc came out of its acid bath, it contained the perfect little engraving you see here.

The purpose of this engraving was to serve as a tooling master for the coin text. Basically, the text on the zinc plate was subjected to a pantograph process by which a device traced the text with a stylus, scaled it down, and then cut a miniaturized replica of it into a steel die which already bore the detail required for creating the principal coin imagery.

The Creatures image on this tooling master was superfluous; all that mattered was the text. I think Kenner retained the conceptual images in order to keep track of which coin was which, as well as to insure the text fit correctly in the available space. The imagery acted as a place-holder, basically--and it carried over into the tooling master only by virtue of its having been incorporated into the etching mask.

The same process was used to create a tooling master for the reverse of the coin, seen above. Notice that the text on the reverse indicates that the tooling master needed to be scaled down by a factor of 2.65 in order to fit on the coin die. Also notice that this is the earlier "cafes" version of the coin.

The dies for this coin can be seen here.

Description by: Ron Salvatore
Photo: Ron Salvatore
From the collection of: Ron Salvatore
Country:United States
Film:Power of the Force
Category:Prototypes / Coin


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