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Brocaps

The Karma Sale

A small sale took place on the 10th of May. This was a ‘missed out sale’ but done differently. Everyone was eligible to enter however, those who did not win anything in the previous two sales had twice the chance of winning.
The sale included:

Nuclear KushLimeadeKushy PurpGrape ApePlush Purple
Brobot V2x
Esc/Fn Setxx
F&J Setxx
Escxxx
Fn Singlex
Stumpx

Upcoming

Some major brocaps updates have been teased in the recent months. Most recently is the upcoming ‘Cosmos Sale’. I believe it to be coming quite soon. poster Currently the sale looks like it will include most of the staple brocaps with glitter throughout the cap. As well as the normal line-up, this sale will include a mystery cap. This sale could also be the return of the ribbit or expect that in a following sale. This sale also marks the return of bronin and the reaper V1 which have not been seen in a while.
The next piece of news is this is the end of the Reaper V1. However, with this sad news the Reaper V2 was announced. Reaper V2 Before the final image (shown above) there was a teaser image. And I’m not sure if they are meant to be the same cap. You can tell they both have the reaper theme but they do not appear similar in shape. Whether this is a different cap I don’t know, but when I first saw it I thought of the light pipe mod performed by ripster. Teaser reaper

My favourite announcement is the Miami colourway Brobot. I think this colourway works well with anything, and with the brobot it works perfectly. Bro donated a Miami V2 to the destiny giveaway.
The hapster is also a strangely nice looking keycap not just in this colourway but in general. This is odd as it was designed as a comment on the artisan keycap market. Nevertheless, I really like it. Miama colourway Bro

HiddenPower

The innovative “War of Betrayal” sale began on the 18th. Although you might not agree that it is innovative, the maker has gone with a different aesthetic that is at least not that common. The sale on a whole however is very interesting. Keycaps are produced in series; artist series, design series and painted caps. Not only are there 3 distinct tiers there is also a back story centred around 12 characters.
The artist series is for the main characters. They are all individually hand painted with what appears to be distinct weathering. They will be the unique and limited in their numbers. The second series is the design series which are less intricate characters from the Artist series, instead of individual hand painting they are just blanks of the characters but in solid colour. Painted caps are as they sound. But there is very clear effort that has gone into them. The painting is as high quality as seen on the Artist series and it is very impressive. From this standpoint, I don’t think painted caps have been done in this way before. work done This image is quite indicative of the effort that is being put in. Although it is packaging, everyone likes some nice packaging.

ImpendingxDoom

Another maker who has seemingly come out of nowhere. The theme for their current run is not surprisingly Doom. doom I am not huge fan of the doom cap design but there is promise in what they have posted. I expect good things from this maker. My current favourite is their Fn blanks. Although, they are not explicitly a new design, the colours are nice. Even with the recent increase of Topre artisans, they are still scarce. There is promise here and I look forward to the future.
btcorpre

In the theme of doing things differently, I believe ImpendingxDoom ships resin space invaders with their caps, this is a nice touch.

Flehrad

Another new maker. The caps are OK. For a beginning attempt they look good. te Not a lot to say about these, but it shows a clear start. The only caps shown are see-through blanks, but a custom design is being worked on. Good luck!

KappaKapps

The KappaKapps store is live with 3d printed caps for sale. Currently the only artisan available is the UnDead Clackin’. Other designs have been shown but are not currently available. It’s a nice design and one of the more complicated 3d printed designs that are available.

igke

The previously mentioned Polaroid keycap is in prototyping stages. he The file is also publicly available so if you want one all you need is access to a 3d printer. https://www.shapeways.com/shops/IgKe

Lootkeys by whizzard

Lootkeys is a new keycap project started by whizzard (not completley new). As of now there is only a single completed design which is called the “Abductor”. However, there are many other designs in their progress thread. My current favourite is the flux capacitor and the campfire key. From the designs shown I could say this is the most creative offering in the current artisan market.

Defect/WinterWinds

winder Still no sale but just another showcase of their ability. It is unlikely this particular design will be sold because of its resemblance to the “Oktoberfest” cap. Nevertheless these look really well made. Hopefully they continue and sell some in the future, whatever the design.

K3KC

The controversial cap maker is back and not avoiding the controversy. They have come out with a “Red Vander” and another Clack skull clone. c Whilst this keycap got a lot of flak on reddit I think this is a nice colour combination. However, I don’t want to support the direct ripoff of Clack.

Clack Watch

This was an interesting month for clacks many were sold and many were outraged. But a record was set for the highest clack sold. This OG Tricolor sold for $852 a 5225% increase of its retail price. Shortly after a Translucent Glow-in-the-dark Clack sold for $810.
Although, I haven’t purchased art for this much myself. I’m not sure that when I received it, I would be satisfied. For those who want to buy a clack this is not that good news as prices have continued to increase and nothing can be done. On the other hand this is the nature of art. It is extremely hard to put a price on specific work and understand why people pay what they do for specific pieces.

This thread is interesting in questioning the nature of the market. And I think from inside the community it is often seen as a bad thing that they are being sold for this much. But another way to look at it is comparing it to more traditional artwork. There has been artwork that has sold for much more and much less than what these Clack’s go for. They are now being treated as pieces of art which they are. Again this will only matter depending on how you view the sale of other art. But I don’t think the issue is quite as clear as it is made out to be. The main argument is the creator is not making any of this profit, which I do believe to be the strongest argument.

Not So Artisan News

The Matt3o spacebars are now on sale through massdrop. This has been a long time coming and a lot of work has been put in to make them work and fit in with your other Topre keycaps. Buy as many as you can, as this opportunity might not come back for a long time. Or it might, depending on what Matt3o does as well as JT Keycaps. I believe some distributers are also in talks to carry the spacebars. Specifically https://mechanicalkeyboards.com.

The JT Debut GB is almost over. If you want Topre to MX sliders, don’t miss out.
https://ctrlalt.io/buys/jtk-debut

MeowCaps

If anyone is wondering what has happened they are facing ‘personal issues’ and there status is unknown. I hope they are OK and return soon.
https://redd.it/35jwdr

Late Addition

Kill4Caps

Kill4Caps contacted me to say that I had made a mistake and they have no affiliation with whizzard. Nevertheless they are a cap maker, and they are the person behind the excellent darkside copies. For obvious reasons they are not going to sell the copies they are just for personal use. However they have been working on their own design. t The HGF: the This is just a prototype and it is not quite ready for production. I am told other designs will follow.
The main reason I grew interested in this maker was the copies they produced. Although these are copies this is a demonstration of ability.

ctrlaltlogo I have wanted to talk to BunnyLake for a while since the announcement of the JT Keycaps GB. I have always found [CTRL]ALT to be one of the more reliable stable platforms in the community. So it’s no secret I’m kind of a fan of their entire ethos. You will probably be able to tell by some questions I asked. But the main reason for this interview was the JT Keycaps announcement. It a new step in the community as this is a community group, who have managed to get some form of keycap production service that it suited to how the community consumes these types of keycaps.

I did not get to talk to Bunny in the end so this was all done through text. Hopefully in the future I will be able to do a voice interview but he is very busy.

If you were unaware of what is going on, BunnyLake is a member of [CTRL]ALT who have recently announced they are getting keycaps made with JT Keycaps. I wrote a little about the announcement nearer the time of release. [CTRL]ALT have been responsible for a couple of successful groupbuys in the past and have made this interesting move to become more involved in the production process.

toxic

Relating to JT Keycaps:

What is the relationship between [CTRL]ALT and JT Keycaps? By this I mean who initiated the ‘partnership’ and what kind of relationship do you have. Who approached who?

JT Keycaps is a good friend of mine who I have worked with on several keyboard and ctrl alt related projects in the past, as we already had an established relationship, it was less about who approached who, and more a natural evolution to work on this together

Did you propose the idea of making keycaps, and were you instrumental in the inception of JT Keycaps?

I was around for its inception, but can’t take any credit, it was a passion project for JT that I worked on in an advisory capacity along the way

How long has this been in the works?

As for how long its been in the works, I guess its been an idea for 2 or 3 years, and a physical working reality for 12 – 18 months in the prototyping and testing stage

Is [CTRL]ALT the storefront for JT Keycaps? Will others be able to initiate group buys or will this have to go through you first? Or are you simple starting things off? If others are allowed to submit designs in any way, is there a MOQ?

Anything is possible in the future, right now, it’s a semi closed environment, whilst more research and development occurs, however once the range of keys and materials builds up, and the mass production process is refined, those are certainly options for the future

What colour options do you have available?

Anything and everything

Are there any plans to use different materials, such as PBT or POM?

We have already used such materials, and certainly have plans to work with them in the future

Already you have started off with something quite ambitious. The announcement of Topre to MX sliders is quite an interesting one. In the past this has been thought of but no one has been able to make it happen due to the costs. How have you done things differently? Due to the fast turnover time does this mean you are able to support some more unusual layouts in kits? Do you have the means to make custom doubleshot keycaps? Would this just mean a price increase?

We can indeed make custom doubleshot caps, and in a way every cap in the set is a custom doubleshot, but in the sense you mean, yes we can do custom keys, there obviously is a cost to this, but not an unmanageable one. As for the more unusual layouts, the short lead time works against us in a way on this, each key takes time, and lots of testing, but over time the range of keys and options will grow

Do you see yourself doing other products like Topre to MX sliders in the future? Or will it be mainly keycaps?

No idea, we shall see where these things take us

Do you see yourself and JT Keycaps as a rival to the other big companies, namely Signature Plastics and GMK?

Not a rival, but an alternative, I think there is a big gap in the market for what we are offering, the goal really being GMK quality with signature plastics flexibility

What are you doing or going to do differently to those other companies? Are there any particular mistakes they make that you see yourself avoiding?

I think really this is a question for the future more so than now, these are big established companies with a lot of money behind them, there are of course things I can see other companies do that I don’t agree with, or things I would like to see that I’m not seeing with other companies, but this really is a start-up, and right now we are just concentrating of making the best product we can

What do you think the reaction will be to you or JT Keycaps as a new entry into the market? Do you see this pushing other companies to lower prices and maybe innovate a bit more?

I think it would be naïve to think we would have much of an impact right now, realistically I don’t think even the buying power of our enthusiast communities have much of an impact on these companies, I think they make the majority of their money through more commercial sources. The way I think of what we are doing is this, trying to offer something to the community, from within the community, I’m not focused on the other companies so much as I am on helping get a service out there more catered to our enthusiast needs (more flexibility, lower costs, shorter lead times)

From the currently available information you seem to be a cut above the rest, do you already see yourself as outperforming the competition? What times can be expected for groupbuys to complete?

This first buy will have a slightly longer lead time that future ones, most like about 3 – 4 weeks, with it being a first run, we expect some issues we will have to overcome in the process, and will have very strict quality control, but once we have production dialed in, the lead times will be considerable reduced from that

Earlier on in the announcement you suggested it might be possible to create Topre keycaps. Does the announcement of Topre to MX sliders mean this is no longer necessary? Would you produce Alps keycaps? Or is this just down to the demand?

Its down to a few things, cost, time and demand, but anything is possible, right now we are concentrating on getting this first set right, but we will have some big announcements regarding Topre shortly

Could you possible create something a bit more complicated such as buckling spring keycaps (one piece or two piece construction)?

The answer is the same as above, however we don’t have any plans in that regard right now

Have you collaborated with Matt3o with their recent Topre spacebar GB? It seems they have found a manufacturer for Topre keycaps. Is this related to JT Keycaps?

It isn’t, we did discuss this and I am currently working with matteo on both current and future projects, but they had found a manufacturer for that before we had made any announcements

The introduction GB is for cherry profile keycaps, are you going to offer other profiles in the future?

Highly possible but nothing confirmed as of yet, as with many of the above questions, it really comes down to how successful this becomes

Do you have anything else planned for the future which you might be able to tease?

soon

Has this signalled a change in how [CTRL]ALT is perceived? By this I mean do you think you will be seen as more of a company or corporation in the community?

We are not a company or a business, just a bunch of community members who want to see new things

More General on [CTRL]ALT:

Is there anything else currently planned for [CTRL]ALT? I am particularly interested in your keyboards such as the [CTRL]ALT 60.

We have tons plans, and some big announcements coming soon, I’m going to be a bit MIA around September and October, with my baby being born, so right now it’s planning what can be started and completed before then, and what should wait until after then when ill have the time to commit to it 100%

I believe it was in the [CTRL]ALT ama on your blog that you suggested you were trying to make [CTRL]ALT more standalone with its own community. Is this still the planned evolution of [CTRL]ALT.

Not necessarily with its own community, but we are certainly working on the site right now to make it a more standalone effort, right now its so intrinsically linked with gh, that is how we announce everything and provide updates, and as ctrl alt has grown, so to does the way we both promote and communicate, we are working on ctrl alt v2 right now, and it’ll be both more user friendly, and able to stand on its own 2 feet than it is in its current state

[CTRL]ALT seems to be quite successful in creating its own independent shop is there a long term plan and do you see yourself and the [CTRL]ALT team expanding?

Really we are just a group of friends, I don’t know where it’ll go, but I’ve had problems before with letting people in and being let down, whereas now its really just a group of people I consider friends, and trust completely, who are as passionate about what we are doing as I am, so we may expand, but it would be a very organic thing

[CTRL]ALT is a platform for Brocaps sales, would you be open to allowing other artisans to sell their caps through [CTRL]ALT. If so this would have to be curated carefully to ensure it is just not another marketplace, but [CTRL]ALT is in a position to give a boost to some artisans. Has this been considered, or is there just not a call for it?

I would not be against the idea, but I am very picky who I work with, bro is a long time friend of mine, and it was a relationship that happened naturally, the only other artisan right now I would go out of my way to work with is kult worship kaps, and that is because I’m both friends with him, and stand behind the aesthetic and quality of what he is producing, that isn’t a knock against other cap makers at all, there are others I respect, but they have their own outlets, as well as some I just wouldn’t want to have anything to do with

Are you proud and impressed with what you have created with [CTRL]ALT? From my point of view it seems like one of the best sites in terms of design and products.

I am very proud of what we have achieved in the time period we have, there are certainly things I wish went down differently, but as an overall body of work, I’m very happy, I just wish I had more time

Are there any more planned ‘podcasts’ for the [CTRL]ALT blog? Although, I am not sure if this is your area.

There are indeed, I worked very closely with sent on that side of the site, however due to some personal reasons he has had to step back for a bit, so it’ll either return when he does, or if he is not in a position to continue, we will certainly find someone or several people to continue it

End

Although this was a short interview, I did find it maintained my excitement for JT Keycaps and the future. From what I heard it does seem like this is going to be an exciting thing for the community. If you own a Topre board and haven’t already participated I highly recommend it. The Sliders by themselves are worth the price.

Join the GB Here https://ctrlalt.io/buys/jtk-debut

Giveaway

This is all through Bunny. He has kindly said I can do a small gift bag giveaway. It will most likely include a [CTRL]ALT T-Shirt and a keyring. But you are at the mercy of Bunny. All you have to do is follow my twitter. I haven’t done anything with it yet but I am hoping to in the future. I’ll pick a random winner on Friday.

ctrlaltshell


Axol and blank Recently I have had no luck at winning any of the cap raffles. However, it seems my luck has turned. I have just received my KatzenKinder keycaps from the 4.0 sale.

I received two keycaps, both of which were my primary choice. The sale was in the form of a raffle. Given the choice of 5 and only receiving 2, you don’t know which you will get.

I was drawn to the caps for different reasons. The pink and white Axol appealed mainly because of the Axol design. This is wholly unique and I can’t think of another maker who does a similar thing, but the colours of this one were the major draw. Pink and white make a great combination on any light coloured board. As it turned out, the colours work really well on my white POK3R. POK3R axol The other keycap I received was the two colour Topre blank, that is orange and translucent. With the difficulty that comes with getting any coloured caps on a Topre board, I was happy to receive any Topre one. I was surprised with how well this fits on my HHKB. The small change of colour works nicely on the Esc key and leaves nothing to be desired. Again I was drawn to these colours. They are not as strikingly contrasting as the other, but I still think it works extremely well.

both


Axol

Axol :)

I will preface this by saying it is my favourite keycap design I have seen. I am a fan of Brobots but I see something special in the Axol design. Colour is very important and I think this is a brilliant combination. The design and craft of the keycap is where there is room for discussion.

As you can see from the photo the cast is not perfect. There are some visible bubbles, mainly on the back of the keycap that cuts out the corners. Some imperfection can also be seen on the Axol design itself. This is not something I consider bad with this type of keycap. I see this as an artisan keycap. Although Katzen might not have envisioned the keycap with these defects, I like it no less for having these blemishes. If it were to be perfectly casted, I wouldn’t see myself liking it any more. The Axol design is extremely characterful and the small defects only add to this.

Although I say this I have shown appreciation in the past for the clean cast that Brocaps is able to achieve, I really like how unique my Axol is.

The weight of this keycap is a little different. It feels chunkier and this can be heard in the sound of the clack. It is a much deeper sound than the stock POK3R keycaps and is a nice sound. But I have been using it on escape so it only gets a lot of use when I use Vim. Nevertheless when using it I appreciate the sound. You can see the difference in the stems as the keycap is more filled in. mk. This gives it the weight and the thickness but I also believe this will give stability to the stem. The stem fits fine and I have had no trouble with the fit. The pink stem is also very pretty, despite it not being in view whenever it’s in use. comparison of MX stems


Topre Blank

Topre Blank As this is my first Topre artisan I do not have a whole lot to compare to. However, a common complaint I have heard of Topre artisans is the complication of the stem. It seems recreating the Topre stem is not that easy. It is made up of quite thin walls and would be hard to mold and cast. When comparing this stem to a stock HHKB keycap you will instantly notice the difference. It is much thicker, and is filled in through the centre. I have not found this to fit anything different from the stock. If anything I have found this to fit a little better. There is no sliding and I have no complaints for the fit.

Topre stems The cast of this cap seems to be a perfect shape. Although, there is a little roughness around the bottom edge. From what I can tell this is a direct cast from an F row key of an existing Topre keycap. Comparing it again to a stock keycap, it seems like quite a perfect mould. The shape has been perfectly replicated. I am also impressed with the texture that was achieved on top.

The colour is a nice orange, it is not bright but subdued. It sits atop a translucent base and there is a clash in the middle where you can see a bit of white where the colours have joined. I think this is just the nature of using translucent plastic. The orange portion is also not entirely solid. It seems to contain flecks of red or a slightly deeper orange. I am not sure If I was able to capture this in the photos. I do like this effect, and it adds slight variance into having a solid colour.


Conclusion

I am content with the keycaps I received. The reason I am drawn to artisan keycaps is the creativity and the interesting designs. Whilst one was just a coloured blank I still see it as a very nice keycap. My favourite, however, is the Axol. It is a unique design, and I hope this is not the last. Overall the quality is quite high. The casting is not perfect but I don’t see this as something I am really looking for, as the casting is not a detriment to the design. Regardless, I assume Katzen strives for the best quality possible and will improve on the casting aspects in continued keycap creation.

KatzenKinder is currently AFK link to sale thread

The keycaps also came with some nice customised packaging. I thought this was a really nice touch. </a>