The Top 3 Film Props of Episode 1

It’s Flash Back Friday (#FBF), as I nostalgically look back at episode #1 of The Return of The Royals (R.O.T.R); I realized, I built a Heck of A-LOT of film props (including Super Toy!)

Episode #1 has tons of awesome props and super costumes (pun intended). However, I’ve narrowed it down to the Top 3.

{Drum Roll}…Presenting:

The Top 3 Film Props of Episode 1

Number 3: The Dimensional Stabilizer

The dimensional stabilizer is essential to the plot and helps the Guardians’ save the universe. Did you know, it was originally a stick up light? This stick up light was on it’s way to the trash. Yet, instead was re-purposed and given new life. All it needed was a fresh coat of paint, batteries and love.

The majority of R.O.T.R props and costumes are up-cycled, including…

Number 2: The K-Gun 12

The K-Gun 12 is the most powerful weapon in the multi-verse. Plus, it’s name is a clever NFL pun. In fact, the world of R.O.T.R is full of sports puns and references.

So, let’s break this name down

The K-Gun is a no huddle offense used by the Buffalo Bills. It debuted on Dec. 2, 1990 with the Bills 30-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Buffalo’s attack often featured three receivers and a single running back, with Quarterback, Jim Kelly in a “shotgun” alignment a few yards behind the center.(1)

‘Kelly would call and signal the plays himself on the field throughout the entire game. That is a unique achievement that has never been truly duplicated, therefore, the “K-Gun” offense earned a reputation as the most famous and complete no huddle offense in football.’(2)

Why the number 12? It’s Jim Kelly’s number. Hence, the K-Gun 12.

Long after post-production, I learned, that the “K-Gun” offense is actually named after, Keith McKeller, a Buffalo Bills tight end, not Jim Kelly, as is commonly believed. McKeller was an exceptionally fast tight end. His coaches and teammates stated that “he has killer speed,” thus nicknaming him, “Killer.” That was the source of the “K” in “K-Gun.(2)

Perhaps, there should be a K-Gun 84? (after McKeller’s number?) Let us know.

Number 1: Super Toy (Of course!)

In 2014, it all started on paper, as a humble character design. In 2016, after a few creative changes, I built Super Toy and the rest is history.

Want to learn more about Super Toy?

Check out: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Super Toy.

The Origin of Chibi Super Toy Quinoa

{Drum Roll}…Presenting:

The Origin of Chibi Super Toy Quinoa (Fan Commercial: Quinoa Queen Foods)

How did Chibi Super Toy Quinoa become a superhero? Watch to find out.

(Also on YouTube)

Thanks to good old fashioned ingenuity, Adobe Premiere CS4 (Yes, it’s a 10 year old editing program), Sarah Beim helping me co-edit, and a lot of elbow grease – I was able to bring you this super super short film.

Our short film starring, The Chibi Super Toys and Chibi Super Toy Quinoa is postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. (It’s not safe to shoot with a crew at this time.)

I hope that this will bring you joy during this challenging time.

Special Thanks to Quinoa Queen Foods. Shop today, they’re delicious! 

Director & Story: Sara Barton
Editors: Sarah Beim(Vellichor Productions) & Sara Barton (abartons.studios)
Music: “Superman Theme” Sammy Timberg (1940),The Max Fleischer Cartoon

Please contribute to our PayPal campaign, so we can to continue to make cinema magic ^.^

Melanin Monday & Film School Thoughts

Jo in character…photo: Nancy Razk

“Film can change the world”, is what my Production Professor Sal Petrosino often said to us at the beginning of class. Throughout the 2016-2017 semester at SVA(School of Visual Arts), my Professors continuously told us of the growing need for diversity in the industry. When it came to putting it into practice, at times, it was all talk and no action.

Casting for a student film, especially a freshman film, has its challenges. A film student often has to rely on free services, and actors that will work in exchange for reel-footage. We don’t have access to professional casting services (unless you happen to have money and connections.) Nevertheless, I had set out to do my best to make this superhero short film as diverse as possible.

What I did not anticipate was how challenging it was. Through the second half of pre-production, I was in a casting crisis. I had cast most of the parts, including Jo Ambrosia (who plays Sailor Moon).  Yet, I had no lead actors, and time was running out.


Sailor Moon_article
Wait, Black Sailor Moon?! Yes, I was crafty with the description.

Why did I cast a Black actress to play Sailor Moon? It goes back to my press days when I was covering the comic-con circuit. Whether it was in the field or online, I had often witnessed unkind words towards POC cosplayers. Anybody can play Sailor Moon, period.  I didn’t know whether The Return of The Royals (ROTR) would go viral or not. If it did, then it’s impact could make a big difference. After all, representation matters.


I was advised to go to the SVA Casting Office for help. (Film Schools have their own casting office to hire actors for educational purposes). I had emailed them the script and awaited their suggestions. What I received shocked me. The list of actors (which included headshots) , 97% was White. When I went to the Casting Office in person, I explained to them that I wanted a diverse cast. (I admit, I was awkward. It felt incredibly weird to talk to another women of color about diversity casting.) What was even stranger is they thought my main characters were White, when it said Mixed in the description. This Twilight Zone episode continued when I was told not to worry about it because it was a freshman film and not my senior thesis.

I still didn’t have my lead actors. I wanted to play the leading female role. I had suggested this to my professor to save time and focus on other aspects of the production. I had some acting experience under my belt. (Ok, it was theater, not film. Plus, the last time I was on stage, I was ten. At this point, why not?) I had four actresses request for the lead on Backstage, and none of them were right for the part. They were too young! The lead female role was 33. The actresses were under 25 and looked like teenagers. The Casting Office has assured me that a young-looking 25-year-old actress can play a 33-year-old. (Hollywood is already ageist. I’m not falling into that trap.)

The only reason I “cameoed” is because Backstage and the Casting Office sent me on a wild goose chase with no results. (I’m Mixed. There was no way in hell I was going to let a White actress play a Mixed person.) I could have spent the time rehearsing instead of researching. It hindered my performance on the screen. I was riding a bike again, except it was on fire. (Acting for film and the stage is very different. I was used to rehearsal drills, dress rehearsals, and opening night. Most actors will get a script, look it over, and then action. I needed the extra time to prepare.)

So, problem solved? Not exactly. I still had to find a lead male actor. I had asked James McKinnon to be the understudy. (Technically, there are no understudies in film, it’s for theater. Yet, I had informed James of my casting dilemma, and he helpfully obliged.) James was the voice-over-actor for Super Toy, Howard Cosell, and the Japanese TV Host (Yes, he’s multi-lingual). As a director, I was uncomfortable with the thought of giving him too much work. While he’s talented, I didn’t want to stress him out. Actors often have other gigs and sometimes a second or third jobs. It’s important to be respectful of their time.

Jason chilling with the K-Gun 12…photo: Nancy Razk

How did Jason Russell get the part? It’s all thanks to my friend and classmate, Sarah Beim. She had previously worked with him on her film, Humble Pie and gave me his info. Jason immediately understood the script and called it a ‘PG-13 version of Deadpool’. (It’s still the best compliment I’ve received.) He was very professional and helped me rehearse. (I’ve never played a romantic role. Naturally, I was extra nervous.) The best part, we’re the same age and had similar interests. I felt this helped with the dynamic of our characters — A married couple(both in their 30’s), who were best friends before falling in love and tying the knot.

Looking back, there always behind the scenes drama, even on a student film. Making a movie is a tremendous team effort. Given the circumstances, I (really) did my best when it came to fulfilling my promise.

There are always going to be a grand speeches about how the film industry needs to change. What about film schools? It’s one thing for a professor to preach about equality and diversity, yet when the casting office doesn’t provide a diverse list of actors. What does a film student do? In some aspects, I was lucky. I had found Jo and Dillon Herbig(who plays the Network Censor) through Backstage. When I emailed my professors for help, their suggestions were cumbersome and unrealistic. What does that say? The facility, who’s supposed to teach the next generation of filmmakers isn’t taking action. So, the students have to band together to get through a broken system? If Sarah Beim didn’t help out, I wouldn’t have found Jason. I’m thankful for such a great cast and crew who helped bring this vision to life.

In order to change the film industry,  the higher education system must change as well. Hire professors of color, build a diverse curriculum, including reading and film lists. (James Baldwin is cannon, but what about Audre Lorde?) How do you expect a graduate to diversify the industry when they have no exposure to it? As my acting professor once told me, multiply life experiences make you a better actor. The same goes for being a screenwriter and a director. A film student who’s exposed to a wide variety of literature, films, and people from all walks of life will become a better filmmaker.

Dear Hollywood, ROTR genuinely strives for diversity, (and our resources are next to nothing). What’s your excuse? 

Extra! Chibi Super Toys star in short- film.


It’s official!  The Chibi Super Toys are staring in their first short-film. It will feature their lovable and mischievous antics; along, with the introduction of a new buddy, Chibi Super Toy Quinoa.

Chibi Super Toy Quinoa!

After Quinoa Queen Foods shared our Instagram post on August 29th; I thought why not a short-film? (Or perhaps a series of shorts?) I pitched the idea to Quinoa Queen Foods; they loved it and even sent us cereal snack packets.

The Chibi Super Toys are normally fond of candy, but after trying Quinoa Queen Cereal; they couldn’t get enough! It’s simply delicious and nutritious. (The best part, it’s allergy-friendly…Yay!)


Special Thanks to Quinoa Queen Foods for their generous donation. 

Follow our Instagram (@abartons.studios) for behind the scenes footage and more.


ROTR: Episode 2 Teaser

{Drum Roll}…Presenting:

The Return of The Royals(ROTR): Episode 2 Teaser

The Guardian of Universe and Super Toy are off to Japan. Next Stop Episode 2!

(Also on YouTube)

This teaser was made possible by your generosity.

Let’s make Episode 2!  Please contribute to our PayPal campaign.

Starring: Super Toy & Sara Barton
Directors: Sara Barton and Paolo “PJ” Piccolo
DP: Paolo “PJ” Piccolo
Editors: Sarah Beim(Vellichor Productions) & Sara Barton
Sound Editing: Sara Barton
Script: Sara Barton

Rainbow Bowl Instagram Contest

As I’m working on a new football-inspired Chibi Super Toy comic, in the meantime why don’t we have some fun?

Presenting {Drum Roll}…..

Rainbow Bowl Instagram Contest


Which NFL player does Chibi Super Toy pay homage to?

Answer the question and win a Limited Edition Rainbow Bowl Chibi Super Toy Plushie, along with the autographed comic.

Go to ROTR’s Instagram (@abartons.studios)

For your chance to win: 

  1.  Follow @abartons.studios
  2.  Like this post.
  3.  Answer the question (Which NFL player does Chibi Super Toy pay homage to?) in the comments (Format: NFL player’s name, team, and their position, example: Deion Sanders, Atlanta Falcons, cornerback)
  4. Hashtag #rainbowbowl  and tag a buddy.

Contest Ends:  March 25, 2019 (11:59 PM EST)  Winner Announced: March 31, 2019

Open to US Residents ONLY! (International fans we love you. Sadly, we can’t afford to ship outside the states.) Good Luck!

Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.

Rainbow Bowl Trivia Instagram Contest (OFFICIAL RULES)

Sponsored by: abartons.studios (

Entry Period: Monday, March 18, 2019(10 AM EST) till Monday, March 25, 2019 (11:59 PM EST)

Eligibility: US Residents 13 years and older. Restrictions: No person working, playing or associated with the NFL,  including their families and enterprises may enter. (However, if you’re an NFL player send us a DM. We’ll send you something special in exchange for an autograph.)  

How to Enter: (Using Instagram)

  1.  Follow @abartons.studios
  2.  Like the contest post.
  3.  Answer the question (Which NFL player does Chibi Super Toy pay homage to?) in the comments (Format: NFL player’s name, team, and their position, example: Deion Sanders, Atlanta Falcons, cornerback) 
  4.  Hashtag #rainbowbowl  and tag a buddy.

Winner: The winner must answer the question correctly(in the proper format). They will be chosen at random on Sunday, March 31, 2019, and contacted via Instagram DM(Direct Message). They have 3 weeks to respond and give their mailing details. (If the winner doesn’t respond within the time period. We reserve the right to chose an alternate winner.)

Prize: A Rainbow Bowl Limited Edition Chibi Super Toy Plushie, along with an autographed comic.

Delivery of Prize: The prize will be mailed via USPS to the winner’s address; along with tracking. The winner will be notified when the prize is mailed, along with the tracking number.

This promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or any other social media used throughout the contest.

Magical Pizza at SVA: The Deets, The Merch!



Friday, November 30th, our official store, Magical Pizza we’ll be selling at SVA’s Holiday Bazaar.

It’s a cross between a soft open/beta-test, only select merchandise will be sold.

Chibi Super Toy White-Pink
Chibi Super Toy & Chibi Super Toy Sakura

Come on down to Table C5,  check out:

  • Chibi Super Toy Plushies
  • Chibi Super Toy Sakura Plushies
  • Super Toy stickers

…and the Rainbow Mystery Box.  For $1, get a chance to win NYC Pride swag.

The SVA Holiday Bazaar runs from 6- 9 PM. Drop by, even if it’s just to say Hi ^.^

Magical Pizza Layout

Chibi Super Toy Sakura

Chibi Super Toy Sakura


{Drum Roll}…Presenting: Chibi Super Toy Sakura

This Special Edition Chibi Super Toy was inspired by Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival). This kawaii cutie is made with soft fluffy pink fleece and stitched with love.

Chibi Super Toy Sakura will debut at the SVA Holiday Bazaar on Friday, November 30th.