Monday, August 9, 2010

Jumping Sharks and Dinosaurs

A while back I was brought in to develop a couple of fun stunt bike concepts for Jakks Pacific's MXS Road Champs line.
These toys use the classic 'zip strip' mechanism to power their stunt bikes, and Jakks was working on upping the ante for their thrills and spills.

The first one seemed like a given;
Jumping the Shark.

Sure, it's a cultural joke, implying the 'selling out' of integrity, ..but SOMEBODY had to make a toy out of it, right?
No Fonzie here, though.  Sorry.
This concept employed a battery operated shark head who's jaws clamped shut at intervals, challenging the rider to time the jump just right.

I initially explored 2 different themes;  A 'Carnival' theme and a 'Mad Laboratory' theme.
Early on, as is often the case, there is some real fun in conceptualizing how these things will look, and what comes in the box.  In this case they wanted to include a catch net at the end, and a loop stunt that the rider would need to navigate before going up the ramp. ..Really the ideal thing to disorient any rider on his way to daring jaws of death.
Ultimately, when these concepts go through costing, some of the extra stuff gets trimmed in order to keep the final price down.
But here are the initial drawings that sold the idea;

The 'Carny' theme

The 'Mad Lab' theme



Not to be outdone by themselves, however, Jakks wanted to heighten the danger.
And what could possibly be more threatening to a stunt cyclist?

Jumping a Tyrannosaurus Rex, of course.

..But not just any T-Rex.
This particular Rex was a roaring live skeleton, and could swallow you whole!
The idea used the same battery operated biting jaws as the shark, but instead of jumping across the gaping maw, the rider had to jump over the head, and successfully ride down the backbone and tail to complete the stunt. And if you got caught by the jaws of the T-Rex?  You ended up imprisoned in its ribcage!

And did I mention this T-Rex glows in the dark?

Well, it does.

That's right. Eat your heart out, Evel Knievel!


I must admit, I was concerned about the mechanical logistics around this one, but dammit it worked!
I had a lot of fun designing this, and it came out pretty much as I had drawn it.  The only thing that went due to costing was the base that I designed for it.
Here's the initial concept drawing that was presented;

Once it was approved, I had to generate a few sketches showing how the skeleton's parts looked and functioned.  Because of how this thing worked some creative license had to be taken to allow the bike to be 'swallowed and caged', as well as roll down the spine;

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