In this mini trailer segment from "Gouache in the Wild" (Link to YouTube) I visit the antique toy collection of Mel Birnkrant to paint his "Brownies" candy containers in acryla gouache in a Pentalic 5x8 inch watercolor journal.
I'm fascinated by the character design from a century ago. They have a sort of eager mania with their big eyes and effervescent smiles. Who can resist those cute Kewpies with their eyes coyly turned aside, and the bouyant little Brownies. No wonder, they were designed by top artists of their day.
It's one thing to look at these antique toys, but quite another to paint their portraits. Painting physical character toys is one of the best exercises for artists who want to get better at character design, especially for 3D CG animation.
The next best thing to sketching a real museum of toys is to check out Mel Birnkrant's phantasmagorical website, starting with the page on Kewpies and Brownies.
Also check out this museum website that discusses the history of the Brownies.