Favorite childhood movies with fantastic costumes, scenery, and or anamatronics

After scraping through my memories I wanted to share a list films which fostered my preference and appreciation of animatronics and well planned (and budgeted) set/costume design over contemporary CGI. While CGI has been all and well  I will always hold a soft spot for the more traditional methods. Anyway, scan, enjoy, rate, and share with me any titles you feel should have made it on.

~Note~ I do not own any of these images ( discovered through standard google search) if you would like me to take them down or accredit something that is missing please let me know by leaving a comment).

The Goonies (1985)

Where to start with this one. Well, this cult classic (starring Corey Fieldman, Sean Astin, and Martha Plimpton) is one wild ride about a group of misfit kids who ban together in order to score some pirate booty as a last ditch effort to save their family homes from eviction from a housing developer.

Why doesn’t that sound delightful.

goonies-piratesAlthough their are some more serious undertones like facing adversity and standing in solidarity, this is primarily a very fun, action packed, and adventurous movie. A word of warning, overtly sensitive parents/people beware, because this movie is of true 80’s fashion in that its rambunctious and less censored in terms of scenarios and language. But let’s be real it was always much better that way.

Most memorable scenery

  • Navigating booby-traps with a cameo by the missing Chester Copperfield
  • The skeleton organ and someone’s money well spent on piano lessons
  • The floating pirate ship and the overtly blue sea water…dare I say Mediterranean blue in the Pacific?
  • Uncovering one eyed  Willies “rich stuff “?(gives side-eye)

Best Makeup/costume-  Sloth

While there’s some pretty funny and possibly intentional inuednos in this movie it is one that will leave you in a light mood and feeling like doing the truffle shuffle.

The Witches (1990)

AS a kid this movie scared me during certain parts but in a good way. Actually, this gif is the creepier than the movie, I promise!

The tale, no pun intended, revolves around a little boy and his grandmother who are staying at a hotel in England. After accidentally spying on a convention of witches and overhearing a plan to turn all children into mice through a magical formula, the little boy, Luke, is turned into a mouse himself.   Luke along with his grandmother and a boy who suffered the same fate come up with a plan to fight the witches.

What really pulls you into the yarn this film spins are the cohesion of scenes shot at the mouse eye view, the use of live animals, and the mice puppets. Particularly, I found that the mouse POV really parallels a child’s perspective in the sense that the interactions with the adults consists of either being shooed off, not seen, and or misunderstood by them (adults).  

Lastly, the prosthetic used for the mouse transformations and witches true nature are amazingly grotesque and realistic. This is especially true for Anjelica Huston’s grand witch anseemble.

Most memorable make up/ animatronics

  • Grand Witch- Anjelica Huston

Most memorable scene but not scenery 

  • Stomping of bad mice


Hook (1991)

Probably my all time favorite childhood movie is the 1991 film Hook staring Robin Williams, Dennis Hoffman, Maggie Smith, Julia Roberts, and Dante Basco. Essentially, the movie revolves around a grown-up Peter Pan having to return to the land  that really only children and boo boo box pirates can go to in order to save his kids from Hook all the while recovering lost memories. No exaggeration, I used to watch this on VHS over and over as a child and it was undoubtedly because I was immersed in the alternate universe that they had created. Imagine the Never Never land map (or just google it) and then imagine all the pockets of mysticism it in compasses. From the ocean floor, pirate ships, tree forts, long forgotten caverns, to areal views; this movie serves up some very indulgent imagery and then leaves your imagination kicking up fairy dust to fill in the adventurous possibilities.

Most memorable scenery

  •  Areal views of island
  •  Lost boy camp and tree houses
  •  Pirate ships
  •  Tinkerbell’s house
  •  Food on lost boys’ dinner table

The other reason I really liked this movie was because the characters were relate-able to kid Melissa, particularly the lost boys. Scroungy, edgy, colorful, independent, vulnerable, and brave. I really wanted to be them. I wanted to fly,I wanted to fight, I never wanted to grow up, and I wanted to cock-a-cock-a-doo (rooster film reference).

charactersMost memorable costumes

  • Mermaids
  • Tinkerbell
  • Hook
  • Rufio
  • Peter

If you have never seen this film I would recommend picking it up if not only to see why the late Robbin Williams, in one of his first children oriented roles, was so beloved as a versatile actor and comedian . There are many more reasons why I love this movie (cough Dante Basco) but it was definitely the reason I’m enjoy escapism through film and literature today. Bangarang my friends. Bang-a-rang.

Honorable mentions (…that I am too lazy to write a full review on but are still dear to me heart)

Explorers (1985)

movies movie film 80s films

Little Monsters (1989)

Ninja Turtles, II, III (1990,1991, 1993)

The NeverEnding Story I, II (1984, 1990)

The Labyrinth (1986)

labyrinth80s david bowie bowie labyrinth  

The Dark Crystal (1982)

cartoons & comics dark crystalmovies 80s fantasy muppets jim henson

ET (1982)

80s et steven spielberg et the extra-terrestrial

Center Stage: Custom Design/Build for the Des Moines Social Club


Over this summer (2015) I was required to take a service learning course that taught us the how to design and build a project for a client. This particular project was just one step in a larger master plan geared towards transforming a underutilized courtyard (previously a fire fighter training yard)for the Des Moines social club. The Des Moines social club hosts many outdoor events during the summer ranging from plays, live art/graffiti exhibitions, and music performances and most pressingly needed a multi-functional stage. We took on their request and went a step further by providing them with a structure that functioned as a stage as well as provided a place to meet up, sit, eat, and socialize.

The overall form was highly influenced by the prominent, pre-existing angles of the concrete graffiti walls currently serving as its backdrop. We really worked to resolve the strange angles, sight lines, and circulation issues that it created by making a straight edge across the front apron of the stage. We also entertained the idea that the seating modules would be social clubsomething that seamlessly emerge from the platform. The side paneling fashioned in fuchsia painted hardy board ( the color based on the clients logos) served as an additional pop of visual interest from the east and west elevations as well as from atop the box theater at the south end of the courtyard. The decking was constructed out of oak lumber and was staggered and stained in a range of three colors, clear, medium, and dark.  The framing was constructed out of green treated timber and consists of three load bearing walls under the stage and 16″ on center joists from east to west. The hidden connections primarily nails and bolts while the visible connections were made from all stainless steel screws.

Some interesting challenge that we faced were leveling out a the framing so that its could rest soundly on a doubly warped plain; keeping the decking’s spacing even throughout while resolving strange angles created by the wall, and  lastly the fickle Iowa weather. For example, this included working in sweltering and humid 90 degrees in the direct sun one minute then a colossal downpour thirty minutes later. But, despite the odds my classmates and I worked hard measuring, measuring again, then cutting; staining, sanding, nailing, screwing, and caulking until we had our finished project. We just hope the city of Des Moines and the Des Moines social club enjoys this as much as we did creating it.






Then once it was completed the fun began!




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Well hello world, its been a while!

WIN_20150525_165908I will be the first to admit that after starting grad school in the fall of 2014, I neglected this blog for some time. Since then, I’ve had a few life changes, some better than others,  but what I would like to share is some of the amazing projects that I have been working on. So I invite you to keep following and expect to see samplers of some very exciting works.