Chicago-based clay animation studio Bix Pix recently completed around 23 minutes of animation for toymaker Hasbro. Created to promote the new Play-Doh play set, Doh-Doh Island, the animated episodes will be released direct-to-video and will also be included in play set packages, now hitting retail outlets.
Doh-Doh Island Adventures consists of six, three to four minute-long episodes revolving around six characters called Doh-Dohs, who live on an island made of Play-Doh and create things out of the colorful, squishy substance. Mot, Zlok, Twango, Flango, Twiki and Tiki Tu celebrate everything from birthdays to haircuts and explore their island paradise for treasure and adventure. Since they’re also made out of Play-Doh, the characters have the ability to squash and stretch into anything imaginable. That characteristic may have freed up the imagination of Los Angeles-based script writer Michael Maler (Baby Looney Tunes), but it created a lot of work for the clay animators.
“It was a real morphing extravaganza and we were like, ‘Oh my God! We’ve never done this much in so little time!” Bix Pix founder and president Kelli Bixler tells Animation Magazine Online. “We actually started using elastic clay, which is a new product that is just wonderful. We used that because their hair looks like it is extruding out of little holes like straws that have to bend. So animating the individual hairs presented a lot of challenges.”
Bix Pix started production mid-October of last year, began shooting the first of December and delivered the animation by mid-March.
Bixler says Hasbro would love to have a TV series based on the property but is currently just focusing on the video market, which has proven quite lucrative for other toy makers like Mattel, whose computer animated Barbie titles have been enjoying brisk sales and whose Hotwheels line is also coming to life in a series of CG cartoons.
One of the perks of having your animation tied to a popular toy line is guaranteed international distribution. “It’s just now getting out to Toys R Us, FAO Schwarz and everywhere, then it’s actually going to be distributed worldwide,” says Bixler. “They’ve already started distributing to Germany.”
New York-based ad agency Uproar will also incorporate the animation footage into TV spots for Doh-Doh Island. “I’m not sure, but I think they’re getting ready to really blast this for Christmas,” notes Bixler.