TOY FAIR 1986
Mel Birnkrant's
Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of ANAMAX and other Products and Images,        created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) BIRNKRANT KISCOM/ The OBB
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                Toy Fair 1986 proved to be Surreal.  I was still working with Colorforms at the time, as what they called their “Creative Director”,  responsible for delivering some 30 to50 finished products a year.  But, technically, I was not, and never was, an employee.  This was a delicate distinction and a precarious situation, which I now taxed it to the limit.  For at the same time, I had for several years been working “secretly” with the owner's sons, Adam and Andy, who had split from Colorforms to form their own toy inventing company called “Kiscom”.  Another secret was the fact that their father, Harry, no doubt, knew this, for his marketing manager, who despised me, had recognized my handwriting on the back of “Weenies” and whispered it to Harry.  But that’s another story.  Now, in 1986 everybody at Colorforms was pretending to know nothing, because they all still needed me.

                 Colorforms had a fabulous Showroom, located in a prime position in 200 Fifth Avenue, “The Toy Building”. And it was part of my duties as non employee to decorate their showroom every year, and then hang out there throughout the week of Toy Fair.

                 200 Fifth Avenue had been the center of the toy industry in America since the turn of the Century.  This landmark structure extended along Fifth Avenue for an entire city block from 23rd street to 24th street.  Eventually, as the industry grew, the building across 24th street from it became part of the Toy Center too.  And high up on the ninth floor a glassed in walkway was constructed, suspended in   mid-air spanning 24th Street, and connecting the two buildings.  And  at the southern end of this elevated walkway, on the 200 fifth Avenue side, filling the entire field of vision of anyone who crossed the bridge, was The Colorforms Showroom.  Its elegant tinted glass facade was clad in burnished bronze.  Two huge Colorforms logos served as the twin handles on its heavy glass front doors!

                
Now, in the Spring of 1986, Fate conspired to create a situation fraught with irony, for at the very opposite. or northern end of that walkway, directly across its vertigo inducing span, in full view of Colorforms,  happened to be the Shaper Showroom where ANIMAX was on display!

                 Along the walls of the entry way leading to crystal bridge, before the walls of glass began, there hung a series of engraved panels, known as the “Toy Inventors Hall of Fame”.  I recognized most of the names, Marvin Glass, who made “Mr. Machine”, Louis Marx, and even Walt Disney were there.  I wondered, with mixed emotions, if I would ever join them, duly noting that they all were dead.

                Each time I passed them, and stepped out onto that bridge to cross the wide crevasse  between Colorforms and Schaper, I wondered if it might prove to be the Rainbow Bridge, by which, the Gods entered Valhalla in triumph, or if  it would turn out to be ”The Bridge of Doom” instead. 

                 Throughout the week of Toy Fair I felt compelled to sneak across that bridge at every opportunity, like a yo-yo, back and forth incessantly, and hopefully inconspicuously, to see what I could see.
                  It had been a rocky road to Toy Fair, but somehow Shaper had made it there, and managed to put on quite a show!  Almost everyone agreed :  “AMIMAX ROCKS!”
                   Well, as I told you, the talent Shaper managed to dig up ranged from Bad to Brilliant. These photos illustrate one of the  extremes.  I believe they were shot in Bedrock, courtesy of Barney Rubble.
                  Here is the 1986 Schaper Catalogue,  It pictures the entire line as shown at Toy Fair.   Not all of it made it to the stores, through no fault of its own.  Many of these were double pages.  If you have a large enough monitor, you can CLICK on some of the pages to see them side by side.
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
CLICK IMAGE TO SEE DOUBLE PAGE
              There was a big dark spooky area in the Schaper showroom that replicated the Light Side and the Dark Side with creepy colored neon and a huge model of the Bridge of Doom, awash in ghastly shades of garish green.  A couple of handsome, but hammy, actors in full costume did their impersonations of X-Tinctor and Max Action.  And when they weren’t doing their shtick in the Shaper Showroom, they stalked the halls of Toy Fair or wandered outside to Fifth Avenue to join the throngs of other costumed characters, who loitered around the front door.
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