Title: Pudge: The hamster that will eat ANYTHING
My uncanny final project was a culmination of the many production techniques I learned throughout Toy Design & Prototyping, as well as a continuation of a character that I created during the semester. Pudge started off as a normal hamster that was just cute and a little pudgy because he loved to eat so much. I decided to make him into an uncanny character by combining elements of surprise and horror with cuteness and innocence. Pudge now turned into a cannibalistic hamster that would eat anything and everything, including eyeballs, teeth, and other gross things. However, on the surface, a user/player would not realize Pudge’s dark tendencies unless they had carefully scrutinized the packaging. Eventually, the player would open a zipper on Pudge’s stomach to find a blood red pouch containing all of the gross things that Pudge has eaten. The unexpectedness of the horror elements is what makes Pudge so interesting and uncanny to play with.
Links to previous documentation leading up to final:
The original idea for Pudge came when I had to design a character turnaround on illustrator. I drew inspiration from my trip to Japan and my love of cute and squishy things. Pudge was meant to be a soft toy, but the first iteration of his design was meant to be 3D printed. I wanted to make my character into a soft toy eventually, so I stuck with his design for the final. Back to the character design, I had to simplify Pudge’s features so that they could eventually be 3D modeled and printed. I also created some packaging for Pudge if he was just a normal hamster.
The second stage of Pudge’s existence was a 3D model based on the turnaround I created for character design. I used Cinema 4D, and despite all of the delays and challenges I had with the program, I was able to make a simpler and 3D-printable version of Pudge. The 3D model was actually a great way for me to visualize the pattern I would eventually make, as there are limitations to a 2D turnaround.
3D Printing & Mold Making: http://ima.nyu.sh/documentation/2018/05/04/toy-design-prototyping-week-12-3d-printing-mold-making/
I took the 3D model of Pudge and finally physically brought him into existence. Pudge was no longer just a character that existed digitally and I was very happy to see his transformation. Using the 3D printed Pudge, I moved onto the next part of toy production – mold making. I used silicone to make a mold of Pudge, and resin to make multiple colored copies of him. Using the mold to make Pudge was the easiest production method, aside from the mess and hassle of pouring the original silicone. I made a few different colors using my mold, which I would also eventually use in my final project.
The materials I used – beige plush fabric, polyester stuffing, black felt, red felt, zipper, thread, resin mold toys, fake eyeballs and teeth, plastic cockroach, acrylic paint, ribbon, cardstock
Cutting, Sewing, & Stuffing:
After the brainstorming process of transforming Pudge into an uncanny character, I began to make a physical soft toy. The soft Pudge I created was intentionally much larger than the original 3D printed version, so that it could fit many things inside its stomach pouch. I freehanded the pattern since I had a general idea of how I wanted the pieces to fit together, and from my previous experience making soft toys. Then, I cut the pieces out from a light tan plush fabric. I used the sewing machine for the larger pieces and flat seams, and I hand sewed details and parts that were more difficult to sew using a sewing machine. Pudge’s actual head was sewn using the sewing machine, while his eyes, nose/mouth, and ears were sewn by hand. I continued to put his body together, and eventually I came to the pouch.
I used a white zipper left over from another project for the opening, and red felt for the pouch itself. I had to fold and line up the plush fabric, red felt, and zipper to make sure no seams showed. The rest of the body was straightforward to make, and the body parts and details were sewn on last. The invisible stitch came in handy not only when I closed up stuffed parts, but also for sewing the body parts on. With everything sewn together, the last part was making the creepy things for Pudge to eat.
There are various kinds objects inside Pudge’s stomach: resin replicas of Pudge, fake eyeballs, fake teeth, and even a plastic cockroach (thanks Marcela!). The resin replicas were made during the mold making classes, and to make them look creepier, I painted on blood and bones using acrylic paint. The fake eyeballs and teeth came from Marcela’s stash of creepy toy details, and the plastic cockroach was a surprise added by Marcela the day I presented my toy :).
I was inspired by Beanie Baby packaging for Pudge because of the simplicity and story inside the tag. I introduced the character innocuously with the tag, only hinting to Pudge’s creepiness with little details like the bite taken out of the corner of the tag, and some key words written in red. If you look closely at the back of the tag, you can see blood drips from the bite mark and a creepier looking Pudge. The instructions for playing with the toy were incorporated into the story on the tag, so that the interaction was self explanatory.
Final Pudge! (not sure why the photo is sideways)
I am very satisfied at how my final project turned out, and I think my execution was even better than I had imagined. My toy was really well received at the IMA end of semester show, and a lot of people had very visceral reactions to Pudge. I enjoyed watching people play with my toy, and I ended up gifting Pudge to someone who really liked it. Toy Design & Prototyping really helped me improve my existing production skills, teach me new methods, and gave me the resources to create wonderful products that made people happy. Thank you Marcela for a fantastic semester! I learned a lot and I will miss this class, but I’m very glad I took this class before it was too late. I will never forget the fun times and interesting lessons!
I didn’t extensively document people playing with Pudge, but I did get some photos. Marcela took the one on the left of Ricardo reacting to Pudge’s indsides and I actually gifted Pudge to my friend Kiril who is in the picture on the right. Watching people play with and be gifted toys was one of the best parts about taking this class.