"How interesting could a lamp made from an old tractor headlight be?"
That's the first question that came to mind when I heard from Andrew Chivote, inventor of the Lampster, a lamp now halfway through an extremely successful campaign on Kickstarter.
Then I saw the Lampster and it was love (I guess you could even say love at first light -- sorry.) There's just something about the superhero stance of the base topped by a vintage headlamp that gets you.
A few of my other CNET colleagues had similar reactions. "First I scoffed, then I WANTED!!!" said fellow writer Rick Broida.
It seems Chivote and partner Radu Nita have hit on a highly desirable lamp design. That's evidenced by the more than $324,000 (about £216,780, AU$443,460) they've raised so far on an initial goal of just $30,000 -- with more than two weeks to go in their crowdfunding campaign.
Chivote told CNET's Crave blog that Nita was passionate about old cars and had been collecting various vintage car parts for years. One day he brought Chivote some old headlights and asked if the pair could make something of it.
"In the beginning, we wanted to make something just for us," Chivote said. "The first body was sculpted from clay, just like they use in the car industry. I'm a big fan of superhero comics, so that's where the inspiration for the body and the stance came from.
"Because everybody who was coming around the house wanted one, we were like, 'Hey, we might have something special here.'" So they sought a bit more feedback on the Internet, and convinced the Lampster might have a shot, both quit their jobs -- Chivote as an architect and Nita as the director of typography at a large printing house.
Now, that hint of interest from the first prototype has turned into quite the demand, with 1,500 backers standing in line for a Lampster.
The lamps, which stand 18 inches (46 centimeters), will all be made by hand, and Chivote and Nita have begun hoarding headlamps from tractors from the '60s and '70s to meet the demand. Chivote also says they've secured the metal stamps used to make such lights, so if they can't find any more to use, they'll make their own.
The headlights have modern electronics behind the old glass, including two different LED bulbs -- one that shines white and can be adjusted in intensity through a touch-sensitive button on top, and another RGB bulb that can change color, and even pulse to music, through an app.
The lamp bases are made from recycled plastic and painted with a base coat, plus two additional applications of paint and two layers of clear coat. Because each lamp is hand-painted, a nice degree of customization is possible, including a range of colors, symbols for the chest area and initials that can be applied on the side of the lamp's "head." Customization options can be seen on the Lampster website here.
All early-bird rewards are gone, so it'll cost $149 (about £100, AU$204) to get a Lampster in a solid color and $169 (about £113, $231) for one with a customized logo. If the Kickstarter campaign keeps charging along, all backers will also receive the stretch-goal rewards, including a variety of straps that can hold earphone or charging cables and pens. Lampsters are expected to ship worldwide in June 2016.