Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Series Designs of Penny and Brain Revealed!

And it's ON!

More than a whole year after we got to see the redesigned Gadget in CGI, we get our very first look at Penny and Brain. Courtesy of this Chronicle Herald article, they and Gadget (and The Doozers, unrelated show) pose together with supervising producer Phillip Stamp (hey, don't we already know him?) at DHX Halifax's newly opened space at Park Lane Terrace.

Wow. Just wow. I really don't know what to say at the moment. Will I have a more reflected view on this later on? Possibly. But right now... these are my gut instincts speaking.

Penny: The moment I saw her design, I wasn't sure it rubbed me the right way... but the more I look at it, the more I like it. At least I think I like it. She is different from the original series, to be sure, but her look retains some of the same spirit and personality. Maybe her head shape is slightly generic, but the face and eyes feel like Penny... though I wish I could see those parts in higher resolution to judge properly. And I like how part of the original hair style is kept, but the hairdo still looks slightly different. One question, though, exactly how old is she supposed to be? I'm getting a 15-16 years vibe from the photo, personally.

Brain: Not quite so sure about his design. I do think it looks kind of charming, but... this design doesn't quite say "Brain" to me the way the two other designs say "Penny" and "Gadget". He looks less cartoony and more like a real dog than in the original series - which is surpricing to me, since I find the designs of Penny and Gadget VERY cartoony (in a good way). Although, maybe there will be a contrast between his look when standing on all fours, acting like a normal dog, and his look as a humanized dog standing on his hind legs. We know that he will don disguises in the new series, like in the old, so I'm expecting a lot of cartoony slapstick and action from that. Also, I like his suspicious facial expression - that does feel like Brain.

What would the original Penny and Brain say about their revamped look?

Before I forget... the Chronicle Herald piece also included a few written observations on the new series, including a very enthusiastic quote from Phillip Stamp:

DHX has three series in production at the Halifax studio, including the highly anticipated Inspector Gadget relaunch, and an announcement of a couple of other titles to be produced at the site is expected soon. 
There was a glow of Inspector Gadget-like characters, gadgets and backdrops emanating from most computer screens during the tour, providing evidence of the mammoth nature of the conversion of the decades-old children’s favourite into a 3D format animated series. 
“It’s a safe bet you’re on to something good when you’re laughing out loud at sequences during production,” Stamp said.

Oh, and... Need I mention that, despite my design criticisms above, I'm excited as hell to see more of this? C'mon, DHX, give us more! High-res character designs! Clips! Trailers! Time to roll out the advertising!

Ahem. Anyway, now you've heard my spontaneous rambling. I would love to hear yours. Please, everybody out there who has an opinion about Penny and Brain's new look - voice your opinion in the comments. Are these designs a stunning triumph or a total catastrophe? Or everything-in-between?

UPDATE (June 26): I've been having some interesting discussions about the redesigns with fellow Gadget fans Daniel and Cortoony over in the comments section. One of the main topics has been the colors chosen for Penny and Brain's new designs, compared to those in the original series. Well - just for fun, Cortoony went ahead and actually did his own color edit, changing both Penny's jeans and Brain's overall coloring to match the 1983 colors more closely... and I just had to show it to you. The official version is to the left, Cortoony's edit to the right:

I really like what he's done with Brain, bringing back the brighter colors of the old design; and I think Penny's jeans look awesome with the vibrant green and the added knee pads (not to mention the matching green sweater emblem). That is not to say I don't like the official versions of the designs... in fact, I like them a lot, and Brain is beginning to grow on me. But it's still interesting to compare like this, wouldn't you say? For more, see Cortoony's first color edit attempt, with a more subdued green and without knee pads. And to compare with the original series... here's a cel scan with better-looking colors than the cel photo I posted up above:


  1. Hello friend! ohhh this is wonderful, spectacular, amazing, awesome, charming, funny, great ... and a thousand things more than I can say about this beautiful design Sophie (Penny) and Sultan (Brain) ohh I love is wonderful to see this so lovely and sweet design of Sophie, as you said, it keeps the essence of the look, but the hair is a little different but it's amazing and great to see this. Finally Gadget can see the whole family! hopefully we can see these great designs and high quality, the series airs soon!. I think Sophie in this new series will have an age of 12-15 years, height about Gadget. In the picture is not appreciated much if Sultan has its beige spots on the ears but I hope you have been faithful to the character original.Lo worries me Sophie's character is that he was not seen in the photo the watch to communicate with Sultan his book or computer!, I hope this appears in the series!
    I like clothes that have made Sophie but I miss his red shirt with white stripe and green pants: (but all great!

  2. Hello! Fantastic blog! :)
    The only criticism I have of Brain is that his colors could be brighter more like the original, he looks great otherwise. I agree Brain looks less cartoony here although it's difficult to give such an opinion on a lone still model in this manner without seeing it in action.

    I think the shade of blue they picked for Penny's pants would've been better green or tan or something. Her hair and face look nice and are reminiscent of her younger self. Her top is a cool design and I like the gloves. Too bad there's not a better resolution image to see the details of the clothing and the shoes that have been cut off. Overall I think she looks great, the new design stays true to the character.

    I quite like the pose that Gadget is in. The shorter trench coat is growing on me, I didn't like it much in the other promo pics but it looks better here. His coat is missing the storm flaps, it looks bare without them. The thin arms and legs are slightly bugging me. I think his face looks perfect, they kept it simple and cartoony which was the right way to go compared to the more realistic look in Biggest Caper which was ultra creepy. I have mixed feelings about his hair, I feel as if it could be styled better? Not that it looks bad or anything. The hair looks very static in all the promos so far, I hope it can still emote somewhat like it did the original series.

    Despite my nitpicks which are all minor I think they did a great job updating the designs of the characters and I'm very excited for the new series. I cannot wait to see it in motion! Any word on the voice actors yet?

  3. Good comments, folks.

    Daniel: Glad you like what you see! :) I agree about Brain's ears, I would have liked to see the white spots retained myself. (They are white originally, aren't they? I think perhaps the colors are a little dark in the cel photo I posted.) And yeah, where is Penny's computer book and wrist watch? Will she have them in the new series? I hope so... though maybe they'll be updated in some way.

    "I think Sophie in this new series will have an age of 12-15 years, height about Gadget."
    I can understand where you're coming from, just by looking at the design... but I personally think Penny will have to be at least 15 or older to match with the info we already have on her role in the new series. We know that she will be an inspector in training, working for the same force as Gadget, and that she will do martial arts (see some of my older posts for that info). That's why I imagine her to be at least 15-16, or perhaps older, in her late teens. I also imagine that she'll be somewhat lower than Gadget in height, judging by Gadget's design... though it's difficult to say from the photo's perspective.

    Cortoony: Thanks, and welcome to the site. :D

    I agree about Brain's color. I think, together with the body design seen here, the color serves to give the impression of a more realistic dog than the original. I would prefer a brighter orange; I don't think that would look out of place at all (though it is a minor thing).

    You're summing up Penny even better than I could myself, I think. Totally agree with your thoughts. As an extra piece of trivia, I can mention that we already know who did Penny's new design: a talented artist named Dominic Marco, whom I wrote a little about a few months back (see the archives for the blog post about him). Props to Dominic for the redesign. I've come to realize that I, too, would like to see how the design could work with green-colored jeans. It could perhaps create more of a color difference between her and Gadget - right now, their pants are looking very, very similar. But again, minor.

    Strangely enough, Gadget's short trenchcoat has also grown a little on me. Not that I wouldn't like to see a slightly longer version, but I think this can work fine. And his pose and facial expression here is my favorite of all the images I've seen so far: He looks thoughtful, yet somewhat puzzled. Classic Gadget.

    I am also wondering how the hair (and everything else) will look in motion... can hardly wait for a trailer to appear.

    No word on the voices yet. I'm sure all the voice artists must have been selected by now, as the series has been in full production for the past six months - but the info is being kept under tight wraps for the moment.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Just for fun I've done a quick color edit of Penny and Brain here: Both Penny's and Gadget's jeans were too vibrant of a blue for my taste so I toned them down. I think the green does help her stand out a bit more. I brightened up Brain a bit and added some color.

      Dominic did a great job with Penny! Although it's not a surprise, his drawings of cartoon gals are really lovely. I forgot to follow his deviantART, thanks for reminding me!

      Since the characters are designed for animation seeing them in action will probably smooth over my tiny complaints. All these little teaser images have got me really pumped to see the trailer.

      Ah, I see. On tumblr I read that Tara Strong will voice Penny but I can't find any source that confirms that.

  4. Hello Mesterius! thank you! If the stains right ears Sultan (Brain) are white, made much less those spots sultan! that made ​​him special addition to their intelligence! well contrasted, ohh i like your comments, whether I agree with you, I think Sophie in this new series can be aged around 15 years, how old was sophie in series Gadget and Gadgetinis? I think 12 or 13 not? . yet, and although times have changed I think Sophie watch it misses in this design!That! : (I loved to book along with your computer to communicate with Sultan also see that the sultan necklace contains more white balls in the hope habitual.Yo unlike other series and movies, I hope Sophie! back into action and help his uncle with Sultan solve the mysteries, that is very important! Although I am happy with the design of the characters, which more refers to the original is the Gadget! think is a good choosing the slightly shorter coat, by the way I love the hat! think I may take sophie boots as footwear in this design. ohh hope imagine that in this new series, unlike the series of Gadget and Gadetinis, inspector Gadget gadgets as they come in the original series, which somehow had sense, not as in Gadget and Gadgetinis that Lieutenant Gadget Gadgets you came out the chest, back and disappear hands or legs ohh a robotic that I hated, I always liked that things made ​​sense as in the original series, such as the truck became Gadgetmobile and kept the essence of the van

    Coortoony: I love the comparison you made, I think still, I like more the green pants with the knee, but still, the current design is great I love how drawn to Sophie (Penny) is great so you do not very well is that drawing has been in the center of the shirt. Sultan likes more (Brain) with white spots, that made ​​him special!

  5. Cortoony: That's an awesome color edit, so cool that you actually went and did it! :D But you know what's funny? Even when seeing the green jeans next to the blue, I'm not 100% sure which color I prefer. I THINK I'm leaning more towards the green (maybe a stronger green could also work), but at the same time, I also like the blue. I guess that means both color variants work for me. (Hmm, I wonder how it would look if that little blue spot/picture on Penny's sweatshirt was also colored green?...)

    As for Brain - much better now, in my eyes. These are the colors I prefer the most for him: White ear tips, red nose, bright orange fur. The red collar stands out more too, very nice. (This isn't a major issue for me; I can definitely live with the new colors... and as you say, how the designs work in motion is also a factor... but it IS fun to compare like this.)

    By the way, would you mind if I uploaded your color edit to my blog? It would be fun to show this to more fans. :)

    Oh, and I think I found that tumblr post you're referring to: As you say, it has no link to any official source. I wonder where the poster got that info.

    Daniel: Yes, I think you're about right on Gadgetinis... I'm not sure, but I would personally guess Penny's age there is around 13-14 (she's old enough to have crushes on boys). Your observation about the white balls on Brain's collar is correct; that COULD be a hint that Penny and Brain will have a way of communicating similar to the old series. Let's hope so... I love the wristwatch/collar communication. :)

    I know exactly what you mean regarding the gadgets in the Gadgetinis series. I've been bothered by the same thing! This may sound strange to say about a cartoon, but the gadgets in Gadgetinis are far too unrealistic. The result is that they lose a lot of their charm: It's cooler, and funnier, in the original series, where you get a feel of how this bionic man is actually put together, and where you believe that these gadgets can come out of his body. Same with the transforming Gadget Mobile/Van. Internal logic makes it more fun. I hope the new series manages to keep the gadgets somewhat retro and charming, while at the same time probably doing some slight updates and adding some new ones.

    Interesting point about the knee pads from Penny's original design - maybe they would look good on the new jeans as well.

  6. Here's a second attempt with more vivid green, knee patches(I tried lol) and green chest emblem thing: And sure, you can post it if you want. :)

    I am also content with the characters as they are now so it's not a big deal. Just interesting to consider the possibilies since all we have to chew on for now are some glimpses of the new designs.

    Yes, that was the post I saw. Very curious if it's true or not.

    Maybe Penny's watch is hidden under her sleeve? I hope she'll still have the watch and book too.

    Gadgetinis mostly felt like a parody of Inspector Gadget instead of an honest continuation of the original series. There were so many strange decisions made I don't understand what they were trying to do. I don't even want to get started on everything that was wrong with it because I could write a novel about it.

    I'll be happy if the original Gadgetmobile returns, please don't let that yellow thing come back.

    1. Ooh, this is definitely my favorite of your two versions of Penny! :) I think the green jeans work much better with the knee pads, and I like the matching chest emblem and the more vibrant variant of green, too. I'll be posting this second version. :)

      And yeah, Penny's watch might just be hidden under her sleeve (hard to tell any such details from the low resolution). Let's hope so! Though I wonder, if they bring back the computer book, if it will perhaps be smaller and more compact, to feel more up-to-date with current technology.

      Gadgetinis did indeed feel more like a parody than a real continuation. A badly done parody, at that (some of the things they did to Dr Claw were nightmarishly bad). In my book, it's not canon to the original series in the slightest.

      "I don't even want to get started on everything that was wrong with it because I could write a novel about it."
      As could I, which is why I don't want to get started either. :P It would probably be a very depressing book both to write and to read. The most interesting aspect of Gadgetinis to me is that it comes directly from the hands of Jean Chalopin and Bruno Bianchi themselves... but that kind of makes it even SADDER to witness all the terrible decisions made for the series.

      It would be fantastic to see the true Gadget Mobile return - and I'd love it even more if we could also get back Dr Claw's awesome M.A.D. Mobile/Jet/Submarine. Seriously, that vehicle is so cool it will NEVER go out of date! (Plus, it made him a far more physically threatening, hands-on villain that he could have been otherwise.)

  7. Hello friends!, It's great to read your comments, I think that Sophie's pants (Penny) could be improved with a knee in his jeans to differentiate similarity trouser Inspector Gadget and thus maintain the same essence of the original dress. Yes, although Gadget and Gadgetinis was good then never finished convincing me. I know that cartoons have to be surrealistic, but the original series made ​​sense in much of its aspects and contained a certain maturity, which I think is what drew both children and adults. although I am still young, saw small series that I loved and now I do not like so much, however I still like Gadget even more! I hated that in Gadget and Gadgetinis series. Inspector gadget you leave a laptop computer chest!Never! I did not like that ever!.

    Cortoony, his work in the picture is great, I love how this version has improved, but we have to get used to this new model series, has been well and try to improve these aspects, but still, I still love the current design Dominic Marco. You may watch this under his shirt, but I think in the original Sophie (Penny) series wearing a short-sleeve shirt so you could see his watch, but this changed in the second season when he added a sweatshirt. I hope to continue to keep the clock and book computer, it gave him more action to the story, and I think more hits today than in the 80s when no one had a computer to interfere in the plans of MAD! :)

    1. It's interesting what you say about how some series stay with you as you grow older, while others don't. I used to find Gadgetinis more tolerable when I was younger (even if I was never a big fan), but the older I grow, the less I like the series. And of course, at the same time I still love Inspector Gadget (though there are aspects of that series I also liked better when I was younger, but it's still a lot of fun to watch and has loads more charm - and, yes, maturity - than any later revival or spinoff).

      "I hope to continue to keep the clock and book computer, it gave him more action to the story, and I think more hits today than in the 80s when no one had a computer to interfere in the plans of MAD!"
      Interesting question, though... when WAS the computer book at its most relevant? In 1983, it must have seemed really awesome because of how futuristic and advanced it was. Today... I'd say it's still pretty awesome and advanced, but it might perhaps come across as a little bulky, design-wise, compared to modern smartphones, tablets etc.

  8. For animated characters I tend towards liking muted colors for the reason that vivid colors can be distracting and draw the eye. Neutral and harmonized color schemes allow the focus to be better towards the overall actions and movements. Bright colors can be very helpful to draw the eye to certain areas though. For example, Gadget's bright blue tie brings the attention up to his face where you want the audience to look so I consider that very good color choice. Brain works having a vivid color since he is a mostly solid color and it makes him easy to see where he is during an action scene. Penny's blond hair and red top help to frame her face and draw attention to it. However her bright blue pants are clashing and drawing my focus so I can't stop looking at them, but I'll probably get over it as I get used to seeing them. Not intending disrespect or insult to whomever chose those colors and saying I'm right and they're wrong, just adding my own two cents based upon my personal aesthetic preferences.

    Maybe writing a book about Gadgetinis could serve a useful purpose to future generations as an example of what not to do. I wonder what caused such degeneration of quality when it was the same creators working on it. Although even in the original series there showed some signs of decay in the second season with the appearance of Capeman who comes close to rivaling Gadgetinis with his badness.

    The car chases were some of the most thrilling moments in the original series. Not only because of the awesome vehicles but it was also for the rare instances of Gadget actually going up against Claw one on one.

    In addition to epic car battles I would also like to see more slice of life moments with Gadget, Penny and Brain. Gadgetinis nearly completely abandoned the family bonding time and showing the characters just hanging out interacting with each other around the house/out on location. They even had Brain move far away because he cannot tolerate being around Gadget anymore when Brain actually put himself in danger out of loyalty and love for Gadget and Penny, not forced obligation. it's amazing how poorly the characters were represented by their own creators.

    1. You've probably noticed by now, but I posted your color edit as an extra update to this post. :) Hopefully other fans will also weigh in with their opinions on the colors too... it could be interesting to hear.

      I've never given so much thought to the color design of the original series before, but your analysis does makes sense. :) Especially considering how the brighter colors help focus the eye, as you say. At the same time, when talking about "muted colors" in the orginal series, perhaps we should also take into account that we're seeing the faded colors of 30 year old broadcast tape copies. If you look at any given cel from the show - like the one I added to the bottom of the post - even the not-so-bright colors of the characters come acrosss as much more vibrant. Though I do think your argument still sounds valid: Penny's shirt still seems more colorful than her jeans, drawing the eye toward her face. And I sort of agree about the jeans in the new design... though they're not a big problem and I'll get used to them.

      "...even in the original series there showed some signs of decay in the second season with the appearance of Capeman who comes close to rivaling Gadgetinis with his badness."
      True. Although, to me, Capeman is only one of the many problems with season 2. I think it was a big drop in quality, characterized by some mind-boggingly bad decisions and sloppier quality overall. Crew changes probably accounts for some of that: Season 1 had its preproduction done at the Nelvana studios in Toronto, Canada (supervised by DiC). Season 2 was done at DiC's own, U.S. offices in Los Angeles, with Nelvana out of the picture. In essence, this meant that the script writers, layout artists, storyboard artists, music editors, sound effect people, voice actors etc. from season 1 were all replaced. And so, for the most part, were the Japanese animation crews working on season 1 - replaced by cheaper (and less talented) Japanese animators.

      To be honest, I often have trouble regarding season 2 as canon to season 1. I actually prefer not to, because it just feels like such a totally different series. For instance, it really doesn't feel like the season 2 scriptwriters have the same understanding of the series' concept and the affinity for the characters that the writers at Nelvana did.

      I always looked forward to the car chases/battles for the same reasons that you mention! :) It was just so awesome to see Dr Claw personally attacking Gadget, or taking active part in whatever criminal job M.A.D. was pulling. You always knew this would be something more dangerous - and thrilling - than your standard M.A.D. agents doing the work. (Note by the way that season 2 contains not ONE scene of Claw attacking Gadget in his M.A.D. Mobile.)

      And you're completely right about the "slice of life" stuff. In season 1 of the original series, the family bonding was very carefully and consciously integrated into the episodes. The love between the main characters is such an important part of the series' appeal. In season 2, and even more so in Gadgetinis, those family moments are gone for the most part.

      "They even had Brain move far away because he cannot tolerate being around Gadget anymore when Brain actually put himself in danger out of loyalty and love for Gadget and Penny, not forced obligation."
      Completely true. It's so clear in the original series that Brain loves and protects his family, even if he's often afraid and gets himself hurt. Interestingly, it also feels quite clear to me that he loves Penny the most of all, but there's no doubt he loves both her and Gadget. I love this triangle. :)

    2. Yeah, I take much enjoyment in over analyzing things if you hadn't already noticed. :P Even though I do like the faded look it would be so amazing to see what the series looked like with the actual intended vibrancy and detail.

      I think I determine canon on a per episode basis with regards to season 2. Some episodes weren't as insultingly bad as others although the tone of the whole second season did feel 'off' for lack of a better way to put it. I couldn't stand the big Gadget House. It was better when they had an average cozy little home, it felt more realistic and grounded things a bit. It was pretty redundant to add more stuff with malfunctioning gadgets into the show when that's already Gadget's main gag.

      It did seem that Brain is Penny's dog. They both have an extremely close bond of trust with Brain unquestioningly taking Penny's orders and Penny relying on Brain to save her from life threatening situations at times. Maybe a slightly depressing headcanon but I like to think that Gadget got Brain for Penny to cheer her up after losing her parents.

  9. I like Penny and Brain's designs. Unlike the 2005 CGI movie, Penny here actually looks like a somewhat matured version of the original.