Well... six month of tinkering later, I think I have a VERY close representation of the original Commodore keycaps. I have three different manufacturers in Asia that can produce these keycaps. I didn't want to get into a situation where I only had one source. These companies make keyboards (the entire thing), so they have real-world experience with this.
I have a lot of experience with making plastic injected molded parts. It's something that I design for products as part of my day job. My (design) part with this is now done. I have CAD data for the keycap shapes (10 different shapes make up the 66 keycaps), as well as the text data - which I believe to be exact at this point.
I scanned the keycap shapes (numerous times) with a 3D scanner and then imported the data into a couple different mesh programs to clean up the scans. I then created 3D models on top (as an overlay) of the scanned data. This let me make the shapes 100% correctly proportioned. It also lets me scale up/down (in case I want to make a 1/4 scale C64 or something nutty in the future). I did have help from several people sending me renderings, sketches, dimensions, suggestions, etc. I really appreciate the feedback that people have been giving me about this. I have a few hundred hours into this myself now. Who knew that making 10 different shapes and some text data would take this much effort (to make right)?
I am working on a video and pics for the crowd funding campaign that I will be launching. The tooling is a big part of the cost of this project, and I am only doing the campaign because of some info that I received that Phase 5 might actually ship the keycaps (that we all paid for) just because I am doing this. I don't want to be in a situation where I am out a chunk of money personally because Phase 5 decides to ship and then nobody wants to buy my keycaps! I am also still not convinced that keycaps are really in high demand, so it's a bit iffy on the return on investment. This is the safest way for me to proceed. I have a 35 year history in the Commodore community of delivering products, so it's not like you would be backing a stranger.
Let me make this clear... I
am not doing ANY of the production process (plastic injection or printing). I don't make keyboards for a living so it makes no sense for me to pretend to be some great keyboard maker. Because I am using a real keyboard manufacturer, the minimum quantity to even make this happen is 1,000 sets (that's 66,000 pieces of plastic). I can do a color change at a minimum of 250 sets. I plan to have only 4 colors initially (black w/white text, clear w/white text, white w/black text, grey w/black text). Any more colors would have to come as campaign stretch goals. For text printing, I have both sets of text done - the bread bin C64 (top and face printed) and the C64C (top only printed). The original bread bin keycaps were made with a "double-shot" mold process which is super expensive, so that is not going to be an option (see picture of the difference). I will have the C64C (single top print) text as the initial option and then the bread bin (top and face print) as a campaign stretch goal, unless people like the C64C top only better? Everything is about numbers at this point, which is why feedback is important and a campaign is a great way to get that.
Because of tooling costs, tariffs, taxes, campaign fees, and credit card processing fees, the price for each set would need to be $34.95 per set just to cover the costs for the minimum 1,000 set run. If for some reason I got to 5,000 sets (the next price break) then the price could come down some (or I could actually make some money on the deal).
Personally, I don't think we'll reach 1,000 sets but we will see. If the campaign succeeds, the price will go up at that point - so back the campaign for your best price!
After looking at the Amiga keycap crowd funding campaign today, I was surprised to see how much it raised! With 7 times more C64's out there than Amigas, one would think the C64 keycap interest would be higher!
I did design the keycaps for a two piece mold where the bottom half of the mold (for the plunger) could be replaced with a new one that uses a different type of plunger, like for a Cherry MX type switch. So, if someone decides to make a complete replacement keyboard (like the Mechboard) then it would be easy to make a new bottom mold and have keycaps that could be used without adapters.
I plan to launch the campaign in December. I hope you will support it!