Inflatable Me

A Cameron Balloons story

The fully inflated Stuart Balloon
Stuart special shape balloon
The fully inflated Despicable Me 2 Cameron Z-Type Balloon
Cameron Z-105 Despicable Me 2
The inflatable 6m minion demonstrated at an event
Inflatable minion

These larger-than-life characters are based on the hugely popular mischievous little yellow workers featured in the Despicable Me movies. Cameron Ballons were commissioned by Universal Pictures to help promote the upcoming sequel with our inflatable know-how.

As part of the project we built two new identical special shape balloons known as 'Stuart' and two conventional Cameron Z-105 Despicable Me 2 balloons, which can be used as an alternative when location, space or weather will not permit 'Stuart' to appear.

There are also 25 Cameron Balloons Tims and Toms, 6m (19ft) cold-air filled inflatables. These blue and yellow friendly giants were distributed to cinemas and other venues, including open air concerts, exhibitions and even comedy conferences as part of the promotion of the film's European premiere.

Some of the early 3D renders for the Stuart model

Step 1 Concept

Our Sales Team and Designers start the process with a precise 2D illustration. Working with Universal Pictures, our experts created blueprints for an accurate representation of the Minions in blue and yellow balloon fabric.

Next, our balloon Aeronautical Engineers use the 2D visualisation to build a 3D computer model. The Fabric Engineers can then calculate the precise dimensions and quantity of fabric panels needed to build unusual Special Shapes like these.

Step 2 Cutting & Printing

Lengths of yellow fabric that will constitute Stuart
Stuart is made with hundreds of fabric panels

The plotting machine cutting fine details into yellow fabric
The plotting machine cutting the fabric to the exact size
Details of Stuart's eye being printed
Printing accurately all the character details

Resistant and light

Stuart is made from special fabric known as RipStop Nylon. This material is extremely hardwearing and lightweight. It is also resistant to heat, tearing and mould thanks to the special coating developed by Cameron Balloons.

Step 3 Stitching

Hundreds of fabric panels are delivered to one of our teams of highly-skilled sewing-machinists on the top floor of our vast 42,000m2 factory, where the material is then sewn together. Thousands of metres of Cameron stitches ensure the vast sheets of nylon are joined firmly together for many, many years to come.

See the load tapes

Step 4 Structure

A large metal ring and nylon load tapes are added to each enormous construction to provide overall strength to the balloon. These take the load of the pilot, passengers, basket and equipment beneath it.

Stuart is then moved down to the inspection area where he gets ‘rigged’ with all the required control-lines and ropes. These cords are used to control the deflation systems and also give the Minion the ability to spin around on his axis, allowing him to turn for the admiring crowds.

Aerospace standards

Throughout construction Stuart undergoes an extreme process of roughly 200 individual and reportable checks, ensuring this special shaped balloon is built to the most exacting aerospace standards.

Step 5 Test launch

To make Stuart fly, you need to fill him with lots of hot-air from the burners. The flame from his main burner is over 5m high and produces over 18,000,000 btus.

Stuart's goggles, arms and feet are inflated internally. A series of precisely located holes and baffles provide shape and form by guiding the hot air around his features, ensuring they inflate.

The Despicable Me 2 branded car and launch vehicle outside the Cameron Balloons factory

Did you know?

With nearly 1,000 unusual special-shape hot-air balloons to our name, Cameron Balloons are regarded as the world's leader in Special-Shape balloons.

This was a really fun project to work on. For a while everywhere you looked in the Bristol factory was a sea of yellow and blue. Minion Fans will be even more excited at the end of 2014 when a spin-off film is due to be released which will star our lovable inflated friends. All the balloons and cold-air inflatables have a number of show days booked and they will be working across the UK and abroad - so please look out for them!

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Enjoying a balloon flight
“Thanks for making it happen”

Cameron Balloons have done a fantastic job and this project would never have got off the ground without them!