Fur Real Poster for Hasbro HASCON 2017

I’ve worked on a lot of projects for Hasbro over the years. Most of it is concept art that must stay forever under lock and key but every once in a while I do something I can show to the world.

Recently Hasbro hosted their first very own convention, Hasbro HASCON 2017. In one of the booths they wanted to put up a giant activity board featuring Fur Real talking animatronic puppies. Kids who stopped by were given Post-It notes and invited to stick on their answers to various word balloon questions. I was hired to illustrate the icons inside the balloons and also the background pattern. The Hasbro design team put together the final layout.

Here’s a photo the client sent me of the Fur Real booth at the Con:

Wish I could have been there. I live halfway across the country from the event but it was a lot of fun to take part even in this small way.

Mr. Potato Head Animation

I’m excited to finally tell you about a project I worked on that has recently gone live: An animated website for Hasbro/Playskool starring Mr. Potato Head!

Last fall I was approached by Minneapolis agency Popular Front to help them update an activity page on Hasbro’s Playskool Kids website. At the time the site featured four host characters—a turtle, a dog, a cat, and a dinosaur—that would guide kids through various games and activities. Hasbro decided they wanted to shine a spotlight on Mr. Potato Head by making him the new host of the site. The plan was to introduce Mr. Potato Head in a “transitional role” as host. He would join the site as a fifth host and then, over time, he would eventually take over as the primary host of the site.

There’s a few activities on the site so Mr. Potato Head had a lot to do and say. Popular Front needed Mr. Potato Head to speak/act 150 different lines of dialogue on a very tight schedule. Popular Front approached me to do the job, and I in turn hired several freelance animators to help me get it all done on time. I’m proud to say we pulled it off.

I had the privilege of supervising an excellent team of very talented animators from the US and Canada: Stanton Cruse (who also built the character pack), Ben Meinhardt, Tod Carter, Michael Foster, Enoc Castaneda, and Ed Olson. They all worked extremely hard and did some fantastic work. Thanks to their help we met the tight deadline and still produced some quality animation.

You can watch Mr. Potato Head in action here: http://kids.hasbro.com/playskoolkids/

Here’s a few screen grabs from the site:

PlaySkool Animation for Hasbro


Last summer I was hired by PUNY Entertainment in Minneapolis to assist a team of animators working on a new website for Hasbro’s “PlaySkool” brand. The website was created by Popular Front, also out of Minneapolis. My job was to animate a few dozen clips of Tubby the Turtle, one of four new Hasbro characters. I completed my animation over a year ago but, due to the size and complexity of the project, the site has just recently gone live. I’m excited to finally be able to show my work!

I did about two-thirds of the Tubby animation, the rest was done by other animators at PUNY. To see my work you can go to the site and watch for the red storybook to appear in the lower right-hand corner. Click on it and then choose the Turtle character.

The site is designed to be highly interactive so that each character will say and do something different each time you navigate the site. There were something like 150 total clips that had to be animated for each of the four characters.

I’ve also created a montage of a few of the clips I did. Unfortunately I’m having problems exporting them to a format that I can post on this blog or even on YouTube, but you can view the clip on the animation page of my website. It’s the very first clip at the top of the list.

Hasbro Freelance Fair

Earlier this week I flew to Rhode Island to take part in the semi-annual Hasbro Freelance Fair. Twice a year the toy company invites freelance artists, designers, and sculptors into their corporate headquarters to show their wares and to hob nob with members of Hasbro’s rather large creative department (in the hopes of landing Hasbro as a client). Each exhibitor is given a six-foot table and, if needed, an easel and a power supply for plugging in laptops, etc. The event is by invitation only, but if you want to be considered you can apply online to be a Hasbro freelancer.

I had a wonderful time. I met a lot of bright, fun people at Hasbro and also did a little networking with some of the other exhibitors. There were about thirty freelancers/studios represented, many with impressive portfolios. I’m told this was the largest attendance of any Freelance Fair yet.

Here’s a quick snapshot of my humble table. My newly designed finger-puppet business cards were a big hit, with several people asking for more. Although I did run into some problems getting them printed in time. Hint: I won’t be using a company called Overnight Prints ever again. My cards arrived later than promised with one batch being printed off-center. I also had them print up some postcards and one batch had little red flecks in an area that was supposed to be solid orange. They were cheap, but I guess you get what you pay for. Still, it all worked out ok in the end and I had a lot of fun handing them out.

Here’s a view down the hall at some of the other exhibitors. Hasbro also has several large displays of various licensed properties lining their halls. Way off in the background you can barely make out some jumbo 3D displays from Indiana Jones and The Incredible Hulk.

The trip appears to have been a successful one for me. During the lunch break I checked my iPhone and found that I’d already received emails from two people at Hasbro about a possible project. The event wasn’t even over and doors were already starting to open. Nice!

Mr. Potato Head stands guard near the Hasbro entrance. After the event he kindly patted me on my head and sent me on my way.

Hasbro is headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, just a stone’s throw from the Massachusetts border and only a one hour drive from Boston. I had hoped to grab a quick dinner with an old friend before flying out of Bean Town but plans fell through. Since I found myself with an hour to kill I swung by one of Boston’s great landmarks from American history: The Cheers bar.

Someday my wife and I would love to take a relaxing, educational tour of some of Boston’s real treasures from American history, but since time was so rushed this seemed like a fun stop for me to make.

As you might guess, the interior of the bar looks nothing like the one on the show. The exterior inspired the design of the Cheers set, but a television show set has to be designed to face an audience and allow for clear theatrical staging and specific camera shots. No real bar could accomodate those needs. The real-life bar is much smaller and has a completely different layout.

Actually, the pub’s real name isn’t even Cheers, it’s The Bull and Finch (website). But since it served as the visual inspiration for the show and doubled as the exterior, the owners make the most of their association with the series. The Cheers logo appears on a small sign out front and is also etched in the glass on the front door. The walls are lined with Cheers photos and memorabilia, and there’s a gift shop upstairs where you can have your picture taken next to a life-size cardboard cutout of Norm. I bought a glass tumbler with the Cheers logo etched on the side to take home as a momento.

The exterior shots for Cheers were filmed at the Bull and Finch, as well as a few scenes from the series that took place outdoors. But the main action took place on a soundstage in Los Angeles. If you ever visit L.A. you can see the actual Cheers set recreated inside a museum on Hollywood Blvd. I went there on a vacation several years ago. You can walk right up to the bar and see where some of the series regulars carved their names into the wood after the final episode. You can even sit on Norm’s stool.

One of the great things about freelancing is that I have the freedom to take a really fun 36-hour business trip/vacation like this one. The flip side is that there’s no such thing as a true vacation day. I’m back in the studio and the work has really piled up. Posts may be light and infrequent in the next week or two until I get caught up.