Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Let it Rain

Now I’m not only not getting anything done, I think I’m regressing. This time it’s genuinely the puppy’s fault: I had to baby sit her yesterday, and in the space of two minutes, she came close to destroying our basement as we know it. All because she absolutely, positively had to chew on the quilt I was working on - and that I now have to partially disassemble and repair, among other things.

Little stinker is lucky she’s cute. Happy thoughts, think happy thoughts…

Here’s a happy thought - a Lady Liberty I picked up in the Pit this year:

I’ve really taken a shine to the Rain mold recently. People don’t realize just how hard it is to adapt a two-dimensional animated character into a three-dimensional one. I’m not talking about the popular trend of making cartoons into live action films, a la Garfield, Scooby Doo, or Yogi Bear: frankly, I think virtually all those attempts to make cartoons "realistic" or set in the real world fail from the get go. By trying to make them realistic, they do not look like the characters they’re meant to represent.

(Have you seen any of the Yogi Bear movie stuff yet? Classic nightmare fuel, if you ask me. Those eyes! Argh!)

That’s because cartoons aren’t meant to be - or should aspire to be - realistic. It’s not a lesser medium, it’s a different medium with different goals and aesthetics. Realism isn’t a big part of the equation.

It’s important to point out that realism and three-dimensionality are two different things. Cartoons have been dealing with the issue of three-dimensionality since the silent era - both from a merchandising standpoint, and within the cartoons themselves (stop-motion, multiplane cameras, dioramas, live footage, or rotoscoping.) The most successful attempts at incorporating three-dimensionality into cartoons are the ones that don’t sacrifice the character’s inherent cartooniness.

Good, successful examples of that can be found in vintage ViewMaster reels. Here’s an interesting, older discussion about them:

The person responsible for creating the beautiful sculpts featured in those reels was Martha Armstrong-Hand. Some of you might recognize the name, because at one time she sculpted for Hagen-Renaker, working on both more realistic items (such at the DW Persian Cat "Starlite" and her kittens) and on more cartoony ones (such as the Disney licenses.)

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, either, that Kathleen did work for Disney, too, in their Imagineering department. In the translation to 3D, Rain’s cartooniness has not been compromised. I created some line art of the Rain mold a few years ago as illustration fodder for my Sampler, and was amazed at how well it translated back into being a two-dimensional character:

That’s why I find the Rain mold so fascinating. She’s not the least bit realistic, but I find her a more accurate, and more satisfying rendition of the character than the more "realistic" attempts made on the Classic and Stablemates Scale pieces.

We’ve only seen her in her original release (in both a standard plastic, and "chalky" version) and as Lady Liberty, and her overtly nonrealistic nature probably limits her potential for a lot of releases in the future. Though with next year’s BreyerFest theme being "FairyTails," I could easily see her making a very lovely Unicorn. (In an equally nonrealistic color, naturally. None of this white or pearly-pastelly nonsense!)

Before I go back to repairing the damage done to the basement, yes, I am aware of my picture being on Breyer’s Facebook page. I kinda figured it would happen, considering the photographer specifically stopped me and asked to take it.

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