Toy Design: Monsters Vs. Aliens

monstersaliens

Here’s yet another toy design I worked on for novelty cake supplier DecoPac. It’s a cake tie-in for the DreamWorks movie Monsters vs. Aliens. It’s a little hard to tell from the photo but it’s a figurine of the Insecto character and two plastic finger rings featuring the characters B.O.B and Missing Link. The background is a concept painting from the movie designed to stand up behind the figurine.

At the time the movie was still in production and the trailer hadn’t been released yet, so all I was given to work with was some turnarounds of the characters and a concept painting of the giant Insecto character crashing through the Golden Gate bridge. Matter of fact, I still haven’t seen the movie.

Here’s the concept art I submitted, and a photo of the final cake design. One thing you’ll notice is that the arms were grouped together on the final toy. I suppose this was a safety concern, to make it harder for little kids to bite them off and choke on them:

mva-insectoturnsv1

mva-ringsconcept1

mva-placrghconceptv1

mva-concept1v3

monstersalienscake

Toy Design: Sports Fan Bobblehead

spots_fan_toy

As I mentioned in a recent post I sometimes design novelty toys for DecoPac, a national leader in the cake industry. Often the toys involve licensed characters but sometimes they are more generic. For this project the client wanted to update the design of their “Sports Fan” cake. I’m not a sports fan myself but I would imagine this particular cake is a popular seller during the SuperBowl and other big sporting events.

sportsfan-concepts1

sportsfan-concepts2

Several toy ideas were suggested including a lenticular lanyard, a folding stadium seat that would hold a beer/pop can, a small keychain radio, and a big screen TV bobblehead. Ultimately the bobblehead idea was chosen. Here’s the final design I submitted, followed by a photo of the actual cake:

sportsfan-turns

sports_fan_cake

(Cake design © 2009 DecoPac Inc. All rights reserved.)

Toy Design: Surfs Up Mickey Mouse!

surf-mickey-toys

For over a year now I’ve been designing toys for a company called DecoPac. They create many of the fancy birthday cakes you see in the grocery store bakeries, the ones with little plastic licensed characters on them. They offer a wide variety of quality cake designs for all occasions, and often develop fun themes using licensed characters to tie in with movie and TV franchises. On occasion they will hire me to develop toy concepts for some of the cakes. They are a terrific client and its a ton of fun.

The toys are manufactured overseas, and because of the many factors involved (including the length of time it takes to ship them across the ocean) the concepts may have to be developed a year or more ahead of time. Today I finally received samples of the very first toys I developed for them back in April of ’08, figurines of Mickey and Minnie Mouse for a surfing-themed cake. The shipment also included toys from two other cake designs which I’ll be posting in the near future.

For the surfer Mickey I developed a few different rough thumbnail ideas and then the final turnarounds. From there my sketches were sent to a sculptor and then finally to the overseas manufacturer.

Here’s the final turnaround designs as well as a promo photo of the final cake design from the DecoPac catalog. At the time the client wasn’t sure which colors to use on Minnie’s bow and swimsuit so they asked me to give them a few options:

surfmickey-turnsv1a1

surfminnie-turnsv2

surf-mickey-cake

(Toy designs copyright © 2009 Disney/DecoPac. All rights reserved.)

Toy Concepts For Disney’s “Camp Rock”

It’s been a while since I posted any actual artwork on this blog. I’ve been cranking out artwork like crazy all spring and summer, but because of NDA’s and other client arrangements I haven’t been able to show much of the work publicly…yet. Here’s one project that I can finally let out of the box.

One of my clients is a local company that produces themed birthday cakes for licensed properties. Each cake includes a toy as part of the decoration, and I sometimes get the privilege of working up concept sketches for the toys.

Disney’s megahits High School Musical 1 & 2 were recently followed up by a new TV movie, Camp Rock. My client was hired by Disney to develop a Camp Rock-themed cake. The target audience for Camp Rock was a little older than for most cake toys, targeting teens and preteens instead of kids. Ultimately the Camp Rock cake concept never made it into stores, but the client has given me permission to post some of my work. Here’s a few of the concepts I helped develop:

Disney Toys

03-kaleidoscopeflashlight.jpg
07-bubblewand.jpg
09-symphony.jpg
12-solarracers.jpg

A few months ago I was hired by Peter Green Design to develop some toy ideas to pitch to Disney. I was given a list of possible toys based on three Disney properties (Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and My Friends Tigger & Pooh) and asked to do a rough concept sketch for each. A few were chosen to be considered as official Disney toys, and I was asked to do cleaned-up color versions of those roughs.

From there they went on to Disney. I’m told there’s a chance a few of them may actually make it into the production pipeline. With any luck, we may see something in stores by Christmas.

Either way, it was great fun to finally work with some Disney properties. Designing toys, I found out, is almost as fun as playing with them.

Long Overdue Art Update

I’ve been super-duper-crazy busy lately with freelance work. I’ve had several large projects on my plate for a while now, and the deadlines are all converging within the next two weeks. With freelancing everything seems to happen at once. Illustrator Tom Richmond put it well on his blog:

“Part of the problem with freelancing is that you never know when the next phone call will be your last for a while. As a result, you tend to take on more work than is good for you, for fear of a possible dry spell just around the corner.”

I’m getting better at dealing with it though. In the last couple of weeks I’ve actually turned down a couple of projects, something I very rarely do.

Here’s a few of the many balls I have in the air…

First, some spot illustrations for a children’s book I am doing for Living Waters Publications:



Some character design concepts for a bumbling pig character:

Turn-around drawings for a rubber pig promotional toy:

Some character design concepts of a smart cow for a dairy company:

And finally, some character designs for the re-design of a hardware store mascot:

In addition, I’ve got three other projects in the works. Two are still in the very early stages and the third has a Non-Disclosure Agreement attached, so I can’t show you anything….yet.