"Beyond Your Wildest Dreams"
I can vaguely remember, now, just how and why this concept was created. One of the principals, who was in charge of finding new products at Tyco, found himself, along with the president of the company, without a job, when Tyco was purchased by Mattel. Now, he was working with a new toy company, and remembering that he loved Tiny Tots, asked us if we could flip the concept, and do Tiny Tots for boys. In other words, he wanted a series of small action figures that actually performed some sort of animated action, moving, without batteries. My partners suggested Medieval Knights. That’s how Knight Creatures came about.
Because the "Magic Motion" concept required that there be wheels involved in order to create the elliptical axel powered animation, the tiny Creatures needed to be, more or less, bionic. Thus, out of necessity, it was ANIMAX all over again.
Isn’t it ironic! Animax grew out of the fact that I found “automotive” boring, and, therefore, combined the category with Animals. Now, in a sort of double irony, I found knights in shining armor to be a bore as well. Therefore, I transformed the round table into elliptical wheels, added a menagerie of nightmarish monsters, and the “Knight Creatures” were born. Let’s face it, unless one is a Middle Age aficionado, Knights are, essentially, a yawn. Creatures, on the other hand, are not! So, if you find “Medieval” mediocre, just apply a healthy dose of Creatures! That’s the Birnkrant Magic Formula!
Just as with Tiny Tots, I proceeded to make a series of drawings and one working model. These photos show the process, beginning with a makeshift armature, to which I added Super Sculpey. Like Tiny Tots, the resulting action figure was rather small, but large in concept, and fully animated. With just a nudge from one human finger, the Mighty Ogre walks along, pushing a mobile battle unit fashioned from a giant skull. With each stride, his fearsome head turns, from side to side. The battering rams move in and out, and in the turret, a tiny rhinoceros-like Knight, wielding a crossbow, rotates, round and round.
On the following three pages, you will see all that exists of the entire concept.
PAGE ONE will show you all of the Original Pencil Sketches. There are nearly 50. Although these are very rough, quick, and spontaneous, I could read their intent clearly. See if you can see what I saw.
PAGE TWO tightens up Twelve Chosen Drawings, and endows them with more clarity. It also presents the first, and only, draft of the Knight Creatures STORY, interwoven between the drawings.
PAGE THREE replicates all 12 of the Full Color Boards, and then adds some rather large ambitious Pencil Drawings that you might find surprising, as the concept expanded, beyond its small modest beginnings, into the realm of Full Sized Action Figures. And there, it ended!
"KNIGHT CREATURES" are Copyright 1995 by MEL BIRNKRANT and THE OBB
This is just a fragment, the bare beginnings of a project that didn't happen, a momentary explosion of enthusiasm that never reached fruition! For many years now, all traces of it have been missing. I nearly forgot that it existed. Nothing remained, except an envelope containing three typewritten pages and a dozen badly faded faxes. Nonetheless, there was something interesting about the drawings. At times, I even imagined that there might have been a set of colored presentation boards, misplaced many years ago.
Then, last week, I was digging around in the storage space under the floor. It is amazing what I found there, seven large packing cases crammed with ancient artwork. Among this mother lode of buried treasure, I discovered a large envelope with all the original pencil drawings for "Knight Creatures," and another smaller envelope that contained the twelve original colored presentation boards.