September 28, 2015

Pochi Rickman

I'm a pretty big fan of anime and anime movies. Ghibli for sure, but lately G-Kids has been distributing some stellar animated movies. They first came across my radar when a friend introduced us to Summer Wars. I was obsessed with that movie for months and it remains one of the few I keep on my giant iPhone6+ at all times. Then I picked up a movie called Letter to Momo in a Target on a whim and loved it. After visiting a local indie theater, we saw they were doing a G-Kids summer event showing films. This gave us a whole new list of movie titles to hunt down and one of the first that stood out to us was called Welcome to the Space Show.

This movie is on iTunes right now and is described as "surpassing Star Wars in scale". Yeah. After watching the trailer I cannot say that I had any idea of what the heck was going on and it was a pretty refreshing feeling. Seems like a lot of trailers just show you the whole movie! All I knew is that the animation looked cool, it had a voice actor I love, and a space dog. That was enough.

The movie is a little long (2.5 hrs), and is one of those you will want to pause often to take a look at all the stuff going on in the frame. Some parts are visually overwhelming which balance nicely with the quiet scenes. It starts in a pretty standard anime movie setting of a small town school in the summer, then takes you to an amazing space port, then back to a very earth looking planet just long enough for you to get comfy with what you are seeing, then throws you back into a crazy alien smorgasbord battle royale!

The main character is Pochi Rickman. He happens to be a very dog looking alien and is a darling character. My husband said he's like a space dog Indiana Jones. He was so endearing to me, I kind of immediately knew I wanted to squish him for real. That feeling was only enforced when I took to the internet and saw that there is NO merchandise for this show. Nothing on Etsy even. The market has let me down. With that in mind, I of course turn to my skills and since sewing is not one I have, crochet it is!
pochi sketches to figure out the shapes
His colors are tricky I think. Sure it looks like all you need is black and white, but really?? Nope.
While I dislike Red Heart yarn, they had a color that was the only one in the store even close to what I wanted. Most "white" yarn looks a little yellow to me. Most "off white" or "eggshell" colors also really end up like dirty tea-stained doilies... not the right color either. I had some coupons so I bought a Red Heart Super Saver Jumbo skein in Soft White. I also noticed that his nose is a darker black than his ears and paws. That meant that I could use normal black yarn I had on hand for his nose and needed to find a "dusty" lighter black. The only one I liked enough to get was a Caron One Pound of yarn in "black". Held next to any other black yarn and it's easy to see its a little lighter, though. Also, just FYI, I used almost an entire 32 oz bag of polyfil for this guy, so be aware he takes a lot.

His head shape was nice and easy, as it is a large cylinder. I then made an oval snout about half as long and affixed it to the front of the face. His nose was next and I tried to make it a nice triangle shape that I could add a little stuffing under. I followed that with the eyebrows and then the ears. Finally I used the dark black yarn of the nose to embroider a smile. The head alone took about two weeks of work to get the shapes right and assemble.
ear and eyebrows

assembled head
I'm using a 5mm H hook for Pochi, but I think I got a little ambitious with the size of him. I did not intend to make him life-size, but after finishing the head, that seems to be what happened. I guess if you wanted to make one yourself, you could follow my pattern, but maybe with a thinner yarn and a 4.00 mm hook to make a more reasonably sized Pochi. I thought about ripping it out and starting over, but certain family members said his head was too cute and perfect and that I shouldn't...

So, I made the body next. Since he's just a big white bean shaped dog, I could mess with the shape as I was making it, without needing to worry about changing colors or doing too much detail. I kept holding it up to the head to try to get an idea if it was right or not. Gave him a bit of a wide butt and tapered it up to the neck to match the head opening so it was easy to sew together.

After the body was done I made a quick tail which was a super easy shape. Then, I was able to start work on the arms and paws which were the most challenging. I started at the paw and worked up to the shoulder. I tried a few different paw shapes, but I settled on making a large oval and embroidering the separations between each finger. I left a large hole in one side of the paw that I then came back and added a thumb on to.

After that I did the fore arm and upper arm, and I tried to use strategic increases to give him a bit of an elbow joint shape. Then I had to figure out how to reverse my pattern to do the other arm so they both bend the right way and have the thumbs facing in. Also one arm is all white and the other is half white/half black and it was important to make sure I got them right.

Next was the legs, thank goodness they are the same. No thumbs to worry about and the same color scheme of half and half. These I made in three parts. First, an upper thigh round shape tapering from wide at the hip to a bit smaller at the knee. Second, a "transition cylinder" shape to join the upper leg to the paw and lower leg at the right angle. And third, the paw and lower leg piece. It was hard to tell if I was making it too big or small, so I had to go ahead and just commit to finishing one and see. I thought it looked ok so I went on to making a second.

It was about this time that I remembered that I never used the recordable voice box I bought for Groot since I was never able to get a clear sentence out of the film. So I dug it out and with some expert pause/play action from my husband, we were able to get a fairly good recording of him introducing himself early in the film.

The recording says "My name is Pochi. I'm from planet Wan-Bau in the Animal Stellar Region."
Since the only thing I had not yet finished was this one leg it went into his foot. I tried to keep it in the middle of the foot so I would still have room in the front to embroider his toes, but keep out of the heel where it would be harder to activate. Once the box was in the foot/lower leg section I was able to stuff up and finish the second leg.
its all in the details
With all the limbs done I used a little pink paint to add paw pads to his hands and feet, as well as inside the ear. Then it was time to add his eyes to his face. I used felt and tried to get the shape just right. I made a base plate to sit the pupil on to get that anime eye look. The tiny perfect circles were made with a hole punch, which only works since this felt is really stiff.

Finally I had to tackle attaching the limbs to the body. I had a few thoughts on this. Originally I had planned to just sew them on in place, but then I had the idea to use a button to make a kind of spoke and washer through the shoulder so it could move around a little. Looking at how much yarn and fluff I would have to get through to make this work I didn't think it was the best solution. Plus they would be seen and that would ruin all the work I did to make him look right. Wandering around my local Joann Fabrics I saw these giant 30mm snaps and realized that they might work out well... I could pose his arms and legs at will with these! I used white crochet thread to attach them to the limbs and body and snapped them into place.

Unfortunately I did not like the finished look when I tested it out on one arm. There was a ton of space between the arm and body where the snap was and you could see it quite easily. It did allow for movement at the shoulder, but the arm was way to heavy for the snap to keep it posed in any way. So I went back to basics and just sewed them in place.

Done! Pretty on model I think.

I never thought I would make another plushie as large as Blathers is, but as as you can see he is, in fact, larger. If less complicated to make. Pochi does resemble K.K. Slider a bit, you know?

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to complete: 80 hours to experiment, write and make from scratch
Finished size: 22 inches from butt to ears. 29 inches tall "standing" up

Note: As with Lion, I have written out his pattern, but sharing it would make this post even longer. Email if you want a copy to try out.

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