Centauri Emperor Penguin

Centauri Emperor Penguin

Centauri Emperor Penguin

I always to go to the annual Toronto filk convention, FilKONtario.  The “mascot” of the convention is the penguin.  I’m pretty sure that it was at that convention in 2004 that I started thinking about the possible connections between science fiction and penguins, and put together the concepts of the Centauri Emperor from the television series Babylon 5 and the well-known penguin species, emperor penguins.

After all, Londo Mollari looks kind of like a penguin anyways.  (And more than a bit like the Batman villain, The Penguin, too.)

At any rate, meet Emperor Popperi the First.

“If Vir can be emperor, a small earth cat can be emperor.”

The starting point for the penguin itself was the Linux penguin, “Tux”. A pattern is available on the net from http://www.free-penguin.org . (I exercised a bit of applied topology to work out a way of constructing the feet, attached to the body, without having to stuff them separately or finish them by hand.) The rest of the outfit was largely done by trial and error, sketching patterns on bits of paper and tweaking the dimensions until things seemed to fit. It took a lot more searching than I’d expected to find a gold-on-white brocade that was even close to the right pattern (as used in the outfit on the show), likewise some of the trim.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the eyes. The original pattern shows large cartooney eyes but doesn’t give details about how to make them or attach them, and I wasn’t sure if that was the appearance I wanted anyways. Button-style “googly eyes” are available from fabric stores and craft shops, though most of these are glue-on rather than sew-on, which I wasn’t too keen on. Lee Valley Tools has small glass eyes in various colours, intended for use in taxidermy or model work, as well as larger plastic eyes with brown irises. Out of curiosity, I did a web search for the eye colour of emperor penguins, and found a document which described a study of penguins’ eyes which noted a correlation: “Iris colour between and within penguin species is darker at higher latitudes.” (http://www.marineornithology.org/PDF/27/27_25.pdf) Emperor penguins have eyes which are dark brown or black. So I used the plastic eyes from Lee Valley.

The “seal of the Centauri Republic” is made from sheet brass that I bought at a scrap-metal shop, and was more trouble than any other part of the outfit (and I’m still not satisfied with it) - it was much more difficult to work with the metal than I’d expected, and even the simplified ornamentation that I used was hard to make reasonably symmetrical.

As usual, the details make a big difference. As I was getting close to finishing the project, I thought of using short feathers to give Popperi the typical Centauri bushy eyebrows. Before, the face looked rather blank and bland; now it looks right.

See also: Txulhu, Barrayaran Emperor Penguin, Tuxbert, Broomball Wizard, Open Source B**b Project, Bert Worcester, Pi Cop.

Copyright (C) 2005 by Joel Polowin. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce this material in any non-profit medium provided that its content is not altered and that this notice is appended. I would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication in which it appears: Joel Polowin / 18 Norice St. / Nepean, Ont. / CANADA / K2G 2X5

jpolowinXYZZY@sympatico.ca but remove the XYZZY - it’s a little magic to baffle the spambots.

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