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Twenty Questions: Erick Scarecrow (ESC Toy)

While I haven't actually totaled it, I'd have to believe that Erick Scarecrow and ESC-Toy have amassed the most yearly awards from Plastic and Plush. That's due to the longevity of the artist and company in the designer toy fold, as well as producing toys in vinyl, resin and plush.

I recently got a chance to fire off some questions to Erick...which you can read below.

ESC Erick

P&P: I know a lot of people believe that Erick Scarecrow and ESC-Toy are synonymous. Do you work on everything from figure design to box art to production, or are there other folks at ESC-Toy?

Erick: I handle majority of the design at ESC. Although I don't sculpt but I do all of the 2D design work, art direction and background stories added to the figures are my work. Scarlet Beretta handles a lot of the photography and manages certain figure projects by giving notes and so on. I basically have the final say on pantone selections and stuff like that. No one really objects to my color sense here so that's pretty cool.

ESC Shiitake

P&P: Can you explain some of the differences (advantages and disadvantages) between producing a vinyl toy and a resin toy?

Erick: Pros to working with resin is you have a faster turn around time versus working with vinyl. There's a major difference in pricing too. Resin figures can be produced within a week or two depending on quantity of course. Vinyl figures take at least 4-6 months if you're opening up a new mold. Cons would be resin can't take a shelf dive whereas maybe a vinyl figure could. They're both interesting mediums to work with.

ESC Ice Cream Micci

P&P: We've seen a number of artists transitioning to resin. What are your thoughts on the growing resin collectible movement?

Erick: This transition to resin was essential in order for this industry to continue to evolve. Think about it and I make the following statement respectfully; let's say if resin wasn't around and every artist that didn't have the means to produce their own vinyl collectibles had to stand before another vinyl toy company that has the means. They would be at the mercy of that company waiting to receive either an approval or rejection. I've been there and I did the rounds pushing my work and if I stopped at "no" ESC wouldn't be in your collection.

Resin has given many artists creative freedom. There are so many great artists/companies using resin gracefully such as Argonauts Resin and Circus Posterus. There's a next gen of artists that are carving their names as we speak. Resin allows artists to literally cast in their garages and basements with make shift materials. Vinyl is a great platform but very costly when compared to resin. There are certain projects that I work on where I choose to use vinyl instead of resin.

I love working with vinyl and resin but there's something more personal about a run of 30 handmade figures vs 3,000 factory made figs. I also consider resin more of a fine art platform and I'm not alone on this. Trust me, if artists such as Michaelango and Da Vinci had access to two part resin during the renaissance you would've seen limited edition figures commissioned by the church. Those figures would've been worth millions. If the Vatican commissioned me to do some figures for them I would rock it 😛

ESC Micci Plush

P&P: ESC-Toy also released a number of great plush toys. Mousey Micci won our 2007 Plush of the Year! Do you have any plans to release any plush toys in the near future?

Erick: Plush is my first love in terms of toy development. Its the medium I first started designing back 2002. I can't believe I've been designing collectibles for 10 years now! I've been considering some new plush projects for some time but I may release something new for 2012. Possibly a project with Crow Crow Bear.

ESC Drake OG

P&P: The Uncharted franchise is one of my personal favorites. So I've been looking forward to seeing the main character - Drake - take vinyl form. How does the process differ when you're producing a licensed character instead of your own creations?

Erick: This process is very different because I must get the approval of several key people that are involved with the franchise from departments. Whereas if its an original concept from ESC, I have the final say along with my staff's suggestions which is very critical. I must admit that working with Sony and Naughty Dog that ESC and myself have been very lucky. Although this project took some time to get off the ground, there were some great people behind the scenes involved that helped this collaboration. Without them it wouldn't have happened. Sony x ESC have other things lined up.

ESC Wet Suit Maria

P&P: The animated videos that ESC-Toy produces are great. Do you have any thoughts on creating short films based on the characters?

Erick: Thank you. I love having the ESC characters animated. Aeon Production is the house that did the animation whereas we handled the storyboard and art direction. I used to design storyboards in high school for animation so this is something I've been having my sights on for a long time. Now with ESC I feel that I do is getting much bigger than what I set out to do. I promise you in the future you will see parts of ESC grow into various forms entertainment. There are a few things in talks that I'm excited about.

ESC Turtum

P&P: What sort of releases will collectors see from ESC-Toy over the next few months? Any teasers?

Erick: In January I will have the new OSK Bloody Dizign by Monster Kolor and myself, Turtum Micci Wave 2, Little Spiker and possibly custom painted GOLD Uncharted Drakes. I will be working with a new group called Frombie. There's also a very special release called Chap-Lynn that I'm worked on for Tomenosuke. There will be more news soon.

P&P: So why did you choose the nom de plume Erick Scarecrow?

Erick: This was a name I chose back in high school. I literally looked like a scarecrow because I was so skinny and I had a lot of hair. The other meaning of the name is that I feel that I'm a Scarecrow that has to protect my crops which could represent many things for me; art, dreams, family, anything dear to me. It's a very special to me.

ESC Soopa Maria

P&P: You've created so many different characters and toys. If you had to choose one piece that exemplifies an "Erick Scarecrow" work, which would it be and why?

Erick: I can't choose one piece because all the characters make up my world as a whole. Even though some of them look like they're from different lands or worlds. It's like choosing your favorite kid from a very large family. Your other kids will get jealous and begin to plot 😉

P&P: What artist(s) have inspired your artwork?

Erick: Masashi Kishimoto, George Gately, Peyo, John K. Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefled, Shigeru Miyamoto, Marc Silvestri, Walt Disney and Osamu Tezuka. There a few more but these are the ones that come to mind immediately.

ESC Soopa Coin Up

P&P: You've teamed up with a number of artists and companies in the toy/art world. Is there one artist, who you haven't worked with yet, that you would really like to?

Erick: I would've like to team up with Walt Disney and Osamu Tezuka.

P&P: Since there are folks around the globe collecting your you collect anything in particular?

Erick: I would like to keep that private.

ESC Muraida

P&P: Where do you see ESC-Toy five years from now?

Erick: Continuing to grow our collector base and reaching new audiences. Exploring new opportunites with other companies and breaking ground with entertainment.

P&P: If you weren't producing toys for a living, what would be your dream career?

Erick: I don't know. Art is something that I am. Despite my darkest days, a pencil always became my light.

ESC Kissaki

P&P: What would you tell someone whose dream it is to produce toys for a living?

Erick: Balance is key. It can't be business 24/7. Enjoy time with your family. This is something I'm still learning. No one is perfect but find positive people to hang around and learn from and avoid anyone that is negative. Producing figures is very hard as any other business that requires marketing, management, etc. Never do anything for the money. Where you find what you love to do the money will come.

ESC Liberty

And now...Five Random Questions:

P&P: What was the first CD you bought?

Erick: Oh my God. The first CD I ever purchased and I still own is Redman "Whut Thee Album?"

P&P: Coffee or Tea?

Erick: I love them both but coffee is a real eye opener and something welcoming to smell in the morning.

P&P: What's the last book you read?

Erick: The Power of Myth:Conversation with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

P&P: Tell us your favorite sports team?

Erick: This may come to be a surprise but I'm not into sports. Although I dream I was pitching 170 mph balls. Go figure.

P&P: What was your favorite cartoon as a child?

Erick: There's a few of them but if I must pick one its classic Tom & Jerry. They way they used to beat each other up was hilarious.

ESC Erick Scarecrow

Twenty Questions: Matt Doughty (Onell Design)

Over the years, I've awarded Onell Design with various "Best Of" awards here on Plastic and Plush. And while I've known Matt Doughty for some time now, I still had a number of questions that I was interested in...and I thought you would also be interested in. So, without further ado, check out our conversation.

Onell Matt Doughty

P&P: It's often assumed that Matt Doughty is Onell Design, and vice versa. However, there are plenty of other individuals who play key roles at Onell. Who are they and what are their roles?

Matt: Onell Design can only exist because of teamwork. Michelle, Marc and I each cover particular aspects of what goes on daily with business here at the house.

Marc operates the web side of things, making sure the site is functioning as well as participating in all the creative decisions, from top to bottom. Packaging layout (when we do it), color designation mechanicals and all the Passcode programming and editing all come from Marc.

We met back when we were working at Beantown Toys and developed that entire world and toy line together over a number of years. It was like toy college for both of us and we bonded during those stressful but exciting days. Marc is one of the most talented and versatile people I have ever met and can handle intense deadlines and pressure like a pro. Michelle, the kids and I look at him as our family and Onell owes much of its current incarnation to his presence.

Onell Task Force Volkriun

Michelle converts and organizes all the orders that come in, helps with our inventory tracking and also deals with the majority of the books and bills. Most importantly she deals with my crazy ass and still sticks around, so over anything else that's probably the hardest job of all. She also is the creator of one of our best selling characters called Gobon. Our kids have taken up a lot of her free time over the years, but now that they are getting older things are starting to open up and I've been catching her writing and drawing again. We have been discussing some new projects that should make fans of Gobon pretty happy.

I do the design work (drawing, sculpting, photography), write the content and create our pricing and internal structuring as well as whatever else needs to be done. A big part of my daily routine is the management of our product (and minding our various partner's products) in China and determining what something should sell for in the end.

It seems like a simple thing, but it can scramble your eggs pretty quickly.
For instance, How do you decide what to push into full production? Is it better to make something fancier with a lot of paint operations, tampos and parts for a higher price, or create something that is customizable and more affordable? I usually choose the latter, as things continue to get tighter for our customers each year.

Onell New Polaris Concept

Topics like this one are discussed by Michelle, Marc and I on a regular basis and their input is invaluable and essential to the process.

Fabricating genius and all around master of many things, Ron Daley, also plays a very important role in the creation of new toys. Ron taught me how to prototype, and showed me the basics of molding and casting parts many years ago. We still work on all new items for Onell together up at his shop. I would have never been able to get things to the next level without Ron and would never create anything for production without his input and advice.

When we have a new product release, it's my sister Megan who makes the shipping of what amounts to a wall of packages something that is possible. Her organizational skills and packing speed are unparalleled within our ranks. If she was not around I would go insane trying to pack everything (like the old days). Plus she is just awesome in general.

My relationship with Jesse Moore also plays a big factor in how we do things at Onell.

Jesse, Marc and I have worked together on everything over at since its inception, and we treat each other like family (the kind you like). Jesse is a creative dynamo and has a new idea almost every minute, from stories to toys to comics. During any one conversation, entire waves of figures and their ties to one another are developed and tweaked, usually resulting in some kind of wild proposition for a 5 foot long Callgrim spaceship. I'll usually tell him the basic costing for this kind of thing and then the ideas alter a bit. We seem to balance the boat by being pretty different in our creative methodologies. We always say that Jesse likes to make steaks and I like to make cheeseburgers. Over the past year that has truly become the case and I think it is a good thing for the Glyos community as a whole. How awesome were those boxes for the WARP Bikes he did? The DRT WARP Bikes were Prime Rib Releases to me.
Now wait until you see his Wraiths...

Onell Desk

P&P: I've always wondered this...what's the significance of the 'Onell' in Onell Design?

Matt: The name Onell comes from a nickname I had for Michelle in the early days of our relationship. I would call her variations of her name and Onell was one that stuck for a bit. We dreamed of having a breakdancing posse called the BB Onells amongst other unbelievably ridiculous comedy situations. Her nickname has since evolved (or devolved) into the name Noni. Her nicknames for me cannot be publicly revealed, as they are mean and nasty.

Onell Armodoc

P&P: The Glyos line has some strong retro qualities to it. What influences do you credit with helping to spawn the Glyos System?

Matt: The Glyos figures truly owe their existence to all the master toy lines from the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Fisher Price's Adventure People has been cited before as a huge inspiration, but can never really be cited enough. I absolutely loved that line and still play with the original figures to this very day (I had one on the floor last night while I was doing a new drawing).

Japanese toy giant (or former giant) Takara also really influenced the design principles of Glyos as well. Henshin Cyborg, Microman, Diaclone and Blockman set the bar for interchangeable, action figure based toys and still serve as killer blueprints for originality and longevity in design.

I could go on and on about how much I love almost every damn toy line to some degree, both old and new.

Onell Pheyden Evolution

P&P: If you had to choose one character that best represents the Glyos world, which would it be and why?

Matt: I would choose Pheyden because that's the little guy that opened everything up for us. Not only was he made as a Christmas gift for Michelle, he was also created as a tribute to everything I love about toys, from the giving and receiving of them to the process of making them.

Even though Buildman represents the combinable nature of Glyos more than Pheyden, I have to go with the big headed goon on this one.

Onell Samus

P&P: Onell is somewhat unique as there are a number of designers who create their own characters using the Glyos joint system. Why do you think it's become so popular with other artists?

Matt: I feel very lucky that anyone at all wants to customize using Glyos. It is a dream that I still can't believe has a foot in reality.

Maybe some of the reasons that people like to customize the figures are because the toys are simple, pretty cheap and they're easy to play with. You can swap and alter the basic designs fairly easily and leave it at that, or you can make brand new parts and paint the hell out of what you make. The things that other artists create with Glyos are the things that are the most exciting to see, at least for me that's the case.

Onell Big Rig

P&P: Without ruining anything, what do you have planned for Onell in 2012?

Matt: 2012 will be a year of exploration within the toy line and the stories. A new place called Zorennor will appear, and will act as a kind of Bermuda Triangle within the Glyos System, sucking things in and opening up new dimensions. These dimensions are filled with primitive worlds, bizarre creatures and some secrets to the history of Glyos. We have some interesting crossovers planned and some all new toys to reveal, from vinyl to PVC.

On the vinyl front will be the Block. This thing is really basic, I mean REALLY basic in its design and functionality out of the gates. It is literally a 2-part block, joined by the larger connector found in the torso of the Rig and Armodoc. It can swivel, come apart and can hold a figure inside. It serves as a homage to the capsules that the Microman/Micronauts used and is also as a tribute to the Zeroids and Robo Force. Toss a little Dalek, Tardis, Blockman and Robby the Robot in and you get the idea of the design. The real fun comes once you start to customize with it. There are "indicators" on the Block that act as potential connecting points if you cut into them, much like in the Big Rig's construction. I want to get into sharing the crazy stuff that I have found you can do with vinyl if you have access to more of it and at a cheaper price. So the Block will be offered in a Buildstation style with no paint as well as the more standard painted editions. Unpainted Rig short and long arms will also be offered individually and in unpainted form as well. The whole thing is an experiment so we'll see how it shakes out in the end and go from there.

PVC will see an all new Hub Set, which is loaded with brand new parts to build with and hopefully adds to the mix in a natural way. The price will be low, acting as further exploration into customizing at an easy entry point (like the Axis Joints and Phase Arms).

Onell osm Xodiac

The Glyos joint system will also appear on some all new toys from other creators in 2012:

Spy Monkey Creations will roll out a special weapons set that is compatible with a certain blond barbarian's toy line that at the same time unleashes over 40 brand new parts into the Glyos range. We worked closely together on the development of these new items and they are produced in our factory by our team in China (as are all of our full production crossovers).

The Outer Space Men will continue their expansion with multiple releases of older molds as well as brand new versions of the classic figures. The Horsemen and I have also been discussing a few other ideas for some new toys that could come to fruition before the end of 2012.

Nistuff will continue his Anomalies line and pursue the creation of an all new entry into his 481 Universe that will utilize some Glyos joints as well as something completely different -hybrid style!

Planet Banimon has a new project in the planning stages that uses the Glyos joints and represents the Banimon aesthetic in an original way.

Onell RXH Enforcer Sarvos

P&P: You've released both PVC and rotocast vinyl figures. Are there differences in the production process? Do you find one easier than the other?

Matt: Vinyl and PVC each have their high and low points.

Vinyl is more expensive per unit but has much more freedom in the actual parts you can run. Molds are not locked together so there are some major options for bashing oddball things together for production runs (Jesse will be exploring this in 2012 in a big way).

PVC is cheaper to run per unit (although the cost is steadily rising) and you have to run what is in the steel mold all at once, even if you just want certain parts.

Onell Pheyden OG

I have learned a lot over the years and continue to learn more about the process literally everyday. The pantographing (size alteration) process alone is fascinating. The team in China that we are partnered with is really incredible. They get things done in way that can blow your mind in their attention to efficiency and innovation.

I love visiting the team in China and feel very lucky that all of this continues to chug along.

Onell Doughty TGB

P&P: Are there any artists out there, who you haven't worked with yet, who you would like to collaborate with?

Matt: There are so many talented artists out there that to name just one wouldn't cut the mustard. That being said, our collaborations usually come from an actual friendship and then things go from there.

Marty "The GodBeast" Hansen, Ralph "Bruno Orbit" Niese, Matt "Dead Presidents" Walker, Mori "RealXHead" Katsura, Chris "Tarantulas" Burt, Don "Datadub" Kratzer and Rich "Disasterpeace" Vreeland are some of our biggest collaborators and are awesome people to work with as well as hang around with. We are so lucky to be able to create with these guys. The door is always open to new friends and adventures.

Onell Govurom

P&P: Other than beard trimmings, are there any things that you like to collect?

Matt: Oh my, do I like to collect things. With such a huge amount of cool stuff out there, both modern and classic, it is easy to get swept up in the fun of hunting things down. I tend to look for very strange stuff after all these years, things not many people would care about. Though I love the spirit of collecting, I don't buy much anymore, as everything goes back into Onell and the creation of new toys for the most part.

P&P: Five years from now, where do you see Onell Design?

Matt: I hope we are still moving along, creating new stuff and enjoying the process and people involved.

Maybe one day we could make an "opening animation" like the old 80's cartoons, with crazy quality and a cheesy yet awesome theme song.

Onell Pheyaos Man

P&P: One of the things that draws a lot of people to the Glyos line is the affordability of the figures. Is keeping your price point down an important facet to its success?

Matt: I think that the lower pricing is absolutely one of the most important parts, if not the most important part, of what makes Glyos something you can get into. I am pretty obsessed with offering things as cheap as possible while being able to still survive. I love affordable things, so I want to offer affordable things, plain and simple.

I'm not against higher priced items, I'm just not very comfortable with them coming from us. If I could make the stuff even cheaper and still keep the lights on, I would.

Onell glyoforms

P&P: You all work on the amazing 8-Bit style animations and games. Do you ever think we might see a Glyos game hit the iTunes store?

Matt: Marcus and I have been talking about that subject a lot over the past year. Part of the plans for 2012 involve something along those lines.

Onell Terra Division Order

P&P: There are very few companies that consistently have sell-out releases. What do you attribute to the success?

Matt: I believe the sellouts (when they happen) are due to knowing our limits as a company and not getting ahead of ourselves. Glyos is still really tiny, and we keep that in mind when planning an assortment. Even though our numbers grow each year, it is still a small operation, with much to learn from every experience and product drop.

We are always looking for just the right balance between all the components that allow us to survive.

I'm thankful as hell people seem to enjoy the toys, whatever the reason may be.


P&P: Was there one toy that you had as a child that you can remember being your favorite?

Matt: Clawtron from Fisher Price's Adventure People would probably be the one. That is a bastard question, Brian!

Snake Eyes Version 1 and Colossus Rex are up there. All the Micronaut Aliens and Acroyears. Blockman, Shogun Warriors, Mobile Action Command. I could literally write 50 pages of this stuff.

P&P: What words of wisdom would you impart on someone who is interested in making toys for a living?

Matt: It is possible to achieve what you want in life, just realize now that there is no set way to do it. "Success" can be defined in so many different ways. Maybe choose your own definition of what success would be and pursue that goal with everything you've got.

Onell Traedian

And now...Five Random Questions

P&P: Which would you rather eat: a 1-pound burger or a pound of fudge?

Matt: Burger. Which I've actually done. Michelle would choose fudge, which she has also already done. I guess that makes us pretty gross as a couple.

P&P: What's the last book you read?

Matt: The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. I like to pick at books rather than pound through them. Unless I become crazed and then I'll have to read the whole thing as quickly as possible. Michelle and Jesse read way more actual books than I do. I am crazy for concept art books though.

P&P: You have to attend one concert, which would it be: REO Speedwagon or Toto?

Matt: Toto. You damn well know everyone secretly loves "Africa". I love "Rosanna" and "Hold the Line" as well.

Admit it!

P&P: Can you dunk a basketball?

Matt: Horribly in my younger days. Now I think I would break my soul if I tried.

P&P: If you had to come up with an alias, what would your name be?

Matt: LOYCE. Ask Marc about it.

Onell Doughty KBB

Twenty Questions: Andi Green (WorryWoos)

Andi Green is the artist and illustrator behind the WorryWoos series of books and plush toys. To date, she has released books and the accompanying plush toys for five characters: Nola, Rue, Fuddle, Squeek, and Wince.

She can be followed on Twitter at @WorryWooMonster

worrywoo Rue Nola

P&P: What's the genesis behind the WorryWoo Monsters line?

AG: The WorryWoos started back when I was in high school. I would sketch out these monster characters everywhere but never really knew why. It wasn’t until after college that I realized I was sketching out characters based on the emotions I was feeling. I decided one day while drawing that I wanted to create light boxes for these ideas and write stories that explained who they were.  While writing out their background stories I decided to take it one step further and Xerox transfer the stories to the front of the  24" x 36” light boxes I had built. It was an amazing process for me as it was the first time I combined my love for illustrating with my love for typography and design.  

Side note -- Some people don’t know what the Xerox Transfer process is -- it is the process when you take words or images and photocopy them backwards then use a solution to transfer the image off the paper and onto a surface.  For me this hands on ability to cut each letter out of the story and play with the type on top of the character was truly exhilarating. I just love how playful type can add to an image. And as tedious as it sounds, it made the stories and final product that much more personal for me, I was able to express the feeling of each letter through this process.

At that point the WorryWoos made their first appearance as The Monsters In My Head in a group exhibition in NYC. The response was really astonishing, so many teachers and parents wanted my characters that after the show I started to break down the stories and create storyboards for books. And so began my journey into the world of The WorryWoos.  

worrywoo Rue book

P&P: Do you have a set process for creating a WorryWoo? Does the story come first, or do you first design the character?

AG: The characters always come first. I love to sketch out my ideas before anything else. Even in the final books I like to tell the story both visually and verbally. The process is kind of backwards and can definitely create some road blocks as I have a bunch of illustrations that as much as I try I just can’t write to them but it works for me and allows me to really tap into my drawing world which is my favorite place to be.

worrywoo Squeek Fuddle plush

P&P: Since you have control final over what the illustrated versions of your characters look like, what are some of challenges getting them into plush form?

AG: It is really hard to get the dimensions you have in a drawing to match that in a plush. A lot of my characters have exaggerated features, super skinny necks, over-sized eyes etc. For a plush these mechanics just don’t work. A small neck with a large head causes a monster with it’s head on the ground. It becomes a push and pull and a lot of back to the drawing board. But once I see a shape and look that works, I feel extremely satisfied...then onto the characteristics...ha.

P&P: Have you ever thought about releasing a vinyl or resin series of toys based on the WorryWoos?

AG: Absolutely! I think the characters would look so cool as vinyl. I just have to figure out how. I am very attached to the look of my characters and vinyl is such an art I would have to work with the right people to make sure the vinyl encompassed the characters essence.

worrywoo andi nycc

P&P: At conventions and other events, do you see more customers who are toy collectors or parents and kids?

AG: I get a mix of both. This year the first day of Comic Con I had so many repeat customers from the previous year because they were either collecting the WorryWoo or their kiddies loved them. It was fantastic!

P&P: What would give you more satisfaction: seeing a child reading a WorryWoo book or seeing a child with a WorryWoo plush?

AG: Seeing a child reading a WorryWoo book is so rewarding for me. To see how engaged they are with the story and to hear them discuss what they think is happening in the stories is just too awesome for words. 

worrywoos worry bug page

P&P: So far, you have addressed Loneliness, Insecurity, Confusion, Innocence and Worry in your stories. What types of topics will we see discussed in upcoming WorryWoo tales?

AG: There are so many emotions I am just now starting to make a list of the next topics. I get a lot of emails asking if I will make a book about a certain emotion or situation. I hope to one day address a lot of these requests. 

P&P: I see that Twitch is the next WorryWoo to be released, can you give us a preview of what his/her story might be about?

AG: Twitch’s book is all about frustration. There are so many different ways to feel frustration that I am hoping to tap into a bunch of them through Twitch’s daily experience. My goal is to show how letting frustration get the best of us can turn pretty ugly. Sometimes we have to step back and stop focusing on the negative and enjoy the positive.

worrywoo Andi Green

P&P: If you had to choose one WorryWoo character that best represents Andi Green...which would it be?

AG: WOW! I don’t know! They are all me!! Probably Fuddle, I can never make up my mind... it is amazing I am even able to finish a book.. Confusion can really stop me in my tracks... but now I say to myself what would Mr. Worm and Fuddle tell me!!

worrywoo rue book

P&P: We've seen books, plush toys and artwork based on the WorryWoos. What can we expect next?

AG: A Woosical and an animated I-Pad Appl!! I am currently working with an amazing group of people who are producing a WorryWoo musical for Fall 2012. They are so talented and the music they have created is unbelievable. I am beyond excited! As well the I-Pad App will be released next year and the goal is to maintain the WorryWoo look and feel even in the digital world.. and the group who is working on it is doing an incredible job.

worrywoo nola jump

P&P: Where do you see the WorryWoos line five years from now?

AG: I hope in five years to see a lot more people embracing their inner Woo! The goal is to evolve the characters into a full Woo World where there are more WorryWoos and Wooland has really been mapped out. Pipe-dream is to see them as large puppets in Woo Land!

P&P: Are you currently working on any projects outside of WorryWoos?

AG: I am, but I am not ready to talk about them yet. I am staying focused on Twitch. 

worrywoo books

P&P: If you could choose one artist to collaborate with, who would it be?

AG: I would love to collaborate with the team from the Jim Henson group. There are so many talented artists there and I just know we could do some amazing work together. 

P&P: Since the line is a favorite of plush collectors, is there anything that you are passionate about collecting?

AG: I love old cameras and love to buy the really old ones when I see them at flea markets. Even if they don’t work, they intrigue me. 

P&P: What words of advice would you give to aspiring artists or authors?

AG: It may sound hard but it is always important to find the positive in every negative!  When things go wrong, don’t give up instead, learn and move on. Mistakes can be the greatest stepping stone and if you learn from them they will make you that much stronger. 

worrywoo Rue Wince plush

And Five Random Questions:

P&P: What was your favorite childhood cartoon?

AG: That is a tough one.. I was a cartoon fanatic. If it was on I watched it! I had every ScoobyDoo cartoon memorized (this will give you a clue to my answer to another question) but I also never missed SpiderMan and His Amazing Friends.. I loved Firestar.. she had the coolest hair! And I can’t leave out The Last Unicorn...that movie was a huge inspiration to me and I still watch it and am enthralled.

P&P: If you were stuck in an elevator for 2 hours, what song would you rather hear nonstop: Walking On Sunshine or We Built This City?

AG: I am going to have to go with We Built This City. 

P&P: What's the last movie you watched?

AG: I just watched 180 Degrees South. Very inspiring. I hope to one day to be able to follow in their path.

P&P: What toppings do you like on a pizza?

AG: Spinach, mushrooms and olives.

P&P: Are you a cat person or a dog person?

AG: I am definitely more of a dog person BUT I have to whisper this because my cat is right here on my lap and she would be devastated to find this out! I love running with my dogs and this has created a very deep bond between us.

worrywoo nola sad

The Artwork of Sean Madden

Sean Madden

This week, we've handed over the reins to artist Sean Madden for our Monday special feature. Sean, whose artwork you can find at,  describes his art process and shows off some of his latest customs and sculptures.

Previously, my work has been centered around the production of small bronze sculptures which you can see at my alternative site: More recently, my work has veered towards a kind of three dimensional collage. Mainly incorporating plastic toys and PVC figures along with anything I find that can be rethought or recycled into something interesting and new.

There are many influences that inspire. Robots, sex and machinery all seem to feature heavily as do children's nursery rhymes and fairy tales. I'm also a big fan of the animator Ray Harryhausen, Robert Ruaschenburg, Shunya Yamashita, and the music of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Sean Madden Robot Geisha 1

The ‘Robot Geisha’ figures are a kind of Darwinian nightmare from the future and look at mans obsession with beauty and technology. She’s a kind of rebel cyborg that’s rejected her programming...quite defiant yet bewildered by her own existance. Not someone you'd want to mess with, although I think she has a certain grace and finesse about her too.

Sean Madden Robot Geisha 2

The sculpt is all me except for the lower arms which were pulled from a Robsapien toy, I really liked their clunkiness. No. 1 is cast in bronze and No.2 is made made from friendly plastic. They both stand around 50cms in height. I got a great little email from the special effects God Ray Harryhausen earlier in the year, he said that he liked this piece and wished me all the best in the future..makes it all worth while.

Sean Madden Dear Hart

‘Dear Hart’ is a combination of all things Autumnal and animal. He’s made up of stuff you might see on a walk through your nearest wildlife park, a kind of Wood Sprite if you will. I got the idea quite recently whilst visiting my 2 year old niece, she loves kicking up piles of leaves and jumping in puddles in the back yard. I think the pose makes him look like a bit of a preacher.

The wings on his back are from a taxidermy website and the body I got from a local second hand store. I had to fill the body with resin plaster just to give him some stability. The head, which was pulled from an old barometer, was a little smashed up so I had to repaint and remodel a few things. He stands at about 55cms.

Sean Madden My Little Pony 1

I just sold a couple of pieces called ‘My Little Pony’ to the video games writer Rhianna Pratchett (daughter of Sir Terry) who tells me that they will be gracing her mantelpiece in her London flat. They’re basically a plastic toy adaptation. The basic toy Horse can be found in most second hand stores here in the UK, I think Barbie make the good ones. I’ve resculpted the head with plastic resin and repainted the body with a white base coat then applied various washes of fast drying enamels on top. The head also involved some brush work. Can’t remember the original inspiration, I do know that toy horses generally make me feel melancholy for some reason, especially if they’re not being played with.. Stands at 30cms in height.

Sean Madden My Little Pony 2

Twenty Questions: David Horvath

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P&P: Congratulations on getting Ox on the cover of the 2011 Toys "R" Us Great Big Book. How do you feel about Uglydolls having their own sections in two of the most well-known toy stores in Toys "R" Us and FAO Schwarz?

DH: I still have the Big Book from when I was a kid with the 70's Star Wars page somewhere.

I must say a huge huge congrats to our entire team at the NJ Prettyugly office for working day and night for almost one year to help make this happen. Toys R Us is the local toy shop in many towns across the USA, and we are thrilled to be opening an FAO Uglydoll shop within each location in the US this year, all across the world next year.

It's really thrilling to walk into the very Toys R Us I used to buy Star Wars figures at in the early 80's and see our set up there. If you can, check out the FAO and Toys R Us Times Square shops with the wild molded buildings and characters...its like our books came to life.

I am also excited because I know our being there with these FAO boutiques at Toys R Us will ultimately send more business to small shops and local toy stores. That is always very important to us. We built this for our fans and friends and we hope everyone enjoys.

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P&P: The Uglydoll "brand" has really grown over the past 12 to 24 months. From tin toys to clothing to party accessories, what can we expect next?

DH: Uglycon November 2012 at Giant Robot! I can hardly wait but I guess I will have to.

I have been writing a book to help aspiring creatives. It is years away due to the movie schedule but it is something I am really excited about.

A few years ago we produced Kaiju figures with an authentic monster toy factory in Japan. This year we are producing the Lucky Uckys from our life long love of the cheap unpainted Keshi figures...really excited abut those and the new tin toys we have coming. We just released an extensive Uglydoll party line available now at Party City and I think its the best of the best line we've ever done. Truly excited over that one, and we hope everyone gets a kick out of it.

Sun-Min and I are also super thrilled to be releasing POP Uglydoll figures with Funko. We have been huge fans of the POP Heroes and POP Star Wars guys and are so excited to line ours up next to them!

Wage, Ice-Bat, Babo, OX and Ninja Batty are joining the POP series very soon and we hope our fans will love them as much as we've loved working with the super pros at Funko. The Funko guys are truly brilliant and we have been dying to work with them since the day we met them years ago.

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P&P: If you had to choose one character to represent the entire Uglydoll line, which would it be and why?

DH: Wage was the first, and he was brought to life 10 years ago this year. Wage, Babo, OX and Ice-Bat are the main guys, at least for us, as seen through our books especially.

P&P: Do you have a specific plan to developing your Uglydoll characters? Do you start with the name and backstory or do you base those on the illustrated character?

DH: Since day one, Sun-Min and I had a motto of sorts that we were not producing toys, but telling stories through books, toys, and anything else we loved. If there is going to be an Uglydoll bucket, the story comes first.

So everything begins with the story. While most know of Wage through the tale of Sun-Min first sewing him for me based on a picture of him in a love letter, Wage had already meant something to us and was a character with a story on paper, which is why she decided to sew him together for me. The story is all that matters.

uglydolls 1

P&P: Earlier this year it was announced that Uglydoll would be turned into an animated feature film. Is there any news or progress to report on that front?

DH: I can say that Sun-Min and I have been writing the story around the clock night and day non stop and it's been a true joy.

P&P: Has anyone ever expressed a negative reaction to the toys being called Uglydolls?

DH: Not really negative. John Stewart was the first and only to make fun of our name that I've heard of, really.

To us, ugly means unique and different. Uglydoll characters have funny little twists and turns inside and out which make them who they are, just like we do. What makes us different is supposed to be celebrated and proclaimed from the roof tops, not covered up or altered.

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P&P: What toy, writing or illustration work are you doing outside of the Uglydolls?

DH: Sun-Min and I haven't had much time to work on anything else now that we are on the movie 24-7, but I can say we are building an all new company piece by piece which we are VERY excited about, it's something simple, oddly familiar, and completely new.

P&P: It was announced that a Bissy Bear figure will be released. Will 2012 see more books and toy releases from the Bossy Bear series?

DH: Bossy Bear's newest book is delayed even more so now that the movie takes up all of our time.

We promise to return to Bossy Bear in a big way when we can.

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P&P: I've watched enough children's shows over the past year to fry a normal man's brain. Is there any chance we might see the Bossy Bear stories turned into an animated children's television series?

DH: If the right team comes along, sure thing. We are very picky though.

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P&P: Not many people probably realize the number of toys you have released. Can you name some of the non-Uglydoll lines that you've released?

DH: When we were building Uglydoll the designer toy market was just barely starting, but to us, Uglydoll was always a "regular" toy line meant for toy shops and gift stores ( and books, although those took us longer to release ) and to us, not really part of the "designer toy" movement. We were really fortunate to get wrapped up in that category somehow, probably due to some of the shops we were selling at the time, such as Giant Robot, the original US based spot for Michael Lau and Pete Fowler items.

During those early years we've made hundreds of collectible toys with Toy2R, all which serve as potential book and licensing projects we would love to go back to once our schedule allows us to do so. We also produced many Kaiju items made in Japan, mostly out of love for that category. There was a time when we were going to Tokyo several times per month, and during that time accumulated way too many Kaiju toys. ( the only toys we have left at home )

P&P: There are two toys that I still hold out hope will one day be released. Any chance we will ever see a Pounda or Little Bony vinyl?

DH: Someday when we have time!

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P&P: Where do you see Uglydoll 5 years from now?

DH: I see Wage with more patches on his apron.

P&P: Is there one artist (living or dead) who you would love to collaborate with?

DH: Dehara, Koji Harmon, Gargamel, Bwana Spoons and Le Merde anytime, always! The Super 7 crew, any day also.

Gargamel did a figure of one of our off beat characters a few years ago, and Dehara, Le Merde, Sun-Min and I did work on some crazy resin figures in the past...and the Bwana Spoons Kaiju Babo's are some of my favorites.

The Koji Harmon Ice-Bat series is truly staggering. So we have worked with all of them, but would love to work with them again, anytime.

P&P: There are a lot of passionate Uglydoll collectors out there. What are some of the things you are passionate about collecting?

DH: I am passionate about collecting experiences and photos of my family.
I used to collect toys but now Sun-Min and I take great pleasure in buying next to nothing.

Now instead of buying the toys I like I just take photos of items and leave them at the store. We still pick apart toys for research, but that's mostly girl's toys and baby toys, as they usually are most creative and are filled with the most interesting mechanics / tech.

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P&P: What would you tell someone who has aspirations of making toys for a living?

DH: The same I tell any artist or designer or story teller coming to us for advice...Decide if you want to be George Lucas, or the artist who animates Yoda.

Both are fantastic paths, but there is a huge difference, and it is a choice to make.

We often receive letters from artists who were inspired by Lucas and want to do what he did, but end up going to art school to receive training to do what Ralph McQuarrie did.

And five random questions:

P&P: Who do you think is the greatest television detective/private investigator?

DH: Columbo, just one more thing.

P&P: What book are you currently reading or did you read last?

DH: Reading Education of Millionaires

P&P: Star Wars or Star Trek?

DH: Galaxy Quest

P&P: If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

DH: I have the same super power you have and I use it from 5am to 10pm daily.

P&P: What was your first job?

DH: I've had two. The first was manager of a toy shop in the early 90s...I left Art Center to go learn the real world scoop on how boutique toy retail and distribution works.

My 2nd job was at a Flash animation company, which didn't last long. I left when they asked me to change a color to purple. There's no way someone is going to tell me to change a color..

Ok maybe Sun-Min can.



We talked with David Foox, the artist behind the upcoming 3.25" tall Organ Donors vinyl toy line.

What's you artistic background?

I am a painter - mostly acrylics on canvas, paper, and wood. I am self taught and did a few different apprenticeships with other artists. I guess I am just getting started. :)

How did you get involved in the designer toy scene?
I guess I came into this scene through an unlikely route - I started with Gamesworkshop miniatures, paints and customs. From there I learned a little sculpting and more painting technique and then started to broaden my interest and became fully obsessed with the designer vinyls coming out of California, Japan, and Europe. 

Your first release of original figures is the Organ Donors line.  What's the inspiration behind the line?
The inspiration comes from two totally different aspects. Firstly, Jess has an uncle with a debilitating lung disease. He received a set of lungs by chance from a 25 year old IronMan Athlete involved in an accident. This proved to be a wonderful miracle as he has recovered exceptionally well and can even play a round of golf and a match of tennis! This story alone is inspiration enough! However, secondly, I also like to conceptualize the human condition down to its very basics - and in doing so I view Organ Donors as a way to bring humanity a little closer together. If we could all realize that we share the very same organs and that we are in this thing called "life" together, I really think people would be better to each other - more understanding. So in short, I guess the gist of that is "to make the world better by understanding the similarities we all share".
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INTERVIEW: Carnival Cartoons’ Garnet and Jared


As you might now know, Carnival Cartoons (Jared Deal and Garnet Syberg-Olsen) recently released their first, independently produced, figure - Buzz Carney.  We discussed the future plans and past influences of the guys responsible for The Carneys.

What exactly is Carnival Cartoons and who is involved with this venture?

Garn: Well, Carnival Cartoons is a company that Jared and I formed after we met in 1999/2000 while working at MTV animation in New York City. We have similar tastes when it comes to cartoons, and also similar drawing styles so it seemed like a good fit. We also found that we work really well together so we decided to partner up and form a company so we could start pitching our own show ideas. After the show we were working on at MTV didn’t get a second season…I headed Back to Vancouver where I’m from, and Jared stayed in the Big Apple, but we have continued to work together since then by phone, email, ftp etc. and with the odd trip back and forth. So…in a sense we are a “virtual animation studio”. Right now its exciting times for us, because we’re heading in a whole new direction creatively with the whole vinyl toy production thing. Its pretty cool because we’ve developed a huge library of original animation related content that really lends itself to toys…and it interesting to see the big players in animation are starting to think in the same way…what with the recent purchase of a stake in Kidrobot by WildBrain Animation Studio.

Jared: Yeah, it’s cool though because we don’t actually need a studio space, where we both physically can sit at a computer side by side (although that would be the dream situation). We’ve been able to crank out heaps of work on our own projects, and for other clients working remotely. Ya gotta love the interweb!

Your artwork and humor reminds me a lot of Ren and Stimpy.  Who and what influenced you and your artwork?

Jared: Crap...we have sooo many influences.  There are so many great artists out there now; it seems like every day we discover someone new who just blows us away.  Yeah, you're right one of our biggest would have to be Kricfalusi & well, pretty much any other ex-Spumco artist...Jim Smith, Bill Wray, Katie Rice, Chris Reccardi, Gabe Swarr, Fred Osmond, Stephen DeStephano…the list goes on. Other big influences...Mary Blair, Tim Biskup, Gary Baseman, Gendy, Craig McCracken, Craig Kellman, Tex Avery, Jeff Soto, Dave Cooper, Chris Prynowski, Aaron Augeblick. And some new finds...Nick Cross, Todd Kauffman, Joel Trussell, any one from the Meathaus crew (Zach Baldus, Easo, etc.).  We could go on for days!

Garn: For sure! Jared’s right… its like you find new animation artists all the time that are so good it makes you want to cut off your hands and give up drawing! Blogger is a great way to see stuff you just wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise. It’s so easy for artists to post stuff and give you peek into their world. I also like to look outside of animation for inspiration. There are so many great painters, illustrators, and designers out there that really get me worked up. J. Otto Siebold, Michael Bartalos, Melinda Beck, Ragnar, Calef Brown, Kirsten Ulve, Evan Hecox, Jim Flora, Lane Smith, Rod Filbrandt, The Clayton bros., Jeff Kleinsmith, Gary Taxali, Stuart Davis, M. Sasek…seriously this interview could just turn into a list of influences.


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INTERVIEW: J of Neth Creatures

We had a chance to chat with the man behind one of this year's new, hot designer toy lines - Neth Creatures.  It's a very unique collection and one that warrants a lot of attention.


What was the inspiration for the Neth Creatures project?

Honestly, just about every experience of my life has inspired and influenced this project. I get a lot of design inspiration just from traveling around the country and the world, experiencing different designs and different design philosophies. It's also an inspiration to meet people who are out their doing their own thing and are passionate about it. I began working on the figures on the weekends as an escape from my corporate gig. Neth Creatures was my chance to develop something on my own and create something deeply personal. I wanted to do something that wasn't mass market, that wasn't concerned with mass appeal.

Please tell us more about J. ­ the artist.

I basically have used my work experience to refine my aesthetic eye. I think the figures have a good mix of my past experiences in toy, product, graphic and fashion design. I love that I'm continually growing as an artist and I want to continue to show my growth in my new work. I have always been drawing creatures, but they used to be very elaborate in illustration. Over the last few years, I've grown to appreciate design in a very raw, simple form. Lately I have been developing more print and canvas pieces exploring color, patterns and my love for nature and the beauty of simplicity.


Did you do all of the design work and artwork for the 9 Neth Creatures?

Yes, I designed, redesigned, mocked up, changed, reworked and tweaked everything. I never really showed the designs and figures to anybody during the development except for my wife, who is also an artist. I wanted the figures to only be apart of us. I've always felt that too many people giving opinions waters things down.

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INTERVIEW: Artist/Drummer – Aaron Burtch

You've probably seen Aaron Burtch's work and not even known it.  Be it on a concert poster, an album cover, a painting or a t-shirt...Aaron's work has no boundaries.  And not only does he create amazing artwork, but he's also the drummer for one of my favorite bands - Grandaddy. To learn more about this up and coming on!


One thing I noticed in your artwork is the theme of nature (animals or landscape).  Do you fashion yourself as an environmentalist?

Totally. What can i say? I love animals, dirt, trees, sunshine, deserts, mountains...I love the smells, the sounds, the feel of it all...Being out there is what really makes me feel content and happy. Nothing else strikes that chord with me. There's no movie or painting or music that even comes close.

The area where I live is heavily agricultural but is undergoing this unprecidented urban growth cycle. There's so much money being made by developers, contractors, real estate people and lenders that it's become really unpopular to be considered an environmentalist. Even on the agricultural side the farmers are pissed off about the regulations that are set up to protect local species and habitat. I feel some sympathy for those guys, since i know how hard it is to be a small farmer these days. Most of them are just getting by and it's really a crime for the government to not help subsidize safer, more environmentally conscious farming.  The way the government helps these people is by constantly relaxing those protective laws to allow for more pollution and development which does help the small farmer's immediate financial situation, but obviously it does far more harm than good. We are going to be paying for this irresponsibility for a long, long time I think.


Are there any specific artists you believe have influenced your work?

Since I grew up here in the Central Valley, and art isn't much of a consideration to most folks. It wasn't emphasised in school and I didn't have much of a head start in art knowledge. Shit, I guess i never really caught up either. I didn't go to art school and whatever it is that i've learned has been by just doing stuff. But some people who have really moved me in one way or the other are Tom Freidman, Al Hanson, Souther Salazar, Saelee Oh, Alexander Cheves, Andy Goldsworthy and the Group of Seven. I really love the Royal Art Lodge too, but i think probably the biggest direct influences have been skateboard graphics and print ads. With deck graphics, there are so many good ones and I think it's really incredible how so much care is put into it. Yet, if they are used like they are supposed to be used, the graphic is gone within minutes. They are made to be destroyed and i really like that.
The turnaround time for skate graphics is so short. All those boards that you see in a skate shop have a shelf life of about 3 months and then a new version takes its place.  The good companies just turn out rad image after rad image, year after year and month after month. I'm really impressed by that.

You also play drums in a band called Grandaddy.  I love the new EP – Excerpts From the Diary of Todd Zilla. (Readers…go out and buy it!)  What has that experience helped bring to your artwork?

I always liked to draw, and I started painting right when the band started, in about 1992 or so.  I developed most of whatever style i have by doing flyers for local shows and other band stuff. I'm not a confident artist and I guess I'd be happy enough to just make stuff without considering what anybody else would think about it. But making art that I know lots of people will see has been a huge factor in how my stuff turns out as well. I don't know if that's for better or for worse though.


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INTERVIEW: We Chat with CWC’s Junko Wong

Plastic and Plush chats with Junko Wong, the founder President of CWC, about the reemergence and rejuvenation of the Blythe Doll.  Blythe was originally created by Kenner in 1972 and was only produced for one year due to poor sales.  She made her comeback in 2000 in photos by Gina Garan and Parco's Christmas campaign produced by CWC in Japan.   The first neo-Blythe, Parco Limited, was produced by CWC and manufactured by Takara, with permission of Hasbro was released in June 2001. There are a number of new Blythe dolls available and an entire website devoted to this special little doll.


Were you a fan of the original Blythe dolls, which were released by Kenner in 1972?

No, I was already a teenager in '72 and interested mostly in boys!

Was it the photography work of Gina Garan that really turned you on to these figures?

It was in Gina's photos that I first saw Blythe. In the picture, I saw a beautiful doll that I thought the women in Japan would fall in love with and could sense the potential of the product as a cultural icon.  I also simply saw a beautiful photograph that the talented photographer Gina Garan took.

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