From a rough sketch I began first with the Racer using mainly manifold, then added the solid Bear. I went with a dark blue mono on the cockpit area to save myself from serious psychological trauma (ie I'm not that great a painter yet).
When making a design I believe all elements should integrate and communicate in the context of the underlying philosophy (ie here a cartoon). So the back of the racer makes a face, the livery uses flat field patterns, the nose and eyes of the character are prominent, the head and features are rounded (like Mickey Mouse), the body miniaturized making the head baby-like, the thruster flames pronounced.
I have made sketches for working landing gear, the switch would exist in the vertical "nose" between twin thrusters, there being ample room within the fuselage to contain such a mechanism.