All Original Toy Concepts, Written and Photographic content is Copyright MEL BIRNKRANT
“Dancing Pooh,” I actually built this thing! And it worked very effectively. It wouldn’t surprise me if someday I discover the prototype, hiding in this house somewhere. I distinctly remember glimpsing it, all bundled up in bubble wrap, at some point in time. And, as the original boards were returned to me, they are what you see below, the working model must have been sent back, as well.
The basic concept, shown here in three variations, consisted of the fact that when a child held Pooh’s hands, he would sing and dance. Springs, or mechanics, in his legs would give him an extra kick. There were also switches, hidden in his feet. Thus, with each bounce, the music would advance one beat. Therefore, Pooh’s dancing partner had to keep him moving to piece together a melody. In that respect, the toy was interactive.
This was just another of those, never ending ideas that I pumped out, week after week. In the wonderful world of "Throw enough Pooh at the wall, and, hopefully, something will stick toy inventing," this was, indeed, a minor piece. Incredibly, my partners, KISCOM sold it! And there was sort of a surprise ending.
The three drawings below are self-explanatory. An explanation is included on each board. In this first variation, which was the one I built, Pooh did a wild and crazy dance. Each time his feet touched the floor he kicked back, and the music advanced one beat. When he got going the effect was quite amazing.
This second variation was more elaborate. Admittedly, there was an element of wishful thinking in it, and Pooh Bear’s stubby little legs were unlikely to adapt well to the mechanism. The note I penned in the lower right, more or less, states that “This is especially good on long legged characters.”
The final version is the one that comes the closest to what was finally manufactured. Here, the legs are relatively passive. Springs inside them encourage a child to get Pooh bouncing, but all the action is kid powered. And as there is no motor, the toy operates quietly, allowing the music to dominate.
A few weeks after I handed the finished presentation to Kiscom, they told me that Fisher Price had passed it up, and then, they never mentioned it again. Eventually, like so much of the stuff I’m rediscovering and adding to this website, I forgot I ever did it. Then, one day, several years later, Noah handed me the “Dance With Me Mickey” doll you see below. And matter-of-factly said, “ Oh, by the way, this is your “Dancing Pooh!” Naturally, I was surprised, and pleased.
I had never heard of this toy company. The box reads, “Playhouse Disney.” It turned out to be a new company that specialized in Disney products only, and advertised them exclusively on the Disney Channel. Dance With Me Mickey was featured in several magazines and catalogues as well, and proved to be a delightfully successful product, after all.