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If you live in Tel Aviv, you probably know someone just like Miss Moss. The wide-eyed, 50-something building gossip who wears too much make-up and smells like a brothel. You know, the one who is constantly feeding the cats and can rouse the superintendent at even the most insane hours of the night to catch a rampant mouse.
But this character is not a person. She's a bright pink, plush doll with enormous eyes and arms that are too long for her body. One of the five residents in a character series created by two young designers, Shlomi Schillinger and Tamar Moshkovitz, Miss Moss bears the emblem of a flaming plane on her backside.
"She works as a flight attendant, but she's deathly afraid of flying," says Moshkovitz. Hence the burning airplane. Each of the five dolls has a different symbol on its rear that somehow relates to its inner psyche. For one, it's a chicken bone. For another, it's a gun. It all depends on who they are.
"Miss Moss is also the star of our first animation that you can watch on our Web site," explains Moshkovitz. In the wordless clip, Miss Moss teeters precariously down the aisle of an airplane serving drinks to mewling cats. Just as her worst nightmare is being realized and the plane goes dark and starts a downward spiral, Miss Moss awakens safely at home in bed next to her beloved feline.
"She resorts to herbal sedatives so that she can work, and when she isn't on her way to some chic European capital, Miss Moss lives in the first-floor apartment with the other characters."
In the building's basement lives Jose, the brown-skinned television addict who builds model airplanes out of chicken bones to do his part for recycling. And then there's the overweight and overimaginative Dolores, the wanna-be singer who lives in fantasyland by day and works at a cannery by night (but only until she is discovered by a talent agent, which she expects to happen any second).
On the third floor is Pinto, the bright-green ecological disaster in the making, whose teeth look sharp enough to slice through steel beams. Last but not least is Vigo, the pure and honest son every mother dreams of, who shares a flat with Pinto. Head of the restore the house bunny to the wild committee, Vigo may eat grass, drink dew, free whales, teach jellyfish not to sting and wear recycled clothing, but his heavenly image is nevertheless stained by the nicotine he constantly inhales.
"The concept for these dolls is that they are real people," says Schillinger, fondly holding one of Miss Moss's long limbs. "I always wanted to make dolls with characters, and for these dolls we were inspired by our own friends and neighbors. They are each a mixture of many different people."
But beyond their unique personalities, the dolls have their own behavior patterns that will feature in an upcoming animation series the two designers are planning. "The animation will focus on the psychotic relations among the characters as they share space in the same building and live their daily lives," Schillinger says.
Each a talented freelancer, Moshkovitz studied graphic design at the WIZO Institute in Haifa, while Schillinger earned a degree in industrial design at the Holon Institute. "After the army, I started law school. I went for two weeks, doodled through every class and then quit to study design," says the soft-spoken Schillinger. "My grandmother was very disappointed."
About a year and a half ago, the duo paired up to produce their series of designer dolls, after Moshkovitz won a competition for the doll template she created and Schillinger returned from a trip to New York with the idea for his own doll series firmly in mind. "Tamar was skeptical when I first called her, but she came around quickly," he says.
Since their inception, the pair have traveled to animation festivals and character design conferences in Berlin with their dolls, and they were recently featured in two books about character design that sold out here.
The future animation series they are planning will target an international audience. "The building they live in is really modeled on city life, not just in Tel Aviv but in any big city," says Moshkovitz. Nevertheless, something about their cheeky dispositions makes them typically Israeli.
For more information, visit: www.plushood.com