Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 11th 2014 Contents Sam Dean has written his own creation
story of the tube guy. In his Biography of
An Inflatable Tube Guy---The Checkered
Past and Lonely Future of Air Puppets, he
gives an interesting account of the intense
research done by Gazit.
While attending industrial design school
in Jerusalem in the 1970s, Gazit had a side
job selling balloon designs (animals, hats,
etc) on the streets, wrote Dean.
When Gazit introduced balloons to the
Bedouins, he saw their "whimsical, spirited"
quality. Then later, while looking at the
plastic-covered greenhouses on his father's
farm, he got the idea of industrially
producing inflatable tubes for large-format
art. He developed 500-foot long floating
air tubes, which he strung in trees, across
desert landscapes, and into the waters of
the Dead Sea, wrote Dean.
He later developed technology to inflate
the tubes, and make them flame-retardant
and UV-protected. He used thin versions
for art works, to be inflated by wind in
nature; and heavy-duty ones, inflated by
blowers, for design events, wrote Dean.
These tubes were all horizontal floaters.
The Olympic Committee knew of Gazit
from past work he'd done at the 1984 Los
Gazit said, in the Roman Mars radio
December 2 podcast, that the Minshall Tall
Boys idea was a big engineering challenge
them vertical, and he had to find the right
motor to give the appropriate torque.
Eventually the Tall Boys came to life,
looking much like present-day tube men,
except for two things: the originals were
bipedal; and they were enormous---30 to
60 feet high.
Gazit made the idea work, and he's done
a lot of work with inflatables since those
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At this year s Divali Nagar in Chagua-
nas, they were there---inflated air
puppets, propelled by jets of air,
dancing in front of the fireworks shops.
You can see them everywhere these days,
popping up in gas stations and parties, at
malls, festivals, and public events, the tall
boys of advertising. In America, they ve
become ubiquitous since the 2000s.
Says radio producer Roman Mars: "Their
wacky faces hover over us, and then fall
down to meet us, and then rise up again.
Their bodies flop. They flail. They are men.
Men made of tubes. Tubes full of air."
They re joyous and wacky, or unbeliev-
ably tacky, depending on your tastes.
Mars noted in his radio podcast Episode
143: Inflatable men (posted December 2,
2014) that in the States, where inflatable
men appear in virtually "every used car
lot in America," several cities have actually
now banned the tube guys as distracting
But Mars then went on to educate lis-
teners about the fascinating origins of the
tube guy. The original design concept, he
said, was invented by our very own
artist/masman Peter Minshall, at the 1996
Atlanta Olympic Games.
The air puppet design was subsequently
patented by one of the collaborators in the
design process, a Los Angeles-based Israeli
artist named Doron Gazit, who, after the
Olympic Games, got his patent approved
in 2001 and started making money from
it. It soon became a hugely successful
medium for advertising.
Radio host Mars explained in his Decem-
ber 2 podcast:
"This became a point of tension between
Gazit and Minshall; Minshall had been
unaware of Gazit s intention to patent and
monetise the inflatable figure.
"Gazit, for his part, says that he applied
for a patent because he put a lot of research
and development into making the fly guy
(as Gazit calls them), and he was already
starting to see other people rip off his
The design idea may be 29 years old;
but its migration from art to business has
proved profitable: Gazit still licenses its use
through his company Air Dimensional
Designs. Among the companies using them
is one which makes modern-day scarecrows
called Air Rangers, extremely successful in
scaring birds away from crops.
Peter Minshall recalled how the idea first
came to him in a telephone interview with
the T&T Guardian last week.
Who knew Minshall invented...
Inflatable men or
Tall Boys created
by Peter Minshall
(inset) and Doron
Gazit at the 1996
CONTINUES ON PAGE C5
Scientists working on Nasa's Curiosity
rover think they can now explain why
there is a huge mountain at the robot's
landing site in Mars's Gale Crater. They
believe it is the remains of sediments laid
down in successive lakes that filled the
deep bowl, probably over tens of millions
Only later did winds dig out an encir-
cling plain to expose the 5km-high peak
we see today.
If true, this has major implications for
past climates on the Red Planet.
It implies the world had to have been
far warmer and wetter in its first two bil-
lion years than many people had previ-
ously recognised. Ancient Mars, says the
Curiosity team, must have enjoyed a vig-
orous global hydrological cycle, involving
rains or snows, to maintain such humid
One tantalising consequence of this is
the possibility that the planet may even
have featured an ocean somewhere on its
"If we have a long-standing lake for mil-
lions of years, the atmospheric humidity
practically requires a standing body of
water like an ocean to keep Gale from
evaporating," said Dr Ashwin Vasavada,
the Curiosity deputy project scientist.
For decades, researchers have specu-
lated that the northern lowlands could
have held a large sea in Mars' early his-
tory. The latest Curiosity results are sure
to re-ignite interest in that idea.
GAZIT'S FLY GUYS
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