23 January 2012
For over 30 years Steve Allen has worked with some of the biggest names in film, TV and toy industries and for one day only he is exhibiting his work, and some of the stars, in an exclusive exhibition at University Centre Folkestone (UCF) this weekend.
Steve Allen's new character Max
During his successful career Steve has worked with Disney, Hasbro, and the BBC as well as at the EMI Studios for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, designing prototype puppets for 'Labyrinth'. He has also designed many toy characters for the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock and Sesame Street; designed engineering models for merchandise for film and TV including Star Wars, Dr Who, Wallace & Gromit and The Simpsons. And he has also won awards for his set construction and magic illusions and effects for the TV shows I.B.M. and M.O.T.Y.
Steve will be bringing over 40 different models and sketches to the exhibition on Saturday, 28 January. Most of the models will be recognisable, but many of the items have never been seen outside of the industry.
It’s an impressive catalogue for someone who started his career working as a soft toy designer for Canterbury’s Pedigree Dolls and Toys.
Still based in Kent, Steve explained: “I had a boyhood love of the Muppet Show and films, and used to be transfixed by all the special effects. I never thought for a million years that I would end up working for them and in the industry.
“I’ve loved all the shows and films I’ve worked on, despite some of the more trying moments when it comes to character design! But I think my favourite character has to be the one I am working on now, Max, as he is bringing me back to the style of work I did for The Jim Henson Company.”
Steve actually first started designing Max when he was only 15.
“He’s a little bit different now,” said Steve. “I’ve revamped him a bit and his colour has changed slightly, but essentially he is the same character. I’m really excited about what this character could potentially do.”
As well as continuing to develop characters and models, Steve has also been lecturing at Christ Church for the last 10 years in subjects such as Character Design, Animation and Set Design. This year he is also hosting puppetry master classes, drawing on his experience of working with The Jim Henson Company, as well as mentoring sessions for UCF students. Steve said: “I was drawn to the UCF of one reason: they've got their act together and they know what they're doing!
“I enjoy working at UCF on the mentor sessions as it allows the students to talk to me about their projects and how to build sets, props, simple effects and ask questions on the creative industry as a whole.
“I have also been able to get students involved with a number of projects I had in the pipe line. These were music videos and a live stage show, both of which required puppeteering, voicing, and some acting skills. It will give them the chance to work alongside professionals and experience something that is not always available here in Kent.”
Max is one of the many characters that you will be able to meet at UCF on Saturday, 28 January. Other models that will be on display include a Star Wars Snow Speeder model, an 'E.T.' foam head prop, the original Rodney Copperbottom from the Robots movie head sculpt and prototype, Fraggle Rock’s Boober prototype soft toy, small Dalek prototype castings and finished products and a 7foot Bunny of Doom costume puppet.
The ‘Models and Mayhem!’ Exhibition is only on for one day, Saturday 28 January, 2012, 10am-4pm at University Centre Folkestone , Tontine Street, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1JG. Entrance is free.
Steve Allen and his team will be on hand throughout the day to demonstrate and talk through the stories behind the models.
Notes to Editor
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
•We are the third highest university in England for student employability, with 94.3% of our recent graduates in employment or further study six months after graduating*.
•Christ Church is the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2010 UCAS).
•We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).
•2012 is the University’s Golden Jubilee, reflecting on 50 years of higher education and innovation.
*2009/10 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey