The Ancient Minion and the Penguin meet at last! With the Penguin, part of the joke is always how did he do what you’ve seen or heard that he’s done. In this case, the secondary joke is, how did he get up on top of this mostly vertical stack of warehouse crates and barrels?

The Penguin was made from a very generic dollar-store penguin toy. He’s a solid lump of plastic, molded standing straight, with his head turned to one side just enough to give him some life and character. To that I added some comically large shoes, headgear (most often the flight helmet seen, though sometimes other stuff) and a military web-belt. At first the only ability I had to pose him was to move his loose shoes around a bit, giving some illusion of foot movement, and twist his helmet a little.

I desperately tried to find a backup Penguin, but with no luck. I got him just before the big “lead paint on Chinese-made toys” scandal, and Goodwill thrift stores, my main source for such things, started tossing most toys of this sort in the landfill rather than putting them out to sell. In the toy industry molds often get reused, often for decades, and I hoped new ones would show up, but no such luck. There was a huge glut of generic penguin toys after the movies “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet” that has long since dried up.

So, I finally got brave and chopped the Penguin’s head off, knowing that if I screwed him up, I’d have to retire the character. Fortunately, the operation was a success. I had expected the neck to be hollow, but it was solid plastic. I was able to drill matching holes into the top and bottom halves, insert a wooden-dowel pin as a pivot point, and put him back together with a new movable neck! The cut line isn’t exactly horizontal either, so, depending on the head angle, I also get a bit of up or down tip.

I’d like to do the same sort of thing to as least one of his flippers so that it can swivel up, but I haven’t gotten that brave yet. Fortunately if I do, I FINALLY found a backup Penguin about a year ago in a thrift store. I had to clean some kid’s name off his belly, and the paint is subtly different, but he’s the same mold and works fine as a stand-in. So if I do try the flipper mod and screw him up, I’ll be no worse off than I was.