Sunday, January 23, 2011

Toy Story LEGO: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

I love Toy Story. Since 1995, when Pixar first rocked my world, every Pixar movie has been a masterpiece--but the Toy Story family of characters is still the best of the best. Last year when LEGO started making Toy Story sets, I looked forward to completing that family, and they were off to a good start with Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and Bullseye, Rex, Hamm, and even the Little Green Army Men and the Aliens from Pizza Planet were all made pretty quickly. They soon came home, and it was like Andy's Toy Box all over again.

The Official Toy Story LEGO Minifigures...

But there were a few of those family members missing. Mattel was able to fill in some of the gaps with their Toy Story Buddies line of action figures--close enough to the LEGO scale and style that Bo Peep and Slinky Dog fit right in, even though LEGO isn't making them as minifigures.

Bo Peep and Woody

Slinky Dog joins Rex and Hamm

The real heartbreaker was the lack of Potato Heads. I'm assuming Hasbro was asking for too much money, or that the legalese between Hasbro, LEGO, and Mattel was too complicated for a "minor" character, but that sarcastic tuber has been in all three of the Toy Story movies, and Mrs. Potato Head in the last two. They're a sweet and disturbing couple, and should be a part of the Toy Story LEGO lineup!
They weren't included in the LEGO sets, so I thought I'd try my luck with the Toy Story Buddies from Mattel--no dice. So then I shopped around on eBay for Potato Head keychains, figurines--anything that would fit in close enough to the LEGO minifigures to complete my little plastic family. The closest thing would have towered above Woody and Jessie, and after months of looking in vain, I was left to my own devices. Here are the results:
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are sculpted completely from Sculpey polymer clay, and are baked around a set of "stubby" LEGO minifigure legs. This lets them stand on LEGO baseplates with the other Toy Story characters; even though the rest of the potato-shaped figure isn't LEGO, I wanted part of them to fit in with the others.

The size was a tricky issue--the scale of the Toy Story LEGO minifigures is inconsistent, with the Army Men being the same size as Buzz Lightyear, and the the Aliens being just a shade shorter. Woody and Jessie scored with unique long arms and legs, and--it's a crap shoot. I wanted the Potato Heads to be shorter than Buzz Lightyear (a standard minifigure) and taller than the Aliens, who are their adopted "children." ...and it's not until you've sculpted a Potato Head yourself that you realize what a disturbing, disproportionate, and bizarre creature they really are. Those lips... *shudder*
My other problem was their arms--in the movies, as on the toys, they have spindly long arms with gigantic white hands. That wasn't going to work in either LEGO or Sculpey form, so I compromised and gave them big white hands that are on either side of their body-head-torso-potato. Weird.
Anyway. Once they were finished and painted and "home" with the other figures, I pretty much love them. I think they're some of my favorite custom work I've ever done--not necessarily the quality of the work, but the empty spot that they fill is one that needed to be filled. And now...they're home.