Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

This morning, NBC’s Today Show gave a little sneak peek at a few of the floats that will be in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. I was surprised to learn that there will be a Zhu Zhu Pets float based on our little animated Quest for Zhu movie that is currently on DVD. I was even more surprised to see that at least one of the characters, Pipsqueak, is based off of a drawing I did back in the development process of the movie!

Zhu Zhu Pets movie

While an annual tradition for New York City, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade was also a tradition in the Frye home. We always would watch it on television, but as Jersey people, we had also gone to see it live on the freezing city streets. (I remember fondly seeing the Big Bird balloon getting sucked down an alley by a gust of wind with all the balloon handlers being dragged behind it – good stuff that they never show you on TV.) To have a small influence on a float in this year’s parade is truly mind-bending for me.

Here’s the clip from today’s Today Show! I’ll be looking forward to seeing the full float on television on Thanksgiving day! Enjoy!

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2011 Monster Month: Day 17 – Zhusquashya

When you work in the world of animation, you have to be prepared to draw some pretty interesting stuff when the script calls for it. In the Zhu Zhu Pets DVD movie, The Quest for Zhu, we had to come up with a hamster based abominable snowman. Stephen Silver did some initial designs, and I proceeded to refine the character.

The following are some of my pencil drawings of the winter sasquatch creature we called Zhusquashya.


Zhu Zhu Pets movie
Our version of a winter Bigfoot was based on the general hamster design of all the Zhu Zhu Pets movie characters.


Zhu Zhu Pets movie
Early on I did this drawing of Zhusquashya getting shocked, and later I worked on some storyboards in which I got to show the beast interacting with electricity.


Zhu Zhu Pets movie
You can see that this creature was quite large in our story. Sure hope he was housebroken!


The mayhem continues tomorrow with another MONSTER MONTH creation!

2011 Monster Month: Day 12 – Zhurassic Saber-Tooth Tigers

In the recently released Zhu Zhu Pets DVD, The Quest for Zhu, there are all manner of beasties ready to threaten the four hamster heroes Mr. Squiggles, Pipsqueak, Num Nums and Chunk. One such danger is a pack of saber-tooth tigers called Zhurassic Zhus.

Today I thought I’d share with you two versions of these growly striped kitties. Like a nature photographer, though remaining at my much safer desk, I was tasked with capturing the behavior of these creatures for inspiration to those that followed me in the creative pipeline. In our story, these fellas reside in the snowy mountain cliffs. Putting myself in the position of the hamsters, I imagined that the most frightening introduction I could have to this life-ending threat would be to perch them above on a cliff looking hungrily down while being framed by the blinding sun.  So, I penciled out the pose, scanned it in and added some dramatic flare in Photoshop by including shadows.


Zhu Zhu Pets movie
Now THIS is something that could just ruin your whole mountain hike. (Click on image to see it larger.)


Usually when I did these kinds of character development drawings, they would be passed along down the production line just as you see it. This time, however, the director took a shine to the drama in this piece, so he asked my buddy Tom Cain to paint it in color as I moved on to do other drawings. I really loved how Tom handled the whole scene so I thought I’d share with you his terrific version of these snarling, drooling hamster nightmares.


Zhu Zhu Pets movie
Here is Tom Cain’s great Photoshop rendition of my Zhurassic Zhu drawing. (Click on image to see it larger.)


Come back tomorrow to see if you scream, if I scream, if monsters scream for ice cream!

2011 Monster Month: Day 4 – The Reptilian Villain

Prior to this year’s Monster Month, I shared with you some of the art I created as a character designer for the new Zhu Zhu Pets movie, The Quest for Zhu, that came out on DVD last week. The drawings showed lots of cute little hamsters with their big eyes and button noses. What I didn’t tell you was that the movie also contains a few monsters, the most villainous of them all being the evil Mazhula!

Mazhula has a head inspired by a cobra, body of an alligator, and the personality of a jar of mayonnaise that has turned. My colleague Stephen Silver conceived her basic look, and I began to define her behavior and personality with the following drawings….


Mazhula from Zhu Zhu Pets
I wonder if she realizes she has two fingers pointing right back at her?


Mazhula - Zhu Zhu Pets villain
Early in development, Mazhula’s tail was going to have a perpetual blue flame, but who wants an eternal flame near their backside, especially on burrito night?


Mazhula and a Zhu Zhu Pet
You wouldn’t catch ME licking a hamster like that. I’d have no idea where it’s been!


While the above were character study sketches, towards the end of production I did one more detailed drawing of the evil Mazhula that can be seen during the end credits of the Zhu Zhu Pets movie. Mazhula has this ability to shoot electric fireballs from the palms of her hands, but when she does so, she depletes her own power. To recharge, she plugs her tail into a spittoon-looking device that is an electrical outlet for reptiles of her caliber. The following drawing is based on a moment in the movie that was storyboarded by my friend Mike Kunkel (known for his comic book a few years ago called Herobear and the Kid).


Sleeping Mazhula
Click on the sleeping Mazhula if you DARE!


Return tomorrow to see how a monster deals with far-sightedness!

Zhu Zhu Pets – End Credits Art 5

Have you ever wondered what a chorus line of singing and dancing hamsters would look like? No? I never did either, but this Zhu Zhu Pets animation project gave me the opportunity to contemplate such life-altering matters.

During the production of The Quest for Zhu, little Pipsqueak is magically whisked away to the Zhu Village where she is greeted not by the Lollipop Guild, but rather by a whole community of exuberant little hamsters. I was actually a part of storyboarding that sequence set to a song that we lovingly called “Hey Hamster Homies,” but later was changed to “Celebration” by Mr. Cool and his delightful Gang.

As the hamster dance is such a memorable moment in the movie, it needed to be represented during the end credits. Thus the drawing below was born. Of course, in the movie this piece is in full color thanks to the talents of my buddy Tom Cain who digitally watercolored it, but you’ll have to check out the movie to see that version.


Hamster Dance
I’m not so sure that they are exactly one singular sensation, but these hamsters sure do have the mooooves.


Thanks for following along with these Zhu Zhu Pets illustrations this week. On Monday I shall be unleashing the beasts for my third annual Monster Month which will continue throughout the month of October!

Zhu Zhu Pets – End Credits Art 4

As anyone with real hamster pets knows, you HAVE to have that network of little plastic tubes as a part of the habitat for the hamsters to run around in. Well, in the new Zhu Zhu Pets movie The Quest for Zhu, those tubes serve as their public transportation system. Kind of a pink highway in the sky!

This is the fourth out of five illustrations I’m sharing with you this week created for the end credits of the new Zhu Zhu Pets movie. The Tube Depot is the hub for all those sky tubes smack dab in the heart of the Zhu village. Our heroes begin their quest right here at the urging of the skunk, Stinker (seen below).


pink hamster tubes
This is about all you will see of this illustration during the end credits of “The Quest for Zhu”, but if you click on the art now, you can see that I originally planned for it to include our four heroes as well!


I really loved the look of the Zhu village, and was able to incorporate more of it in the drawing I’ll be sharing with you tomorrow!

Zhu Zhu Pets – End Credits Art 3

Here is yet another pencil drawing that I did for the series of end credit images that can be seen in the new Zhu Zhu Pets movie, The Quest for Zhu, that was released yesterday. (By the way, if you happen to misplace your Zhu, before heading out into a carrot forest or a creepy jungle, start your quest by checking the cushions of your couch, or maybe the back of the dryer where that other sock is.)

I actually was pretty excited to draw a bit of the jungle foliage for this picture. I believe it was two of our layout wizards Wallace Williamson and Chris Aguirre who designed the jungle scenery in the movie, so I had some of their work in front of me as I set about creating a corner vignette. I loved all the strange leaves and plant life they came up with – kind of reminded me of the creativity of the wacky plant life in a section of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. It would have been fun to have had the time to handle the painting duties myself, but that job fell to my buddy Tom Cain.

By placing our four main heroes in the opposite corner from the vegetation, it left a big space in between the art for a few credit names. When the drawing was just about done, a request came down the line to add smoke wafting up from the campfire. I would rather have seen that smoke just painted in faintly so it wouldn’t collide with the text. That space really needed to remain open for the lettering. The director agreed that it needed more open space, so when you see this art in the final film, you’ll notice that all the jungle growth was edited out. Sigh. Such is life on a production.

So, I’m happy to share with you today this drawing that I loved with the jungle, the mighty jungle, completely intact.  The hamsters can sleep tonight. (Feel free to click on the art to see it larger!)


The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Remember those times when you were camping together with your friends, and you all gathered around the campfire to roast carrots? Good times.


Come back again tomorrow for yet another one of my drawings created for the end credits sequence of The Quest for Zhu!

Zhu Zhu Pets – End Credits Art 2

Today is the day! The Zhu Zhu Pets movie, The Quest for Zhu, is now available for purchase! Just think of it, your kids can enjoy the fun of hamsters while you will never have to deal with any of the smell!

ANYWAY, back to sharing some art with you. Today’s art created for the end credits sequence focuses on a moment of excitement from the film when a rope bridge breaks. Why anyone crosses those things in movies is beyond me. If any of those characters had ever seen a rope bridge in a movie themselves, they would know it is going to break. But I digress….

To create this image, I was inspired by one of my all-time favorite movies, The Goonies. I’m also a big fan of the artwork of Drew Struzan, so for this drawing I was spoofing Drew’s fantastic art created for the movie poster of The Goonies.


The Goonies parody
The rope bridge breaks with Mr. Squiggles, Pipsqueak, Chunk (who does NOT do the Truffle Shuffle), and Num Nums hanging on for dear life. (Click on image to see it larger!)


By the way, I keep sharing THIS LINK with you that sends you to Amazon where you can order the movie. This particular edition comes with two little toys of the characters that are based on some of my early character drawings that I shared with you a few weeks back (click here to see those drawings again).