How The Umbrella Academy Crew Brought Baby Pogo To Life

Although they're both cute enough to bring full-grown adults to tears and inspire the best of us to part with an absurd amount of money for the sake of a plushie, Grogu and Baby Groot have some stiff competition thanks to "The Umbrella Academy" season 2. When most fans think of the advanced chimpanzee and friend of the Hargreeves, Pogo, they probably imagine the version introduced in the first season, complete with his grandpa glasses, tweed suit, and an endless bucket of wisdom. But when Pogo returned for the show's second season, he looked much different from how we all remembered.

After barely escaping a full-blown apocalypse, the Hargreeves siblings were tossed into the past where they made new lives for themselves in the 1960s before eventually reuniting and continuing their mission to save the world. But as all time-travel media proves, hanging out in the past tends to lead to some coincidental encounters. Before long, viewers were treated to a look at the early years of Reginald Hargreeves and his chimpanzee assistant, Pogo. 1963's Pogo was different in a couple of ways: these early years caught him quite young and pre-serum — not yet the hyper-intelligent and talking Chimpanzee that helps raise the Hargreeves — but still recognizably Pogo.

Crafting Pogo's transformatoin

The challenge for the VFX team of Weta Digital was creating a design that was recognizably Pogo but will all the additional cuteness of a baby chimpanzee. Leading the charge was visual effects supervisor Chris White, art director Gino Acevedo, and animation supervisor Aidan Martin. While chatting with, they revealed what it took to bring Baby Pogo to life:

Chris White: He was pretty much built from the ground up because he was so much younger; just kind of like a toddler or slightly older. ...

Gino Acevedo: It started with an original sketch that a good friend of ours did — the original sketch for old Pogo and for young Pogo, and that's where we got the actual maquettes from. But then we had to go back and look at it and try to incorporate some of the Pogo back into young Pogo so that he's definitely related, obviously. 

In this post-Grogu world of ours, they also knew the potential of making young Pogo even easier to fall in love with by upping the cuteness factor. White added,

"Because Baby Yoda was out at that time, we had a requirement that he's got to be pretty cute. One thing that Gino had suggested is that baby chimps do this little pucker with their lip. Really little, small ... I can't describe it better than a little pucker. That was something that wasn't in his original design that we had suggested adding into him. It's a subtle thing, but it just added to the cuteness factor of it."

Will Baby Pogo return?

Pulling all of this together required a pretty dense collection of references — the team had to be very aware of the chimp's smallest details. Luckily, this wasn't their first primate party: Weta Digital also had a hand in 2017's "War for the Planet of the Apes." According to Martin:

"We've been looking at apes and baby apes for a long time. So we didn't have to go back far in the reference archives to find a lot of cute references. We had a lot of similar baby chimps on the last Planet of the Apes, so we already had a really big stockpile of baby chimp references at that point. For Baby Pogo, in particular, because we were generally matching what the on-set performer did or the principal photography shot, we weren't going outside the bounds of what was already set out in the footage."

It's hard to say whether or not Baby Pogo will make a grand return — "The Umbrella Academy" season 2 specifically dove into his backstory as a Reginald Hargreeves experiment. The third season sees the Hargreeves siblings returning to the present (with some major differences) so while Pogo will likely be around, he'll be his older self. Of course, given how unpredictable this show can be, another trip to the past is certainly not out of the question.