Rodney GentryShop Now
Title: Hallmark Production Artist
Date started at Hallmark: 1979
Date started at Keepsakes: 1997
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
If you could visit Rodney Gentry’s favorite places, you’d be surrounded by deep forests, snowy peaks, endless seashores and country gardens.
An avid fisherman and camper, Rodney and his wife travel at every chance. When he’s at home, you’ll find him landscaping his yard or riding his motorcycle whether it’s cold or hot out. He also has been known to play a round of golf or two.
Like a lot of other artists, nature inspired his earliest painting, and he concentrated on deer and eagles as his subject matter. Rodney also liked to draw the sports heroes of the day.
By ninth grade, he knew he wanted to work for Hallmark, and Rodney joined the company right after graduation. He started in the manufacturing department but continued his education by attending art school. As he studied digital art, he used his new skills in the graphics department on Christmas gifts and wrapping paper.
His next move was to Keepsake Ornaments. His first assignment, a G.I. Joe® lunch box, still stands out in his memory as one of his favorites.
2015 Keepsake Ornaments
2nd in the Family Game Night series
Like father, like daughters.
When Rodney Gentry started working on a Keepsake Ornament inspired by Monopoly as part of the Family Game Night series, he had a couple of fans of the game right in his own house. His two daughters, now grown, used to play Monopoly when they were kids—just like Rodney used to do with his two brothers many years ago.
“When it was too late and time for bed, we’d lock up the bank. We’d put a really big book over all the money so no one would bother it until the next morning,” Rodney said.
That family tradition added an extra element of fun to the design process as Rodney modeled the pieces to feel like the real thing. “As an artist, I loved modeling it. I knew it had to simulate the original as much as possible while using the updated board.”
Rodney said the use of the box as a backdrop immediately signals to people that it’s a board game and creates the enjoyable illusion that it might include other pieces from the game inside. He decided to use one house, one hotel, the car, the “Go” corner of the game and Rich Uncle Pennybags (aka Mr. Monopoly) to give the ornament a dynamic “best of” look in a relatively small space.
Rich "Uncle" Pennybags
Limited-quantity ornament coordinating with Monopoly®
For this Keepsake Ornament celebrating Monopoly’s 80th anniversary, Rich “Uncle” Pennybags appears inside the most popular game piece, the car. It’s a unique combination designed just for the ornament and makes use of an original “Mr. Monopoly” pose from the Chance and Community Chest cards.
Rodney wanted it to appear as if Pennybags were riding in parade. And as a tribute to the anniversary, the ornament is cast in silver plating.
“It reflects back on what we played with in yesteryear and how it’s held its value,” Rodney said. “I feel good that I had the opportunity to do it. The concept really works.”
The first challenge in turning Hasbro’s Operation into a Keepsake Ornament? Making sure the light and buzzer could function at a much smaller size.
“When you design an ornament like this,” Rodney said, “it takes some engineering.”
The Keepsakes team solved the engineering challenge by making the game a tiny bit thicker from top to bottom, which Hasbro approved. “It’s like the real game. If you use the prong, it will buzz and the nose will light up.” The original body parts are reduced replicas, which for safety reasons can’t be removed.
Rodney hopes collectors will have the same reaction as his coworkers do when they pass by his desk and see the prototype version on his desk. “They say, ‘Hey, I played that as a kid!’”
Baby’s First Swing
Right after Rodney started working on this Keepsake Ornament, he happened to notice the exact same Little Tikes® Baby’s First Swing suspended from a tree right in front of a little church on his route to work. So for his own reference, he took photos of that swing, imported those into his computer, and used those images for his modeling process.
“When you look closer at it, there’s a lot of trim and several interesting angles you don’t see right away,” he said.
Rodney made the swing and the guard as two pieces, and then added nylon rope that features a jump ring on top so that it can hang from your tree at home. He wanted to get all the details right for the maximum nostalgia value. “A lot of parents and grandparents remember their kids swinging in one of those.”
The MONOPOLY name and logo, the distinctive of the game board, the four corner squares, the MR. MONOPOLY name and character, as well as each of the distinctive elements of the board and playing pieces are trademarks of Hasbro and for its property trading game and game equipment.©1935, 2015 Hasbro. All rights Reserved. Licensed by Hasbro.
OPERATION is a trademark of Hasbro and is used with permission. ©2015 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved
® & © The Little Tikes Company. U.S. & other countries. Used under license by Hallmark Cards, Inc.® & © The Little Tikes Company. U.S. & other countries. Used under license by Hallmark Cards, Inc.