Creating the world of Junkateers was always going to be fun. The idea is to teach children about the properties of lots of different materials via the Junkateers; a group of kids who sort through waste, categorising it so it can be sorted and ideally recycled if possible. In fiction junk yards have always been depicted as exciting locations where treasures have been lost, rather than tetanus riddled death traps, and I wasn't going to stop that tradition now.
It seemed like a no brainer to work with an orange colour pallet drawn from the rusty orange of the degrading metal structures that make up the junkyard. Throw in a nice sunset and we immediately had a pleasing environment to use as our backdrop.
We knew we wanted to create a cast that were diverse and inclusive but were aware this can often be seen as a box ticking exercise. I really wanted these characters to feel 'cool' and aspirational to the target demographic.
From the get go I had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted and with a clear idea I drafted them up and they were then passed over to the client (BBC Bitesize) for testing and feedback.
It seems my gut instinct was correct and I managed to not only deliver some popular characters but managed to give the kids enough personality that the most aspirational one was Jake, the kid in the wheel chair. All too often wheelchair bound characters are presented as being super intelligent or having some other ability in order to compensate for a perceived weakness. Rather than following suit, I decided to simply make him look cool, giving him an air of confidence about him and a punky haircut.
To make sure we were crossing the I's and dotting the T's we did a quick pass of hair styles and other components of Sam and Jo however other than some minor changes they remained largely the same as their initial designs.
The next challenge was to create a suite of machines that the kids would use to test materials in order to be 100% certain of their composition. We wanted them to look as if they were made from 'upcycled' junkyard waste, rather than be lab quality equipment.
If you or your kids have an interest in science then feel free to try out Junkateers yourself.