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State Farm's "Cars 2: Agents on a Mission" tour rolls into Orlando for WDW's Car Masters Weekend

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State Farm's "Cars 2: Agents on a Mission" tour rolls into Orlando for WDW's Car Masters Weekend

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If you're a maven for all things automotive, Downtown Disney is the place that you really need to be today, tomorrow and Sunday. So that you can then experience Car Masters Weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

All weekend long, classic muscle cars will be lined up along the promenade. Not to mention Richard Petty's own racecar, which will be on display over at RIDERMAKERZ.

But it you're a fan of the Disney-Pixar "Cars" film franchise, there are two reasons that you really want to be at Downtown Disney this coming weekend.

First and foremost: Now through Sunday night, the animated feature that started it all - 2006's "Cars" - will be back up on the big screen at the AMC Pleasure Island 24 Theatres for a limited engagement. And this special re-release will be accompanied by the brand-new, just-released-yesterday "Cars 2" trailer.

Copyright Disney-Pixar. All rights reserved

And speaking of "Cars 2" ... If you'd like to meet the stars of this new John Lasseter film in person, WDW's Cars Masters Weekend event is going to be the only Orlando-area stop for State Farm's "Cars 2: Agents on a Mission" tour.

I recently got the chance to chat with Jay Ward - the longtime Pixar employee who's been designated the overall guardian of the "Cars" franchise - about how this life-sized versions of Lightning McQueen, Finn McMissile and Mater were actually created. And as Jay explained it, this was a fairly involved process.

Full-sized versions of Lightning McQueen and Mater are also making the scene at
this week. Copyright Disney-Pixar. All rights reserved

"We always start with the digital data. Given that we want these life-sized version of the 'Cars' characters to be 100% on model, we begin with the information that Pixar staffers use when they're actually animating Lightning, Mater and Finn," Ward said. "And then we just extrapolate that info out into what a full-sized version of that 'Cars' character might like look."

That said, lots of care and consideration was put into choosing Mater, Lightning and Finn's mouth & eye poses for the "Agents on a Mission" tour. So that these life-sized versions of "Cars 2" characters that were supposed to be rolling all over the country would not only be on model, but that their overall look and facial expressions would be very pleasing to the public.

"What we've learned is that - if you're not dead-on perfect with your choices when it come to the mouth shapes and the positioning of the eyes on these full-sized 'Cars' characters - they get creepy looking and off-model real fast," Ward laughed. "Which is why we now put a lot of thought into these 'Cars' characters' facial poses before we begin the carving phase."

Photo by Deborah Coleman. Copyright Disney-Pixar. All rights reserved

And - as you might have already expected - these life-size versions of Lightning, Finn and Mater didn't just roll off of some assembly line in Detroit. No, these life-sized "Cars 2" characters started out life as enormous blocks of foam.

"These blocks of foam were loaded into a 5-axis mill. Then - using the digital data that Pixar has provided - they carved a near-perfect recreation of the 'Cars 2' character that we needed," Jay continued. "Mind you, what the mill carves is slightly smaller than what we're ultimately looking for. But once that carved block of bead foam get sealed in a hard coat material, it's 100% to scale."

From there, it's all about the sanding ...

Photo by Deborah Coleman. Copyright Disney-Pixar. All rights reserved

... and the painting. Making sure that all of the final details are just right (EX: Lightning McQueen fans will notice that this character's overall look has been tweaked for "Cars 2." That - because this four-time Piston Cup winner had to make a few adjustments in order to become a world racer in this new Pixar movie - McQueen is now sporting a special spoiler. Not to mention new wheels, a rear diffuser and - for the first time ever - working headlights. And because the trio of life-sized "Cars 2" characters that State Farm was taking on its "Agents on a Mission" tour had to look just like the ones featured in this film ... Well, that's the version of Lightning McQueen that the guys wielding that 5-axis mill carved out of foam).

"Then the functional static displays were loaded into each of these cars. Plus the battery packs, which are then wired into the handheld remote control units that are actually used to drive these 'Cars 2' cars around," Jay stated. "And once that work was done, we were ready to roll."

 And since March 22nd of this year, State Farm's "Agents on a Mission" tour has been toodling around the US and Canada. With huge crowds coming out all along the way in order to catch a glimpse of these "Cars 2" stars. Its most recent stop was this past Monday in Washington D.C. at the International Spy Museum. Which - given Finn McMissile's ties to British Intelligence - was entirely appropriate.

Photo by Deborah Coleman. Copyright Disney-Pixar. All rights reserved

But as of today, Mater, Lightning and Finn are on display in Orlando. And if you'd like to see these life-sized versions of the "Cars 2" stars in person (not to mention scope out some of the new "Cars 2" models that RIDERMAKERZ just began offering. Which then gives WDW Guests the chance to design & customize their own "Cars" -themed remote control car) ... Well, then you really need to get over to Downtown Disney now through Sunday in order to experience Car Masters Weekend.

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