Friday, October 29, 2010

Muppet Carrot

One of my all-time favorite episodes of The Muppet Show guest stars the late Gilda Radner. A hilarious comedienne who managed to fit in quite nicely with the chaos of the Muppets, she has a cutting wit that was way ahead of its time.

On The Muppet Show, she ends up singing alongside a seven foot tall talking carrot. Like this:

Quite the cliffhanger, no? You can see the entire thing on Season 3 of The Muppet Show. Or fish around on YouTube. Anyway. A few years back I was feeling the ambition of the young, and thought, "I want a seven foot tall talking carrot to be amongst my Muppets..." and set about making one.
Most of the customized toys I make are simply toys I buy at the store, then I chop pieces off of them, slightly modify them using Sculpey polymer clay, and then reassemble them, paint them, and introduce them to their new friends. Not unlike Sid, the mean neighbor kid from Toy Story, but with better intentions. Usually. I hope.
I'm not a sculptor--I'm a cartoonist. And I'm not really a cartoonist. I'm a doodler. So tackling something as complicated as a giant Muppet Carrot seemed like it would be difficult, but like I said above, I was young and ambitious and hadn't been beaten down by the world enough yet to know any better. So I set about making the Muppet Carrot.
For the Carrot to be oversized but still in a toyish scale, I decided it had to be just over a foot tall. That's waaay too much Sculpey to use to make a toy out of, and it's not like there are many plastic carrot toys that would have fit the bill. So I tried an experiment--getting a styrofoam cone from a craft store, carving it down a bit into a carrot shape, and then coating the carrot with Plaster of Paris. I hadn't ever used it before, but it seemed like it would work. Around the lower part of the carrot, I buildt a tuxedo with Sculpey. Brilliant? I thought so. Until, to cure the Sculpey, I put it in the oven at the usual 225 degrees:

As the Sculpey cured, it contracted a little bit at the same time the styrofoam was expanding. This caused all sorts of fractures inside the carrot, and I had to start all over again. I mean, even Kermit the Borg was shocked. So you know that's bad. Fozzie doesn't look that shaken by the events. He must know that a happy ending is around the corner.
I used the same strategy, but made the tuxedo a little thinner, and fixed a few things I didn't like about the sculpt anyway. I found some plastic fronds that seemed carroty enough for his greens, painted the heck out of him, and voila! Which is French for CARROT!
Yes, he's standing on my bathroom floor. Don't judge me.
His eyebrows and moustache were sculpted separately and then attached; it seemed a Muppety enough approach. His beady eyes are just push pins. In this picture you can see all of his open, styrofoam pores that I didn't seal over well enough with the Plaster of Paris. Curse you, digital cameras!
The Muppet Carrot being welcomed into the group by the gang. Including the Swedish Chef, who I'm sure has some unsavory (actually, they might be savory) plans for the poor fellow. Beaker's still in freak-out mode. But when isn't he?

Then backstage at the Muppet Theater, adding to the general mayhem. Not Electric Mayhem, although he hasn't ruled out a performance with Dr. Teeth and the band.
Next: Rubber Duckie back on the road!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A-Team Fisher Price Little People

I haven't seen the recent A-Team movie yet, and I might live the rest of my life without ever seeing it. For me, the A-Team was everything it should have been back in the 80s: action, adventure, a little bit of conspiracy, a cool van, and explosions.

Really, they could have called it the "B.A. Baracus and Murdock Team" and I still would have watched it. Mr. T was intense, awesome, and inspired one too many little boys to get unfortunate haircuts and wear gold chains, but I still loved him. More than him, I loved the one member of the A-Team I most aspired to be: the is-he-crazy-or-just-funny "Howling Mad" Murdock. Dwight Schulz was and is very entertaining, plus he got to fly the helicopters and planes and death machines that the team appropriated now and then. I didn't care much about prettyboy Face, although I did like it when a plan came together under Hannibal's leadership.

Anyway, in the interest of recreating my entire media childhood via Fisher Price Little People, here ya go:

Hannibal, B.A. Baracus, Murdock, and Face
Coming soon: more stuff. And junk.