Sunday, February 27, 2011

Organized Mayhem

Related to my last post regarding the journal filled with miscellaneous haunt concepts from 1996 this post brings us forward to 2011 and my attempt at organization.

Obsessive doodling is still one of my traits but now I attempt to organize the mayhem into something constructive.

When I come up with a concept I feel is worth pursing I create a folder for the project.

The act of labeling a manila folder with the project name and stuffing it full of concept sketches, design information, templates, photos, etc. and keeping all the crap in one place is somewhat handy.

The folder concept started last year when I built “Buster Gravesley” for the Hauntforum 2010 $20 Prop Challenge because a simple manila folder became the place where everything related to the project was stored.

Currently I have about ten projects that I would like to tackle in 2011. The “Troll” folder is filling up fast with technical information, templates, concept sketches and a log of dates and hours worked on the project.

Here are a few other projects in cue:

Son of Buster: This project excites me greatly because it’s an animated sequel to “Buster Gravesley”.

The concept work is done, the technical configuration is complete and I hope to start work on S.O.B. later this week.

V.I.N.cent.: This is a project dear to my heart, a life-sized papier mache replica of the robot from the movie “The Black Hole.”

Currently I have my image references and dimensions in place and hope to start work after “Boris” is complete. A non-Halloween project that appeals to the sci-fi geek in me.

The other files contain some other Halloween 2011 surprises plus some detailed video papier mache tutorials that I hope to get produced this year.

Organizing the mayhem is a challenge but one that is paying off and will hopefully make 2011 a very productive and memorable year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm A Jotter

If you have read any of my posts over the past years you already know that I’m a somewhat obsessive doodler and note keeper…I burn through notebooks on a weekly basis filling them with concepts, ideas and sketches.

Several weeks ago while cleaning and organizing my downstairs workspace I stumbled across this journal from 1996 which is filled with things to do and concepts for a haunted attraction.

It was fun to thumb through the pages and see what was going through my mind in 1996.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Work continues on all the individual elements for the Boris Troll project.

After an initial layer of papier mache was applied to the ears small strips of cardboard were added around the perimeter to add dimension, essentially the lobes.

The wrench and bolts were pretty much straight forward, using the 1/6 clay sculpt as reference the proper size and shapes were created with recycled cardboard and newspaper.

Work as begun on the hands, each individual finger is being created first, formed into the proper shape, papier mached then finally assembled into each hand.

Finger nails will be applied in the future once the hands are fully assembled.

Here is a time lapse video showing the construction of the wrench and bolt armatures.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Count Floyd and his Scary Stories

Think I'm seriously addicted to all things Canadian lately...Kids In The Hall, SCTV and of course Canadian beer.....oh well, it could be worse.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Time lapse video showing the build and papier mache process for the troll’s body, the large sphere was made with recycled corrugated cardboard and mesh drywall repair tape.

The game plan is to build all of the elements separately; the head, body, hands, feet, wrench and bolts then assemble the individual pieces.

Next up are the hands, wrench and bolts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Face Off

By now Face Off is old news and most everybody that is into Halloween, make-up and special effects has watched the show and drawn their own conclusions.

Personally I enjoy the show, the challenges are fun and a few of the contestants are showcasing some impressive talent.

So what’s left to talk about?

While tuned into last week's episode I realized that while watching this show I play along and mentally develop my own concepts for each challenge. This is nothing new, I do the same thing if I watch Project Runway or Top Chef, it’s a fun little game and something that will sharpen your own skills.

When the challenge is announced I immediately formulate my own concept. I don’t sketch it out or anything I just mentally picture what I would do given the same situation.

Last week's episode challenged the contestants to design their own movie villain complete with a back story, movie title, movie poster design and tag line.

Pretty cool challenge.

During the five or so minutes while the contestants scrambled to come up with their ideas I developed my own entry.

My concept for the last challenge was:

Title: The Conductor

Story: In the late 1800’s a railroad conductor was involved in a fatal accident involving a steam locomotive. Today the phantom form of the slain conductor can be found wandering the tracks in the vicinity of the accident. A phantom locomotive has also been reported in the area.

Character: The main character is the charred remains of the conductor, flesh burnt from face and body. Dressed in his rotting uniform the conductor roams the scene of his demise seeking the descendents of those responsible for his death.

Poster: The conductor is posed in front of a spectral steam engine carrying a large set of rusted tie tongs that he uses to dispatch his victims.

Tag: “All Aboard…To Hell!” or “One Track To Terror!”

The next time you watch Face Off give this little exercise a shot, it’s fun and you just might come up with something you can use for your own haunt.

So what is your concept for a new movie villain?

Face Off airs on Syfy on Wednesdays 10/9 c

Good News

The good news is that Boris the Bolter has been selected to be part of the 2011 Downtown Midland Summer Sculpture Series, I'm thrilled to be included and started work on the troll this past weekend.

I posted some time lapse footage of the build in the previous post showing armature construction and basic strip mache.

Go Time!

Time lapse footage showing construction of Boris the Bolter troll.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

Accelerated Decrepitude

Grumpus: The Angry Melting Snowman about 24 hours after he was first new meaning to "not a snowball's chance in Hell."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grumpus: The Angry Melting Snowman

Building a temporary snowman in 44 degree long Grumpus!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Total Recall

First a word of warning, this post is probably going to be long and rambling and furthermore it will probably only be of interest to myself, so, if you are inclined to continue reading please note that you have been warned.

Have you ever had a series of events quickly come together that answered a nagging question?

Question really isn’t right, what I’m trying to express is a feeling or desire that has finally been answered, or quenched, closed.

The desire in question is “Where does my inspiration really come from?”

That’s a whopper, something I’ve been thinking about for many years.

Many people comment on my style stating that they know it’s my work before they see my name attached.

That’s cool but I’ve always been unable to pinpoint the exact source of the inspiration…until now.

Where to start?

A couple of days ago I posted photos of my troll concept that I submitted for our city’s annual summer sculpture series. The short story is that I hope to be selected to create a sculpture to be displayed in our downtown during the summer of 2011. I posted a clay rendering of my troll concept on my Facebook STOLLOWEEN page and on HauntSpace.

One of the Hauntspace members commented on my post stating:

“This reminds me a little of the claymation work done by Will Vinton, or Aardman Studios (Wallice and Gromet.) If he was sticking out of a small streetrod, and holding a shifter, I'd also be thinking of the old "Wierd-0h" model kits. Good job.”

This was a nice comment and I agreed with the Aardman Studios reference especially seeing that I’m a fan of Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run but I had to google “Weird-Oh” model kits because I had no clue.

Google faithfully returned numerous images of the Weird-Oh model and my brain sort of had a mental orgasm, the gears were turning and my way-back machine zoomed back to the late 1960’s.

Turns out that Weird-oh model kits were made by the Hawk Model Company in the early 1960, the Weird-oh line was a series of dragster and hot rod caricatures.

Looking at the photos of the goofy caricatures triggered something in my mind, something familiar and something important.

Let’s back up again, this time lets go back 40 plus years.

Hang on; fasten your seat belts because things are going to bit bumpy.

I was born in 1963. Fact.

I have a really good memory of my childhood from age three and up. Fact.

For the first three and a half years of my life my parents lived in a house trailer and I can remember many details of those years.

I remember the pink bathroom, yes pink tub, sink and toilet.

I remember the gifts I got for Christmas like the plastic Poky and Gumby characters I got from Santa.

I remember the toys I got out my Trix cereal box.

I remember putting a plastic sailboat toy in the oven much to my Mom’s dismay because it melted all over the place when she turned on the oven.

I remember the dog we had at the time. (Dutchess)

I remember the first swing set my Dad assembled and surprised me with.

And much more.

The year before I started kindergarten at age four we moved to Reed City, Michigan, my parents bought a large 5 bedroom farmhouse which became our home for the rest of my childhood.

This brings us to the late 1960’s…sometime around 1967 or 1968.

During one of our trips to downtown Reed City with my Mom I remember going into one of the dime stores.

Reed City had two at the time, a Ben Franklin’s Store and another called Stars.

I remember buying three brightly colored plastic figures from Stars.

My memory is hazy here at best…all I can recall is that they were modeled after different careers, brightly colored and I loved them.

Red, green and blue.

Yes I loved them.

The hazy images of these toys have popped up in my consciousness from time to time over the years and while the details have always been sketchy the emotion has always been one of fond admiration.

Which brings me to now.

The comment on Hauntspace which referenced “Weird-Oh” models tripped the switch.

The images struck a chord or more accurately hit me over the head like a sledgehammer.

There they were, grotesque caricatures with buggy eyes and drooling mouths opening my subconscious like the San Andreas Fault after an 8.5 earthquake.

My mind was spinning.

This was close, these were in the same family as my fuzzy memory of those brightly colored plastic toys that I wanted…no….need to see again.

Google is God.

Google provided me with the directions, the needed information, the compass to answer the nagging question of “Why do I do what I do the way I do it?”

The search inquires included “plastic toys 1960”, “Hawk Models”, “Marx Toy” and finally the holy grail of all searches, “Nutty Mads.”

Approximately 30 minutes later, the google search engine returned the images that have eluded me for decades.

“Marx Toys Nutty Mads”

There it was the end of the rainbow, the information that confirmed and brought my memories into focus … the Nutty Mad toys by Marx Toys.

Silly, exaggerated and grotesque but at the same time the most beautiful images I have ever witnessed on my computer screen.

These were it.

Three grotesque caricatures that would influence, shape and motivate me from the sloshy depths of my subconscious.

“Donald The Demon” and “All Heart Hogan” and “The Doctor”

There is a lot of interesting history regarding the people behind all of the toys mentioned in this post and I’m sure it will continue to be an ongoing interest or obsession if I am to be completely honest.

For now I can take a deep breath and rest assured that I now know where the root of my inspiration stems.

This whole story boils down to some cheap five and dime figures acquired in the 60’s.

Will this change anything?

What does it mean?

Nothing will probably change other than the fact that I can now connect the dots and provide some sort of explanation for the look of my designs.

I’m done, end of story.

Now I’m going to go savor those two words that I’ve needed for such a long time.

Nutty Mads.

Further Information and photos :

Wikipedia Nutty Mads

Old Model Kits


Ebay Listings

Please note that images of the Weird-Oh model kits and Marx Nutty Mad toys are not mine, I claim no ownership. The images were only used to illustrate the story, the posted links are the sources of the photos used.


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