Bendanimals

Mike Milo is not only a great 2D illustrator and animator; he's also an accomplished 3D artist as well. Not just 3D in the computer sense, but character sculpting as well.


Our character Charlie Hippo as a Bendanimal made by Mike in 1993

Since he was a kid, Mike has made these really cool sculpted cartoon action figures he's dubbed 'Bendanimals'. The name is derived from an internal wire armature that allows these sculptures to freely bend, so they can be posed. Only the heads, hands, feet and various accessories are made or rigid clay and plastic- much of the body is a plush mesh of gauze and pillow stuffing.
 
Mike has a whole collection of these creations dating back to the first one he made as a teenager in the early 1970's! It's a sculpture of a Werewolf, and he still has it! 


Bendanimals of Luke and Lester, from a project we sold to Universal Cartoons called 'Cool Patrol'. 
 

Since he can describe the actual process, I asked Mike to give us the low-down on exactly how he creates a Bendanimal: 
 

"The Bendanimals are made of armature wire wrapped with gauze and blanket batting, which is what they use to stuff comforters and pillows. I then dyed the fur and sewed it on each character.
 
The fingers, feet and heads of the characters are made of Sculpy (a baking clay) and then painted to match the fur color. The horns are made of a product called Friendly Plastic."

 

 

 
Mike has sculpted most of the Zaptoons characters we've created over the years, including Ribeye and Cubesteak. These were sculpted in 1994.
 
Mike remembers an incident that happend while creating 'Bendanimals' just before LA's 1994 Northridge earthquake: "An interesting bit of trivia about the Bullbarians Bendanimals is that I dyed the fur for them the night before the big Northridge Quake. As is common with dyes (I used Rit dye) I had to put it on the stove and heat it up to get it to work properly.
 
Well, by the time I was done dying it was late, so I went to bed and left a crock-pot filled with orange-red dye on the stove to cool. (Note: the color of Ribeye's fur in the photos above.) Around 4 am the earthquake hit. When it was over, Laura and I came out to the kitchen to see the damage and saw red dye ALL over the place. It was on the ceiling, on the floors and carpets! It was all over the appliances and walls! What a mess!"

 
A character called Captain Cockatoo comes to life.

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