Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Proposal for Muppet LEGO

So if you know me at all, you know that I'm a fan of the Muppets, and I'm also a fan of toys.  And in my opinion, there aren't many better toy companies out there than LEGO.  I really didn't discover LEGO until I was a teenager, but once I did, I never really let it go.

Last year LEGO debuted a sort of crowdsourcing way to get ideas for new sets--fans could make proposals with text and images, put them on a LEGO CUUSOO website, and then if a proposal received enough votes, than the LEGO people would look at the practical business issues of getting the set made.  My proposal is about the Muppets.

Camilla, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear

The Muppets have been a part of my life since my childhood, and despite their toy-like nature (they are puppets, after all), they haven't ever been presented as any part of a building set.  I think there's a lot of potential there.  There could be minifigures, playsets, vehicles, and other ways to bring the magical mayhem of the Muppets home.  The key is showing LEGO that these could work.  So I put together my own version of Muppet Minifigures...there are 24 so far, and another couple of dozen in the works.  Why?  Because I'm obsessive.  And compulsive.  And sometimes, obsessive-compulsive.   

Here are a few more pictures of the minifigures:

The Electric Mayhem (and Rowlf)

 Scooter, Rizzo, Stunt Gonzo, Chickens, Pepe

Bunsen, Beaker, Sam Eagle, Swedish Chef, Waldorf and Statler

These are understandably rougher than the "real" versions that LEGO would make, but I wanted to show that it would be possible to make Muppets in the same size as LEGO minifigures.  I've also been working on  LEGO Digital Designer computer-rendered versions of some key sets, like the Muppet Theater, the Swedish Chef's Kitchen, and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's Laboratory.  ...and I've got some rough sketches of the Pigs in Space Spaceship and the Electric Mayhem Bus and some other things.  

Swedish Chef's Kitchen

Muppet Labs

Muppet Theater

The key at this point is getting the word out.  As of this writing, more than 1,000 people have voted for the Muppet LEGO proposal, which is fantastic--it's enough to get noticed by LEGO.  To get the official review, it needs 10,000 votes.  Which seems like a lot.  It is a lot.  I'm hoping there are enough fans of the Muppets and LEGO out there to get it made.  If you're interested, go to the link for Muppet LEGO, register, and vote!  It won't sign you up for all kinds of spam, it won't cost you anything, it just demonstrates that you support the idea.  You know you want to.  

A few more sketches to leave you with:

The Pigs in Space spaceship, the Electric Mayhem Bus, Great Muppet Caper Hot Air Balloon, Gonzo's Stunt Cycle, and the Muppet Theater

A bunch of Muppet minifigure sketches.  More to come.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Avengers Fisher Price Little People

So, like just about everybody else on the planet, I'm a little excited about the Avengers movie that's in theatres.  I've been watching Iron Man and Thor and Captain America with my boys leading up to the Big Movie, so I've had Marvel's superheroes on my mind.  Which is unusual for me, simply because I'm really more a DC Comics guy.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, those guys.  

Anyway, after being prompted by a friend's 5 year old son, I thought it was time to branch out and make some Avengers.

I don't show this part very often, but here are my sketches for the Avengers Fisher Price Little People.

Then the victims--the raw materials that will become the Avengers.

Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Nick Fury

Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk.  
I decided to add the winged helmet to Thor and the little wings to Captain America's headgear.  I guess I like winged hats.  Go figure.  I think Iron Man and Captain America turned out best.  Hulk...needs some work.

All seven Avengers together.  Hope the movie doesn't suck.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

G. I. Joe Fisher Price Little People

I never had any GI Joe action figure when I was a kid. I was very much a Star Wars kid, so my action figures were all Kenner, all the time. But I loved the GI Joe cartoon, up until about the time they brought in Sgt Slaughter and Serpentor and all those other characters. So really, probably only the first two seasons of the cartoon or something.

Still, GI Joe was fun. Stalwart heroes, ridiculous villains, and a nice moral at the end of each episode, so you could overlook all the guns-a-blazin' over the previous 24 minutes. This is one of those shows that, once I started making Fisher Price Little People versions, I wouldn't stop, so I decided to stick to three heroes and three villains:

Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes; Cobra Commander, Destro, Baroness

I like how they turned out, although Destro's collar isn't quite right; Scarlett does have a long ponytail not in view in that particular picture. Anyway. I made them. So now you know. And knowing is half the something-something.

Bear in the Big Blue House Fisher Price Little People

My very first customized Fisher Price Little People were based on Sesame Street characters. Shortly after that, I made some Muppet Show Little People, and eventually I got around to Fraggle Rock (not a series I grew up with, but fun all the same).

A production that I ended up really enjoying was Bear in the Big Blue House. Initially it ran from 1997-2007 on Playhouse Disney, and you can still find it on various channels and on DVD from time to time. Centered on a core family of characters, and developed by the Jim Henson Company, it has a lot of the same magic that Sesame Street and the Muppets in general have. By the time we had our own children, I loved Bear in the Big Blue House, and so of course I decided I had to make some Fisher Price Little People of the main characters.

More than some of the other properties that I made figures of, there are radically different body shapes and sizes, from Tutter--a small blue mouse, to Bear--an enormous full-body puppet along the lines of Big Bird, to Luna, a floating moon that sings a goodbye song with Bear every night. (Still one of my most favorite songs, and I included Luna in our Toy Room Mural.) So I had to depart from the usual Fisher Price Little People design more radically than usual, but tried to keep that same design sensibility in place. So here's the result:

(From left to right) Bear, Tutter, Treelo, Pip and Pop, Ojo, and Luna

Custom Action Figures of the 1990s...

Well, this is kind of embarrassing, but I'll share it anyway. Because I'm an over-sharer. While going through my files on my computer, I found these pictures from sometime in the late 1990s. There had been a line of action figures that included some members of the Justice League, b
ut not all. Total Justice gave us Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and then a few bizarrely random characters like Huntress, Black Lightning...and...I forget.

Because that wasn't enough, I decided to buy up some other ation figures and repaint them as I saw fit. Blame some of the amateurishness on the 1990s, some on my developing skills, and some on the pictures...which were taken on my parents' front porch. Wow.

The Teen Titans: Starfire, Arsenal, Troia, Flash, Nightwing, Tempest, and Changeling. Wow. That was one of my favorite superhero teams, and versions of it still are. Love the Titans.

Aztek and Metamorpho. It's best not to ask.

This one is more interesting to me than others, just because I don't remember making most of them. But hey kids, it was the 90's There was CRAZY stuff going on. So that was the Justice Society, and included... Hawkgirl, Hourman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher, Black Canary, Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Spectre, Flash (Jay Garrick) and Wildcat.

This is just an assortment of characters. No real rhyme or reason. The Wonder Twins, Captain Atom, Captain Marvel, Supergirl, Firestorm, and...the Ray? I don't remember that at all.

Some New Gods: Lightray, Orion, Big Barda and Mr. Miracle. I actually liked how they turned out, although you really can't tell how awesome they are from the photograph.

And then some ladies...too often overlooked. I mean come on. It's Wonder Woman. She deserves some credit. So in that picture we have Fire, Ice (a favorite team-up from the Justice League International comics) Wonder Woman (that tiara. ouch), Oracle (Barbara Gordon, former Batgirl, now computer genius in a wheelchair...with Agent Scully's head. Great.), and Tomorrow Woman. Who looks to be turning Japanese. I really think so.

Wow. Sorry about that blast from the past. I feel kinda dizzy now. I think we need more Fisher Price Little People to cleanse the palate.

Ahhh. Better.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My and My Fisher Price Little People on TV

So several years back, a friend of a friend (of a friend) of a co-worker told some other people about my weird hobby of mutilating Fisher Price Little People in the name of art. Or the name of obsession. Either way. Anyway, I ended up a human interest story at the end of a newscast. Better than being on the news for other reasons, I suppose.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rubber Duckie in Washington DC (2011)

Last month I got to go to Washington DC for a conference, and of course, Rubber Duckie came along. A few snapshots of him about town....

The Supreme Court Building...right after we left a woman started yelling at the security guards. I heard the words "duck" and "justice" and "bathtime" and just hurried along the way.

Across the street from the U.S. Capitol. I love the building, but think a lot of the people inside are kinda idiots. Still. Nice dome. Baby.

I had been to Washington DC several times before ever visiting the Library of Congress, but it is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever been in, ever. I love the Beaux-Arts style of over-the-top ornamentation. I wouldn't want my house done in that style, but when I visit something as internationally significant to history, science, literature and culture as the LOC, I want to be impressed. They do it right.

The Washington Monument just before sunset--it turns out that this same evening, Kermit the Frog was helping the Obamas light the National Christmas Tree or something. And I was right there. I knew it was a good night.

This is the most recent memorial dedicated on the National Mall--it's the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and it's located adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial along the tidal basin. It's an interesting experience, walking through the cleft rock and then into a sort of open plaza dominated by an MLK statue, with quotes from him engraved on walls of stone.

Something I loved seeing was the numbers of African American kids and couples and families there running up to the statue to get their picture taken in front of it. Not that Martin Luther King is just "theirs," or that the other monuments and memorials in DC are any less important to people of color--but this was something special. I had to wait several minutes to get a clear shot of Rubber Duckie--because MLK is his hero too.

The most disturbing/possibly disrespectful photo of this trip: inside Ford's Theater. The site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. I'd been outside before, but never made it in for a tour. I happened to have time before I flew out, and Rubber Duckie and I got in and enjoyed the presentation. It was sad, moving, and poignant. And then I took a picture with my Rubber Duckie. The lit balcony behind R. D. is where Lincoln was shot, and then the stage below. No disrespect was intended.

Besides, we've done worse.