Archive for August 7th, 2009


Toy Stories: More Vinyl Mania

About a month or so ago I showed you guys my sister Heather’s first attempt at decorating a blank Vinylmation figure. These, of course, are the Disney-exclusive Vinyl figures in the shape of Mickey Mouse sold in dozens of designs and in two sizes. Since then, she’s done two more of the figures, and I thought I’d share ’em all with you:

Steamboat Willie

Here’s her first one again — this design, if you don’t know, is based on the first-ever Mickey Mouse cartoon, 1928’s Steamboat Willie. Heather painted the toy in shades of black, white, and gray, because the cartoon (of course) was in black-and-white. She sculpted the hat out of clay, and the steering wheel from Willie’s boat is a foam sticker from a set she got at a craft store.



Next is Dopey, from the 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Remember that these toys are only three inches tall, and Heather did all this with paintbrushes. I particularly like the gold buttons and belt buckle. Also, look at how she pulled Dopey’s ears up into the Mickey ears of the figure. Isn’t that great?

The third figure is actually the first one she started working on, but the last one she finished, a nine-inch figure based on one of her favorite Walt Disney World attractions:

Carousel of Progress

Carousel of Progress

The Carousel of Progress, a Tomorrowland mainstay, is set in a typical American home on a stage populated by animatronic figures. The audience sits in the “carousel” theatre, and the seats rotate around the center stages, watching the development of technology over the years. It’s a good, funny show. When I saw it the last time I went to Disney World (waaaay too long ago) the show was narrated by the brilliant Jean Shepherd. I would imagine the show has been updated since then, and I’ve no idea if Shepherd’s voice track remains. I hope so.

For her tribute to the attraction, Heather brought in the “cogs” to represent the technology aspect of it. The design of the cogs and the lettering are based on the signage outside of the Carousel in Florida. She originally left the figure blank and painted directly on it, but when she began adding white highlights she realized the white of the blank figure isn’t the same white as her white paint. She went in and filled in all the blank spots with white, and has sworn that from now on she’ll prime the entire figure first no matter what color she intends it to be.

Theres a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow...

There's a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow...

Here’s the back of the toy, where Heather continued the design, along with the blurb “Just a dream away!” This is a line from the attraction’s signature song, “A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” Those of you wondering about the “Blue Line” legend across the figure’s chest, that’s a tribute to another attraction, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. This is a ride that takes visitors on a rather leisurely tour of the Tomorrowland section of the park, including through several different rides and attractions, including the Carousel.

Finally, for the sake of scale, here’s a picture of all three of them together. Heather’s really making me jealous with these things. I don’t have any skills in design or painting (I flatter myself by imagining my talents came with words), but if I did have the skill, I would love to try one or two of these myself. But as it is, I’m going to let her keep at it. She’s really enjoying working on these, and I know she plans to do more in the future.

Heather and my brother Kerry introduced me to a great website called VinylNation that’s dedicated to these Vinylmation figures. In addition to news about the toys, the site also features detailed photos of every single figure released in the line so far, preview pictures of figures that haven’t been released yet, and a wealth of custom designs made by fans like Heather who took the blank figures and had fun with them. If you’ve enjoyed the stuff she did, go and see what some of the other Vinyl artists have done as well.

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