2019-07-18

The Mole


The Mole, originally Krtek, is a cartoon character created by Czech animator Zdeněk Miler. He has appeared in 50 animations between 1956-2002. The mole is curious, friendly and caring and thus great paragon to us all. The animations vary from couple of minutes to half an hour in length and apart from the debut, "How the mole got his trousers", do not feature any narration or dialogue. Character's non-figurative exclamations were voiced my Miler's daughters. This was to have the cartoons understandable in every language without need of dubbing. The mole cartoons have been very popular in several countries, including many Central European countries, Russia, India, Japan, Iraq and, naturally, Finland. I loved them as a child, and the golden memories haven't faded unlike with most children's TV shows. I especially remember an episode where the mole and his friends moved into an artificial forest made of plastic. I also had couple of books on the subject and still have two tea mugs. It's also noteworthy that children's play area cars in Finnish trains have large images of the Mole in them. 

I tend to build things that interest me, visually and otherwise. Building the Mole had been on my short list for quite long. I had actually build another mole few years ago - A build titled "I am a Mole", based on YUP song. However, that mole less friendly and curious and more of an underground renegade hedonist. I do not know if Miler's animations inspired that song in 1993; it might be, as the Mole is well-known for children in Finland since 70's. When word "myyrä" is mentioned in Finnish, I'd guess that at least 35% of people think the character immediately. 

But anyway, moles are cool so I finally began building this one last summer (this was finished in April - I'm trying to reach myself badly). I began with the face, sculpting the pointy red nose and oval eyes above it; the "tooth" 1x1 tiles would have made better pupils, but I don't have them in black. They eyes are quite thick, as this one exist in three-dimensional world rather than two-dimensional animated one, but I doubt that's a problem. The mouth was a tad more difficult. It is black in the animation, as a mouth-hole; but making a hole would have been difficult, so now it is sort of a negative of the hole - that is, a black area over the grey background, consisting of Nexo shield and some wedge plates. Bar-clip "robot hand" pieces form the corners of the mouth, creating the happy smile. Their connection is hidden inside the cheeks. It was challenging to change the 2D features into a three-dimensional model, but I think the results radiate appropriate cheerfulness. After the face I build the stomach with hourglass-like shape and some roundness done using curved slopes; studs are left on border sections to evade blockiness. And then I left the project for several months until maybe March when I though that hell, the Mole needs some attention. I wanted to finish it for HupiCon that was in April.

After the hiatus I began working the the body shape, which is very round and cylinder-like. 3x3x2 rounded corner slopes are the key feature, forming the head and framing the face in natural roundness. The rest was pretty much formed around them in mathematical harmony of SNOT, curved slopes, tiles and some cheese, all in monochrome black. Technically, it's not very exciting, but I had to rethink some areas couple of times. There isn't much details neither, save the three hairs on the mole's head. I tried old hose pieces at first, but they didn't work. Slightly curved (as they usually are) rigid hoses made the job pleasantly.

Sticking from his cylinder body the Mole has tiny feet and large arms. The feet and hands are actually closer to flesh shade, but ordinary parts are not available in flesh, so I substituted it in tan; I doubt anyone notices without reference images that they're wrong shade. The feet are connected with rounded 1x1 plates with bars so they can be posed into a jumping stance, though it only looks natural if you hold the model in hand. The arms don't move. They're connected to the torso with click joints, but there are no movement to ensure as gapless connection as possible. The mole's arms are tube-like, but making them identically continual cylinders would have looked unnatural; Thus there some stepping. 180 degree SNOT with old car roofs is used to cover both under and top sides with curved slopes. The hands are connected with TECHNIC pins so they can be turned. Round brick fingers are angled with plate swivel joints, while the thumbs are clearly thumb-like to distinct them from the other fingers.

The Mole is also my first LEGO Ideas project. Ideas has produced some of the best sets of the last decade, and I have been wondering if I should give it a chance. Until now I haven't mostly because I don't like advertising my work. So I don't have very high hopes on this - but it's an experiment anyway, and it's interesting to see how popular the little Mole, or my version of him, really is. 

-Eero
 




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