The Den of Slack

Sam & Max Freelance Police office roombox in 1:12 scale

These are Sam & Max, the Freelance Police.

Sam & Max are a dog and rabbity-thing who fight crime in their own special way. They’re the creations of artist Steve Purcell, and have starred in comics, video games, and a short-lived animated series. I could write much more about them — but why do that here, when I already have elsewhere? Check out Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of The History of Sam & Max, written by yours truly back in 2007.

I first encountered Sam & Max in college, when a guy I was dating gave me a copy of the comic collection Surfin’ the Highway. Though I was a player of adventure games, at the time I had never even heard of their 1993 game Sam & Max Hit the Road. (Maybe because it was made by LucasArts; I was a fan of rival company Sierra.) Sam & Max popped back into my consciousness in the early 2000s when a sequel, Freelance Police, was canceled by LucasArts, and Steve subsequently licensed the game rights to Telltale Games, a company started by people who had been laid off from LucasArts when Freelance Police was cancelled.

When I started working at Telltale in 2006, Sam & Max became a bigger part of my life. (You can read about that here if you’re interested.) I even had Max on my business card.

I worked at Telltale for about three years, during which time we released of two seasons of Sam & Max episodic games and produced a 20th Anniversary edition of Surfin’ the Highway. (More details about the book project are archived in this blog post, sadly without the original art.) I thought about making a roombox of the Freelance Police office, but didn’t have a lot of free time (a job in the game industry will do that to you!) and just never got around to it.

(These are sketches Steve made for me in three different copies of Surfin’ the Highway. The talk bubble in the first one says “I wish someone would make a suit of us!” in reference to the suit we unleashed on San Diego Comic-Con in 2007.)

My latent idea to make a Sam & Max roombox awakened last fall when Telltale went out of business — an unexpected event that hit me hard even though I’d left the company a decade earlier. And then I learned that Boss Fight Studio is making a set of 1:12 scale Sam & Max action figures, and decided the time had come.

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Stained glass window for the Seaside Villa

As I mentioned when I made the half height windows for the back of the Seaside Villa, I bought a laser cut mullion to go in the bathroom window. The front of the house has a nice stained glass door that I bought off eBay and I thought it would be nice to make this a complementary stained glass window.

The design of the window mullion reminds me of waves (but maybe it’s supposed to be a plant? I really don’t know). I started by “painting” both sides of the wood black with a Sharpie.

I used dabs of super glue around the edges to attach the acrylic to the mullion.

The glue shows through the plastic, but those dots are hidden by the window frame.

Next I added the Gallery Glass. The mullion is deeper than lead lines would be and I had to use a lot of paint to fill up the spaces. I used two shades of blue for the waves, purple for the tendrils coming off the waves, and white for the curved undersides of the waves (I hoped they would look like the froth in the ocean). I wasn’t sure what to do with the diamond pattern so I used Crystal Clear there (it looks white until it dries).

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History of the Visalian dollhouse

The Visalian, upon which my 1:24 scale Seaside Villa is based, was modeled after a real house in Visalia, California, that burned down in the early 1980s. After my first post about the dollhouse, I was contacted by Judy Lewin, the owner of Mill Creek Miniatures and a former Visalia resident who researched the house in the Visalia library. She was kind enough to send me the info she has, and told me it’s okay to share.

Photo provided by Judy Lewin, photographer unknown

The Hilliard House

The house was built by L. D. Hilliard [Lorenzo Dow, nicknamed “Renzi”], in the early 1900s:

The farm consists of two hundred and forty acres on the Mineral King road, about five miles east of Visalia, where he has made all the improvements, putting up substantial barns and outbuildings, and in 1904 built a nine-room, two-story residence which adds no little value to the property. This is conceded to be one of the finest farm-houses in the vicinity, while other improvements are in keeping. His herds number among them good graded stock, and Mr. Hilliard has ably demonstrated the fact that he understands the work with which he has been so long and so profitably connected. … Near Exeter, Tulare county, September 3, 1884, Mr. Hilliard was united in marriage with Laura B. Teague, who was born in that vicinity, a daughter of John Teague, of Exeter. They are the parents of two children, Carroll Arthur and Effie Elizabeth.

History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California

As newspaper columnist Joe Doctor recalled of a visit to the property, the house was located “at what was then known as Hilliard’s Corner, across the road from Deep Creek school and beside what was then known as Mineral King Highway but is now Highway 198.” You can read his memories of Renzi Hilliard and daughter Effie (whose married name was Strobridge) in a column that Judy transcribed from a faded photocopy.

The original cost of the house was around $1,300.

Photo by Bill Dillberg, used with permission from Historic Happenings

Renzi’s daughter Effie was 92 years old and living alone in the house when it burned down in 1983. From another document Judy transcribed:

Fire officials said Mrs. Strobridge was warming a robe next to a range when the robe caught fire. She extinguished the fire in a sink and put the garment on a cushion, but soon saw the cushion smouldering. She took the cushion outside to extinguish the fire with a garden hose. Thinking the fire was out she placed the cushion on the back porch to dry.

Later Mrs. Strobridge observed that the side of the house was ablaze and attempted to put it out with the garden hose.

… The material in the lovely old home, dried from eight decades of San Joaquin valley summers, had roared into uncontrollable flames. The damage was total. Estimated loss was $200,000 to the house [and] $100,000 to the contents, many of which were antique.

The Visalian Dollhouse

The Hilliard house was still standing when Visalia woodworker Howard Hill recreated it in 1:12 scale. The N.A.M.E. magazine Miniature Gazette ran a cover story about the Visalian and Hill’s company, One of a Kind Wood Shop, in their Fall 1982 issue.

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