I should own a Dalek. A real one. Let me explain, when I was a youngster I "won" a competition to name a Dalek. I called it "Deckie", but instead of sending me a "real Dalek" the company they sent me an excuse about having 'too many winners', and a paper Dalek. They sent me what today would be called, I suppose, a papercraft Dalek. Of course, if that competition was run today I'd own a Dalek, a real one, and I would have been spared the trauma of having to try to stick my cut-out Dalek to cardboard with Treacle, because we had no glue at home. Instead, I do not have a real Dalek and I don't even have a parcraft Dalek because it all ended up a tear-soaked, sticky, mess. What a rip-off! It would probably have scarred a less heroic child for life, but I've managed to put the fact that despite actually winning a Dalek, I don't even have a papercraft Dalek today.
Anyway, if you've seen my Rod McKie papercraft cut-out and keep doll, you'll know I love these papercraft things. I'm a fan; it's all I can do to stop myself cutting up my Chris Ware books, believe me. Papercraft sculptures really add to a publication, don't you think? I think they do. They were very popular here at one point and appeared regularly on the back page of some British comics - my cousin Allan told me. I'm not saying he did, but my cousin Allan might have cut out all the papercraft girls that came with the Bunty Comic, and he might well have practised his counselling skills on them - there's a thought - and you thought they weren't practical...
Today's papercraft models are, by comparison, utterly amazing, and despite the fact that you can knock up a 3D-model on Maya or Lightwave or Rhino, these paper constructions still command a lot of respect in the toy and game designing communities, and they are increasingly popular with cartoonists and illustrators who often prefer a tactile turnaround to a digital one. Japan, the home of Origami (oru and kami) leads the way in papercraft, as you might expect, with giant robot sculptures, and an endless amount of practical and impractical designs, from a variety cartoonists and illustrators, and even from companies like Yamaha, Canon, Honda, and Toyota.
With sites like the Paperkraft blog, Papercraft Museum, Thunderpanda, The Web Dude, Cubeecraft, and Toy-a-Day highlighting a range of skills and designs available, Urban Paper, a seriously underrated art form in the west, will continue to attract fans and practitioners. If it is an art form you would like to know more about, and maybe experiment with, then you'll be pleased to know that there is a Japanese Paper Craft programme, Pepakura Designer, and a viewer, Pepakura Viewer, that you can download for free. In the screenshots below, I'm using the Pepakura tools to show you Web-Dude's Papercraft Gigantor guide, and model and a timely Guy Fawkes mask.
Whether you just fancy collecting and assembling some favourite vintage characters, like Astro Boy, or the Moomin Trolls, or more modern cut-outs like the cast of Dexter; or you fancy designing your own Papercraft figures, it really can be a fun way to spend some time. And don't overlook the fact that some Papercraft figures of your own characters can be a pretty handy (excuse the pun) piece of PR.