RIP, Disney Imagineering great Blaine Gibson

Gibson sculpted the realistic, long-wearing human faces and features of the animatronic robots that fill the Disney parks.

From various incarnations of Abe Lincoln (including the original 1964 NYC World's Fair edition) to the characters in Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, Gibson practically invented the modern practice of sculpting animated, public figures. Though he had been retired for more than 30 years, he has come out of retirement every 4-8 years to sculpt the new presidential figures for Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents up to GWB.

Gibson began his career as a traditional animator at the Disney studios. He died at 97.

Sculpting started as merely a hobby for Gibson until Disney took notice. At first Gibson seemed to consider it almost a distraction from his animation work.

"I didn't think it was that important, but then I was told Walt was expecting me to work on these projects. So I said to myself, 'what the heck' and went [to Walt Disney Imagineering]," Gibson said in 1995. "I was never sorry after that."

Blaine Gibson, Designer of Lifelike Robots at Disney Parks, Dies at 97 [Matt Novak/Paleofuture]