More About Bendanimals

As Harry said, I’ve been making these dolls since the early 70’s and it’s always been a source of great enjoyment for me. My mom got me started doing them and it was she who coined the phrase “Bendanimals”. I would always bug her to get me the new GI JOE with the Kung Fu grip and eventually she got tired of buying me new ones so she told me to go make one myself and that’s just what I did. My first one was a werewolf when I was about eleven and man I played that thing into the ground as you can clearly see by it’s ratty state. 

The first Bendanimal, the Werewolf, made in the 1970’s.

My brother Andy used to chew the feet and eventually they fell off but I kept the thing anyway. What’s now ironic about the werewolf (I still have it) is that the hair on his head came off and so just like his creator he is now balding! :-)

I stopped making the Bendanimals for a while and started them up again when I made a Charlie Hippo one around 1989. This one was much beefier and I understood much better how to make the characters and work with the clay and plastic. Unfortunately a week later I was showing it to my girlfriend’s friend (who I hated BTW) and she said “EH, I guess that’s cool, does it bend?” She bent the leg and it fell off! I was crestfallen because, to me, it was a piece of art and she had just destroyed it. 
Charlie Hippo Bendanimal from 1989.

You can see on the Charlie Bendanimal that he’s not wearing pants and that’s because he is just balancing on his one good leg. I never did fix him.

Bendanimals are not really repairable due to the process with which they are made. Once I wrap that 30 ft of gauze around the armature wire I can’t just unwrap it and fix it. Also because they are so small anyway( 8-10 inches) I sometimes sewed the clothes directly on the Bendanimal. For instance, the Ribeye one has the fur sewn directly onto the armature and gauze so it really can’t ever come off. While I was taking a picture of the Ribeye Bendanimal, I was trying to pose his hand and I twisted it the wrong way and it came off! I glued it but it really will never be the same. *sigh* I eventually made over 15 of these lil’ guys and all along the way I’ve refined the process so that I’ve pretty much got it down pat now. I even made one for my wife’s birthday and each time I take a picture or show it someone she reminds me that it is not mine but hers. It was actually my best Charlie as I made four of them.

There are even a few missing ones. I made a huge one once that was over 15 inches tall and over the years it has disappeared. I also made a Louie Hedgehog one and that too has disappeared. Harry has one that I made too that was pretty good. It was a very old Louie hedgehog. Who is Louie Hedgehog you might ask? He was Charlie’s very best friend and he was originally based on Louie Armstrong. Eventually he developed into his own character but the one that Harry has, is from the old days.

I think now that I’ve seen all these lil’ things I’ve made that I might have to make some new ones. I was actually thinking of making some for my daughters. Sort-of ‘dress-em-up’ smaller versions of themselves. I’m just not sure if I can make them without them being breakable. We’ll have to see!

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> <font color="" face="" size=""> <span style="">