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Bad Biker Kitties Are On The Prowl
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Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!

Formula Juan Racer: Numero Uno!
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Baby Formula Juan Racer
Juan Year Old

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Disney's Tarzan At McDonald's

In 1999, Disney and Edgar Rice Burroughs joined forces for the animated feature Tarzan.  The film was directed by Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie) and Chris Buck (Frozen).  The radio-ready songs were created by Phil Collins.  McDonald's provided some promotional partner muscle.  There were 8 Happy Meal Action Toys and 3 different Sound Straws.  I'm pretty sure there was a Banana Milkshake somewhere to promote the movie, too.

Glenn Close provided the voice of Tarzan's adoptive gorilla mom, Kala.

Early in the film, Kala does battle with the ferocious leopard, Sabor.

Sabor kills Tarzan's parents and Kala's baby gorilla in the first few minutes of Tarzan.

The character of Sabor is a relentless predator.  When watching James Cameron's 2009 film AVATAR, the destructive, panther-like Thanator creature reminded me of Sabor.

Instead of simply swinging on vines, Disney's extreme sports Tarzan "surfs" through the trees.

You would think that Tarzan would have a beard, but I guess the gorillas taught him how to shave.

In Tarzan, Jane is a refreshing comical character.

One of the highlights of the film is the extensive "Baboon Chase" sequence, which starts with Jane sketching a Baby Baboon.

Jane's loving father is Professor Porter.

The Porter toy rides a bike, which is pretty impressive.

Clayton guides Jane and Porter, and he has facial hair, so you know he's the villain.

Clayton has a rather gruesome death by vines.

Terk the Gorilla (voiced by Rosie O'Donnell) sings a song called "Trashin' the Camp."

"Trashin the Camp" was also covered by 'N Sync for the film's soundtrack.

Tantor the Elephant was voiced by Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld).

The Tantor McDonald's toy is appropriately LARGE.

Tarzan inspired different McDonald's Happy Meal toys around the world.

There are 10 toys in the Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal set from Australia.

The Australian set of toys seems a bit "low cost" compared to the American set, but I think the Australian set is charming and unique.

Jane enjoys sketching detailed drawings of Jungle animals and a wild man wearing a loincloth.

Though the Australian set of toys isn't lavish, it is nice that it mixes materials.  Jane has a real paper sketchbook.

Baby Tarzan will always be in Kala's heart.

I think there was a missed opportunity with Kala's voice.  Carol Burnett could have voiced Kala, and performed her famous "Tarzan Yell", giving a new twist to the origin of the Tarzan Yell.

The Sabor action figure is easy to spot.

Sabor may very well be the most feral Disney character ever created.

Clayton seems tame compared to Sabor.

Clayton uses antlers in all of his decorating, in addition to Gorilla Fur accent pillows (we can assume).

The Australian Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal has a tree full of Baby Baboons.

Though there was only one Baby Baboon in the film, some of the International McDonald's Happy Meals featured multiple baby baboons.  Perhaps they did this to represent the mob of baboons in the movie in a kinder, cuter way.

Professor Porter sets up an elaborate camp that is just waiting to be trashed.

The gorillas will have to teach Porter and Clayton how to shave, just like they taught Tarzan.

Terk enjoys playing songs using pots and pans.

Terk, of course, is a New Yorker, so she's seen STOMP on Broadway.

Some very interesting character choices were made for the Australian McDonald's Tarzan Happy Meal.  Tantor the Elephant is not represented, but Flynt the Gorilla has a toy.

Flynt and his friend Mungo are Terk's cronies.

Young Mungo was voiced by Jason Marsden (Max in A Goofy Movie).

The Mungo "record player" is one of the most elaborate toys in the Australian set, yet Mungo is one of the most minor characters in the Tarzan movie.  Things really are upside-down in Australia.

Would you fancy a spot of tea with your Happy Meal?  Jane, Porter and Clayton's local McDonald's in England had a different set of Tarzan toys.  The Tantor toy looks the same as the American set, but all the others are slightly different.  Kerchak is featured here, climbing a tree that is about a foot tall when assembled.

Three magnetic Baby Baboons can be attached to Jane.  Clayton has a cloth jacket.  Tarzan's pose and vine are a bit different from the USA set, as is Clayton's bike.  The Kala/Tarzan toy and the Terk toy are also significantly different from the American set.

The U.K. Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal had some beautiful boxes.  If I remember correctly, McDonald's in the USA used simple bags.
In addition to the Happy Meal, McDonald's in the U.K. had a Jungle Chicken meal, a Jungle McDouble and a toffee and banana sundae.

Tarzan was one of the last hand-drawn Disney animated films to have a great deal of merchandise, including Jungle Bachelorette Party Tarzan and Jane dolls (includes stacks of tiny $1 bills).

I bet Barbie would ditch Ken in an instant if the Tarzan doll appeared near her toybox.

Years before the TV series Scandal, Tony Goldwyn played Tarzan.  I wonder if that information has or will inspire any sort of Tarzan/Scandal FanFiction.

Minnie Driver provided a very fun (and funny) version of Jane.

For the video release of Tarzan, McDonald's had a chain-reaction "Mouse-Trap" type set of McDonald's Happy Meal toys.  When joined together, the toys created a jungle playset.

I used this Tarzan McDonald's playset to create Disney's Animal Kingdom Pandora AVATAR McDonald's Happy Meal.  (Click the link to see that).

Quite a bit of Tarzan McDonald's Happy Meal toys were created.  I will be adding more here gradually.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Kitten Motorcycle Gang

I get sidetracked very easily.  That is how I came up Kitten Motorcycle Gang, some ridiculous new characters that I hope to turn into an empire.  I envision plush toys, action figures, a movie, cat food, and a theme park attraction.  I'm still trying to name these bad biker kitties.  From Left to Right, there's Tiger (or Tommy), Sheba (or Kitty) and Hairball.  Or maybe Hunter, Leona, and Bruno.

I made a photo puppet of Hairball.  He is made of foam sheets, wire, and some fake fur (for his beard).

The motorcycle is just a metal decoration from the "man cave" section of a hobby store (it was on clearance).

Part of the inspiration for Kitten Motorcycle Gang is an old picture from the early 1990s I found of our family cat, Bud, lounging on a motorcycle.  I based KMG member Hairball on Bud.

We really should have dressed up Bud in a vest and put a bandana on his head.

Besides the fact that cats are popular on the Internet, and shows like Sons of Anarchy are big right now, I also had inspiration for Kitten Motorcycle Gang from something from the past.  That would be Topps Perlorian Cats Trading Cards.

Back in 2010, I wrote a Dizmentia post called Bad Biker Kitties: Topps Perlorian Cats (click the link to see that) and I noticed from the responses that some people were obsessed with those motorcycle cats.

Watch for Kitten Motorcycle Gang to rev up their cycles and roar (and purr) sooner than nine lives from now.  I'm thinking of songs that need to appear in a KMG movie.  Definitely Rock this Town by the Stray Cats and maybe Puss n' Boots by Atom Ant, and possibly Kitty by the Presidents of the United States of America.  And pretty much any song by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club---especially Need Some Air.

UPDATE: JUNE 19, 2017

The Kitten Motorcycle Gang characters are finally entering the third dimension, in the form of plush toys.

Kitten Motorcycle Gang Plush Toys
The first KMG character plush are currently under construction in Venice, Florida.  This tough guy is preparing for his upcoming photo shoot.  This weekend, I bought a Chopper for him.

I created a logo for Kitten Motorcycle Gang.

This KMG sign will be used as a prop for photos with the plush versions of the characters.

I have also been working on puppet versions of Kitten Motorcycle Gang characters.

The puppet KMG characters are being constructed using foam, wire and various materials.

The Kitten Motorcycle Gang has rivals.  The most infamous are the Teacup Piglet Hogs.

Buddy the pig enjoys combing his mohawk when he is not riding his bike.

I also created a logo for the Teacup Piglet Hogs.

This is also a sign that will be used for photos of the Hogs.

The Hare Raisers may look cute, but these bunnies are a force to be reckoned with.

The Hare Raisers are known to vandalize gardens and steal 14 Karat Gold.

Here is the logo I came up with for the Hare Raisers.

Rowdy members of the Hare Raisers are known to throw colorful, decorated, hard boiled eggs at their rivals on Easter.

I also created a logo for the Chihuahua Chopper Club.

These dogs may be small in stature, but they think they are the leaders of the pack.

The Chihuahua Chopper Club's most notorious canine is Bandito.

Bandito is friends with the Kitten Motorcycle Gang.  He sells them Catnip.

I've also been working on a puppet version of Bandito.

The leader of the Chihuahua Chopper Club has been the most challenging character to make, but he has been the most fun to work on, and is my favorite.

I love all things Rockabilly, and decided that roadrunners (with their natural, Elvis-like pompadours) could be a great gang of road warrior villains to threaten a tiny animal motorcycle gang.  The Rockabilly Road Runners are a force to be reckoned with---these birds eat rattlesnakes!

A lot of the inspiration for Rockabilly Road Runners is from Jurassic World, with its over-the-top velociraptor gang chasing Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle.  And real roadrunners look like living dinosaurs to me.

Plush toys of the Teacup Piglet Hogs, Hare Raisers, and the Chihuahua Chopper Club are in the works and will soon be ready to rumble with the Kitten Motorcycle Gang.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Disney's Splash Mountain Goes On A Western River Expedition With Brer Roadrunner

This vexes me.  I'm terribly vexed.  I need a mystery solved.

I recently found this very interesting concept art for Disney's Splash Mountain.  I happen to think this is the most interesting version of Splash Mountain that I've seen.  It's too bad it was never built.  It looks like the perfect match for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

At Walt Disney World in Florida, you'll find Splash Mountain in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom, right next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Frontierland is based on the Wild (South) West.  The source material for Splash Mountain is Song of the South, a movie based in the South East of the United States.  How do you create a mountain for Song of the South in the middle of Frontierland?  Another logical question might be, "Why would you do that in the first place?"

In this case, it was a place where a water-based attraction had always been planned for Frontierland.  Instead of southern rabbits and foxes, it would have had some kick-a$$ cowboys, designed by legendary Disney artist Marc Davis.

The look of the Western Splash Mountain seems to take inspiration from The Western River Expedition, a cowboy version of Pirates of the Caribbean that was planned for Walt Disney World's Frontierland (where Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain currently exist).

The Western River Expedition is famous among Disney enthusiasts.  This attraction was teased for years in the 1970s, and even appeared on early maps of the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.  How cool is that Pecos Bill type cowboy, by the way?

Instead of cowboys, the park got a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland.

Is this Western Splash Mountain artwork for real?

I decided to ask someone I know (a former Disney Imagineer who worked on Florida's Splash Mountain, which opened in 1992) about this mysterious version of the attraction.  The Imagineer had never seen this art before, but noted that it looked too much like the Southwest to fit a ride based on Brer Rabbit.

The most shocking thing mentioned is that Florida's Splash Mountain was considered early on to be part of Adventureland.  If that is true, it is totally F***ing Insane.

To make things even crazier, Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain features a character named Brer Roadrunner.

In case you wondered, there was not a character named Brer Roadrunner in Song of the South.  Because roadrunners do not live in the southeast.  But they can live in a cartoon southern mountain right next to a southwest mountain in a wild western town in a theme park in central Florida.  That's logical.

Brer Roadrunner is actually a copy of an animatronic roadrunner from the Western "Home on the Range" section of a show called America Sings that played at Disneyland in California from 1974 to 1988.  Most of the animal cast (who were designed by artist Marc Davis) became secondary characters in Disneyland's Splash Mountain in 1989.  Then many of the America Sings animal characters were duplicated for versions of Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland (both opened in 1992).

Note that the roadrunner's color was changed to blue when he was duplicated for Florida's Splash Mountain.  I am guessing that many people riding Splash Mountain think that Brer Roadrunner is Mr. Bluebird.  Then again, most people probably have no idea who Mr. Bluebird is, either.

It's kind of amazing that Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, Brer Bear and all their southern friends have not yet been evicted from Splash Mountain by a much more merchandise-friendly cowboy.

Could there ever be a Splash Mountain starring Woody, Bullseye, and Jessie?

Would Stinky Pete ever invade Frontierland and threaten Woody, Jessie and their desert animal friends?  Could the interior of the mountain contain just a handful of animatronic characters, and use digital mapping technology (seen in Hong Kong Disneyland's Mystic Manor and Tokyo Disneyland's Jungle Cruise) to bring sweeping Western vistas and critters to life?  Would a TNT explosion caused by Stinky Pete send the Splash Mountain logs down the final drop?

Could the Splash Mountain finale change from Zip A Dee Doo Dah to You've Got a Friend in Me?

Brer Rabbit is probably safe, but you have to wonder if someday we'll be hearing Woody and Jessie sing "Cool Clear Water" as part of a new Western River Expedition for Splash Mountain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kristoff And Sven's Reindeer Ranch At Disney's Animal Kingdom

Frozen has been such a hit that the characters from the film are making a home for themselves at Walt Disney World in Florida.  Anna and Elsa greet guests in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.  In 2016, the Frozen gang returns to Norway in Epcot with a ride and a revival of their famous 2013 World Showcase meeting location.  Frozen Summer Fun (complete with a parade, store, skating venue, sing-along-show and fireworks) hit Disney's Hollywood Studios in the summer of 2014 and took the park by (Winter) storm.

Why should Disney's Animal Kingdom be left out of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of success the Frozen characters can bring?

I would like to suggest Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch at Disney's Animal Kingdom, replacing Rafiki's Planet Watch.  The new Sven attraction could feature live reindeer (of course) and a chance to meet Kristoff.

There's no doubt that the line to meet Kristoff could exceed the wait time for Expedition Everest.  You'd think Kristoff was Elvis the way people reacted to him at Frozen Summer Fun.

Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch would also need an indoor snow arena, where you could build a snowman or ice skate.  And an indoor merchandise location, too, of course!

Have you ever been to Disney's Animal Kingdom on a Summer Day?  A snow attraction at Animal Kingdom would be the most popular thing the park has ever had.

And it would be funny if Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch also had a flat ride starring Marshmallow the Snow Monster (as a nod to the Yeti from Expedition Everest).

Guests of Kristoff and Sven's Reindeer Ranch may purchase a package of Olaf Noses (carrots) as a snack or to feed to the reindeer.