CABOODLE Questions and Answers- with Kent Melton
A: When I first discovered my ability for sculpting I was in the 6th grade. I lived out in the country and there were no stores anywhere near us. So it was rare for me to get store bought toys. I would see commercials on T.V. for toys that I would love to have and I made my own version of them. I sculpted Mad Magazine illustrations and things from popular culture…Charlie Brown, Beatles etc. I just always knew instinctively I was able to do it.
A: I’m proud of ALL of them of course, but if I had to choose one (boy is that difficult!) it would be “The More the Merrier” from The Reluctant Dragon. It’s from one of our family’s favorite Disney films. I wanted to go home to visit my family in the Midwest while I was working at Disney in California but WDCC needed me to do one more piece. So I asked my wife to choose a character to make the separation easier. She suggested the tea party from The Reluctant Dragon. So I proposed the idea to WDCC and I was pleased AND surprised that were willing to allow me to sculpt such an obscure Disney character. It was the first time I felt I was involved in a Disney project that let me go beyond the status quo. It still makes me smile to look at that one!
A: The upper management of WDCC with only few exceptions, chose the character and the moment from the film to be sculpted. When the pose was chosen, I was given reference material sized to scale to work from. I then watched the film to get in the frame of mind. It could take me anywhere from 1 to 10 days depending on the complexity of the piece. (At this time I was also sculpting maquettes for Feature Animation so that time was a blur of activity). Then it would go back to them for approval which went pretty smoothly. They would then send the piece to be produced in porcelain. I am not sure how long the entire process took, only my part in it.
A: The only one that I am aware of is the tall dancing mushroom from Fantasia. It wouldn’t have passed the PG rating if you know what I mean. When I took the sculpture in for approval it became very obvious. A picture’s worth a thousand words….
A: All of Disney’s “old men” were an inspiration and an education to work with. The first was Marc Davis for “Snow White”. He critiqued and approved the piece. Marc showed me a small bust that he himself had sculpted during production of the film. Also his wife Alice who worked in costuming for the studio gave very helpful insight into how the types of fabrics in the costumes would drape over the characters. Ward Kimball was an explosion of brilliant ideas for sculpture concept possibilities. Frank and Ollie were very generous with sharing their experiences of animating a huge amount of characters. I also want to give credit to Dave Pacheco. He translated the concept design complete with its base in drawing form so I could use that as a visual guide to work from.
A: The one that pops into my mind is Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia sculpted by Chris Peterson. It captures the spirit of the character so well! I am sorry to say I do not own it.
A: I started out with my own collection, but couldn’t keep up with it. I don’t have the space to keep everything!
A: I would consider any possibilities. I was one of the last to know they stopped production. One day they just stopped calling.
A: The last one was Mythic Menagerie (Pegasus Family) from Fantasia released in spring of 2010. The second to the last one was Princess Tiana in 2009.
Q: I would love to know if there were any movies you felt were under-represented, or that you would like to have created sculptures for? So many things I would have liked to have owned both new and old… (Paula, Canada)
A: I think WDCC was a victim of its time. Due to oversaturation, all collectible lines at that time had begun to fall from favor. They had intentions to do EVERYTHING but the clock ran out. There were certain individuals I worked with that DID feel that way including myself. I would like to have sculpted something from “Make Mine Music”.
A: The Spirit of Spring from Fantasia 2000 was the biggest challenge for me. The armature was a mass of wire that resembled an aluminum tumble weed. Getting my hands around, over, and under was difficult and very time consuming. The piece that came out better was Walt Disney It Was All Started by A Mouse. It’s an interesting piece because a close friend of Walt’s was disappointed in the likeness, however it brought Diane Disney to tears because she said it was the best likeness she had ever seen of her father. The love for these pieces is truly in the eye of the beholder. The original for this piece was donated to the Disney Hometown Museum in Marceline, MO and is on display there.
A: I guess it would be while I was working for feature animation. I was anxious to meet John Lassiter and yes I was disappointed. In working with WDCC, it was always a pleasure to work with everyone involved because we all shared the pioneering spirit behind the concept of the line. I had always avoided sculpting for merchandise because they always wanted to compromise the integrity of the character to make it cheap to produce. WDCC consciously went against that business philosophy. When I went to meet them and saw what they had developed I was won over immediately.
Thank you all for inviting me to participate in your Q and A!!!!!