DOGGIE BAG DOGGIES and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) BIRNKRANT KISCOM/ The OBB
As mentioned on the previous page, first came the name, “Doggie Bags.” It was definitely a “Readymade.” Growing up, and up, and up, as a chronic fatty, doggie bags were dear to me. And, needless to say, I was the secret doggie. Well, I liked to think it was a secret, actually, the truth was obvious to everyone, but me. Eventually, when I got older, and became a toy inventor, the name took on a different meaning. Just like the term, “Monster Trucks,” Doggie Bags described a potential product, so obvious that in my mind, I could almost see it finished. And so, I made the single drawing, below; it was the beginning. This first sketch, not only, determined what the Doggie Bag Doggies would look like, the notes also explained how I imagined they would be made.
In those dog days, I could articulate a pencil with considerable facility, and most of the drawings I did, at that time, were either direct, with no tracing or erasing, like the one above, in which the preliminary sketch is still visible, along with the more decisive finished line, or they were done in two steps, consisting of a quick sketch and an overlay that was more refined. Among the original pencil drawings of the Doggie Bag Doggies that I found recently, was this, the second sketch. Here, both the first attempt and the finished overlay remain.
Then, I slipped the small drawing, above, under a larger sheet of paper, and traced off several other puppies to illustrate the fact that the Doggies might come in a variety of breeds. All these pups, sketched out so quickly, here, actually appeared in the final line.
And here is the main drawing in the series. This was the important one! All that remains of it, today, is this original pencil sketch, which was then copied on the Minolta copier, and colored with Magic Markers. The resulting full colored drawing became the centerpiece of the presentation.
Where that finished drawing is today is a mystery. Also a mystery, is why the drawing below, which was the next in the series, and was also rendered in color, managed to survive.
One other important drawing is gone forever, but I found the first whisper of it on a small scrap of paper. And here you see it, beside an image of the final color drawing, which I reconstructed from a video that became part of the presentation. Is it a boy or a girl? One could still ask that question, in those pre-PC days.
And then, I made the Doggies! Curiously I kept no photographic record of the process, or the steps along the way, which wasn’t like me. Nonetheless, I really did a number on these things. I began by sculpting a Doggy out of clay. Then, I cast his head in plaster, and poured several latex copies that included different expressions, and a variety of different tongues. I also made up one complete soft body out of velour fabric, stuffed. The sketch, below, which has never been seen by anyone, but me, is what gave me the idea to make the ears poseable, with a soft wire, like a twist tie, inside. I also made a few half doggies that would only be seen in the bag, from the neck up, looking out a little heart shaped window.
This is the only photograph I have. It would seem to be, so unlike me, the only one I shot. On the other hand, it pretty much shows everything, the entire presentation, as if the large sketch above came to life, and turned into reality, all finished and complete.
Only one task remained, I needed to make this video tape. It pretty much explained the concept . Please keep in mind the fact that these videos were never intended to be seen by anyone but a potential buyer. Think toy company executive, who has seen, just about, everything, puffing, perhaps, on a cigar, and hard to please. And if the tape proved to be a success, and had its desired effect, it might never be played, or seen, again. Since I began, ten years ago, posting some of these presentation videos on YouTube, they have received many comments from assorted YouTube boobs, who mistake these over long, under produced videos for really bad TV commercials. The most embarrassing are those, in which yours truly tries to talk like a baby, or worse still, a little girl. And many a cynical remark has been tossed out about my hairy paws. I hope you’ll view the video below, with kindness, and forgive the canine music. At least, it violates no copyrights.
I recall one day at the Atlantic City Antique Show, I was sitting at the booth I shared with my buddy Noel, when a young man approached me. His name was Steven Fink. He proved to be an enthusiastic fan of the Outer Space Men, and expressed a passion to pursue a career in the toy industry, upon his, soon to take place, graduation from business school. His interest wasn’t fueled by any particular skill or talent, but rather by a burning desire and determination to work in the toy industry. And he asked me for any advice I could give him about seeking a job. My answer was immediate and simple: “Tyco!” I made it clear to him that I was no big fan of toy biz; Toy Fair and the people there made my flesh crawl. But I qualified that statement by adding: “except for the pleasant folks at Tyco!”
Of all the people I had met in the toy industry, those at Tyco, especially Richie Weintraub and Dave Burko, were, by far, the nicest. My partners and I had gotten to know them in the brief time that Tyco was certain they were doing our ill-fated “Invasion Earth,” and hired me to create more characters to flesh out the property. And, in spite of the company’s president, changing his mind, on the very day we were supposed to sign the contract, we still loved the people there.
And so, as soon as the Doggie Bag Doggies presentation was complete, my partners headed to the Mount Laurel, where the New Jersey Turnpike passes Philadelphia, to show Doggie Bag Doggies to Dave and Richie. Dave Burko was in charge of acquiring new products, and Richie Weintraub, was responsible for turning them into reality. Their response to the presentation was spontaneous. Doggie Bag Doggies? as I said previously, “What’s not to like?” They instantly made up their minds,” Were doing this!”, they cried! And, as I said, previously, "The rest is History!"