HOW BABY FACE WAS BORN...
29. Magic Paint & Troubles At Galoob

 

 

 

Here's an interesting Tidbit! The pink or blue paint, sprayed on the Magic Diaper Babies diapers, was actually transparent, applied over diapers that were already painted white. Because the, temperature activated, Tints, were only Visible when dipped in Ice Water, but became Invisible at Room Temperature, the Diapers had to be painted inside a large walk-in Refrigerator, which the factory in China, had built to order, for the job! That was the only way the paint could be Seen!

I find this so Fascinating!, perhaps, because it reminds me of "The Dunwitch Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft, in which, to fight an enormous Invisible entity, The citizens of Dunwitch, arm themselves with Paint Sprayers! Anyway, Now, this Enormous entity, Galoob, which averaged about 200 million, worth of business a year, was operating in the RED, and losing money, hand over fist! While, Gary Niles tiny little International Subdivision, which usually, accounts, at best, for only about 5% of that total, had become the only part of the company that, thanks to Magic Diaper Babies, was, actually, showing a profit, and operating in the BLACK!

I mention all this because it contributes to setting the stage for the Death of Baby Face, as I witnessed it!
 

 

 

Now Kiscom was getting to be a more familiar face around Galoob, and we were able to get a little better "peek" at what was going on, inside. We not only had Magic Diaper Babies, with Gary, and Baby Face, with Saul, but now, we managed to sell Saul another item, as well.

This one was the result of trying to turn the water soluble Gimmick that Mattel used in Magic Nursery, around, and "flip it" for boys! I "comped up" a "fake"counter display with a header that showed a Garbage worker in a bull dozer, pushing Garbage around in a "dump".

The "Dump" area, was a box that I filled with small black Trash Bags, which were stuffed with rolled up paper. These were intended to represent Little garbage bags that would dissolve in water to reveal a plastic collectable monster inside! The header "art" portrayed representative monsters, running in terror from the oncoming bull dozer!


Trash Bag Bunch Commercial

 

 

It turned out that Galoob already had a bunch of figures of monsters and robots and aliens that they had made up, but couldn't figure out how to merchandise, so they put them in the bags and added an alka-seltzer like tablet to make them fizz when they dissolved, and called them, the "Trash Bag Bunch" We had originally called them the "Garbage Bag Gang" , but Galoob felt that sounded too much like Cabbage Patch!

Now, to backtrack a little, Just before I began to work on the "Baby", Judy Albert announced that she had an idea she "wanted to show" for Baby Face. A meeting was set up at the NY showroom, and Kiscom and I were asked to attend. We had ALL been discussing the "baby" project, for months, as if it was a "fait accompli". It was only a question of "when", not "If". So I was a little surprised, when Judy showed the gathering, a Baby she had mocked up, and presented it, as though, the very Idea of even, doing a baby, was something, that She, had just thought up! What she put on the table was an ordinary Baby Face, With a hair cut! In place of the Miami Beach "Yenta" Cut, she had trimmed the hair to exactly the length, I had imagined Baby Face's hair should have been from the start! And, By God, the doll did look like a "baby", after all!

She had also cut the doll in half and Jerry-rigged it to swivel at the waist. The seam was hidden by a more conventionally babyish outfit, and I can't be sure but I seem to remember a bonnet too. I got the impression that everyone in the room liked it, including me! Though I couldn't quite understand why Judy was acting like the turning waist was the most unique doll feature of the century!



The "Barbies" that I had to pose and photograph for Colorforms Dress-Up sets over the years, all had waists that turned, as did all of the Joseph Kallus dolls I collected. In fact, at our first meeting when Judy and I were discussing how the doll should be strung, I suggested that if it swiveled at the waist, the arms and legs could be connected from inside and then, another cord could run from the head to the leg cord and hold the head on and the waist together at the same time!

I might interject here, that, right from the start, I had imagined, Baby Face would be strung with elastic, in the conventional manner. The Engineering department at Galoob wasn't willing to settle for something as vulnerable as that, and they persevered until they developed an Ingenious New system for connecting the joints, that was Far Superior to anything ever done before! Each joint is a separate unit, and they are impossible to pull apart or break. And the elastic seems to last forever, I've never seen a single Baby Face that isn't as tightly strung today, as she was on the day she was "born"!

 

So I was truly surprised to learn that the Alberts were proposing that in return for this contribution to Baby Face, Galoob should contribute an additional 1% royalty to them! But I was even more surprised, when the Alberts left the office, to witness the level of resentment that the management team of Galoob felt towards them! If they had their way, The Alberts wouldn't be getting any royalty at all, let alone an additional 1%!

I tried to understand where this was coming from. And I knew, full well, that these people who were now letting their feelings show, as if they had forgotten that we were still in the room, felt great animosity towards me as well! I knew they considered me, a pain in the ass, for complaining and going on and on about the eyes, and the bodies, and the short leg, and other "trivial" things! That's simply the "way things are" in the toy industry.

 

If "Masterpiece Theater was ever to do a TV series on toy manufacturers and Inventors, they could call it; "Inside, Outside"! I could only imagine, how unpopular Judy must have been, with the Boys inside! She probably had to fight for every detail of the project, every step of the way! The guys at Galoob, surely, must have realized, that they didn't have the know-how to produce a decent doll, all by themselves. That's why they sought out and included Judy, in the first place! Now that she had given them the doll, they never could have done without her, the Gratitude they should have felt, was tinged with resentment.

The possibility that Galoob might have actually cut the Alberts out of involvement on the "Baby" has occasionally occurred to me. Its something I've always wanted to know, but was afraid to ask. I could certainly assume, that there was no way a company working on such a short margin, and with such financial problems, could afford to increase Judy's royalty! If 1% more was to go her way it would have to have come from OUR share of the royalties, [Kiscom and mine]!

 

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get started and sculpting the baby ... Without a Posable Waist! Galoob "took over" the "Baby" project, with a vengeance! And what they Produced, till this day, makes me wonder, if Judy was, indeed, "cut out of the loop"! If not, surely her enthusiasm and involvement was visibly, diminished.

The End Result shows me, a company desperate for a Feature and at the same time Desperately trying to Cut Costs. The Baby Baby Face was intended to be the next step Up in quality for the Baby Face line. A better doll, with cuter younger accessories, Baby stuff, Bottles, Blankets, etc. Instead it took a giant step Down! I don't need to go into all the gory details, I'm sure all the collectors know what she is like.

 

I had heard that, Saul had come up with a bathtub idea, But until I saw her in person at Toy Fair, I had no idea all that that entailed. The body had gone back through the "Sausage Mill" and "Michelangelo" had Fused the Knee and Elbow Joints! I'm not sure what they did to the hip and shoulders, I don't know if they replaced the elastic with plug-ins or not, For, would you believe I was so turned off by the doll that I could never,
ever, bring myself to touch it? I recalled that they ripped off the color change paint from the Magic Diaper Project, and that it did something stupid, but I had to read the fine print in the catalogue, Yesterday, to discover what it was!

The clothes had been diminished to the point of almost, nonexistence, and I searched, in vain, trying to detect, Judy's Stylish Touch!

 

The original doll was never intended to be put in water. Now I can recall imagining her floating, until the water must have seeped in and eventually sunk her, Then weeks of water seeping out of the tiny drain holes, they added to her hollow limbs.

I'll grant you that all these "improvements" gave the ad agency, something "NEW" to talk about in a TV commercial, But If you Really Want to see "Bathtub Baby Baby Face", for what she is, When you look at her don't think "Feature" "innovation", etc. Think: Cost Saving, Cost Cutting, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap! The product of a company short on ideas, and short on money too!

Please don't Hate me for saying all these bad things about 'Bathtub Baby Face"! I Know you Love her anyway. That cute little Face still communicates with you, in spite of ALL! But think of the obstacles that Galoob's mediocrity had thrown in it's path.

 

For any collectors who have Galoob's 1992 catalogue, just go to the last page of the Baby Face section, and turn it! You'll see a doll called "Luv'n Handfull", and You'll See what Galoob could "do", on their own, without that gallant little face and Judy Albert's magic touch!

Now turn the page again, and you'll see one of Saul's "pet" projects, "Starlight", an amazing horse that walked by itself, and lit up too! But it was way too Expensive and had production problems that made it ship late. On the following page is a line of ballerina dolls that shows how even a product with a feature, if you can call, small dolls, rotating on a large base, a feature, can be destroyed by generic looking sculpting and design.


Then turn to the last pages of the catalogue and you'll see the product that might have rescued David and Saul, And Galoob's "Bottom Line" and Baby Face Too! "Game Genie" was the most talked about product at toy fair! It was a piece of equipment that plugged into the Nintendo and SEGA Gaming systems, That allowed the user to Break All the Rules and get unlimited "extra lives" Etc. and thus, make the games easier for kids to win!


One or both, of the two companies, I can't remember which, Nintendo, I believe, Sued, and got a court injunction out against Galoob, preventing them from shipping the item. In the end, Galoob was vindicated and the suing party had to pay them a million dollars in damages, for the lost business Galoob had suffered!

But it was Too Late! Too Late to save Galoob from a disastrous year, And Too Late to save David Galoob, and Saul Jodel!


Next Page: 30. Why did Galoob stop making Baby Face dolls?

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