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Bulbous-eyed, terrestrial crustaceans that first appeared in the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) video game Metroid. Zeelae are native to the Planet Zebes. Over time, these creatures have differentiated into a few breeds, which are identified by color: Yellow/green, light blue, and red varieties have been categorized by Federation xeno-biologists. Zeelae are semi-social organisms; a group will often be found living together in caves, shafts, tunnels, or other subterranean structures on Zebes (they seem to prefer the Brinstar region of the planet in particular). They feed on various forms of fungi, lichens, and mosses.

Zeelae can climb almost any surface, including walls and ceilings. They can accomplish this because their six legs are covered with millions of microscopic, barbed bristles that can collectively grip even the tiniest bump or crack in whatever material they're scampering across. A Zeela's two eye stalks can move independently of one another, this allows them to look in two different directions simultaneously, giving them almost 360o of vision if the two eyes are positioned opposite of one another. These creatures are non-aggressive and will only attack other organisms in self-defense when threatened.

While their thick, chitinous exoskeletons help shield them from Zebes' natural predators, it affords them little protection against the energy weapons and explosives used by humans and other technologically-advanced races. A Zeela's large eyes are too big to retract into its shell, this leaves them vulnerable to attack; Zeelae that are blind in one or both eyes are not uncommon. Despite their excellent vision, these creatures appear to have a very poor sense of direction--they have been observed to wander mindlessly in circles, around the same rock, for hours at a time.

Tissue paper, newsprint, white glue, hot glue, plastic broom bristles, permanent marker, ink, and acrylic paint.

8.2 cm/3.2 in. x 14.0 cm/5.5 in. (highest point x widest point)

Two days. Construction began on 8/28/06 and ended on 8/29/06.

[Mid-construction photo of my Zeela figure]
This image was captured near the end of the first day (8/28/06) of construction. At this point, the figure is pretty much complete, but not fully assembled. After some time spent considering the original Nintendo artwork and game sprites for this creature, I decided I had made the eye stalks too thick, so I removed the external wrinkles/coiling seen here to return them to their original width. Aside from matching the source material more closely, this correction had the added benefits of making the figure's front end lighter and giving the eye stalks a better fit inside the corresponding opening in the shell.

Below is a quick, ink sketch of a Zeela that I drew from memory while waiting for a board meeting I was attending to start (and in case you're wondering, no, I don't draw during board meetings instead of paying attention--once the meeting began, I was all business). This illustration was done prior to any modeling work on 8/15/06.

On the left is an image of a Zeela from the 'Metroid' NES video game, in the middle is an image of a Zeela from the 'Super Metroid' SNES video game, and on the right is an image of a Red Zeela from the 'Metroid: Zero Mission' GBA video game.

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