Mike and Katie are the perky British duo known as TADO (tay-doh). Their love of meat, puppies, and cute, spiky characters brought them together in their art school days and theyâ€™ve been inseparable ever since. Their work includes graphic design, illustration, animation, toy design, and everything in between. There newest release is a double feature, comprising a multiples critter series called the Littlest Cannibals, and a 7â€ psycho little Miss Fixitby by the name of Tulip, thanks to Kid Robot. You can catch TADO and their touring show this fall at various toy shops across North America including Magic Pony in Toronto from August 28 to September 14.
â€œWeâ€™re probably more like hermit-geeks with square eyes than toy-world rock stars!â€
Format: I heard a rumor that the Littlest Cannibals series is made of wood. Was this an eco-conscious decision?
TADO: Haha, no, not really! The wooden figures for the Lily show are one-off carved pieces rather than production ones. They’re carved from twenty year old blocks of oak with each one taking about a week to make. As the show revolves around a gang of characters that lurk deep in a forest, it made sense to try and create something special to reflect this. We wanted the work for the show to be very much a hands-on project. The carvings fit in perfectly and itâ€™s lovely to have really traditional craftsmanship involved.
Format: How is the paint application process with wood as compared to vinyl?
TADO: The wooden figures arenâ€™t actually painted—theyâ€™re just oiled and waxed to bring out the natural colors of the wood. The pieces are made from different kinds of wood: oak, lime, and elm to give them a variety of tones and textures. We made a conscious decision at the start that we weren’t going to paint them as we wanted to keep the character and organic essence of the wood. The end results are stunning, showing off the hand-carved work. We think our carving friend Nick would have a heart attack if we painted them! :)
Format: What are your opinions on cannibalism anyways? Ever tried it?
TADO: Itâ€™s not something we tend to dabble in much to be honest. Itâ€™s a fascinating and gruesome thing to look into though!
Format: Do you feel that the impending oil crisis is affecting the vinyl toy industry?
TADO: To be honest we hadn’t really noticed. There certainly doesnâ€™t seem to be any decrease in the releases at present, but who knows what might happen over the next few months!
Format: How did you rise through the ranks to become the toy-world rock stars that you are today?
TADO: We spent far too long sitting by ourselves in our house not going out much and staring at screens for hours at a time. Weâ€™re probably more like hermit-geeks with square eyes than toy-world rock stars!
Format: How did a three piece collaboration dunny set (Jon Burgerman, ilovedust, and you) amount to a tour across the US? How were you chosen for this special mission?
TADO: Ourselves, Jon, and the ILD boys wanted to do a collaboration for a while, but we never quite got round to doing a full-scale exhibition. The idea was suggested to the guys at Kid Robot in passing one day and they loved it so it just kind of went from there really. The â€œtourâ€ came about as Kid Robot wanted to promote the series from a couple of their stores and create a fun event in Miami. It was a bit of an adventure!
Format: Nice pics on the three bears blog; what was the strangest thing you saw in Miami? Is there anything about North America that weirds you out?
TADO: Haha, there were many, many strange things we saw in Miami!! No one explained about Memorial Day Weekend beforehand so we had no idea what we were getting into! It was a lot of fun though and we had a fantastic and very educational trip. Nothing really weirds us out in the US other than the size of the food portions!! :)
Format: As a team, does one of you specialize more in a certain skill or does one of you take care of specific tasks?
TADO: We pretty much work 50/50 on everything—we both do an equal share of the drawing etc, and most of our pieces will have input from the both of us. Itâ€™s very easy for us to work this way as we just pass files back and forth and chatter about ideas all the time.
Format: Ancient myths and legends are full of weird little creatures. Are there any mythologies that you guys look to when starting on a new character sets?
TADO: We tend not to do any specific research for characters, unless we’re working to a brief on a subject. Weâ€™re continually taking stuff in all the time on a day to day basis—our ideas can come from anywhere really, from a funny looking dog in the park to vintage advertising.
Format: What can you tell us about future projects?
TADO: We can’t say too much about what we’re working on at the moment, but we do have several more toy-related projects set for release in the coming months/year which we’re very excited about. Other than that, we’ll just be sitting here getting even squarer eyes and working away!