Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mickey's Magic Choo-Choo

Mickey Mouse and choo-choo trains have been associated since Disney first introduced Mickey in 1929.  As a result of this iconic relationship there have been scores of Mickey Mouse choo-choo toys produced over the decades.  Fisher-Price, founded in 1930, was one of the first toy companies to climb aboard.

As was the case with most children's toys way back then, things were simpler.  Nothing was battery operated, even plastic toys were decades away.   These Mickey Mouse trains, produced by Fisher-Price, were pull-toys that made noise when rolled. pretty basic preschool play but also typical for the era;

..Cut to present day Fisher-Price, and the popularity of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on The Disney Channel.  The computer animated series has a decidedly retro aesthetic, reminiscent of old school Disney.  To me, it captures the same subtle appeal of the show Rolie Polie Olie, a show I enjoyed watching with my kids when they were tots.  It was a very playful style and I enjoyed working on all of the toys that Fisher-Price ended up producing for the Mickey's Clubhouse line.
The revisiting of Mickey's Choo-Choo was a part of that experience early on.

The idea here was for a battery operated train with Mickey driving, but there was a new twist, which is actually an old cartoon gag brought to life;  the idea of laying the track down as the train rolls forward.  In this case, as the train rolled over the track each section would automatically be picked up and fed back up to the front.  Frankly, I was glad that I didn't have to figure out exactly how to make this function, I was trusted with the simpler task of designing and styling the train, and its cars and accessories.

It did go through some early sketch iterations, some of which went into these more refined drawings.
The first deals with the main theme and mechanism,  others address the track details, featured cars, and accessories;

..and in the end this is what the final product looked like;

The mechanism around this feature was a challenge to work out, but the end result truly does look magical.
Take a look;

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