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   Magic Broom   

I'm bucketloads of trouble!

I "fake-swapped" (i.e., worked on a themed project without actually exchanging it with anyone) this figure for Craftster's Disney & Pixar Swap. Cursed with an indecisive nature, I often have difficulty choosing a character/thing to focus on, but, in this case, it so happened that the Magic Broom from Disney's 1940 Fantasia film had been on my "to-do" list for ages, I still had the reference images for such a project, that I'd collected in the past, saved on my computer's hard drive, and, in the last few months, I purchased a plush Apprentice Mickey Mouse toy and Random House's 1973 The Sorcerer's Apprentice children's book, so, the stars were in alignment. While I like it, I haven't ever watched Fantasia start-to-finish, but I have seen many of the individual segments repeatedly over the years (unless my memory is playing tricks on me, I believe that, in my youth, the Disney Channel used to air truncated versions of them pretty frequently). Speaking of which, viewing some clips, on YouTube, of Fantasia, while doing research for this project, was almost the Magic Broom's undoing, because, when I saw all of the lovely kentaurides (female centaurs) in the Pastoral Symphony (a piece by Ludwig van Beethoven) cartoon, I very nearly changed my mind in favor of modeling one of them instead, and this blue lass, with a peacock-like tail, in particular:

The Sorcerer's Apprentice symphonic poem was composed by Frenchman Paul Dukas in 1896-97, which was in turn based upon German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1797 work of the same name. In the musical world, it's Dukas' best-known piece, and Disney's 1940 Fantasia did much to increase its recognition with the general public. At first, Walt Disney had intended for his interpretation of Dukas/Goethe's work to be a stand-alone Silly Symphonies short, with the goal of revitalizing the Mickey Mouse character, whom he felt was suffering a decline in popularity at the time, but, as the cartoon grew too ambitious and costly for that format, Disney expanded the concept into an animated feature film, and thus, Fantasia was born.

The plot of Disney's take on The Sorcerer's Apprentice is simple, but memorable. While taking a break from his toils, novice Mickey Mouse witnesses an impressive display of magic being performed by his ancient master, Yen Sid (who, in my opinion, has the creepiest-looking eyes ever.) When the sorcerer retires for the evening, setting aside his enchanted cap, Mickey decides, against his better judgment, to try out the mysterious conical hat for himself. After placing said garment upon his big-eared head, Mickey proceeds to give life to a broom (which grows a pair of arms) and supplies it with his two buckets--the rodent's shortsighted idea is for his creation to finish his chores for him, namely refilling the room's cistern with water. Everything goes well at first, and Mickey is quite pleased with himself, but, it being late, and the back-and-forth labors of the broom monotonous, the mouse plops down into a chair and soon falls asleep. Alas, his tireless wood-and-straw minion continues to fill the cistern while he dozes, eventually to the point of it overflowing and flooding the room, which rudely awakens Mickey. The apprentice frantically tries to stop his single-minded laborer, but, he lacks the knowledge and power to do so, thus, in desperation, Mickey resorts to chopping the broom apart with an axe instead. Unfortunately, the magic he invoked is too strong to be stopped by even that extreme measure, and every single splinter of the shattered implement soon rises again and reshapes itself into a complete broom creature, identical to the original, forming an entire army of the things--who promptly return to emptying buckets of water into the submerged cistern, despite the absurdity of continuing with the completed task. His problems increased a hundred-fold, Mickey is overwhelmed and almost drowns in the resulting deluge created by the relentless brooms. It is at this point that Yen Sid, sensing something amiss, makes his timely reappearance and sees the disastrous results of Mickey's foolish actions. The sorcerer immediately, and easily, puts a stop to the whole soggy affair, dispelling the water with a few gestures (parting the "sea", much like the biblical Moses) and changing all of the wooden workers back into a single, inanimate broom. Having learned his lesson, the sheepish mouse gingerly removes and straightens the bent magic hat and offers it back to its rightful owner, who angrily snatches it from Mickey's grasp. The apprentice then picks up his buckets and slowly begins to slink away to return to his duties, but not before the smirking Yen Sid can deliver a well-deserved swat to his irresponsible protégé's backside with the troublesome broom, which sends Mickey bolting up the stairs and out of the room. While there is no spoken dialogue in the cartoon, in the final pages of the previously mentioned children's book, Yen Sid also offers this sage advice to the departing mouse: "Don't start what you can't finish."

As I wasn't eager to repeat Mickey's mistakes (and lacking the safety net of Yen Sid's presence to save me if things should go awry), I made my Magic Broom figure without the benefit of any spellcraft. I began this project by fabricating the hands/arms out of newsprint and white glue, fashioning them around a piece of bendable wire to provide articulated movement.

Next, I developed the broom shaft betwixt said limbs.

I was still indecisive at this point about what approach I wanted to take with the bristle feet (amongst other things, I was mulling over the idea of using embroidery floss), so I started in on the buckets instead. I used marker caps, as forms, to mold the shapes of the squat, hollow cylinders and fashioned the handles from more bendable wire, wrapped in newsprint. I also used my woodburner a bit at this point (the brown "stains" in the photo), scorching lines into the buckets and smoothing/hardening surfaces. Without feet, the creature looks more like a ghostly spirit to me at this stage of the proceedings.

Ultimately, I figured, for consistency in appearance, I should probably model the broom bristles in papier-mâché too, so, that's what I did. I also made the bucket rings at this point, burned more wooden slats into the buckets' surfaces, and increased the length of the broom handle body, which finished things off.

Here's a look at the action figure and its accessories disassembled, just prior to beginning the painting process:

While the finished Magic Broom was capable of standing, its "feet" weren't flat enough, so, the toy was unstable and tipped over easily. As such, I was going to mount the figure on a transparent plastic disc base, as per my usual, but, this time, I did something a little different instead. I placed two small blobs of white glue on the "soles" of the broom bristles and affixed the figure to a CD jewel case (Smash Mouth's 1999 Astro Lounge if you must know--it's hard for me to believe said album is that old already; where does the time go?), then, when those had dried, I popped the Magic Broom off, and, as I had planned, the applied glue had become small, flat, transparent surfaces that are sufficient to keep the figure reliably erect and are much less conspicuous than a large, circular, plastic stand would have been. Said technique wouldn't be an effective solution for every figurine I make, but it worked out well in this particular case.

Newsprint, tissue paper, white glue, wire twist ties, and acrylic paint.

5.0 cm (2.0") wide (including buckets) x 5.9 cm (2.3") tall x 2.5 cm (1.0") deep.
* The measurements given will vary slightly depending on how the joints are positioned.

Nine points; shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, and bucket handles.

Two days; March 18th and 20th, 2016.

  •   Fantasia Sega Genesis video game (1991).

  •   Google "Fantasia Magic Broom and Centaurettes" image searches.

  •   Walt Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Disney's Wonderful World of Reading #12)
    1973. Random House, Incorporated. New York.

  •   Wikipedia Fantasia (1940 Film) and The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Dukas) articles.

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    Any and all copyrighted imagery, terminology, etc., depicted on this page belongs to its respective holders/owners, namely Disney.

    The midi music playing is a short section from Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".

    I made the repeating background Magic Broom animated GIF using the enemy sprites from the Sega Genesis "Fantasia" video game.