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Jun 29, 2009

Proto Monday >> Lou Pimentel's Cranston Fellows Junior.

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Happy Monday... We're back to fight the Monday blahs with the latest installment of Proto Monday featuring an exclusive look at the proto of Lou Pimentel's Cranston Fellows Junior resin (5" high) in production by mphlabs with an anticipated release of summer/fall '09.   This resin version is a highly refined version of the character Lou has been drawing and making customs of for quite a while.

To get the lowdown on Cranston, we fired up the email for a quick interview with Lou Pimentel.  Enjoy.

VP:  Hi Lou.  First up, congrats on Cranston!  Before we dive into the toy, why don't you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got the toy bug ?

Lou:  My name is Lou Pimentel and I am an artist based out of Brooklyn, NY. I got into this art scene about 3 years ago thanks to a co-worker and a close friend of mine.
My co-worker put me on to Sam Flores' work and I was blown away, I had no idea that there was a market for this type of art, and at that moment I knew I wanted to become a part of this scene.

I've been working really hard at getting my name out there and improving my technical skills. Right now everything I do involves oil paint, which I love, it's a medium that one could spend a life time trying to master, but I'm up for the challenge.

The way I got into vinyl toys was through a close friend of mine. He mentioned that a new guy (Triston Eaton) had moved on the block that created toys for a company called KidRobot, at the time I had no idea who KidRobot was, but I checked out their website and was amazed at what I saw. That Christmas my wife got me 2 Munny's and it was all down hill from there... I was hooked.

VP: So Cranston looks  like he's based off a Sharky custom you did awhile back. Give us the lowdown on him?  Good/ evil ?  Bat or not ? He seems quite happy with that tongue wag -- what makes him tick ?

Lou: Cranston (who's full name is Cranston Fellows Jr.) has been around for a very long time, he is a character that I've drawn here and there for years, but for some strange reason I enjoy drawing and sketching him, more than actually painting him on a canvas. A few years back I customized an egg Qee for a show, and it was the perfect platform to bring Cranston into the 3-Dimensional world. Having a 3D version of him to hold was pretty cool, and I thought that he would make a great toy.

When I was invited to customize a Sharky for ToyQube's Anniversary show I wanted to bring back my good old friend Cranston. So what is Cranston? Well, most people that see him assume he is a deviled egg because of his oval shape and horns, but in all actuality he is a devil bat. He is not good, but at the same time he is not evil. He just likes to cause trouble, like a mischievous kid. He definitely won't kill, be he will tie your show laces, or pour dish washing soap on your steps so be cautious around him. Just look at that huge grin... that means he just did bad and is anticipating what's soon to follow. Cranston is pretty upbeat, the only things that tick him off are early bed times and curfews. Being that he lives in the city that NEVER SLEEPS he knows that in the evening is when all the magic happens.

VP: So I'm curious about the creative process for Cranston. Did you know from the jump that you wanted to do Cranston or was it more of a process on figuring out which character to do ?  Did you revise him during the project or is he pretty much as you first imagined? Were there issues of art vs technical feasibility  ?

Lou: Well, I spoke to Vince at myplasticheart and I was showing him a few characters that I wanted to bring to life. He flipped through my sketch book, and seemed to really dig Cranston. A few days later we spoke some more and we decided to
do this project together. I always thought Cranston would make a great toy and I was excited that Vince felt the same way. I did revise the original sketch I had a few times.

When I draw Cranston I tend to make him gum drop shaped, but that would not translate well on a 3d figure. It would make him look bulky and less animated. I wanted to get feedback from people who actually collect toys so I created a thread on the Vinyl Requiem forums and I was amazed at all the great suggestions. So I made some modifications; made the wings bigger (9.5" wide wing span), gave the wings a slight slant so they wouldn't be perfectly symmetrical, made his tongue hang off to one side, but the biggest change was making his body more spherical, this gave the figure much more life, and made him seem lighter, like he is ready to take flight. I don't think we had any technical issues at all, everything worked out great, the only thing we requested from the company was to have the wings be removable. This would ensure that they do not snap off on the way to the collector.

VP: One issue that seems to come up with resin art toys is that of painting. What's the strategy for painting Cranston?  More generally, what's your take on the rise of resin in the art toy scene ?

Lou: The paint job on a figure is important to me. I know that on a vinyl figure it's hard to have the factories do custom paint jobs, or effects, but on resin you have more freedom. Each figure is pre-painted at the factory, but I will be embellishing each figure by hand. I will add subtle details with oil paints. Being that this is my 1st project of this nature, and because this means to much to me I wanted to do something to make each piece more personal. Since I collect toys myself, I know that I would treasure a piece more, knowing that the artist physically contributed something to the figure. Right now I think it's an exciting time for toy collectors, and it's all because of resin. Committing to a vinyl toy project takes a very long time, and it's very expensive, with the economy the way it is at the moment, companies cannot afford to take on huge risks. With resin however there are much less financial risks involved, so companies and artists themselves are starting to produce limited edition toys, which I think is very exciting. Prior to resin, collectors were at the mercy of the big companies, since they had the budget to get these figures made, but that is no longer the case.

VP: What's next for you ?

Lou: Whats next for me? Well I have been keeping pretty busy lately, I just finished my Lunartik in a Cup of Tea for a touring custom show in the UK, just finished two very small paintings for a book and touring show called "Pint Size paintings" and finishing up a sneaker painting for a show here in Brooklyn taking place in August.

I'm working on a series of 25 super affordable customs for SDCC, that will be available through Toyqube. They will be blind boxed, and no one will know what it is until you buy one :) the only thing I can share is that each will be a one of a kind, oil painted custom done by yours truly.

I have a ton of other stuff I can't remember at the moment lol, but I encourage people to sign up to my mailing list to keep up to date on my future projects. I would like to take this time to thank myplasticheart for this wonderful opportunity, they have been amazing to work with, I would like to thank you VinylPulse for taking the time to interview me and for sharing this project with all your viewers, and I would like to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that has stood by me and supported me from day one, you guys/gals rock!

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