Whims, cuddly Kaiju toys and amigurumi

Feature Andrew Blair 8 Apr 2014 - 06:29

What happens when we ask the world to make us a cuddly Kaiju? Patrick Dougan of Suddenly Monsters obliges, that's what

Pacific Rim produced a wide range of reactions. Based on the comments section beneath our Films of the Year article, the main responses were either 'It has found a switch in my brain that makes me happy and flicked it really hard' or 'What the hell is Guillermo del Toro doing with this ear-splitting bollocks?'

Between these two extremes were many nuanced takes on the film, and the world within. One of these came from Den of Geek's own Sarah Dobbs via Twitter, and read 'And yet, still no giant cuddly Kaiju'.

Like it or loathe it, you can't deny that Pacific Rim was pretty good at having loads of big monsters to look at, and when there are big monsters to look at, people are going to want to cuddle them. The fact that you can get soft toy face huggers is testament to this. The people have spoken. They want cuddly Kaiju, kayaks and cuckolding. Who are we to disappoint them?

With the other two largely available on the high street, we therefore went looking for someone who could construct a cuddly Kaiju. To create monsters, we asked people on the internet. It wasn't very filmic, if we're honest. Anyway, we totally found someone, and they totally made us a crochet Scunner. For those unfamiliar, this is Scunner:

And this is Cuddly Scunner:

Cuddly Scunner is the work of Patrick Dougan, aka Suddenly Monsters, a purveyor of amigurumi dolls based on 'all things nerdy'. Amigurumi – literally knitted/crochet stuffed doll in Japanese – are often chibi style figures, with small bodies and large heads.

On sites such as Etsy, these homemade bundles of minute hardcore cutesy sell like mulled White Lightning from a Christmas German market, i.e. really well. Unlike White Lightning, there's rarely a sense of regret involved afterwards, and you don't get 33% free.

As the man who agreed to make an adorable 15" abomination just because we had a pique of whimsy (we chose Scunner – the largest category four Kaiju in the film, just because its name comes from a Scottish word meaning 'strong, sickening dislike'), we asked Patrick a few questions about his craft.

How did you get started?

A few years ago I was wanting to make some really unique presents for people. My sister was making some little dolls of Doctor Who characters and she showed me the basics so I could start doing them myself.

YouTube also really helped when it came to learning the basics. Seeing someone performing the action is a lot easier to understand than just reading them from a book. From there I went on to modifying patterns I could find online and - after a lot of practice - starting coming up with my own.

So, when someone on the internet says to you "make me a Kaiju", how do you proceed?

I try and get a good few photos of whatever it is to try and get a good sense of the shape. From there I basically just try something and see if it works out. With a good amount of practice you know if you do something it’s going to look a certain way, and you can piece bits together and hopefully it looks the way you want it to. There’s a fair amount of trial and error involved. Another way to go about things is to modify a pattern. There’s loads of stuff online for free and if it’s something like a human character you can get some really good basic body designs and add the detail yourself.

How long does it take?

Depends on a lot of factors, but usually something like a character doll, say the Tenth Doctor, would take about 10-12 hours. Sometimes it can be longer though for more detailed or complex stuff, and of course if I find out what I’ve tried doesn’t actually work I have to redo sections of the design, which can be infuriating. I usually do it while I’m watching something though so the time passes pretty quickly.

Is this more a labour of love or a viable business strategy?

Completely a labour of love, in my opinion. The amount of time it takes to make a doll would mean you would have to charge a ridiculous amount to make it worth your time. There’s people out there charging £40 or £50 for fairly simple dolls and I just think that’s crazy. For me it’s a hobby, something to do in my time off that I can make a bit of extra cash from. Most of what I do is as presents for people, or requests - like Scunner – via Etsy or my Facebook page. What I think makes these things valuable isn’t the cost but the amount of time and effort that goes into each.

How do you make a rampaging monster from another dimension cute?

Making something out of wool just seems to have the effect of making it incredibly huggable. Saying that though I recently did a Nintendo 3DS cover of No Face from Spirited Away and there is nothing you can do to make that thing cute.

Patrick Dougan, thank you very much.

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