Tuesday, July 12, 2016


THE MOOF MUSEUM IS tucked away under Brussels Central Station, and it’s easy to miss. We chanced upon the collection after arriving in Brussels from a two-hour train ride on the high-speed Eurostar service from central London.

SMN report: MOOF stands for Museum Of Original Figurines, and it’s an absolute delight for anyone (like me) who loves strip cartoons and graphic stories. These are popular throughout Europe, where they are known as BD, or Bandes Dessinees, meaning ‘designed strips.’

You won’t find plastic kits at MOOF, but if you like miniatures in their wider sense, then the place really earns its keep. The day we arrived, Eric Pierre was behind the counter, and he looked after our travel bags while we explored the museum. The entrance (below) is just inside the Galerie Horta shopping mall.

Outside Galerie Horta and MOOF, a super-size Smurf (below) stands on guard. The Smurfs are another Belgian creation, the characters originating from the pen of the artist Peyo, back in 1958. Today, there are more than 100 Smurf characters that contribute to an international franchise that includes movies, TV, comics and books.

Handsome concept art on display (below) at MOOF includes this uber-cute Smurf cottage-cum-watermill.

Retro-future designs are a popular theme in BD work. The car (below) first featured in a 1960s strip, and has a highly streamlined set of front lights, even if the slender bumpers look like they came from a bowl of plastic spaghetti. Note the wraparound windshield, a popular styling theme from that period, one that’s echoed in many US ‘dream car’ designs from the likes of Ford and General Motors.

A futuristic turbo-car as it appeared (above) in the Belgian comic magazine Spirou and (below) the diecast and figures developed from the artwork. The driver and passenger are called Spirou and Fantasio, a pair of adventurous journalists who have featured in stories since 1938.

Tintin is Belgium’s own comic book superhero, created originally by Georges Remi, who signed himself Herge. Not surprisingly, MOOF caters to fans of the BD detective, as do many of the shops throughout Brussels, whether they sell chocolates or chips. The car and bike (header, below) are to approximately 1:24 scale, and look as close as possible to the original BD illustrations. This means that they don't have the level of ultra-detail that you might get in a regular diecast car. Instead, they reflect the stylised look of the drawn pictures, and mostly have a satin paint finish, rather than high gloss. 

Tintin steers a shark-submarine (below) from inside its pressurized  bubble canopy.

A *sorta* Arado seaplane (below) flies high over a MOOF display. Snowy the dog grips the wing for dear life.

Life-size figure of Tintin (below) as he appeared in the BD story Destination Moon. The suit echoes later NASA developments, with a hard-shell torso, matched to flexible arms and legs.

If you are a fan of 1950s and 1960s European cars, then MOOF is something of a wonderland, with vehicles like the Peugeot 203 (below left) and Renault Dauphine ready to tempt your nostalgia buds. These cars were to approximately 1:18 scale, so there was plenty to look at in the detailing.

Smooth rendering makes this pair of Euro-heroes (below) look particularly neat. They are Blake and Mortimer, characters well known to European BD readers.

Dynamic line and luscious colour mark this comic art (above), matched by the three-dimensional equivalent (below).

Note the neat detail apparent in the fishbowl-style sci-fi craft (below). 

Adult-market female figures come from the worlds of science-fiction and fantasy (above) and a traditional nightclub-style figurine (below).

US superheroes (above, below) are not the prime focus for MOOF, but Superman and Batman are represented by humongously huge figures. The chainmail-like weave of Superman’s costume is particularly well captured.  

Your trusty iPhone photographer (below) caught in closeup snap-action by his Arts Lecturer partner, Barbara.