Its exciting to see that Disney still has the ability to dazzle children and adults alike. Sitting in on an advance screening of Disney’s new animated web series “Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story” was, for me, an exercise in being a kid again. And not just any kid, mind you, but a happy, stupid one; one who doesn’t quite grasp that the things on the screen are not his real-life friends.
“Blank,” which is slated to begin premiering August 11th — initially at D23, the Disneyland fan expo and then on YouTube and Disney.com — tells the story of a Vinylmation’s journey to find himself. If you don’t know what that last part meant, don’t worry, before I saw “Blank,” I didn’t either.
Vinylmations are a new “money grab” in the Disney collector world — essentially cute little polymer statues that are decorated in an infinite number of styles (from a souvenir hunter’s standpoint, at least) that will make kids scream until they get one … or five. And whether it is directly related to increasing Vinylmation revenue a la “The Mighty Ducks” films (when Disney bought a pro hockey team) or not, this web series is sure to be instrumental in pushing the “sale” button on the theme park cash registers.
But that is a byproduct rather than an end-goal profit motive as far as “Blank” feels when watching its narrative unfold. As “Blank” director Matt Wyatt says, “The guys on the team got ahold of these things (Vinylmation dolls) and just decided to make a pilot … there was no top-down initiative, it was just something that was born out of pure creativity.”
“Blank” is the name of our hero. Thus “named” because he isn’t painted like his contemporaries — he’s stark white in a world of color. And in the land of make-believe, drab is no way to go through life. But I suspect that when you’re tough and you stick it out, life has a way of coloring you anyhow (also I know this because the series creators informed me as such). And besides, for every odd person out, so the story is quick to explain, there is a complimentary figure to help paddle one’s metaphorical canoe. In this case, “Blank” meets another blank — a girl with a bright red bow as her sole touch of color. And if it were not for a cruel twist of “reality,” all would be happily ever after. But then, we also wouldn’t have this terrifically touching digital show.
Told intricately in low-budget, high quality stop-motion with no talking and a gorgeous score (like a Pixar short), this series of mini episodes (each runs approximately three minutes) will be released in the vein of a serialized cartoon, with new episodes being released every Saturday and running through mid-October. But there’s always potential for sequels, more stories and more adventures. Greg Shewchuk, lead producer of the series assured everyone that there were miles of stories that could still be told (and if the series is a hit, likely will be).
Of course, as we are living in a new media world, the series isn’t simply content to just exist on YouTube. They’ve also spread out to other new media, releasing a Tumblr page today that reveals the teaser for the series as well as some cool behind the scenes-style stuff. So do yourself a favor, watch our video, watch their video, get psyched and go buy a lot of Vinylmation merchandise because this series is going to invade your world and tug at your heartstrings. Unless you’re made out of a drab soulless polymer that is … aww hell, even then.