Introduction: Toby the Targ From Star Trek
Targs are boar-like Klingon animals with spines on the back. Toby the Targ is a lead character in a series of educational holoprograms for children in the Star Trek universe. In the Deep Space Nine episode "Fascination", Molly plays with a cute stuffed targ she calls "Piggy", which is likely a toy version of Toby. My 13-year-old daughter really wanted a targ like Molly's for Christmas, but the targs available on the market were ugly and looked little like Molly's. So she and I set out to recreate something close to Molly's targ. Molly's targ on the show was actually donated to the show by a fan (see this thread), and was based on a commercial stuffed warthog with added spines. Looking at shots of Molly with her "Piggy", we found the right warthog on ebay, and added spines. It turned out not to be quite as easy as we hoped. The materials for the targ were a Christmas gift for my daughter and we made it together during the week afterwards.
What you need:
- Stuffed warthog (more information later)
- Fabric for spines (more information later)
- Sewing needle or (preferably) sewing machine
- Curved sewing needle (can buy or make)
- Polyfill stuffing
- Marker / pen / gel pen / chalk for putting pattern on fabric
The process is reversible: you can cut the seams in the spines and return to the original warthog.
Division of labor: I made a number of revisions of the patterns, sewed a bunch of test spines and cut out most of the spines; flipping the spines was a joint labor by my daughter, son and me; stuffing and final-product sewing was done by my daughter.
The bat'leth in the photo was a Christmas gift I made last year. Instructable here.
Step 1: Find and Buy Walter Warthog
The correct warthog is "Walter Warthog" made by Fundamental Too around 1987 and is no longer in production. However, if you search on ebay for stuffed warthog or plush warthog or warthog fundamental or Walter Warthog, you have a good chance of turning one or two up (I see three there now). Look carefully at the photo here for the correct warthog. It's 18 inches from nose to tip of tail. It comes with a fabric tag that says:
Front: FUNDAMENTAL TOO, LTD. / 2381 PHILMONT AVE., UNIT C / HUNTINGTON VALLEY, PA, 19006 / (c) 1987 / MADE IN KOREA / SQUEEZEM'S[TM] PATENT PENDING
Back: ALL NEW MATERIALS / POLYESTER FIBER / REG. NO. PA. 3339 (K.R.)
The original warthog grunts when you squeeze it. The grunts seem to fit with a targ, too.
You can always use another, perhaps smaller, warthog and just rescale our spine pattern.
Step 2: Buy Fabric and Thread
Go to a fabric store and choose a dark grey fabric for the spines that goes well with your warthog. Make sure that the fabric isn't too heavy weight or the sewing will be hard, but that it has some heft. We got some very nice plushy upholstery/curtain fabric from Hancock (SKU 3456506 Plush Suede Gunmetal, 100% polyester). The fabric wasn't cheap per yard, but they were happy to sell us 1/8 of a yard, and that came to a dollar. Then choose matching thread.
Step 3: Trace Pattern
I attach a pdf of the pattern I used. I started designing the pattern by using Inkscape to trace a fattened version of spine from a still of the Deep Space Nine episode, and then making a bunch of test horns from scrap fabric until we were satisfied. In hindsight, perhaps the small ones perhaps shouldn't tilt quite as far back as they do.
Print and cut out the pattern (cardstock is a good idea but not necessary). There are two versions of the small spines. One is the one that we actually used, and the other is a bit smaller and more upright, which might make the small spines not run into each other (a problem our targ suffers from).
Trace the curved sides of the patterns (i.e., the dashed lines in the pdf) on the less nice side of the fabric (the side you want inside the horns). Make two copies of the large spine and and six of the small (though you might want to make some spares while you're at it) on one half of the fabric in such a way that you will be able to fold the other half of the fabric under and sew through both. We used a light-colored gel pen for tracing.
Step 4: Sew Spines
Fold the fabric in half, so that on top you have the traced patterns on the less nice side of the fabric, and on the bottom you have the less nice side again. Pin the halves together.
If you have a sewing machine, sew along the curved lines of all the patterns. We used a straight stitch, sized at 1.5mm on the big spines and at 1.0mm on the smaller ones. Our sewing machine has a mode where the needle stays in the down position when you release the pedal so you can rotate the work. This is helpful.
Once all the stitches are in place, cut out all the spines, leaving a small margin (maybe 1/8 inch) around the curved areas, and cutting flush with the bottom of the spine.
If you don't have a sewing machine, you'll want to cut first around the patterns and sew the halves together by hand, making the stitches where the lines curve.
Step 5: Turn Spines Inside Out
Now you need to turn the spines inside out. The lighter the fabric, the easier this will be. Our fabric was fairly heavy, so this was actually quite hard. You'll have to come up with a technique that works well with the size of your fingers and whatever you have lying around. I had kids start the inversion process with their small fingers, and then I finished off by using the blunt ends of tools like a crochet needle, a lobster pick and a toothpick. Took us a while to get the knack, and we didn't always get the thinnest parts of the tips out (but that's OK). Once I destroyed a spine by pushing too hard or in the wrong direction, but we made a spare.
Step 6: Roll Bottom Edges In
Roll a bit of the bottom edge in. The solid fold-in lines in the pdf pattern indicate roughly how much. This also was harder with our fabric than it seemed, and pins were handy for holding things in place.
Step 7: Acquire a Curved Needle
One can buy curved sewing needles, and they are very useful for sewing in the spines. But we didn't want to have to go to the store, so I used a pair of pliers, a flame and safety goggles to curve a straight needle. One needle cracked from trying to bend it too close to the hole, but the next one worked. Note that you will destroy the temper on the needle with the process, so you need to be careful with it when sewing.
Step 8: Sew on Horns
Lay out the horns on the back in the pattern: big, small, small, small, big, small, small, small. The first big one is around the shoulders. The second is just past where the warthog gets its wider hindquarters.
The sewing is hard work and takes practice. Don't worry: if you fail you can just remove the seam and start over. This is all a reversible process.