HOW BABY FACE WAS BORN...
8. Coleco & the Weenies

Dear PrillyCharmin,

We had a lot of success, when it came to selling and placing concepts, and also a lot of bad luck when it came to these concepts actually making it to the market without some mishap befalling it on the way. The very first thing we worked on was called "Weenies".

The best way I can sum it up is that it was Mickey Mouse and the gang reincarnated as hot dogs. "Willie Weenie" and his girl friend "Wilhemina Weenie" lived in "Bunville", along with Willie's pup, "Hot Doggie", his buddy, "Joe Baloney", Joe's girl friend "Honey Bun" and a whole raft of other characters. The bad guy was called "Meanie Weenie". Mike Strouth also joined the project, and while I designed and created the characters, Mike worked on "Bunville".

The day the Presentation was ready, Kiscom showed it to 'Coleco' and the president of the company said "I'll Take It!", on the spot. A "Deal" was concluded there and then. This was never to happen again quite so dramatically, until years later, when it happened again with Baby Face.

And, while the Advance and Guarantee, that Galoob later, offered us for Baby Face was handsome by any standard, and the largest that, up to that time, that Galoob had ever paid, The Advance now agreed upon by Coleco, was Five times that amount! Coleco felt that, Weenies were to be the "follow up" to the success of Cabbage Patch.

What the public doesn't generally know, is that in spite of the Huge Success of Cabbage Patch, The company was floundering. They had invested hugely, in producing their own computer called the "Adam Computer" and it had been a disaster, pulling the whole company down with it! Cabbage patch kids were supposed to get a birthday card one year after the doll's purchase. We're talking about Millions here, for postage alone. Coleco couldn't afford to send them, and didn't do it! One woman in the Midwest Sued them over the matter, believe it or not, and the whole thing came to light.

Meanwhile, I was having a ball! This was my chance to "Be Walt Disney" I'd designed all the characters and now spent days working on animation drawings for the "TV special" and the "style book". I spent several hours every day on the phone collaborating with a script writer for the TV show and even wrote "lyrics" for the musical numbers. Coleco hired the "head of licensing" away from Hallmark to run the licensing program and over 30 companies were "on board" and the TV special was fully scripted and the story boards were done,
by the leading animation studio in Japan, "DIC" (pronounced "deek").

THEN, sales slacked off a little on cabbage patch and Coleco went into survival mode. They had another line they had been working on called 'Sectors" which was a boys action figure line, featuring crawling insects that were glorified gloves with bug bodies attached. Action figures rode the bugs. This project was much farther along than Weenies and as they could not, Now, afford to do both.......they Dropped Weenies!

As it turned out, they dearly wished they had not made that choice, as Sectors (after a brief flurry)-- Bombed! You can imagine how devastating this was to me, but I got used to it, Years and years of it, being raised up sky high then dashed to the ground, Each time a little less high, each fall a little less low. In the end "it's a Living" and I was avoiding pain at least of the commuting, workplace, and dealing with the general public variety. Also I was making enough money to continue to follow my true "Bliss".

As the cost of Comic Character items continued to rise, I continued to spend nearly every cent I earned on them. I really should add here that Eunice is the Most Wonderful Wife a collector could ever wish for in his wildest dreams! She has never complained when I spent our money on toys, She's even gone without, gladly so I could do it! And she has two amazing quotes that most collectors would faint dead away if they ever heard their wives utter: "You earned the money, You deserve to spend it on whatever you want!" and when I'm uneasy about whether or not I should purchase some foolishly expensive item, she will inevitably say ; "Enjoy yourself!, You're dead a long time!"

 

I'm shipping this out, as when I tried to read your incoming email for a minute, it looked like mine was lost, but turned out to only be hiding!

Best, Mel

 

 

Here is a Favorite Mouse!
This is as Good as it Gets!!!!!!!!


 


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