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Orange Bird Photo Hunt


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Recreating the Pirates Jail Scene in Miniature

"Pop Sculpture" artists, Ruben Procopio, Tim Bruckner, and Kat Sapene create this miniature scene and share the process. Ruben designed the piece, Tim sculpted it and Kat painted it.

By far my favorite show scene of any Disney ride as a child was Marc Davis' masterpiece jail scene in Pirates of the Caribbean. What a perfect gag. The dog has the keys. The jailed pirates have a bone, rope, and the sound of their own whistles but the dog is perpetually unresponsive, at least in the 30+ years I've been watching.

So when I ran across this, I had to post it. I'm one of the last people on earth to buy any old Disney merchandise, trust me. But every once in a while something that is not a book or a map catches my eye. Though I don't own this piece, I am loving the process through which it was made and the final product and the documentation these three artists have shown on their blog.

"The original figures themselves are like life-sized puppets with limited expression and movements," Tim said. "The genius of the ride is the full-on experience of lighting, sound and motion that creates, for the viewer, a sensory impression that goes well beyond its component parts. My job was to try and sculpt figures that felt like the ride, not portraits of the audio-animatronics."

"This was one of the most technically challenging pieces I've ever done," Tim said. "Given the size of the piece and the production material (porcelain), I had to make adjustments to allow the figures to be manufactured without comprising their look. Early on, Ruben and I understood that simple things, like the way the pirates held onto the bars, would have to be modified to work with the various materials used and to anticipate the slight variables that arise from combining porcelain with other materials.”

And thought I'm a purist when it comes to old Disney attractions, I have to say the creative licensing taken here when adding the rats is a nice touch. I can attest to you that little more than lights and cement can be found behind the jail walls in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Pirates rides but these little guys are fun.

The processes of sketching, sculpting, mold-making, painting, and mass production, etc. can be found on the Pop Sculpture site.

I'll tell you this. The creation of run-of-the-mill Disney merchandise doesn't always have this sort of attention paid to it. In my brief experience working in the creation process of lesser pieces, initial sculpting work was done in China by people who were not in the least familiar with Disney. As many as ten drawings were sent but it's nice to see that occasionally pieces are made by those who can and do study their subjects first hand (Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily for example). 

Quick story: Years back while digging through some stuff at Magic Kingdom, I ran across a set of molds used to make the keys and key ring in the dog's mouth. My plan was to spend some of my free time making replicas to hang around my art table and give to co-workers. Sadly I never did. What was I thinking?? Years later they started selling similar sets in gift shops, but I still kick myself for not using those molds!


Related posts:

Pirates of the Caribbean Like You've Never Seen It
WDW Fan Boys Podcast
I Miss Paul Frees
Swiss Family Treehouse Model
The Wonders of Nature's Wonderland [ PART 2 ]
Walking the “Politically Correct” Line


Reader Comments (5)

Fantastic work! Love all the attnetion to detail!!

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric Ross had the chance to make duplicate keys from the original molds?! And missed out?! Arghhhh!! That would kill me to have missed that sorry.

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric Ross

Eric- I figured you'd be one of the first to comment, knowing how dedicated you are to certain head sculpts.

Yeah, passed up the chance to work with those molds. We worked with so so many molds and this key mold set were just one of hundreds of molds. But I still wish I had done something.

January 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterFritz

I would have been a kid in a candy store! lol! Especially if I could have got a hold of the grotto sign mold! That's like the Lost Ark of props to me.

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric Ross

I agree with your Disney merchandise sentiments 100%. I have very few Disney pieces, which amazes my family since I'm such a big fan. Original work is so under-rated and the only items that capture the true essence of magic. I would love to see the detail on the artist's "Redhead" scene.

January 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWDWFanBoy Brett

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