Contestants start out at Culver Studios with PeeWee’s Playhouse veteran Ve Neill delivering a challenge. This week, they are to create an animated character inspired by oversized objects from a child’s play room. As an added touch, Pee Wee Herman himself (a.k.a. Paul Reubens) was the guest judge for this challenge.
Like last week, the contestants were divided up into pre-selected teams of two. The previous challenge winner, Melissa Ebbe, was the odd man out, and so she got to select her spot, making a team of three with Johnny and Rob.
The teams begin to design and sculpt their ideas, having selected their inspirational objects of crayons, dice, a lollipop, a race car, a wrist watch, and a skeleton key to create their kid-friendly character.
This theme seemed to be a stretch for several of these artists. Although they started out at top speed, racing to select their inspirational item, most of the teams seemed to struggle with the design, some just turning their model into a large version of their selected item. Literal interpretations of a concept like that can easily turn into more of a costume than a fully-developed character, and Michael Westmore seemed to be thinking the same thing. During his walk-through consultation of the sculpting phase, he advised several of the contestants to be cautious not to make their character “too human.”
But sculpting is only one portion of the process; technical issues can destroy all of that hard work done on the sculpt. Ant and Walter’s mold came out of the cast with several holes and wide seams, requiring a lot of patching to create the smooth finish required for their Race Car woman. Ant suggests that his experience with beauty makeup is all they’ll need for the face, and they did not create a face sculpt. He seemed really happy with the silver paint coverage; however, it wasn’t enough to impress the judges.
Glenn: “I don’t know why they thought it would be alright to just paint the face silver.”
We’ve seen it before: a simple sculpt and a fantastic paint job can often be the winning creation, but knowing your materials is also very important, and often the paint job falls flat. Njoroge and Jennifer found this out when their yellow paint job started cracking and splitting on their model’s neck, revealing his skin beneath. They also had trouble with translucency, trying to cover his dark skin with a light color without using any base paint.
Speaking of paint jobs — it’s also important to know when to stop. The Skeleton Key character created by Katie and Kaleb featured so many colors, they ended up with a muddy, corpse-like complexion. They also missed several opportunities to play with the key theme. For example, they put oversized pearls around her neck. Not that pearls are bad, but given her character’s inspiration, I would have loved to see a locket. Or a “lock-it,” as it were.
Paul Reubens: “This is an incredibly artistic great idea that leaves something to be desired in terms of the execution of it.”
The top looks:
In a surprising turnaround from the earlier design objections from Mel Licata, her work on the Watchman with Anna won her the prize this week. They were able to include many details such as a watch band neck and a believable animated clock face with artful stippling to give it a realistic appearance. It was a great blend of real and make-believe. Their model really sold the whole thing, bringing the character to life with his “alarming” gesticulations.
Johnny, Melissa & Rob’s Lollipop had great colors and lots of detail, but his perplexed facial expression knocked them down a few points. That, and maybe his less-than-enthusiastic lollipop dance. I was really impressed with Melissa’s attitude this week. She entered this week with immunity from elimination, and yet, she had her eye on making the team stronger and putting in her fair share of the work.
Paul Reubens: “I wanted to see it be a happier lollipop. He looks like a sad lollipop…. He’s CANDY!”
On the bottom this week:
Robert and Yvonne created “Board Game Man.” For the second week in a row, Yvonne didn’t seem to work well with a partner and the character suffered. She waffled on the size of the facial features that Robert prepared, and took over the nose sculpt after Mr. Westmore’s consultation. The proportions between their pieces were mismatched (I’m sensing a trend here, or at least a little déjà vu from last week). In the end, the colors were hideous and the design was uninspired, revealing a creepy, weird underdeveloped mess. As it turns out, after all of the fuss about the size of his nose, the judges were not impressed.
Ve: “I think that it was a really bad idea to put that thing on his nose. It looks like a baby bottle nipple.”
Neville: “He’s scary, too.”
Ve: “It’s the clown thing”
There were also game board pieces stuck to his game board chest. As Paul Reubens pointed out, they looked like misplaced nipples. Even Yvonne acknowledged it, stating that they purposefully attached them asymmetrically on his chest board so that they didn’t look as much like nipples. Nice try, but no dice. In fact, maybe they should have used dice instead.
Njoroge & Jennifer’s Crayon was a huge missed opportunity. They had the whole world of crayon colors at their disposal and they chose only one. And it was primary yellow… all over…except his fingertips. Did I say missed opportunity? This seemed more like a serious design choice issue to me. Even yellow comes in a variety of shades, so I’m surprised that they didn’t try to do more shading, at least on his face.
Ve: “It’s a makeup that should have had some dimension painted on it”
Glenn: “…making it a single color? It’s just a poor idea.”
Jennifer: “I’m so feeling like the bottom look because of the terrible paint and the one edge of the cowl.”
Although I hated to see her go, I agreed with the decision to send Jennifer home, and as this challenge concludes, the contestants can put “Child’s Play” behind them.
Next week is a science fiction challenge where they must create a character from a long-lost race based on a recording of its corresponding long-lost language. I hope that it’s an individual challenge — it will be interesting to see what each of these artists will come up with by themselves.